Jump to content


Photo

Academic achievements versus social skills


  • Please log in to reply
74 replies to this topic

Poll: Academic achievements versus social skills (28 member(s) have cast votes)

Which is more important, academic achievements or social skills

  1. Academic achievements (4 votes [13.79%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.79%

  2. Social skills (25 votes [86.21%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 86.21%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:08 PM

Hi

My son is being assessed again for ADD/ADHD - initiated by CAMHS. Clearly, R does have problems concentrating. Today his home/school diary states that he missed the first social skills class as he did not complete his classwork as he couldn't stay on task. My own personal view, which I've made clearly to education professionals, is that whilst academic achievements are important, I feel social skills are more important and should be top priority. I'm actually quite annoyed that this should happen. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Everyone has to interact with others on a daily basis - be it to pop to shop for a loaf of break, go to the post office, or to get fuel. I'm not for a second knocking anyone with formal qualifications (I've got qualifications), however, interacting appropriately with others, is in my view far more important than qualifications (as is common sense).

Caroline.

Edited by cmuir, 04 October 2010 - 09:13 PM.


#2 CEJesson

CEJesson

    Mt Blanc

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 561 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Lincolnshire/Sheffield
  • Interests:Cars, town planning, history, buildings, facts and figures, geography, British comedy TV, weather phenomenons.

Posted 04 October 2010 - 10:38 PM

Hi

My son is being assessed again for ADD/ADHD - initiated by CAMHS. Clearly, R does have problems concentrating. Today his home/school diary states that he missed the first social skills class as he did not complete his classwork as he couldn't stay on task. My own personal view, which I've made clearly to education professionals, is that whilst academic achievements are important, I feel social skills are more important and should be top priority. I'm actually quite annoyed that this should happen. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Everyone has to interact with others on a daily basis - be it to pop to shop for a loaf of break, go to the post office, or to get fuel. I'm not for a second knocking anyone with formal qualifications (I've got qualifications), however, interacting appropriately with others, is in my view far more important than qualifications (as is common sense).

Caroline.


I think the nature of him not staying away on task is just as important in the short term, because it can influence attentiveness to social situations. I say this with the ulterior view to focusing on social skills later on.

Edited by CEJesson, 04 October 2010 - 10:39 PM.


#3 Jota

Jota

    Salisbury Hill

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 45 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Arbroath, Scotland
  • Interests:Music, gaming, browsing.

Posted 04 October 2010 - 11:22 PM

I've always wished I had good social skills, the kind most take for granted. It would certainly make life much easier than any academic qualification would. I would go as far as to say good social skills would probably help in the pursuit of the academic side of things. I left college after one day because I couldn't face it.

#4 baddad

baddad

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10462 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 04 October 2010 - 11:51 PM

I don't think there can be a blanket answer, and, as Chris pointed out, the two interconnect in many ways anyway. Ultimately, I guess, autistic children - just like any other kids - should be fully encouraged to develop to the best of their ability, regardless of the skillset (or subset) involved; they will benefit from the most 'rounded' education, academically and socially, they can achieve.

L&P

BD

#5 KarenT

KarenT

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1553 posts
  • Location:Gateshead

Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:09 AM

Caroline, it sounds as though your son's teachers are almost treating the social skills group as a reward for completing class work, and it's been taken away from him for not doing so. That's not right, IMO - each is equally important as the other and suitable arrangements should be made to accommodate both.

On a personal note, I home educate, have done for the past two years. J is a very bright lad, potentially could do very well indeed, but his poor social skills limit his ability to achieve academically. He too has strong ADHD presentation for which he is now medicated - there have been some significant improvements but we're still working on optimising the drugs and social problems persist.

At least half of our week is spent on social and emotional development with a definite slant towards independence. These are, in his case at least, more important at this stage in his development than academic achievement. He's very bright, will always be very bright, but my feeling is that he needs to develop his social side first to enable him to access his academic education with the best possible outcome. He will always have the intelligence to allow him to study more effectively once he can cope with a group learning environment.

I think for us it's finding a balance that suits and will enable him to grow most effectively. J has absolutely dire organisational skills so I have to allow for that - he cannot plan his own work and is poorly motivated so we have to share responsibiity for that at this stage, though we're aiming towards him being able to do so independently. We have to recognise what's within his limits and give him reasonable challenges to push his boundaries, but a lot of these problems stem from his ADHD anyway so can't be resolved overnight.

Digressed a bit there, but to summarise I think it's about balance between the two, depending on the child's individual needs. I agree with what you've said about everyone needing social skills to some degree and it's much harder to get on in life without them, so they must take a high priority in anyone's development.

#6 baddad

baddad

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10462 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 05 October 2010 - 09:48 AM

Oh - just wanted to add from karen T's post -
Yes, his social skills group shouldn't be seen as a 'reward', so if they stopped him from going because he didn't finish his class work etc that shouldn't happen. On the other hand, it could be something like 'social skills club' is something they offer as an alternative to the playground at lunchtime, and he wasn't able to attend because he was 'kept in' to finish the work he should have done in the period before lunchtime. In that case, it's perfectly reasonable, and nothing to do with the social group as a 'reward' but a completely appropriate playtime sanction.
Additionally, I think you need to consider the context, because time-management and classroom behaviour are also very important social skills. So if the workload he had been given was reasonable within the time alloted and his concentration problems were manifesting as behaviours that were disruptive or distracting for other pupils then sanctioning and reinforcing behavioural boundaries is equally (socially) important. As you said, social skills is about interacting with others. Others includes teachers and other authority figures, and in many ways it is far more important that he learn to interact appropriately with them when undertaking tasks he doesn't like than when playing with peers doing things he does like. Better yet is him learning to interact with both groups through doing things he likes in a mixed group - i.e. social group - but that shouldn't undermine behavioural expectations in the classroom, because you'll only, at best, be regaining on the roundabouts what you've just lost on the swings.

L&P

BD

#7 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 05 October 2010 - 01:33 PM

I think the nature of him not staying away on task is just as important in the short term, because it can influence attentiveness to social situations. I say this with the ulterior view to focusing on social skills later on.


The fact that 3 psychologists have each raised ADD/ADHD again and again as a possibility, and are actually reassessing, is irrelevant to the school (again, I'd be careful to point out that disorders are not an excuse, but a reason for difficulties). His teacher decided to remove a valuable social skills group as a punishment for not completing work. I feel they should have positively encouraged him to stay on task, rather than negatively withdrawing the social skills group. It shouldn't be seen as a reward, but rather than an essential part of the curriculum, which I guess is my point.

Caroline.

#8 puffin

puffin

    Mt Blanc

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 528 posts

Posted 05 October 2010 - 02:33 PM

I would say that both are equally important - they need to be combined to get the best effect

I would be unhappy if social skills are being used as a reward for completing work - this is definitely not the purpose of them - and there would be an outcry if support interventions were removed from kids with other types of disability - ie if the school used the wheelchair ramp or the braille writer as a reward for doing schoolwork. You need to make it clear to teachers that social skills are necessary to function in school and that by working on both together will get the best results

#9 Canopus

Canopus

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2093 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 October 2010 - 07:24 AM

Is this supposed to be some trick question?

#10 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:32 AM

Is this supposed to be some trick question?



Trick? No. Sorry, I don't see it as a trick. There's no right or wrong answers. Even though I have my own strong views on this, I'm genuinely interested to gauge other peoples' views too.

Edited by cmuir, 08 October 2010 - 12:32 PM.


#11 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:38 AM

Hi

An update...

Got a very understanding email from Headteacher this morning saying:

I am writing to apologise for the extremely unfortunate decision made on Monday.
I agree with you entirely about the need for R to attend the social skills group and with the fact it is not under any circumstances to be used as a reward or as a sanction.
I became aware during Monday afternoon that it had been withdrawn and raised my very serious concerns about this action with Mrs XXXX at the time. It was late on in the afternoon by this time and I took the only action I thought might go a little way to resolve the situation.
R had a shorter session, about 15mins ,with XXXX and Mrs XXXX. No-one was more frustrated about the situation than me, and those concerned knew that. I can only apologise for what happened . The decision had been made without consultation and it was without question the wrong decision. I cannot defend it.

Sorry, XXXX


I'm pleased to have received such an understanding email.

C.

#12 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 08 October 2010 - 12:30 PM

Oh - just wanted to add from karen T's post -
Yes, his social skills group shouldn't be seen as a 'reward', so if they stopped him from going because he didn't finish his class work etc that shouldn't happen. On the other hand, it could be something like 'social skills club' is something they offer as an alternative to the playground at lunchtime, and he wasn't able to attend because he was 'kept in' to finish the work he should have done in the period before lunchtime. In that case, it's perfectly reasonable, and nothing to do with the social group as a 'reward' but a completely appropriate playtime sanction.

L&P

BD



Hi. The social skills group is a class run by the school's special needs teacher aimed at getting the kids to work together, interact appropriately, deal with anger issues appropriately, etc etc. It's been a long time coming, in fact, 4 years. It's not a club - had that been the case, I would have taken a different view. Indeed, I have expressed that I expect R to be encouraged positively to knuckle down and work to the best of his ability (although I could see what the teacher was trying to achieve, I didn't agree with her methods), however, given he has AS and possibly ADD/ADHD, his progress cannot be measured with his NT peers (he's in a mainstream school) as a child cannot be forced to concentrate - clear guidelines and frequent short breaks, etc have to be introduced (errands, assisting with collecting register, etc). AS, ADD/ADHD doesn't excuse poor concentration bad behaviour, etc, but it complicates things and sometimes a different approach, concenssions, or different expectations have to be made. I think the problem in this case is that the teacher's expectations of R are the same as his NT peers.

#13 baddad

baddad

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10462 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 08 October 2010 - 01:01 PM

Hi. The social skills group is a class run by the school's special needs teacher aimed at getting the kids to work together, interact appropriately, deal with anger issues appropriately, etc etc. It's been a long time coming, in fact, 4 years. It's not a club - had that been the case, I would have taken a different view. Indeed, I have expressed that I expect R to be encouraged positively to knuckle down and work to the best of his ability (although I could see what the teacher was trying to achieve, I didn't agree with her methods), however, given he has AS and possibly ADD/ADHD, his progress cannot be measured with his NT peers (he's in a mainstream school) as a child cannot be forced to concentrate - clear guidelines and frequent short breaks, etc have to be introduced (errands, assisting with collecting register, etc). AS, ADD/ADHD doesn't excuse poor concentration bad behaviour, etc, but it complicates things and sometimes a different approach, concenssions, or different expectations have to be made. I think the problem in this case is that the teacher's expectations of R are the same as his NT peers.


As I said, if the social skills group is being 'witheld' as a punishment or sanction IMO it shouldn't be. Whatever it's objectives though, if it is an 'extra-curricular' activity, then it seems perfectly approriate to expect curricular activities - so long as expectations there are reasonable - to be completed first.
Again, my own opinion is that:


time-management and classroom behaviour are also very important social skills. So if the workload he had been given was reasonable within the time alloted and his concentration problems were manifesting as behaviours that were disruptive or distracting for other pupils then sanctioning and reinforcing behavioural boundaries is equally (socially) important. As you said, social skills is about interacting with others. Others includes teachers and other authority figures, and in many ways it is far more important that he learn to interact appropriately with them when undertaking tasks he doesn't like than when playing with peers doing things he does like.


Undermining the acquisition of those social skills in favour of activities that, while more appealing, are addressing less important (in the wider context) areas of socialisation seems to me a step backwards.

L&P

BD

#14 Canopus

Canopus

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2093 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 09 October 2010 - 01:41 PM

Trick? No. Sorry, I don't see it as a trick. There's no right or wrong answers. Even though I have my own strong views on this, I'm genuinely interested to gauge other peoples' views too.


What you have done is taken a specific event and turned into a generalised argument and poll where neither academic achievements nor social skills are defined.

A better approach would be to nab the school for failing to provide for SEN on that day.

#15 Kathryn

Kathryn

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11057 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:The Moral High Ground

Posted 09 October 2010 - 11:39 PM

Since when is it wrong to take a specific issue and turn it into a generalised argument, Canopus? It has provoked a lot of interesting discussion.

If you want to join in and add your views about what constitutes "academic achievement" and "social skills", feel free to do so - you obviously have a view - so share it. Otherwise, do butt out, and stop attacking the opening poster for starting a perfectly valid topic. :)

Caroline - so rare to see such a conciliatory response - hats off to the head, it takes courage to admit a mistake has been made. Glad it's been sorted and hope it doesn't happen again.

K x

Edited by Kathryn, 09 October 2010 - 11:42 PM.


#16 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 09 October 2010 - 11:56 PM

It shouldn't have to be one or the other.

But unfortunately the "choice of educational environments available" does tend to lean towards one outcome or the other.

If LEAs seriously wanted ASD children to learn both academic and social skills they would provide such specialist schools with suitably qualified professionals staffing them.

What we have is mainstream schools trying to paper over the gaps in academic difficulties whilst providing little or no social skills - and autism units usually containing an overflow of children with more severe difficulties both academically and socially, where there might be the right learning 'environment' but not the educational content or a suitable social peer group.

Where does the more capable ASD child - who still has significant difficulties - fit in - nowhere.

I chose for my son to go mainstream because I was told there were no places in the autism unit. I was told my son was not severe enough for the unit. The unit contained mainly non-verbal children and they were not teaching the full curriculum.

In mainstream my son is only now (age 9) starting to get some serious social skills assessments and input. And academically he still cannot read or write. That might have been different if he had gone into the unit. BUT his social skills might have been even worse there because there would have been a lack of interactions from his non-verbal classmates.

Also, when a child is self aware, and has poor self esteem, it is very hard to put them into a peer group where they do not fit in. And that applies whether it is a peer group of non-verbal autistic children, or mainstream NT children. In both situations the child is going to know that they are different and is going to come to negative conclusions about themselves dependent on their peer group.

#17 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 10 October 2010 - 12:19 AM

Obviously, and naturally it is all related to funding issues.

But the "either/or" question is from a standpoint that assumes both is not possible. When actually it is possible and is happening in lots of schools throughout the UK - but that option is not available to us because most of those schools are independent ones that our children cannot get into without a huge investment by parents of their time and money and appeals at tribunals.

Whether Ms Tether is going to make changes to the system (in England) we don't know. And if those changes are made will they be to our childrens advantage or will it be to make further cuts and savings in the national budget.

It would be sensible to offer an LEA alternative to the independent ASD specific schools. But to make it viable, SEN has to funded from a lifetime perspective and not just from the education budget covering the years spent in school.

The whole point of the education system is that it is supposed to produce responsible and useful members of society. If our children are leaving education without academic qualifications or social skills then they are going to be costing 'society' alot of money in terms of support, housing, benefits, social services, pensions etc.

When "costed" in that way it is more cost effective to try to get the best prognosis whilst the child is in education. But this does not happen because the current system does not take the long view.

#18 rannoch

rannoch

    Salisbury Hill

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 25 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:England

Posted 10 October 2010 - 12:20 AM

I agree, it should not have to be one or the other. At the risk of sounding harsh, I thought the main purpose of mainstream education was supposed to be academic achievement and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. Yes, it is vital that your son develops social skills and it is good that he is receiving structured support with this at school, but he only spends 35 hours a week (out of 168)at school. That's one quarter of the time. There's plenty of time outside school for social skill development. What are you doing to ensure he has opportunities to do this?

Edited by rannoch, 10 October 2010 - 12:20 AM.


#19 KarenT

KarenT

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1553 posts
  • Location:Gateshead

Posted 10 October 2010 - 09:12 AM

Rannoch, when my son was still attending school he came out at the end of each day so exhausted, stressed and angry that he could barely speak or eat, much less engage in an additional programme of social skills development. The fact of his attending school vastly limited his opportunities for social interaction outside those hours because he simply hadn't the resources available within him to cope with it. He's making good progress now but only because I'm able to cater to his specific needs by balancing his academic and social curriculum to what's right for him, something that two schools were determined to not even try.

Karen
x

#20 Canopus

Canopus

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2093 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 October 2010 - 09:22 AM

If you want to join in and add your views about what constitutes "academic achievement" and "social skills", feel free to do so - you obviously have a view - so share it. Otherwise, do butt out, and stop attacking the opening poster for starting a perfectly valid topic. :)


The terms academic achievement and social skills lack precise definitions.

It shouldn't have to be one or the other.

But unfortunately the "choice of educational environments available" does tend to lean towards one outcome or the other.

If LEAs seriously wanted ASD children to learn both academic and social skills they would provide such specialist schools with suitably qualified professionals staffing them.


Exactly. It's a highly polarised either or argument.

You certainly make a valid point concerning LEAs. It's been in the back of my mind for some time that the government simply doesn't want kids with SEN from succeeding academically.

I agree, it should not have to be one or the other. At the risk of sounding harsh, I thought the main purpose of mainstream education was supposed to be academic achievement and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils.


The state education system has given strong priority to the academic side of things from the outset. There are many critics of the education system, and not always from the AS sphere, who say that this heavy academic bias is responsible for many of Britain's social problems. These same critics also say that sending kids to school to learn social skills is ludicrous as much of the social skills they learn at school have little relevance to life as an adult and generate positively undesirable behavioural traits from the point of view of a citizen.

Some parents home educate their kids for the primary objective of learning the right social skills to become a citizen. They think that as long as their kids can read, do basic maths, think straight, and find out information for themselves then that's all they need to know on the academic side of things apart from whatever subjects interest them.

#21 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 10 October 2010 - 09:36 AM

I agree, it should not have to be one or the other. At the risk of sounding harsh, I thought the main purpose of mainstream education was supposed to be academic achievement and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. Yes, it is vital that your son develops social skills and it is good that he is receiving structured support with this at school, but he only spends 35 hours a week (out of 168)at school. That's one quarter of the time. There's plenty of time outside school for social skill development. What are you doing to ensure he has opportunities to do this?


I do agree with what you are saying to a certain degree. And that is why I chose mainstream and thought that I would just meet the 'social skills' side myself in other activities. But it isn't that simple. If our children could learn social skills just by being with other children or NTs, then that would happen within the family anyway. But it doesn't. They need explicit teaching and most teachers don't know how to do this, let alone parents. And there is no one going to work with the parents to put together such an explicit social skills programme for them to deliver at home. So parents are basically just doing their best.

We are just starting SCERTS (Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transitions) in school for my son. This is used in special schools within our LEA, but the SALT recommended it for my son in mainstream. It was recommended in his Statement in February 2009 and now, some 20 months later it is finally being put in place. I know that my son is the only child receiving this programme in mainstream. And it is the LEA SALT who said he needed it. So I have no complaints about her. But I am 100% sure that my son is not the only child in his school that needs it. But only mine will get it. And the only reason for that is my working very hard with the professionals and the system to ensure that things happen as they should. It is not easy and is very time consuming.

Three years ago I thought that 'social skills' were the most important. And as already said. It has taken 20 months to get something concrete happening in school. But now my son is not learning in the mainstream environment. And I know from past experience (my older sister), that if he leaves school with no qualifications then he will struggle to find any work. Add "no social skills" into the mix and it is impossible.

The two cannot be separated.

Edited by Sally44, 10 October 2010 - 09:39 AM.


#22 Canopus

Canopus

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2093 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 October 2010 - 11:16 AM

But it isn't that simple. If our children could learn social skills just by being with other children or NTs, then that would happen within the family anyway. But it doesn't. They need explicit teaching and most teachers don't know how to do this, let alone parents. And there is no one going to work with the parents to put together such an explicit social skills programme for them to deliver at home. So parents are basically just doing their best.


This is the crux of the matter. Most NT people can pick up certain social skills as they go along and the mainstream education system is set up with the assumption that this happens. People with AS are unable to pick up these social skills as they go along as they have difficulty reading people, are blind to subtle signs, etc. The only way they will learn these social skills is if they are explicitly taught them in a similar way that academic subjects are taught. The mainstream school system doesn't offer any SEN courses in these social skills for kids with AS. Very little of the existing social skills services that schools provide are applicable or relevant to the problems affecting kids with AS.

I think what we (as in the AS community) needs to do is to create some social skills programmes for kids with AS. Initially they will be offered to parents for teaching outside of the school system. If they can be proven to be effective then it will be possible to persuade schools to start offering them as part of their SEN services.

#23 baddad

baddad

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10462 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 October 2010 - 11:36 AM

This is the crux of the matter. Most NT people can pick up certain social skills as they go along and the mainstream education system is set up with the assumption that this happens. People with AS are unable to pick up these social skills as they go along as they have difficulty reading people, are blind to subtle signs, etc. The only way they will learn these social skills is if they are explicitly taught them in a similar way that academic subjects are taught. The mainstream school system doesn't offer any SEN courses in these social skills for kids with AS. Very little of the existing social skills services that schools provide are applicable or relevant to the problems affecting kids with AS.

I think what we (as in the AS community) needs to do is to create some social skills programmes for kids with AS. Initially they will be offered to parents for teaching outside of the school system. If they can be proven to be effective then it will be possible to persuade schools to start offering them as part of their SEN services.



I think that's part of the equation, canopus, but far from all of it. We (as in the AS community) also need to accept that autistic children can be as manipulative, bl00dy minded and obstinate as all other children, and acknowledge that a refusal to comply with reasonable requests is not always an indication of lack of understanding but a wilful pretense of ignorance that all children will practice. That is, of course, not a 'judgement' about any specific situation - including the one outlined in the OP - but IMO the dangers of enabling the 'waiving' of social expectation and accommodating unreasonable behaviour from people who can behave more reasonably are at least as serious as not meeting halfway those who cannot. So, yes, I am all for social skills programmes - in school and out of school - but I think we have to be realistic too - both about the objectives, and the ability of the individual to meet them. The latter is very much a 'two way dialogue', but increasingly it seems to be seen as an 'either/or'; something that's actually highlighted by this thread and the responses to it, even though the 'poll', as has been pointed out, is unqualified and therefore completely meaningless.

L&P

BD

#24 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 11 October 2010 - 08:32 AM

There are ways of assessing a child so that you have a better idea of their difficulties.
For example the SCERTS programme that is to be used for my son is an initial assessment where a whole list of social skills and related social skills (rather like a family tree) are assessed by home, school, SALT and EP. Each skill is marked as to whether it has been demonstrated, how often, in different environments etc. So if the skill has been seen by one person in the classroom but never seen in the playground then that can be worked on as a generalisation problem. If the skill has never been demonstrated then it can be included in the social skills programme.
And it is very useful because there are combinations of skills that need to work in conjunction in order to understand and demonstrate higher social skills.
This should help everyone identify where the strengths and difficulties are.
And I think this kind of assessment also gives a much clearer picture as to whether any behaviour being seen at home/school is due to difficulties or just being naughty.
But I think for me, most of the time, I can tell. Or if I do get it wrong I soon pick up on the fact that he was being awkward etc. And that knowledge does come with time and having spent alot of time learning and reading etc.
Parents of newly diagnosed children, or parents that tend to leave it all in the hands of the professionals are going to find that discernment much harder.
And although I do agree that all children can and will be naughty and uncooperative etc. I think it is essential for all children diagnosed with an ASD to be assessed for social skills and for them to have a programme in place. In many cases such a programme actually helps identify what are real difficulties as opposed to just being uncooperative. And even being 'uncooperative' can be down to ASD difficulties such as the situation, expectations, task demands, length of time etc have not been fully or suffiently explained to the ASD child and therefore they simply refuse to co-operate. Give them all the information, structure, visual time limit etc and most will comply.

Edited by Sally44, 11 October 2010 - 08:33 AM.


#25 Karen A

Karen A

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6084 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East London

Posted 11 October 2010 - 09:03 AM

I do not know which I would consider more important for Ben Social Skills or academic achievement.

From my perspective Ben could be brilliant accademically going on to a top university as he is exceptionally bright.However if he does not recieve appropriate support with his Social Skills I cannot imagine him being able to last in any work environment for more than a few days.He finds the Social aspects of school life extremely difficult.He would love to be home educated where he could work on the computer writing in great depth and researching subjects that intersests him which is his idea of leasure rather than being work.

Ben if it was left to him would be very happy to concentrate on his accademic skills.Far from having to complete work being a sanction he would always opt for study in history,geography,creative writing or science ahead of time with his peers.The only subject that creates difficuties for Ben is PE partly due to the level of Social Interaction required.

In the last few weeks Ben has started to want to spend time in Social Activities with a few of his peers which is a huge step forward.However he finds the academic work far less difficult especially if he can work alone and interact with the teachers.

At 12 Ben has a very clear life plan.He wants to be a graphic designer and author working from home.He is very clear that he would then be able to do the things he loves probably at an extremely high level without the everyday pain of the Social demands of a work environment.

However it is very difficult to find a suitable peer group for Ben to develop skills in Social Communication because he is so bright.School have tried various Social Skills groups however none have worked well because Ben appears so articulate and without a serious academic challenge he rapidly becomes bored.The main provision Ben currently has is voluntary interest from many many teachers in subjects such as music,creative writing and graphics where teachers happen to have a shared personal interest.Even this can make Ben stand out from his peers even more.

Also if Ben is to fulfil his academic potential and bearing in mind that he also has dyspraxia and finds writing difficult it is difficult to justify time out of academic lessons for Social Skills group.In the vast majority of subjects other than PE or perhaps expressive arts [the very subjects which provide oppurtunities to practice Socaial Skills] in any case Ben would probably refuse to miss lessons to attend.





I cannot decide which is more important.

Edited by Karen A, 11 October 2010 - 09:37 AM.


#26 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 11 October 2010 - 12:56 PM

What you have done is taken a specific event and turned into a generalised argument and poll where neither academic achievements nor social skills are defined.

A better approach would be to nab the school for failing to provide for SEN on that day.


Sorry, I'm not 'getting' your response/post.
Whilst a 'specific event' occurred, in my view it raised an interesting topic for discussion/debate generally.
The 'better approach' was raised with the school as soon as I found out.
I didn't feel I needed to define academic achievements or social skills, I perhaps wrongly assumed most would understand/accept those general terms. As I've already explain my view is that whilst I want my son to achieve the best that he can in school, I'm far more concerned that he learns how to interact appropriately with others, moderate his behaviour, etc, etc. In other words, essential skills which we all use on a daily basis, be it to make a phonecall, answer the door, go into a shop, etc etc. In society, people are expected to conform and fit in. If they don't quite fit the 'norm', then some individuals can be very unforgiving. So, it was a very general debate, initiated as a result of an experience.

NB: Perhaps what I should have done in the poll was to include an option for 'Equally as important'.

Edited by cmuir, 11 October 2010 - 01:19 PM.


#27 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 11 October 2010 - 01:01 PM

This is the crux of the matter. Most NT people can pick up certain social skills as they go along and the mainstream education system is set up with the assumption that this happens. People with AS are unable to pick up these social skills as they go along as they have difficulty reading people, are blind to subtle signs, etc. The only way they will learn these social skills is if they are explicitly taught them in a similar way that academic subjects are taught. The mainstream school system doesn't offer any SEN courses in these social skills for kids with AS. Very little of the existing social skills services that schools provide are applicable or relevant to the problems affecting kids with AS.

I think what we (as in the AS community) needs to do is to create some social skills programmes for kids with AS. Initially they will be offered to parents for teaching outside of the school system. If they can be proven to be effective then it will be possible to persuade schools to start offering them as part of their SEN services.



Absolutely!

Caroline.

#28 cmuir

cmuir

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1661 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Edinburgh

Posted 11 October 2010 - 01:11 PM

... I thought the main purpose of mainstream education was supposed to be academic achievement and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. Yes, it is vital that your son develops social skills and it is good that he is receiving structured support with this at school, but he only spends 35 hours a week (out of 168)at school. That's one quarter of the time. There's plenty of time outside school for social skill development. What are you doing to ensure he has opportunities to do this?



We keep hearing about 'Inclusion', that is integrating children with additional needs into mainstream schools to be educated. Kids on the spectrum should be taught essential social skills. Also, I guess the hope is that to a degree they will pickup social skills from their peers, however, some of these things don't come naturally. So, in order to meet their needs, clearly this is a gap (not just academic needs). It's an LEA's duty to meet a child's needa, especially given that in some cases, parents, despite fighting tooth and nail' cannot get specialist placements.

I hadn't anticipated my parenting style being scrutinised by being asked what I'm doing to develop my son's social skills outwith school, but since you've asked:

- enrolled kiddo into various extra-curricular activities whereby kiddo can interact with both with NT and AS peers
- social stories
- specific books i.e. blue bottle mystery, etc
- discussion
- play therapy
- invite kids round to the house and be ready for mediate situations as and when they arise (they inevitably do!)
- generally handling daily meltdowns

Caroline.

Edited by cmuir, 11 October 2010 - 01:17 PM.


#29 Karen A

Karen A

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6084 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East London

Posted 11 October 2010 - 01:29 PM

I agree, it should not have to be one or the other. At the risk of sounding harsh, I thought the main purpose of mainstream education was supposed to be academic achievement and the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils. Yes, it is vital that your son develops social skills and it is good that he is receiving structured support with this at school, but he only spends 35 hours a week (out of 168)at school. That's one quarter of the time. There's plenty of time outside school for social skill development. What are you doing to ensure he has opportunities to do this?


Provision for pupils with SEN does not just include access to a broad and balanced curriculum as by definition this is what is available to all pupils.

If a child has SEN and has provision funded within a mainstream school whether that by via a Statement or through delegated funding then the school has a duty to ensure provision is in place.SEN includes Social Communication Difficulties.

We provide various activities at home to support Ben.However he is also funded at a mainstream school to the sum of ten thousand pounds a year plus delegated funding.
My only income as a stay at home mum with a husband in the higher tax bracket was cut from 2013 last week.
If the role of mainstream education does not include provision for Ben with his Social Skills then I would be happy to have the ten thousand pounds myself.It may be useful to fund the activities that we may have to cut when neither of our boys obtain child benefit.

We have spent the last four years supporting Ben in participation in activities mainly run by volunteers with minimal training with very mixed results at huge personal and financial cost.
I have not worked in that time because of the commitment involved in supporting Ben in a mainstream school.We have no alternative unless we fight for Specialist Residential Provision.

I had no training for this job and have coped mainly because Kathryn here and a few others provided
information and support.

Pupils do have a right to be educated at a mainstream school.The law does not say that parents may opt for mainstream but should expect to do anything outside of the national curriculum in their own time.

Edited by Karen A, 11 October 2010 - 01:57 PM.


#30 Mumble

Mumble

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6814 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:South of the Icy North

Posted 11 October 2010 - 01:50 PM

If a child has SEN and has provision funded within a mainstream school whether that by via a Statement or through delegated funding then the school has a duty to ensure provision is in place.SEN includes Social Communication Difficulties.

This is a question to everyone including the OP; it's not an attack on what Karen has written, and I hope it does not appear that way, I am just using this quote as an example.

I am a qualified teacher and I do not know the answer to this: perhaps that says something about the training teachers get in SEN which, to fulfill the current expected role, is wholly inadequate because what is being expected of primary teachers is way beyond the generalist role and training they have - they are expected to be specialists in everything - anyway, I digress... :rolleyes:

My question is: what is the role of a statement?

My view has always been that it is to enable access to the full curriculum on the same terms as all mainstream pupils, not to provide anything above this to treat/cure the disability. So in the example of ASD, how much should be actually expected from the school? Has the role become too broad and should this support be coming from elsewhere, i.e. health services?

To take a parallel case, if a child had a physical disability, you would expect the support to go as far as giving them the same opportunities for access as other children to the usual school curriculum. You would not expect them to be offering health related services to treat the disability, i.e. physiotherapy. If a child has a statement for a severe health condition, you would expect support to give them the same access as other children, but you would not expect teachers to treat the underlying health condition (respond to specified situations yes, but the overall treatment would rest with the consultant).

Anyway, I may not be making much sense, I just wonder if we're expecting too much of what are, generalist, schools? If for instance you go to a GP, you expect generalist support and referral onwards to specialists - you wouldn't expect the GP to know everything about everything and to carry out complex treatment - this would be done by specialists in a specialist area in a specialist setting. :unsure:

#31 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 11 October 2010 - 02:03 PM

This is a question to everyone including the OP; it's not an attack on what Karen has written, and I hope it does not appear that way, I am just using this quote as an example.

I am a qualified teacher and I do not know the answer to this: perhaps that says something about the training teachers get in SEN which, to fulfill the current expected role, is wholly inadequate because what is being expected of primary teachers is way beyond the generalist role and training they have - they are expected to be specialists in everything - anyway, I digress... :rolleyes:

My question is: what is the role of a statement?

My view has always been that it is to enable access to the full curriculum on the same terms as all mainstream pupils, not to provide anything above this to treat/cure the disability. So in the example of ASD, how much should be actually expected from the school? Has the role become too broad and should this support be coming from elsewhere, i.e. health services?

To take a parallel case, if a child had a physical disability, you would expect the support to go as far as giving them the same opportunities for access as other children to the usual school curriculum. You would not expect them to be offering health related services to treat the disability, i.e. physiotherapy. If a child has a statement for a severe health condition, you would expect support to give them the same access as other children, but you would not expect teachers to treat the underlying health condition (respond to specified situations yes, but the overall treatment would rest with the consultant).

Anyway, I may not be making much sense, I just wonder if we're expecting too much of what are, generalist, schools? If for instance you go to a GP, you expect generalist support and referral onwards to specialists - you wouldn't expect the GP to know everything about everything and to carry out complex treatment - this would be done by specialists in a specialist area in a specialist setting. :unsure:



This is exactly the problem.
Capable children with ASD are sold the mainstream/inclusion 'ideology', and then find themselves in a 'general' school educational approach that does not have the staffing expertise or funding to meet these very specific difficulties which everyone diagnosed with an ASD must have to have received a diagnosis in the first place.

And if LEAs wanted to meet such needs, they have to provide more schooling choices that can do that.

I don't see why an LEA cannot have a mainstream model school where most of the children have a diagnosis of ASD or SPLD etc and where the aim is for the whole (or most of) the curriculum with the eventual aim of independent living and working.

And I also said in my earlier post that we cannot expect education to be the only funding source for these lifelong difficulties. There needs to be a long term (lifelong) approach with funding coming from various sources.

For those children who are struggling in mainstream both academically and socially due to specific learning difficulties associated with an ASD, there is even less choice.

I know there cannot be lots and lots of different school types. But by the number of parents going to tribunal seeking alternative independent school placements - and winning - there seems little doubt that there is a space in the market.

#32 Karen A

Karen A

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6084 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East London

Posted 11 October 2010 - 02:17 PM

This is a question to everyone including the OP; it's not an attack on what Karen has written, and I hope it does not appear that way, I am just using this quote as an example.

I am a qualified teacher and I do not know the answer to this: perhaps that says something about the training teachers get in SEN which, to fulfill the current expected role, is wholly inadequate because what is being expected of primary teachers is way beyond the generalist role and training they have - they are expected to be specialists in everything - anyway, I digress... :rolleyes:

My question is: what is the role of a statement?

My view has always been that it is to enable access to the full curriculum on the same terms as all mainstream pupils, not to provide anything above this to treat/cure the disability. So in the example of ASD, how much should be actually expected from the school? Has the role become too broad and should this support be coming from elsewhere, i.e. health services?

To take a parallel case, if a child had a physical disability, you would expect the support to go as far as giving them the same opportunities for access as other children to the usual school curriculum. You would not expect them to be offering health related services to treat the disability, i.e. physiotherapy. If a child has a statement for a severe health condition, you would expect support to give them the same access as other children, but you would not expect teachers to treat the underlying health condition (respond to specified situations yes, but the overall treatment would rest with the consultant).

Anyway, I may not be making much sense, I just wonder if we're expecting too much of what are, generalist, schools? If for instance you go to a GP, you expect generalist support and referral onwards to specialists - you wouldn't expect the GP to know everything about everything and to carry out complex treatment - this would be done by specialists in a specialist area in a specialist setting. :unsure:



I should qualify what I have posted and most probably take out delegated funding.
I do not feel attacked at all so please don't worry,
With a Statement a Statement would never be issued where there were not clearly identified Special Educational Needs.
A Statement would never be issued on the basis of unrealistic parental expectations.
Although Ben has a Statement he obtained that Statement over three years ago when there was absolutely no doubt that he would meet the criteria.
It is perfectly possible that because he is generally doing very well and the criteria for Statements have changed and because LAs are looking to cut funding anywhere possible that the Statement will be terminated at the next AR. :pray: :pray:

The reality for us is that the vast majority of provision listed in my list is not provided because of my expectations but because of a few very dedicated people who do far more then could ever be asked of them.

In practical terms I am almost certain that a large proportion of Ben's funded support is spent on new pupils in year seven who did not obtain Statement but who badly need the support.

i could say that the role of a Statement is to provide for those pupils who at this time really need it.I could even write to the LA and ask for a review.However the outcome could well be that Ben no longer has any support and neither do the other pupils without Staements who are being supported using his funding.

Ben only does this well anyway because he is supported.It took just over ten days without support for Ben to become so stressed at home that he was throwing things.
So I could request for provision to be withdrawn having worked with CAMHS for three years to reach this point only to watch Ben fail so that we have to ask for another Statutary Assesment which would probably declined.
Anyway I know CAMHS very well and they don't expect to see us again. :lol:

To get back to the question.Whether or not the NHS, voluntary organisations or anyone else could provide some of the support they are currently madly cutting back on what is even within their clear remit...so I don't see any chance of offers to help education or teachers out. :tearful:

Edited by Karen A, 11 October 2010 - 02:23 PM.


#33 bid

bid

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7649 posts

Posted 11 October 2010 - 02:24 PM

This is exactly the problem.
Capable children with ASD are sold the mainstream/inclusion 'ideology', and then find themselves in a 'general' school educational approach that does not have the staffing expertise or funding to meet these very specific difficulties which everyone diagnosed with an ASD must have to have received a diagnosis in the first place.

And if LEAs wanted to meet such needs, they have to provide more schooling choices that can do that.

I don't see why an LEA cannot have a mainstream model school where most of the children have a diagnosis of ASD or SPLD etc and where the aim is for the whole (or most of) the curriculum with the eventual aim of independent living and working.

And I also said in my earlier post that we cannot expect education to be the only funding source for these lifelong difficulties. There needs to be a long term (lifelong) approach with funding coming from various sources.

For those children who are struggling in mainstream both academically and socially due to specific learning difficulties associated with an ASD, there is even less choice.

I know there cannot be lots and lots of different school types. But by the number of parents going to tribunal seeking alternative independent school placements - and winning - there seems little doubt that there is a space in the market.


I have always thought that each LA should have one or two such ASD-specific schools. Yes, it would entail expense, but I would be willing to bet that it would be less than the funding for independent ASD-specific special schools, especially residential ones.

My son is a classic example of a passive, gifted child with AS who because he was 'no trouble' at school endured 9 years of struggle which he internalised, until he had a severe breakdown. He would have thrived at such a local LA ASD-specific school as you describe...but because none exist in my county, the LA and SS then had to spend tens of thousands of pounds funding a residential special school placement for him.

My LA has spent the last 15 years saying that such a school was in the planning stage...it could probably have been funded a fair few times over by the funding for independent special schools. It's so short-sighted and frustrating!

Bid :)

Edited by bid, 11 October 2010 - 02:25 PM.


#34 Karen A

Karen A

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6084 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East London

Posted 11 October 2010 - 03:56 PM

My view has always been that it is to enable access to the full curriculum on the same terms as all mainstream pupils, not to provide anything above this to treat/cure the disability. So in the example of ASD, how much should be actually expected from the school? Has the role become too broad and should this support be coming from elsewhere, i.e. health services


The lead professional for CAMHS in my area stated very clearly that she did not believe the vast majority of children with ASD should need any more help from CAMHS than their peers.She believed that with appropriate support in education and appropriate parenting strategies mental health problems would be prevented and CAMHS input should not be required.

SALT input was available to many pupils on request from schools at School Action Plus but can now only be obtained through a Statement and even for Statemented children it is stretched just about as far as is legal.

ASD outreach were previously accessed for some pupils at SA plus but a Statement is also required for their input.

Incidentally where health needs impact learning there is an expectation that support will be provided in school for health needs.
Ben has OT programmes within his Statement .
Similarly TAs have ben used to carry out programmes in physiotherapy under the guidance of a physio where a pupil was recovering from serious illness ans needed to learn to walk again.

I have a good friend who has a son age 5 with severe asthma.When she collected her son the other day on the first day of return to school after a course of steroids staff had omitted to monitor his inhalers or link the fact that he looked so unwell to the omission.My friend was very worried given a similar case where a pupil died.Although it is debatable whether her son would be classed as having SEN he certainly has documented recognised medical needs support for which is an essential part of his school day.

Another friend's son broke his leg over the weekend and returned to schhol in plaster this morning.I do not expect school staff to do the x ray or put the plaster on.However as the school is on several floors some adjustments will have to be made and support provided while D is on crutches as he cannot stay in the school entrance for the next two months.Staff cannot say that because it is a physios role D cannot come to school until a physio checks his safety on stairs which is stricktly speaking a physio job.

I agree that TAs,SENCOS and headteachers are not specialists and should not replace consultants,doctors or SALTS.However they should be able to follow a programme under the advice of others and be aware of when to refer on.

I realised this afternoon that Ben's greatest need relating to ASD is to be protected from verbal abuse by other pupils.No a child should not need a Statement to be protected from being called ''retard,geek,spastic,nerd or mental'' but then surely it is not expecting too much for any teacher or TA to recognise that that is not acceptable and take action whether the teacher has any training or none.

Ben really needs very little provision in order to access the full curriculum.I do not expect anyone to cure AS and Ben does not want a cure.However I don't think it is too much to hope for basic human rights such as freedom from abuse.

Edited by Karen A, 11 October 2010 - 04:10 PM.


#35 baddad

baddad

    Everest

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10462 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 11 October 2010 - 04:24 PM

This is exactly the problem.
Capable children with ASD are sold the mainstream/inclusion 'ideology', and then find themselves in a 'general' school educational approach that does not have the staffing expertise or funding to meet these very specific difficulties which everyone diagnosed with an ASD must have to have received a diagnosis in the first place.

And if LEAs wanted to meet such needs, they have to provide more schooling choices that can do that.

I don't see why an LEA cannot have a mainstream model school where most of the children have a diagnosis of ASD or SPLD etc and where the aim is for the whole (or most of) the curriculum with the eventual aim of independent living and working.

And I also said in my earlier post that we cannot expect education to be the only funding source for these lifelong difficulties. There needs to be a long term (lifelong) approach with funding coming from various sources.

For those children who are struggling in mainstream both academically and socially due to specific learning difficulties associated with an ASD, there is even less choice.

I know there cannot be lots and lots of different school types. But by the number of parents going to tribunal seeking alternative independent school placements - and winning - there seems little doubt that there is a space in the market.


Hi sally - I do agree with you about wider educational choices etc and some of the funding issues you raise, and i do think that the 'mainstream ideology' is very different in reality to what it is being marketed as, but the problem of 'square pegs round holes' is far to big to resolve by cutting more square holes. The thing is, it's not just one size of square peg, or one size of round hole, and then fundamental to the whole idea of inclusive teaching is that having square holes and round holes (and triangular holes and rectangular holes and star shaped holes and..... etc etc etc ad infinitum) marginalises those groups. And it's not just about autism either: should people with down's syndrome have separate schools, people with cerebral palsy, people of different ethnicities, people from socially deprived families, people from poor families people who, for whatever reason, live in care homes or foster homes etc etc etc? - all of whom, quite legitimately, face additional challenges to those children who precisely fit the existing holes.

Taking what mumble's said and running with it (but please don't think I'm putting words in her mouth because this might be very different to what she intended saying):

My view has always been that it is to enable access to the full curriculum on the same terms as all mainstream pupils, not to provide anything above this to treat/cure the disability.


That's not the same thing as providing a 'special' education in a mainstream school, and was never intended to be. It was supposed to be a 'meeting halfway' a working compromise and partnership that benefited all. And I fully accept that the compromise/partnership doesn't always (or even very often) work, and certainly that far more people - especially after closures etc - were left with Hobson's Choices regarding educational provision, but that doesn't alter the fact that what many parents seem to be expecting of schools (and I think this applies to SEN schools too) will often be impossible to deliver on a practical level.

L&P

BD

#36 Canopus

Canopus

    Kilimanjaro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2093 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 October 2010 - 07:28 AM

The law does not say that parents may opt for mainstream but should expect to do anything outside of the national curriculum in their own time.


Wrong. Under the 1996 Education Act it is the PARENTS who are responsible for a child's education. Not the school. A perfect A1 education from the state school system is NOT a God given right.

#37 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:07 AM

I have always thought that each LA should have one or two such ASD-specific schools. Yes, it would entail expense, but I would be willing to bet that it would be less than the funding for independent ASD-specific special schools, especially residential ones.

My son is a classic example of a passive, gifted child with AS who because he was 'no trouble' at school endured 9 years of struggle which he internalised, until he had a severe breakdown. He would have thrived at such a local LA ASD-specific school as you describe...but because none exist in my county, the LA and SS then had to spend tens of thousands of pounds funding a residential special school placement for him.

My LA has spent the last 15 years saying that such a school was in the planning stage...it could probably have been funded a fair few times over by the funding for independent special schools. It's so short-sighted and frustrating!

Bid :)



Exactly.

About 45% of educational tribunals are for children with ASD/AS and Dyslexia/SPLD seeking an independent school placement at a school with SALT/OT and specialist trained teachers on site, and a fair proportion of them are seeking a residential placement mainly on the grounds of the child needing to learn 'social and life skills' and needing a 24/7 curriculum and support.

I know my LEA pays a 'group fee' at a reduced rate for the 11 pupils they have in just one local independent school.

And I know the LEA and the Autism Outreach Teacher are getting more and more children referred to them. My own LEAs website contains documents on "how they are going to meet the increased need for SEN placements" over the next decade onwards. And although I can see from their plans that they are trying. They also seem unable to take on board some very simple ASD difficulties so their plans of 'transporting' children across sites (along with other daily changes in environment, teachers, TAs etc) so that they can use their current resources 'more effectively', is going to produce more problems, increased pupil refusal and maybe even the occasional exclusion. And what they are suggesting flies in the face of what is always recommended for pupils having such difficulties ie. low arousal, same classroom/teachers/TAs throughout the day.

The new government is probably going to look into the SEN process. But are they just going to see the high proportion of appeals under that section and in some way change the rules so that parents no longer have the right to seek an independent placement. Afterall those independent school fees are not cheap so it looks like an obvious area in which to save money.

Or will they take a long term view and actually ensure that LEAs do have that type of school. Or will the current government wait and expect the 'private market' or 'parents' to set up and run such schools.

Whatever the outcome parents need choices and need access to schools that do provide the education and social/life skills that the child needs.

I don't think we needs excessive additional 'types' of school. Those with Downs Syndrome learn in the same way as NT children, just at a slower pace and to a lower level.

I think a new type is needed for children who do not learn in the same way as other children, whether that is academically or socially.

I agree that not every child with an ASD needs a special school. But if each LEA did have at least one special school for capable children with an ASD, and which had professionals on site at the school - those schools could do outreach to the children in mainstream that need them. And if those academically capable children currently in mainstream did not cope, either due to their difficulties or due to being bullied etc, then at least there would be another option open to parents as a placement ie. the LEA special school for ASD/SPLD.

I don't understand why my son's current school uses around 10 different SALTs that travel in from all over the county to see different children. My son's SALT has to travel 90 mins each week. Time, which I feel could be spent in school. I am sure one SALT based in school could do the job and use less time, get to know all the children and teachers and parents. I think MDTs should be based in schools.

It is very unfortunate that children do have breakdowns and get to such a low state. And this almost seems a pre-requisite now before an independent school is even considered. The whole approach of meeting SEN is backwards eg. your child has to be xx years behind before they receive funding or input, they have to have had a breakdown before the current placement is seen as inappropriate etc.

The LEA and all the professionals involved already know that some children do not learn or do not cope. From the early assessments they have a very good idea of the prognosis for each child. They already know what the long term needs will probably be and yet they pretend to parents that they don't. And the only reason I can see for that is to keep encouraging mainstream as an option for as long as possible to save on extra funding.

For example, for my son, it is obvious to me now that his intial assessments showed such severe speech and language difficulties that he was not going to be able to access mainstream learning and would probably have associated SPLD. And professionals did already know that and now admit that. But he only moved to an enhanced resource placement for the start of year 3 after a tribunal - not because professionals supported me and agreed he needed that placement. The LEA resisted and tried to keep him mainstream. And even in that supported environment he still is not making progress.

It still amazes me now, when I look back over correspondence regarding my son and denials by professionals that he had certain difficulties, only for them to backtrack and admit that he does indeed have those difficulties and that they are 'typical' of a child with his difficulties. The timescale is usually around 3 years later. I have had the EP say there was no evidence that my son has processing delays and the OT has said she did not think he had low muscle tone. Both are now needs identified and in his Statement. Why do we have to fight every single inch of the way.

Parents may sometimes have high expectations. But that is not necessarily their fault. If you are being told that mainstream is the way, then you expect your child to cope and make progress in mainstream. When that does not happen who has been unrealistic, the parents or the professionals that recommended mainstream?

#38 Karen A

Karen A

    K2

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6084 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East London

Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:07 AM

Wrong. Under the 1996 Education Act it is the PARENTS who are responsible for a child's education. Not the school. A perfect A1 education from the state school system is NOT a God given right.




I had posted one response but have just Edited it.
I realised that I do not need to post anything to justify my situation.
I find your post judgemental and offensive.You know nothing about me other than I have suggested that we will loose child benefit in 2013.
I find you tone judgemental and offensive.

I find the idea that we could even hope for anything better than a good education for either of our children laughable given that we live in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country by choice.

As a committed christian I find your use of language even worse.I am all to aware of God's grace and my lack of right to anything at all.

Edited by Karen A, 12 October 2010 - 09:24 AM.


#39 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:28 AM

Wrong. Under the 1996 Education Act it is the PARENTS who are responsible for a child's education. Not the school. A perfect A1 education from the state school system is NOT a God given right.


Yes, and the whole processes, even SEN support is based on 'a suitable' education, not the best available. Which is why the Statementing process requires that each and every need is identified and met. Which is why LEA and NHS professionals are limited in what needs they identify because of the funding implications. And it is also based on the gradulated approach, which I also agree with. But what I don't agree with is the time it takes to go through the process, especially when professionals involved DO have alot of experience of assessing and working with children like ours. And they already know the probably prognosis and pathway. I have recently had the LEA SALT say to me that she will support me in seeking the school placement I wish for secondary (don't know if she will follow through though), but she has said that presently she feels that his current school is 'adequate'. And under law that is all that is required. I would beg to differ, but the time and money input is probably not worth it at this stage. But at transfer I will go the distance.

It is a difficult balance. Parents are responsible, and do have to leave schools to get on with it to a certain extent. But when progress is not seen they have to get involved.

#40 Sally44

Sally44

    K2

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5045 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:East Midlands

Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:32 AM

I had posted one response but have just Edited it.
I realised that I do not need to post anything to justify my situation.
I find your post judgemental and offensive.You know nothing about me other than I have suggested that we will loose child benefit in 2013.
I find you tone judgemental and offensive.

I find the idea that we could even hope for anything better than a good education for either of our children laughable given that we live in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country by choice.

As a committed christian I find your use of language even worse.I am all to aware of God's grace and my lack of right to anything at all.


I didn't read it as being judgemental. Your post is the situation many parents/children are in. Your son's statement and needs are not fully being met. The school is using the funding for other less able students. You are fearful to challenge this incase the support he is entitled to (but does not receive) is withdrawn. And of course there is the time and money element of following through the SEN Statement process of appeals if you go down that route. Many parents cannot take that on top of their day to day lives.




3 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 3 guests, 0 anonymous users