'Mild autism'

Hi, my son was diagnosed last week with the above. He is 3.5 and due to start school next September. Although I've been fighting for this, still feel really sad about it, especially as he has come on so much in the last 6 months!  It's a lot to get your head around, felt as if I was told, given a leaflet and shown the door. Wondered if anyone else has had the same diagnosis and how it affected them, their child and especially mainstream school life...thanks for reading, any support would be greatly appreciated :) 

  • My daughter was just diagnosed last month, at the same age, and we're doing the school thing right now, too. We also got handed a bunch of leaflets and heard nothing since (not even confirmation of the diagnosis in writing!). The situation is pretty overwhelming, so I get it.

    I just wanted to share what we've been told regarding schools, as it might be helpful / reassuring for you. A caveat: we've had a lot of discussions with our daughter's daycare and the professionals who have been involved in her assessment, and everyone is in agreement that a specialist class attached to a mainstream school is best for her, as she does need a lot of 1-to-1 time but also needs exposure to a "normal" group setting in order to learn from her peers. If your son has different needs, you might have a different goal.

    What we've been told is that we can't apply for a specialist class placement without an EHCP in place. We're in that process now, but it won't be ready before the Jan 15th deadline - so what we need to do is to apply for mainstream schools that have great SEND provisions. Specifically, what we're doing is finding a couple of specialist classes attached to mainstream schools that we like, putting those first and second, and putting mainstream-only schools with great SEND third and fourth.

    What that means is that her EHCP will come through after we submit the application but before places are allocated, at which point we can get in touch and say look, she has an EHCP now, we want her to go into the specialist class at (choice 1) for this very long list of accurate and appropriate reasons.

    At that point, unless it's just not possible, our wishes should be provided for - as once the EHCP is in place we have a lot more say (which I've heard from everyone I've asked about it, including the headteacher at our first choice school).

    So basically - if you haven't started already, I'd recommend getting an EHCP in place, because at that point you have a much louder voice in the discussion and a lot more sway over where he goes. You also then have a legal document that *requires* whichever school your son goes to to meet those provisions.

    Go see schools with good SEND provisions - ask daycare (if your son goes to one) as they should know which schools are best equipped to meet your son's specific needs. Be open and candid with the teachers and allow them to guide you; they won't flat-out say if they're prepared or not, but you'll get a feel. For example, we saw one school that said "well, an EHCP means we legally have to provide those things" and another that said "oh yes, we have a number of autistic children, some in the special class and some mainstream; the teachers often stay late to provide extra cover in the after-school clubs so they can take part". Guess which of those is our first choice...!