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 Post subject: Made to feel inadequate
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:29 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2006 10:14 am
Posts: 171
Location: Lincolnshire
My son and I had a one on one tour of our favoured grammar school recently proceeded by a short interview with the SENCO about my sons Aspergers Traits but non formal "diagnosis", as yet and therefore concerns.

I have to say I was thoroughly non-plussed about the information given and the portrayal from the school regarding this disorder spectrum. I was told that there had been very few aspergers children at the school and only those with mild forms. Those there had been had been "accepted" and "lasted" to year 12, that pupils with this disorder found the pace of the lessons hard and too fast and that they found it difficult to organise themselves to use their lockers adequately to carry the books with them they needed for morning lessons and store the ones for the afternoon lessons. They tried to carry everything with them and they could not guarantee that these children had managed to make a note of what their homework was and when it should be completed by. I was advised that there were no TA'S to assist in the classes and so this could be a problem.

My concern was not what they said as I accepted all of their valid points, but it was the fact that I had been led to believe that this school had an exceptional pastoral care, were confident with pupils with this type of disorder as those with aspergers tend to be the high achievers. However I and my son were definitely left with no illusions that this was not going to be easy. Yet something else to knock his confidence.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:29 am 
I am sorry to hear about your experience. My daughter has just completed her first year in Grammer and also suffers from Aspergers. She has been able to keep up with the work although is by no means at the top of her group
but finds the social interation difficult as she came from a small Bucks primary school. However in the summer term she befriended a couple of shy girls in her year group and although that are not close friends it has given her some confidence and someone to say hi to. The school has been supportive and given her time to settle in - she has a wonderful tutor who regularly phones to tell me how she's getting on and clearly treats all children as individuals. Maybe ask to speak to someone else at the school who will hopefully be more positive or think again about your choice.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:08 am 

Trust your instincts - if you weren't imressed with the SENCo at your proposed school then chances are your child won't get the support that he needs. If you don't have a Statement to provide additional support then your child is very vunerable. Keep looking around your other secondary school choices - do you have a local support group for Autism/aspergers, you could tap into the knowledge of other parents who have gone through the Grammar system.

What the SENCo is describing is as much a sympton of dyspraxia (often co-exists with aspergers), if you think that your child may have some of these problems than seek a diagnosis from an occupational therapist by either referral from GP or privately www.otip.co.uk. This would place your child firmly on the SEN register.

If you do decide to head for your chosen school despite the SENCo's reaction it may help you to be aware of the Disability Discrimination Act. I have posted separately on this site about disability discrimination, extract from that post

Failure to take reasonable steps

The school can also be accused of discrimination if it does not take "reasonable steps" to ensure your child is not at a substantial disadvantage compared to the other pupils at the school.

For example:

a secondary school fails to make the arrangements necessary for your child to be able to sit public exams
a deaf pupil who lip-reads is at a substantial disadvantage because teachers continue speaking while facing away from him to write on the board
a pupil with dyslexia is told she cannot have her teacher's lesson notes, and that she should take notes during lessons "like everyone else".

Good Luck


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:52 am 
Hi SJ,

My daughter, now year 8 in Grammar school, has Asperger's and a Statement of Special Educational Needs which actually gives her full time 1to1 help in school.

My personal comments on what you have been told -
academic progress - has been no problem at all. In fact her attainment has been if anything better in secondary school, I think because it is an easier learning environment for her (less noise, less disruption, timetable adhered to fairly rigidly, expectations clear, etc). If your son is a fairly good all rounder and near the top of the class now he will probably, if he is settled and happy, continue to do well at Grammar. The SENCO told me that the children they have had tend to need more help academically when they are further up the school because they often find organising coursework more difficult.
organisation and homework - she has definitely needed more help with this. We gave up using the locker at school because it just made it harder for her and there were always crowds round the lockers before school and at lunchtimes which she could not cope with. The SENCO advised us to keep all her books at home at just take in what she needs each day. This will all fit into her rucksack (although heavy it is manageable) and she organises her bag every evening as soon as she comes home from school using her timetable and homework diary/planner to make sure everything is ready for the next day. Simple but effective.

You know your son and what areas he may have difficulties with - each child is an individual and just because others have had problems does not mean he will experience the same.

I would be rather disappointed though not entirely surprised by the school's attitude. Problems with organisation and homework are relatively easy to handle with the right input and it should be part of the school's normal help for SEN children to have strategies to deal with them. It may be as simple as how my daughter organises her bag; For some it may mean ensuring homework is written down on the right date and the date for handing in noted properly so you can oversee at home.

There is a wealth of experience around the County in dealing with ASD children on all levels of the spectrum and a fair amount of literature available as well (Parent Partnership holds stocks of most of this and will send it to you if requested). Given the prevalence of these disorders all schools should be able to deal with some of the problems which arise, certainly for those at the mild end of the spectrum.

Hope you manage to find the right place for your son.


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