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Ken

Autism and Special Education Needs

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Does anyone have any experience of returning to the UK with a child with Autism or other Special Education Needs? I'm wondering how you go about accessing the services required and what obstacles are put in your way when you've been out of the country for 6 years? Because he was only 2 years old when we left the UK and the condition hadn't even been diagnosed we've no experience of the UK system. He's in a special unit of a mainstream school here (a teacher and 2 assistants to a class of 6).


Chartered Accountant (England & Wales); Registered Tax Agent & Fellow of The Tax Institute (Australia)

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2 hours ago, Ken said:

Does anyone have any experience of returning to the UK with a child with Autism or other Special Education Needs? I'm wondering how you go about accessing the services required and what obstacles are put in your way when you've been out of the country for 6 years? Because he was only 2 years old when we left the UK and the condition hadn't even been diagnosed we've no experience of the UK system. He's in a special unit of a mainstream school here (a teacher and 2 assistants to a class of 6).

I have no personal experience only second hand so please do a lot more investigating yourself but a close friend has a twin boy suffering dyslexia and 'mild' autism and he has never recieved the level of support your child is getting and she lives in middle class Cambridge.

I can only comment from what I read in the "extremely left wing" Guardian but from what I read I don’t have an impression that there is the level of support your child is getting at the moment, I would recommend doing your own in depth investigation and make sure anything you are told is confirmed in writing, my understanding everything depends on the individual school and local Council.

I'm sure someone will be along soon to deny everything I have said, that's why I say do your own in depth checks and get it in writing.

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I'd get in touch with this organisation. They could be helpful and give you some advice and suggestions. 

https://www.autism.org.uk/

Get all the paperwork you have together. Everything from assessments here, to teachers reports, level of support etc. 

If you are considering a mainstream state school, you may need to look round a fair few to find one that could offer the level of support your child needs or to find the right one to suit your child. Some schools are large, noisy and perhaps not suited to your child or his needs.  

FWIW, I have friends with a child who need a fair amount of support (not quite at the level of support as your son and placed to start with in a class with 30 kids per class so very noisy and full one for the child who could not cope) and they really struggled to get access to their first choice of school and had to go through a fairly long drawn out process to enable them to change schools to one that was much better suited to their child and their needs. Once they changed schools, to a much quieter smaller school things improved. 

This site could also be helpful https://www.childautism.org.uk/

This site has some useful links and info https://www.scope.org.uk/support It also has an online community that could probably give you far more info and support specifically relating to autism and schooling etc. 

 

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The advice from Snifter is great.  Have a look for UK based  autism Facebook pages too.  There are often lovely people on those who are happy to help out if you have questions.  Things like Autism Support UK or ADHD and Autism Support etc.

We returned to the UK (Scotland) in September, and our eldest was diagnosed with Asperger's (as it was called at the time) while we were in Australia.  She doesn't need much in the way of support,  but we've found it really easy to access the support that we have needed.  This is in contrast to Australia (NSW) where she wasn't deemed 'bad enough' for help at school or anything, and most of the psychologist visits etc (to help her with anxiety and also things like social skills etc) were paid for privately, above the amount she could have on the mental health care plan thing.  She often fell into the 'too hard' basket at school, and at one point I was having to pick her up from school early almost every day, because the teachers weren't really able to help her with meltdowns/shutdowns.

When we arrived in the UK we needed to take her to the GP for something, and let her GP know about the diagnosis so that it was on record.  We've since been back to the GP for something else, and whilst we were there she asked how eldest was getting on and if we felt she needed any extra support from CAMHS at the moment (which she doesn't), so have just agreed to hold back for now.  We gave her new school the information about her diagnosis and the psychology visits she had in Australia, and within four weeks I was in a meeting with the school SEN teacher, and the SEN teacher from the high school she is starting in August, to see what extra support they could give.  They arranged an assessment with an OT, and now she sees an OT once a week at school.  She has just recently been away on a residential outward bound type trip with school, and beforehand her teacher and I met a few times and worked out ways he could support her on the trip.  Our experience here has been far better than our experience in Australia, but we are in Scotland and the girls go to a lovely village school, which is very different to the large school they attended in Sydney.

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A friend who is currently trying to get her child a place at a senior school that can support his needs has been in dispute with the local authorities and is having to take their case to a tribunal. 

I read lots more replies when I came across this article from parents in a similar situation. Please be aware it does happen at senior school level and it isn’t always straightforward. I have friends who have also had to fight to get a place at a suitable primary school. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/councils-letter-damian-hinds-school-funding-children-special-needs-places-unions-a8403326.html

If your child requires a high level of support or perhaps doesn’t cope in large group settings such as a class with 30 kids in it, ensure you research carefully the local authority areas and what options you will have school wise. I’m not saying support isn’t there, but it may not be straightforward to find the best place to suit your child’s needs. 

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We returned with a 11 year old high functioning aspergers,   bar the usual county council compliant documents, the services here in East Sussex/Kent  are pretty good, although it must be mentioned we have light requirements. What snifter says about needs referral and high levels of support particularly in primary schools is a challenge as the size of the school (cohort sizes) dictates the capability and capacity to engage SEN's. (assistants)

Visit to the local GP and paedriatric specialist who will provide assistance and will have knowledge regarding the best schools and or facilities, our GP turned out to have an aspire child at the same school as our boy attends, and the same GP's wife was on the board, so we benefited from her previous efforts and a fantastic pastoral and student wellbeing capability at the school.

Just this week we visited a school for our last child who is moving up from primary , and  this school was combined with another much smaller special needs school but the regard and compassion for the care of the vulnerable was evident.   Sadly we saw none of this in Adelaide, our experience here as LKC mentioned, is far far better than in South Australia

 

 


When I was a kid, it seemed like they made something new every day. Some, gadget or idea, like every day was Christmas. But six billion people, just imagine that. And every last one of them trying to have it all…........

 

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When we were in the UK we couldn’t get help or support from our middle son in a private school so make sure you go public.


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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