Okay, in a nutshell, I have two older children that never made it through mainstream secondary school, a younger daughter at Secondary School with Disabilities and two younger children both who have had issues with school. So why do I feel blessed?
Simply because I talk to other parents and I realise how lucky we are.
My eldest found a place in a special school despite not even having a special needs certificate, known these days as an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) This is practically unheard of! Back then, I just thought that his school had failed him and I was failing him and everything was just awful. It was my first time as a mum of a child with extra needs and a sharp learning curve. However, I know now that it was a lot easier for me than many other parents.
Star was diagnosed with high functioning Autism when she was six. When you think of the term high functioning autism, it makes you think that the Autism can hardly be a problem if the child can function like others. Of course, that’s not what it means though, basically anyone who can talk can be classified as high functioning. Trying getting around that one when claiming disability benefits!
Star’s first primary school had very few children with disabilities and at first it was a little tricky with Star, but they were willing to learn and wanted to proceed with an EHCP. Then we moved house and the first problem I had was getting the three kids into ANY school in the area. When we finally got the girls into a primary school I wasn’t overly happy, it certainly hadn’t been on my list of schools that I’d hoped they’d go to. In fact it was a failing school that had just been made into an Academy. The first year was a bit rocky as they failed to address any of Star’s problems. Then she had a year off because of her operations and being in a halo brace. The consultant had said she could go to school with it on, but the school said they couldn’t be responsible for her care and attention, and she would be a prime target for bullies. So we were given a home tutor for the time she was out of school.
When she went back to school things seemed to have changed and the school was improving. They took good care of Star and listened to us when we stated what she needed. They did not mention ever applying for an EHCP.
Then Star moved to a Secondary School that was run by the same Academy as her Primary School. The school was being rebuilt and they were all excited that they would be getting a brand new building. I was worried that maybe more care and attention was being paid to the building rather than the education, but I was so wrong. The school has turned out to be perfect for her. She gets extra help when needed, she has counselling whenever she wants, she has a whole part of the building where she can go any time of the day if things get tough for her and she’s not coping. It’s really quiet there and only a few children can go there at a time, Lessons are continued in a one to one basis. She can even go there to eat her lunch if she’s finding the dining room too much. She absolutely loves school, and that’s a big plus. All this and it’s provided just on the basis of her diagnosis. She even has toilet passes and is excused from p.e. whenever she wishes.
Last week Star has been suffering from a fractured wrist so they have provided her with a laptop to do her work on, she can type with her left hand better than she can write.
So, I realise that although my children have had their problems, we have all been incredibly lucky with the help from schools, both in the past and now. For this reason I do feel truly blessed.
I know that others struggle daily with getting the help their children need and finding the right schools. Having a child with disabilities is no easy ride. I’ve had my rocky moments but now we are happy, and I truly hope that some of my luck rubs on those that need it. Don’t give up the fight, do make sure your child gets what they need. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Believe me, as a parent of two adults, school is over in a flash and what happens next doesn’t always have a bearing on what happened at school.