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Primary School Finished!!

So I officially now have two children who are of Secondary School age! WOW!

 

I can’t believe Xavier has finished Primary Education! Here he is on his very first day!

Well when this day came we had no idea of the challenges we would face further down the line. We had no idea of the stress and heart ache. We knew absolutely nothing about Autism.

I think it was only a matter of weeks into Xaviers school life before I started getting called in to see the teachers after school because of his “behaviour”. It wasn’t so much naughty, it was “we’ve noticed this, we’ve noticed that” and they were growing increasingly concerned. They suggested a meeting with the schools SENCO. Someone had suggested there may be something wrong with him! My boy?? Theres nothing wrong with my son! I remember he had a few “odd” ways but just thought thats just him, I didn’t think anything more of it. We went to see the SENCO and was told she thought our son was showing lots of traits of having Aspergers Syndrome. She told us the school nurse would be in touch with details of a possible referral to our local child development centre. Again, we knew nothing about it. I went home and googled Aspergers. Well he ticked every box!

Lets cut a very long story short. We got a referral, he was assessed, we went back again 6 months later and he was diagnosed with Autism. By this time he was in Year 1. Very lucky to be diagnosed so quickly as I know of a few who have waited and are still waiting to be diagnosed YEARS down the line!

Looking back now I am very grateful to the Reception class teachers for picking up on this…and one TA who was with him in Year 1 on and off,  but thats as far as my thanks goes unfortunately. Xavier should have had LOTS of help put into place, instead I was told he was lazy and he couldn’t be bothered, he was shoved into a corner of the classroom with a screen around him so he couldn’t be distracted from doing his work, he missed playtimes because his work wasn’t done. He wasn’t refusing to do the work, he couldn’t do it…. he needed help and guidance. He was bullied and it wasn’t dealt with. The SENCO told me that now he had this diagnosis there are loads of jobs he won’t be able to do when he is older. Those words will stay with me for my whole life. How is that helpful? How is that productive? She also told me that they wouldn’t dream of applying for a Statement for him until he was in Year 6 and ready to go to secondary school.

It was time to pull him out of there. He left in the the December of Year 2.

I had such high hopes when he moved to the 2nd Mainstream school! I was so excited when a week in to him starting there they called me in and told me that they could see that Xavier has clearly very complex needs and they recognise that he needs help and they would start the Statement ball rolling ASAP! I actually cried!! I was so happy! FINALLY he will get the help he needs and the education he is entitled to! Yes!!!

No! It just didn’t happen! I was spun a web of lies for 2 years!! For 15 months I was told The statement process was underway, they just needed this evidence and that evidence and this report and that report before they could send it all off! It was the most frustrating time of my life. In the mean time Xavier was again, multiple times targeted by bullies, his mental health was impacted in a huge way, he kept threatening to kill himself, he was violent, he was aggressive and he was very very unhappy which was not in his nature at all. He wasn’t learning, he was just being left to his own devices in the classroom, he was given a different support staff every single day that he couldn’t deal with. Autistic children like routine and continuity. He couldn’t handle the amount of children in his class or the level of noise they make, he couldn’t handle the smell of lunchtime in the hall so ate lunch on his own in the office. The list is endless.

Then I was made aware of being able to apply for the statement myself! My god I wish I had known this earlier! I applied for him to be assessed with a 10 page report I had written myself and the assessment was agreed! That 1st process took 2 weeks! Fast forward 9 months and after weeks and weeks of stalking the postman, checking emails, making phone calls and generally annoying the life out of lots of professionals MY SON HAD A STATEMENT!!! I actually cried!! LOTS! I was very nearly broken from this ordeal!

Next hurdle was to get him into a Special Needs School as his ability to cope in a Mainstream setting was non existent.

The named school on the statement is the one the county council are saying he will continue his education in… the named school was the one he was currently in! No!! No way! I couldn’t let him carry on where he was! I had to appeal!

So I started the appeal process and contacted the Special Needs school we had visited previously. This was before he had a statement and they told us they would be able to help Xavier but they wouldn’t be able to take him on without a Statement. They said they’d have him happily but its whether the county would agree. The wait for that decision was a killer! ……. but I did it!! I won my appeal! Ecstatic doesn’t even come close! The phonetical I made to his then current school to tell them I would be removing him from the school, relieved so much stress and upset.

 

Xavier started his current school in April 2015, after the Easter holidays. The school and staff are INCREDIBLE! They care so much, they have taken my boy under their wings and the effects have changed our lives!! All of our lives! He is like a different boy! He is learning, thriving, flourishing, having fun, producing work, trying new things without hesitation, he has friends, he gets party invitations, he gets support, he is learning to swim, he has narrated the school Christmas play infant of a hall full of people! Just WOW! He’s so calm, he’s happy, he laughs all the time, we have no meltdowns, no violence …. nothing. None of the bad stuff! Its amazing and the staff are the ones I have to thank for that! This last year he has had a different teacher. They’ve had a great year, had lots of fun, I’ve been to parents evening and LOVED hearing how well he is doing and how he is progressing. He loves to help out at school. Its just so so great to hear all these positives after such a negative start to his education! He actually won the Year 6 prize for the whole academic year for his efforts! I am so incredibly proud of him! Here he is with his teacher receiving his award! What an amazing end to his Primary journey! He will be upstairs after the summer holidays to begin his Secondary journey!! I can’t wait to see whats in store for him!

Thank you so much for nurturing my boy. He has come so far and couldn’t have done it without you!

 

 

Spectrum Sunday
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Annual Review

Xavier last year got a Statement of Educational Needs. This is a legal document that outlines the help and support your child needs in school/educational setting. Not long after Xavier got his statement the whole system changed and it is now called an EHCP – Education & Health Care Plan. Xavier will now be moved over to the new system. This document still outlines support needed at school but also now includes health care issues too! Its a much more personalised programme.

With the Statements/EHCPs they have to be reviewed Annually to keep information up to date and make sure everything that has been put into place for your child is still relevant, if not it can be removed and if there is anything that needs to be added on, the review meetings are a perfect time to do this. You as a parent have a say in what is included in this document.

Yesterday I experienced my first ever Annual Review. It was an incredibly positive experience. I was a little nervous going into it purely because I wasn’t sure what to expect.

There are 4 main categories in Xaviers EHCP. These are: Cognition and Learning, Communication and Interaction, Sensory and/or Physical and finally Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties. So for each of these categories there are targets set out for issues identified in this area. It also lists the things that have been put into place and how Xavier has responded to them and what needs to happen for things to move forwards. It is very detailed.

Xaviers teacher was present in the meeting, the Head of the school, and the annual review co-ordinator. I felt very at home and they had lots of stories to tell me about how Xavier had made them laugh or impressed them. They are blown away with how he has settled into their school so well. I am too! I expected there to be a huge upset at the beginning with the huge change but there was nothing at all. He absolutely adores his new school. He comes home from school with a smile on his face. He is progressing and learning. The staff genuinely understand him and that is so important to me after years or him being in the wrong setting and being completely misunderstood. His confidence has grown massively and he is so happy! I can’t thank the school enough for taking Xavier under their wings and nurturing him and believing in him! It means so very much to me. It really is such a wonderful school!

I am so proud of how well Xavier has taken on this massive change in his life like a duck to water.

 

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Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Yesterday, with no warning at all, saw me called into school to meet with the Educational Psychologist. This is another good step in the right direction in getting Xavier a Statement. The meeting lasted 90 minutes. I was asked what my concerns were. Well my biggest concern was the fact that I have been told by school that my son isn’t really learning anything. Now school are trying to deny they ever said that and said Xavier is unable to work independently, he needs adult assistance at all time otherwise he becomes incredibly anxious, frustrated and unable to cope. When supervised though he is actually producing little bits of work. These bits of work are not on a par with his peers and apparently the school has completely adapted the national curriculum so much to fit his work in, so much so that it is barely on the curriculum. So all this time I have been given the impression that next to nothing is being produced, then yesterday the SENco had FOUR work books full of work on her desk! Most of it is scribed by his 1-1 worker. His handwriting is very behind and the EP was basically (if you’ll pardon the pun) writing off his handwriting and saying computers are the way forward for him and she is completely dumbfounded by the level of computer skills Xavier has.

She asked about his behaviour at home! So I filled her in with the good and bad stuff. Generally at weekends and holidays he is the calmest person you’ll meet. After school and on Sunday nights he is the most uptight, anxious, angry, aggressive and violent person you’ll meet! Which says to me that school bothers him! He is being picked on at least once a week by nasty kids.

The Educational Psychologist was also trying her best to persuade me to NOT send him to a Special Needs School and to keep him in Mainstream. Her reasons being he is too clever and it will bring him down and he will pick up behaviours from other Autistic children and it could become a problem! REALLY? Well firstly I know my son is clever… shame the staff who work with him are not fully trained to bring out the best in him and help him reach his full potential. Secondly I have had a number a talks with the Head of the Special Needs school I would like him to go to and I’m sure he would be telling me that Xavier is “too clever” for his school rather than telling me that he looks forward to taking Xavier under his wing and helping him progress! Thirdly, I wouldn’t want him picking up some of the behaviour of the kids in his Mainstream school if I am brutally honest!

Then there was a little knock on the office door… I looked round and there was Xavier with his big wide chocolate brown eyes grinning and waving at me. I do love this boy so very very much. I called him in and we had such a huge cuddle! I asked him how his day was going. He said “Yeah, it’s ok Mum! Can I stay with you in here?” when I explained that we needed to finish talking then the EP lady will be talking to him afterwards and that they were going to play a game, he got all upset and was stuck to me like a limpet! I dried his tears and told him he only had 1 hour left and I would be coming to collect him. He reluctantly accepted it and we finished off the meeting.

I asked the EP what she thought Xaviers chances were for getting this Statement and she said that in her opinion it is very likely seeing as the process has come this far. Normally they turn people away right at the beginning if they don’t feel there is a strong enough case. I actually had to hold it together at that point and wanted to cry (with joy!) but I really don’t want to get excited until I have that piece of paper in my hand.

We are again another step closer… I am so very exhausted but I know that this HUGE almost 3 year long in total, battle is going to be worth it.