Humour me a little here as I know I am in a dream world but imagine this:
You have a child who shows signs of Autism so you take them to the GP who agrees and refers you to a children’s mental health unit who agree to see you the next week. They meet with you and decide to assess your child the following week. A week after that your child receives a diagnosis.
So you go to the school SENCO who quickly suggests your child will probably need an EHC Plan. She gathers all the evidence she has been getting together over the last year and contacts the educational psychologist, who comes in the following week. Three months later the educational psychologist comes back and then writes a report. Your SENCO sends the report along with her paperwork to the LA assessment team.
The LA assessment team receive your child’s application for an EHC Plan and they have a meeting and decide to assess your child. You get a letter asking for any extra information at the end of that week and so do any health care professionals they have contacted. Everyone replies promptly with this information and your child is assessed the following week. An EHC Plan is issued.
You are then asked what school you want your child to attend and the assessment team arrange that. Less than five months from taking your child to the GP, they are starting to settle in to their new school, where they will receive an education that suits them.
So maybe my time scales are a little unrealistic but my point is that we have a system in place in the UK that should be easy. A system which allows children to be diagnosed, assessed for EHC Plans and allocated the right schools. Yet a lot of parents and carers have to fight for years to get these things for their children.
Unfortunately there are waiting lists and overworked offices and funding issues to deal with. Most people will end up fighting at some stage or another, a lot of people every stage. Parents end up appealing decisions to get them overturned, attending hundreds of unnecessary meetings and in some places going to tribunals to get their child the education that is their given right.
We have, instead of the easy system, a system where unfortunately if you don’t have the means to fight either academically or because of language barriers, you don’t stand a lot of chance of getting anywhere.
The very system set up to help our children is instead setting them up to fail!
Diagnosis’ are taking too long.
EHC Plans that are very needed by children are either not being applied for or not given due to funding.
School places are allocated because of funding rather than the actual needs of the child.
We have a system that appears to most parents of autistic children to be based more on funding than their children’s needs.
We have a system where some parents of children with autism have to fight to get their children out of mainstream education when those children so obviously can’t cope in a mainstream environment.
This fight takes so long that we have ended up with parents out of work and in debt, children out of school or depressed and suicidal, schools with completely avoidable behavioural issues and teachers off sick with stress!
We should not have to fight for things that should come as standard such as the right education or support for our children!
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