Intro

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Are you trying to cut your way through the special needs education jungle in the UK?

Special Needs Jungle offers tips, resources and advice to parents negotiating the special needs statutory assessment and statementing process.

SEN-Getting Started With StatementsIt also features lots of interesting posts from both me, Tania Tirraoro, a parent of two boys with Asperger Syndrome who has been through statementing twice, as well as regular and varied guest experts.

There is also an accompanying book, Special Educational Needs – Getting Started With Statements, which goes into much greater detail – it’s available in paperback or ebook from Amazon and other online sellers.Home

This is a parent-to-parent site, so there is no legal advice, but there is signposting to those who can offer it should you require it.  It’s mainly to help get you off the starting blocks and to provide links to established organisations who can help if problems arise along the way. It will provide links to useful sites and tips on how to get prepared and stay motivated throughout the process.

Getting a statement for your child is an exhausting, time consuming and often demoralising process. Local Education Authorities are usually budget, not child, focused for obvious reasons. They are required to provide an adequate, but not necessarily the best, education for every child.

If you want your child to go to a particular school because you believe it is the only place they will be able to have a good chance of an “adequate” education you must be prepared for an undoubtedly long, often drawn out, stressful process. Only the most persistent and prepared will be successful. Local Education Authorities (LEAs) aren’t about to make it easy for you; they will give you the least possible they can get away with.

LEAs are also focused on so-called “inclusion” but miss the point that the ultimate goal is to enable children to be included in society as an adult.

Tania Tirraoro, Special Needs JungleThe fact is, for many high-functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children or those with dyslexia, dyspraxia or dyscalculia, a mainstream school often does not have the expertise or the resources needed to provide an “adequate” education because these children need a different style of teaching.

LEAs are also focused on so-called “inclusion” but miss the point that the ultimate goal is to enable children to be included in society as an adult. Making them all dance to the same tune in a test-driven, national curriculum based mainstream education system will turn mainstream children into successful mainstream adults, but those “square peg” children who do not fit into the “round hole” of the state system may end up never reaching their potential.

This site is not anti-LEA but LEAs have budgets to stick to and the power to decide where they will spend it. This site is to help parents get started on cutting their way through the special needs jungle from a parent’s perspective so they know what help is out there for them to get the education their child needs.

If you know of a good site that offers help, please send the link to info@specialneedsjungle.com so that we can enlarge the knowledge base available and give under-pressure parents a fair chance of coming through the special needs jungle with their sanity intact and their child in the right educational setting.

Do read the blogs, to the right of screen, and leave a comment as I love reading what everyone else thinks about SEN issues. If you are involved with special needs, whether parent or professional and would like to contribute a guest post, then do contact me.

Leave a comment

104 Comments

  1. Hi
    Just a thank you I think!

    I have a place for my son (high functioning autism/Asperger’s) at secondary school. I have just been to visit an Independent School which will suit him so much better. I have been advised (Educational Psychologist) not to apply for a statement as his behaviour is not bad enough and his educational attainment is not poor enough to get one.

    I have just read your comments and believe that my son needs a statement and needs funding by the LEA to receive an appropriate education. He will not cope at the local secondary school and despite their assurances that he will have support it will not be enough to help him to understand what is expected of him socially and indeed academically.

    I have his annual SEN review (school action plus – he has an IPA) next week and will be telling them that is what I will be doing.

    Regards

    Katie Hughes

    Reply
  2. Thankyou for sharing your journey- there’s lots of really invaluable info here…just had to get my twins (1 autistic) out of really rough school, so I know what its like to bang your head against the Local Authority Brick Wall!….

    Rachelx

    Reply
  3. Hi, I found you through BMB. My daughter, Amy, is autistic. She attends a mainstream school which upto now, we have found no fault. She is very lucky however, as she receives a statement of 26 hours support a week, but her support worker is actually at the school all day with Amy. She has been with Amy now for 6 years so knows her inside-out, in some cases, I think she knows her better than I do!

    I have found, since Amy’s diagnosis in October 2003, that it’s all about money. I have tried to be one step ahead most of the time and have always had a long written report ready to add to the statement. Most of the influence in a statement will come from the teaching staff because it is drawn from an educational environment, but as Amy’s mum, I have been very forthcoming and made sure staff, panel, and the LEA realise that I am Amy’s advocate. It’s sometimes a struggle, but providing we parents stay focused, have an agenda, put over exactly what WE require and stick to it, then it makes the whole procedure a lot easier.

    I have a blog, http://www.crystaljigsaw.blogspot.com, where I often post about Amy – I don’t post too much information about the school though.

    This is a great blog – I have added you to my blogroll.

    Best wishes, Kathryn Brown (aka Crystal Jigsaw) xx

    Reply
  4. Stacey

     /  November 30, 2009

    I’m just starting to enter the horrid web of SEN/Statemented/ Severe Speech and Language needs in secondary mainstream school that does not take on board adequately and compassionately your childs individual needs!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!
    Help, what do we do to ensure that our son has APPROPIATE support.
    I never envisioned how hard things could be… why?
    Do all secondary schools say that it is not in their SEN policy to not provide 1:1 in classroom settings?

    A very concerned and unhappy mum.

    Reply
  5. Special Needs Mum

     /  December 1, 2009

    Stacey
    You need to speak to your SENCo is you haven’t already and make sure that your son’s needs have been properly assessed – if not already, ask them to get the LEA Ed Psych to assess him. If you have a statement his needs should be laid out in there but not necessarily comprehensively or even accurately. Try your local Partnership with Parents and if they’re no good, try SOS!SEN’s website. Good luck!

    Reply
  6. Stacey

     /  December 2, 2009

    Thank you ‘Special Needs Mum’!
    Its good to have a response. Im currently in the process of waiting…. VERY ANXIOUSLY for a reply from an SEN Officer. My husband and I have decided that the best way forward is to transfer our son to a new secondary school(we already have one in mind)and have arranged to visit it on Friday. His current school cannot or should I say will not provide to meet his individual needs, i.e will not supply 1:1 LSA in classroom setting (due to their new SEN policy ????). I will make sure that once I receive the all important call from the SEN officer that I will put to him all that has to looked into and changed to help my son achieve his full potential in mainstream school. This will include a reassessment/updating of his Statement and to be placed in a school that can provide a 1:1 – which is clearly stated in his last Statement as being necessary for him to be able to access the National Curriculum!
    I would just like to STRESS to all mums/Dads of SEN children, you know them best!!!! You know when their needs are not being met. It is extremely stressful and hard to fight this system but if you don’t, no-one else will. These kids are counting on us to help them out- Listen to their needs, their voice! I wish all of you out there the very best with your struggles and I also hope for my son that I stay strong and win this battle for him. xx

    Reply
    • K. S

       /  January 15, 2010

      Hi
      We have just managed to get our son into a school with SEN support and small classes, that supports his needs. It has taken 8 years of hard battles with the LEA, to get his SEN needs met & funded. He has gone from being an angry young boy, with no friends, to a happy, smiling, confident child. It is incredible what a difference a school makes! It has been worth all the exhaustion, stress and long hours Googling on the computer, writing letters and compiling tribunal paperwork. It is a sad truth, but no one is going to fight for your child’s needs to be met as much as you yourselves. My advice is get all the help you can (friend, family, church, support groups etc.) If you can, find a local parent that has achieved their goal – ask them if they’d be happy to give you some starting points and guidance. If there is any way you can afford some legal advice, get it asap from a well-respected educational lawyer. Often a lawyers letter, pointing out that the child’s legal rights are not being met is all it takes to obtain some action in the right direction. Wishing you all the very best with your journey.

      Reply
  7. Reading the above, do take care with Parent Partnership – they porport to be independent, but are actually paid by the LEA and often share accommodation with them.
    They are NOT independent.

    Try IPSEA or SOSSEN websites for initial contact

    Reply
  8. Simon

     /  May 24, 2010

    As a non-resident father I fought to get my son with autism into a residential school.

    The LEA s first response was to attempt to strike me off claiming I did not have the right as a non-resident parent. I took them to the Tribunal and was pleased that the judges did not agree with them. They were ordered to pay compensation to a children’s charity.

    After this they continued to fail by son working on paper work 10 years out-of-date and claiming his needs were being met. Obviously I was not going to accept this. I found the key is to put everyone involved on a stage by e-mail. Do not waste time with phone calls. Send e-mails so you have a log of all communications and let all involve see what is being said to each other. Do not be afraid to challenge them. The’professionals’are more concerned with their own reputations that they are quicker to respond. It does take perserverance and determination but in the end you can get there. It took me 2 years but my son is now at a residential school chosen by me. I must however say all of this would not have been achieved without the wonderful help of the Children`s Legal Centre in Chelmsford which is a registered charity. I would highly recommend them. They are a group of solicitors who really care. I wish you every success with your own children.

    Reply
  9. Helen

     /  June 14, 2010

    Hi

    We have a son who is severely dyslexic and has aspergers. We are currently appealling surrey’s refusal to give him a statement.

    Ideally we would like him to go to More House a specialist independent school and are waiting on the outcome of the appeal. We are aware that in the autumn he and other children his age will have to apply to secondary school and we are worried More House may be full before we get a decision. We are also concerned that if we try and find the money to get him there sooner that we could be left having to pay fees forever and that the LEA may take the opinion he is already there and the parents are funding him.

    Does anyone have any idea of whether it is better to transfer him now or to wait.

    Helen

    Reply
    • Helen. Both my boys are at MHS and neither had a statement before they went. They both now do and are funded by Surrey. Being there already is no barrier to being funded although as you say you have to make sure you can afford the fees indefinitely in case you do not get funding. You must make the best and most full case you can. More House is expanding all the time. The best thing to do is contact Mrs Huggett in admissions asap. Let me know if you would like me to email you privately with more information.

      Reply
      • Helen Woods

         /  June 14, 2010

        Thanks Tania

        It would be really great if you could e-mail me with more information. I have just activated my e-mail account so that I will get replies by e-mail.If you could contact me again i will try to reply direct to you.

        Helen

    • yanah

       /  February 13, 2011

      hi just read you note i have the same thing just won appeal to get assesed for statement i cant afford to send to more hse with out statment they are so good at that school i have been told the chance of getting in sept is good for year 7 however i spoke with them and they have said statment will not be compleat in the time as if i get offered one it will be for stupid 3hour a week then to appeal takes another 10/12 week to increase maybe 4/5 hr help but for funding as i understand it i need minimum of 8 hrs i have a11 yr old who has twice tried to kiil himself as he feels thick dumb and stupid at waverley abbey school it has taken since june last year to win appeal to get him assesed any help tips anything please email me Y_ford@sky.com any help please i just dont no what to do.

      Reply
  10. Have emailed you

    Reply
  11. Liz

     /  June 16, 2010

    Hi,

    I have just come across this site and I don’t know whether to whoop with joy or cry with despair! It is so empowering to know that others have gone through similar experiences, but saddening that we have to do this. My son struggled through mainstream education until Year 3. We were told there was nothing wrong, he was still ‘within average range’. But we knew things weren’t right. He has just spent the past three and a half years at a fantastic independent school for children with SpLD (Chiltern Tutorial School in Hampshire) which has been the best thing I have ever done.
    He is now having to move onto secondary school (Slindon College in West Sussex) but is experiencing extreme anxiety, including difficulty eating. His current school suggests that he may have a sprinkling of Aspergers to add to the mix of dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia!
    We haven’t had any financial support from the LEA. We have always been told that he would never get a statement but I know he couldn’t cope in mainstream school. We are struggling to pay the fees for his special school, along with the travel costs (we drive 500 miles a week to get him to and from school).
    How is it possible for me to prove that he can’t cope in mainstream school if he hasn’t been in one for the past three and a half years? Is it worth me taking steps towards hassling the LEA and if so, where do I start?
    Any help is gratefully received!
    Many thanks,
    Liz

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  June 17, 2010

      You approach it in exactly the same way. I would commission an Independent Ed Psych so you can get an accurate picture of your son’s needs. They will be able to advise you on whether your son would stand a chance of getting a statement – Hampshire are quite tough. ALso get an OT report – this can be done privately too if you can. Speak to your school’s SEN coordinator and discuss it with them. Next, gather together all reports you have and your son’t school reports and ask for an assessment from your school as well. When you have all your reports, go through them and take out the pertinent details – use the form on this site under “Statement Checklist”. Then contact your LEA for the application documents – they will send you a form with headings but you can write your own document, incorporating their headings as well. My report was 25 pages long with 36 appendices! Good luck!

      Reply
    • Claire Ellis

       /  May 3, 2011

      Hi my son has a statement and is currently in a special school in Northern Ireland. But we will soon be on the move again. I really want my son to go to a boarding school for continuity i have looked at slinton college but they are reluctant as worried they cant provide enough provision for him. Dont know where to go next any help appreciated

      Reply
      • Claire, you could perhaps obtain a list of specialist schools in the area you’re moving to and call one of them asking for advice? If he’s autistic, the NAS have an extensive databank on their website.

  12. DanniiMac

     /  June 30, 2010

    Hi there!

    Have just come across this site at the beginning of what i’m guessing is going to be a very long road to getting my son Jake (severe Aspergers) into a suitable secondary school.

    To date we have been extremely lucky with the system and he has always been taught within a small special needs unit. Now we are beginning the secondary transfer and have found the PERFECT school for Jake. Even he commented that he ‘belonged’ there after a tour. The difficulty (as always) lies with the local authority (Medway) and the school who are strongly advising us against applying for the perfect school as it is private and the LEA won’t pay for it.

    I am sitting here trying to compose a letter to the LEA detailing why I feel that the private school will suit Jake’s needs better than a local authority school which at best will require him in integrate 50% of the time! SO stressed! Any suggestions on what to put in this letter would be greatly appreciated.

    Thankyou for being here!

    Dannii x

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  July 1, 2010

      Hi Dannii
      I am assuming from your post that your son already has a statement so the issue is school transfer. You need, however to approach it in a similar way. Gather evidence as to why the school you want is so perfect (including OFSTED reports, perhaps the school could write something saying how they could support Jake) and, more importantly, why he won’t cope in the LEA school. Use reports from the current school, even commission an Ed Psych report to support your case (of how he needs to bein a specialised environment) if you think it would be worth the money. You could ask for a meeting with the Area Special Needs Manager to explain your case. You should also visit the LEA school and SENCo yourself if you haven’t already done so and include in your parental preference form or whatever, solid reasons why it isn’t suitable from your own opinion of visiting. You should stress how you have been happy within the state system until now but this new school will be detrimental to your son’s learning and his psychological state and how you believe the LEA school will not be able to provide the educational environment or support to enable your son to be prepared for adult life. How it cannot offer training in the social skills that he needs etc etc. State your case rationally, think of any arguments the LEA may come up with and have answers for them before the arise. You could also do a cost analysis of the new school you want (fees) against the base cost of the LEA school and all the support (including any external OT, SLT) You may be able to find these figures on your council website if you look closely and extensively enough (use google rather then the website’s search engine) Good luck and do let me know how you get on. Tamia

      Reply
    • Louise

       /  January 16, 2011

      Hi Dannii
      I would love to talk to you – I too amd in Medway and am on the same path and feel very lost!!!

      Reply
  13. Melissa Round

     /  July 6, 2010

    My son is almost 10 years old and has severe problems with handwriting, which is now impacting on the progress that he is making at school. (He also has a number of other health and anxiety issues).
    I have been told by his School that he cannot have an Educational Psychologist’s Assessment without already having a Statement – is this true?

    Thanks in advance
    Melissa.

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa. No this is not true. Ed Psychs are an integral part of deciding who needs a statement in the first place. They can also be called in by schools concerned with the progress of a student to give them advice on what action to take. Look on your council website and find info about your LEA Ed Psych. You should be able to call them and ask them for advice yourself too.

      Reply
  14. Vicki

     /  July 8, 2010

    Hi
    This site sounds like a fantastic resource and hopefully somewhere I can gain much needed advice (and hopefully share some of my own expereinces to help others). My son was 9 weeks prem and had 3 mild brain haemoraghes as a result. Developmentally he hit the ground running (walking before a year old, talking 90 to the dozen etc), however he always had a very high level of activity and never slept, he siomply seemed to not need the sleep. From about the age of 2 we were aware his behaviour left alot to be desired and he never seemed to learn not to do things, his social skills were pretty poor. We have been fighting the system for a diagnosis for 4 years and they always came back to learning difficulties due to the brian bleeds at birth. We refused to accept this feeling he showed autistic traits and ADHD, so insisted on a brain scan to rule the bleeds out (we were right, there was no visible damage to the brain, although we do agree there could be some micro-damage which cant be seen), and eventually got an ADHD / aspergers assessment when he turned 6. He now has the ADHD diagnosis (inattentive and impulsive type) but this doesnt qualify him for any extra help even though we are constantly being told he needs 1:1 support. As he has the inattentive type of ADHD he is failing to concentrate long enough to learn (since starting medication this has improved slightly). We have also been told he has aspergers tendancies, but they dont want to officially diagnose it and ‘label him for life’ I quote. Yes in the grand scheme of ASD, he is on the mild end of it, but when the school educational psychologist is suggesting the school contacts the Autism Advisory Board for support and if they get any comeback as it is not an official diagnosis to contact her and she will send a letter of support, I think thay says it all. Noone wants to take the responsibility to get him officially daignosed as he would be entitled to more I assume.

    Its so hard, I had a meeting today with the SENCO about his transition to the next class (year 2) and what support he will receive and no one gives you a straight answer. It appears the school will provide classroom support through the teaching assistant (who has completed SEN training), but she is also there to support 30 other kids.

    Does anyone know what an ADHD child would be entitled to? The school also want him assessed for number work, we feel he is dyslexic as well, and his social skills and strange tendencies are affecting his learning and friendships but as he is not 3 years behind he does not qualify for a statement in our county council (Dacorum, Hertfordshire).

    I would love to fight the system, and try and get him more help but have no idea where to start. I do get copies of all reports and keep a file and I also write down everything said in meetings. I have notes and records and reports right from birth (the file is getting quite thick now!), it would be good to put them all to some good use!

    many thanks and thanks for reading

    Vicki

    Reply
  15. MESSAGE FOR VICKI RE POSSIBLE ASPERGERS ADHD DIAGNOSIS

    Vicki

    Hi, I have a child with Asperger’s and ADHD, along with some other things. I have responded to this post because it sounds so familiar to how we were treated by our son’s school/doctors. After several years of suspecting his diagnoses, we eventually asked for an out of area referral to Great Ormond Street where he received his diagnoses. He now has a statement and full time help in school (he has had it from the age of 9), and although he is still on the spectrum, and still has his difficulties, he now has all he needs to access the curriculum and is doing very well in school. You just have to be very persistent. It sounds like you are already getting yourself organised to fight this. The National Autistic Society can help, and there are some good resources indicated on this wonderful blog.

    Ellen

    Reply
  16. Good info. How do we Suscribe or RSS to receive your postings.?. We are using the email now.

    Reply
  17. Louise

     /  January 16, 2011

    Hi Danniimac
    I too am unfortunately in Medway and am going down the same road as you!
    I would love to talk to you and exchange some ideas – I too ad challenging the school that MEdway have offerred!

    Reply
  18. ODay

     /  March 7, 2011

    So So glad to find this. I have been struggling for the past two years with my son’s school. He is statemented autistic/hyperactive and I myself am a lone disabled parent getting no help from social services. My son is getting more and more violent in school and has attacked people/destroyed class rooms and is obviously very distraught but the county has seen fit to close all the autism units but one, which has a huge waiting list. No one even suggested for a moment that I could choose a independent school as an option but I thought there was a clause that, if there are no schools which can provide for a child’s needs that the LEA has to pay the fees? I suppose that’s something they don’t want to talk about too much?! In any event I am hardly able to pay the fees myself so doing what I can to get help and support as there are several schools close to me in other counties which would be residential and much better suited. But if I ever start looking for schools and talk about the idea with my son I get accused of undermining the current school’s effectiveness!

    I am working with parent partnership but I do notice the LEA pays their wages – considering I’ve just realised that the SENCo at the school left out some details about how long my son has been struggling, I’m not sure who to trust. I’m barely able to keep myself functioning and this is wearing me out.

    Reply
  19. sabrina dixon

     /  May 1, 2011

    Hello. I am having real problems with my sons school.He is statemented after huge fight with the council but now I’m having to deal with the school refusing to listen to my views on anything. My biggest problem is the way they comunicate negative information to me. I have asked so many times that this be done face to face or with a phonecall but they continue to write them in his diary. I have explained I have ADHD and such comments put a bug in my head and I can not let it go. The most recent comment was on Thursday when I was casually informed that he had run out of school and brought back by some parents. I am so angry I havent been able to sleep. Can anyone tell me if I have any legal right to demand a decent level of comunication or what my best course of action is.Do I inform ofsted please help!

    Reply
  20. Lindsay

     /  June 4, 2011

    My six year old as ASD and is a mainstream school. The LEA has finally agreed to assess him – we’re just at the beginning of the process. I have visited a (state-run) special school in the next borough which I think would be ideal for him (it’s in Islington, we live in Haringey) – small classes, moderate learning difficulties, encouraging the kids to socialise together and improve their social skills, etc. Does anyone have any tips on how I could give myself a better chance of him getting in, if I put it down as my named school on the statement? I approached a lawyer to see if they could help and was told it would cost £7.5K to go through tribunal, if it came to that. We just don’t have that kind of money. My son has no friends, and is just left on the computer to keep him quiet so the other kids (in his mainstream school class) can be attended to. His behaviour has become progressively worse at home, as he’s clearly frustrated at what’s happening at school. The EP is visiting me at home on Tuesday – any tips as to what I should say to her (I understand EPs can refer kids to special schools) – any ideas as to how I can get her onside early on in the process, thereby giving myself a better chance of getting him into this school?

    Reply
  21. hi there i just wondering if there is any chance anyone can help me i have a 6 yr old daughter and she has been disguised with asd in October 2010,but I’ve been having many problems with her at school as she goes to a main stream school because off her behavior (mainly, she is very violent) and the level she is working at is for 4 yr old.I have had to attend meany off meeting at the school called tact meeting’s and i just seem to be getting nowhere,they are offering me little help,she has been suspended twice now and now she is doing a part time time table in which she is only going to school from 8.50am till 12pm,they remove her from class most off the time and they take her to nursery(which is attached to the school and is where our senco teacher is based as well)and they only get her to do 15 mins off work then she plays with younger children and she has also had her lunch in there as well(as I’ve seen this for myself as i have a younger daughter that attends nursery.And i just fell like i’m bang my head against a brick wall,I’ve been going through this with the school since she started and have had thousands off phone calls to go and collect her,all I’m being told by the senco is we haven’t got enough evidence to have her statemented yet even though she has been assessed by many different people,if there is anyone that can help me i would be very gratefully,as I’m so worried about her education now,I’ve had loads off help a good friend off mine who has gone throw the same as me with her son,but there is only so much i can ask off her

    Reply
  22. Hi. You could try talking to SOS!SEN http://www.sossen.org.uk/
    Hopefully yhey can help you!

    Reply
  23. Stebs

     /  August 20, 2011

    We have been through 3 tribunals for my son’s SEN and now heading for a 4th. He has high functioning Aspergers and extremely gifted. He has a place at grammar school and we had to go to tribunal to get the LA to let him go there!!! Now we are heading for disability discrimination tribunal regarding LA’s refusal to let him go to the school of our choice. Please can someone advise us? Case statement is due next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • jane

       /  May 21, 2012

      Stebs, what happened, why did LA refuse to let your son go to the grammar school?

      Reply
  24. Hi Tania.
    Wow! I am so impressed with everything you have achieved since we last met. I still have the boys files and photos of our activity days. Its amazing what you are doing to help so many desperate parents and may I ask permission to link your amazing site to our web. As usual I have been too involved with the children and parents we work with to have updated our site… in fact I still dont dare advertise it as we are unable to manage the cases we have.
    We had a three year contract with Surrey Childrens fund for an educational advisor who offered the same advocacy and advice that you are sharing, but also visited schools and liaised with SENCo’s and parents.
    they cut the contract after a year and I am left with 48 families that I am unable to support personally… although they are all registered with us and we have details on our data base.. we continue to offer therapy through groups and this helps parents to meet and share support. We have now had Activity worker post cut and are struggling to maintain our service… however we still own The Studio and the garden setting saves my sanity, whilst trying to offer support to so many mothers that are in despair and fighting for the special needs of their children. The government is so short sighted in recognising the value of funding preventative work in childhood.
    I think you are a shining star Tania in the Jungle Tania and hope we can meet up again soon.
    Very best wishes Nancy

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  August 31, 2011

      Hi Nancy, of course you an link here! I am planning to write an ebook for parents on how to set out their statement application, based on this site. It will be available on Kindle and pdf as well as other ebook formats. It will be based on my experiences, so it will be parent-to-parent.
      Do let me know if I can help with any publicity for fundraising activities you have! Good luck!

      Reply
  25. Emma

     /  August 30, 2011

    Hi

    I have an 8 year old son who has ADHD with possibly asperger traits. I have recenty applied for Disability Living Allowance for him and this was turned down and has now been put forward for a tribunal in 4 weeks time. I went to The Hub in Epsom where they have told me to contact Citizens Advice to no avail as yet. Any advice please from parents.

    Thanks!

    Emma

    Reply
  26. Special Needs Mum

     /  August 31, 2011

    Emma. You say ‘possibly Asperger traits’. Is it possible for you to get a firm diagnosis? It is always easier to negotiate bureaucracy when you have solid names for things and definite diagnoses.
    For your tribunal, I would carefully observe your son and note down all the difficulties he faces that are greater than a ‘normal’ child of his age. Get your DLA application form out, if you have a copy, and make sure you have included all these – even if it means repeating yourself. Can he wash without being reminded? When he washes, does he just stand under the shower without using soap without being told? Does he have social and communication difficulties, is he a danger to himself and others? Think about these things and make some notes of what you want to add at the tribunal. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  September 8, 2011

      Hi

      Thank you that is a great help. I contacted Citizens Advice also and they were really helpful and have advised similar things ie make a diary of a typical week and note what needs/help etc my son requires compared to an average 8 year old.

      Wish me luck!

      Emma

      Reply
  27. Your site is a fantastic resource for many parents out there. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  28. Gabriela

     /  September 16, 2011

    Hi mums and dads all of your special children. My son was diagnosed autistic at the age of 3. But I have been concerned since he was about 18months of age. Often professionals (GP, health visitors) told me I was paranoid and he is just typical boy with some delay in his development. Since then I feel I have to constantly fight for my son’s rights. I feel disgusted in this “dysfunctional system” I have been patronised in schools meetings, even called “bully” by the head teacher only because I’m not scared of raising my concerns and issues. I think lots of schools do not like to be challenged. My child is in year 1. Last year I have spent hours in meetings to create appropriate care plan and risk assessment, which ware not fallowed. My child walked away from school and no staffs has even recognised him missing till I came to collect him from school. Police had to be involved in his search. Luckily they found him hour later and he was well and happy. Since then school is not being helpful. Every meeting I get mixed messages about the level of support my child receives. Apparently my child is not priority for statement as he doesn’t have challenging behaviour. I requested a daily written communication for my son as he has got very few words at the age of 6. According to head teacher my request is not feasible. I contacted few schools for transfer, but fortunately without statement is not easy at all. I’m now at the point of composing a complain letter and take things to the next level. I’m scared, but motivated to win this long battle.

    I just want to say I find all your comments so helpful, you all given me extra strength. I know I can get my child statement and find him a school where they care as much as I do.

    God has given us child with special needs as he knew we can cope and we are very strong individuals, even I often feel otherwise. My child is gorgeous, happy boy and I love him just the way he is. It is shame our hard work and daily battles are not recognised and is disgusting we all have to fight for our children equal opportunities and their rights.

    You are all amazing parents and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be strong, got bless you and give you all the strength you need.

    p.s. please ignore any mistakes in my text. I’m dyslexic myself plus English is my second language. Thanks for understanding 🙂

    Reply
  29. Apply for a statement and get help to compose your application, you do not need “permission” from the school for this!

    Reply
  30. Annette

     /  September 27, 2011

    Hi,

    I am appealing the decision of my local authority refusing an education statement for my daughter, who has a malfulmation of the brain known as chiari 1 type and global development delay, although her delays won’t progress they will also not improve, ive recently been diagnosed with aspergis and as a result my daughter is now also being assessed for this too, also her younger brother has Autism.

    Although i don’t like injustice, im also not very good at expressing this, does anyone know of someone who would do my mitigation for me at our tribunal.

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  September 28, 2011

      Hi Annette. You should try ipsea http://www.ipsea.org.uk or sos!sen: http://www.sossen.org.uk. You can also try the National Autistic Society’s Advocacy Service: http://www.autism.org.uk/advocacy. Any of these should be able to help you. Best wishes Tania

      Reply
    • Anonymous

       /  October 2, 2011

      Hi Tania, sorry for all your encounters but please try also some of your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They are good at it and they could help you find a Solicitor which is free? Just try someone told me in the past when I felt so lost that I was completely in despair that if they close the door on you try to get out of the window? Easy been said but there’s always hope. God bless you and may you’ll have the courage and win your battles!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  31. Anonymous

     /  September 28, 2011

    Hello

    My daughter was brain hemorrhage trauma at birth and I was told that if ever she’ll survive she will never walk nor talk! I couldn’t digest what the doctor was telling me at the time when I woke up from emergency cesarian operation,so he said CABBAGE? I was so upset and so sad so I did my very best to look after her even I don’t sleep at all for weeks I didn’t mind me at all! My concern is my child. She was so poorly when she was a baby with constant fits so She slept on my hands always at night till I could no longer carry when she became heavy at 4 yrs.old though she still fits and goes to intensive care unit till 6 yrs.of age. She is now 10yrs.old but talking,walking, singing and dancing. Infact even horse riding on weekends!
    She’s statemented with 1to1 and she’s in Primary School. She is now in year 6 that I need to look for a school but the Senco are not helpful. They kept on insisting that I should look for the special school which I absolutely won’t agree so I need advise on how to get in the chosen School without difficulties? I had been told that if my child’s level is below1 they won’t take her? I’ve asked her teacher and she said that other subject in reading grade is 1b and maths is p8 I know she is not good in numbers but in eEnglish she is 1c which she could improve really in time but am really worried of how to get her in? She,s also attending Sylvia Young Theatre Schooll which she likes dancing and her singing is really one of her best of ability so far! Her writing is coming along and I want to encourage her with her best potential to achieve as she already proven herself that she is able to learn and more. Any advice? Greatly appreciated !!!
    Thank you

    Emma

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  September 28, 2011

      Hi Emma. Your daughter is in transition year and you should have been provided with a list of secondary schools that she could go to. If you have a school in mind, you should make sure that they can support her needs. Ring up the SENCo for that school and make an appointment to see her. Send her any reports on your child so she can get a good picture of her. If the SENCo believes she can support your child’s needs, you should speak to your case officer at the LEA about it.
      If they refuse to name the school that you want and the school can support your child’s needs, you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

         /  October 1, 2011

        Hello! thank you for the good advice,my problem is that the SENCO at the school she’s in is fixited that my daughter should go to school of her choice,ie,Special Needs School? She’s so determine that my child should not and I want to challenge her.
        I am searching the right people to help me and am in the process of it that she doesn’t have a clue that I already working on it?
        I am so stressed though why swould we suffer for our children’s right when infact parents should have the right to choose for their good future? I couldn’t understand that humanity!!!!!!!!!!

      • Go and look at all the available schools, so you can state clearly why one is suitable over the others! If you don’t visit you will be tripped up on this and asked how you can compare if you have not seen them. You will also have to consider how your daughter going to a school will affect the other pupils – because the school will! Ask for the school of your choice to be named on her statement – if the LA refuse you will need to apply to the SEND tribunal – but be warned – it’s a hard slog with no guaranteed outcome
        Good luck!

  32. sally

     /  September 28, 2011

    Hello ( not sure of this post will end up the correct place -sorry )

    I am the parent of a 12 year old girl who has a non educational statement as she has a physical disability . She has a resource place in a very good secondary school just outside the borough.

    This is where it gets complicated….. she is a performing child and misses lots of school , we support this only because it has made her see her differences as a positive thing. In her 1st year at secondary school she has dropped down in every subject as despite asking, the school have never given her catch up work ( there are 1750 students in her school ) when she either performs or when she is in hospital having treatment . I have been lucky enough to secure her a place in a performing arts school who are able to balance everything as there are only 60 children in the whole school , the fees are not an issue but the LEA are not forthcoming in transfering her support accross as its a private school. I feel its unfair that children suffer a disadvantage if thier parents are able to fund a private education , my daughter will have her condition regardless of which school she goes to. I had a meeting with her current school on monday who took full responsibility for not sending home work but they said there will always be things that cant be revisited if she is away , even if she is in hospital, harsh i feel , as she has 26 hours a week of support . Her school report basically said ” we cant possibly comment on her progress as she rarely see her ” what i wanted to hear was we rarely see her but the work we set her has been completed and
    she is working at this level.

    Am i fighting a losing battle ?

    Reply
  33. Anonymous

     /  October 2, 2011

    Hi Sally? I know how you feel as I’ve been there myself.
    My daughter misses a lot of school in the past and I wanted them to give us some work she could do when she’s not at school just to be in the same curriculum but denied. I think they are adamant or basically they were bothered infact the 1to1 for our child fee they could use it for other thing they need? They are are heartless or they don’t give any importance because they dont have children like we do? You should contact your local MP or Social Services and any organisation who could help you? Take care and good luck!

    Reply
  34. Susan

     /  October 3, 2011

    Hi ~ am in need of some advice if anyone has any. My son has ASD and is currently in a resource unit attached to a mainstream school. He is 17 and has just started part time at college (the other half back in 6th form). I have been told that because they run the same computer course at school, they now want to take him out of college to complete the course in school. They told me that they have to complete government statistic sheets and cannot justify the funding to send him to college. My argument is that he is much more happier at college – therefore will learn far better. Also, before he went to college he couldn’t eat, got stressed etc., and has now, after 5 weeks settled really well and is enjoying it. Plus, it is a slow transition between leaving school and going to college full time. The teachers in his resource base agree and have tried to get them to change their mind. I’m so cross and I now have a meeting about his tomorrow. Can they do this?? Any help or advice would be great ~ thank you.

    Reply
  35. Susan

     /  October 3, 2011

    Yes he is.

    Reply
    • This has got nothing to do with “government statistic sheets”…. sounds like it has everything to do with them penny pinching.
      I would go back to them an insiste he carries on at college. You could get a report from the college to show how he is getting on there!
      Good luck

      Reply
  36. Susan

     /  October 4, 2011

    Thanks Louise – good idea. Also by taking him out and putting him back in school goes against the SEN code of practice, where they encourage a slow transition from school to college. Just about to leave now – but I’ll let you know how it all goes.

    Reply
  37. Special Needs Mum

     /  October 4, 2011

    Thanks for your comments Louise

    Reply
  38. Susan

     /  October 4, 2011

    OK, had the meeting – they basically said that he gets funding if he stays in school, but not if he does the same course at college (it would be fine if he was doing a different course). There is no other course that he wanted to do – and with his annual review it was agreed last year, that he would have a transition period where he would go to college (for part of the week via taxi (which is funded) and then after Easter next year start using public transport – with help at first). My argument is that it’s not his fault and nor should he be penalised, for the lack of communication between the Resource Base and the School. Also it is against the SEN Code of Practice (as that states that a slow transition should take place). I’m also looking into the Disability Discrimination Act to see if there is a clause in there (indirectly) that may help.

    We should hear the outcome by Friday and I’ve got to put in writing my argument for him staying at College. They are however, fully aware of how angry we are at this expected change our son is supposed to do and I have told them “it’s just not happening!”

    Anyway, we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

    Reply
  39. Susan

     /  October 4, 2011

    Oh, sorry, his college tutor is phoning me tomorrow to ask me directly what they would like me to put in a letter :o))

    Reply
  40. I need some advice my 6 year old son currently attends mainstream school he has a global delay of 12/18mths and a sensory processing
    disorder. he has a statement and receives 20hrs of support per week.
    he is making slow but good progress,he is just learning to write and just this week started reading. The school is small around 300 children and have done a fantastic job meeting his needs. He absolutely loves going to school.

    However this week I was called to school because an educational psychologist who spent 20mins with him has suggested that I
    start looking at special schools for September. She has said that he will require full support in year 3 I already new this and have asked for a review of his statement so he can get additional funding. I asked why she felt a special school would be better when he is making progress. She told me that academically she is not concerned but she is concerned that he will not be able to cope with the older children and that he would not have the same access to creative learning in year 3.

    However his current statement requires that he is given access to creative learning so I know that it has to be provided no matter what year he is in and I know my son he interacts with children of all ages and he does it well he attends after school groups 3 times a week where he interacts socially with a large mix of children and he loves it. Granted he is not always able
    to understand everything that is going on but he copes well and is a really happy boy. I have a good relationship with the school and teachers and speak to them every week my son is in the green for everything, effort behaviour that sort of thing he has never been in the yellow or red. He sits well when his TA is there is well behaved and is not disruptive so I can’t understand it. My son attends Child Psychology every week and his therapist said he would do better socially to stay in mainstream.

    My son is happy making progress and is doing really well where he is. I am not against special school he may need it in the future but I am sure that he is in the best possible place right now. I would like to know if the L.A can force me to put my child in special school and how I can challenge this my son does not cope well with change and I think a change of school right now would be to much for him to deal with.

    Please help
    very worried parent
    Px

    Reply
    • You can’t be forced to move your son. If he is coping well and the school is supportive I would ask for this to reviewed in 6 months time. (a years a long time – so 6 monthly reviews could work in your favour).

      Reply
  41. Hi we are just in the middle of preparing the parent report and asking the local authority for a statutory assessment for my son.
    It is so stressful and I feel so unsupported by the school. I just have say the book by TANIA TIRRAORO is fantastic ………
    I will let you all know how we get on. Angie

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  January 7, 2012

      Thank you so much Angie – I’m glad it’s proving useful. If you have ever time, I’d be delighted if you could stick a quick review on AmazonUK to help other people! Best of luck – do let me know how you get on.

      Reply
  42. Linda Harvey

     /  March 26, 2012

    Hi there was just wondering if anyone can answer my query. It seems a lot of people here are having the same problems. My son is ten and was diagnosed last year with Aspergers. He is very clever and wants himself to go to a Grammar school as we reside in Northern Ireland. I have been told by the Educational psychologist that he is not a candidate for Grammar school although his teachers strongly disagree with this, as do I. I have advised him that I will find him a good secondary school but he is completely adamant that he wants to attend Grammar school. He sees a counsellor who has advised that the transfer test itself is causing him undue stress and worry. He has threatened to kill himself and has said he feels he doesn’t want to have to cope in this world anymore. He doesn’t sleep and says that the test is only thing on his mind at the minute. I have been told that he is “not bad enough” to warrant a statement. Does anyone know if there are any other avenues available which might exclude him from sitting the transfer test but still allow him to access grammar school.

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  March 26, 2012

      Hi Linda. Who says he isn’t ‘bad enough’ for a statement? If he has severe anxiety, is suicidal and has social and communication difficulties, then that seems quite bad to me!
      Have you spoken to the grammar school itself? If your son is adamant, maybe some practice tests would help so he can see the kinds of things he’d be asked? On the other hand, would he be able to cope with the pressure of a grammar school? This is a question only you can answer, as his parent – he may surprise you. Speaking personally, my older son is incredibly bright, but I knew that sending him to a highly competitive school could cause him severe stress. He sounds similar to your son, yet he has a statement and is now at a specialist school with many similar boys and has thrived. He’ll still do well academically but now he has a chance of a rounded life as well through social skills input. This is just my story and may not be applicable to you, but may give you another perspective. I say visit the Grammar, speak to them about your son, ask them how they could support him, then make your decision.
      Hope that helps.
      Tania

      Reply
  43. Marie McCrory

     /  March 27, 2012

    Hi Linda,
    If your son has a diagnosis of Aspergers, push for a statement. You will probably be given all sorts of reasons why he can’t have one, but keep pushing for it. The reason they won’t want to statement him will probably be financial so don’t be fobbed off by them telling you he doesn’t need one. With a statement your son could be assessed by the Educational Psychologist instead of sitting the transfer tests and this would determine his suitability for grammar school.
    I too live in Northern Ireland and my son was assessed as being grammar school material. He has been at grammar school for almost 4 years now but has found it progressively stressful, culminating in him missing several months of school recently due to stress. We are now in the position of having to move him to a secondary school with an ASD unit as he just cannot cope with the pressure of grammar. He will have to repeat the year as he has fallen so far behind.
    I do wonder if I would have been better sending him to a well supported secondary from the start rather than have him put under so much pressure and have his confidence knocked and mental health put in jeopardy.
    I know it’s a very difficult decision to make and I wish you and your son all the best.

    Reply
  44. Mechelle

     /  March 30, 2012

    Hi my son is 7, statmented and diagnosed with asd. He currently is in a ssc class in a mainstream school. It’s not working out and I desperately want him moved to an autistic school out of the county. I have spoken to the lea who advise me that the only way this would be funded as its a private school is to prove his current school are not meeting his needs. My son is miserable so unhappy I don’t know what to do! I have a meeting at school today to discuss latest problems with a teacher but any advice would be greatly appreciated! X
    Regards mechelle

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  March 30, 2012

      Hi mechelle Answering you on my way to Wales! 1. Are the school meeting the requirements of the current statement? If yes, then the statement is inadequate, if no, then why not .. Is it that they can’t,, in which case he’s in the wrong school 2. Write down a list of your son’s current difficulties and the action you believe is necessary to help meet those needs. Can the current school manage this? If they say yes, make them spell it out so they see they can’t fob you off. If ithey say no, then you have your answer. 3. Contact your preferred school to see if they have space for your son and can meet his needs. Visit it if necessary and get them to write a letteer to say they can take your son (they may want to assess him) 4. Look at any other schools (LEA run) locally that the lea may say could meet your son’s needs. You have to tell them why they cannot and why this school you want is the most appropriate (do not say the best, they don’t have to provide the best) 5. Find out how much this school is, compared to current school with the amount of support your son really needs. 6. Does part 2 and 3 of your statement need to be amended to fit the needs of your son as well as part 4.? If so, u might want to ask for a reassessment. The NAS has an education advocacy service for free.. Check their site for details. Hope this makes sense.. Typing on ipad in moving car (I’m not driving!) Do let me know how you get on! Best wishes Tania

      Sent from my iPad

      Reply
  45. Dawn

     /  March 31, 2012

    Hi

    My five year old daughter has recently been diagnosed with dyspraxia and ASD. She is on an IEP and has been so since reception. Noted in the report from the educational psych it states she struggles with auditory filtering and following instructions. The school agree she is struggling to work independently but she has not fallen behind significantly enough to warrant a statement . Do I have to wait until the gap is wide enough? Or is it possible to get a statement for a child diagnosed with these conditions without waiting for a significant academic gap to arise?

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  April 3, 2012

      Hi Dawn. If she has an ASD, it’s not a question of falling behind academically, rather if her social and communication needs are being met and how they are affecting her access of the curriculum. Your school should have an SEN policy, as does your LEA. Look up also the national SEN Code of Practice online. My son was not behind academically at all but his ASD affected his understanding of instructions, his social relationships and his ability to conform to expected behaviours. He has a statement and I describe the methods I used to secure one (without a lawyer) in my book.
      You know your child best. Contact a Family has a new free SEN education service – call them up and they will be able to discuss your way forward on a one to one basis.

      Reply
  46. ajani

     /  April 2, 2012

    Hi

    My son is being given draft statement and agreed to give additional support for 20 hours per week only. He needs full time support. Any advises on how to get it.

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  April 3, 2012

      Hi Ajani
      If you think 20 hours is insufficient, you must say so to the LEA either in writing within 15 days, stating your reasons or ask for a meeting with the SEN area manager to discuss the document. You might want to discuss it with your local partnership with parents or find someone to support you.
      Go through the draft statement to see how well it meets your son’s needs and where support is missing and include this in your letter or at your meeting. Do this as soon as possible. Tania

      Reply
  47. julieann

     /  April 2, 2012

    Hi, ive got a son with autism, he has many problems at/with school, but school wont accept it, he cries everyday locks himself in bathroom etc, plays on his own at school, never eats are drinks at school, finds everday at school hard, one day recently i picked him up and he was upset banging his head in wall, he sometimes wets himself, we put in for a statement and been refused….. because the school say he,s ok accademically, well all us with an autistic child know autism isnt just about education, school,s never listen, i dont know what to do, we thinking of going private to see if it will help get us a statement, any advice would be great x

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  April 3, 2012

      You don’t need to go private to get a statement at all. Ask your school to call in an ASD outreach worker, an Educational Psychologist and the local LEA speech and language therapist for assessments.
      You are right, it is not just about academics at all. If you feel the school’s current resources cannot meet your child’s needs, you can apply for a statutory assessment yourself. Gather all your evidence together first (reports from school, doctors etc). Speak to Contact A Family, who have a new education service: http://specialneedsjungle.com/2012/01/12/a-new-sen-advice-service-from-contact-a-family/ for advice.
      My book can also help you pull together your application. Good luck!
      Tania

      Reply
  48. So the system is a sham that we are obliged to battle for the sake of our children. Our story – 6yo with ASD and dyspraxia but academically normal. The LEA refused a paediatrician-supported application for deferment to re-take year 1 (his birthday is late August). He’s now in year 2 in a class of 30 that does not have a TA, and receives 3.5h/week extra support (mainly small groups, not 1-to-1). The school have finally admitted he needs more support (go figure), and we’ve applied for a statutory assessment. We have been warned by the school and Parent Partnership that a statement is unlikely, but we’re motivated, informed and resourced for the fight. It sickens me that this is a prerequisite for obtaining the care our child needs to protect his future, but that’s the reality. Let’s hope that NICE lend some sanity to the situation as part of their ongoing role in the national autism strategy.

    Reply
  49. If you could email me with some hints about how you made this blog site look like this , Id be appreciative!

    Reply
  50. Tanya

     /  May 6, 2012

    Hi everyone. I am mother to a ten year old boy who was born with multiple birth defects. He required many surgeries and as a result was left with severe separation anxieties. When he started pre-school I had to attend with him and couldn’t even leave the room!. He could not attend school for more than 2 hours a day during his reception year because of his anxieties, medical problems and mainly because this school was less than empathetic to his and indeed our whole family needs. Although they were classed as ‘outstanding’ in their ofsted report they never listened. They only told and kept referring to themselves as Experts a term we all as parents hate.

    I moved within the year and made sure I placed my son in a school where the headteacher was very empathetic. She listened attentively to my concerns and requests – I knew this was the right school for him and although I applied for a Statement as I felt and the school felt this would be needed he managed to settle in straight away with very little problems although he was placed back into reception again (a year behind his age) and was placed on school action plus.

    I gained employment at this school as a Teaching Assistant and worked with an Autistic boy for the 3 years he was in this school before transferring to Junior School.

    I have been able to use my knowledge and feelings as a parent to help in my work with this boy. I have also witnessed how communication plays a huge part between schools and parents – I see how things can be improved, I see how schools can be too judgemental on parents without knowing the full facts and seeing the full family picture. I also see where parents can be too demanding on schools without knowing all the facts.

    In the course of my work I attended courses. I found out about the Autistic toolbox. This is a valuable resource. I never knew this existed however ALL schools have it. It gives examples of language jigs and social stories. These can be used for anything ie., trip out shopping, going to bed, playing with friends, school trip out, school photographs etc. PLEASE, PLEASE, if you are a parent of not only an autistic child but a child who has any kind of anxieties, communication difficulties, behavioural difficulties ask your school if you can borrow this resource to help you with routines at home and also make sure they are using this resource in school for your child. The Autistic toolbox can also be downloaded from many LEAs websites under the special needs section. If I had known about this valuable resource I could have used it to help my son and am sure that it would have saved a whole lot of family frustrations.

    When looking for schools it is important to use your ‘gut instinct’ as a parent. My son’s first school did little to help him and they were rated as ‘outstanding’ in their ofsted report. His new school however were rated as ‘satisfactory’ but they listened and helped him progress. It is also important as a parent that you not only get to meet the teacher but more importantly your child’s keyworker or teaching assistant as it is this person who will have the most ‘hands on’ time with your child. Talk to them about how you feel, tell them what is important to you, be sincere. Most of us find it easier to be honest and tell medical people the difficulties we are experiencing at home but when it comes to schools we feel less able to tell them about our struggles. A good school will not judge you if you are honest about what you are having difficulties with. Suggest home/school diaries ie, the teaching assistant will record what went well and what was difficult in the school day then the parent can record what went well, was difficult at home – home and school working together where the child gets rewarded at home for what went well during school and the child gets rewarded at school for what went well at home. The difficulties can also be addressed. Ask for the TA to make up social stories – examples of these can be found on the internet. These can then go home and be read as a night time story – they can tell stories about how your child can ask to play with children at playtime, problem solving, when things change, etc. The pictures from these stories can then be minimized and used by the TA as visual reminders that can be shown to your child when playtime begins etc.

    Find out whether your child has support at playtimes ie, in lots of schools the teachers, TAs have their break when the children are out playing. This is when your child needs the most help!. Other teachers and TAs on duty in the playground may not fully be aware of your child’s difficulties. Ask the school if you can go in and talk to all staff including Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Midday Supervisors. It is important that everyone at school knows your child, their difficulties and how to help.

    Schools have many resources which can help your child with their learning, homework. They also have website addresses to help your child learn at home ie., fun special needs websites to help with maths and also help develop fine motor skills, ie a fun counting game on the computer where you have to catch a certain number of butterflies in a net etc. Just ask if you can borrow these resources or make a note of the website addresses.

    If there is an important meeting at school about your child ask the school to confirm the minutes of the meeting in writing. We as parents can only hold as much information as our emotions will let us. This often leads to us ‘making up’ the rest of the conversation without knowing it and jumping to false conclusions.

    If your child has recently started school and you have been an ‘at home mum’ caring for your child why not volunteer as a parent helper.
    If you enjoy this and a position becomes available at the school ask to be considered. Don’t feel that you are unqualified for the job. You can have a Teaching Assistant with all the qualifications in the world who lacks the passion and enthusiasm required to really make a difference when working with a child and then there’s you – a parent who knows what it’s like, who will treat the child they work with as if they are your own, being able to relate to how their parents are feeling.

    I am so glad I applied for a job as a Teaching Assistant – I always think of how I would want someone to work with my son when I am working with a child. How wonderful it is to have played a part in helping a child succeed knowing that you put your all into working with that child and neither you nor anyone else could have helped that child more.

    I would really appreciate your comments as to whether you feel your school is supportive or unsupportive – Do they always plan ahead and have everything sorted out so you are not worried at all or do you feel you have to constantly approach them in order for things to move forward.

    Reply
  51. Anas Maliyekkal

     /  May 11, 2012

    I want changing for school.
    changing school:MSM HSS,KALLINGALPARAMBA,MALAPPURAM.
    please help i requseting for you.
    now studing:ohss tirurangadi

    Reply
    • Tanya

       /  May 11, 2012

      Hi Anas

      Why do you want to change school? What help and support do you need?

      Reply
  52. Belinda

     /  May 15, 2012

    Hi, I am an ex-SEN teacher. I heard that shortly thousands of children will be removed from the SEN register and I came across your site while I was searching for articles about this news.

    I was interested to note that while your correspondents discuss SEN support assistants, I saw no reference to SEN teachers. Tanya (above) says that many qualified SEN support assistants may not be as effective as someone without qualifications. My own experience as a peripatetic teacher over 20 years in many different schools, both secondary and primary sectors, is that quite a number of support assistants, even when qualified, have very little idea what they are doing, I have worked with some terrible ones. And of course there are many who have a gift; or are prepared to listen, ask and learn from others. It is unfortunately pot luck. These people are paid a pittance, have very little training and while they are supposed to be dedicated to a specific child, may also be confused by class teachers with teaching assistants and expected to do all sorts of other jobs which take them away from the child.

    As a qualified teacher, I worked with individual statemented pupils and pairs/ groups of pupils on the register, both in and out of class. I always attempted to collaborate with class teachers and support assistants. Some were brilliant, some good, some not interested in communicating with me at all. Many class teachers were so pressured that they simply did not have time to talk to me. Others disdained me. The same applies to SENCOs. Where has the whole education system gone wrong? No time for class teachers or SENCOs to talk to the SEN teachers about their most vulnerable or challenging pupils? No time for lunch? No time for Good Morning?

    I also tried to liaise with parents. Again, some were brilliant, supporting me and the school, listening to advice and, reciprocally, I listened to and supported them. Some parents I never saw and they had no idea what the school was doing for their child. Some were defensive and aggressive, blaming school, teachers for their child’s lack of progress when it was fairly clear something was not right at home. Some needed help in understanding the process and what was going on. One lovely mum with several special needs children had never heard the word statement when I suggested she apply for one. It is true in my experience that the more educated and/or determined a parent is, the more likely s/he is to succeed in getting support for the child. Heaven help the non-english speaker.

    Many correspondents appear to want full-time support for their children. In my experience it is not always the case that a child needs or will receive that degree of support. Children need to have a chance to develop without constant adult monitoring, to find their own ground with their peers.

    I was often told what a rewarding job I had; my rewards came from the individual children, very rarely any recognition of what I was doing from the school management or parents. Seeing kids chat, read and write was great. But the random nature of the whole thing is seriously worrying. Some schools really value the work of the SEN teacher. BThe gain, you know that if you are working in a corridor or a cupboard, a dirty cluttered little room or on the dais of the school hall, you and your work are not really considered to be terribly worthwhile.

    Wishing you all well in your quests.

    Reply
  53. Karen Aherne

     /  May 15, 2012

    Karen Aherne
    / May 15, 2012

    My child (age 6) has ASD,SevereADHD, Sensory issues, Mild L CP. Her present school is very large with open ceilings. The noise level causes her pain. Because of weight loss, I filed for an Appeal for her to be admitted to a smaller school near us, and against the Head Teacher’s wishes, The Appeal Board ruled in my daughters favor, and said this new school must admit her, even though the year 2 class is full. well, my daughter is high functioning and does very well in her studies. She is doing year 3 work. The new head teacher, is NOT happy about the decision, and said her only option is to place my child in Year 1, and that the Year 1 teacher, will help instruct my daughter, AFTER she gives her Year 1 student’s their assignments. I said this was NOT acceptable, as it will have a huge affect on my daughter to go from Year 2 Class to Year 1. The head teacher said, “well, that is the only option, and that my daughter will not ever be in a class with her peers while she attends this school. She said next year, my daughter will be placed in a Year 2 class. What is the point of winning an appeal, if this is the attitude ??/
    My Daughter is NOT statemented, as the school says she does not need it.. I don’t understand, I am from the US, and have lived here for the past 2 years. She was diagnosed in the US, but; we had to go through it all over again, as The UK wanted their own diagnosis. So, she has been diagnosed with the same things here, as the US. I have never seen such wide differences in how children with special needs are treated. ALL children should be entitled to the same , not depending upon where you live, or what school they attend !!
    I really could use some help, I have followed all the proper proticol, and yet, nothing changes !!
    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Karen

    Reply
    • Tanya

       /  May 15, 2012

      Hi Karen

      So sorry to hear you are going through this. I really empathise with you – I know what a strain this can be on the whole family.

      Has your daughter got a Paediatric Consultant? I would get an appointment and discuss what is happening and how this is affecting her. If not, then go via your GP. Has she seen a Clinical Psychologist? – If not the Paediatric Consultant can make a referral – sometimes there is a long wait but if you explain how this is affecting her then it may be organised faster. The Clinical Psychologist will very much help in the way of informing school about the affects on your child and the School MUST listen to this Professional advice.

      Have you talked to the Schools Educational Psychologist? If not tell the school you want to get in contact with them. If your daughter is doing Yr3 work I cannot believe they are putting her in a Yr1 class. Surely the Educational Psychologist would have raised eyebrows here!.

      I know you said that the School said your daughter doesn’t need a Statement – how did they come to this decision – on their own or has the Ed Psych already been in to see her/make an assessment? If so they really need to sit and explain WHY this is happening.

      Reply
      • Karen Aherne

         /  May 16, 2012

        Tanya,

        Thank you so much for replying to my post !! Where do I start ??
        Katie has been diagnosed here in the UK, which the school has all the paperwork. The SEN worker, is sadly, a joke. Katie is very high functioning, She adheres strictly to all school rules. Kate, has huge meltdowns after school, and because of the noise level, has stopped eating her lunch at school. When Kate keeps things in all day, she will come home a vomit, followed by huge Meltdowns. I showed the SEN worker, Some of katie’s feeling cards, when she is at school, it is sad to see. The SEN worker said, “well, maybe she is doing this for attention” I said ” Are you kidding me ? Do you know anything about ASD? Have you heard of “Delayed response”? She daid No. I have asked for Class (and so has Katie Psychiatrist) The SEN worker said that I wouldn’t get it, as Katie has straight A’s in her studies, and since she is doing well in her studies’ then we are doing our job”. I said, yes, she is bright, but; at what cost to her health”?
        Her OT and Physio, went to her school, to explain some things that need to be put in place to help Kate cope at school, and to give her relief. They were told, that the school will have to think on it, and that somethings just were impossible. They would get back to the OT and Physio. (That was 2 months ago)
        So, Katie’s, Pschyiatrist,Behaviour Therapsist, OT, Physio, and Social Worker, all wrote letter’s for me, to bring to the school Appeal Hearing (which took me 10 tries before I was finally granted a hearing) The Appeal Board said ” That even though the new school that we wanted to send her to, had 30 students in it, they felt that Katie’s health and well being should be the important issue, so, they said the new school must take Katie. New head teacher is NOT happy. She said all she can offer is putting Kate in a year 1 class, where the year 1 teacher will instruct katie in her Year 2 work. I said, that would not work, Can she go to a Year 3 class, because of her level? She said NO, the board said I had to take her, and THIS is the only option. and that “While Katie attends tyhis school, she will never be in the same class as her peers” How can she do this ?? Kate, will feel different, knowing that she is in a classroom below her ! head teacher said, “if I am so worried about her health at the other school, then I would take this only option” She said it was ” Now up to me as her mother”. By the way, OKIE wanted to come to the meeting with me, as I do not know all the laws of the UK when it come’s to school. The head teacher would not let the woman from OKIE come in with me !!
        As for statement, Kate has all the diagnoses, school has all the info, and yet, NO STATEMENT.
        Sadly, it appears katie’s grades are all that matters to them. IEP.. a joke.
        I received a letter stating katie is working below her class level (again she is in the top 10%) i go to the meeting, and you know what they said ? Her writting skills are awful ! I said ” Imagine that..a child with ASD, Mild left CP, ADHD, , sensory issues, having trouble with “Fine Motor Skills” I am so frustrated by their lack of interest and understanding” I get ” Well, she LOOKS fine”.. I expect that from people who do NOT know ASD, Not, from the SEN worker at school..
        Can the Head Teacher, put my child in a class below her level, and hide behind the fact that the Year 1 teacher will give Kate Year 2 instructions, after teaching her Year 1 class ?? Is that even legal ?? This school is in Denton, Manchester, Tameside Council.

        Sorry, for this being soooooo long, but; I have been fighting this since sept of last year. if we knew that this was how she would be treated, we would never have bought a home in this town. !
        Thank you for taking the time to read a respond, I am clueless here in the UK.

        Sincerely,

        Karen Aherne

      • Tanya

         /  May 16, 2012

        Hi Karen

        This is proving to be a huge struggle for you – I understand. This is NOT your fault. Now take a deep breath!

        I have sent my telephone number to Tania – please please please call me! It will be much easier than going back and forth replying to each other and I know you need help quickly.

      • Karen Aherne

         /  May 16, 2012

        Where do I go to get your number ?? My email is : asofthrt2@aol.com
        Thank you for your patience and time..

        Karen

    • Tanya

       /  May 15, 2012

      PS Karen

      Find out the name of the SEN Governor for your daughter’s school and write to them – tell them everything you mentioned above!

      Reply
      • Tania

         /  May 15, 2012

        Thanks Tanya, your help is so appreciated

  54. Holly Fitzgerald

     /  May 15, 2012

    Hi- So pleased to see coverage of this blog in The Telegraph and other media. I have a 10 yr old son with MLD, a global developmental delay. I moved him to a private school 2 years ago. He has just got a statement, stating 20 hrs TA support per week. Another child at his school also has a statement, she has epilepsy and has 25 hrs support a week. The LEA have said they will fund her as she is in ‘band 5’ but not my son as he is ‘band 4’ !!!!! Has anyone come across these bandings before??? Also any recommendations for secondary schools? He seems to fall btw special schools and the mainstream. For eg More House said they wouldn’t consider him as he is below ‘average intelligence’ Not many schools seem to specialise in MLD…
    Many thanks

    Holly

    P.S I used to work at Meridian TV too !

    Reply
  55. Special Needs Mum

     /  May 17, 2012

    Hi Holly, Thanks for your comments – have you thought of Sunnydown? http://www.sunnydown.surrey.sch.uk/ Can I suggest you call SOS!SEN who will be able to support you and offer legal advice about your school choice funding for free http://www.sossen.org.uk. They have lots of info and resources and can give you much more in depth advice than I can here – they are fab!

    Reply
  56. Ann

     /  May 17, 2012

    hi,
    I am really worried about my 11 year old son who is very bright academically.He has Aspergers,ADHD,poss PDA or ODD.Has a statement for 7.5 hrs only.Now has 25 hours temporary support,due to funding.Not coping at all.Severe anxiety and meltdowns.Had sorted out a mainstream secondary school for September.but feel now that may be a mistake. I feel a special school may be more appropriate to meet his needs.How do I go about changing it please? Would have to be out of area I think.Secondary school would not be able to provide One to one support.Socially and emotionally he has major problems?

    Reply
    • Special Needs Mum

       /  May 20, 2012

      Hi
      You need to speak to your case officer at the LEA and explain the situation to them if you feel the current school is not meeting your child’s needs. If you have a school in mind, first make sure that they can support your son and they have a place available for him.
      IPSEA has some resources at this link http://www.ipsea.org.uk/Apps/Content/html/?fid=89 that may help. You might also want to speak to your local parent partnership organisation.

      Reply
  57. Holly Fitzgerald

     /  May 18, 2012

    Thanks very much. Hadn’t heard of either of those. Great to find your blog- keep up the good work.

    Holly

    Reply
  58. Olivia

     /  May 20, 2012

    Our daughter has mild CDL’S with delayed speech and learning difficulties. She is able to communicate on a basic level, plays freely with other children, can copy read with you, and is learning basic spelling.

    She has a full time adult support worker and we are concerned that she is being used as a classroom helper. Our daughter is almost six years old and we are now finding that she picks things up quickly when shown. We believe that if her support worker spent more time on the areas of her development that she is behind on, our daughter would have a fighting chance in staying in a mainstream school.

    What % of time would you expect a full time support worker to be with the child they are supporting?.

    We are always being told that she needs to socialise and develop with other children, but feel this is the excuse the school use to have our daughters support worker helping in the classroom.

    Please can anyone help?

    Reply
    • Tanya

       /  May 20, 2012

      Hi – just thought I would comment – this is a very common problem – The Teachers usually have about 3-5 children in any one class who will have some sort of additional needs or whom they are worried about. Teachers will ask TA’s assigned to pupils to do other jobs and help other children. It is up to (and this can be hard for some) the TA or keyworker to remember that she is assigned to this particular child and put them first.

      If your daughter’s key worker is supposed to be there for her full-time then this means she should be there to support your daughter with any help she needs. The Keyworker should be keeping an eye on your daughter and making your daughter her first priority however if your daughter is coping well in a small group activity or doing something well independently then I’m sure the keyworker will carry on with other jobs and will want to help the teacher out rather than just stand and observe.

      The best way of finding out is to just have a chat with her. If it’s difficult for you why don’t you ask the teacher, SENCO, Head for a breakdown of the hours and what support your daughter is receiving.

      Reply
  59. Tanya

     /  May 20, 2012

    PS You could ask for a home/school diary and put in the inside cover everything you expect to be told ie., How she interacted, what support she needed etc – this way you get to keep an eye on what’s going on!

    Reply
    • Olivia

       /  May 21, 2012

      Thank you Tanya for your feed back

      Your comments have been helpful

      kInd Regards
      Olivia

      Reply
  60. Caroline

     /  May 28, 2012

    Hello,
    So pleased to have found this great site. I wonder if you could give some much needed advice. I am currently living overseas and am thinking of relocating to the UK as two of my boys have special educational needs – one (16yrs) has mild aspergers; the other (14 yrs) dyslexia. Both have been home schooled for the past 2 years but I feel they are missing out on the interaction with other children and their social skills are suffering, as well as hoping they could get specific help for their individual needs. or is this being too optimistic?
    However, from what I have gleaned, it seems very hard to get the required help easily and quickly?
    The boys have reports from a couple of years ago. How long after they get an up to date report does the average process take? I have read periods of 1 – 2 years? It also sounds like there could be several appeals to go through? What sort of help do children get in state secondary schools whilst waiting for approval, during the application process? Are there any areas of the UK where it is easier to obtain this help?
    Sorry for all the questions but I have been out of the UK for a few years and I need to consider whether it is going to be of any benefit in moving back, as it is very big decision to take.
    Any advice much appreciated.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Tanya

       /  June 2, 2012

      Hi Caroline – the only advice I could give to you is to call schools in the area in which you hope to move to. Explain your situation to them, tell them the help and assistance you feel your sons will need – see what they are prepared to offer. In the meantime get into contact with the Local Education Authority (Special Needs Department) in the same area. Tell (or write) your concerns, copy the boys reports to them, let them know what help and support you think your sons will need – at least this will start the ball rolling. Once you are in the uk you can then apply for a Statement if you feel it is necessary. Once you apply I believe the Statementing process usually takes around 6 months to complete.

      The most important thing is to find a school that takes on board your concerns and is willing to work with you in order to gain support for your sons.

      Reply
      • Caroline

         /  June 6, 2012

        Hi Tanya,

        Thanks so much for the advice – it’s very helpful. Now I have something to work on.

        Best Wishes.

        Caroline

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    Reply
  62. S

     /  June 21, 2012

    Have just ordered your book! My son’s 12 (yr7) and we’ve tried 2 schools for secondary but only managed half a term at each (first was a small mainstream independent school, second a more specialist independent school) and now he’s refusing to go back.
    We now have ASD diagnosis and are on the statementing journey.
    Interesting to read your blog post from 3 years ago ‘Surrey to Review SEN Assessments’ – I wonder whether anything has changed…. we’ve just received our Refusal to Assess from Surrey which we are going to have to appeal! Also you said that the lady talked about difficulties faced by a highly intelligent child with Asperger’s in a mainstream setting – talking to the case officer on the phone, I’m not sure all in Surrey are aware!
    I was looking through articles on SEN Magazine website last night and saw something you’d written – ‘Can Teachers Recognise SEN in Bright Pupils?’ Very interesting as my son went through mainstream junior school and nobody ever mentioned ASD to me – obviously home life was hard work, but we just kept plodding on thinking that surely the teachers would say something if they suspected a problem, and whenever I looked up ASD I would just think ‘but he never lined up cars when he was a toddler so it can’t be autism!’ Looking back and knowing what I know now, I think there were plenty of signs of ASD at school that could have been picked up by the teachers, but although he had a bit of extra help in certain areas, he was doing well. But even going back to his Reception year reports, each term there were ‘Targets’ listed (things to work on) and every single one of these were things you would expect an ASD child to struggle with – of course I had no idea at the time, it’s only now that it all makes sense to me! The Reception teacher seemed quite baffled by him – we just couldn’t understand how in all her years she hadn’t experienced somebody like him before! Anyway, it was only when we reached crisis point and he refused to go back to school after the first half-term of secondary that the fantastic head at that school asked me if anybody had ever mentioned Aspergers/autism to me!
    Sorry, I seem to have waffled on! One question ….. in that article, you mention the LEA’s own ASD criteria – what do you mean by this, are you able to point me at it?

    Thanks, S

    Reply
  63. I stumbled a crossed your site today. I too have a special needs child. I felt it was very important that my child be included within a regular kindergarten class. The school however was not cooperative. We ended up getting a lawyer, which was the best decision we have ever made. Here’s the link to who we used. http://csnlg.com/

    I think its really important that people know their child has rights, so thank you so much again for posting this information! Definitely going to be ordering your book!

    Reply

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