Friend or Foe?

In the early days of my son’s diagnosis I felt a compulsion to read as much as possible about autism.  It helped and I learnt a lot but after a while I grew tired of reading the academic explanations of autism and turned to reading accounts written by those who had the condition.  These provided much more interesting, holistic and human accounts of what it was like to be autistic.  I learnt more from them than the academic books which I found to be rather soulless.  Nevertheless in time I even stopped reading them.  Life was busy, I had no time and in any case I was learning about autism through my daily interactions with my son (and more recently my daughter).  I learnt from them, what they liked, what they didn’t, what things upset them, what made them happy.  When things became difficult we worked at finding a solution; we learnt to become flexible and creative and to try different approaches.  Sometimes we took advice but most of the times that advice was useless, a regurgitated piece from a text book that had little relevance to the boy or girl sitting next to me.  I realised then that knowledge about my children came from being with them and that reading from a book (whilst interesting) didn’t have all the answers.

Unfortunately I have met a number of people who don’t appreciate how much you learn as a parent of autistic children.  They appear not to value the knowledge gained within the family and the immense amount of support we give to our loved ones.  Instead they seem to think that reading a book or attending a course gives them superiority over people like me.  It is an infuriating attitude that came to haunt me the other day when someone from the local authority called round.  She has a new job to do with children out of education and called me a few days ago to arrange to see me and my son.  (It is important to note that my son is in school but our plan to build up his hours has been faltered by the school telling us that they can’t meet need.  It’s a complicated situation which we’re trying to sort out.)  Anyhow, back to the story.  I invited her in and she sat down and almost immediately she launched into a narrative about her career and how much she knew about all things related to autism.  She gave me no opportunity to contribute and to ‘share’ ideas and even discounted the report I had produced detailing the educational  history of my son.  She apparently did not want to lose objectivity of the case.

At this point, I started to feel threatened.  If she didn’t want to work with me or even listen to me, what was the real reason for her visit?  Did she think I was harming my child in quiet?  Did she think I was deliberately keeping my son out of school?  Whatever the reason for her visit I was alarmed by her aggressive and arrogant manner.  Nevertheless I did my best to cooperate and tried to encourage my son to come downstairs and talk with her.  Surprise, surprise he wouldn’t cooperate and remained in his bedroom!  As I explained to her, my son is not comfortable with strangers in our home and that it would take many visits for him to feel able to talk with her.  She commented that she would return and with that our meeting ended and she left.

I then went back in the house and met my son coming down the stairs.   He told me that he would not be speaking to that nasty woman.  (Apparently after I had a chat with him he left his bedroom and plonked himself on the stairs ready to go to school.  As a result he could hear much of the conversation!)  I couldn’t resist an inward chuckle.  For all her self-proclaimed expertise she didn’t have a clue about my son’s supersonic hearing and his innate ability to work out whether someone was a friend or foe.  This woman was clearly foe.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Parenting, School, School Refusal, Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

£30m to fund SEN champions – a waste of public money?

A press release from the DfE today announced that £30million will be used to fund champions to support families through the new SEN process.  Yes, £30,000,000!  Sounds good doesn’t it and I’m sure these champions will help some parents but personally I’m not convinced that this is the right way to spend taxpayers money.

I’d rather see the money invested into our education system because if the education system isn’t resourced enough to support ALL of our SEN children than no amount of championing is going to help.  Sorry guys but that’s the reality for some families like mine.  If there aren’t the schools, the specialist trained teachers and access to other therapies then no amount of champions are going to help.

I know myself that after going through the statementing process that the most challenging thing we faced was then to find a school that could meet need.   Quite simply we didn’t, not in the Midlands anyhow, which is why I’m not even bothering with the education system anymore.  I’ve wasted so much time and energy fighting for something that doesn’t exist that I’m now doing it myself.  This is proving to be a much more satisfying and positive experience than fighting against a system that is not up to the job of educating my daughter.  It also means my daughter is getting an education as I’m no longer preoccupied with fighting for that provision.

So for me I am not impressed that public money is going to fund key workers.  I know that for my family having a key worker would not have improved our situation.  In any case we already had access to support (Ipsea, Parent Partnership).  What we needed was access to a properly resourced  education system!

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged | 2 Comments

What sort of life will my boy have if he is dumped on benefits at the age of 16?

I have kept this post back for a while as it is a depressing read.  Nevertheless with the news today that more than 75% of our unemployed young people do not feel  they have anything worth living for, I think it’s  time I share what I have learnt about 16 + provision.

In the last few months we’ve been exploring post 16 options for our son.   This has involved various trips to mainstream and specialist colleges and talking to our specialist careers advisor about what is available.  On paper there appears to be lots on offer (including support) as long as your young person can cope with the FT nature of college courses.  If someone can’t keep up their attendance they’re thrown out.  For my son  this is a problem.  Due to the unpredictable nature of his ASD the professionals (and us) do not think he will manage such a course, even a course in a specialist college.  There is a slim chance that the sixth forms at the local MLD schools may be able to provide an individualised programme but my son refuses to engage with that.  He has made it clear that he doesn’t want to go to a special college but neither has he expressed any interest in going anywhere else or doing anything.  I think the transition to post 16 is troubling him a lot and his response to that uncertainty is to shut down and not properly engage.

For now we don’t know what to do.  I think it’s important that he goes somewhere outside the house, even if it’s for only a day or two in order to build up his confidence and to prevent his anxiety becoming worse but there doesn’t appear to be anything set up for people with ASD/mental health issues.  I asked our careers advisor what happens to people like my son and her response was that many of them end up on ESA (for those of you unfamiliar with this, ESA is an employment support allowance for ill or disabled people who are unable to work).

I couldn’t believe what I had heard, that in effect there is so little provision that young people like my son end up at home and on benefits.  Seriously, if this is what is happening I am sickened and beyond angry that the country has in effect given up on these young people.  What sort of life will my funny, practical and creative boy have if he is dumped on benefits at the age of 16?  It is totally wrong in my opinion and a situation I will not accept. My son has to do something even if I have to create something myself.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Disability, Mental Health, Post 16 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Looking back at 2013 – personal reflections

About this time last year I did  a New Year Resolution post, writing down some of the things I’d like to achieve during 2013.  It was a bit of a selfish post, a way to motivate myself to improve the balance in my life as I  was feeling totally consumed by all things #SEN.

Well a year on I think I can say that I  have made some improvements.  I have read a great deal of books (reviews still in the pipeline) and I have picked up a new hobby – crochet.  From picking up my first crochet hook last Christmas I have taught myself enough skills to have started a huge 300+ square blanket .  It really is a project and a half but I love dipping into it whenever I have a moment to whip up a few squares.  It helps to focus my mind on something else and stops me dwelling for too long on the negatives in life which sure as hell have been plentiful this year.  It also makes me feel as if I am accomplishing something which is a rather lovely feeling.

Besides the blanket I also created this Christmas wreath which was inspired by Attic24, a really super blog that I recommend to anyone  starting out on the crochet journey.  It took some work, this wreath of mine, but I am so pleased at the end result and I adore its place on my kitchen wall.  It lifts my spirits every time I look at it.

Ta-dah!

For some reason my wreath is lacking vibrancy in this picture.  Maybe it’s due to the lighting as I took the picture in the evening but I think you get the idea!

Anyway moving on.  Work has also been good this year.  I continue to work as a support worker (albeit very part time) and am enjoying my contact with the students and tutors though the politics of education remains  an issue with me.  For those of you who don’t know I started training as a skills for life tutor many years ago but had to give it up due to demands at home.  Now I am unable to progress as the  ‘rules’ state that I can’t teach unless I have the qualifications but I can’t get the qualifications without a placement.  Sigh, the inflexibility is so rubbish and I often feel frustrated at not being able to develop a career but with two #SEN kids the reality of me ever having a good job is remote.  My kids come first which is what it should be but still I have moments of frustration that I can’t do anything more meaningful outside the home.

In terms of my social life; this is pretty dismal.  I have gone from someone who had a fair number of friends to someone who has little contact with anyone these days.  This is partly my fault.  I simply have not made the time for anyone either because I’m too busy or feeling too tired.  I ought to try harder but exhaustion often gets the better of me and any spare time I have is spent curled up on the settee with my crochet.  I have also found that as my children have got older it has become harder to keep the connections going.  I think in part this is due to the widening ‘developmental’ gap between my children and others the same age.  My children cannot socialise very well which means that I don’t get any contact with other parents.  Similarly those who I did know when they were  younger have not understood our difficulties enough to stand by our side.  This doesn’t bother me so much these days.  I don’t want people around me who make me or my children feel unhappy; far better to focus on those who do make us feel good.

This also rather nicely moves me onto the subject of social media which frankly has been a god send.  I can’t tell you how relieving it is to tweet with people in the same boat and to read their blogs.  It is simply wonderful to think that I am not alone in the world even if I do feel alone at times.  It helps me to get things into perspective and to shake myself out of the hole of self pity.  So to all of you who use social media in a positive  way to help others or to spread awareness of a particular cause I want to thank you for doing what you do.  Your courage in sharing your stories helps others to feel less alone and I am sure helps to break the taboo over certain subjects.  I hope very much that one day these efforts will pay off and that the world will become a much more tolerant place particularly to those with invisible disabilities.

And with that I’d like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year.

Deb xxx

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Defending home education

Recently I became involved in an online discussion about the levels of support available to home educating parents.  As someone who is seriously considering this route I was particularly interested to hear from more experienced home educators.  As a result we started to discuss the types of support on offer but unfortunately the conversation deteriorated when one contributor suggested that some home educating parents were using home education as a means to abuse their children in secret.

The comment was antagonistic and had no place in our discussion at the time but the commenter  argued  that it was important to compare like by like, ie you can’t compare the best of home education with the worst of school system.  That is a fair point but in my opinion stating that some home educators were abusers in hiding is not equivalent to saying that for some children schooling does not work.  For example we haven’t specified the reasons why school fails some children (there are a multitude of reasons anyhow) and yet the contributor gives only one reason (and a provocative reason too) as to why home education may not be such a good thing.  Now I’m not saying that abuse doesn’t happen in home educating households but lets remind ourselves that it also happens to children who are attending schools.  So my point is if someone is going to talk about abuse then it is only fair if they discuss all the contexts in which this happens.  To only mention it in relation to home education is tantamount to a slur particularly when it is not backed up by any credible evidence (and yes that  TES article which was referred to was no more than an emotive piece of journalistic rubbish that was designed to discredit home education).  Not surprisingly the comments felt like an attack on home educators and in view of that I want to make several things clear.

1.  I love being with my children.  To be able to support them, care for them and educate them is something I enjoy.  This may seem strange to some people who can’t wait for their kids to be at school but when school becomes so difficult for your child then home education can be a very attractive option.  Even if it arises out of lack of choice or lack of support, parents can rise to the challenge of home educating and find (as I am currently finding) that the flexibility and safety of home creates a perfect learning environment.  Home educating is a viable option; it should not be derided or seen as the lesser option to school.

2.  I am more than qualified to teach my children.  I have considerable academic qualifications and tons of life experience.  I also work with adults with specific learning difficulties.  I am more than qualified to teach my children so please do not assume that because I am ‘just a parent’ that I know nothing.  I know more about my children than anyone else.  I know how my children learn.  I know what interests them, I know what doesn’t.  I know how to engage them and I know when to back off when they are overwhelmed.  I also know my limitations and when it becomes important to use the services of someone else in the support/education of my children.

3.   Abuse and neglect can happen in our schools.  It can happen to children who are in the education system, it can happen at the hands of professionals, it can happen at the hands of other pupils (bullying) and it can occur through lack of support.  I’ve seen the way my autistic children have been treated in school and the damage that has been inflicted on their vulnerable minds.  I’ve also seen how the imposition of a rigid curriculum with few opportunities for creative or independent thinking can also wear some young people down.  Its tragic but that is the reality of a standardised education system; it doesn’t suit everyone.

However, I also know that there are some outstanding schools and some outstanding teachers who do great things.  There are also some outstanding home teachers.  The point is that not one system is better than the other and we ought to be mindful of that and not pitch one against the other.  To do so divides our community and deprives the sharing of information that could help parents make an informed decision about how best to educate their child.

-v-

Another response to the claim that home education is being used as a cover for abuse is this powerful post by Live Otherwise – I have been accused of neglect .  Though this post is two years old it is still very pertinent to recent discussions.  I recommend that you read it and the comments.

Posted in Home Education | Tagged | 2 Comments

A surprisingly good Christmas

 

I don’t often talk about my son on this blog, particularly in negative terms, as I am respectful of his need to navigate his teen years away from social media.  However, this Christmas has been so successful that I think it’s worth sharing some of the amazing progress he has made.

For many years Christmas was not an easy time for us.  The change in routine and all the sensory stuff of the festive season was too much for my son who would often end up totally overwhelmed by it all.  We did everything we could to make Christmas doable for him and also our other children (as well as managing the expectations of others) but it was hard meeting everyone’s needs.  Often we found ourselves prioritising our son’s needs above everyone else which sounds unfair to our other children but our thinking was that if we made Christmas easier for him then it meant Christmas was more enjoyable for everyone else.  There is nothing worse than Christmas being blighted by meltdowns.  This isn’t a Christmas for anyone as meltdowns need not end as quickly as they begin; they can take days to recover from.

And so we set to create an autism-friendly Christmas, well as autism friendly as possible.  We reduced the number of presents, involved our son in choosing his present, kept socialising to a minimum (or not at all) and kept to a strict ‘home-based’ routine.  It wasn’t easy.  Difficult behaviour continued and sometimes we wondered if life would ever get better but with persistence and dedication from us we are now witnessing a turnaround.  Except for school (another subject for another day) he is coping so much better with the festive season that he now “loves Christmas” and the family traditions we have set up.  In fact such has been the transformation in him that he has even been able to cope with a trip to the big city to see the German Market.  This was unthinkable even a couple of years ago but now, with our support, he can walk through a busy market and cope with the multitude of sights, sounds and smells.  I am immensely proud.

His progress doesn’t end there though because this Christmas for the first time in many years we have had family over for Christmas day.  I had always shied away from entertaining at Christmas because my son could never cope but now he can sit at the table with other people and enjoy his Christmas lunch.  As well as that he has joined in with a few of our family games and laughed at Mrs Brown’s Boys (particularly her bucking bronco in the Christmas tree, an absolutely hilarious sketch).  A few years ago I could never have imagined my son even being able to sit still to watch the television yet alone laugh at a comedy.

Of course I am not so naive to expect that we’ve ‘got there’ and that there won’t be challenging times ahead.  With the uncertainty of post 16 and what will happen in early adulthood I am naturally anxious for the future but for now I’m going to enjoy the good times while they last.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Family Life | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Love, Life and Loss – a message for Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us and I guess I should write a blog bursting with joy.  Sadly I can’t.  The loss of two family members this year is feeling very poignant at the moment.

The passing of my nan a few weeks ago has left a gap in our Christmas rituals.  There are no more get-togethers in her cosy lounge, admiring the strings of Christmas cards, her plants and flowers and the ornaments in her display cabinet.  There are no more teas and coffees served in fine porcelain cups and saucers and no more tins of biscuits being passed around the room.  And of course there is no more conversation; no more chatter with my nan about family and friends and scrabble and crosswords and what’s on television.  That has gone now, lost forever except for the memories in my head, lovely heart-warming memories of growing up and spending time at my grandparents’ house.

I wish I could say the same about my mother-in-law but her passing has led to a lot of regret.  In the years before her death she and her husband had become increasingly distant from us and I could never work out why.  Was it something I had done or said, was it something my husband had done or said, did we live too far away or were my in-laws too busy enjoying their retirement?  I had hoped for the latter but I suspected something was up.  Unfortunately no one said anything and we  limped along only meeting up once or twice every year.  It wasn’t enough.  I wanted my children to have a relationship with their grandparents and to foster positive memories but alas the infrequent visits were hampering that.  It didn’t help that my children’s difficulties were also having a significant impact on our lives; we couldn’t just jump in the car and visit people.  We couldn’t leave our children either. We had to rely on others visiting us and even then such visits had to be pre-planned.  We tried to explain our children’s difficulties but I don’t think my in-laws fully understood.   I’m not sure they even tried to understand; perhaps they felt too old to cope.

Whatever the reasons I felt saddened by the loss of my mother-in-law and the end of opportunities to get together.  I was also angry with myself for not doing enough to bridge the gap though it’s hard to imagine what more I could have done besides trying to explain why my son and daughter struggle to do certain things.  I mean you can provide as much information of the autism spectrum as possible but if people aren’t interested or don’t want to accept difference in the family there is only so much a parent can do.

This is why for my Christmas post this year I would like to urge families to learn more about their autistic relatives and how they can help them and their parents/carers.  It may seem daunting, you may not know what to say, you may even be nervous by autistic behaviours but please find the courage to talk to the parents or carers.  Ask them what autism/aspergers is, ask them how it affects their children and how you can help.  It may not seem a lot but your interest in our lives would go a long way to relieve the isolation many of us feel.  It would also help you to connect with us and to learn about the joys (and challenges) of raising an autistic child.  You may even find that you enjoy the experience and that your life becomes richer as a result.  So, whatever you do please keep the lines of communication open.  Don’t hide away because of fear or ignorance for it not only deprives you of getting to know our children but it deprives our children of getting to know you.

Posted in Autism Awareness, Family Life | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Why has my son been denied support?

I am struggling with what has happened to my son.  I thought I did everything right – getting a statement, finding what I thought was a suitable special school and then helping him through his anxiety issues.  I was so sure that I was doing the right thing by him that I am feeling totally shattered by the behaviour of his school; the school he says he loves so  much.  I am finding it confusing that he says he loves his school this much considering the indifference shown towards him.  Perhaps the familiarity of the school is more important to him than the quality of the support?  If this is the case it makes him particularly vulnerable to bad practices that may be going on in the school and which I may not know about.

What I do know is that communication between school and parents is poor.  Even during our most difficult days when we were dealing with school refusal we have struggled to have any meaningful discussion with staff.  I have been alone helping my son get back to school and even when  I have succeeded no one has been there to help him settle into class.  It has often been left to me but I did it because my son loved his school and I was determined that he should feel better and of course it worked.  My son can now go to town, enter a coffee shop and enjoy himself.  More importantly he can even travel slightly further from home without having a panic attack so our efforts have worked.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Even so I am left asking what has actually been going on in school.  Has he had so little support that he couldn’t do the work or were the lessons so mind boggling boring that he just switched off?  Only the other day he said that he spent two hours doing nothing and that because he hasn’t done all his written work he can no longer complete the practical assessment.  I found it so sad hearing him tell me he couldn’t do the practical work.  This is the boy who loves hands on things but who is now denied this opportunity because no one has helped him to catch up or to complete the work.  I haven’t got all the facts at the moment but what I don’t understand is why he can’t do the practical work anyhow.  He may not be able to sit the formal assessments but surely he could do the task?  I find it poor.  I mean where’s the creativity?  Where’s the flexibility?  Where’s the will to make things happen for my son?

I don’t get it and yet the Ofsted report says it is a good school though interestingly in the report it states that pupils who receive the pupil premium make much more progress than those who don’t receive it. As many of you know, I am not a fan of the pupil premium because I think it’s discriminative against those who don’t receive free school meals (or who don’t wish to claim it).  I know there are plenty of people who think the pupil premium is the next best thing to sliced bread.  They would probably argue that the pupil premium is necessary to help level the playing field and to improve the prospects for children from poorer families.  It’s hard to argue against that but we need to be mindful that there are SEN children not on FSMs who also need additional support, children like my son.   (Conversely there may be children on FSM’s who don’t need it.)  Either way I have to ask whether FSMs are a fair way of deciding who should receive additional support.  Certainly in my son’s school it has become quite apparent that a number of other SEN pupils are receiving additional support.  I am not sure how that support is delivered but it is somewhat galling to hear that other children are getting support whilst my son isn’t.

I know there will be people who will think it’s OK for people like me.  They probably assume that children like my son come from a wealthy middle class family and thus don’t deserve extra support.  Well unless you are extraordinarily well off (and I hasten to add I’m NOT) I don’t think its OK for most families in the UK who have disabled children.  Services are stretched beyond recognition and its getting harder and harder to get support (or even an education) for our children.  Many of us are forced to fight for services and while you may argue that people like me are lucky to be able to fight I would answer that just because I can doesn’t mean I should. Fighting for our children is exhausting and on top of everything else can place incredible strain on relationships and lives in general.  This is not a life to be envious about, believe you me.

And yet it seems there are people who envy or even dislike children because of who their parents are.  Only the other day I came across a mini film of a young person talking about their home education.  It attracted a number of comments including several from those who clearly disliked the young person for coming from a middle class family who had the resources to devise such a programme.  I found the comments quite appalling because it seemed to me that in the midst of their envy they forgot that here was a young person who should attract our respect and support.  I mean they are our youth, the people who will one day run our world.  Regardless of their social class, we should be supporting them all, not hating them because of who their parents are.  Unfortunately it is something that I’m seeing a lot of within our education system; a palpable envy for the middle classes because it is assumed that they have the resources to get what they want.  It was an attitude that was used against me when I first tried to get help for my son (you know the sort of attitude; pushy middle class mum who’s trying to get an autism diagnosis for her child and so obtain resources above everybody else).  Yes that one!

Anyhow it feels as if this attitude is being used against me and my son again.  I hope I’m wrong.  I hope that because I’m feeling vulnerable that I have misread the signs.  Unfortunately the more I read into my son’s situation the more it looks as though he has been unfairly denied support which could have prevented the dire situation we’re now in.  Its been particularly hard to hear how our educational psychologist’s request for evidence from the school to possibly fund additional support was overlooked.  Why?  Was it an administrative error or did the school not think it important?  Whatever the reason I won’t give up.  I will try and remedy the situation through the official complaints process.

PS I have just come across a document that has detailed the supports funded by the pupil premium at my son’s school.  These include help with self esteem, anxiety, social skills and managing emotions, the very issues that my son needs help with but can’t access.  Is it any wonder that I am so upset.  Surely a special school should be providing every pupil with autism this sort of help and not just those who qualify for pupil premium.

Posted in Aspergers, Autism Spectrum Disorder, School, School Refusal, Special Educational Needs, Statement | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Betrayed

I can’t tell you how gutted I feel at the moment.  I trusted the school to do what was right for my son and now I feel totally and utterly betrayed.

My son’s annual review meeting was a tense affair.  We told them how unhappy we were with the possibility that our son’s place be removed because of his poor attendance.  We reminded them that our son had come a long way in his recovery from agoraphobia and to reject him now risks a regression.  The head of the meeting retorted that I had got it out of perspective and that my son’s place was not under threat.  Really?  That’s not what I was told earlier on in the week.  I distinctively recall being told that due to the pressure on school places my son is in danger of losing his place.  I rather suspect that after I asked the head whether the board of governors “knew SEN law” that they have since eased off with their threatening language.

However, they still maintain that the statement doesn’t meet need.  They argue that my son’s poor attendance is indicative of this but I am suspicious that they are going down this route in order to force my son out.  What angers me is that we’ve been having school refusing issues on and off for a number of years and never once during that time did this trigger any concern with his statement.  And there lies a problem in a way; perhaps his school refusing should have triggered concern (not in terms of chucking him out) but in upping his support.

I mean an autistic child with anxiety issues is clearly going to need some additional help above those who don’t have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  Its not enough to simply expect him to manage school without addressing the issues that are aggravating his anxiety.  Indeed I’ve tried very hard to flag up the issues that send my son out of kilter such as transition but its been like flogging a dead horse – no-one really wanted to know.  The attitude of the school is that if my son can’t manage what is on offer then its not the right school but this is a specialist school for autistic pupils for goodness sake.  It should be able to handle mental health issues and poor attendance!

As it is they’re now starting to show an interest in attendance issues and various strategies have been put in place to deal with it including an additional support group.  I found this by chance so I asked whether my son could benefit from this only to be told  that this is for year 7′s only.  I don’t believe them because when I found out about this group it was described as ‘also’ being used by new pupils which means that it isn’t just new pupils who are benefiting from it.  This begs the question as to why my son is excluded from it.

To make matters worse the school have also failed to liaise with my local authority over the possibility of additional support.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet so I’ll do a quick resume but be prepared its enraging.

About a year ago we had the  services of an educational psychologist who tried to help us find a way through my son’s difficulties.  It was hard going and at one point I nearly fell out with her when she suggested that his education become home based.  I knew this wouldn’t work because my son refuses to engage with learning in the home which is why I persisted in helping him get back to school.  At that point when he started building up his lessons the educational psychologist recommended to school that he receive increased support in class.  It was now early summer 2013 and it was agreed that if the school provided the relevant evidence the LA would consider funding a support worker.  It was left at that and me and my husband duly waited for something to be organised for this autumn except nothing did happen.  Apparently as we’ve just found out the school did not provide  any evidence to the LA and consequently no support has been organised.

I can’t tell you how gutted I feel at the moment.  I trusted the school and my local authority to do what was right for my son and now I feel totally and utterly betrayed.  What is worse is that their incompetence has worsened my son’s situation to such an extent that we have been told that he is unlikely to sit any exams!  The thing is if he can’t leave school with any sort of qualification what do we do?  He has already said he has “given up” and never wants to go to college and who can blame him.  Education has well and truly failed him.

Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, School, School Refusal, Special Educational Needs, Statement | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The plot thickens

Following on from my previous post I have now found out that the ‘concern’ about my son’s attendance has originated from the school’s Board of Governors not my LA as I previously thought.  According to the head the Board are going through pupil’s attendance figures with a fine nit comb and picking out those whose attendance is low.  They argue that there is a huge pressure on places and that because my son’s poor attendance is low this is indicative of the school “not meeting need” (?).  Consequently she says we have to look for alternative provision thereby freeing up his place for someone else.

What the head didn’t say and what I have subsequently found out is that a recent Ofsted report have stated that ‘low attendance’ was one of the reasons why the school did not receive  an outstanding inspection.  Interesting eh and no doubt indicative of a big attitudinal shift in the school and the Board of Governors who are clearly chasing an outstanding report.

I am disgusted that after all this time helping my  son to integrate into the school that two little words on an Ofsted report have triggered such a negative change in attitude towards him.  As many of you know, my son has come a long way from the days when he was agoraphobic and unable to leave the house to now being able to attend school part time.  I am convinced that if he hadn’t got a place in his special school he would not have come on as he has.  Indeed my son often says how much he “loves” his school which considering his earlier experiences in mainstream  is an amazing turn around.

Unfortunately the school doesn’t seem to care about my son or what he thinks.  They continue to insist that they can’t meet need which frankly is a load of crap.  They can meet need;  they’re just under pressure from a Board of Governors who are more bothered by improving their Ofsted ranking than the wellbeing of their pupils.

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Posted in Autism Spectrum Disorder, School, Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , | 1 Comment