Friday, 24 April 2009

Do *not* move to Suffolk if you have a child on the Autism Spectrum...

It would seem the internal machinations of local Councils are as self-interested as ever :( ...certainly here in Suffolk!

Today we had a meeting to discuss where we were with H's education at his school. However it was one of those "meetings to publicly discuss what we have already discussed and agreed in private" which went against all evidence available to date on our son. His headteacher had called an Emergency Annual Statement Review last term, in January since "enough is enough", school weren't coping and neither was H. He was on a part-time timetable, learning next to nothing and still getting excluded. The team who work with children like H in mainstream schools (County Inclusive Resource) agreed all their usual strategies were not helping H cope any better and Health were supportive of the idea of an alternative to mainstream - particularly since there is no way he would cope in Middle School in two years time.

So, we went along with hopes that some (albeit slow) progress might be made. How wrong can you be! Apparently, all of a sudden he is making progress and in the space of a few weeks has gone from not being able to manage more than an hour or two in class (acc. to his teacher) to being ready to be reintegrated full-time. The head is no longer of the opinion there is an emergency of any kind and feels that despite the Statement offering no real change this is fine for school and H.

It all comes down to money of course. Call me a cynic but Special Schools of any kind cost a LOT. An awful lot - in fact the amount of a small mortgage each year! Almost no County will fund such places out of area for children under the age of 11. Of course, had our son been in a wheelchair it would be totally different but invisible disabilities provide convenient opportunities to save money rather than meet their (just as valid) needs. Suffolk has an appalling reputation currently for meeting the needs of ASD/ADHD children, as highlighted recently i n the East Anglian Daily Times. First they procrastinate over diagnosis, then tell you there is nothing further on offer to meet their needs.

So, let's hope the headteacher hasn't shot herself in the foot.... because she cannot exclude him easily now since she has told today's meeting things have dramatically improved and there is no need for consideration of alternatives. Her "Emergency" situation was fictitious it would seem, perhaps she was having a bad day - or maybe it was something to do with the deluge of parent complaints about H's behaviour, or the fact that children are leaving now and it is proving almost impossible to provide the Statutory support he requires because few will work with him in class. Whatever the reason she now has him back full time and will have to cope - or seriously lose face. And that, sadly, is what it's often about at the end of the day - at our children's expense.

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