As I was driving to my son’s school for parents evening last week, I had so many thoughts in my head:-
He has come so far! A year ago, my son was riddled with anxiety and had suicidal thoughts about school. Now, he loves school and is thriving – emotionally, socially and educationally. School staff had nothing but praise for him … “He is doing so well”, “He is a lovely, helpful boy”, “We are so pleased to have him here”. It’s such a wonderful feeling to know your child is happy and supported at school.
What would have happened if I did not get my son into an appropriate school? I feel so sad thinking about this because so many parents do not manage to get their child into their school of choice, despite their efforts. The outcome = daily struggles at school (bullying, being misunderstood by staff, not accessing the curriculum), school refusal, exclusion, deteriorating mental health (the child’s and other family members).
Why should it be such a battle? My story is not an isolated one. I have heard so many distressing stories from other parents about their fight to ensure their child’s educational needs are met. There is a lot of evidence to show that a large number of autistic children are not supported at school:
- Two in five children with autism have been excluded informally and therefore illegally during their time at school and 20% have been formally excluded in the past 12 months;
- Over half of parents of children with autism say they have kept their child out of school for fear that the school is unable to provide appropriate support.
Source: Ambitious about Autism, 2014.
Will the new Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP), which will replace Statements this year, make any difference? This is the big question! Will it lead to real improvements or is it just another paper exercise? Debs Aspland (Special Needs Jungle) today posted her hopes for the new EHCP – what an inspirational post. We all live in hope that things will improve for our children and for so many families facing this lonely, traumatic ordeal.