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Jayne, I actually do think there is a big problem of ignorance. It took me years to work out what was really going on between the NHS and the LEA.
Parents are expected to choose what’s right for their child without having enough information. I was desperate to put my child in a special school at 2 because there was nothing else for him in our LEA area and I believed (and was advised by the local diagnosing clinical psychologist) that X school was good. The Head teacher assured me my son would be in the right place with them. How very wrong I was to believe this.
The LEA Ed Psych who did the assessment for my child’s Statement refused to give an opinion – in fact said they were forbidden to do so by the LEA – when I asked for advice concerning what sort of education my child should get and where he should go. The report the Ed Psych wrote contained recommendations I actually did not understand. In fact it recommended ABA! But what he got was a bog-standard special school which claimed to be implementing TEACCH, and which had no idea what ABA even was.(Neither did I at the time.)
Parents also don’t understand how LEAs operate: “best interests of the child” commonly mean nothing of the sort, but they really man the bests interests of saving money.I was caught out by the Statementing procedure – I didn’t understand what the Statement meant. I didn’t know what to do when the Statement wasn’t being implemented. I didn’t understand the full procedure of the Annual Review – the Head’s game here was to sent in their signed account of the Annual Review without showing a draft to anyone who had been present, leaving out disagreements and misrepresenting others’ views.
The LEA toyed with me for years.
I think now it would have been better for him to have had nothing for a further year and to have gone into mainstream nursery. This would still have been totally inadequate for him, but he would have had 1:1 work and have been with people who did not come from a special ed background. My experience certainly confirms the widely-held view that the special ed system has rock bottom expectations of its pupils. It took me years to find a way get him out of the school.
There is a massive amount of jargon in the education world, and it is used daily to bamboozle parents. Have you seen SOS!SEN’s teatowel which gives some choice examples of LEA-speak? Along the lines of “these rules don’t apply in this Authority”?
I have been to meetings of parents of children with autism to discover I was the only one to have heard of and to have read the National Autism Care Plan, or the Good Practice Guidance for autism.
At a recent parents’ meeting there was general astonishment that it was possible to get speech therapy quantified in a Statement, and widespread misunderstanding of Annual Reviews.