20 March 2020
As a parent of a child with special educational needs, getting educational support for your child can be a confusing and disheartening process. For Carol, mum of 10-year-old Kieran, her son’s early difficulties at school led to years of unanswered questions. A speech and language assessment at the Bill Harrison Assessment Centre not only provided answers, but gave her the confidence to fight for the right support.
“We first noticed Kieran’s difficulties when he was 4. He was having a lot of meltdowns - in hindsight due to his frustrations at trying to communicate with us. He had great trouble at school when he started in Year 1. He was having tantrums, and tried to escape. His teacher was struggling to support him so we thought that home-schooling would be the best option.
We thought Kieran could benefit from speech and language therapy, but as homeschoolers, we had to pay privately and it was too expensive to keep going after one session. The speech and language therapist recommended an assessment for autism, so at age 6, we got him on the autism waiting list for CAMHS. It was another two years before we were finally given a diagnosis.
We continued home-schooling, but at age 10 we also received a diagnosis of dyslexia. At this point, we thought a special school might be the best place for him. We began the process of applying for an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan).
As part of the process, we needed a new assessment from a speech and language therapist. I looked online to find somewhere that could see him before the deadline and came across the I CAN centre - it looked professional and had a nice playroom for Kieran to enjoy!
Usually he hates it when he knows he’s being assessed, he feels very under pressure. But the team there really took the time to get to know him and put him at ease, so by the time they started the assessment he was happy to talk and play with them. He didn’t even want to leave! Because of this, they were able to get the best out of him. The report we received not only recognised Kieran’s needs, but also his strengths, such as his sense of humour and kindness.
The report gave a future school tips on how to support Kieran. It was interesting to find out where Kieran’s difficulties with communication lie; for example, he understands what is said to him, but struggles to find the words to respond.
Now that we have this information, it will help us apply for places at the schools we’re interested in. The other reports we had for the EHCP were quite negative; they were done by professionals who didn’t spend more than an hour or two with Kieran so didn’t really get to know him and see his potential.
We as parents found the experience to be very morale-boosting and it gave us the confidence to pursue a school for our son that would meet his needs and get the best out of him. We look forward to what the future will bring for Kieran!”
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