Tag Archives: statutory assessment

Special Educational Needs-Getting Started With Statements

31 Oct


 I remember all to well what its like to come up against the system when you haven’t even got the slightest clue what the words “Statement” and “SEN” mean.

 I had to wise up fast, and I did! I learnt everything that needed to be learnt, because I knew I needed to for my child to get where he is now.

 Once I had wised up, I stated advising parents on their tribunal rights on a voluntary basis which is extremely rewarding. Yes, it was hard to learn education law as it applies to special educational needs but its given me great satisfaction.

 This is why I was keen to read the new parent to parent hand book,

 “Special Educational Needs, Getting Started with Statements” By, ‘Tania Tirraoro’ a mother to two autistic boys from Farnham Surrey.

 Tania’s aim is to help other parents navigate their way through the educational needs jungle.

 I’ve been a follower of Tania’s for the past 2-3 years, as like myself she writes her own blog and started around the same time as myself back in 2008. Some of you may all ready know of Tania’s work from her site “Special educational needs jungle” which I have always found to be a valuably resource for parents whom have children that are not only on the autism spectrum, but those of children with special educational needs (SEN) .

 Tania’s book is availably as an Ebook as well as a published paperback.

 THE MAIN STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

What’s particularly difficult when trying to explain the statementing process to another in way of written content, is the need to keep it simple (well, as simple as it can be when advising on a complex process such as SEN). Its my opinion that Tania has done this extremely well! She has broken up the procedure into sections and remained on topic within each area. I feel that many books and sites that are explaining the statementing procedure tend to wonder off course, making the reader quite confused.

 The forward within the book is by Maria Hutching’s SEN Campaigner and former parliamentary candidate who hand bagged Tony Blair during the 2005 election over the closure of special schools.

 Maria states how she only wished she had a book like this one when fighting for her own children’s education.

 This is followed by an introduction and then a description on what “Statementing” actually is. Parents who are new to the statementing process, should read this chapter in order to fully understand the book further. Tania has done a great job explaining what a statement is and why your child may require one! Readers are then introduced to some resources such as the ‘SEN Code of practice’ and the Education act, before reading a detailed chapter headed “Getting Prepared”

 The book then explains the who procedure in detail from start to finish, supplying real example from successful applications with the injection of relevant quotes from the ‘SEN Code Of Practice’ (Cop)

 Tania really does cover every step in great detail and is sure to warn parents that they shouldn’t expect an easy ride. Regardless of this fact, Tania is always sure to follow up on a positive, the book is extremely motivating, empowering parents to go with their instincts and not give up. The fact that the writer has been through the process and came out the other-side having got what her boys need to succeed in education, is truly uplifting and inspiring for the reader. I feel the use of material from successful applications was also extremely beneficial as well as uplifting and helpful. There was some great common examples were a case seemed a little doomed, yet succeeded. This shows parents that although the LEA do have these big fancy solicitors, that sadly most cant afford, they can still do it, on their own.

 This is very true as nobody knows our child better then us, the parent! I like the very honest and direct approach Tania has provide, there is no sugar coating, she doesn’t state it’s a walk in the park, which helps the parent/reader become fully prepared for what may lay ahead!

It is my belief that this is what parents need, the whole package, of what can happen, the good but also the not so good.

 Other helpful subjects Tania covered was of course the

I liked that Tania went a little deeper by covering the issue of relationships (between parents and school/sencos [special educational needs co-ordinator]) She explains why the break down of these relationships can  make it that bit more difficult when going through the process.

 One of the most impressive sections of the book for me, had to be the statementing checklist, that has made some excellent points. Like Tania states many parents feel their child’s needs are evident! This simply isn’t the case and parent needs to know this. I feel it is very common for a parent to assume that a diagnosis will automatically entitle their child to everything else. Parents are often shocked when they discover this isn’t the way in which it works.

 Tania covers everything from the writing of the application for statutory assessment; the refusal of that application; the application to appeal; the agreement to assess, the stages of the assessment and time-scales; the proposed statement; time scales; parental response and request for the school named in part 4, plus more.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS BOOK FROM ALL THE OTHERS

 I have read many books that are written by mothers of a child on the autism spectrum, however, most are personal stories that are not told in a way that offers advice and guidelines, it’s more like a life story you can relate to.

 The book,  “Special Educational Needs, Getting Started with Statements” still has that personal feel, after all it’s written by a mother of two son’s with autism who has fought the same system! Nonetheless its also a very well written resource and guideline for parents facing the same battles.

 What’s nice is the fact that Tania is providing a much needed service for fellow parents and is doing so as a parent and not a professional. This is something most parents of children with SEN prefer, advice from a parent not a professional. Sadly it gets to the stage when you feel fellow parents are the only valid source of information when you are going through such a process and battling against your very powerful Local Education Authority.

 What I found very appealing throughout the book, was Tania’s words of motivation, and having gone through the process myself, can verify that at this stressful time encouraging words are most welcome, you cling to any positiveness with both hands right till the very end.

 Tania has done very well to draw attention to some very interesting and important points, such as, “How a child’s social & emotional needs must be taken into consideration when requesting a statutory assessment” I myself hear all to often on my facebook page, many mothers stating, “They told me I can’t apply for a statement, as my son is too bright” (Ok, so it doesn’t matter that his social communication is so poor it makes them depressed, or the child can’t  cope at break-time etc., etc….) Tania very clearly wipes out these myths making the statementing criteria easy to understand.

WAS THERE ANYTHING MISSING

 I wouldn’t say that their wasn’t anything missing, however I would state that it would have been a nice touch to have added a little jargon buster (explanation of some of the terms used) Even though Tania has been excellent at keeping Jargon to a minimum, not all can be avoided, a little list would have just been nice, through not essential.

 From a parent who has embanked on such a journey, with that added pressure to secure an independent special school, who has succeed in both, I think the book is a spectacular resource that will benefit many parents and carers who are desperately trying to secure a statement of SEN for their child.

I highly recommend this book for those who have children going through the ‘Statementing Process’

If that’s you then fly over to Amazon and get yourself a copy either in the format of an Ebook or the traditional paperback

Click HERE

DO YOU WANT TO WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF THE FABULOUS

“SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS-GETTING STARTED WITH STATEMENTS” ? 

Then enter our super comp

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS POP RIGHT OVER TO TANIA’S FACEBOOK PAGE, GIVE IT A LIKE AND TELL HER

“A BOY WITH ASPERGER’S SENT YOU TO SAY HELLO”

THEN LEAVE A COMMENT INFORMING ME YOU HAVE DONE!

(NOTE THE ABOVE IS A COMPLUSORY ACTION)

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES

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PLEASE LEAVE A TWITTER ID OR EMAIL ADDRESS SO PRIZE CAN BE SENT IN THE EVENT THAT YOU WIN.

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Winners will have 48hrs in which to respond, failure to do so may result in a redraw. You’re mailing address will be sent to the brands PR team who will then send our the prize for the lucky winner. All participants must have a valid email left with their comment.

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Stages of SEN, Is my child receiving the right support

23 Oct

STAGES OF SEN

 Is my child receiving the right support?

 The stages of SEN are known as the ‘Graduated response’ that all maintained educational settings must abide.

 Some children will receive a statement even before starting full time education. This would only happen if the child in question had such needs that would undoubtedly require extensive provision to be made when the child was to start at school. Sometimes this maybe due to the child having a severe learning difficulty or disability, one that is discovered in the foundation stages of education, between the ages of 3-5 or even before this.

 However, many children go into full-time education (primary years) having either no medical diagnosis or any obvious learning difficulties (this is especially true for the child who has ADHD or high functioning autism).

 All maintained schools must by law publish a SEN policy that should be made available for all to see. The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) along with the head-teacher and class teacher are normally a concerned parents first point of call. The SENCO’s key role and responsibility is to ensure that the SEN policy is being applied and its content remains efficient in how it applies to the school and the children in it. (though it is also the duty of the governing body and head teacher to ensure all policies remain up to date) The SENCO will also have the role of  ensuring the provision that is made for each individual child who is placed on the school’s sen register, making sure this is effective and the child is therefore achieving. This is where the Graduated response comes into play!

 Note: Although the SENCO will be expected to provide such duties as those above, it is the school as a whole (head-teachers, class teachers, governing body , etc.) who must together ensure a child is given the appropriate support to ensure that educational progress  is made while social & emotional needs are met. 

 On entry to a maintained Primary School

 Note

On access to primary education all children should be assessed to establish their attainment levels and individual learning style.

 A child who is starting primary school and is noted as having special educational needs, will be assessed using the curricular and baseline assessment process, therefore identifying the level of need the child requires.

 The child should then be placed on the SEN register and staff (teacher, senco etc.), should work with the parents to develop a suitable learning programme.

 Parents should be kept fully informed on their child’s progress and schools have a legal duty to inform parents when their child has been identified as having special educational needs and are placed on the SEN register.

 What is the Graduated response?

 This is basically an array of different strategies that need to be but into place to enable children identified as having SEN a way to progress both academically and emotionally. These strategies are broken up and divided into groups. It is only when all these strategies have been tried yet failed can a school claim to have used all its own resources in trying to meet a child’s individual educational needs. It is at this point that a school will claim that it cannot meet the child’s needs within its own resources. This is the point a statutory assessment and possible statement is needed (however I will touch on this in the next post, ‘Request for a statutory assessment’)

 Note: Remember, there are times when exceptions have to be made meaning a child could go from school action right to the assessment process as the child’s needs have changed so much, even resulting in a managed move to a special school for the period of assessment (I will touch on this more in the next post, as above). 

 The stages of SEN

 Stage 1

 School Action:

  This is the first stage, when a child is identified as a child with Special educational needs (SEN). They are then placed on the SEN register and the parent should at this point be notified. Teacher, teaching assistants and Senior staff and of course the SENCO, must work closely together with the parent putting a number of strategies in place to ensure the child makes good progress. These strategies may not involve anything huge and in many cases work set out for the child is just slightly differentiated from the work of their peers. Many children progress well and eventually are removed from the register needing no further assistance. 

 What, if it’s the other way around and your child doesn’t make progress?

 This is when we move on to the next stage.

 Stage 2 

 School Action +

 When the child in question fails to progress on school action they will move to school action plus. This is often when the child’s needs require a much higher level of support. It is common step for the child who have social, emotional difficulties or those on the autism spectrum. It is also common for a child with such difficulties, to move from school action to action plus pretty quickly (however it’s the step after this that’s one of the biggest and hardest to reach). 

 What happens on school action plus?

 The SENCO will at this point have the use of external services if need. Everything needs to be fully documented, as the school will need to show the LEA that they are not wasting school resources (funding) when other courses of action could be taken. The child’s targets will be recorded on an Individual education plan (IEP) the IEP will state the child’s short term targets and the provision that will be provided as to allow the child to succeeded in meeting the targets described. There will also be space for recording the outcome  (whether the child meet the targets) and the date/term in which the IEP commenced as well as the date it will be reviewed. Parents should also have a hand in the issuing of the IEP giving some parental input. 

 It is at this point the school can apply to the LEA for additional funding for services that operate outside the school. External services could include, visiting services or the provision to appoint support stuff on an individual basis. It has been known for a child at school action plus to receive 1-1 provision throughout the whole of the school day, including break-times! However, it should be noted that the school cannot usually continue with this level of support and should have usually applied for the process of a Statutory assessment from the LEA (which is something a parent can also apply for)

 This is where I finish and will continue this within the next post, ‘Request for a Statutory Assessment’ which will follow soon.

 This post will be available to download from GoogleDocs for your own personal use. 

Please note that you will need to wait for a period of 24 hours before it is available on GoogleDocs 

Claire Louise 

How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that occur for children on the autism spectrum

9 Oct

How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that may occur for children on the autism spectrum.

(1) Sleepless nights: Who ever said it was babies that caused you sleepless nights? Whoever you were you lied. Its well documented that children on the autism spectrum have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, getting to sleep or waking during the small hours.

Now, I don’t have all the answers here, how could I possibly when my child is still awake now at 2.43am! However I have tried things that have had an effect but sadly not for long. Don’t panic every child is different and not every child on the spectrum will have difficulty sleeping. Here’s some tips that have worked for us short term but for others they never stop working.

For those that have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, consider making a schedule. These can be brought but tend to be costly and can be easy made with some paper, a laminator, some Velcro, brightly coloured pens and some stickers for decorating (I will upload an additional how to post to demonstrate how to do this in the near feature)

The schedule will contain a set of personalised images, e.g… a bed, toothbrush, story book etc… Keep all images in a little pockets attached to the schedule and the child can stick each image on the schedule (with the help of the Velcro) as and when each action is carried out. Many children with autism adapt and even enjoy this independence they just find it hard to do things in sequence without visual prompts. Rember schedules are great for all children with or without autism.

For the Child that can’t settle try story tapes the tone and gentleness of the story teller could well send them off to the land of dreams.

Sensory reasons may restrict your child’s sleep. Weighted blankets, sensory lighting, sleeping away from a window all may help.

Reduce the amount of food and drink your child has one hour or more before bed. Make sure they use the toilet as this combined may avoid your child waking in the night.

(2) Meltdowns: No, these are not the same as tantrums and yes there is normally a reason behind them whether its anxiety, sensory processing difficulties, an inability to express oneself or a lack of understanding.

Those children on the autism spectrum that have meltdowns will often feel completely out of control and are very hard to comfort.

There are times they seem to come from nowhere, yet most of the time a parent will be able to sense one coming (Especially after so many)

There are triggers everywhere and of course these can’t always be avoided, however here’s some tips for certain situations you may find yourself in as a parent to a child on the spectrum.

(a) If your child has sensory sensitivities then be aware of the environment a child is in! You may notice that supermarkets are a prime meltdown hotspot for the sensitive child.

(b) Prepare a weekly schedule, e.g… times, place, events displayed on a visual timetable or planner. Depending on a child’s age you could use pictures or words. This allows the child to know what it is that’s coming next. For a child who is very dominated by a routine, consider making a handheld travel schedule and for those who can afford one, get one on your ipad.

(c) If your child is becoming very confrontational with you, don’t react by arguing back with the child, it will only make the situation worse and will likely carry on much longer.

(d) Be consistent and don’t give in. A child on the autism spectrum can still work out what gets them what they want, which will therefore encourage the behaviour. (I really need to take my own advice here as I’m still having problems with this one).

(e) If safe let your child get it out their system & avoid becoming overpowering.

(3) Anxiety: My own child knows all about anxiety, he drives himself nuts worrying about things that no child should worry about.

Be careful what your child sees on TV. Little man can become very upset, frightened and distressed when hearing something on the news.

Give your child lots of reassurance if they are becoming distressed.

Be careful what types of conversation are taking place in the child presence.

Use social stories as a way to offer the child reassure. When they are fully informed in what will happen, when for example visiting a dentist etc, the anxiety will be reduced.

Speak to your child in a non-ambiguous way, avoiding misconceptions and upset.

(4) Lack of support from external services: You may feel that your child on the autism spectrum is not having their educational or social needs meet. However it is likely that the local authority (LA) will disagree.

Note: In the UK you don’t have to wait for a senior teaching member/SENCO to apply to the local education authority (LEA) for a statutory assessment of your child’s special educational needs as you the parent also have the right to make such a request! However this does depend on whether the child has been assessed in the past and how long ago this was.

If the LEA refuse your request you can make an application to the SEN tribunal.

You should keep letters and documents filed and in-order as you may require these as evidence in the event you need to appeal.

You are your child’s best advocate, if you feel something isn’t right don’t give up on it in-till action is taken.

If able, take video evidence of your child’s behaviour or meltdowns, this can be used when trying to obtain respite, a statement of sen, or even a diagnosis.

When dealing with the LA/LEA or school do so via email aswell as written letter! This will create proof of contact and what was said.

If you believe your child needs more help than they are currently getting then you’re properly right. Trust your instincts.

You have the right to request copies of your child’s educational and medical records. Educational records can contain evidence for a statutory assessment or a statement of special educational needs (SEN). This can be done by using the Freedom of information & Data protection act. School’s will be given 15 days to comply.

(5) Sensory Processing: Children on the autism spectrum are likely to have difficulty with their senses whether the child is over or under sensitive both can create a host of problems.

Here is a few common issues that some children may experience, though it is important to remember that all children are different regardless of their condition. Your child may face all of the examples below where another may face only a few if not any at all.

Tactile defensive: A child who is said to be tactile defensive will have difficulty with the senses relating to touch. This child may not be able to tolerate certain materials (Little man hates raincoats). A child with autism may feel physical pain from wearing certain garments and this may trigger challenging behaviour. If your child refuses to wear certain items of clothing then note down the fibre that is used and avoid these when out clothes shopping.

If your child is expected to wear a school uniform and is sensitive to the texture of the fabrics it is made from, talk to the school to see if there is a way to compromise and maybe find something that is very similar as to avoid your child standing out from his/her peers.

Wear new uniform in just like you would new shoes. Do this for around five or ten minutes per day increasing the time along the way. This can be done during the school holidays

Some children are sensitive to loud noises, others are even sensitive to certain tones and pitches a noise can create, including the way a person sounds when they speak. Be sure to keep your child’s school fully informed of such difficulties so they are aware of triggers, e.g fire alarms, break-time bell , etc.

Try your child with ear defenders and if successful request that your child wears these while in school.

Sensory seekers: Those children who sensory seek may flap, fidget and swing back in their chair at school. This means the child is lacking sensory stimulation, fidget and sensory toys can help.

Make the child’s environment inviting, bedrooms could host a different range of sensory items as well as bold and fun colours being used on textiles and interiors. There are lots of ways to create this type of environment on a budget and I will try to write a post on how to do this sometime in the near feature.

 

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)!

Aspirations Or Clever Financial Alterations! You Decide

12 Mar

We waited and waited and on the 9th, March 2011 we finally got to see  what the Coalition had in store for us in way of the ‘Green Paper’ titled ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability’


Talking as a parent i’m pleased to see that the  proposed education, health and social care plans (EHSCP) that are planed to replace statements of special educational needs will still give parents the same legal protection that a statement brings. The proposed plan would be aimed at 0-25 year olds not just school aged children. The plans will also involve support in the areas of health and social care as well as education, something that has been missing for too long! However I do wonder how this will affect those already with statements especially in terms of funding and the talk of allocated key-workers. Surely the statements will be reviewed in the same way as the EHSCP and so forth! The statements will therefore need to be maintained in-till the child reaches 25 and be amended to include the health and social care aspect.

Another proposal I welcome is the prospect of being given more choice on where our children are educated. I know many will accuse the coalition of  creating barriers to inclusive education in mainstream schools, but I am a firm believer that mainstream is not always the right way. People must remember that all children are different regardless of their special educational needs or disability, Just because society thinks that every child with sen/disability should learn beside their peers, In reality this isn’t easy for some (My son included) I believe that mainstream was seriously affecting his mental health which is the case for many children. I’m also very interested to hear more on the proposal of individualised budgets with greater parental control giving us a voice that allows us to express views on what services and provision such funding should provide. This is proposed to come into action by the year 2014. In till such date I will remain completely open mind. My mother used to tell me, “If something seems to good to be true, then it probably is.” For that reason I dare to get my hopes up.

Some maybe shaking there heads branding me a pessimist! Well, they would be correct, I’m just that!  Sadly it’s true but myself like many others have been made to feel this way when it comes to SEN & education. It’s my opinion that things will never be easy and we are used to battling for every thing our children need. I for one would be a little shocked to discover that I actually had some time on my hands to do other things instead of battling the system by way of phone calls, meetings, emailing, letter writing, campaigning and so on…  I really struggle to get my head around the idea that parents will be able to have an active part in the decision process surrounding their child’s provision & funding. We have to drag the local authority by the arse all the way to the tribunal just to get a little TA time or use of a laptop! So if this does plan out I for one will fill a little strange being suddenly heard and valued (Well, valued maybe pushing it a tad to far!).

Though some of the proposals look good on paper, I’ve been asking myself , “Are these just words being sugar-coated to look sweeter then they really are?” I mean, let’s not forget that the government are in the process of making huge cuts which will affect many of the services that have a role to play within this very paper. How will they be able to provide what is expected of them? Another important question to ask is, “How much are the Coalition planing to save through the implementation of the green paper?”

I’ve also been thinking about the legal side of things. Given the position I’m currently in (Advising parents on their appeal rights on LEAs sen decisions) I see a lot of re-training heading my way if the green paper is fully implemented. The law would need to under go a radical overview, with large areas, especially section 26 and 27 of the Ed act 96,  needing to be rewritten from scratch and the publication of a new code of practice.

But one of the biggest concerns for me is the proposal of a “single, multi-agency assessment” on the same day, rather than separate assessments on separate days. As much as I welcome a speeder assessment process then that of the current statutory assessment (10 week assessment, with the overall process from start to finish taking 26 weeks) but to propose just ‘one single assessment’ with the involvement of all professionals (and possibly even voluntary agencies) is quite honestly barbaric!

The paper has empathised that those children considered to have the most complex needs, will be the children assessed and issued with an education, health and social care plan, therefore how do they propose to assess a child with such complex needs in one single assessment? Children on the autism spectrum will be just one group of  many children who’s needs may be completely missed due to the child’s particular mood, environment, behaviour, anxiety , etc., on the chosen day of the assessment. I know that my own child would not cope with such an assessment, what with all them eyes on him and questions fired at him! What would it even involve? Are we talking about sending an autistic child (or any child for that matter) into a room with a large number of professionals sat with inquisitive prying eyes, clip boards, and a list of questions as long as their arm? If yes, I guess they can expect a shock at the response they get! It just isn’t going to happen… Surely complex means ‘COMPLEX!’ my definition of  such a word would be, “A complex issue or range of problems that take time to fully resolve” The government is forever banging on about children being placed on the sen register at the drop of a hat, well, I can see a situation being created leading to children dropping of it just as quick!  My son can just about cope with an assessment with one or two professional, any more then this rather than being chucked off the register, he will likely be labelled as a child who is dangerous because he will likely hit out as an attempt to escape the highly stressful situation that he has been placed in. Although I agree it’s not ideal him or any other child with sen having to undergo a range of assessments over a course of time, the one day method wont make things any better but a great deal worse!

Let’s be honest would you or I enjoy being sat in a room with a range of people staring at you like some caged animal reporting your every-more?

26 weeks is way too long but one day! Seriously there is no in-between with this government. I mean do the they really have the child’s best interest at heart?

We have to ask ourselves, has the green paper been created with the  ambition of improving the life chances open to children with sen, and  to offer better support for family members, or is it really their ambition to do away with essential services and provisions with little uproar, while at the same time attempting to reduce the number of  children that are placed on the SEN register?

It’s those children considered to have less complex needs that I’m  seriously worried for!  What defines less complex needs? I’ve spoken to many parents hundreds in-fact that have battled in the past  and present with both schools & local authorities to prove just how complex their child’s needs actually are! I know from past experience that schools won’t except this in-till your child is pushed to the point of self-destruction or has become a complete failure at everything due to the stress they have been placed under. Parents of children with Aspergers or high functioning autism find this to be the case a huge proportion of the time. School’s and LEAs say the same thing over and over again, “Your child isn’t an underachiever, therefore warrants no provision to be made for him/her!” Yet there they are whacking their heads against Walls with the frustration of the work load or noise levels in the classroom, they are always running into social difficulties, becoming isolated from their peers and even excluded on a daily/weekly  basis. It’s ludicrous!

By doing away with school action and school action plus I fear these children will suffer a great deal more than they are currently made too already! What with schools being able to commission the services and put the provision in place that these children are said to need, in this current financial climate is like playing with fire. Much more detail and reassurance is needed and although I know that we are once more welcome to give our views on the paper, I just feel given the length of delay in publishing the paper, including some finer details within in it as to make things a little clearer would have been most welcome!

Ministers have to give the public more information in regard to the finer details that make up the aspirations of the green paper. Including the legal aspects, cost (including how much this new system will put back in to the governments pocket in way of savings) and very importantly the statutory duties of those involve

To some parents this paper means nothing! To others it’s the prospect of a better further for their child in both the early years and that of early adult life. Making provision for children aged 0-25 in all areas of education, health and social care is long awaited. Will this be the start of something promising or just another unfulfilled promise by another Government?…. Only time will tell!

 

The waiting game

8 Mar

Is it just me or is the rest of the country wondering when the hell this ‘green paper’ is going to be published?

A little delay is fine, if anything we expect it, but this is fast becoming a joke

Children’s, families minister Sarah Teather has been promising to publish the green paper for months, first announcing it back in July 2010 it was said the paper was scheduled to be published in the autumn.

Sarah gave parents like me a glimmer of hope. Getting our children’s special educational needs met is something of an up hill battle at present. The green paper could potentially make things a tad easier, given that the views of parents and charitable organisations have been taken into consideration when first called upon.

With the promise of giving us parents more say when it comes to where our children are educated mainstream or other, and just how that education should be given sounded a blessing.

However this is just looking less promising by the day! I’m starting to wonder if this paper really exists at all. First it was November then it was  February now March, and so far no sign of any paper.

We as parents really don’t need such delays. All over the country our children are failed by the system on a daily basis. local authorities take forever to make important decisions regarding our children’s special educational needs and once made, these decisions are all to often the wrong ones!

Most have to endure the long drawn out process of appealing local authority  decisions to the tribunal just to get their childs special educational needs met. Even if a parent does manage to win their appeal nothing is set in stone with some local authorities failing to carry out the order of the judge.

The system is full of blanket policies and empty promises. The criteria children are expected to meet before a statutory assessments is carried out is unreasonable and it’s often the case that parents are given false information regarding the reasons surrounding a refusal whether that’s in relation to a refusal to assess or statement. The subject on timescales being met is a whole different matter altogether!

The prospect of a statement is undoubtedly small, those that do receive a proposed statement u can bet your life it needs amending. Then there’s those that look good on paper but contain many hidden little twist, wording that I can only describe as fluffy! Opportunities,often, assess to and my favorite by far, ‘regular’ are all terms often used within the childs statement meaning the provision isn’t as specific and clear as the parent first thought.

Then we have the subject of delegated funding. This one really bloody rattles my cage. To many LEAs are trying to wiggle out of their legal responsibilities when it comes to providing what’s in a childs statement informing parents the requirement to fulfil this duty no longer lies with them but the school instead. This is just pure horse s***!

Whether the school delivers the provision in the childs statement or not, the local authority have a legal duty to make sure that the child receives the provision stated in the statement. If they don’t it’s them who are in breach of the law, not the school!

I am sick of waiting for this system to fix up! I’m not suggesting for one minute the green paper will be the answers to our prays, “Not by a long shot” however this is a start and one that can’t come soon enough for some, myself included!

The word on the grapevine (well goggle) is that the paper is now complete, ‘said with rolling eyes and slight shake of the head.’ It’s contents will be but before a group of ‘leaders’ during the ‘green paper summit’ on Wednesday the 9th of March at Westminster.

This group of leaders will be made up of head-teachers/governing bodies of both primary and secondary schools, leaders of early years settings aswell as those of PRUs and of course members of the local authorities. Speakers at the conference include Sarah Teather herself, Charlie Henry (principal officer, special educational needs & disability, Ofsted) and Phil Snell (DFE) All will have the opportunity to respond to the paper, discussing any concerns etc. “Oh my god how I would just love to be a fly on that wall!”

The summit isn’t some ‘free’ event, but one that cost a rather nice tidy sum of money, £195.00 per delegate to be excate! Something tells me this won’t be coming out of their own pocket. I’m also wondering why on earth they would pay to attend especially those from the local authority, after all £195.00 is a great deal of money to those that don’t really give a damn about our children’s needs and are offering statements worth less. Is the money collected from the ticket sales going to be put back into the system in order to deliver the provision our children are all to often denied? Mmm, maybe it will be used for something much more important, I dunno like, “holidays and supplies of dog chum for snot nosed MPs”

Come on guys we are hanging out for this paper too! Are we ever gonna see what’s in it?

If the White paper anything to go by then I smell trouble

Here’s hoping that the wait proves worth it, and the green paper is a cut above the rest!

Were counting on you Sarah, every single one of us parents who has a child with SEN are preying you make us proud.

Note at the time of publishing it was discovered that the Government have proposed to publish the ‘Green Paper’ next Tuesday. This I will believe when I see it!

“I’m never going back to school, ever”

22 Feb

Last week I received a call from little man’s tutor requesting that I collect him from the library early (This was an hour before he was due to finish)

Turns out the little dude had a mini meltdown why getting lunch at the supermarket. Reason… He thought the security guard was laughing at him!

Yep, his tutor who I refer to as James for the purpose of this blog, was having a friendly chat with the security guard while little man grabbed a drink from the refrigerator. He called out to his tutor and just at that same moment both the tutor and the guard began to laugh about something totally unrelated to anything Little man was doing. However Little man didn’t know this and as he often does, he jumped in at the deep end.

Of course the guard was unaware of the little mans AS and I don’t think the tutor even had time to warn him. Of course Little man was somewhat confrontational requesting an explanation from the guard and the tutor on what it was they found so amusing. I don’t think he was as polite as he could have been and I’m guessing that the use of inappropriate language may have been used somewhere along the way.

I’m very thankful that his tutor James is somewhat understanding of AS and this isn’t really a massive deal as it is only the second incident in the six weeks they have worked together as opposed to the daily calls I received from his mainstream primary school, regardless it was a situation that needed dealing with.

To cut a long story short I didn’t need to collect him early as first requested as James called me back to say that they were now back in the Library and things were a lot more calmer. Nevertheless he asked if I had a spare half hour when collecting him as some other concerns needed to be discussed.

Sat on the bus I had all sorts going through my mind, “Other concerns, what concerns” this was a constant niggle in my head. I kept thinking what if James no longer wishes to educate Little man. How will little man deal with yet another rejection! I don’t know why I thought this as James is very understanding of Little man’s needs and has told me that he considers him a pleasure to teach. He thinks he has a great mind and personality if given the time to get to know him. Like I’ve already mentioned this is only one of two incidents… So surely not! I think it’s just going to take time for both myself and the little dude to get over the whole mainstream thing and trust people again as I feel little man worries about how things will plan out, where I just feel like we have been failed by the system to many times.

I finally arrived at the library and to my surprise but also delight Little man was clam and relaxed, showing no indication of his not so long ago mini meltdown… He went off and scanned some books while I chatted with James (Oh yes he adores the library’s self scanner)

Well, at last I could finally relax… It turns out James had concerns in relation to the ongoing statementing process and pending transition to a “Special” school that would someday be upon us, as opposed to that of little mans tendency to display challenging behaviour. He stated that every time he even tried to raise the subject of little man starting a new school one day in the further he would become extremely anxious and find a number of ways to not talk about it! This included shouting over James as he spoke, walking off or just shutting down. I explained that I was still trying to contact the caseworker in relation to the final statement, James said we have to come up with a transition plan even without a school place just so little man would always know it was coming.

I defiantly agreed!

The second thing was in relation to his fine motor skills. Yes, he was making zero progress in his writing. He was still refusing to write and near on all his work is done on the computer or is somehow practical… Like science projects and discussions.

His tutor James knew this was one of my many objections to the proposed statement. When first meeting James to discuss what Little man likes and dislikes, what his good at and not so good at in preparation for teaching him, I explained the issue of messy handwriting, fine motor skill problems and the reluctance he displays when it comes to him having to write. I felt that this was an important issue that James needed to know in order to teach him, and this just shows my concerns were valid.

With this I contacted the LEA caseworker who happens to be situated in the very same building as the library. Although I have had dealing with the caseworker a good six months now it was the first time we had met face to face.

I think she was a little worn out after our conversation as Little man would not give her a break when firing hard fast questions at her in relation to the elevator that he saw her come down in. He stated that members of the public should be allowed to use it too and wanted to know the reasons for such a ban! (He just loves an elevator my son)

So the outcome of our little chat was… She requested that I ask Little man’s tutor to write his concerns and for me to forward these on to her as soon as possible as it is going to panel again in order for the LEA to decide if they will make any of my recommended amendments and name my preferred school in part 4 of the statement (Which happens to be independent so I’m not holding my breath) The panel will have the meeting after the half term and the final statement should follow sometime there on after. The Caseworker was in agreement on one thing, and this didn’t require any form of panel meeting! Little man does needs a school… FAST! She had just 15 minutes in his company before she quickly agreed *giggle* He really was talking for England this particular afternoon. With this she agreed to look into my parental preference for an independent school, mainly due to the fact that all the maintained schools have said that they can’t meet his needs (Shock will be had If I’m not required to fight my arse off for it)

Once I had got the Little man home we sat down for a chat, topic being, “SCHOOL TRANSITION” He ran away to his room, on went Bruno Bloody Mars full blast (No offence Bruno) and he remained there in till we left to attend my nieces first birthday party ( Bruno Mars album came too) Once at the party he avoided me big style and with that I decided that the conversation will have to be had another day.

The day after Little man had the day of as the library had closed due to health and safety reasons (angry protest happening outside) So with this I went in for the kill and attempted the school conversation! Again this wasn’t a great success. However this time he didn’t run but instead informed me that his “NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER” going to school again” From now on he will be learning in the library with James Monday to Friday, 9:30 am till 2:30 p.m. and that is final.

I guess that told me!

I will just have to keep trying while praying that when a school placement does come along it’s the one we want or a fantastically understanding one in its place!

The Highs and Lows…… 2010 in a nutshell (Part2)

5 Jan


Hello everyone…. Happy New Year, Here’s hoping 2011 is the year for all of you (Myself and little man included)

As you can see… Me being me, this post is a little later than first intended! I really did mean for part 2 of my blog to be posted on New years eve so it would be my final post to the year. Well things didn’t go to plan and with a zillion other things to do, It just never happened…. Well as I’ve often been told… Better late then never. With that I will leave you with part two of the post, “The highs and lows… 2010 in a nutshell”

July….

July was a month made up of tears and meltdowns… It was a crazy one. Another multidisciplinary meeting was held at the school, I had finally received  the letter from the LEA refusing to carry out a Statutory Assessment of Little mans special educational needs… This meant I could finally prepare and lodge my appeal to the sen first tier tribunal. The overall outcome of the meeting was for the school to resubmit the Assess 1 (Which basically means… again requesting the LEA carry out a statutory assessment, only  this time the school will be do the requesting, rather than myself. Little man had now been observed in school by a number of outside agencies who were all in agreement that Little man could not cope in a mainstream school and would require a statement of Sen and a placement in a Specialist school. It was decided that when the school request the assessment they should also request that the LEA find Little man an emergency assessment place at a “special school” better suited to meet his needs. The meeting was a highly emotional one for me, I hate crying in public, but I spent most of that meeting in tears! What was read out by his 1-1 teaching assistant and his outreach worker was heartrending to have to listen to. There was one part that even stated…. “Other children are afraid of him! I really like his TA and know she was just stating her observations, but I felt like screaming “His just a little boy… Not a monster”

I tried to raise my concerns over trips but….. I was told that we could discuss this after the meeting! ” Why couldn’t we talk now?”…. This month it all got to much and I felt I had no choice but to lodge a discrimination claim with the tribunal. I did however offer plenty of opportunities for the school to simply apologise and change things so we can fix this sorry mess and concentrate on my Little mans floundering education and emotion well-being being. I heard nothing and instead felt ignored. I was angry that they felt such treatment can be justified… No matter if we win or lose the tribunal, I will be able to hold my head high knowing I did what I considered to be the right thing for myself and my child. It’s not about hate or bitterness…. It’s about a ten-year old that now has no school placement and has been placed in this worrying position because the early interventions, we so badly needed… Were never there! Who listened when I expressed my concerns four years back? Not one off them… Now we are here and my son is a ticking time bomb:( I would do anything to help others avoid such a stressful situation…. No child should be in this position, nor should their parent(s)

The Relationship between myself and the school has become incredible strained… I hate it… Every time you take your child to school you feel that awkwardness floating in the air…. Horrid, horrid situation to find yourself in! It’s just not productive at all!

One a higher note I was contacted by the TSS (tribunal support service) Where I was offered an interview for the training programme that would enable me to become a TSS adviser. First I would need to pass the interview followed by the first module…. If I passed I would then have to pass the following nine for an invite to the two training weekends …  This was fantastic news, and was made even better when I  passed the interview… Yay!

August…

August I’m jumping for joy… Literally jumping up and down like a crazy woman! My reason…. School summer holidays of course. Yes Little man is hard work but then again his sister has a cheeky side too. I would take anything god threw at me right now as long as it isn’t school related! I really don’t think I can contend with one more day of it!

We went on plenty of day trips… Some of these trips little man coped with brilliantly, others were not so good. Of course we indulged his special interest and went bus riding a number of times, But we also embanked on a number of other fun trips. One was to Southend On Sea with my mother and younger sister It was fantastic…. All three of my children loved and the stinky Southend sea air must have got my little man in a pretty good mood as he was happy chap throughout the day. This was also the month that we went to Chessington World Of Adventures, courtesy of Merlins magic wand…. Who we are most grateful to for making our day so brilliant. We were not made to queue for rides and was shown on each one using the rides exit entrance. This was great as it was two hourly waits on most rides and can you imagine that! Little man would be abusing the whole theme park within ten minutes and that’s being generous. Despite this Little man had two mini meltdowns…. One on the train & one on the way there, and the last while in the park. But on the whole a great day was had by all.

August was the month the LEA sen team wanted to play silly buggers. First the tribunal refused our appeal in relation to the LEAs refusal to assess… As we just missed the deadline… But thankfully five days after this, the decision was revoked and overturned. With this the LEA suddenly wanting a mediation meeting…. “Funny how they ignored my calls when I was requesting mediation… Just goes to show, how they operate…. So carless and thoughtless… It all boils down to money.

I also made my discrimination claim on this same month.

Oh… I passed the Module, so on the training programme now. nine more to go and pass.

 

September….

So the day I had dreaded arrived… The children’s first day back at school was here! I felt apprehensive about what lay in store for little man. Anyone would think given the children had been off school for a long six weeks and little man seemed to be at home more than school in general… I would be pushing them out the door, with an over enthusiastic wave & a smile! That so wasn’t the case. Little man wasn’t sleeping till the crazy hours and I knew he was worried about his return to school. I also knew that given the fact he had made one or two friends with his peers, he was also quite eager to attend. I held onto the comfort that he still remained with the same teacher whom he had the year previous, “At least that was one change he wouldn’t have to contend with” I was hopeful that the school had changed their ways…. As since we spoke about my unhappiness… The exclusions had faded, fewer calls were made. Things seemed to have calmed to some degree. Little man worried himself sick about other changes that were to take place. Some being…. New Class room, his workstation being moved, and the biggest…. The introduction of school uniform!

First day back his visual schedule was not in place causing huge meltdowns at home and school refusal on just day 2 of the new school year. If this wasn’t bad enough, Sensory overload was now an issue… The school shirts were driving him potty, yet it kept being insisted that he tucked it into his trousers… To which he would bluntly refuse. This situation became tensed and once more he had to be kept at home. Then all of a sudden the phone calls started once more and sadly so did the exclusions. Again these coincided with trips and activities…. YES ON ALL THREE EXCLUSION! Another chain of three just like those in March! However these were much closer together…. 17th, 22nd, 28th…

October….

The last exclusion of September was for a period of five days but they had no intentions in having him return, what with no reintegration meeting booked but instead a meeting at the local pupil referral unit with its 50 foot high prison style fences and what could only be described as security guards that walked up and down with keys hanging from their belts like prison guards. I went with my mother, they visited us at home, then lastly I took Little man. Lets just say…. “He didn’t wanna go!” and that was good enough for me.

Little man also celebrated his Birthday on the 1st- October while on exclusion. His father took him out for the day doing his two favorite things! “Bus riding and shopping” the latter only counts if it’s shopping for himself!! Later that evening we had a few people round one being a boy from his class, who stayed for tea and Birthday cake.

As we had no date for Little mans return to school… And the fact he was now on day 7 of his five-day exclusion I decided enough was enough and took him back. The LEA had decided to carry out the Statutory assessment of little man special educational needs! “*Fan-bloody-tasic* at long last some excellent news” This also meant we were done to one tribunal date as opposed to the two. The Educational Psychologist came in to observe Little man in his class the day he return following a conversation I had on the phone with her the night before. However the school wouldn’t allow her to observe him in his classroom alongside his peers so this was carried out in the school library with myself present. He was like a caged animal being hidden from the world. After the assessment from the Psychologist I spoke to the Head teacher who suggested that it would be better to take little man home for the remainder of that day, and to bring him back the following one. It was also suggested that he should be isolated all day (work alone with a TA in the den) this had been agreed for the mornings  as to allow him time to reintegrate back into class, however the whole day was out of the question, and with that I started flexi schooling (homeschooling from midday)

Over the month things began to worry me! Certain little things Little man said, his sudden outburst of anger, but most of all that look on his face every time I had to break his heart and tell him “No you wont be attending this trip or that activity… I’m sorry” The worse was the trip he was made to miss at the end of September (He was only excited as it involved traveling on a coach) Little man spent the week policing children as an attempt to make sure the trip would not be removed from his grip! Only to end up the only child not going!

After this emotionally tiring month it got that bit more depressing when….. A large section of our ceiling came crashing to the floor just as it did less than one year before. The ceiling and walls had only been fully repaired a few short months ago. Turns out the plasterers had gone through not one but two water pipes that connected to the radiators in the above bedrooms, when he had attached the new plaster-board. This resulted in the pipes slowly leaking for a year…. “And boy did I know it!”

regardless of these horrors above…. Some good finally came… I PASSED ALL MY MODULES! I had struggled to get them done what with my crazy home life and often did them throughout the night. I never expected to do as well as I did.

I will now attend the training weekends on the first weekend of November and the end of November.

Here’s my good news email…

… Hi Claire,


Hope you are well!

Just a quick e-mail to let you know your module results which were as follows

mod 1- 99%
mod 2-98%
mod 3-98%

mod 4-97%
mod 5-98%

mod 6-100%
mod 7-98%
mod 8-100%
mod-10- 98%
mod 9- to follow as not yet marked

Extremely high marks across all modules, well done!-just one or two marks knocked off for lack of details on a couple of q’s and Re-module 10, question 6- It actually does matter who makes the request for statutory assessment, it is only if it is the parents or the school  make the request that they have a right to appeal the decision-if it is a social services or request from a medical professional they don’t ( although to be fair it is nearly always the parents/school who make the request) section 329 and 329A of the 1996 Education Act.

Sorry all… *giggle* you must think I’m a girl with a bit of a large head! I really don’t mean to be… It just couldn’t have come at a better time! It picked me up and made me feel that at least all that hard work and long nights were not for nothing.


November…

What with the LEA deciding to carry out a statutory assessment, you would think things were looking brighter! The “Special school” we wanted Little man to attend on an emergency assessment basis, stated they could not meet his needs nor had space to do so. I had viewed the school and all I had been told was there wasn’t space! Well as some may already know…. If a school refuse on the grounds that they do not have a place to offer due to space the LEA can override this as it is said that no school is actually full. So I guess the logically way out is to claim “We can’t meet his needs”  The school refused to take him three times before the LEA gave up! Every other school that was approached some, even those that were so far out the area stated they did not have the space or cannot meet his level of need. It’s the school situation that is fueling his fire and I feel like I’m powerless to control this.

What with Little man being flexi schooled, and given how much his missed out on… Mum turned teacher (over night) decides to take her little man on my vision of a school trip! That’s right… I need to do something to bring him up as his self-esteem was so low and he was stating, “It would be better if I wasn’t born” Desperate to turn things around we embanked on our very own special school trip to the transport museum. He was in bus heaven! Remembering my own school trip days… I used the trip as a way to engage him the following day. He actually created a huge project with pictures, cuttings, bus tickets, pictures and drawings…. He even filled the sheet with interesting London Transport facts. extremely pleased was mum:)

It was in the first or second week of November that little man started going to school fall time for three out the five days. The next step was the whole five days. He was still in the den (nice world for isolation) in the mornings but afternoons he would be in class. We got to the middle of the week (Just three days in) When I got the dreaded call that I knew was going to be made that very day. It was the call to inform me little man was to return to isolation all day or if I didn’t want that, then the return to flexi schooling. How did I know this was coming? Because the following day Ofsted were visiting…. That’s how I knew! We reluctantly had to flexi school once more.

This was such a mess, and wasn’t of benefit to anyone but school.

MY high in November was attending the two training weekends… Not only did I have a bit of selfish “Claire” time but i felt like I was doing something to help those families that are experiencing what I have. “Support is like a rare gem… Once you get your hands on it you hold on as if your life depends on it”

I made new friends, and learnt a great deal. Best of all I passed the entire programme, so could now spread some love by doing my thing:)


December…

December is meant to be a month full of Joy & Christmas spirit. I wasn’t seeing much spirit being thrown in Little mans direction. Not when his being isolated from Christmas! This for Little man, For me, and for the family as a whole… Was the last kick in the teeth. We were not prepared to take this any more! This nightmare was being brought to an end. School placement or no school placement, we couldn’t afford to stick at it another minute! We were well and truly beaten down, then trod on! They had allowed for Little man to attend the after school Christmas party… However the few friends he had were ban from attending. I was told he was well-behaved during the disco, he had just walked around the dance floor 😦 So please explain your reasons for not allowing him back in the classroom for his class Christmas Party… For just one afternoon…. AFTER ALL IT’S CHRISTMAS! The best he was offered was a visit from a few of his class peers… By this I mean they come and observe him in his “caged environment” I have a lot of respect for his Teaching assistant as she understands him so much more than the others and if it wasn’t her in the Den with him them mornings…. Fear would have over taken over me. All though he likes this TA he had still become very low due to never being able to join his class. We got told at the meeting we attend this month that there was no intention of him EVER returning to that classroom… I could keep him in the afternoons if I still desired. It wasn’t in his best interest to go into the classroom and “enjoy” himself… Of course it wasn’t said in these words… but I don’t have ASD and can read body language a treat! They were clinging to the hope he is offered a placement in January, but if not he will have a new TA and remain isolated… “FUCK THIS!” (Pardon me) These people really don’t have his best interest at heart, Is it easy to sleep at night knowing that Little man is stressed like no ten-year old should ever need to be.

So we left and that was that!

We were told the purposed statement was being drafted and would be with us sometime the following week. Well that was the beginning of December and it’s not yet her today on the 5th January 2011. I’ve spoken to the Sen caseworker who has informed me It was posted today.

Tribunal is set for January for this reason I had to submit the evidence on the 6th December the day my sister was attacked. This resulted in some mad rush and high blood pressure… I scanned, emailed, and faxed at once…. It was pure craziness.

The end is a whole lot happier…. Aww… Christmas was beautiful…. A tad stressful but like dealing with a pussy cat compared the school or a meltdown Little man style.

So there it is… In black and white (With a touch of pink and grey) Our year in a post…. A nutshell was somewhat of an understatement I think!





The Highs And Lows…2010 in a nutshell (part 1)

31 Dec

What a year!!!

So much has happened in 2010 and looking back through my diary and reading some past post, I’m shocked at how much we’ve squeezed in!

Though it’s pretty clear from my reading that sadly the lows far out weigh the highs… …  It’s still them few highs that I believe have kept me sane throughout 2010 and helped my family pull itself through them Oh to many low days!

So Now I attempt to write a post that looks back over the 12 months of 2010…Regular readers can reminisce alongside me and those of you that are new hear can discover life so far in a nutshell!

January….

… The year 2010 started off as an amazing one! With my new son born on the 11th December 2009… I couldn’t have been happier. Little man was and still is crazy about his little bro. My family was complete, with three beautiful children I wanted for nothing. Sadly my baby became quite ill in the January at just 5 weeks old he had a bad chest infection (Severe Bronchiolitis), refusing to take a feed or just vomiting the whole thing up (exorcist style) we took him to hospital… Where we stayed for the next week and a half. He was fitted with a feeding tube that went through his nose, and had to be given oxygen for hours at a time to keep his stats up. I worried about my baby so much… But also had the added worry about leaving little man and his sister for so long. How would little man cope with seeing his baby brother with all these tubes? of course I worried about my daughter who was almost 7 but I knew she was stronger than her brother in terms of managing with her feeling and fears, She found it easier to discuss her fears and ask questions on things that would worry her (She was much easier to reassure and comfort during times like these)

The children visited and I would do my best to reassure them their baby brother was recovering well. Little man was becaming very distressed with the sight of all the tubes, as was his sister. A few days into our stay the baby got worse and contracted H1N1 and pneumonia. Myself and his father tried to stay strong for the sake of the children but we were going out of our minds with worry . A no visitors rule was imposed… Only myself (who stayed at the hospital) and his father were able to be with the baby. Little man was broken he couldn’t visit his brother and worried himself sick. His father would come and stay with the baby for a few hours while I would spend them few hours with the children. It was an incredibly hard month!

At last our baby came home and slowly I settled back into a routine of being a mummy of three.




February ….

… Having baby back home was  amazing. Little man had been having a few issues at school during January but I put this down to the change in routine (me staying with the baby at the hospital ect…) However things went belly up after extensive works started on our house. Our ceiling had fallen down in 2009 and was still not complete and the Walls had now started caving in around us. The job was a huge one that meant knocking down all remaining plaster (taking the walls back to brick) and re-doing them all from scratch! Works were planed to take a week. This was no place for a recovering baby and two young children… One who had sensory sensitivity… we knew we couldn’t stay and moved to my mothers. I visited my home every few days to check on things and collect my post ect.. I would leave in tears as it was like a builder’s yard with massive piles of dust. The works went way over schedule & we were at my mothers for what felt like forever! (No offence to my mum but we needed to go home)

Little man was stressed all he wanted was to be at home. Problems at school grew more difficult and I noticed I was getting more and more phone calls & letters from the Head & Deputy Head teacher. I wanted to ask the LEA to assess but was told by his school the LEA would not agree as there was more the school could be doing. Little man was given two unofficial exclusions on this particular month. Looking back now It’s very clear to me he was dealing with a hell of a lot and wasn’t handling stuff as well as I may of thought he was at the time… We were not at home and everything was different. Yet he was keen to attend school for the first time ever… He had even started to make some friends.


March….

… On the 1st March I made a parental request for a statutory assessment. Outreach services were asked to come in to school to observe, advise the school and work with Little man. This was the month Little man received his first official fixed term exclusion on the 3rd March… Things just kept getting worse. The relationship between myself and school was rapidly breaking down over my concerns about the lack of support and understanding that was being given to my son. On the 18th of March little man received his second fix term exclusion… And at the end of March I attend court for non school attendance for the period June-Dec 2009 (Little man was not sleeping at all and refused to attend school daily) As I stood in court like some harden criminal being fined… The school was busy imposing the third exclusion of the month via voicemail… Little man’s third exclusion within a few short weeks! Things were serious.

April…

… It was nice to get away from the stress of Little man’s school situation even if it was for just a few short weeks! Unlike many parents, I found myself dreading the Easter Half term coming to an end & the children having to return to school. It was nearing the end of April when Little man returned (two days after his peers as he was given a 4 day exclusion at the end of March that carried over to the new term) From the word go we encountered problems. I had a meeting at school which didn’t go well, I found myself losing trust in the school, and I felt though things were serious but no one was taking it that way as every concern was brushed aside! Little man was now always angry and his self-esteem was at an all time low. The LEA were not following the statutory time limits when it came to the six-week time limit for making a decision on if/if not to assess Little mans Special Educational Needs under the Ed Act 96 & the code of practice! I found myself having to chase people for answers… Only to then be told that they have decided to take it to panel on the 17th May weeks after the required time frame with no explanation offered! I felt like I couldn’t enjoy my new son due to always suffering the worry of the phone ringing, the fear of further exclusions or being asked to prepare my child to miss his break/lunch time or both, normally for incidents said to have happened a day or more before… I was becoming so down and feared that depression was setting in.

It There was one or two highs to the month… My birthday and spending it with the children, and the phone call informing me I had been accepted onto the Early Bird plus programme (dispute Little man being a tad over the age limit)

was world autism month and I was busy raising awareness for autism through blogging and my facebook group (that seemed to be touching the lives of more and more families thanks to the great support of members and the fantastic admins now on board)I started to notice that over time I had required some truly inspirational contacts & friends, who are some of the nicest, kindest people I know… All because of Autism.

May….

… For me, May was the month that I thought… “Can it get any worse?”,  “Was the straw that broke the camels back” so to speak! Having Only just returned from exclusion a few weeks pervious the exclusions started up again! On the 5th of May my little dude was excluded for one day! This was also the month the Allotment project started, resulting in what I can only describe as continuous acts of discrimination. Little man was either brought back from the allotment… With the school only informing me of such incidents a week or more later… Or he wasn’t taken at all. There were also weeks he found himself excluded on the same day as the project took place. Little man was given two exclusion this month on the 5th and 13th. We had a multidisciplinary meeting at school at the end of the month and it was agreed that the school could not meet my child’s needs, yet….  It was also this month that I found myself yet again chasing up the LEAs decision on the statutory assessment. I finally discovered by phone the request had been refused on the grounds his school could meet his current level of need and he was making adequate progress. This was my first real insight into the sheer twisted system supplied by LEAs… There was penalty more insights to come!

Although things were appalling at school, I started to gain more skills through the parenting classes for parents off children on the autism spectrum (Early Bird Plus) Meeting other parents who nodded when I spoke because they related to what it was I was saying was just heavenly. This was one of my reasons for creating the blog and the magnificent Facebook page… “I just love that page” I wanted to connect people as it can be a pretty lonely world if no one relates to you or your child, even if they pretend they do!.. Meeting parents of children like mine was uplifting and really brought me up from the lowness I had recently started feeling. I could speak to the staff running the programme without judgement, they even visited me at home… I was shown how to create social stories & the benefits of using visual aids (That we now can’t do without) I looked forward to Tuesdays and remain extremely grateful to the staff for agreeing to my attendance on such a beneficial programme.


June…

… After yet another blissful Half term… The children returned to school. Little mans sleeping problems were really showing its ugly head once more… despite the use of Melatonin. The month of June showed little or no improvement with the schools over use of exclusions… They just refused to take note on the effect they had! It was only impacting on his own mental well-being and his behaviour become more challenging not less. At home he was starting to have huge meltdowns and failing to cope with any day trips through fear of being rejected from them (even with his own family… he had lost all faith) Little man was excluded once again a few days into his return to school on the 10th of June (another allotment trip consequently lost) The LEA carried on rule breaking, resulting in letter writing on my part as a way to obtain the important letter refusing to assess in order to appeal to the tribunal… This I finally received it at the end of June.

Although things seem less than rosy in June it had a number of perks… Things may have gone overly sour in regards to Little mans education, but things started to look up for me and the family as a whole. I received an email from Nas inviting me to be interviewed for the training course to enable me to become an adviser for the Advocacy for education TSS service (Tribunal support service) We also received a fabulous gift from Merlin’s magic wand… Four tickets to Chessington World Of Adventures was much appreciated, and brought huge smiles of happiness across Little man and little sisters face! The sound of pure excitement filled the house and gave the family something fun to look forward to. Merlin’s went all out and helped us make up for all the school trips and activities my little dude was currently missing. The plan was to take the children to the theme park during the summer holidays that were almost upon us.


Well…… As you can see and it isn’t for me not trying… I just can’t seem to pack one long busy year into one single post without achieving some kind of world record for the worlds longest blog post (That’s if I don’t already hold the title!) So…. Time for me to wrap this up and continue from July through to December in part 2 tomorrow (Well it will give me something to do 🙂 ) I’m hoping you will all return to read about the highs and low of the last 6 months of 2010 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…………

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