John’s progress could not have been possible if he has not been given all the support that he needed throughout his school life.
His schools have always been his backbone towards his achievements both in academics and his current life skills.
I will walk you through what he has achieved during his primary, secondary and his current year in college.
I will discuss all the strategies that his schools did for him to enable him to gain gradual success in his communication, social interaction, attention and concentration, behavioural and fine motor skills.
John attended a mainstream primary school. At first, he found the school too overwhelming. He screeched and screamed whenever he felt frustrated.
The school thought of providing him with a support worker who will guide him throughout his everyday activities in school.
Unfortunately, this was not enough so the school has to meet up with the Special Needs Coordinator to come up with a plan. They have helped him to apply for a statement of special educational needs.
When he has received his statement, the school provided him with a speech and language therapist and an occupational therapist. John has to meet up with them in specific days.
His teacher also has created a Learning Support Plan for him which will work on specific targets for his social communication and interaction skills, speech and language skills, attention and concentration skills, literacy and numeracy skills.
I met with her on a monthly basis along with the headteacher, the SEN coordinator, and speech and language therapist to discuss John’s progress.
His teacher was supportive and even spoke to the whole class about John’s condition so that they could understand him. They have been good to him and understand his condition. He has a set of ‘special friends’. He knew what a friend means but still do not know its real meaning.
He made noises by screaming every time he does not get his way and plays alone away from his classmates. He loved to play water and regularly opens the water tap in their school’s toilet.
John had a wonderful experience during his primary years. He had gradually improved his social communication and interaction skills, speech and language skills and numeracy skills.
His behaviour was still unmanageable at times although he easily follows instructions when prompted.
He was able to recognise the different emotions and tries his best to understand them. This has given him the opportunity to explore and learn that he is different from any other child of his age. He even approached me and told me that he feels and believes that he is different.
This is the transition stage where I have to find an appropriate school for John.
I have mentioned to his teacher during his last annual review that I would like to find a suitable secondary school to help him progress even more. I, together with his SEN teacher in primary school, the speech and language therapist and the educational psychologist have decided to transfer him to a special need school.
I visited three schools and chose the one nearer where we lived. This is the best for John for it is just a walking distance from our place.
He had settled in well after a week and told me that he liked his new school. The curriculum is the same although they have to base it according to John’s abilities.
They created an Individualised Educational Plan (IEP) to help John to focus on specific target areas which were in line with his knowledge and understanding, personal, physical, communication, mathematical and creative development. This method has helped him to progress easily.
At the end of Year 8, I had a meeting with John’s teacher together with the SEN coordinator and his speech and language therapist. They have a plan for integrating John to a mainstream school because he is one of the ablest students in his class.
He has progressed a lot academically and has seen improvement in his life skills. They thought that it would more beneficial to John’s progress if they would integrate him into a mainstream school.
He was then transferred to the ARP ( Additional Resource Provision) unit of the mainstream school which is still affiliated with the special need school.
He was able to settle in well. He attended the ARP unit until the end of Year 11. Then, they have decided during the annual review meeting that it was time for John to be transferred to Sixth form or College.
Hunting for a sixth form special need school is a bit daunting considering it will be another challenge for my son, John.
College school life could sometimes be intimidating especially to my son who has to adjust again to an entirely new environment with a new set of teachers and classmates to interact with.
So far, he is currently doing well and has settled in nicely to his new school.
He has taken his first mock examinations in English and Maths. This is in preparation for his Entry level examinations in both subjects. He did really well and is now looking forward to his examinations this coming May.
At the moment, he is currently working on his coursework in English and Maths. During his annual review, last June his teacher told me that he did excellent in his first coursework in English.
He attends a mainstream college every Wednesday. They teach him how to cook which is part of his life skills development. He enjoyed his cooking lessons and managed to bake a cake with some support.
They are also teaching him how to travel independently to and from college every Wednesday. He was able to travel independently and managed to do this with confidence.
These are all the things that he has achieved in college so far. We are hoping that he will continue to improve until he has fully achieved personal independence.
I would like to share with you this video that shows how school choice could play a very important role in influencing the educational progress of a child with special needs. Hope you would find this helpful in choosing the right school that is tailored to the particular needs of your child.
If you need help in understanding IEP goals and objectives, please click this.
I sincerely hope these insights have helped in some way, and welcome your questions should there be any.