Thursday, 23 February 2012

An Annual Review

I have Amy's special educational needs review today. Since she started at special school last September, she hasn't really had any major issues apart from those that concern her growing up. I have no idea what a review will be like at a special school but I suspect it will be a lot more detailed and fulfilling than any she had at mainstream. Everything at mainstream school for Amy was "ongoing". It was as though they gave up on her because autism is a condition people live with for life. I used to come away from those meetings feeling depressed, disheartened, worried for my daughter's future. There were the usual comments from staff about action that needed to be taken, but it never was. The schools weren't bad schools, far from it, but they just weren't suitable for a child with special needs. Parents of children with conditions such as autism have found this time and time again. It is rare that a child is completely at ease and fully included in mainstream education. I don't blame the school but I do blame the staff. Saying there is only so much they can do is an excuse.

If I hadn't been able to get Amy into special school when I did, I was prepared to take her out of mainstream education anyway and pay for a home tutor. It would have bankrupted me but it would have been better than her hitting her head against a brick wall, getting nowhere fast and being picked on by children who weren't able to accept that she was "different". It is probably easy to pay attention to a class room full of typical children who all listen, concentrate and understand, whilst it is difficult to give your attention to just one pupil who is struggling to keep up. Amy's special needs support worker was a god-send; Amy wouldn't have lasted five minutes without her. And so here I am, getting ready for yet another review meeting where teachers and professional special needs staff will discuss my daughter. I'm hoping I come out of this meeting with a smile on my face and some positive news. It's become obvious how much she needed a special school and the staff have confirmed that she's in the best place. Some people prefer to put their children in mainstream schools even though they clearly have special needs and need much more one-to-one support than a mainstream school is able to give. I think I know why that is, but I also know that if a child needs to be in a special school it is worth the fight to get them into one. Because once you do, you won't look back.

20 comments:

  1. I know that when Nick was first diagnosed I was desperate for him to fit into mainstream, however, over time I came to the realisation that I had to think of his needs not mine! Although I did have to start a school because there wasn't one for him!!
    I am so glad that Amy is in the best place for her needs. You are fortunate to have that. I hope the review goes well and that you doleave the meeting with a smile on your face. Please be sure to let us know.
    Kind regards
    Di

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  2. If the school is a decent one then all the staff working with Amy will have been asked to write a report on her. At the school my mum works at, they have people present from the care side (the school is residentail and non residential)and the educational side as well as the parents are involved in the review. http://www.st-marys.bexhill.sch.uk That is the link for the school to give you an idea of what they are like. The work the staff do is amazing and i have to say working with special needs children was for me more fun and rewarding than working with "able" children. They were so much more giving and had more zest for life.
    I really hope that you will start having positive experiences from your visits with the school.

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  3. I hope all went well in the meeting! I know it probably did...She's such a trooper and so are you!
    It's been super busy here...sorry for being late!
    Hughugs

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  4. Hope the review went well. I'd be really interested to hear how you felt it compared to her reviews in mainstream and how the school feel they can help Amy. J's are fairly low key and the parent evenings even more so! The only issues we ever have are promises which are rarely made good. Largely down to poor SLT provision and absent physios. For example we keep asking for PECS symbols which fail to materialise and a list of exercises for his calves never arrived! xxx

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  5. Hope the meeting went well. You obviously did the best for Amy as she's getting the help she needs. :)

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  6. Schools in Ireland are not great on school-home communication, so I don't feel that I've ever been told everything, hope it goes well for you x

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  7. I really hope the meeting went well. Having worked with kids who have Autism and Apergers (I know they don't call it that so much now but that was their diagnosis at the time) within a main stream school, I know their needs weren't always met. As a TA I did my best for them but staff seemed ill equipped to support them and it was often left to support staff like myself to try to help them access lessons that were just not prepared well enough for them.

    My 7 year-old niece has just been diagnosed with high functioning autism and adhd so it's great to hear how well Amy has settled in. It's been a battle getting a diagnosis for our ME, and school is not easy for her so I know the thought of special schools will come up at some point as she has already suffered bullying. She is a bright, funny, articulate kid and I love her so much but I know there will be some tough times ahead for her and my brother and his wife. I keep meaning to tell my sis-in-law about your blog. I think reading about you and Amy will help. x

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  8. Amy being Amy, I can't fail to see how her report and review would fail to please. She is a delightful girl, very intelligent and a joy to all who know her - me included. Special needs is no different than any other report we receive for our children. We worry what the staff will say and when it's over, usually breath a huge sigh of relief.
    Give her a big hug from me won't you xxx

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  9. Yup. You know my feelings on this one. It scares me how many parents push children who cannot cope with it into mainstream. Some manage bt lots don't.

    Hope all went ok today.

    x

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  10. Hope the meeting went well and that Amy continues to thrive.

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  11. Hope it all went well and that you came out with a smile! I decided to opt for private school for both boys when we realised that Xav was different with his epilepsy now he has been diagnosed with dyslexia as well I know we made the right decision - a tough one financially but one we do not regret.

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  12. I hope all went well. I think Amy has come on leaps and bounds, you are doing the right thing. x

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  13. I look forward to hearing how the meeting went! The school issue is so complex. It sounds like you've really honed in on what works for her. She's lucky to have you.

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  14. I once met a mother of a special needs kid whose reason of having her son in the mainstream school or public school it's because students and teachers are more compassionate and accepting of the "problem." The only thing in the private school ONLY for AUTISTIC KIDS just like the school in California wherein one autistic child has five educators(teacher and life skills) assigned to provide assistance. ONE CHILD needs FIVE to attend to that kind of disability. Uhm, I think the parents are wealthy enough to provide for the financial aid for that child.

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  15. Hoping all went well with Amy's review. That year seemed to pass quickly.
    I am a bit worried how my grandson will take to College shortly. He will still need a helper but a think that the transition will be terrifying for him.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  17. This is a really interesting post and I am sure that people in similar situations will find it really helpful.

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  18. I have worked in both mainstream school supporting children with additional needs & now in a special school, I love my job, I always do & have done my best for every child I have supported. Do not condemn the teachers, support staff or the schools as they rely on outside agencies & are often told the number of children they are to see or be assessed is huge. More money from LEA or the government should be spent on children & young people to make sure they have the very best start and continual support to make their lives as full and rewarding as possible.

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  19. ps I do hope you came out of Amy's review meeting with a smile on your face x

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  20. I have worked with Children with SEN for around 6 years as a private tutor. What is important is that the child is happy and receives the right support. Good luck!

    Kristopher Reeder

    (www.ktrtuition.com)

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