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What type of school and why

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A is 3yrs 4mths. He was dx with autism July last year and since Dec has been attending a nursery for children on the spectrum. He is due to start reception in Sept 2009. And even though this is more than 1yr away it's something that I am thinking about lots.


When A was dx he was non verbal, had no eye contact, hardly responded to anything and mostly existed in his own world. Since then, he has come a long long way. He has more words than I remember and is able to point to and name things and request for things (but is developing echolalia), he responds quite well, is able to make his needs known either by verbally or by gesture. He can count up to 15, knows most of his alphabet, colours, shapes etc etc


Socially he is coming along really well too. He will now copy physical movements of other children. So will copy them dancing, runny, jumping etc. When he sees other children lining up, he will join the end of the line.


In Surrey where we live, there are 2 schools for autistic children. The nearest one is for children who are more seriously affected by autism. I don't want A to attend this school as I am concerned about him copying behaviour. This school leans more towards teaching the children self-help skills and not the academic side. I'm concerned this school will limit A in his learning and development.


The other school sounds quite good. We've been told they only tend to accept the 'more able' children. However, it is 1hr drive away from where we live. In rush hour in the morning it'll probably take 1hr 45mins. I feel this is too long a drive to expect A to take each morning for 5 days a week.


So I'm really beginning to panic. What are we going to do? This has led me to think about mainstream school but I've no idea if he'll cope and the sort of help I can expect him to receive. I 'think' he should be OK if he had 1:1 help to help explain things in the way he can understand. He adapts quite easily. I feel his peers at mainstream will provide him with the correct models (behaviour/social/speech) to copy.


The nursery has just requested the LEA to carry out an assessment of SEN. I've received form through the post yesterday. It's a ADVICE FROM THE CHILD'S PARENT form. Do I list all my thoughts on this? I'm so scared of messing things up for A.


Or can anyone tell me where I can find out what all my options are? It's such a mine field. There's so much to look into. Where do I start?


Also, is anyone willing to share what type of school their LO attends and their reason for this choice. What are the things you considered?


Thank you so so much in advance for your help.

Edited by Dummie

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Have you looked at any schools with an ASD resource unit attached?..........or a unit for MLD(moderate learning difficulties?).....this can be a halfway between special school and mainstream.Your son is quite young still and things can change such alot in these early years............is there a local support group you could attend, members there may know of good schools to try,...................also when doing my parental representations I found you can never give them too much information :thumbs: ...........best of luck suzex

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from what you say about his current development it sounds like he may manage well in a mainstream environment. I don't know where you are from but here you wouldn't get him in a special school or unit unless he had a full statement.

My advice would be that while his assessments and statementing are going on I would assume that he will go to mainstream school in the first instance. You never know he may come on in leaps and bounds as he has already.

Don't take away mainstream opportunities before he has had the chance to experience them.

We thought our eldest would never manage in mainstream school, he didn't cope with pre school at all, he was a real loner, had speech difficulties, and still in nappies and cried for ages every day when I left him.

In first school he still cried daily well into his second year and had few friends. some teased him and he was an outcast. But we stuck with it (after changing to a smaller more friendly school) He didn't even get Dx until he was 11 so no help


Now he is in year 10 and a small local high school, with a few firm friends he is studying for his GCSE's and is very happy.


Don't jump the gun.



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Your lad sounds a lot like JP at that age. He was already in mainstream when dx'd in reception class so it never occurred to us to move him unless it was clearly too much for him, and although it wasnt easy by any means, he did fine. But he did need a statement & lots of support, which from reading threads on here, seemed easier to obtain back in the day. (Though it seemed hard enough at the time!)


I'd look around all options & go with your instinct, good luck.

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Thank you for your replies.


During a beginning of term meeting 2wks ago at the nursery when the head mentioned she'd get the ball rolling for the statement, I did ask if it there was a possibility that the LEA would refuse a statement. I was told that this would be highly unexpected because all the children who attend the nursery have a statement in place for when they leave.


I'm thinking that the nursery is aiming for a specialist placement for A next year. Maybe I should ask her directly about her thoughts on mainstream and what she considers A would struggle with.


The head has actually suggested that I find A a mainstream nursery for him to attend on the days he doesn't go to his current one to 'see how he copes'. This has led me to think she has thought about it. However I can't find him a nursery place!!!! They are all full and are not even accepting us on any waiting list. If I could get him into a mainstream nursery then at least we'll know how he'd cope.


I agree with not wanting to dismiss mainstream until we've tried it. Or else we'll never know.




So this means that everyone agrees that there is a need for an assessment, right? And now the LEA are going to do it. Will the statement (if given) be different if A attended a mainstream school via a specialist school or will it be the same? ie do I need to mention I'm hoping to send A to a mainstream? The reason I'm asking this is because if he went to mainstream then I'm hoping he'll get 1:1 help but if he goes to a specialist school then because the teacher student ratio is very small then he won't get 1:1 which means that the statment should be different, right?

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Have you joined the Surrey Branch of the NAS? They have a message board, where you can post a message asking for suggestions of suitable schools (mainstream or special).



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Hi, I haven't been here for a while - too much going on at home!


But, as I have been and am going through something similar, I thought I 'd give you my thoughts and experiences.


Firstly, my eldest son J was obviously autistic (to me) at 2. He had little speech and it took me a year to get him in to a special pre-school at 3 without a statement. He made lots of progress, and went into mainstream infant school at 4 and a quarter on split placement (still without a statement) for 3 months, then attented just school from then on. He was diagnosed Aspergers at 4 and a half, but diagnosis changed to ASD at 6. He is now at mainstream Junior school, and his difficulties are becoming more apparent to his teacher. Every year I was told he wouldn't get a statement as he was "progressing" and "not as bad as others who haven't been able to get a statement". By not been as bad as others clearly meant he was quiet and passive and not as disruptive!


I thought mainstream would be better for him, he is social in his own way, popular with the other children - but his differences will become more obvious, and needs 1-2-1 prompting and direction in lessons, which he doesn't always get.


Secondly, my youngest son H is now 3 and 5 months. He is not obviously autistic, but his speech, language and communication is on the 1st centile - much more severe than his older brother at the same age. I self referred him to SALT at 2, but have only just got any therapy (only 4x1 hour sessions!). The special pre-schools have been closed by the council - so called "out reach" has only just been provided (2 x 2.5 hour sssions a week) to his mainstream nursery (where he has been 5 days a week for the last 16 months). To get my son any sort of provision, I have had to go through statementing. Even with a severe speech disorder, he was still turned down for assessment. But I appealed, and he was assessed and I now have the proposed statement ( not worth the paper it is written on at the moment!)


But special school have gone to visit H at nursery, and after 10 mins assessment have offered him a place in September. This is a school for children with speech, language and communication disorders, mainly high functioning autistic and aspergers diagnosis.


Now, it is just getting the statement right. OK, he will be in special school, and you would assume that hey will provide everything he needs. But will they if it isn't quantified and specified in the statement?


I personally know of someone whose son was verbally offered a place at said school by LEA, she signed proposed statement off ( like mine does not specify any provision that child is not already getting in mainstream) and the LEA backed down, She had to fight for 5 years to get her son into said school.


Sooo, (bear with me - I know I'm going on a bit!) you need to make sure that the statement PROVISION section actually quantifies and specifies all the provision. i.e. size of class, type of education environment, type of experience & training of teacher. How much time for SALT/OT and how often. How much unstructured time (i.e. lunch, break time) supervision and intervention/play therapy etc.


OK, he may got to special school, but everything should still be specified. The AFASIC site has a very good guide to the statementing process.


I've just written my reasons (in depth) saying why I don't agree with the proposed statement - as far as I'm concerned, I've waited 1 and a half years for provision, another couple of months getting the statement right wont make much difference.


Then I'm going to get my eldest son a statement, and probably move him out of mainstream.


Feel free to PM me, if you would like any more info!



Edited by MichelleW

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