Sunday, 16 November 2008

J’s School are having Problems


It has been apparent for some time that J is causing some difficulties for his school. There have been several incidents – some I was aware of and some I was not. For example I arrived early to collect J one day and watched J's class in the playground doing PE. J was there but seemed to be having difficulties in following the routine, several times he simply left the group and ran around the circular sheltered area and had to be pulled back into the group. I have also been aware that for some time J has been having some 1 – 1 time with a teaching assistant in the afternoons. I came to watch the school's Harvest Festival assembly which was lovely. The school filed in and I looked around for J but there was no sign of him – eventually he arrived – the last pupil brought into the hall and accompanied by the teaching assistant. J was sat with his class but on the end of the bench right by the door – the teaching assistant took up place next to him and another teaching assistant sat behind. J saw me and gave me a big wave – "look" I could almost hear him saying to the two Teaching Assistants "that's my Mummy". The class then sang a song and did actions – J continued to smile and wave at me – occasionally joining in with the singing but not doing any actions. The term "Asperger's Syndrome" wandered through my head and I wondered if anyone else could tell I was an over anxious mother!

However, overanxious mother may well have hit upon something, the parent/teacher consultation evening loomed and Mrs N who is J's lovely class teacher asked me a few days before this if I had "caught up with the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) yet". I hadn't but not for want of trying – the SENCO worked only one day in the school a week and was in other schools the rest of the time. Eventually I caught up with her at Gym Trail two days before the meeting with Mrs N. We had a quick chat and arranged a more thorough meeting for the day after the consultations with J's class teacher.

Mrs N was very positive about J but spoke of her difficulties in managing him within the classroom. His sensory problems are causing a lot of problems and on a few occasions he has simply run from the classroom. PE in the hall is also a problem as J spends a lot of time with his hands over his ears as its too noisy and the noise hurts his ears – the school have overcome this by allowing J to wear headphones for the session. At other times J will sit under the desk at the back of the classroom and cannot be coaxed out. For the past few weeks J has been having one to one support every afternoon – so virtually 10 hours a week. The school are funding this by releasing a teaching assistant from another classroom which means another class teacher has to manage alone. Mrs N says she cannot manage J without this. Mrs N mentioned Asperger's Syndrome but also said that J does not really fit the criteria in every way as he was very empathetic, however, she did say he appeared not to be able to pick up social cues and facial expressions – missing cues that would tell him people were angry. Mrs N mentioned getting a Statement of Special Educational Need for J.

Mrs F the school SENCO said the same the next day – she also mentioned Aspergers but also said that while many of J's behaviours and idiosyncrasies are "spectrum like" that many others were not. J has apparently been on the "School Action Plus" programmed since the beginning of Year 1 . Want to know what the difference is between "School Action" and "School Action Plus"? It's apparently 20 minutes! That's right – children on the School Action programme are entitled to an hour of one to one time a week. Those on School Action Plus get an hour and 20 minutes. This makes J's 10 hours a week a mockery, hence the need for a Statement.