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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   Depression and other mental health difficulties are common amongst people on the autistic spectrum and their carers.   People who are affected by general mental health difficulties are encouraged to receive and share information, support and advice with other forum members, though it is important to point out that this exchange of information is generally based on personal experience and opinions, and is not a substitute for professional medical help.   There is a list of sources of mental health support here: <a href="http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=18801" target="_blank">Mental Health Resources link</a>   People may experience a more serious crisis with their mental health and need urgent medical assistance and advice. However well intentioned, this is not an area of support that the forum can or should be attempting to offer and we would urge members who are feeling at risk of self-harm or suicide to contact either their own GP/health centre, or if out of hours contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or to call emergency services 999.   We want to reassure members that they have our full support in offering and seeking advice and information on general mental health issues. Members asking for information in order to help a person in their care are seeking to empower both themselves and those they represent, and we would naturally welcome any such dialogue on the forum.   However, any posts which are deemed to contain inference of personal intent to self-harm and/or suicide will be removed from the forum and that person will be contacted via the pm system with advice on where to seek appropriate help.   In addition to the post being removed, if a forum member is deemed to indicate an immediate risk to themselves, and are unable to be contacted via the pm system, the moderating team will take steps to ensure that person's safety. This may involve breaking previous confidentiality agreements and/or contacting the emergency services on that person's behalf.   Sometimes posts referring to self-harm do not indicate an immediate risk, but they may contain material which others find inappropriate or distressing. This type of post will also be removed from the public forum at the moderator's/administrator's discretion, considering the forum user base as a whole.   If any member receives a PM indicating an immediate risk and is not in a position (or does not want) to intervene, they should forward the PM to the moderating team, who will deal with the disclosure in accordance with the above guidelines.   We trust all members will appreciate the reasoning behind these guidelines, and our intention to urge any member struggling with suicidal feelings to seek and receive approproiate support from trained and experienced professional resources.   The forum guidelines have been updated to reflect the above.   Regards,   The mod/admin team
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taggie

Mainsteam v Special for High Functioning Children.

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taggie   

Hi, Im Taggie and new to the forum.

Like so many of you, are biggest headache at the moment is education. Our son ( nine years old, Aspergers

Syndrome) is currently in year five of a mainstream primary school where he has coped reasonably well

with support. His transition annual review is to be at the end of March when we have been asked to name a

secondary school. Our son is academically able, but very passive and socially isolated, He is also very rigid

and has sensory difficulties. He also has quite marked pragmatic language dificulties which further affects his ability to relate to his peers.

 

His primary school agrees with us that he would find the envoironment of a mainstream high school very difficult to adapt to and have suggested that we have a look at a small special school that is predominantly for children with moderate learning difficulties but which has a base for children with ASD's. Although this school can provide a safe envoironment and a high level of individual support it is unlikely that the curriculum can support his academic ability. He would get full time 1 -1 support in mainstream.

 

My gut instinct says that he will be happier in the small special school but am I sacrificing his potential?

Do any of you have experiances of more able children being successfully placed in special schools or vice versa?

Thank in advance for any replies,

xxx

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bid   

Hi Taggie,

 

My son is academically very able, and did go to a mainstream secondary school until he was 14, when he had a severe breakdown caused by 10 years of trying to cope with mainstream.

 

He came out of school for 6 months, and then went to an independent residential school for AS. Here he was able to receive the specialist support and provision that he had always needed, plus he was able to take his GCSEs and a GNVQ in ICT. He did very well in his exams, and now goes to a residential special FE college, where he is doing his A levels at the local mainstream FE college, accompanied by his support worker from the special college.

 

For my son, it didn't matter how academically able he was, the acute anxiety of trying to cope in mainstream secondary meant he never fulfilled his academic potential anyway.

 

Have you looked at any of the independent special schools for AS? They often cater for academically able children, and take day pupils as well as residential. The Gabbitas website is a good starting place, and if you PM me I can give you a link to the group that runs my son's old school and several others.

 

Good luck :)

 

Bid

Edited by bid

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baddad   

Hi taggie -

 

we had a thread running on this very recently... thought you might appreciate a link:

 

http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=11422

 

Very briefly on your thoughts about sacrificing his potential - I'd pretty much agree with bid that he's far more likely to meet it in an environment that can support him emotionally/socially, and that is geared to teaching in ways that are accessible for him. That doesn't rule mainstream out, but if there is specialist provision that can meet his needs academically as well, and the head at his primary thinks mainstream secondary might 'swamp' him...

 

Whatever way you go - and it's a toughie, and no mistake - Very Best...

 

L&P

 

BD :D

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cmuir   

Hi

 

I can understand totally what you're going through just now. My H/F son is 5 and is half way through his first year in a mainstream primary school. I'm not convinced that he's coping (he copes reasonably well at school, but all hell breaks loose at home). I'm concerned that he may not be coping with the level of work, social aspects, etc.

 

I'm not saying that it's not helpful to share experiences, but I do think that sometimes it can make things much cloudier at a time when you're trying to make a decision. I guess I mean that every child is different (some not so different), but every situation is different. What may be good for one child, may not be good for another. Sorry that doesn't sound helpful.

 

I'm a big believer in gut feeling and if you're undecided it may be worth trying - if you don't try, you don't know! It sounds like good preparation is being made whichever option you opt for ie your child will receive 1 to 1 support if at mainstream. I know it's not a simple case of trying something and if it doesn't work, go for the other option. I'm in a situation where I have reservations about my son being in a mainstream school. However, in our situation, I know if I didn't give my son the chance in mainstream, I would have wondered. If it doesn't work, I'll have my amunition for a special school! One thing is for sure, if/when I'm certain it's not working, I'll have him out of there so fast .... !

 

Best wishes in whatever you decide.

 

Caroline.

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annie   

Hi Taggie,

 

We went through similar circumstances to Bid except that we lived overseas until 4 years ago. By the time we had managed to get the Statement sorted out, everything had gone downhill rapidly. Our son was nearly 16 by then and we felt it was too late to fight for a specialist school (he's never coped in mainstream). We had a big enough fight to get what we already had.

 

If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone for a specialist school school from the start. I would much rather have a child that is coping and happy.

 

Annie

xx

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bid   

Sorry...I was only replying to Taggie's request for replies about mainstream/special school...

 

As we have experienced both types of schools and my son has actually gone right through his school career age-wise (he is coming up for 18) I just thought our story might be helpful :(

 

I wasn't saying that what we did for my son would suit every child.

 

One other thing to consider, and I'm only saying this because it's certainly not something we had thought of at the time: I think it is a good idea to weigh up the possible cost to your child if trying mainstream doesn't work. For our son it was too high, and unfortunately it then took too long to get his profound difficulties recognised by his mainstream school until it was too late for him. And then of course it can take a long time to get your LEA to consider a special school.

 

Having experienced an independent special school for AS, I really wish my son had spent his whole secondary time in that environment (in fact, I did try when he was 8ish, but failed). It is the one thing I would change if I possibly could :( That's just my opinion, of course, and I hope some parents come along who have had a positive experience of secondary mainstream to give the other side of the argument.

 

Bid

 

Just had another thought...sometimes pupils from my son's special school went back into mainstream after a while either full-time or for some specific lessons, or sometimes they went on into a mainstream 6th form. And although it was a residential school, they took day pupils, too.

Edited by bid

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pim   

Hi,

 

I'm in a similar position, but our son sounds very different with different needs. All I can suggest is that you go and look at the special schools and then make a judgement.

 

Each county is different, but the MLD schools I looked at, my gut instinct told me that my ds would not fit in there. The ASD units attached them had children with more extreme behaviour. But that could be to do with the age of the children. I was looking at places at primary level. So I'm left with a mainstream with which he finds it difficult and the MLD school, which I don't think is suited to him.

 

pim

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loulou   

Hi Taggie,

 

Welcome to the forum :D .

 

This is a dilema quite a few of us here on the forum are facing or have faced. I agree with Caroline in that if you don't try you don't know, but i also agree with what Bid said about weighing up the possible cost to your child if mainstream doesn't work. Bid's son went through such a terrible time in mainstream :( , as did mine.

 

Each child is so different though, and what suits one may not suit another.

 

From personal experience, my son (8 AS/ADHD) failed terribly in mainstream, but this was before he was diagnosed so he received no support whatsoever. He's been in a special school (EBD) now for 16 months and is doing really well. He is academically very able and the school are able to cater for this (there are a lot of high functioners in his school).

 

It's finding the RIGHT school that is the problem. There aren't many schools that cater specifically for AS (apart from non-maintained/residential). The options are usually EBD or MLD, which aren't always right for our kids.

 

I know i will have problems finding a suitable secondary school for my son. My house backs onto the local secondary school and when i try to picture my son "fitting in" there, i just think "No way!".

 

Try the Gabbitas website as Bid suggested (their book is great if you want to spend �20). Also, it may be worth going to look round a local secondary school, just to get a "feel" for it. I think you'd know straight away if your son would be able to cope there. Go and look and the special school too, again your instincts will tell you if it's right. If you think neither would be suitable, then you will need to look at alternatives.

 

All the best,

 

Loulou xx

 

ps here's the link:

 

GABBITAS

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bid   

Wow, Loulou...has it really been 16 months?! I remember when you were looking for a school...seems such a short time ago! :rolleyes:

 

I'm so glad your son is doing really well and is happy at school now :D>:D<<'>

 

When is your new babe due?

 

Bid :)

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LizK   

Welcome!

 

My son is only five but I fear we could be in a similar position in years to come. He has normal IQ as much as we can tell and mainstream has worked fantastically well for him so far. However I do wonder now how he'll cope in the the cut and thrust enironment of our not so good secondary school but equally don't think a MLD unit would be right for him.

 

I would keep your options open and visit the various schools and see what you think. Has the mainstream secondary got experience of dealign with autistic children? Has the ASD unit experience in dealing with academically able children? Are there any other options available? It may be that his needs are not met at either school and the LEA might have to look further afield. Are there any ASD units attached to mainstream or special ASD schools? I know the LEA funds a small number of children to attend the local Montessori school because the smaller class sizes and Montessori ethos works for them but they are still able to access a full curriculum if appropriate

 

Lx

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curra   
My gut instinct says that he will be happier in the small special school but am I sacrificing his potential?

Do any of you have experiances of more able children being successfully placed in special schools or vice versa?

Thank in advance for any replies,

xxx

 

 

Hi Taggie,

 

I'm not going to add anything new to what others have already said, but perhaps another experience may help you in your tough decision. My son is also academically able and he was doing well in primary school with support. His teachers were concerned that his social difficulties could be a problem in mainstream but as he didn't have a statement there was no other option than a mainstream secondary school with a reputation for having good SEN provision. My son was not included from day one, unless inclusion is meant to be placed in a group and expected to learn, behave, socialize etc like the rest of the group. As I saw my son break down emotionally I learned the hard way that without a statement there is no support in a mainstream school. As a teacher myself I have seen that even AS children with a statement suffer in a mainstream environment because of the large groups, the noise and the lack of supervision in the playground. M's potential was also not encouraged since he was not allowed to show his particular interests as that would have meant to differentiate his tasks from the rest. This frustrated him terribly and M, who had been an excellent student in year 6, began to hate school and developed school phobia. The other big problem was the teasing and bullying from peers. He had nowhere to stay during breaks, at first he went to the library but he was soon teased for being "nerdy" so he had no other option than to try as hard as he could to be like his peers, which of course he couldn't. The other boys laughed at him and there were also some serious bullying going on. Now he goes to a mainstream school with and ASD unit and he's doing well because he is receiving constant support, but the effects of his previous experience are still present: His self confidence is very low and he fears the contact with his peers. I wish he had spent the last 2 years at this unit.

 

While every child is different, I think that a child can flourish better academically when he's not stressed and feels that his work is appreciated. This is what fortunatelly is happening now to my son and although it's still a mainstream school, it's the recognition of his needs and the kind of support that make the difference. I hope that you can find the right school for your son. Talk to other parents and ask them what they think of the schools you have in mind. They can usually say more about the real support.

 

Good luck and all the best in whatever you decide.

 

Curra

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taggie   

Thanks so much to all of you who replied to my post.

 

It is true that all children are differant and I suppose you can't ever be sure that you've made the right decision untill youv'e seen the results in terms of your childs progress and wellbeing.

 

We don't feel that a residential placement would be right for him at the moment, though we wouldn't rule it out in the future if local provision wasn't meeting his needs. I have looked around for independant schools for children with Aspergers syndrome, but there are none within traveling distance of our home.

 

I do know the local mainstream school, it's a good school in terms of academic achievement. but is very large (1300), and all of the things you descibed as happening to your sons i.e bullying, isolation, loss of self esteem, unable to learn etc' are what I fear would happen to my son. It's interesting that my older son, who's recently left this school to move onto college, and had a good experiance there, feels very strongly that we shouldn't send his brother there as 'he wouldn't be able to stand up for himself.'

 

We are planning to go and see the SENCO of the mainstream school, and visit the special school, aswell as a much smaller mainstream school that is a little further away so I'll keep you imformed!

 

Thanks again for sharing your experiances with me, it is reassuring to know that we're not alone in facing these challenges.

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jen   

Hi Taggie,

 

I am in exactly the same position as you. My son is doing well in a mainstream school with full time support.

The local senior school of 1200 pupils was not ASD friendly. Yet another senior school with 1100 pupils were very ASD friendly. The senco was very honest and explained that the majority of teachers have some training in ASD but in reality it is very difficult for them to remember to include an ASD child. Than there are the days when teachers are off sick or on training.

 

Although the second school we viewed were very ASD friendly I know deep down that my son will not cope with all the sensory input from such a busy environment.

 

We have looked at a small private school (400 pupils). This school has experience of children with ASD and Aspergers. The attitude of the staff is very encouraging. We have walked round the school on an open day and met all the staff. What surprised us the most was the different members of staff actually asking how our child was effected by ASD and what happened during meltdowns and how we handled it.

 

Since the open day we have been in to see the school in working order and were very impressed by how quiet it was. At the schools suggestion our son has also attend the school for a morning supported by his LSA. The feed back we got from our son and the LSA was very favourable.

 

Our son will spend another day there (even though he is in year 5) to see if it is suitable for him or not.

 

It is very early days to make a decision but we need to make the decision by June. I have decided to go by the environment. If the environment is right than my child can settle into school life and maybe achieve what he is capable of. If the environment is wrong I can predict my child will be excluded before the end of his first year.

 

This school has got several pupils funded by the LEA because there is no where appropriate for children similiar to yours and mine within my area. The senco also has two letters on her desk regarding ASD children who has transfered up to mainstream schools yet had been excluded because the school could not manage with the childs ASD.

 

All our children are individual so we have to go by our experience and what we can percieve of the schools we are requesting our children to go to.

 

Taggie I wish you well with what ever decision you make.

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Kathryn   

Hi taggie,

 

Just to add my experience:

 

My daughter did not cope well with mainstream secondary school and only made it to the beginning of year 11 before the strain became too much and she had to leave. But she went all that time without any kind of support whatsoever, and without a dx for the majority of it. Whether she would have managed OK if her difficulties had been properly recognised earlier on, who can say. I certainly think she would have been better off in a smaller school at both primary and secondary level. She was very able, but ended up leaving school with no qualifications of any kind.

 

Once she had a dx, we considered an independent special school (the one Bid's son went to: we were very impressed with it). I think it would have helped to repair a lot of the damage done to her self esteem, but she was too old to be given that chance - she was already 16 and the battle to get funding for a place would have taken too long.

 

I'm sure you'll follow your instincts and do whatever it takes to get your son into the right setting, whatever that is. Good luck and keep us posted.

 

K x

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