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High Functioning Autism and schools!

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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!

Hi Lisee

Thank you for your post as a newbie.

You may want to look at our section that provides advice for parents, relatives and carers of people with autism.

http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/parents-relatives-and-carers...

Also worth looking at are other communities that deal with your problem.

http://community.autism.org.uk/communities

Hope you find these boards to be stimulating in the way of discussion.

Best,

Yousif 

 
Thank you for sharing your experience

Hi Lisee

thank you so much for sharing your experience and telling me you had posted. It was really helpful to read it especially as you are further on in the process. I really feel for you     . You put it so well that it is an invisible disability.Your experience has made me even more resolute to fight like hell to get my boy into a special school or asd specific school. Please post on here what happens with your situation. I really hope there is a school that can help you. What about independent asd schools? If the LA can't accommodate your child in their schools would that be an option for them?

Lisee wrote:
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.

This is similar to the situation I faced when I was at primary school. Autism was ruled out because I didn't have a speech delay or similar characteristics, but the SEN schools could not effectively provide an education for my above average academic ability. Asperger syndrome had not yet been picked up on and many AS traits were put down as behavioural issues.

Quote:
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.

It was clear that at the age of 8 I needed help and support but the school was unable or unwilling to provide the right help and support for my needs. If I had problems with reading, maths, or spelling then I could have received all the help in the world but I didn't need any help with them. State schools are just not set up to provide the right support and training that children with high functioning ASD require. Perhaps it's because of it being a rare condition in an environment where catering to the masses and the common problems is the name of the game.

Hi Arran

Hi Arran

very interested to read your point of view. In an ideal world how would you have wanted to be educated?

Mum of one wrote:
In an ideal world how would you have wanted to be educated?

Good question. I attended mainstream primary; mainstream secondary; got expelled from school and became home educated. At 16 I attended college and finished with 3 A Levels.

There were no suitable schools in my locality for me during my childhood years and not enough people with high functioning AS to enable a SEN school to be established. With hindsight I wish I had been HE at a younger age.

Hi Lisee,

I read this with interest and sympathy. I too have a little boy with high functioning autism or aspergers [not sure if it really matters if we ever know which it is and the way our local NHS services are going we never will!!!!]

My son is in reception and I am just wondering if your son's issues were known before he started school or have they come to light since?

I have had the most wearing and stressful time trying to get my son a statement before he started school [without a diagnosis though its taken as red, apparently] and succeeded so that he has gone to the mainstream school in our area which has the best reputation for SEN. 

I cannot say that I am 100% happy and we had a very bumpy start [not due to any behaviour from my boy]. However, one thing the school did, was give my son a quiet place outside the classroom, where he could retreat to and where he does most of his learning I think. The rationale was/is that when he is class it is for social intercation skills - like your son, mine has similar problems and a significant attention deficit probably due to his sensory impairment.

We also had a very gradual integration into the school - at first he was only going for an hour a day! This was increased incrementally week by week. He continues to enter the school by the main door and not through his classroom door, as this was blowing his brains 1st thing in the morning and caused him to get very excitable and throw things around!

Will be watching your posts as this could well be us at some stage. Our little man has 32.5hrs one to one but the SEN at school today, told me that if he continues to need this throughout his progression through primary, he is not fit for mainstream??? Worrying.

Love Rosemary xxx

 

 

 

 

 

I think mainstream schooling is possible if you find the right mainstream school that recongnizes that social skill difficulties require intervention even when there are no academic problems.  There are some out there who do a really good job at this.  Then there are a lot of others that don't because the government does not evaluate schools based on social skills.  SAT's are numeracy and literacy and chidl happiness does not seem to effect the overall school scores.

My child has been in mainstream education for several years and I have noticed that without a strong SENCO, the ASD friendliness of a year is very  teacher dependent.  With a strong SENCO who is clued up on ASD, the ASD friendliness of a school is better than you could ever dream of.  The problem being, the right kind of mainstream schools do seem to be few and far between.

This is so like my situation: my son is probably in the process of getting a HF Autism dx (and maybe will end up with an ADHD dx too); until now he has been subthreshold but does have hypotonia, hyperflexibility, tracking. processsing, developmental coordination disorder and severe sensory processing disorder.

My son's school have lied about how well he was coping in class at.every.single.meeting except the last few (even after calling the police when he had a meltdown), have told SW it is parenting that is an issue, denied soiling at school, allowed him to be ostracised and bullied (no one would sit next to him at lunch - and other incidents where he was the seen as the aggressor when the victim; it transpires other kids hid his stuff).The school has  refused to implement OT strategies or aides despite them being in the IEP and ... I did not realise the severity of how unbearable school is for my son, and how little they had done: he does not know letter formation at 11, or proper number formation - both of which I asked about years ago.   No one has sat with him to use the laptop he has properly. 

He had a one-to-one aide last year, from Christmas-ish time when he was readmitted after being out on only two hours a day since AUgust.  

Now after running away from school and several violent outbursts (when they would not phone for me to collect him - i had already lost the third job in four years for being unreliable due to having to collect him/his being excluded: irony I am  a special needs teacher! which is why they ignored my suggestions I think as the school had no special needs provision and refused to accept A needed it).

He has now been permanently excluded from school and no other appropriate provision can be found: he is a very academic able learner (even if he cannot actually write weel) but cannot cope with a mainstream classs. He described life at school as being in a warzone in a trench under constant shell attack.   He has, now, PTSD I am sure (behaving like a man with shell shock - was wetting self rathter than go back to school, wetting self at school during his final week, coming home and screaming for an hour or more,  would rather try to kill self than go in to a different school for an hour's tuition - all they are offering - and after trying that woke up screaming about being back in school four times last night!).

So we are now home-schooling, for the moment. He has done more work - focused work - in two weeks than he ever did a week at school. 

My wee boy told me

Hi everyone. I'm new here too. My son is only 4 and has started school in sept but it's not going well. I've had to stay with him as he couldn't cope with me leaving and seemed overwhelmed by it all. It's been two months now and I'm still there. I can see some signs if high functioning autism in our boy. He talks well is very articulate for his age but doesn't mix too well with the other kids and tends to do his own thing. Hes liked fans from a young age and anything that spins he becomes engrossed with. He's also very very clingy with me and won't sit still for long in the class. Otherwise he's like a normal kid I guess we love him dearly and want whatever is best for him and what he's comfortable with. It appears at presenr he is not comfortable with being at school. It's becoming harder to take him in as he keeps saying how he doesn't want to go. We have seen some improvement in his general focud and attention span since he's been there and he is interacting with the kids a little bit now. Infact very popular with the girls lol but I know if I wasn't there giving him one to one attention when he needs it the school would not be able to deliver and he would not be getting what he needs. It's all new to me I'm just do unsure if what is best for him. he is doing part time hours at the moment but next sept in class one it's more formal and they won't want me hanging around. I just don't know who I can trust to give him the education he needs at mainstream school he's such a bright boy. i have read that some schools will allow flexi schooling which is part time hours and part time home educating. Does anyone know much about that here?  Liz xxxx

OP's situation is one I read about a lot and can identify with as a parent.

I would suggest finding out whether there are any independent schools that meet the criteria (does the NAS have any schools in your area?) as there are some, and asking for a review of your son's statement and naming the independent school.

Mainstream is unsuitable for the vast majority of HFA/AS children.  Special schools (and even ASC units) for some strange reason cannot cope with academically able children.  This makes them seem more like a baby-sitting service than a school - which after all si meant to be about education.