03 April 2006


Today was supposed to be spent clearing house, sorting out, laundering and pottering.

Instead today was spent on five long emails back and forth between myself and Son's caseworker, with at least as many long phone conversations with the lady at the NAS in between.

The County are refusing to pay up for an individual needs assistant all day. They are also refusing to name the mainstream school I selected, or to make the provision for him any less than vague until they have chosen a school and got the school itself to say how it will make this or that provision. For example 'access to a workstation' could end up meaning he might see a desk on its own, with no headphones, no keyboard, and he might 'have access to it' for five minutes every term. It wouldn't be that daft but thats as vague as they are being right now.

The thing is, I wanted mainstream. I wanted mainstream because I didn't think the kind of special school that was worth looking at actually existed. Sure, mainstream would mean that my son was condemned to do twice as much learning as other kids during the day - learning to deal with distractions, with life as an Aspie amongst NT teenagers and all that entails.

Someone very recently pointed out two schools with the national curriculum (and more) that cater just to aspies. No being thrown in with a wide variety of abilities or issues like in an mld or ebd school, just a school full of kids on roughly the same level, and more importantly a school full of staff that really understand the condition.

Without even getting to visit one yet, Son has set his heart on them. I did point out that now that we have mentioned special school, the LEA seem to be much more interested in trying to get him into the one mainstream school, especially since I pointed out that its qualities (wide corridors, no bell, staggered breaks and other things) could all be counted as provisions against his needs (trouble with cramped or confined spaces or a lot of movement or sudden noise - he doesn't freak - he just gets a bit 'on stage', clumsier and a deal less thoughtful - he gets into a state where accidents happen around him and he finds it as tiring and stressful as anybody).

Anyway the county have seemingly backtracked from saying there is no chance of getting him into that mainstream school and are now saying they will 'keep fighting' and there is a slim chance. Tut. Suddenly the closed statements that the school is full have become open ones indicating they mean to quiz the school on why being full means they can't squeeze another one in.

I told him. He is not best pleased. His only comment was:

"Oh yes sure, lets have a think - on the one hand we have this brilliant small school full of Aspies who are just like me and will understand me and I will be normal for a change, and on the other hand we have a real school where I will still be the geek and the weirdo and get kicked at breaktime. So the County are going to put me in which one? The crap one of course. Oh bloody brilliant."

Sometimes there just isn't the right moment to tell an eleven year old about his language.

After all that, the network cable at home decided to die and take my network card with it, so I am sat at Husband's machine to write this.

Not a good day. Will try again tomorrow, but I may just start a new blog to pull out all my references to this fight for SEN provision and add all the emails to it. The way things are going just now, it would seem foolish to rely on my email account as the only storage place for all the stuff I'll need for tribunal.

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zilla said...

With all due respect, I personally took no issue with Son's language. In fact, I found it a bit mild under the circumstances. I'd've been dropping eff-bombs, but we all know what a foul-mouthed creature I am even without provocation.

Oh, Cheryl. Hang tough. I'm including you in my concerns -- Quaker-speak for "prayers." Hugs

Writer Mom said...

Indeed! Your maternal muscles are popping out. This workout has made you totally ripped.
It's harder (way harder) than it should be, but you're turning into my super hero.

I wish all the best for your son, as I'm counting on him to figure out time travel in my lifetime.

fineartist said...

Isn’t that just like the county; powers that be, to decide, after the guy has his mind set on the particular school, that they can possibly squeeze him into the regular one that was full to the brim?

I think you idea of putting it all down in another blog is an excellent idea. Hell I think that it would be an excellent idea to write a book about how difficult it has been wrangling a fair and decent education for you son. And you are just the writer to do it.

You could start with excerpts for your local paper, people need to be aware of the difficulties that parents face in this world when they are determined to see that the best thing is done for their children.

I’d buy it, I would read it, and I would put your suggestions and facts into practice too.

Xxx, Lori

doris said...

Good luck with it all.

Funny about the internet probs as I'm having them too. Maybe there is a planetary influence over ISPs and cables etc?!

But more important to make sure your info is accessible at any time. Good luck again.

Stegbeetle said...

Not only do I have no problem with your son's language but I'm very impressed at his grasp of the situation. Any kid of 11 who shows that much of an understanding of the idiosyncracies of LEA policy has a fair chance of working in it ultimately.
Subvert from the inside, my boy!
Cheryl. Deep, controlled breathing. Keep pushing them and if son ends up in wrong school go to appeal. LEA appeals process is drawn-out but when you get the chance to put your case face-to-face to the tribunal then you're faced with people who aren't bound to do what the LEA wants, will listen to parents and will decide what appears to be best for child according to common sense and reason. We went to LEA appeal to move Elder Daughter from sink-hole secondary school where teachers have no control to one of the better ones in town and she's now fulfilling her potential.
They may win a battle or two but I have faith you'll win the war.

Abby said...

Would writing to your MP help? I used to work for the Council and if someone wrote to their MP about us everyone sat up and took notice of whatever case it was and dealt with it sharpish. "Quick, do this file, and then write a nice letter to the MP to say it's been resolved!" my manager would say. I'm really sorry to hear you have to jump through hoops to get him into the right school. Hopefully you will get him into the right school.

Ally said...

Haven't got anything to add to all these wise words. Just *hug*.

Just another American Expat said...

Cheryl, because of your own personal challenges, I have been reading up on Aspergers which I never before knew existed. But then again, why would I when I have never been directly effected by such an affliction.

Your writing about this certainly makes those ignorant of it more aware of its existence.

I just hope it all comes together you and your son in the end.

Cheryl said...

Expat - that truly is the nicest thing that anybody could have said to me. I am over the moon that you would bother to read up on the condition. Wow, that means so much, because at some point it will mean one less adult being looked at as a weirdo or an a-hole, when he/she is desperate to fit in and dreadfully hurt that they really didn't understand what was expected of them.
All it takes is for someone (like you) to learn to see the difference between willful social ignorance and disability.
Thank you.

fineartist said...

That's why you gotta write the book....chicky. xxx, Lori

The Moai said...

Aspies can have a very tough time in mainstream schooling, as I know from personal experience; it really is the sort of condition which a teacher has to have experience of, to get the best out of the kid. On the other hand, with the right teacher, Aspies can achieve extraordinary things. I wish I could do more other than with you & your son all the best, Cheryl....

TLC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TLC said...

Sure, mainstream would mean that my son was condemned to do twice as much learning as other kids during the day - learning to deal with distractions, with life as an Aspie amongst NT teenagers and all that entails.

Hi Cheryl, found your blog through BE, and this really hit me where I lived. You see, I live in in CA, USA and I pulled my son out of school after 1st grade because he needed an aide, was running from class, just wouldn't do the work. He could, but it was too distracting, etc. In any case, I homeschooled for the first time last year, and I have to say, I wish I would have done it straight away. Thing is, we didn't get a diagnosis of HFA(high functioning autism) until Nov of last year..so we didn't know what we were dealing with. My son is doing so much better at home, and learning quite well. They wanted to put him in the special ed. class, and he just was too far academically and I refused and pulled him.

I have bookmarked you, always good to "know" another mom of an Aspie.

Take care.