Mainstream or Special School?

As I have mentioned, my son aged 20 was diagnosed 3 months ago, and I am now finding the pieces of the jigsaw slotting together.

Miles was born with low birth weight, the longest eyelashes to make every girl jealous and hypospadias; mis-alignment of the urethra.  Within the first 12 months of his life he had 11 ear infections resulting in constant antibiotics, which led to glue ear, speech delay and finally a diagnosis of moderate learning disabilities at the age of 6.  Many of you will have seen the list of ‘markers’ and recognise all of the above.

With a diagnosis came the recommendation of a placement at a special needs school.  I know there has been some discussion around schooling, so I will talk through some factors which I recommend you consider.

Learning disabilities does not necessary mean only delays in academia.  Miles experienced inter-personal skills, inappropriate behaviour, motor skills (hand/eye), communication processing (following verbal instructions).  All of this attributed to the fact that whilst the eldest in the class (he had been held back a year due to speech delay), his peers progression far exceeded his by the spring term of Year 1.  Therefore the decision as to whether to accept the placement was easy.  All I can say is that by the end of the first term in special school, in a class of 12 pupils with a teacher and an LSA, with provision for 1-2-1 or 1-2-2 support throughout the week, he was a different child.  Excited to be going to school, homework set that he could understand and complete, teachers that understood his needs, who developed him and allowed him to grow at his pace, not the pace expected nationally,

So I will ask you?  Is your child struggling to maintain the age related expectation in school, does your child find making friends, expressing themselves, being attentive in class difficult?  If so, then a discussion with the school should happen at the earliest convenience.  Your child may be offered a statement of educational needs, which could support them in mainstream, and whilst in primary, this may well be enough.  I know from experience, that if Miles had continued in mainstream, then upon moving to secondary, it would have been a worry for both of us. If the EHCP as it is now known (Education and Health Care Plan) is considered permanent, then your child is entitled to free full-time education until 25.  Miles is now in his 5th year at college, taking a course on skills for successful employment, which includes Maths and English.

Having an EHCP will open many doors, both financially and leisurely.  I will explain this in my next post.



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