Before I get into the post I am sharing with you I would just like to make a little disclaimer. The subject I am writing about is fairly sensitive and I want to make it quite clear that whilst all of the facts in this post are indeed facts, any opinions expressed are very much my own. They do not mean that they are strictly true in terms of factual information, but of how I am feeling. I have thought hard about whether to post about this subject and I have decided I need to, not only for myself but for my precious little boy. Full respect will be given to the institute I discuss but I know he deserves better than the current situation, whoever is at fault.
A couple of months back I wrote a post about whether I had picked the right school for Hayden. Should I have gone straight down the specialised route and should I have researched local schools more intently to ensure his needs were going to be met? This was following a meeting with Hayden’s current school and the subject being raised.
After listening to the advice I was given from friends, family and the autism community, I decided that I would plan to see some specialised schools in the area, push for the school to complete the EHCP application and just generally keep my mind open to the idea. I actually think that a specialised school will be the case at some point, but I wanted to really give him the chance to achieve within a mainstream environment, I owe that to him.
After the Easter holidays I got some news I didn’t really want to hear, Hayden’s current 1:1 had received some bad news over the holidays and would be off for quite some time, at least 4 weeks. Of course nobody could help this situation and the school called me very quickly to notify me. They also said they would keep me informed on any updates on who would be caring for Hayden at school. Luckily (or not so of course) there was a very qualified 1:1 within the school that had become available as the child she looked after was off school for a while. She was absolutely fantastic with Hayden. There was so much progress in that short time. I was receiving notifications from the school that Hayden was implementing numbers into scenarios, he remained calm with the sudden change of care giver and his speech took a leap forwards in our opinion. We really hoped she could stay with Hayden for the entire duration of his regular 1:1 being off but also knew that meant another child being off poorly and we would not wish that on any other child or their parents.
After 2 weeks someone else met me at the school door, I recognised her but didn’t really know anything about her. When she brought him out at the end of the day I asked if the lady that had been looking after him was off. No, her child had returned to school. Immediately I was angry with the school for not notifying me, I left it a few days before one morning Hayden was pretty much marched off without me even having a chance to say goodbye. I was angry and went to see the school’s SENCO straight away. Fortunately she was free to see me and we had a long conversation about the current situation. Whilst I knew it couldn’t be helped, as long as I am notified and kept in the loop, whether or not I am happy with the situation at least I was aware. It turned out they were having problems finding a permanent (well temp) replacement for the rest of the time his regular 1:1 was away. There was nothing I could say or do to change the situation but that also didn’t mean I was satisfied with what was happening. Hayden needs familiararity, Hayden needs things the same. If he doesn’t see the same people, watch the same things and keep the same routine it could have damaging effects at both home and school. I had to leave the school knowing there was nothing I could do. There is no magical person waiting in the wings to cover sickness, that is both trained, and qualified and that knows the in’s and out’s of every high needs child within the school. They couldn’t do anything either. The positive outcome of the meeting was that I was promised to be kept updated with any change. And the school have stood by that promise.
We were made aware last week that Hayden’s regular 1:1 was in fact going to be off for a little while longer but they have someone now available to cover her right up until her return. Whilst I don’t have a whole load of confidence in this person following a few brief meetings, at least Hayden would have some continuity and that is the main thing.
On Tuesday afternoon when James collected Hayden, the brief handover included what James felt was a suggestion that Hayden is being quite a challenge at the moment because ‘perhaps there’s some things going on at home?’ Whether James was being over sensitive and in fact it was intended as a question rather than a suggestion we don’t know. But we are all quite aware where all the unsettling changes are occurring. I wasn’t going to mention it again to the school or even on the blog as it was a tiny thing that could have just been misinterpretation.
I then received a call on Wednesday morning, notifying my there had been a small incident at school. Hayden had scratched a little girl. It wasn’t a huge deal as the little girl wasn’t hurt badly, but of course they are obliged to make me aware. Of course if Hayden was a neuro-typical child that would have included a meeting with the head teacher about his behaviour, but the school seem to eventually understand that scratching is often frustration or excitement with Hayden and not because he is naughty and acting out. It felt that, that wasn’t the purpose of the call though. there were a couple of other things that needed a quick discussion, which was done and then the next words got my back up once again.
Probably following the incident there had been a conversation between the SENCO and the head teacher and once again the question of whether Hayden is in the right setting was raised again. The school are concerned that Hayden will struggle with the more structured approach in year one. What’s not to say that, that structure is exactly what he needs?
I have made my thoughts on the matter quite clear, I am open to it, I am exploring it, it is something constantly on my mind but I am not going to rush a decision. I am not going to give up on mainstream education because he has had a difficult term. One where he has had about 6 different people messing with his routine. 6 different people where none of them know the in’s and outs of what works and what doesn’t. 6 different people he has warmed to and then see disappear again. Everyone he gets close to in a school setting, soon leaves him. Imagine if that is the way he see’s it? It would effect any child, let alone one with special needs. I don’t have a magic answer for their current circumstances but what I do know is that palming one of their highest needs children in the school around from adult to adult is not going to see any improvement or progression whatsoever.
The whole thing has got James and I thinking a lot more seriously about a lot of things within his school setting, and it would be unfair for me to mention them here before discussing them with the school but what I can say is when I asked the outright question; “Are you telling me your school are not able to meet Hayden’s needs” The weak response I got about obligation and rescources fell pretty flat. They are obliged to meet Hayden’s needs however high they are, and of course they can share their concerns about whether mainstream school is the right place for Hayden, hopefully they only have his best interests at heart, but that doesn’t make me feel any better every single time it comes into conversation. We are still waiting for the ASD specialist teacher to visit to observe Hayden and offer support, tools and suggestions on what may help Hayden achieve more, we are still waiting for some proper implementation of a plan from speech and language, we are still awaiting a decision on an EHCP. The school have a lack of support, but they also have an SEN policy that feels very much ignored at the moment. The school may not be at a complete fault here as maybe their hands are tied more than I realise, but they should be pushing, they should be finding the right person for him, not allowing any old TA be the person that is ultimately responsible for his progress.
My boy. My Hayden.