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 Post subject: Definition of disability
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:34 pm 
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Hi
My son was diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome on 30th September. He took this very badly and was shocked and upset immediately. This, together with the pressure of the 11+ exam produced an exacerbation in symptoms and we had to contact his consultant for advice. She sent a letter to the Admissions Team to ask them to consider his problem when marking his exam - I don't think they have. Previously his symptoms had been mild. He was off school for most of the next 3 weeks, going into school only to do his 11+ exam. He had to take the second one in the Head's office as he was unable to control or suppress the vocal tics. He has only recently returned to normal. He is a bright boy who was expected to pass, but got 116/117. We are going to appeal, since we have good evidence of his academic ability and our head will support us. He fits in with the criteria of disability, but we don't know how to go about it. We are getting an Ed Psych report to help us.
Susannah


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Susannah

susannah wrote:
She sent a letter to the Admissions Team to ask them to consider his problem when marking his exam - I don't think they have.


Admissions cannot make adjustments during the marking process. The correct forum for dealing with your case is an Appeal Panel hearing after the results.

Although the advice is usually not to allow a "sick" child to take the test, you clearly had relatively little choice in the matter, firstly because he was not "sick" as such, and also there was no telling when he would return to some sort of normality. If, as you say, the stress of the forthcoming 11+ was causing his symptoms to become more marked, then delaying the test would have been of no benefit.

I am assuming that you consulted the Head over whether he should sit the test, and s/he agreed with your decision? If so, ask them to confirm it in a supporting letter. As your case is quite complex, I suggest that the Head will need to write a separate letter, because there will be insufficient space on the Appeal form to explain the full circumstances. The more that they put down on paper, the less explaining you will need to do at the hearing.

All the panel are seeking to do is examine the evidence and decide:

a) if there is sufficient evidence of high ability to warrant a GS place;

b) whether the mitigating circumstances appear to account for the shortfall in marks.

If you have good evidence of academic ability and evidence from the Head of his difficulties at school, I don't think that you need to be overly concerned about "defining disability". You have a consultant's diagnosis, and a panel will accept that.

Keep it simple. Present your case frankly, making sure that the academic evidence takes centre stage, and don't labour the mitigating circumstances. I am sure that you will find the panel will treat you with great kindness.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:10 pm 
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I agree with Sally-Anne. I don't think this is going to be a disability case as such, because the symptoms before the 11+ were mild, and BCC had no opportunity to make any reasonable adjustments. In any event, you can leave all that to the panel to sort out.

All you need to do is focus on academic evidence in particular, and the extenuating circumstances.

_________________
Etienne


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 Post subject: Definition of disability
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:26 pm
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Thank you very much for this advice. It is much appreciated. I have just had a meeting with the Headteacher and she is going to put together a portfolio of his work and write letters. I found out today that she had already written a letter to the Admissions Team on the day that my son took the second exam, explaining the circumstances. This has been acknowledged and kept on file. I think perhaps we have a good case. My son certainly needs a break.
Thanks again for your advice.
Susannah


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:12 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Susannah

I am delighted for you that the Head is being so supportive.

The one thing I am wary of is the idea of a "portfolio" of work. Panels tend to be suspicious of "specially selected" pieces of work, and they prefer to see entire exercise books.

It might be better to submit exercise books for the core subjects - English and Maths, and perhaps Science, and then a small portfolio of outstanding work from other subjects?

The alternative is for the Head to make it clear that, in her opinion, the pieces of work she has selected for the portfolio are entirely representative of his usual standard.

Please do let us know how you get on, and come back with further questions if you need to.

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject: Definition of disability
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:11 am 
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Hi Sally Anne
Thanks a lot for this. I am worried about submitting exercise books for this term. His teacher told me that his work since 30th September has not been as good, obviously because of the Tourettes symptoms getting worse. Though he is getting better now, there is a dip in performance between then and a week ago (about 6 weeks). Can I submit his year 5 books? Will they understand the dip in performance if I submit year 6 exercise books? Though Tourettes is not a degenerative disease, when the symptoms are bad there seems to be a difference in his concentration and focus. What do you think the panel would think about this? I should also say that I work in the school where my son was expected to attend (the grammar) and we have a girl with Tourettes there. It is managed very successfully. Should I say this? And should I get an Ed Psych report?
Thanks again
Susannah


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:32 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Susannah

I suggest that you take the Year 5 books with you if they are of a good standard, because they will show an entire year's work.

I would say that, having missed so much schooling due to the Tourettes diagnosis, there is not a great deal in the Year 6 books as yet, rather than referring to the dip in performance.

If the panel ask you if his schoolwork was affected by the diagnosis, you can obviously refer to the 3 weeks he was off school, and say that there was also a dip in performance when he was at school, but he is now returning to normal.

I would not mention the other girl in your written submission, but if there is an appropriate moment during the hearing you can mention her then, and give some examples of how the school adapts it's requirements to deal with her needs. You could add that it has been a great reassurance to you in the last few months to know of her case, because it has helped you realise just how normal life can be for Tourette's sufferers when they get the correct support.

I think that one possible question you may get, depending on how familiar all the panel members are with Tourette's, is "how will he cope with the stress of exams in future?". You can point out that it is early days, and you feel that there is a great deal that can be done to help him manage that stress in future, and also point out politely that, whichever school he goes to, he will be taking exams!

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:48 am 
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Hi again
I expect to be asked that question and to be honest, it is one we have seriously thought about ourselves. However, research suggests that the majority of children have the most severe symptoms between the ages of 10 and 12. My son seems to be fitting in with this pattern and so we are optimistic about the future, whatever school he ends up in.
Thanks so much for your help. I'll let you know how we get on.
Susannah


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:20 pm 
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Hi again
Sorry to come back, but I'm filling in the form and I still don't know whether or not I should tick the box which states whether I think my child has a disability. He does fulfil all 4 of the criteria mentioned, but if I am going to present his reason for not passing as mitigating circumstances, should I leave it blank? If I tick it do I have to 'prove' his disability? I understand the point about the symptoms being mild beforehand and not letting the LEA know so that they could provide alternative arrangements. Will the panel understand that he does have a medical problem that affects his day to day life when the symptoms are bad? (I assume the consultant will write this, but she might not). Should I also say this when the LEA rep makes his statement?
Thanks for your advice
Susannah


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:52 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Susannah

There is no need to apologise for coming back - we are here to help. :D

If he fulfils the 4 criteria, then you should tick the box. A consultant's letter will suffice as evidence - I cannot imagine for one moment that she will not state how it can affect his daily life.

You can still use the disorder/disability (and the diagnosis so soon near to the tests) as mitigating circumstances. The 11+ is not a "one size fits all" process, and a child with Tourette's might well not respond to it in the way another, non-disabled child, would do.

As the diagnosis was made only on the 30th September, it would have been nearly impossible to assess what his needs were in time for the first test, and make special arrangements. The Head did allow him to sit the second test separately, so to an extent that was a "special arrangement". Whether extra time would have been granted to allow for his tics, no-one will ever know.

I feel that you - and the Head - did all that you could in the short time span available, and I think that the panel will recognise that. If anyone should have spoken to Admissions in those 10 days, it was probably the Head rather than you. However, I feel that you - and the Head - did all that you could in the short time span available, and I think that the panel will recognise that.

Admissions do not grant special arrangements without considerable evidence and deliberation, so I doubt that either of you would have got a result in that time frame. In the meantime of course, the exam stress was building up in your son, and delaying the test would probably have made that even worse.

When the LEA rep makes his statement he will say to you words to the effect of "I understand that your son has a disability - Tourette's syndrome?", and you will simply need to say "yes". The time for discussion is later. If he does not mention it (which is very unlikely), you might say at the end of his statement: "I would like to add that my son has a disability, TS, and you will all know from our statement that it is a significant part of our case."

You might like to consider finding a "one page summary" of Tourette's to include with your evidence, "that the panel may find helpful if they are not familiar with all aspects of the disorder". Tourette's is only known to most people because of the vocal tics and involuntary swearing, and there is, as you know, much more to it than that.

I suspect that this will be one of the very rare cases (they are as rare as hen's teeth in fact!) where you may need to go to 2 pages for your written statement, rather than one. Definitely no more than two though!

Sally-Anne


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