Tag Archives: exclusion

Ensure Your Child With Asperger’s Syndrome Gets The Education They Are Entitled To!

8 Jan

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Every child In England has a right to a education, one that is fulfilling in all areas, yet enjoyable too. Our children should start school with an array of wonderful learning opportunities ahead of them. They should be offered a variety of experiences both in and outside off their place of learning.

A good education should be one that not only provides a child with good levels of attainment but also helps build confidence, decreases vulnerability to poverty, inequality and social exclusion regardless of race, religion or that of disability and special educational needs. Sadly things are not always so black and white and regardless of laws and codes, schools and local authorities don’t always play by the book.

We as parents don’t often find ourselves worrying about whether our children will receive an education catered to their specific needs, especially before they have even started full time education. We often find ourselves assuming that professionals will teach and respect our children as one would expect them too. This is even more so if we are yet to discover our child has SEN or a diagnosis consisting of Aspergers Syndrome as this can often be picked up much later when things have already become kinda messy at school.

Maybe you are aware of your child’s specific difficulties and professionals won’t listen (sadly this is a common scenario). The situation is one made more difficult if you are still trying to obtain an official diagnosis for your child! I for one understand this, given my own son was diagnosed at the age of 8 years old, obtaining a statement of educational needs at the age of 10 following a somewhat tiresome battle with the local authority.

We all know that early intervention is the key to success. If your child is lucky enough to already have obtained their diagnosis before they have reached the age of compulsory school age, then you already have one hurdle met. This may seem strange to some…. Stating that obtaining any diagnosis of a social communication disorder is in anyway lucky! But it is lucky to have obtained this so early… Those who are still trying to get their child’s official diagnosis as they almost leave for secondary school, will likely agree!

Below I’ve listed some ‘Tips’ and “Need to know” advice, to help you ensure your child on the autism spectrum gets a full and rewarding education… one they not only deserve but more importantly… the one they are entitled to.

1: Remember just because your child has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome this doesn’t Automatically mean they will be placed on the sen register.

2: You should know that it’s not just that of attainment levels or specific learning difficulties that leads a child to being placed on the sen register. It is also that of their emotional, social and behavioural needs. Some schools often fail to make parents aware of this when they are trying to obtain a better support for their child. Be sure to state your knowledge on the matter and don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

3: Teachers often have the ability to “Forget” to inform parents of important developments, ones such as placing a child on the sen register. If you know your child is likely to be placed on the register or suspect so, then be sure to ask them in writing. If need be you have the right to request your child’s educational record. The Education Act clearly states parents must be informed that their child is on the register and the reasons why. All developments should be recorded and shared with parents in writing. Parents should also be even the option to contribute to their child’s IEP.

4: Always Talk to teachers ensuring they know your child’s diagnosis and more so… any traits or difficulties that may present themselves during the course of the school day.

5: You often find yourself not wanting to be seen as the overbearing, over protective mother. Nonetheless, its important to make a stand from the start. Working alongside your child’s teaching team is always the most beneficial way forward. However, letting them know you won’t be frobbed off is also OK too.

6: Its OK to ask your child’s teacher or teaching team what experience they have when educating children with additional needs, autism spectrum conditions and SEN. Here in the UK it is usually the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) who you will want to meet with to discuss any worries or concerns as well as that of your child’s class teacher and if applicable, any teaching assistants.

7: Make an extra effort to record any incidents that occur at school. Whether it is the school that has informed you of these incidents or its something your child has told you, what may seem no big deal at the time may later be of importance, maybe even contributing to any evidence needed in order to get your child a statement of sen (soon to be health and education plan).

8: Make time to help your child at home with not only their homework but also social skills training. Use social stories to teach your child about different situations they may encounter while attending school and beyond.

9: Although it isn’t a pleasant thought you may want to bear in mind that children on the autism spectrum can often find themselves a target for bullying. Its horrible but sadly true that children can be very cruel. If your child’s traits are ones that are very apparent and stand out to other children as somewhat “Odd” I’d advise you to keep your ear close to the ground. Keep in regular contact with school and encourage your child to report any problems to a teacher they feel close to.

10: Remember, your child has the right to an education, one that is the same as that offered to his or her peers. Your child should not be made subject to discriminatory acts. Some examples are that of illegal and legal exclusions, internal exclusions or isolation, removal from certain lessons or not being allowed on school trips etc… without a very good reason. Those parents that are lucky enough to have their child’s diagnosis before they start school will have the opportunity to view schools asking questions on various subjects therefore ensuring their child’s needs can be met.

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11: If your child’s school is not informing you of any incidents especially those that affect your child’s emotional wellbeing, and therefore cause problems when at home as well as school, then request a daily school/home contact book. This means you can record any incidents that take place at home, ones you believe could affect your child during their school day. With this, the “Said” school would therefore be required to do the same. This would not only provide peace of mind but would also provide a written record that could provide useful if applying for a statement or making any claim with the first tier tribunal.

12: Watch out for illegal exclusion. No head teacher or other member of the teaching team should call you and request you collect your child unless they are officially excluding them from school. Parents may be told that their child has had a stressful day, they are tired, had a meltdown or are just being disruptive. The phone call will likely end with the school suggesting it would be better if you could collect your child so they can go home to calm down. Although you yourself may want to just take your child home avoiding them anymore stress, you should remember that the school are meant to officially exclude pupils and this exclusion needs to be put down and recorded on paper. LEAs need to be noted, work provided and letters given to parents. Schools don’t like having to record exclusions as this doesn’t look great on them (and who wants the paperwork). As parents, I guess we instantly don’t want this kind of stuff recorded on our child’s school records, especially when we are disputing the reasons surrounding an exclusion… Or do we? The school illegally excluding your child shows that actually… They cannot met your child’s needs! When trying to obtain a statement (or soon to be health and education plan) we need to show why our child’s needs can’t be met. By just telling an LEA that your child is being sent home regularly for poor behaviour, without anything to back it up, isn’t really going to get you anywhere. You need to provide evidence and this can only be provided by way of official exclusion.

Note… Even if you agree to collect your child, the school is still breaking the law by not making this official.

12: Children with Aspergers and SEN can sometimes have relatively bad attendance. This was specially the case for my little man. This has lead to three court appearances due to the lake of understanding provided by both his old mainstream school and the local authorities ‘Education Welfare Officer’ (EWO). Little man has an incredibly poor sleep pattern and this combined with the discrimination and other difficulties experienced when at school lead to the development of school phobia. It took me a long time to get him into the routine of going, so to have the school send him home at least three times a week was more than frustrating… It was shocking! Thankfully the last judge had little difficulty coming to that same conclusion.

Given this was my third appearance in court for this matter, and the EWO had stated that herself and the LEA felt that a prison sentence, alongside a grade two fine, would be the most suitable form of punishment for me (said by EWO when the judge asked her what outcome the LEA was hoping for) I was more than relieved to have the whole sorry mess come to an end.

13: Always remember to keep in contact with your child’s school if they are not attending. Make a diary and keep notes on conversations and appointments you’ve had. Cover yourself with medical evidence and like me… Request that the education welfare officer collect your child and let them endure the horrible task of trying to get your screaming child dressed and out the door to school. Especially when they are having a huge meltdown, acting violent and smashing up the house… And that’s on a good morning!

It actually took me three whole years of requests for the EWO to finally agree. Lets just say that she was now beginning to realise the stress I was under (not that it changed anything).

If your child is not attending then You should always request that work be sent home from school. Your child maybe school refusing but you don’t want them missing out on valuable education. I found that the school didn’t offer and I had to constantly request this. If you are taken to court and accused of Intentionally failing to ensure your child’s attendance (sec 4441(a) ) you can also show that your child was in fact educated during the period of time they have spent absent from school.

14: Remember the law states that your child must receive a full education at the age of five years old! The law doesn’t state that this has to be in a school environment. Home schooling is always an option and one you may consider best to ensure your child receives an efficient education. Nonetheless, its worth noting that by opting for this you remove the social opportunities a school environment presents (even if your child does struggle with such social settings). Dependent on how your child’s social skills are I’d be sure to ensure that home schooling involves lots of social skills training. When we home schooled little man after finally removing him from his mainstream primary school, I made sure he engaged in other activities alongside other children. He started boxing twice a week as well as a number of other activities. The LEA reports stated how they thought little man would have too many difficulties integrating back into a school environment as he wasn’t only left without a school for a year following mainstream but during most of his time at his mainstream school he was either excluded or hidden away in isolation! Reading such reports can be heartbreaking but in the end they only made me more determined to prove them all wrong. His now been in his independent special school for around 18 months and is popular among both the teachers and his peers.

15: Use visual timetables for both home and school. Highlight any up and coming events or changes well in advance placing them on a visual calendar. Making schedules and routines consistent between the two settings (home & school) could make things more simple for your child, therefore removing any anxiety towards school.

16: If your child has Aspergers or Autism they probably have a special interest in something or another. Little mans obsessive interest really did overtake his life as well as ours as a family. He would speak about nothing else and could quite literally drive you into a state of insanity with the non stop discussions on bus and train models. Having Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t make you stupid and as he started to get that bit older he realised that other children were taking the Micky out of his love of the big red bus. With this he did very well to suppress his interests while in school but this did have its downfalls… Once home he’d just explode. It would all come flying out and he’d normally have a huge meltdown before finally engaging in the activities he’d wanted to engage in all day. This meant little sleep… Very little sleep.

Its not so bad when your child is in an environment where other children don’t see him as particularly “Odd” They all have their very own “Special” interests to occupy their minds to even notice his. But some children ain’t this lucky.

Regardless of where your child is educated its important to try and maintain interests so that they don’t go too OTT (the point when your child can think of nothing other than their interest). Although they have passion, the lack of concentration & appropriate social engagement with others can present huge problems later.

You might want to start monitoring your child’s engagement in their interest to assess how obsessive these may be. If it shows signs of going over board you will need to try and limit the time your child engages in it. You can’t shut down their mind but distraction and routine is key. A child with a really intense special interest will probably know a lot about the subject and present some pretty impressive skills when it comes to their knowledge of the interest. This can be a real strength and as you celebrate this it will therefore help to install your child’s confidence. Just be sure they explore other areas too otherwise school work will not be tolerated if its not centred around the specific interest as they will struggle to concentrate on anything else whatsoever.

Don’t Let Your Child Be The Victim Of Discrimination At School

21 Nov

That’s easier said than done you may say, and yes I agree!

However, there are a few things you can do to help protect your child with autism from becoming a victim of disability discrimination in the school place.

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Its hard to believe that its even a possibility, but believe me, sadly it is! Just ask my little man!

1) If you receive a call from your child’s school asking you to pick them up because they feel your child is upset or stressed and this is disturbing the learning of his or her peers, be sure to only do so once you know the official routes have been taken.

You’re child’s teacher or head teacher may claim your child is upset and they are asking you to collect them for their own good. They may say its optional even, or you can bring them back after lunch. Its important that you ask for this to be made official (but in writing)! Ok, no one wants official exclusions documented on their child’s school record but if you later apply for a statement of special educational needs you will need this type of evidence to show the school cannot meet your child’s needs!

To not record officially is wrong! This makes it an illegal exclusion and the schools (especially that of mainstream) get away with this type of behaviour a bit to often!

2) Don’t let your child be left behind! When I say left behind, I am referring to that of school trips. Watch out for exclusions that take place on days of school trips… These are just to much of a coincidence and happened to little man all the time. If this does happen and happens often, be sure to make a record of days and times (plus reasons given for exclusions, which must be given in writing)!

Watch out for letters. I found that little man was often “Accidentally on Purpose” missed when trip letters were handed out. Ask another parent to keep you in the loop whenever there is a planned trip. I discovered that little man wasn’t being given letters. School trips actually went ahead without our knowledge. Little man was either kept isolated in school with the hope I’d never find out, or he was again coincidentally excluded on the day of any planned trips.

3) Watch out for OFSTED visits. You may find that whenever ofsted visit your child’s school, you’re child is either sent home or hide in a cupboard… Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme (although I actually wouldn’t put it past some schools) but they are hide away all the same.

It is very rare that schools end up with surprise ofsted visits these days, but many do get very short notice. Again be vigilant! Lookout for letters, talk to other parents and just keep your ear to the ground. If you then receive an evening phone call from a head teacher,(remember I’m talking from experience) who tells you your child had a bad day and will be in isolation tomorrow (in other words hidden) or excluded (hidden again) your ready and prepared!

You have the right to come into school and ask to speak to the ofsted inspectors. Put it this way… I’ve never seen such panic unfold within a school when I did this! I brought my EXCLUDED child in with me and let him have a meltdown there and then, right in front of the inspectors! I was honest and told him he wasn’t allowed to join his class because the nice lady from ofsted were there! Yes this didn’t go down well, and no I wasn’t popular amongst the teachers! But it is my child I care about, not them!

4) Listen to your child no matter how off the wall they may sound! I would get called into the head teachers office and be told little man had done a string of things. These mainly consisted of hitting teachers or something similar. He would openly protest that it wasn’t so, or he was pushed to the limit (head teacher dragging him by his shirt for instance)! You know your child and need to take what they say very seriously. I’m not saying that children with Aspergers are not capable of exaggerating the truth because regardless of what some may say I believe they are. However, teachers, like members of authority tend to stick together.The fact my child was very upset and would angrily protest was enough. However, the added factor of the head teacher being able to stand and tell a room full of people I’d called him a ‘Wanker’ excuse my language… When in fact I had only thought it and not said it just proved to me how messed up and cunning a system I was dealing with.

5) Do all your talking in writing…. If you wanna say it then go ahead, but I suggest you then go home and put it in writing! Email is the best invention ever! write what you have to say then attach it and send it in an email! Copy in other important officials and then print it and send it as a letter to them all too.

I sent everything by email and then letter. I would always send letters recorded delivery meaning a signature was required on receipt. Most other parents would think I was crazy, given the school was located 50 yards away but then they were not the mother of the child being discriminated against were they?

I could go on and write more as this is a lengthy subject involving many Dos and Nots! But my fingers ache so I think I will follow up on another day, another post.

What I will finish by saying is… By doing these things I managed to win a discrimination case. It also helped prepare a case for the LEAs refusal to assess for a statement of SEN… I then got that assessment and a statement. We also got little man into an independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers.

Not all endings are as happy as ours!

School Gate Ignorance

28 Jun

I had to write this.

Strangely following my blog post on school exclusion I was directed to a blog post by a fellow parent blogger regarding school trips and how a planed special trip organised by the head teacher for pupils who had “Not received a pink slip for unacceptable behaviour but instead done well on the schools reward system” had now been cancelled.

The Head teacher who promised the trip has now had to cancel it due to a parent complaining using the equality act.

Understandably parents were disappointed including the writer of the blog post. However most of the comments shocked me, making me release that some parents “May never get it”

I guess many of them commenters don’t have a child with SEN or even autism. Maybe they are not a parent like me who has a child who will always receive the pink slip for unacceptable behaviour no matter what he does! I feel for everyone of them children who lost out on the trip, it’s highly disappointing and very unfair for a child to feel such disappointment (believe my Child knows). However as a parent of the child who will never receive a gold star, I would never comment In the same way most have. It’s like some kind of witch hunt. Parents want the parent who put a stop to the trip named and shamed… Why? SO… there child can be bullied?

Now, I don’t even know if the child who’s parent has complained even has SEN, but in my experience the use of the equality act and that of the sudden change in plans make me assume so! I wonder if the child involved is like mine, a child who never got to go on a trip no matter how bloody hard he tried! I wonder if that child goes home and cries into his pillow because he feels rejected once again. I wonder if that child like my child, whacks his head against brick walls trying to make sense of it all, trying to actually pin point where they actually went wrong. I wonder if that child began scratching his arms till they bleed just because they were not allowed to attend yet another school trip?

Maybe I’m wrong… Maybe it’s none of the above, maybe the child is just dam right disobedient and needs a good taking down a peg or two… Who knows!

You see that’s my point! You don’t know! As a mother of a child who was discriminated against, a mother who’s child was naughty just for farting… That could have been me and if it was, to see those horrible comments… It could have broken me at one time of my life for sure

Quite honestly, the head teacher should have known better, reward systems don’t work for every child. My child would be on a red card daily because the way it worked didn’t work for a child on the spectrum like him. It took sometime but he was removed from the system and followed a different type of behaviour programme. This situation is even worse for the child who is undiagnosed slipping through the system branded a trouble maker.

Ignorance hurts, especially when it’s done when the facts remain unclear. I hate school gates and try to keep away from them! Why? Because its a fest of back biting and bitching and I just don’t have time for such crap. What type of message does this give our children.

I felt as if I was stood at the school gate as I read such comments, I felt like I now stand out like a sore thumb from many of my fellow bloggers just for writing this.

I may lose followers over this… But I don’t care… Honestly!

I blog from my heart and it’s my heart this is pouring from!

Think before you judge another especially If the picture remains unclear. We parents should stick together, the world is hard enough for our children, we shouldn’t make it any harder.

Please let me come too

26 Jun

I stood heart in my mouth, I no longer could find the words needed to comfort him, I couldn’t make this pain go away.

I tried to be strong, really I did! But it was hard, it was incredibly hard to see him this way yet again.

As he sobbed, catching his breath through his endless stream of tears he tried to speak “Mum, please beg them to take me… please”

He would normally explode in a fit of anger, haul himself into a wall smacking his head as he screamed and used endless obscenities as he raged. Not this time, it was like he had no energy, no fight left in his body… He was broken.

“What use will it do” I asked him…

“I knew he would do this, I knew it” he sobbed as he lay in a heap on the hallway floor.

I turned away so that he wouldn’t see my own tears for I needed to be strong, strong for my child.

Two hours later my son was still laid out on the floor, red faced with bulging sore eyes. He wasn’t having a tantrum, he just laid silently as if in a deep trance.

My child had been told he wasn’t allowed on a school trip, he would be excluded on that day instead! Do you think his reaction was a bit extreme?

I don’t!

My son had been uninvited from many school trips, coincidently excluded whenever one was planned. I was in no doubt that this was just because my son has Aspergers Syndrome.

This was however a trip he had looked forward to! One they had continuously used as a reinforcement tool for gaining desired behaviour. They excluded him for two days, except one of these days feel on an inset day meaning it would consequently role over onto the next day, the day of the trip! What had he been excluded for? Something so small I can’t even remember!

It wasn’t just the missing out that hurt my child, it was every single act of rejection he was submitted to, each one breaking down his self confidence a little more.

So, why am I writing this now… Of course I mentioned it before, back when it happened, his now in a special school and enjoys many trips. However, this is not the case for every child and when I hear of another child being continuously subjected to the same treatment, it breaks my heart a little more!

The UK is fall of children stuck in pupil referral units, treated like a criminal when many just have SEN and have been failed by the system. Others are out of school because no one is willing to take them (especially when they see that exclusion record with your child’s name on it) this was the case for my child for around 6 months.

In my opinion the laws surrounding exclusion are slack. Why is it that children are excluded on trip days, given a double dose of punishment. Surly regulations should be made much tighter!

If you have a child subjected to this type of treatment then it’s time to speak up. Your not alone and if we all come together we have a much stronger chance at getting heard.

#HAWMC DAY 17 – Learning the hard way is often the only way

20 Apr

He stood before me, his expression was one of seriousness & confusion…

“Miss xxxxxxx I don’t know what you’re trying to suggest here, but we both know that you made the decision to collect and take your son home, nobody requested you do so!”

Speechless, I felt my whole body tremble. It wasn’t fear but a mix of both anger and shock! This surely wasn’t how it was meant to be! This was… Well, just wrong! 

“Excuse me, but you called me and had me collect him, you know you did!” 

He stared blankly at me as he made a continuous  shaking motion with his head. Suddenly it hit me… If this man could stand before me telling porkers then he could surely do the same when discussing any situation relating to my child. Now, I always believe my child when he tells me something though he does have this unintentional habit of exaggerating a situation a tad so. Now, I’d never again question his words, especially if it had anything to do with his head teacher!

You don’t really ever expect to receive a call from your child’s head teacher requesting you collect your child immediately because they are unable to contain his unpredictable and challenging behaviour, especially when they have always claimed he has no issues at school, implying it’s a “Home Thing!” This is even more surprising given the fact it’s suddenly a recurring event, one that is now being denied! 

This was the kick up the behind I needed to learn everything education related. This included, school’s and LEAs statutory requirements, the SEN code of practice, Education act and anything else related to SEN.

Of course my first discovery was that of “Illegal Exclusions” I therefore quickly got legal advice before putting my findings to the Head teacher and those other professionals attending the current meeting. I half  expected to be thrown a few excuses but to stand and look me in the eye and lie… No, I didn’t expect this!  

Feeling a mixture of sickness and disbelief, I asked myself where we’d go from here. Deep down I knew this was the beginning of a battle… I guess I just never expected it to be so tough!

Yes, this is one of many incidents that happened during Little man’s mainstream schooling, in fact this is a pretty mild example! 

Some of the events that followed were truly horrifying! Exclusions on a weekly basis, especially on days of school trips or special events… He even got hide away while ofsted inspected the joint! He was taught in isolation like some cage animal and the bull shit keep following. 

On one particular occasion when I was collecting Little man from school as a result of yet another exclusion, it was claimed my son had called the head teacher a “Wanker” and I openly agreed. Now… although I did pretty much by this point consider him to be just so, the incident was one that never actually occurred whatsoever, it was all based on lies. Another occasion was in relation to a weekly trip the children made to the local allotment. It was agreed I’ll attend so little man could go! However, on this day I was informed of a staff shortage with the result being a cancelled trip. 

As I sat enjoying the mid-days sun while sipping a lemonade through a straw as I enjoy my last few hours freedom which I happened to be spending with my sister in my mother’s garden that lays directly opposite the allotments. Suddenly, I’m greeted with the most worrying sight. Sitting up I flick my sunnies from my head down to my eyes in order to get a better look! Surely not… No stinking way is that them! But it was, it was all of them, the whole class minus one!

I wasn’t mistaken as a child recognised me and waved… though they were no more than 15ft away the teacher failed to spot me, though I spotted him and god that made me angry! 

I felt my eyes begin to water beneath my oversized sunnies. My sister looked a me, her face a picture of pure horror, she asked… “Claire… what are you going to do?”

“Nothing!” was what I answered!

On collection from school I asked the Little man’s Teaching Assistant what the children did instead of attending the allotment… as expected, I was feed so more bum fluff!

Of course now I was pushed to a limit… With this and a whole host of other sad events I filed a claim of “Disability Discrimination” I had my fighting boots on and I was adamant that I’ll pull them down and show them to be the “True Professionals” they really were!

I’d be lying if I said it was easy! There was tears, lots of tears. Lies… so many I’d lost count months ago. Reading the schools response to my claims I truly saw how corrupt they were as I saw a filed document being used as evidence. This document was a timetable of the allotment programme, it claimed that 2 schools (one being theirs) had agreed to swap days that week, they claim it was this group of children I see! 

A week before the hearing I agreed on a settlement. I  removed my son from the school but I needed to not only have the schools lies revealed as just that… Lies! I also wanted my child to be given a full apologise while it was of great importance that this terrible treatment didn’t continue on in this manner. 

Having rejected a series of written apologies while suggesting alternative wording for the next, we finally got there. The Letter apologised for different incidents as well as stating it would review it’s policies and train its staff in SEN with a certain date attached as a deadline. 

What exactly did I learn the hard way? I learnt that those we often put our trust in are the ones we sometimes should fear most. I learnt how money and funding truly comes before the child when it comes to that of education. Lastly I learnt that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was!

Melatonin for the child with autism

8 Nov
A bottle of melatonin tablets

Image via Wikipedia

 I may have recently mentioned that Little man has had a change of medication. He is still taking Melatonin, however now his on a different brand, ‘Circadin’ which is a prolonged- release tablet.

  Melatonin isn’t a medication given to Little man as a way to control his Aspergers syndrome, it’s actually given to help him to sleep at night and remain that way in-till a suitable hour. Many children on the autism spectrum have difficulties with settling to sleep and little man is definitely one-off them. 

 Melatonin, actually belongs to a natural group of hormones and it’s something everyone’s body naturally produces. It’s the Melatonin we produce that helps us to become tired and relaxes our mind enough for us to sleep. Its thought that those on the autism spectrum do not produce enough of this hormone hence the reason why so many are unable to sleep or sleep for long periods of time. 

 Little man has had this problem since he was baby and in all honesty it’s grown much worse with age. I wrote an article for SEN magazine back in August which describes the time I woke in the night to find my 4-year-old son frying a bit of bacon in the kitchen, a child who couldn’t understand why I would be angry about this. The most worrying time for me was when he turned all the hobs (gas rings) on and almost gassed us (We now have a safety switch located on the wall.) However Little man is now 11 years old and I feel he is that bit more responsible about stuff like this and doesn’t tend to act in these dangerous ways quite as much. Don’t get me wrong he is still so much more impulsive than most children, I’ve just banged on about the midnight cooking so much, I think his got the message!

 As he grew that bit older, I noticed it wasn’t so much him waking in the small hours that was the problem, more the fact he wasn’t settling to sleep at all. I got sick of hearing people’s advice when stating, “Take his computer away, remove the television from his room etc….” What people couldn’t grasp was the fact that these items had sod all to do with it! It was his mind he couldn’t switch off, not the television!

 Little man started taking Melatonin when he was 8 years old around 8 months before formal diagnosis which he obtained from CAMHS following numerous assessments (another post altogether). At first it worked a treat, I suddenly discovered that I’d spent the last few years a ‘Night Owl’ and now couldn’t adjust my own sleep pattern, just as I began making progress, Bang… the Melatonin would stop working it’s magic and we were back to square one! I really didn’t want my child receiving stronger medication, though I’m non judgemental to those that do take this route, I just felt it wasn’t for us. 

 I learnt that by stopping and restarting the medication it worked better, nonetheless this was only for at a few weeks at a time, meaning I walked around with permanent shopping bags hanging from under my eyes. Little man spent a lot of the earlier days out of school and at home sleeping! I knew that the best way to deal with this was to get tough and keep him awake tough-out the day in-order to sleep at night, but trust me, it wasn’t easy! Have you tried to wake a child who can become very aggressive at 7.30-am given he only went of to sleep at the ghastly hour of 5-am? As mentioned Little man didn’t begin on any type of medication till he was 8 years old, yet we had been faced with the reality of sleepless nights from day Dot. 

 When Little man started reception at age 5 years, sleeping was already a big an issue as ever and by the age of 7 years the school already had the education welfare officer on my back. I can honestly say that it was at this very period of my life that I was the lowest I have ever been to date. I was taken to court and fined like some careless mother who couldn’t give a rats arse about her child. Yet here I was screaming at the top of my lungs, “I need some help here” yet it felt like no one could hear me (the cold hard reality was no one wanted to hear me). I was just 24 years old then, seen as a young mum without a clue! The court went as far as to send me to parenting classes and stick me on a parenting order. 

 It was back then I lived my life on red bull and expressos, weighed a little over 7 stone and booked myself into a counselling . Little man’s Asperger’s syndrome was now at its height of making itself known. My own child would hit, punch, kick and bite me. I remember one day falling to the ground sobbing, I looked up to see him stood before me laughing. His grandmother later asked him why he thought it was funny? His answer, “Mummy had a red face” 

 It was such a long deliberating fight to get him on the CAMHS waiting list and I released that It was only me that could get him there. My therapist, who was a god sent, said to me during one session, “You’re not a bad mother, go with your instincts” that was the best advice anybody could give me back then! I refused to listen when teachers told me rubbish, implying it was his home life that was the issue, always telling me they saw no issues at school (note they forgot to mention to myself or CAMHS that he had been placed on the sen register, and was bullied for mimicking the opening and closing of a train door) these were things I didn’t discover till I wised up and requested his entire educational record under the freedom of information and Data protection acts when gearing up for a discrimination case. 

 I think that the school expected miracles once little man started on the Melatonin. He would constantly be brought in late, given I had spent the last three hours trying to get him up dressed and out the door! I always got dealt the same insulting comment, “What did you forget to give him his sleeping meds last night” Yer…. right, of course I bloody did. It always rattled me a little more given the fact I’d not slept a wink and spent the morning trying to persuade him to remain in his clothes instead of stripping and running away. It still makes my blood run cold, how quick someone who is meant to be a professional is so quick to judge. 

 Of course I ended up back in court, thankfully the parenting order was scrapped, nonetheless I was still fined for the hard fact that yes I was his mother and regardless of any medical reasons and so forth he hadn’t been in school on so and so day so I was therefore guilty. Can you believe that the head-teacher wasn’t able to come due to school commitments and as my sentence was said out that same head master was busy leaving me a voicemail, informing me my child was excluded for 4 days (the 3rd exclusion in around a month)! No, they were no longer stating he was the angel at school like they once did!

 It’s fair to say that his sleeping issues that are a result of his Aspergers syndrome, have had a huge effect on our lives and my (looks, ha-ha seriously bags and wrinkles are not a hot mamma look)!  My point is, lack of sleep has a huge impact on everyone’s ability to function in everyday life, combined with the effects of poor social interaction, the ability to see an-others way of thinking, anxiety and the day-to-day pressures of life itself makes life a lot more pressing for a child on the autism spectrum and therefore the family too. 

 The new medication is taken in tablet form which has been a bit challenging as his so used to the capsules. I’ve noticed that once taken his much calmer within the hour. He sleeps well though there are still nights that it starts lacking in its benefits so again we need to break for one or two days, I try to do this during weekends but sometimes it’s the case by mid-week. Despite this the medication is actually much better then the last one which was actually having no benefit at all. 

 The first week of the new meds there were a few side-effects such as a hangover effect on wakening and he become much more emotional, crying on return from school for no particular reason. He also felt really tired and would fall asleep as soon as he walked through the door, which isn’t something we are not used to, and not really ideal when he has to sleep through the night. I must note, however off-putting these side-effects may sound, they lasted a little over a week, then began to disappear so to push on is the key. 

 If you’re a parent and your child suffers from difficulty in sleeping it can have a massive impact on your life. Little man is under the sleep clinic and although things are not always great, there is the odd few nights we get a great kip which compared to what its been like previously, its good progress. 

 I would advise any parent, whether their child has a diagnosis of autism or not, to go with their gut. Don’t suffer in silence, a GP can make the appropriate referrals and is able to prescribe a medication such as Melatonin (those in the states can obtain this over the counter and looks something like the image above). You as the parent need sleep in order to do the best job possible in raising your child, seek advice before it gets any worse (and believe me, it will)!

Little man takes over the blog!

6 Oct

Well, Hello everyone

Very special post for you all today, a treat for all that voted for me as their Most Inspiring blogger, I’m humbled and still on cloud nine that I won.

Anyway enough off all that, I’m boring every one with my over excitement.

So, as for this treat I have to share? Those who have been following this blog from day dot will know how hard its been and may remember a post I was preparing back in late 2010?

It was in actual fact an interview as opposed to a post.

The person being interviewed would be my very own Little man (aka a boy with aspergers)

Yet things got messy and things were now far to uncertain in little man’s life. I was confused! Can you just imagine how he felt!

I made a claim to the tribunal on the grounds of discrimination against Little man’s old mainstream primary who were now teaching him in isolation, hiding him from ‘Ofsted’ inspectors, excluding him daily, which they did once or twice on an unofficial basis! This soon stopped as I set about learning the Ins and outs of educational law.

Little man was never able to mix with his peers, he missed one school trip after another, till he snapped and began throwing his whole body into brick walls, scratching his arms till they bleed and whacking his head against the wall!

He even sat in a room alone as his peers enjoyed Christmas Carols in assembly.

Final straw was well and truly pulled and I withdrew and become his mum and his teacher for a few months. He then got a home tuition programme on the grounds there were medical reasons.

We were now fighting for an assessment, then a statement. We got both, but the statement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Only a few months back did we receive his now final statement with everything in it (OT and SALT)

best of all his attending an independent special school for children with Autism and Aspergers.

We withdrew the discrimination case at the last-minute settling outer tribunal. We now have the apology letter for the heartache caused. It’s not going to repair things but it’s something and little man can look at that one day when he needs to as he often blames himself.

I was also taken to court for Non school attendance, what a disgrace I know! At least I didn’t go to prison, though it was possible.

Now life is better, I look at that mess and think about how stressed and unhappy we were as a family! That’s why I think now would be a great time to got that bit further and let Little man do a bit of the talking for a change, hopefully building up some confidence along the way.

We don’t have a magical tale to tell, just some pretty normal random stuff and a bit about the issues above. All the same we really hope you enjoy reading…

It’s 4 pm Little man returns from his day at school via his transport/taxi. He doesn’t ran off to his room like he always did in the past, things are different somehow now!

He came and sat with me and he spontaneously begins telling me about his day. He received ten thumbs up the highest achievement one could get! I was chuffed and he was just as happy, I could tell by the big fat grin spread across his chops.

Mum: So, Little Man do you fancy being interviewed

LM (Little man) Being What?

Mum: Interviewed!!!

LM: Like on the news mum?

We’ve both done reports with the BBC news and ITN as well as local papers and radio.

I can’t blame him for thinking it!

I explained what I wanted to do in terms of sharing it with readers from the blog. He looked at me like a weird crazy chick.

Mum: If I interview you the readers will hear your own voice instead of your mums!

LM: How, if its written?

Yep he has a literal understanding to which I try my best to avoid them little sayings but they sometimes slip of the tongue.

LM: What do you mean they want to hear my voice instead of my mums! You are my mum!

Yep, I’d hit him with a double dose of confusion!

Mum: Oh,You know what I mean (as soon as I said it I thought what a stupid thing to say).

LM: Umm Nooooo

A little bit more prep and we were back on track (though I avoided making that statement out loud)!

Ready steady go…..

Mum: Hi there, what’s your name and how old are you?

A burst of laughter filled the air!

LM: You know my name mum stop asking me stuff you know.

Mum: It’s not for me, it’s for our readers, come on let’s do it!

LM: Do What?

Mum: The blog… Do the interview!

LM: Oh… *giggles* I know now! My name is G and I am 10 years old!

Mum: *cough-cough, How old?

LM: Oh, Oh, I’m 11 actually I had a birthday on Saturday.

Mum: Sign you’re getting old.

LM: I’m just 11 years old, your very old…

Charming!

Mum: So you have something called Asperger’s syndrome can you tell us a little bit about it if you don’t mind?

LM: I can, Aspergers is a very, very clever thing, But I didn’t used to think this. Some geniuses have Aspergers.

Mum: What… Ginger’s?

LM: Nooooo Genius

A few months ago he would have taken that as me taking the “piss” out of his hair resulting in a meltdown. This time he laughed at my mistake alongside me 🙂

Mum: are you a genius?

LM: No! Well actually I’m a genius on buses and bus numbers I think!

We then get stuck into his favourite game for a further 10 minutes. I have to shout out random bus numbers and he states their destinations.

LM: Mum, I really Like the lady’s voice who announces your destination on the bus! Is she a computer?

Mum: Umm yes, I think so!

LM: Mum is she foreign?

Mum: What, why?

LM: I just need to know!

He continues mimicking her voice in a monotone type of way!

Redirection was needed, Buses could kill this interview!

Mum: What School do you go?

LM: xxxxx school for autism

Mum: Where did you go before?

LM: With my tutor!

He looks sad as he misses him dearly. The tutor taught him on a one to one basis at the library for 5hrs per day during the week as no school would take him (apart from his current one who the LEA first refused). He was with his tutor at least 6 months.

Mum: What school did you go to before that?

LM: A horrible one!!

LM: Why wasn’t I allowed to play or be with other children. The head told me I was rough and made me miss all trips at last-minute. He made me angry, he didn’t like me.

LM: Mum, I don’t understand why I was never allowed in classroom when I was good? Is it because I have Aspergers so I’m not the same?

Mum: No you’re not the same your better!

Slight smile…

LM: Mum tell the readers about the day he called us at home and wouldn’t let me on the coach!

I said two words and he cried… It still hurts, So we skip it.

Mum: What’s the best thing about your new school?

LM: Time!

Mum: Time… I don’t understand.

LM: You are not told you have 10 minutes or 20 minutes no one rushes you and makes you feel worried about doing work. That’s the best bit!

Mum: That’s good babe, anything else?

LM: The children some are like me. They don’t pretend to like me I think they do.

I’m rubbing a tear 🙂 a happy one of course.

Mum: Whats the best lesson?

LM: PHSE… No, no actually Social skills!

Mum: What’s that then?

LM: Faces and stuff…

Mum: Faces?

LM: Yes, faces and feelings and the way faces look!

Mum: Oh… I see.

LM: We can’t do science in special lab yet.

Mum: Maybe soon?

LM: Yes, maybe!

Mum: What are you good at?

LM: Maths… you know that mum because I’m better then you!

No, his not joking… He is!

Mum: What lesson are you not so good at?

LM: Handwriting, I don’t like it as it hurts my fingers.

Mum: What else don’t you like?

LM: A knife and fork scrapping on the plates like Alice does!

He pulls a funny face and wiggles

LM: It makes me fuzzy mum!

Mum: So, What do you really love like?

LM: Lots… I like buses best ever, then trains & tube and black taxies.

Mum: Anything else?

LM: The word international and music, I like Bruno Mars.

Then his gone…

Mum: “Where you going” I shout!

To which he replies…

“We are finished mum”

Charming, so, bloody charming indeed!

Section one, Part (1) Introduction to special educational needs

13 Sep

  Introduction to Special educational needs

 So, what exactly is the definition of Special educational needs?

A child is only considered to have special educational needs, (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty that requires a greater level of support than his or her peers. This would therefore require educational provision to be made for the child.

 A child who has a disability that prevents them from fully accessing the same educational facilities as his or her peers, would also be considered to have SEN. This also counts for children who have social and emotional difficulties, or conditions that affect a child’s mental state, though this child would only be seen as having SEN providing such a condition hinders them from fully accessing educational facilities, therefore requiring provision that is either extra or different from what the school gives through its usual differentiated teaching.

 Children that are younger than the compulsory school age, can also be considered as having SEN, if it is determined early on, that such child could not fully access the same educational facilities as his or her peers, or they have a learning diffculty that will certainly require special educational provision that is extra or different to the provision given to his or her peers, as and when the child was to start full-time education.

Section 312 of the education act 1996, stats, Special educational provision means:

“a) For children of two or over, educational provision which is additional to, or otherwise different form, the educational provision made generally for children of their age in schools maintained by the LEA, other than special schools, in the area.

b) For children under two, educational provision of any kind.”

Definitions in the 1998 Children Act (section 17 [11], Children Act 1989) defines a disability to be…

“A child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dump or suffers from a mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be described.”

 Autism and misconceptions

 It is often the case that parents of children whom have been diagnosed as having an autism spectrum condition assume that their child’s educational setting will naturally make adjustments and accommodations for the child! Most assume that a child with autism is automatically considered to have special educational needs, therefore requiring additional provision to be made. Again isn’t actually the case at all. A formal diagnosis of autism is just that, “A diagnosis of autism” nothing more, nothing less! Such a diagnosis does not entitle a child to receive additional educational provision (through the school must make reasonable adjustment for any child with a disability, this is a different thing all together).

 Although a child with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder is classified as having a, ‘disability’ this is not a ‘learning difficulty’. Whether the child has a learning difficulty is usually determined by the school or local authority (LEA) dependent of the child’s age.

 Common confusion

 It should be noted that despite a child’s autism, they may well succeed academically, requiring little if any extra provision at all. This is more commonly the case for children diagnosed with High functioning autism or Aspergers syndromeHowever it is extremely important to remember that regardless of a child with autism high academic progress, who may have even received the top grades in their class, can still be considered and seen as having special educational needs. As mentioned before, if such a condition as autism affects areas of the child’s social and emotional functioning while at school, hindering the way they access education could result in a child being placed on the special educational needs register. Behavioural difficulties, exclusions, misunderstandings, due to poor social interaction and communication, increased anxiety and school refusal are all factors that should be taken into account when considering if a child has SEN. Sadly it is often the case that LEAs refusal to carry our a statutory assessment or even issue a statement as they claim the child does well academically therefore not requiring additional provision to be made. This is not true and certainly isn’t a good enough reason not to make educational provision for such a child.

 Lastly it is important to remember that just because a child doesn’t speak English as a first language doesn’t  mean they have SEN.

 Coming up next time… Section one understanding special educational needs, part two, ‘The stages of SEN and is my child receiving the right type/amount of support?’

All information has been created to help others for their own personal use, this advice is independent and is given by myself a lone (No 3rd party participated was used throughout). Please do not use article for anything other than personal use, nor edit the information in any way. All published articles, throughout this site remain property of the author and this blog. Alway seek permission before using any post for anything other than described above. 

Thank you 

Creator

Claire-Louise

To download or see the rest of the fact-sheets via Google Doc’s Click HERE

My contribution to the world of SEN

11 Sep

A while back I came up with the idea of creating a number of information sheets, that contained information for parents regarding special educational needs (SEN). These would be first published on the blog with the option of a download via my, ‘Goggle Doc’s’. 

 Like always, I took this plan and laid it out bear, for all members of my facebook page to see! This was in the hope of gaining constructive feedback, and establishing just how many people within one group may benefit from such information! The feedback has been overwhelming, with all that responded requesting I push on a head as many are at their wit’s end.

 Bearing in-mind the, ‘Green paper’ and the impact it would have on the way an LEA statemented a child, I was unsure whether It would now be a waste of time to go ahead with such an idea. However, given the response and the fact I’m still seeing a mass of parents visiting the, ‘Boy with Asperger’s facebook page’ on a daily basis, all with the same concerns, relating to the SEN system, especially that of the statementing process, (how it works and what rights they have). I decided to go ahead! 

 Of course these documents will need a complete overhaul, once the new system comes into play, but for now, they may be very beneficial to somebody who is about to, or otherwise already on, the Special educational needs roller-coaster.

 It’s a big old jungle out there, meaning there is a huge amount of information you will require! So… this is how if decided to deliver it!

I will create three sections, these will be… section one,‘Understanding Special educational needs’ (requests, assessments, decisions). Section two, ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’. Section three, ‘Preparation and the hearing’. Section four, ‘Maintaining a statement of SEN’(annual review, requests & decisions) Section five, ‘Disability discrimination

 Now you know what Sections will be covered, here’s what each will contain!

 Section one, ‘Understanding Special education needs’ (request, assessments and decisions):

  1. Introduction to Special educational needs (SEN)
  2. Stages of SEN & Is my child receiving the right support
  3. Request for a, ‘Statutory Assessment’
  4. Decision to make a, ‘Statutory Assessment’ (Process & time-scales involved in carry out an assessment)
  5. Decision to Statement (Delivered in three sections 1) The proposed statement, 2) Parental choice (type of school, including a break down of options) 3) The final statement.

Section two: ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’

  1. A refusal to carry out a statutory assessment
  2. A refusal to issue a statement
  3. Appealing the contents of a first Statement (including the school named in part 4)
  4. Appealing the contents of an amended statement
  5. A refusal to amend following a statutory reassessment 
  6. A refusal to change the school named in part 4 of a statement
  7. An LEA’s decision not to amend a statement of SEN following an annual review
  8. An LEA’s Decision to cease to maintain a statement

Section Three: ‘Preparation and the hearing and decisions ’

  1. Mediation 
  2. Witnesses 
  3. Working documents
  4. Representation
  5. The hearing
  6. The decision

Section four: ‘Maintaining a statement’ (annual reviews, requests and decisions)

  1. The LEA’s duty to deliver the contents of a statement (required steps if duty is not delivered)
  2. The right to request the school named in a child’s statement 
  3. Requesting a Reassessment of your child’s special educational needs
  4. The Annual Review process (Including information on an interim review)
  5. The Annual Review Year 9
  6. Annual Review Year 10

Section five: Disability discrimination

  1. Admissions
  2. Every child’s right to education
  3. School trips and education & additional activities (including playtimes, assembles, after school activities)
  4. Unofficial exclusions
  5. Exclusions
  6. Alternative education
  7. Permanent exclusion
  8. Raising complaints
  9. Claiming Disability discrimination and the Law!
  10. The order of the tribunal

 Each section will come with useful links and contacts. Section one, (a) will be posted on Monday the 12 th September. This post will be copied and added to the SEN, Know how! Page (This page will list all the post already published, providing a link for easy allocation). This means you will be able to locate your desired section and its content whenever you require it. It’s a challenge to bring you, my readers, all of the above. But those that know me, even in cyber-space, will know, I love a challenge!

My plan is to cover all the above, depending on how fast I can do so, is yet to be seen. Remember the laws and procedures applying  to Special educational needs are all gearing up for a change (I will adapt this as need be, in-order to fit in with the new Education, health and Social care plans as of when it arises). As for how often I can publish each section and what it contains is random. I’m not prepared to tie myself to a certain day of the week, for one, this would be far to many weeks and at times I may decided to write two at once, or three a week, other weeks, I may have no time to write non at all. SEN is a complicated process, you really do need to be in the right frame of mind to get this out there. You should also remember I haven’t personally been through every single one of the listed above. However, I have been through many, and have read and studied a great deal in the subject. 

 Disclaimer: The information provided, has no bearing on my role as a tribunal adviser with NAS, and the advice provided is given on an independent level through my own choice to help others dealing with the listed issues and is created to form an additional feature to this blog and my facebook support page. Each post will contain a link that enables you to download as a fact-sheet via Goggle Docs. Copyright still remains the same! No one should copy or republish the information without given credit to the author and providing a Link back. If you require the use of this informational for anything but personal reasons, full permission must be sought. Please do not edit any of the wording in any of the post or the downloaded documents (these are provided for personal use only)!

Feeling a tad proud

28 Aug

Wow, can you believe it? I managed to get my article, “Big issues for Little Man” published in SEN magazine!

Back in late May I sent some press releases to the Media relating to the Mad Blog Awards. I was overjoyed when, ‘Peter’ the editor for ‘SEN magazine’ emailed me stating he really liked the blog, “Especially that of my latest article” (remember this was late May). Peter then went on to ask me  if  I would be interested in writing an article for the magazine based on my experiences parenting a child on the autism spectrum. 

Umm, Yes Please! 

SEN Magazine is a great resource for parents and professionals alike. It contains all the latest information on Special educational needs, as-well as host of other areas.

SEN contains resources and articles relating to a number of different conditions and disabilities. It provides contact details and links, pointing you in the right direction of all them need to know organisations! SEN, shares all the latest events and exhibitions and even has an online resource that shares extracts from the mag as-well as breaking news in the world of special education. 

The magazine is delivered via a subscription but is given as a free resource to all Special school. There is a free trail taking place at the moment, meaning you can have a copy of SEN delivered free of charge (try before you buy). I recommend this magazine to anyone with a child with special educational needs, (and no, it has nothing to do with my contribution what so ever) it’s just an awesome resource throughout!

I really didn’t think I would be able to upload a pdf file of my article on a,’wordpress.com’ blog (I have only been blogging here for like three years :))! 

Well, to my surprise and utter delight it turns out that I can! This means that I am able to now share my article with all my lovely online friends and anyone else for that matter! 

So, before you click the link and see the article I’m so very proud off, let me thank all my wonderful readers, new and old. Yes, its every single one of you guys that has helped me through the many battles I’ve faced as a parent to a boy with Aspergers.

 Could I see myself writing an article about the subject a year ago? No way! Life was far to messy to even contemplate such a thing! (Having your article published in a magazine, somehow feels a tad scarier then on the web!)

Writing this article actually shows just how far we’ve come as a family!

 The link will open a pdf file (Note: please feel free to download if you wish)! It would also be great if you could help me spread the news by sharing the link to my article online.

Thanks and enjoy

Claire-Louise 

SEN54 autism

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