15 March 2018

Why You Shouldn't Wait To Change Your Autistic Child's School





Three years ago I was told that Stanley would never cope in a mainstream environment when he transitions to a secondary placement. The day I heard those words actually broke my heart a little. Lola hadn't even been given a specialist placement at this time and already I was being told that another of my children would need specialist education. 
 
I had queried Stanley's progress for about a year and a half, and we were told he was fine. He wasn't behind and he was managing well. He didn't display any autistic features and had no attention problems. Stanley's mental health told me this was not the entire truth and after the school went through some issues with staffing and other Consultant Heads came through the school for short periods things started to change, and the reality was that actually he was THREE years below age related expectations and his results were actually changed to reflect that ONLY upon my request. He was also depressed and he was being bullied and had been asking me for two years to find him a new school. 
 
I wish I'd have listened to him properly. I wish I would have delved deeper into his problems and paid more attention. 

I will feel guilty for a long time for not listening to my own child. I should have been there for him and I wasn't. At the same time, Lola was my priority, and fighting the educational system for extra provision and schools for reasonable adjustments was becoming a full time job and I could not manage both things at the same time with a small baby. Lola was having intense, violent meltdowns at every school pick up and drop off and in hindsight I should have pulled her out too, however if I would have done that then we may not be where we are now. 

Finally the day came when me and Stanley had both had enough, I cant quite remember what the breaking point was but I know that we had a week of complete upset and Stanley had started school refusing, his mental well being was deteriorating right before my eyes and the lively, intelligent, bright, happy, funny little man that I once knew was becoming a shell of his former self.

Empty, emotional, uncaring.

He was not himself at all. 

On a Thursday evening I had phoned the Local Authority and had gotten him a place at another school for the following Monday start. He was so chuffed. I saw a little spark re-ignite and he genuinely smiled for about two days.

For an autistic child, change of routine and structure, new faces and classes, and missing friend can be an anxiety inducing time. It can lead to new challenges, and fights and meltdowns. 

Not for him! He smashed it like a boss! 
 
He turned up to his new classroom and to his new friends in his new uniform, new hair cut and got stuck right in. He was so happy.

But he was still a massive three years behind and I was so worried for him. Some may say a little over - anxious. I had to be, I had promised myself I would NEVER let him down again. As time went on I was concerned we were running out of time to get him secondary ready and in October 2017 I applied for an assessment of his needs - which was subsequently refused, he was making accelerated progress and they didn't see the need to assess. I was gutted. Obviously I appealed.

His school were and still are amazing. They have made reasonable adjustments, and put so many other little extra provisions in place for him that he has progressed mentally, emotionally, and educationally. I was still scared for him though, secondary school is massive, there are so many extra transitions, new people, new friends, and teachers and different classrooms and books for each lesson. How would he manage? he has executive functioning difficulties and he is extremely disorganised. 
 
As part of the mediation process the Local Authority agreed to an Educational Psychologist assessment. I have just received the report back and its fantastic. This little boy started Year 5 at the level of an emerging Year 3. His teachers have worked so hard with him that he has progressed to an Emerging Year 6 and in his Psychology Assessment where his chronological age is 10Y 7M he has a numer reasoning skill of 13Y 3M. How absolutley fantastic is that?
 
This is without a doubt down to his placement, down to his teachers for not giving up and taking on a student in desperate need of help. It is down to him for soldiering through whatever life threw at him and not giving up.   

So if you ever had a moment where you thought about changing your autistic child's school placement, then DO IT NOW.

If your child has ever asked you to change schools, then don't ignore those pleas like i had. Act upon them. Dig deeper. Find out what is wrong and make changes, because if you done, then trust me, you WILL regret it.

Stanley is finally secondary school ready and I have dropped the appeal against the LA. A weight has been lifted. I could not be more proud of my little boy than I am right now.




 
 
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