If you’re a regular follower of my blog or you follow me on twitter, then you will probably be familiar with my continuing struggle to get my autistic son back into school.
In the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time and energy seeking further support for my son. I had reached a point where I knew my son needed more help than I could give him. After having got my son into school for a few sessions and then to see him regress again made me realise we needed help to unpick what is troubling him within the school environment. Unfortunately our attempts to get help from key professionals in our authority fell on deaf ears. As a result we sent an email to a very senior officer outlining our son’s situation and asking if our son could receive support as a matter of urgency. The letter worked and prompted a chain of reaction which led to a meeting a few days ago.
It wasn’t an easy meeting for me. I never thought that I would have to meet up again with the education officer who treated us so badly a few years ago and who insisted that there was nothing wrong with my son. We challenged the local authority of course and found the evidence to prove that our autistic son was very much in need of a statement and specialist schooling. Of course the delay proved detrimental; it delayed my son’s placement in a special school and prevented me from continuing with my postgraduate studies.
Its hard being in the position of facing someone who has caused so much damage to your family’s quality of life. You feel like telling them just what you think of them but I have learnt that emotional outbursts in these sort of meetings don’t work. Instead it is a lot more effective becoming knowledgeable about our children’s difficulties and their rights rather than get embroiled in a row.
Anyway, going back to the meeting, there I was in a tiny, airless room facing this woman and her colleagues many of whom I knew from previous meetings regarding my son. The atmosphere in the room was serious but kindly and certainly not as conflictual as some of the meetings I have with my daughter’s school. Everyone said their bit including me after which the education officer summed up the action that would be taken.
It has been agreed that from the new year my son will receive home tuition and the autism outreach team and the psychologist will work with me to explore what is triggering my son’s school refusal. I am pleased that at long last we have some action and even more relieved that my son will now have an opportunity to reengage with learning.
Another bonus was that I even managed to get some help for my daughter. As I left the building I spoke with the autism service leader and asked when my daughter would be receiving transition into secondary school. It is normal practice for such transition to be organised via the special needs teacher but as my daughter’s SENCO is useless I was very worried that my daughter would miss out. Fortunately, the autism service leader appeared sympathetic to our situation and has placed my daughter directly onto the transition programme. That is certainly one less thing to worry about this Christmas.