My son is due to start kindy (in NSW, I know it's called different things in different states, but it's our first year of "big school") next year and I'm just feeling a bit lost as to what needs doing? I have an older NT son and he was just literally, go up to the school, fill out an enrolment and he was right to go. I assume there is a bit more involved with my son with autism. So what sorts of things do I need to have/do?
It's a very small school and my son will be the first child there with special needs in decades. Our principal, as amazing as she is, this is her first principal gig so I'm sure she is going in as blind as I am.
I am quite involved with the school and have a good rapport with all the teachers. But obviously there are no special ed programs or anything. The school has a high percentage of indigenous students so there is an aide available for that purpose.
I have no idea what to do in regards to any funding etc. I wouldn't even know who to contact. And are IEPs a thing? Or is it just something I heard on the telly?
I really just don't know where to start. I know it's still 3/4 of a year off but if I need time to prepare stuff, I figured earlier is better.
Anyone got any helpful advice??
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29-04-2016 11:48 #1
ASD and starting school
29-04-2016 14:24 #2
My ASD child starts school next year too. I think you would just need to meet with the principal as a first point and they would help guide you with what is needed for the application, as they will need to try and cater to his needs.
Our DS recently did a cognitive/ability assessment to see where he is at in relation to his peers. This helps the education department decide on funding. Ask the principal about this.
I've only just this week decided to look at private schooling for DS.
05-05-2016 22:06 #3
I have been through exactly this situation this year. Exactly.
It was a disaster.
Everyone was well meaning, we got on great, was given many assurances, but when it came down to the crunch: to actually knowing how to accommodate a child with ASD, they just didn't know and weren't adequately trained. And with something like ASD you truly need the appropriate training. He was placed in a main****** class, everyone else was NT, the teacher was NT focused and didn't really give me any indication that she knew what to do. I kept being told oh don't worry, she's been a teacher for 25 years she knows what she's doing. Well she didn't.
My feedback would consist of:
"Well he doesn't like the bell. Is there any way we can desensitise him to that?" (yeah, stop using that stupid bell)
"You'll need to put earmuffs on him. He is restricting his movement by putting his hands over his ears all the time" (how about you just refrain from shouting and using loud objects, such as bells)
"He likes to run off. He doesn't like discipline, does he?" (I bit my tongue on that one).
"Well of course you know he can't write or hold the properly.." (Gee, neither can the rest of the class...funny that, they're all FIVE!)
And it goes on. The final straw was being told BY A PARENT that my son was being made to sit in a noisy yard for recess and lunch. He was so terrified he couldn't eat, sitting there with his hands over his ears because the noise was overloading his sense. **** it still hurts to write that. It just plain broke my heart and I'm still recovering from the guilt.
I regret leaving South Australia. I really really do. My son was in an early intervention program there with loving and ASD trained staff and was due to commence classes in a disability unit, again with properly trained staff and stupid me thought that we'd get the same care and attention in Qld. Oh boy was I wrong. Getting a verification process going (Qld Dept of Ed requires their own submission of reports etc - they don't accept interstate status) was akin to pulling teeth and in the end, we've just gone you know what, stuff it, we're going to hit the road and get his education via Skype and homeschooling.
In hindsight, I would have contacted the Autism body for Qld and would spoken to their team about my position. I would have investigated every single option available in the region hands on and not relying on people's words. I would have insisted things be put in writing and would have risked being labelled "the pesky parent" by demanding to know what processes the school was doing and why. Had I done that I would have discovered far earlier that the school did not know what it was doing and all the while my son was enduring a traumatic environment. I'm not saying every school is the same. But what I am saying is don't rely on the school. Go outside that scope and contact the NSW Autism Association and the Autism Advisor Program in NSW which is run by Aspect.
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06-05-2016 10:25 #4
I spoke to the principal just casually the other day and she has said she is going to organise an interview early next term, with her and a counsellor, to see where my son is at. And she will start the transition stuff through term 3 for him, instead of term 4 like the other children and I can be as involved as I want.
He is only one of two students starting next year and will be going into a k-2 class that has about 5 other students (including my older son who will be in grade 2).
The preschool he currently attends is on school grounds, in the next classroom to the k-2 class, and the preschool does recess with the big kids (20ish students k-12) so I know he copes with that okay most days.
His preschool teacher is also a teacher at the school. Tues/wed/thurs at preschool and does Mon and Fri at the school as she job shares with another teacher (which my son also knows).
He can't cope with the assemblies and stuff very well, but he already wears ear muffs most of the time.
Last year, when they were doing some transition stuff for the 2 that started this year, they included my son a little bit, in hopes of getting him familiar with the classroom atmosphere and from all reports he did well most of the time. He was okay to sit at the desk for the half hour, put his hand up etc.
The teacher who job shares, she works great with my older son and I've seen her teaching methods and they are great but I've not seen her interact with my ASD son much. But she is approachable and has a very open door. I am free to come and ask her questions etc. The one she shares with/my sons current preschool teacher, is very accommodating. She basically left it a blank canvas and let's me tell her what my son needs (eg he has a big sensory tent that's now in the room) and she has open conversation with my sons OT via email. After about a week of her starting there, I went into the office and saw a whole bunch of "recognising a meltdown" type posters up so I know she is at least trying and you would think that would naturally flow to the class room.
My only other schooling option for him really would be school of the air. And I would like to avoid that if possible.
06-05-2016 10:50 #5
I hope my little rant didn't put you off or make the whole situation sound diabolical! I appreciate that every situation is different and that you are doing your best.
Given what you have just written, though, I would still absolutely recommend contact with the associations I mentioned.
Only writing with the benefit of hindsight. I hope it all goes well for you.
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06-05-2016 14:57 #6
I'll give them a call. My eldest loves the school he goes to so I'm so hoping my ASD son will like it. We are working hard with the OT when we take him fortnightly, to get him school ready. She's doing specific school readiness stuff (coping with anxiety, having sensory tools etc) with him at the moment.
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