Tag Archives: specialist school

Flexible school plan

14 Oct

Sleep is becoming a distant memory. How we take it for granted when we have it, and fall apart when we don’t.

Yes, by reading the above statement it is clear that I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night! I first had to deal with little man (despite the fact I was just about ready to drop).  By the time he had finally entered the land of nod, I was then wide awake! Its crazy how you go from tried to over tired, then suddenly wide awake! Well, I’m sure the second coffee didn’t much help!

To be honest once I did lie down, I couldn’t switch of! My head was giving me an array of problems, solutions, outcomes and what ifs to just about everything happening in our lives right now. I ended up grabbing a pen and paper and jotting stuff down. I was quite literally taking notes on my own thoughts. Looking at  what I wrote this afternoon, it’s clear I need to get some much needed stuff of my chest. So what better place then here. After all a lot has been happening this school year. Note we are still in the first school term, meaning this is all within a five week period! I suggest a cupper and a comfortable seat as this isn’t the shortest post I’ve ever written.

Latest exclusions

Judging by the last school year, I shouldn’t be at all surprised with the way this ones planning out!

Since Little man went back to school in September his received constant exclusions. These exclusions were imposed all within the same month and given one after the other. Two of these exclusions were given for a fixed term of two days, and the third being for a longer period of five days. However that five day exclusion was messy and after a refusal on my part to send little man to a pupil referral unit/specialist school for children with social, emotional behaviour problems, to avoid a permanent exclusion, we were left not knowing what was going to happen in terms of Little mans return to school  for a few more days and everything was a tad confusing. It had been a pretty tough week for the family as a whole. Exclusion was not having any kind of desired affect on little man! At least there was no evidence that it was! It’s in my opinion that by excluding a child a teacher sometimes unintentionally contributes to the child’s long term challenging behaviour. I like many parents & carers make the same statement.… When excluding the child the teacher may simply be giving them what it is they want, an escape! A child maybe struggling with work, tasks, social situations, or just simply doesn’t want to be in school (Getting back home to their “safe zone”) Other times a child may be far to excited, anxious or confused, leading them letting it all pour out in an inappropriate manner. Then there is them times the child is in self destruct mode and exclusion is the only option. Little man displays a range of emotions and reactions to exclusion. Sometimes it’s clear to see that he considers the outcome of his behaviour to be a benefit to him. He comes home to an environment that he feels much more relaxed in. Other times little man shows anger, upset and a great deal of resentment towards those directly involved in the exclusion process. Little man will often show this degree of upset when he can’t understand the reason surrounding his exclusion, disagreeing with the action taken against him, quite often indicating that he feels misunderstood, or what he has done was justified as their was a reason behind it. Example being someone did something first or someone wasn’t being fair to somebody he considers a friend. In these incidents it’s hard to establish what has gone on. It’s all well and good being informed in a letter, displaying a list of reasons stating why your child was excluded because…… But when you don’t know what triggered of the behaviours then how do you address them? Little man becomes inconsolable when his excluded on the days a school trip or activity are due to take place. Little man has often stated that the reason he can’t attend is because his different! This seems to unfortunately had a bad impact of his self-esteem. This is when the system upsets me most! To me this is like handing out double punishments and gives the child a feeling of low self-worth. It’s rare he participants in anything his class undertakes and this I can only describe as dehumanising. Punishing a child by not letting them attend a trip for behaviour that hasn’t yet occurred is damaging. How will the child ever learn from the behaviour ? Little man must have the mentality of , “Why bother? I wont be going anyway. After he missed his last school trip that involved a ride in a coach there and back (Reason he was so… excited) he told me he would never believe them again! That he will not let himself get excited till his there! How heart breaking it is to hear your ten year old say that. I understand the teachers did to considered the whole of the class. However I think it’s got to the stage where little man is considered a doomed case. I think on a few occasions certain children have slipped the odd “Ginger” comment in there, I have spoken to a parent of at least one child who calls him this. Yet I’ve never been informed. Little man don’t wait for no one to be around before off loading his string of abuse towards the person who upsets him, he just does. Ok he is pretty dam stereotyped and often says the wrong thing! But sometimes these things are said without true meaning. A new word being, “wasteman” after I asked what it meant he replied, “Mum it means a dust man, who collects rubbish” we had to explain what it meant. This is a word his heard within his school setting and now loves to use.

LEAs Agreement to undertake a statutory assessment

After sending an appeal to the tribunal (LEAs refusal to assess), and the prospect of meeting with the LEA (dispute/resolution service) and the school re-admitting  the Assess one! The LEA finally agreed to assess little mans special educational needs. Finally a move in the right direction! The LEA also agreed to contact our preferred specialist school for an emergency assessment place. Though one has not yet been made available, I still have hope. ( what else can you have?) I received a letter stating they are awaiting a response from the school (specialist school) and I have made an appointment to go see them myself (after a lengthy phone call, where I pleaded my case to a very understanding receptionist). I can’t fault the LEA (for once) as they are doing all the right things and have moved very quickly. Little man has already seen the LEAs educational physiologist, though this didn’t happened as planed as he was not allowed to be in his classroom setting which she could have done with observing. Still if it means avoiding a massive upset then so be it! I think things went well and she saw enough. Yesterday we attend a medical assessment which was somewhat exhausting given little mans excitement at the buildings electric windows and his constant need to operate them. I am in the process of writing my evidence that has to be submitted within the next few weeks! Anyone with any tips on this, I would be most grateful to hear them.  So…. For now I just hold bated breath that all will be Ok in the end .

Risk of permanent exclusion results in a flexible school plan

We were informed on the last exclusion that little man now faced the risk of a permanent exclusion. As I’ve briefly touched one above, we were offered the placement at a specialist school/PRU . Yet after careful consideration, two visits to the school (One with little man) and a home visiting I felt it to be unsuitable for little mans current level of need. The locked doors and security guard  gave an impression of a young offenders unit. Though It’s true to, “Never judge a book by its cover” but little man has a fear of locked doors and this accompanied by a list of other issues was to much to expect him to overcome. So I stood my ground and refused (Looking out for my sons emotional well-being as well as his educational one). We didn’t hear much after that! We had a phone call from the head stating the PRU was expecting him on Monday, which I corrected him on. With this we were left dangling for a few days in till I took him back and as a direct result of this action a meeting was held. There isn’t much point going into the detail of the meeting (for once it was a reasonable one) I just wanted things discussed and options and ideas shared. Well, finally a plan was emerging, I stated I was happy to be flexible if they could be too. I didn’t think the current situation was doing my little man any good and did I really want his self-esteem suffering anymore then needed? Of course not! So we discussed the option of part time school or home schooling with flexibility. The head wanted to speak with the LEA to make sure everything would be legal and above board and for once we were kinda in agreement with one another (I know, big achievement that one) That evening the school left me a voicemail that offered a part time solution to the current situation! Part time schooling for a period of two weeks. We would then have a meeting and if faced with the prospect of no managed move for the remainder of his assessment, we would then have to decided our next steps.

So with that very…… Long update (So sorry about that people), I will bid you good bye. And as always thanks for all the support

The child behind the mask.

8 Jul

It’s been a while since I last posted anything and if the truth be told I’ve just been so tired and not in the mood to blog. It’s rather annoying when your head is willing and happy to blog but your fingers and rolling eyes can’t keep up the pace. Nevertheless here I am with a head full of stuff that I need to write. I think its wise to start this blog by letting you all know I’m still alive and then jumping onto what’s been happening in terms of little man and his floundering education.

Since last time I posted thinks have progressed in some ways but have become progressively worse in many others. It’s so soul-destroying knowing your little boy is not being seen for the true bright child that he is. I’m not blaming the staff for this I’m blaming the educational settings in which I chose to place my son within only to find it the battle of my life to remove him from them.Yes, I can pull my child out tomorrow but any parent going through what we are will understand that without a statement I will be forced to place Little man in yet another mainstream school which in itself will only cause him heighten anxiety. Yes, maybe another mainstream school better suited to his needs, more understanding and willing for the challenge is out there! But how many schools will we have to send him to in order to discover it? Well, I’m hoping that at last something positive will happen and somehow the right steps taken. The reason for this small hope that I cling to is one my Solicitor has put in my appeal for a statutory assessment and two because the school have decided to put in the Assess one form with a number of professionals evidence to prove his current place of school is not the right place for him after all. To many this sounds extremely positive and yes it does to me too but I’ve learnt that with the educational system nothing is set in stone and sometimes the outcome isn’t what you expected nor wanted it to be.

The meeting that was held at little mans school on the fifth of this month was not only the largest we have had yet (In terms of the number of staff and professionals that attended.) But it’s also the one that’s had the most positive outcome. What I didn’t expect from this meeting was for it to be an incredibly emotional one. I was only in the room a few minutes before I could feel myself getting upset. I’m unsure why I hate showing my emotions when in the kind of situation I was in, I just do. I already knew that certain people were attending and I found myself nervous for the best part of the weekend. Every meeting I’m the same but this time it was more than that. I think it was because I had a certain subject to raise and wished I didn’t have to because the communication with the school had improved a little and also the fact I would hear everyone’s opinion on my child. Little man has a range of difficulties and I’m aware that many of these will cause a problem in the setting he is placed in. I am his Mother who has stressed my concerns for such a long time without them being heard. Yes, once I finally got little man the referral to CAMHS they were great. The first clinical psychologist little man worked with was the one who first made Aspergers known to me he was the one who handed me tissues to wipe my tears and gave me a ton of reading material to get stuck into. But what I’m most grateful to him for is being that first person to listen and tell me CLAIRE IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! These are the words that I still tightly hold onto through everything that has come our way! The battle to convince school that something was wrong, the many assessments, the oh so familiar looks from strangers, the diagnosis, two court cases for attendance and like many this very meeting. Sadly this psychologist left for a job in the sunnier parts of the world but we met other understanding professionals along the way and we were very lucky to meet a great specialist teacher who would also attend this very meeting. Others that stand out from the crowd is his morning teaching assistant a person that has better skills than most and In my opinion could do with a raise. She really should train and find herself a placement working with children like Little man as her support and dedication to my son is a rare gem to unearth and when Little man has finally left his current mainstream school she will be sadly missed by him. It was the statement written and read by this teaching assistant that was very overwhelming. To hear someone other than yourself speaking about your child and at the same time expressing concerns that have been your own concerns for many years can bring about a roller coaster of different emotions. I felt sad, worried, helpless, and surprisingly a little relieved. I went through one extreme to another and found that for once I didn’t have to convince any one person in that room that my son did in fact have a range of problems that were down to a diagnosis of Aspergers. His teaching assistant stated that Little man is for ever anxious and for this reason he is very unpredictable. Little man often lashes out and children are scared of him but have in time learnt ways to ignore and deal with certain behaviours. Wow can you blame me for becoming upset. My son was seen as some kind of aggressive monster by other children. All I could see was this little boy who himself is faced by fear as his scared of the world he lives in. I also heard from an outreach worker who works with little man once a week. She was the one who opened the meeting by stating that although she could see a gentle polite child she also saw an anxious one who is unpredictable and once she loses his attention it’s near on impossible to get it back. She finished by saying working with Little man was like walking on eggshells. This is a statement that I myself have used to describe the behaviours displayed by Little man.

A number of other people spoke and in turn I see a clear picture emerging of a child who was constantly trying to be someone he wasn’t. Hiding his interest in fear of them being seen as stupid by his peers. He was wearing this mask and with it he became a ticking time bomb. My little man had become a child that others feared, others liked, and others were unsure how to approach. All this because he just wants to fit in he just wants to be liked and seen as what he calls “NORMAL” The front door to our home closes and outcomes this child who just wants to relax and be himself. He grabs his pencil or my glasses and then will corporate these unusual household objects into the game that he will often play for hours. My son has transformed himself into a real moving, talking and beeping London bus. Whatever you do don’t try to ask him how his day went nor what he wants to eat for dinner unless you want abuse, tears or an overload of emotion displayed in an undesirable way. Now is his time to offload the stress of his day. This is his coping mechanism as well as his favourite thing to do. This is when little man removes the mask that he has created for himself! This is when his HAPPY.

The meeting went well and although the topic of school trips was brushed aside by the Head till after the meeting, I was still pleased with the outcome. Meeting the ASD outreach worker was extremely helpful and I only wished I had met her sooner. However we do plan to meet soon and I’m looking forward to gaining some more advice from a lady with her expertise and knowledge of the spectrum. We now play the waiting game to see if the LEA assess and if he will be assessed at his current school or in an emergency placement in a specialist school as advised.

In terms of the discussion surrounding school trips (Allotment gardening project) and my upset at little man being excluded from a number of them only to now be told he will no longer take part did happen but it was after the meeting. However I am pleased my Mother was present and that the discussion did happen. All I will write on the matter is that I do believe little man has been discriminated against in terms of not being allowed to attend and take part in the project just like his class peers. Anybody who is a parent will understand my upset and concern on the matter but although it’s upsetting I have decided not to write about it leaving the matter to be addressed by my solicitor.

LEA make bogus excuses for not assessing child’s needs

9 Jun

At last I finally have time to update my blog. What seems like months has only been weeks. Nevertheless so much has happened in such a short space of time no wonder in losing my days.That’s right today I almost missed my Early bird course (Autism training for adults and professionals) as I could have swore it was Monday. Well I soon came to my senses and got my butt in motion I didn’t want to miss the course as it going so well and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about ASD and when you have a child on the spectrum you can never know enough.

Well I finally received the letter from the LEA sen unit. It was about time too. I was disgusted with the way they treated me and little man. I wasn’t kept informed on the decision process and considering they had not followed the timescale of six weeks an explanation would have been greatly appreciated. I mean what’s the use of the Sen code of practice if the authorities have no regard for it. I’m not stressing over a silly few weeks or something they delayed the decision if to assess for five going on six weeks. Is it just me or would some kind of a letter and a simple apology be too much to ask? Well it seems so as the refusal letter didn’t state anything in relation to the delay and lack of communication on their part. It did however state their reasons for not agreeing to an assessment of little mans educational needs. Ok I’m not joking when I say at first after reading the letter more than once I did consider that maybe the LEA had made some mistake. Is it possible my child’s case was some how accidentally  been mixed up with another childs evidence. reality hit me like a smack in the face. These people really don’t give a ****. I’m sorry but what the hell is happening here? The LEA state that since little mans school have identified his needs and put certain provisions and strategies into place he has started to make progress in terms of his behaviour. Woo outrageous, Given this excuse I’m now wondering if they even bothered to open the letter I sent requesting the assessment in the first place. Lets see would it be the five exclusions his had since the 1st March this year or maybe it’s the fact his had well over twenty serious incidents recorded against him in the same time frame. I’m guessing it would be something more specific that really swung their judgement like the fact he hit a teacher or managed to escape from the school where luckily I was stood outside. Let’s face it given this level of evidence, the extensive list of exclusions and serious incidents it’s fair to assume that in order to access the relevent resources that my son requires directly as a result of his condition he would need to completely fail first. Let’s be honest as sad as it is his not far off. Well as you can imagine I was gobsmacked (not often Claire is lost for words) but I was also deeply worried about what move I would have to take next. The letter also stated that once the outreach teams had been in and assessed and the school had put into practice the advice suggested by them If it was thought little man still required the Statutory assessment the school could then readmit the assess 1 form. I took legal advice and was told to contact the tribunal service without delay given that I only have two months to appeal then I should not risk waiting for forms to be readmitted and again refused as I wont be able to appeal again in till a much later date (six months or a year I think) Made sense to me and with this I searched for a solicitor to take my case. I really needed my sanity for the children and not only was I strapped for time with three children one with aspergers, one trying to cope with daily life as a sibling to an aspie and a six month old baby I also didn’t want to do it alone. I just wanna enjoy the children for a while and at the same time know that someone is working on my appeal. Lets face it without a statement little man will end up lost and with that I will have to make difficult decisions on what best to do for him in till I can readmit my request. Yes It’s unbearable thinking about but I have to be practical.

Well here’s some positive news I attended the follow up meeting from the 26th April 2010, This was basically to review little mans past month’s progress. I have to say the last meeting was incredibly strained. I felt nothing was achieved and it wasn’t constructive in any way. I became a little emotional and I cried which I regret but sadly couldn’t help. With this memory I wasnt looking forward to this meeting and would go as far to say I was feeling kinda sick knowing it was approaching. This time I took my Mother (Who better than to support and keep you strong) I was surprised to see that this time other professionals had attended and the meeting was looking a little more formal. I felt nervous and uneasy and just wanted to get thinks done. Well I have to say I needn’t of worried so much. The other professionals who had attended where from a specialist school who provide outreach to little man. They were made up from a group of three. There was the outreach worker who works directly with little man on a one to one basis once a week, the headteacher from the specialist school itself and another very nice lady but I was and still am a little unsure what role she played within the outreach team. However she was extremely nice and made it her mission to be fair and understanding. It was also helpful to meet the outreach teacher working with little man. Again she was extremely nice and not only shared her thoughts and opinions on little mans learning and behaviour but she also took the time to listen and encourage me to share my thoughts and opinions. The Headteacher of the specialist school was very organised and direct but not in a rude way. I really liked him and felt he was fair and made valid points and helpful recommendations on ways to best solve current problems experienced with little man. The headmaster and the Senco were also at the meeting and we spoke about the LEA refusal to assess, little mans growing complexed needs and the head made a point of saying that little man wasn’t really being included anymore as he was chosing to move himself away from classroom activities. This I could also understand and is a bit of a worry. The level of support he currently receives is high and integrating him slowly back into the class routine will be incredibly difficult. We all discussed little mans need for an assessment which will hopefully lead to a statement. It was reassuring to know that everyone at that meeting was in agreement with that. So on the whole it went well and I didn’t leave feeling miserable as I had perviously.

So before I get some much-needed sleep I just want to say that all though things have been a nightmare at school home life has been Ok. I say ok as that’s all it’s been but when you have had real trying weeks you fully appreciate the “Ok” days. Half term was good and little man spent a lot of time socializing with the boy next door. They share a love of transport and though little mans is more a obsession his little friend seems ok with it. Yes they had a few disagreements but nothing to explosive. It’s great he has a friend who is happy to be bossed by him 🙂 Honestly I say this in a joking manner but all parents to children with aspergers will completely get where I’m coming from. It’s also nice to have a non judgemental parent who don’t drag their child away from yours in the fear he may catch Aspergers or just be lead down the route of misbehaving. She is very sensitive to little man and his needs. She allows him over and puts up with his very loud tone and moody strop without ever judging him. I can see he has become more and more comfortable with their family and that is a great achievement because apart from his cousin and his partner in crime at school he didn’t really have a real friend till now. And to be able to hold onto this important friendship makes me so very proud. Like the teacher at my ASD workshop said today. All parents love to feel proud of their child and it’s the same for parents of children on the spectrum only they can be proud at what may seem the simplest thing to a “typical child” but to a child on the spectrum it’s a huge achievement.

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