High Functioning Autism and schools!
Hi, Im new on here and thought I would write something about my difficult situation trying to find the right school for my little boy whose 8 and who has a diagnoses of high functioning autism aswell as ADHD and is in the process of being diagnosed with PDA.
My son is very bright and very vocal although has had signifcant speech delay in the past, but will give minimal eye contact, has a significant sensory disorder, impaired co ordination and is obessive. He is also (on his good days) a very funny and freindly little chap who is a joy to be with.
At the moment he is attending a small mainstream first school and is now in year 3. He manages to partially access the curriculum only with full time 1 to 1 and is on a reduced timetable. Eventhough he is very bright his ability to focus and learn new skills in a noisy class room environment is nigh on impossible and his behaviour can deteriorate without warning within minutes of entering the classroom.
The school, in terms of the head teacher and senco have been up until recently very supportive. But what we have seen over the years since reception is that any adjustment that are decided in his IEP meetings/statement reviews are often not implemented in the classroom. We often have had to contend with the class teacher and TA's telling us half truths and deal with their condensending attitude because we have dared to pointed out that consistency is key and his statement is a legal document to be adhered to!
I feel its down to lack of awareness and training. Class teachers have no or little training in autism as far as I am concerned and high functioning autism is a tricky one because on the surface your child looks neuro typical and is verbal. Its an invisible disability. My son suffers from severe anxiety and socially and emotionally he is about 5 year old and has an impulsiveness of a 3 year old, yet we send him to school and expected him to cope in year 3 class! Add his sensory triggers and youve got a child on the edge!
I feel with hindsight I have made a big mistake sending my son to mainstream but we had no choice! Its just my opinion based on our experience but sending our son with high functioning autism to mainstream school because he has normal/above intelligence is misguided.
Now we are in the processes of trying to find a special needs school because the mainstream school have told us they can no longer cope with meeting his needs in year 4 and mainstream middle school is out of the question.
HOWEVER, we have been told by the local special needs schools, ed psych and consultant that he is too academic and his autism isnt severe enough for these schools. But what can we do? He falls into the middle gap where there isnt anything for these children other than home education, which is what will have to happen.
My point is that children with high functioning autism would be able to cope and do well in mainstream only if the teachers were trained in autism and the specialist TA's were just that and not an untrained person sent on a day course. Where inclusion was put into practice and not just a word branded about to make the school look good.
Its ridiculous to think that we have no choice but to leave our children in the care of adults who have little or no training in autism let alone understanding and empathy, in an unpredicable noisy confusing environment dealing with an onslaught of egos and then expect them to learn!