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Help...what is reasonable in terms of reasonable adjustments at school?
  • Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the forum and have a 6yr old daughter diagnosed with ASD (more around demand avoidance). The paediatrician would not put PDA in her diagnosis even though she recognised that my daughter clearly has it! My daughter also has developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia) and hypermobility.

    We are going through a really challenging time with her and I would appreciate some thoughts on this. My daughter's school know about her diagnosis, but I feel they have not recognised the extent to which she is struggling. I have a battle every day to get her to school, she is extremely anxious and has huge meltdowns at home. She avoids every little demand put on her (even though we are using the recommended strategies for PDA),she has obsessive routines and rituals she has to complete which take a really long time to deal with and sensory sensitivites, so wont wear socks or a coat to school. We are often late getting to school and it is clear she is struggling and the impact on us as a family is huge.

    She has been added to the SEN register at school and has an Assess, Plan, Do, Review SEN plan (which is one side of A4). Her 3 target outcomes for this term are to a)use a visual timetable b)to use cutlery to eat her food c) to get dressed for P.E. She receives putty therapy for 5mins in the morning and does sensory circuits and a group session once a week to help with balance/co-ordination etc. She has no other additional support or adjustments in school and I dont feel her needs are being met.

    My daughter tries really hard to mask at school and so we get the coke bottle explosions at home. Despite me passing on info regarding PDA to her teacher and Senco, I still dont think they 'get it'. When discussing how I was struggling to get my daughter to do her homework, her teacher just told me to 'make it fun'!!!

    I feel the school should be doing more, especially as she has issues with her cognition and learning, socialising (friendship difficulties), communication, sensory sensitivities and physical ability, plus extreme anxiety. I guess my question is how do I know what is 'reasonable' to expect the school to put in place with regards to 'reasonable adjustments'. When I asked the SENco if my daughter could have additional help with her handwriting(which is poor due to hypermobility), or some nurture time to support social skills/friendships, I was told the school didn't have the resources.

    What would be reasonable in terms of reasonable adjustments for the school to put in place for my daughter?

    What have other school's put in place in terms of reasonable adjustments for a child with similar needs - especially around PDA. And In terms of the SEN plan, are they supposed to just have 3 outcomes for the child to work towards, even if the child has many more issues or difficulties? How detailed should an SEN plan be for a child with such needs- are they usually only one side of A4?

    Does anyone have a good example of an SEN plan they could tell me more about or share.

    Any help, advice or thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance x
  • Esme
    Posts: 1
    Hi, I certainly don't think it would be unreasonable to ask them to give your child longer to complete tasks, and to provide a quiet space - if they need it - if they get overwhelmed by something during the day. Also to try and be supportive of their interactions with other children, as they can often be lost at sea when it comes to interacting with other kids. My son is a teenager, still on the waiting list for ASD assessment, we are getting a lot of support from his school and the connected services, but primary school was a nightmare. Very little knowledge of understanding of autism and its issues. We actually changed schools three time until we found the 'right fit'. A school where the head teacher had a child with anxiety, so they were understanding and didn't force my child to comply with things that induced meltdowns. Autism hadn't been mentioned then, but they didn't force him into noisy places, or make him take part in non uniform days, or stand in front of an audience in plays. Your child's school should ideally be able to appreciate the difference between not wanting to do something, and not being able to cope with doing something. I did my child's homework with them, (probably the larger part to be honest), they didn't get much and I personally don't believe it was worth the huge emotional cost to get them to do it alone. My son still struggles to dress quickly, no longer does PE, and uses a laptop in most lessons as his writing is terrible. Sorry, I don't know if I am being any help here, but my advice it to make sure your school understands that just getting to school is a very real achievement for your child. I think they should make allowances if you're a bit late sometimes (ours did, and so does his secondary school) Explain that the rituals are her way of coping and staying calm. My son has them too. My son also struggled with friendships, especially maintaining them. Now his friends are online, often other ASD kids, he finds it much easier when he doesn't have to do friendships face to face. It seems to work for him, they still play games and work on projects together. It took me a while to see it, but really his friendships are no less valid for being online (and he's learning about other cultures and languages!). If only your school could appreciate that making friends is a lot more complex for your daughter than it is for most kids, perhaps they would see how important it is to support her. I wish you and your daughter all the best.
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    Does your daughter have an EHCP or is at least having one applied for, for her? Schools with tight budgets really struggle to provide the people to give the correct time and support until they can get the funding an EHCP provides. Yes I know this doesn't help you now but it is the reason if she doesn't have an EHCP you need to push for one, it can take years if you are unlucky. My eldest son eventually got one after several years as the school had to provide evidence of his need and 'under performance' in order to get help. He has dyspraxia too and was able to get help from both physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams visiting school and at clinic; you can push for GP and school referrals. He was taught to touch type as well as supported with writing and language skills although nothing came from speech therapy. His teaching assistant followed a couple of language programmes one of which was called 'Language for Thinking'. He also had some 1:1 time with her once a week to talk about things that were worrying him socially, emotionally or in class e.g. tests, new seating arrangements, special events etc. All of which helped a lot towards his improvements emotionally and academically. He was given extra time in SAT's and was able to take then in a quieter space with either a scribe or computer to type answers- he would not have been allowed any of this without his EHCP despite his various diagnoses. Yes I did have to constantly push and monitor to make sure he was getting what was needed.
    I am now embarking on the battle to get an EHCP for our younger child who has only recently been diagnosed with ASD/PDA and has just moved up to Secondary School....
    I hope the above gives you some ammunition to argue for what your daughter needs, it is in the school's interest (as well as your daughter's) to get her all the help they can as her outcomes will be so much better which improves their scores too. Keep pushing or move her to a more sympathetic and informed school. Your local authority may be able to help.
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,151
    Hi and welcome to the forum. Some great advice about EHCPs June67, please do also take a look at the education pages on our web-site as they have lots of information too:

    I think it’s good your daughter has a SEN plan even if it may not be meeting all the needs at the moment as many schools don’t seem to do this. Why don’t you ask to meet with the senco and see if they are willing to chat through your concerns and make changes? Could be a good opportunity to raise the EHCP if you need to as well.
  • bettyboo1
    Posts: 49
    I could of written your post. My daughter is so like your child. The biggest piece of advice I could give is get an EHCP now and then secondary will be so much easier . My daughter attended a small homely primary school where they struggled but muddled through with some strategies in place. In year 5 I began to realise that come filling in the forms for secondary schools the following year a lot of specialist options would not be available to us. I started the process myself simply because school was not proactive enough. I wish I'd done it years before as I was so naive thinking it would take the 20 - 26 weeks it's supposed to take. I'm 65 weeks in with still no plan and my daughter is breaking down in a huge mainstream at the moment because that's the best I could get her. I've had a fight like you wouldn't believe with the L.A (see my other posts for more info if you want). I wish you all the best but get it all out in a plan for transferring to the right secondary provision. Xx

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