Today is world teachers day, and of course, Blogtober is celebrating that! Today’s prompt is “education”. I’ve decided to talk a bit about our experience of special needs school life, today. Our son, Sam is 7 now. He’s been diagnosed with “low functioning Autism”, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Hypermobility (super flexible and painful joints, and PICA (which is a compulsion to eat things which shouldn’t be eaten). Sam was diagnosed at 33 months old, and by then it was obvious mainstream school wouldn’t be the right setting for him.
I’ve blogged a lot previously about our Autism and school search journey, (you can find those posts here if you’d like to read them). Today, I’m focusing on the good experiences we’ve had since Sam started school in November 2015.
Sam and I have made several good friends since he started school. I frequently message a few of the mums and we’ve been known to meet for drinks and food on occasion too. It’s amazing what a difference it makes having special needs mum friends who just “get it”. Sam isn’t really interested in socialising like most children are, but you can definitely see that there are some kids he enjoys spending time with and being around.
Sam isn’t talking (yet), but his communication skills have come on massively since he started school. He’s now leading you to things he wants, and will point to photos of objects he wants too. This is a huge deal!
A bit about Sam’s special needs school life:
Sam’s school day begins at 8.10am when his taxi and escort arrive at our house to take him to school. (It’s 11 miles away, and it takes about 40 minutes to get there most days).
Once the school doors open, one of his class teaching assistants will come out and take him into class. Once the register has been done, Sam takes it down to the office (with support).
Sam’s school days will involve a mixture of lessons, therapy, playtime and personal care. During the week, he receives hydrotherapy in the pool, speech therapy, sessions in the light room, sensory room, soft play and the outdoor trampoline. All of these are used to help him cope with school life. He loves shapes, letters and numbers so his day will usually involve a little bit of these as well as whatever else they are focussing on at that time. Sam seems to love his time at school, and is definitely embracing his special needs school life.
Parent and School Relationship:
The school involve parents and carers in a lot of their activities – I’m at Sam’s school helping with fun days, sponsored walks, watching assemblies etc a lot more than I am at his sister’s mainstream school. This was Sam on Sports Day – rocking’ his home made “Violet Class” T-shirt, no less! His Teaching Assistant is helping him to finish the relay race he was taking part in at this point. I promise he was enjoying himself!
Sam’s in year 3 now and takes a packed lunch to school. He has an extremely limited diet, so lunch usually consists of either a Jam Sandwich and carrot sticks, with a satsuma or chocolate buttons, or some roasted sweet potatoes, chips or Yorkshire puddings – depending what he’s eating that week. His school is much more relaxed on lunch box contents than our daughter’s school. I guess that’s special needs school life for you.
Meeting Sam’s Needs:
Sam is still in pull ups so requires support with personal care in school. He also needs help changing for PE or Swimming too.
Sam has an amazing relationship with his TA’s and his taxi escort, and he seems to genuinely love going to school. This, of course is a massive relief to me!
Sam’s day to day school life is much different to his sister, who is in year 2 in our local mainstream school. Both schools are doing an amazing job though. I am so so thankful to each and every one of their Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Escorts, and other school staff members. They all work tirelessly to ensure they both enjoy school, and strive to reach their full potential. Have you had any experience with Special Needs Schools? If so, I hope your special needs school life experience has been as positive as Sam’s.
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