Filed under: A few thoughts, Education and the new government, Special Needs Education | Tags: A levels, Asperger's Syndrome, course work, post 16
Peter has now completed his first term at sixth form on his A level course. For him, sixth form and A levels were the only choice really, he is still in a mainstream school, but has a place in the school’s Asperger’s Unit, which started the year he did at the school, and has now extended into the sixth form to continue to support those of its students who have progressed there.
He still has a similar package of support to that he had in the lower school, only TAs now perform the task of note takers. They are on hand to help with organisation and planning of work and to help Peter manage his private study time. In reality, much of the private study work lands with us at home in the form of homework. This is because I think that Peter is really enjoying the social side of being at a sixth form, in a way that he didn’t in the lower school. Out of necessity, the Aspergers Unit had its own place in the school, as children who have AS can cope poorly with the social aspects of being in a big school during break and lunch time. This is when friendships are forged and Peter missed out. He is really enjoying the fact that there is no separate social area for the young people with AS to go, (even if they need a refuge from the racket and noise) and he has had to learn to make friends. This was very difficult and stressful to begin with and to be honest, I really missed the AS unit on his behalf, but he has actually made more friends than he ever did in the lower school. I am very happy about that, and I know how lucky we are that he has been able to cope. I know some young people with AS struggle to make the transition.
In terms of work, he has kept up pretty well. He has kept up with the essay type of work, and the practical side of his courses pretty well. However, he is struggling with some aspects of the extended coursework in terms of planning and organisation, but is developing (with help) some strategies to cope with this, so I am optimistic that he will catch up. He is also enjoying the enrichment courses. These are things like rock climbing, football, business courses and Music. He came home very happy today as he is now involved in music group and has been singing and playing music all afternoon.
We are tremendously lucky that Peter has a place in a sixth form with the continued support from the AS unit. His AS level predictions are optimistic and if he manages to keep up with the work load and to adapt to the unexpected demands it is making on him (lots of extended course work), I am hopeful that he will get some reasonable A levels.
We can only take things one step at a time, but I think it is fair to say that we are cautiously optimistic for the future.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: A levels, Asperger's Syndrome, disability, Dyspraxia#, GCSE, SEN, Special Educational Needs
I haven’t blogged for quite a long while. With two boys with special needs at home, requiring help and support to access the curriculum at school, it is fair to say that we took a decision to put all our energies into helping them achieve their aims at school, and to achieve their dreams in their out of school lives. So blogging has I am afraid gone by the by. However, today I am hit by the knowledge that Monday will be the date of William’s last GCSE exam and he will wear his school uniform for the last time. It marks the end of fourteen years of planning, plotting, fighting, hoping and praying for him to reach this time happy and with some qualifications and with options to go on to A levels. The signs are very positive that he will have passed his exams. He has worked hard, and knows where he wants to go – he will start sixth form in September. I am still anxious for the future as I look at the way the government says it would like to develop education. I know that this is not the end of the road. I know that both of my children have a way to go in overcoming the obstacles that will be placed in their way by their disabilities, but I am struck dumb by their tenacity and will to work hard and to succeed.
Filed under: Book reviews | Tags: Asperger's Syndrome, classroom strategies, education, Gill D Ansell, Higher Level Teaching Assistant training, Role of TAs, role of Teaching Assistants, SEN, Special Educational Needs, successful outcomes, Teaching Assistant Training, Teaching Assistants, Working with Asperger Syndrom in the Classroom
Gill Ansell has over 14 years’ experience of working with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders in special school and mainstream settings. She begins her book by explaining something about Autistic Spectrum Disorders and how these impact on children in the classroom. She describes her first job as a TA when she wasn’t sure what to do or what was expected of her with a refreshing candour. Now she is someone who has valid and relevant experience of working with children with AS and much to share with both parents and education professionals alike.
The book contains a wide range of strategies to use with children with AS and Gill explains in detail why they work so well. These include strategies for visual learners such as ‘The Good Book’, ‘The Feelings Book’ and ‘Oops! Cards’. There are also sections on small group work and working one to one, behaviour/anger management, and a range of strategies regarding the child’s physical working environment such as individual work stations. She talks about the stresses of break times and bullying and helping children deal with feelings and emotions.
There can be huge variations in the training and effectiveness of TAs. What is noteworthy about Gill is that her creative strategies are quite clearly aimed not just at emotionally supporting children in school but also at engaging the child in learning. She keeps going until she gets as close to this aim as possible in a bid to give the children better educational outcomes. Also many of her strategies are low cost which makes it much more likely that a school will take up suggestions from parents.
If a child’s needs are not being met at school it can be really difficult for parents to get across in meetings exactly how they would like the school to help their child. This book with its practical advice and its accessible explanations will offer lots of ideas to all parties taking part in discussions about how a school might best meet the special educational needs of children with AS in primary and secondary settings.
I have been involved with special needs education for 10 years now since my oldest son first displayed difficulties at school. I still found some new strategies in here that we can use, and I wish that this book had been available to me 10 years ago.
Filed under: Book reviews | Tags: AS in the classroom, Asperger's Syndrome, Autistc, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, disability, education, Gill D Ansell, Insiders Guide, Special Educational Needs, statement of special educational needs
A very belated Happy New Year to bloggers and readers alike! Thanks to the ‘flu, it has taken me a little while to feel like my old self and to ‘get going’ again in the blogosphere.
This year I thought I would spend a little time on reviewing some of the other books on the market that are aimed at parents of children with special educational needs. Of course, I am sure that my usual blog posts will also feature!
Here’s to another year of blogging possibilities!
Filed under: Special Needs Education, Uncategorized | Tags: Advocacy, Asperger's Syndrome, Back to School, education, Meeting with teacher, SEN, Special Educational Needs, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, successful outcomes, Teaching Assistant
New term – same old problems! Some of the optimism has already worn off. Peter came home yesterday with standard-sized Maths and Science worksheets. The Language Dept has been producing enlarged worksheets and vocabulary books for the past three years …. why can’t the Science and Maths Depts get on board with this? Simple answer – there is no reason: a differentiated curriculum doesn’t just mean speaking slowly!! Grrrr! It means providing appropriate materials in an appropriate setting.
So what can be done about this? On Monday morning Peter’s teachers will get an email from us asking for a meeting in which we will go through his needs regarding visual processing (needs bigger work sheets), and recording work (needs bigger answer boxes in the work sheets).
How will we get on with this? Watch this space for the next exciting instalment – da da daahhhh!
I do feel like qualifying all of this by saying that we are still very happy with Peter’s current placement. Indeed, he came home from school very happy, and lots of things had clearly been done right. However, if you don’t keep on top of the small things, unworkable situations quickly develop. You are allowed to feel grateful for the things the school does get right but you are absolutely entitled to tell them when they don’t. If you do not , nobody else will do it for your child.
Filed under: Special Needs Education | Tags: Advocacy, Asperger's Syndrome, Back to School, education, education cuts, Guerrilla Mum, Guerrilla Mum Mantra, IEP, IEP Meeting, IEP Review, Individual Education Plan, SEN, SENCO, Special Educational Needs, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, successful outcomes
First published on the Jessica Kingsley Publishers blog – http://www.jkp.com/blog/
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: Asperger's Syndrome, Special Educational Needs
This article from 2009 discusses a wonderful resource – after school clubs for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. There is or was a network of these clubs in the South West set up by the National Autistic Society and funded with help from Big Lottery funding. The article says that since this funding had run out, they were having to look at funding options with the local authorities involved - this was in 2009. I would be interested to find out how they have fared under the coalition government’s cuts programme.