Tag Archives: special school

Accessing & Assessing Social Activities for Autistic Adults

Today I made the difficult decision to cancel one of Harry’s two weekly social activities.

For the last few months Harry has been going to his school’s Youth Club which takes place on a weekday evening from 6pm till 8pm. His attendance was suggested by a member of the Adult Services team who attended Harry’s Statement of SEN review in January and we were very grateful for the opportunity to extend Harry’s social activities. (Up until that point I didn’t even know that school ran a youth club even though he’s been attending this school for 18mths).

Perhaps our distance from school meant teachers thought we wouldn’t be interested. His school is a 45 minute drive from where we live so, in order to attend, various other support processes would have to be set up. For instance it would be pointless in Harry going if it meant that we would have to take him and bring him back. So, Adult Services suggested that they could arrange for a worker from MENCAP to collect Harry at the end of the school day, walk with him to the nearby community centre where Harry could access their tea-time service, and then accompany him back to school for the start of Youth Club.

In order to avoid the hour & a half round trip to collect Harry at the end of Youth Club we decided to ask his school taxi company to provide that service – at an additional cost to us of £30 a time. When I discussed the possibility of Adult Services covering the cost within his ‘funding package’ I was told that Harry was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and that this was what DLA was intended to cover. So be it! On top of that we also had to find the cost of his tea at the community centre, a further £2.60. Again, that seemed reasonable enough if it meant that Harry was getting the chance to interact with his peers, and perhaps even making a few friends.

Harry started going to Youth Club a few months ago. But I soon heard from people who saw him at the tea time service that he looked a bit lost, sat on his own and didn’t join in with activities. And, although Harry isn’t the most talkative of people, it seemed to us that all he really seemed to do at Youth Club was watch films. Admittedly, this is one of his favourite activities but it didn’t seem to us to be a particularly ‘social’ activity and we expressed doubts at to the value of his attendance.

Last week those attending Youth Club took advantage of the warm weather and walked to a local pond where they fed the ducks. This made a nice change from sitting indoors watching films but at a cost of £32.60 a week we felt it was time to acknowledge that it wasn’t making the best use of Harry’s DLA.

So, today I called Adult Services, explained the situation and asked them to cancel the support work provided by MENCAP. They were very understanding and told me that, in the meantime, they had been in touch with Action For Children to see whether they could offer any activities that Harry could access.

Until then, Harry is back down to one social activity a week…

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A New Plan for Special School Leavers

This morning I found an invitation to a workshop day tucked into Harry’s rucksack. We get quite a few of these sent home from school and quite often they will lie about the house for a few days before one of us thinks to pick it up and actually read it.

This one is about: “A new way to help young adults to plan what they want for their future: a single assessment process and ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ bringing together support for children and young people from birth to 25, and focusing on better life outcomes beyond school or college.”

Well, I’m breathless just reading it, let alone trying to comprehend what it’s all about.  And the thing is, this is typical of the literature that gets sent to parents of children with SEN whether via school or by external agencies. You have to read everything three times over to analyse whether it is relevant to you and your child. Then decide if you can work it into your schedule.

Taking a second (and a third) look, I can pick out the phrases national Pathfinders, Green Paper and then ‘Support and Aspiration – a new approach to special educational needs and disability.’ This all sounds very familiar and pretty important and so I Google the phrases and the agencies who are involved in running the workshop.

Hey presto! Only the very issue that got me so fired up last week. Very, very important. I’d better e-mail my acceptance and make childcare arrangements: after all the only way that I can attend a full-day workshop is if my husband can be here to meet Harry’s school transport. And if our daughter can go to her grandparents after school instead of being collected by me.

And then I realise that the event is in four days’ time…. I’d better start reading that Green Paper!

The Road to Tertiary College

We have reached a key stage in Harry’s continuing education. When the current academic year ends in nine weeks’ time he will have only one more year left at his current school.

Harry is 18. When he left his special school at 16 he was lucky enough to secure a sixth-form place at another school very close by. The sixth-form course lasts 3 years and so he is 2/3 of the way through the course.

However, applications to tertiary colleges need to be made well in advance of enrolment. For example, to start in September 2013 applications for places have to be made by the preceding December 2012. And in order to submit an application you need to have trawled through suitable colleges, attended Open Days, made visits and – in some cases – taken your child for assessments.

All of this takes time.

Some colleges hold their Open Days in the autumn which is very close to the application deadline. For this reason you may find yourself attending an Open Day almost 2 years before your child is due to leave school. This is what we found ourselves doing in November 2011.

As part of the decision-making process, parents are required to make an approach to their nearest college of further education, regardless of whether they think that college can meet their child’s needs.

This seems to me to be completely pointless and a waste of everyone’s time.

However, approaches to residential colleges will not even be considered until and unless the nearest local college has been contacted.

And so, we jump through the hoop!