Friday, 15 July 2011

The fight continues...

This won't be a long post. I'm too tired, too cross, too frustrated.

You will have possibly have read my last post, "What 30th July *really* means to my son's teachers" . I had several comments, some of which I published. Some were deeply hurtful,  from those uncomfortable with the obvious challenge to a minority of their profession, or ideals and dogma they held dear. That's fine, they're my "Musings", my comments, and I quite like writing hard hitting pieces and being controversial. If I don't make you think, I've failed.

But this post is more an opportunity to vent my spleen, on my own behalf, my son's behalf and on behalf of so many others I know who are struggling in a similar situation.

My son has always found life, and school in particular very challenging. Three years ago the school situation was so bad he faced permanent exclusion, His (then) Headteacher was told by the Council SEN Officer to permanently exclude so she could commence looking for an alternative SEN placement at a multi agency meeting at the school in early 2008. The Head refused (due to the stigma of permanently excluding a child..and also the commendable sentiment that she felt she could not give up on him) and thankfully things settled down a little. We battled for years until he finally received a Statement of Special Educational Needs. his last Annual Review was last December, six months late but he had recently moved schools, AND moved classes because the teacher of the class he was initially in told him “Autism is no excuse for bad behaviour” and said he was “just a spoiled brat”. (For this the teacher faced a disciplinary hearing and H moved into a parallel class). This new class is a job-share, which is not ideal for a child with Autism, but certainly one of the teachers at least has endeavored to understand and work with Harry, and he has excellent, caring and dedicated full time (incl breaks) 1:1 support.

At Parents' Evening in March we were told progress was good, all was well. No IEP but one would be sent home next week. Nothing. By June we were concerned that we had not received a copy of Harry’s IEP, let alone discussed it with anyone in school so I asked for a meeting with the school SENCO before the end of term. We had also been struggling at home and I wanted to touch base with her before next year, I knew H was really struggling socially in school and wanted to hear how she viewed the situation. The meeting was a bit of a shock because we had no idea school were struggling as much as we were, and also that H did not have an IEP! To be honest, although this is a serious matter it was not something at that stage we wanted to make a huge issue of, since they were putting in the full time support he should have, although not targeting it as appropriately as perhaps it should be. Also, I believed we had a good relationship with the school and preserving this is often more important than battling at every step, they care about H and have given him the full time support that he needs.

Since then school have obtained some support from the Inclusive Resource, a service in Suffolk assisting ASD kids in mainstream school. But H is utterly miserable, his behaviour is becoming more alarming and we have regressed to being unable to leave him alone with his younger siblings on whom he vents his frustration. I cannot take the children out alone as H is once again a danger to himself and his siblings, car journeys are very difficult and potentially dangerous. Having left these issues so late in the term there is apparently no possibility of further discussion/input before next term, so we are to be left in limbo over the summer with an incredibly challenging situation! So, with some trepidation I prioritised my son and family life over a good relationship with school.... because in truth, the school have not fulfilled their duty of care to H by failing to amend and update his IEP despite his allocated statement of SEN. The school has put us in an impossible position by telling us about the problems so late in the term and only once the situation has reached the point where exclusion is once again being mentioned. They have not fulfilled their responsibility in light of Every Child Matters because H is now a danger to himself and others including his siblings. Where does that leave us with a six week summer holiday looming? This is a situation largely created by school and it is NOT acceptable for them to wash their hands of it until next term.

It gets worse though. His report arrived home today. No progress in Numeracy this YEAR. No progress in Science. No progress in most other areas and half the targets in Literacy. Seriously - HOW is this "good" progress even in March? What did amuse me was the tick box on handing in homework on time though, he has not once HAD homework in the entire academic year. Oh, and participating in the Yr 4 assembly would indeed have been a notable achievement had he participated. Or sat with the rest of his Year group even, rather than at the side on a chair with his TA.

We did finally get an IEP too. A flow chart for a delinquent child really, with the most absurd "targets" bearing absolutely no relation or formal reference to the targets in his Statement. Is this REALLY the school with an SEN Unit? The largest Primary School in Suffolk? A school we chose for our son and moved a family of 6 for to get him a place? Or, is this really a sad comment on the pathetic attempt in our County and so many others in this Country to pay lip service to the needs of those on the Autism Spectrum? Closing all the specialist schools to save money and attempting to normalise everyone together, with a cross-country token once a month excuse for support? Is this really what we should accept as an education for disabled youngsters?

Well I for one am not putting up with it. I've written to the school, LEA and Chair of Governors. And I don't think anyone reading this should either. I don't need advice on helping my son be polite and calm. He is one of the most polite children I know when his anxiety levels are low and he is happy. That last is so important. In all of this we forget this is a CHILD. No child, disabled or otherwise will ever learn anything if they are not happy. Every Child really DOES Matter. Whatever their needs, and I'm totally sick of fighting for the needs of mine.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are really going through it, I really hope your letters get through to the school, LEA and chair of governers and that something changes for both you and your son's sake. My eldest son has Asperger's syndrome, which was diagnosed the year after I took him out of school with his two sisters and began home educating them myself. He had problems in school but we did not know of his asperger's then and found the teachers to be very unhelpful. I'm not suggesting you try home education by the way but it has worked very well for us in this situation. I have no doubt that if my son was at school we would also be experiencing many difficulties.
    Also, I enjoyed reading your last blog post! And its your blog so you should be able to say what you want!!
    Good luck with everything
    Zoe x

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  2. Thanks Zoe!
    I have considered HE and nearly gone there... I am a teacher myself (KS2) too. Hoping his aggression calms down over the summer holidays, then this might be an option for us. So pleased it is working for you. I know it would work so much better for H but he's not keen and I'm a bit nervous of having him around 24/7 when he is going through back-to-back meltdowns.

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  3. You poor thing! I really hope that your letters get through to the right people to make a difference in your son's schooling. There has to be someone that will listen.

    My son has Classic Autism and is in early intervention and will start schooling in Jan 2013. I am scared about what the options will be (in Australia the obligations on the schools are significantly less than what they are in the UK).

    BTW I have a weekly bloglink up for Parents of Children with Autism and Asperger's to share their posts and experiences... if you are interested it would be great to see your posts there too - http://www.athomemum.com/lifeonthespectrum

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Many thanks for taking the time to comment, I really value your responses.

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