if you haven’t followed our journey for long, or just joined us here at Dinky and me, you may not have read how we got here. Even the short version is long, so I will go for quick…
2 terms in first school (moved on head teachers recommendation- wrongly)
2.5 terms in second school (treated her as a naughty child)
11 months out of school (mostly spend abusing the unlimited entry to merlin attractions- chessington, legoland, sealife and London eye)
Coming up to 1 term in SEN school
When it came to looking for a SEN school I was quite taken aback and there are so many myths and really poor advice from non-educational professionals.
So on the one hand I was gutted that my little girl wasn’t going to see out her educational career in mainstream.
On the other… I was pertrified she wouldn’t get into a SEN school, because I was constantly told
- she wouldn’t meet the criteria for any schools.
- She didn’t have BESD,
- she didn’t have classic autism- ambitious about autism States:
71% of children with autism are educated in mainstream schools and the remainder in specialist provision
I was told the other 29% were those with associated learning difficulties or classic autism.
4. she didn’t seem to have a learning difficulty- but no one could assess due to her extreme demand avoidance.
So that’s all the types of schools.
As it turned out, she didn’t need to have classic autism to go to an ASD/SLCN school, her level of autism and PDA was enough for her to go to a special school, and so was the fact she had made little to no progress in any area of her learning with the exception of reading.
I was excited when I finally found a school that I thought could meet her needs. Finally a place that will understand her form of autism.
To begin with it all went well, there was no pressure and Dinky enjoyed playing with all the adults that were happy to allow her to feel in control. She began to choose to do maths activities as they were set as games.
Over the last few weeks we have had a mixture of brilliant or good days and ‘positive handling notices’. Over the past two weeks especially there have been two incidents marked as serious.
Instantly I panic. Whose fault is it? will she be kicked out?
However it seems panicking is not nessessary, even though she picked up a blunt dinner knife and threatened two members of staff, she wasn’t excluded. I was shocked, not just that Dinky had picked up a knife (as she has NEVER done that before), but that it was seen as exactly what it was… A child who was scared, in fight or flight and who was not in control of her actions.
Then earlier this week she headbutt two members of staff. Again this was not treated as an incident involving a naughty child. I felt that the staff could have prevented it, but they are still in trial and error mode.
Then there are the great things.
Dinky trying to do maths, planting potatoes, making friends- not because she is the rebel- but because the other kids like her! She gets certificates every Friday and is really starting to love school life.
Someone said that Dinky is not the only one who seems happy with the school. It’s true, since she has been in this school I have been able to relax. I know she is safe and being looked after and I can rest. I can recover from meltdowns and the demand avoidance. I have time to go to meetings and do all the paperwork without trying to deal with Dinky aswell.
Our weekends have become fun again. With the rest during the week I now have the energy to do thinfs like we used to.
We now have an after school routine. Dinky will come home, demand snacks, and watch a film. During the film she usually either rocks heavily against the back of the sofa of watch it completely upside down.
She likes going on her doorway swing after dinner, and watches her iPad in her sensory den once she is ready for bed.
We found out Dinky’s teacher is leaving next week. Normally I would be worried that this is yet another change for Dinky, however, changing teachers and schools regularly had become the norm, so the hard thing will be convincing her this school will last.
When the teacher dropped the bombshell on the class, she apparently told him
You can visit, not on weekends because the school is closed. Wednesday is a good day!
Later on when I went through the social story with her about it she said
Wednesday is a good day to visit.
Then she walked off.
Today she has seemed ok with it all.
I have been trying to sort out when Dinky’s statement is going to become an EHCP. According to our county council local offer, it is supposed to be this academic year. However the school sent out annual review paperwork. I phoned the SEN team and the caseworker had no idea what what going on. She said the changes were new and that she didn’t understand them, which is ridiculous! Parents are going on workshops to understand the changes and transition to EHCP but the SEN team doesn’t have a clue! Well, at least Dinky’s case worker didn’t, she had to ask someone else!
I had to tell her how it worked and she agreed with me. She said it was miscommunication, crossed wires, which led to the school not doing it as a transition meeting.
So I talked to the school and found out that actually it was the SEN team that said they were too busy to do the transfer this year despite Dinky’s year group being one of the year groups to change this year. If she were to be left out, I wouldn’t have a clue when her statement would transfer to the new system.
So now I have to start the paperwork my end in order to get the EHCP to be right.
Dinky is going on her first proper school trip with the school next week!
It sure has been a rollercoster these past two months, but I’m sure, at least for now, that I’ve made the right choice.