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.