My son is currently going through the ASD diagnosis and is finding it a bit difficult to focus in mainstream school, he is only 5 years old and currently have no issues with learning as such but finds it hard to use what he has learnt in a functional way.
I have been asked to look at specialist schools for him and have started visiting them but we do not feel that this is the right environment for him and we would like for him to stay in mainstream school with the right level of support.
Is anyone else facing this tough decision at the moment, I would really like to hear from parents who have faced the same challenge
Hi, I was the same with my daughter. She is now 15 and had been in mainstream since primary school. Up til now that is.
Like you I wanted to keep her in mainstream because I didn't want her to feel different than her friends and peers. She only had a few close friends in primary and only has 3 friends in secondary school but stiĺl i thought I was doing right by her by keeping her in mainstream.
My daughter has moderate learning difficulties as well as autism.
Unfortunately the older she got the more it was noticeable that she wasn't coping, the meltdowns the school refusals, how she will often say the teachers don't get me. Basically socially and emotionally she isn't coping!! I've had to make that decision to move her to a specialised school.
Personally I wish I had done it sooner but as parents we want our kids to be happy. Her school would say we can meet her needs but unfortunately it never did.
Go with your instincts, do you think your son could be happy with the right support? Will his teachers support you both? Would he cope with a move after settling in with school and routine etc?
It's not easy. I wish you all the best of luck xx
This is very personal decision to make. We were facing similar decision few years ago. I would do what we did. Apply for EHCP which is needed to get into most special schools but also outlines exactly what kind of additional support mainstream school MUST provide.
Once EHCP is in place and your son struggles even with additional help than you will know mainstream is just not for him.
My son is 8 he’s got HF ASD and ADHD and yes it was very hard to find suitable special school and it has its pluses in a form of very well trained and experienced staff. In house SALT, OT and everything you can wish for and here’s but ... I’m not 100% sure how well he’s going to do academically and being surrounded by other children with difficulties has made his behaviour decline sharply.
Is this better or worse than letting them struggle in mainstream?
Only you can decide.
Thank you so much for responding this is such a difficult time for us as we do not know what is best and we just want him to be happy in his environment and he is currently really happy in his school.
We visited a specialist school for him and felt that this was not the right setting as it was for kids who had Severe learning as well as severe physical disability, we do think in the right specialist school it may be better for him in the long run but we also want to see what happens when he gets the EHCP and the right support in mainstream. Everything is a waiting game and in the meantime it feels like time is being lost whilst waiting for everyone to make a decision.
I was told that if we do keep him in mainstream and he does have a EHCP then at any time as his parents we can request for specialist schools as there is a panel discussion every month not sure if this is really the case though as things never move quickly
The other challenge is that all specialist schools in the borough are either ''full'' or they do not fit the criteria.
Decisions ... decisions ....
Thank you for getting back to me, my son is currently getting a decision on the EHCP and an answer should be made by 19th March and the school SENCO thinks it should be approved this is the reason she has suggested for us to look at Specialist schools
Day by day my son does something new, I would say that the biggest issue he faces at the moment is with his attention and listening and being able to follow the routine along with his peers in mainstream. He gets bored easily and will do not tasks that he is not interested in so it is easier to leave him to roam around rather than try and find ways to get him to focus as the support/budget cannot offer him that level of support
He has been seeing a pediatrician since he was 2 and still a diagnosis has not been made by the NHS but we have had a private one which does say he is on the spectrum.
Everything has been a hard battle and I feel that I have let him down because things have taken so long. we lived in a different borough and nothing was done for him when he was in nursery and only now things are starting to move for him I am scared to make the wrong decision for him and waste more time.
This is one of my main concerns when I did look at specialist schools, the kids did not at all interact with each other so how is he supposed to develop his social interaction when there will be children who cannot socialise
There are a lot to think about that's for sure.
I had issues in Primary school, with bullying and really struggled with school work. My primary school wanted me to get out of the mainstream into a specialist school. Thankfully I stayed in the mainstream, largely because my mum really kicked off about it saying the school weren't addressing the bullying and i did manage to achieve good GCSE results despite my primary school writing me off saying i'd fail to pass a GCSE, I even scored a C grade in English/Maths :D
Personally speaking, I'm relieved I didn't go to a specialist school and stayed in the mainstream, I felt the education I left with was better than what I'd of got in a specialist school. In mainstream school, I got awarded additional support from a teaching assistant for 3 1/2 hours a week who helped me in some of my lessons :)
Thank you for sharing your experience
It really helps to understand real life situations, it does feel as though school has opted for the easier option to move my son to a specialist school but we as his parents feel that the academic side is not the same although they do mention that the same syllabus is taught.
We will focus our energy on trying to keep him in mainstream with the right support but at present they do not even have an ASD trained staff to help him but I have been told this is being addressed.
On a more positive note I will say that they are trying to help and I understand that due to various constants it's not easy but as a parent these things mean nothing I just want what is best for my child
In this day and age you have to become a pushy to get anything
Hats off to you and your mum for standing up to bullies and it's brilliant to hear how well you have done