Monday, 17 February 2014

Part Time Time Table and Exclusions

Part time timetables and school exclusions are subjects that cause me great cause for concern. For anyone who has had the iron constitution to read their way through my blogs you will know how mainstream education catastrophically failed Isaac. His last months were very part time and packed with exclusions.

I just wish that I knew then what I know now. I was given the impression by those experienced in education that the part time time table was in Isaac's best interests as he couldn't cope with any more.

The reality was they couldn't cope with him and didn't know what else to do. I feel so angry now that I complied for so long but I truly was desperate to help Isaac and I am sorry to say that if some one had told me that standing on my head whilst singing Bohemian Rhapsody would have helped my little man then I would have done it!!

When I look back Isaac's first "absences" from school happened when he was only in reception. I would get a phone call around 8 am to say his TA was ill, they could get a replacement but they knew Isaac wouldn't like that so what did I want to do? Well, what a loaded question!!! Do I send him to school, into certain disaster as we all knew he wouldn't cope or do I keep him at home. It was Hobsons Choice..... I had no choice. I failed to ask how he was marked absent on these days, I assume it was " authorised absence", that doesn't tell the true story does it!

On a few occasions I accompanied Isaac into school as his TA when one wasn't available, I refused to keep him at home and said I would support him...... and I did..... its only now when I look back I can see how wrong this whole situation was.

As the situation deteriorated Isaac's education went down to 2 hours a day, even then he could easily get excluded within those two hours. The Head Teacher told me she had spoken to the head of the LEA who had authorised as much flexibility as was required in these extreme circumstances even though it was not protocol. Why the heck hadn't I realised at that point they had no idea, they were out of their depth and they were breaking the law but it was draped under the banner of "exceptional circumstances".

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, no, no , no!!!!

I was fed the line that it was in the child's best interests, and as I was desperate at this point I went along with it. For a meeting near the end of Isaac's mainstream education I wrote a 3 page document about the detrimental effects this situation was having on Isaac.... I received no acknowledgement.

It was then we walked away.

Isaac is now in a small BESD school, and guess what..... he is in full time education!!! So, it turns out he doesn't need part time, he can cope with full time. Only it has to be the right full time.

Up until the end I still clung to the fact that we all had Isaac's best interests at heart, but in those last few meetings I had comments such as " Isaac's mum consistently fails to adhere to the exclusion protocol and will take him ice skating and to have fun with his grand parents whilst excluded". I refer back to the document we had submitted regarding Isaac's emotional ad psychological well being. We had stated how damaging the exclusions were, he was withdrawn, covered in eczema, had developed an eye tick, and needed " to wash the smell of school of him" when he got home, so yeah we didn't further chastise him but we tried to scrape his self esteem off the floor. This was never acknowledged.

I consider that we are so lucky now. We have found a school were Isaac is beginning to spread his wings. It is slow progress but I am still very cross at what happened to my child.

I know Isaac is not an isolated case, I hear so many stories of children who cant go on school trips, or attend school discos or be taught in the class room, or need part time education. I suspect in reality actually non of these are the case and in fact it is the failure in the understanding of autism and the failure of the support that leads to these conclusions.

In view of what we have been through I was so excited to read about a campaign called Ruled Out, instigated Ambitious about Autism.

They are bringing to the fore everything that I have just said was wrong with Isaac's mainstream education.

2013 Research highlighted that 20% of children with autism have been excluded in the last 12 months.

4 in 10 children with autism have been excluded illegally during their time at school.

Over half of parents of children with autism say they have kept their child out of school for fear that the school is unable to provide appropriate support.

Please go to their page and sign up to stopping the illegal exclusion of ASD children.

They have a great guide for parents, a video, and a link to write and inform your MP along with a  petition to sign.

Please look and make a difference. I know from the online group I am a part of that children are unfairly excluded from many aspects of "normal" school life on a daily basis and it goes under the radar that it is in fact illegal.

It needs to stop.


  1. How is this acceptable to those in a position of responsibility and authority. It is only justified because the so called professionals know no better. So when we, as parents, take decisive action and say NO MORE, and we withdraw our loved ones from such a damaging environment we are then accused of breaking the law. Bring it on, I say! I will see you in court and maybe then the truth of your incompetence will become public. Oh how the tumbleweeds roll then!

  2. Glad to hear you now have the right schooling setting for your child, but it shouldn't be the case that we have to wait for these children to fail before the real help is given. Doesn't anyone care anymore? It's so sad that it's such a battle :(

  3. Hi. I think one of the best things we can learn from the battles is self reliance. There is a brainwashing that education can best and only really be done in a school and by "experts". Even deeper brainwashing is that these experts really care about those they work with . I've come to see that time spent battling to fit into a system not fit for purpose for my child is wasted time and energy.
    After 6 years of it and that system taking my fun loving energetic little boy and turning him into a highly strung child who constantly lashed out dragging our relationship to breaking point with labels like violent and vicious being written about him in official documents I care not to partake in such a system.
    Ultimately the solution they have for our children who "fail" in the local system is to put them in privately run residential schools often in other parts of the country from their family. Basically lock em up and throw away the key with the underlying message that the parents are so incompetent that someone else will be better at caring for your child. Basically put the child in care and let someone make money out of them.
    It's a silent scandal happening to people like US and word needs to get out there that this can happen when the education system fails kids and families.
    It's taken 12months for my child to heal from the TRAUMA of school and we are all happier than before so timeout of it and seeing if it reduces the PDA symptoms is well worth doing before going down the routes "the experts" can take you down!!!

  4. P.S. I encourage people to Google Bryn Estyn School in Wales for people to get an understanding of what can happen in a residential school when things go wrong!!

  5. My autistic son became deeply withdrawn, agoraphobic and suicidal when he was 10, due to the incompetence (or is it neglect?) of his mainstream primary school. In hindsight I believe he ended up suffering from PTSD (or a form of) as any mention of school or anything connected with it would cause him to become tearful and so frightened that he would physically cling on to me if anyone connected with education came into our home. We were deeply shocked too. We couldn't get over how a school who we entrusted our child into the care of could let our son crumble into such a state. If that wasn't bad enough the school and the LA were determined to blame our parenting and we had an arduous fight to prove otherwise. Eventually we got psychiatric help for him, a statement of SEN and a special school place but it took many years for him to recover from his experiences in junior school. At the moment I am not even close to forgiving and forgetting what the British education system has done to my child. I have lost all respect for it and will never trust the schooling system again. Hopefully one day the scandal of how our autistic children are being treated by schools and local authorities will emerge and that those responsible for the poor treatment of our children will hang their heads in shame.

  6. To anonymous, I absolutely feel your pain. I have been through a similar experience with my son, also 10 , who was suicidal and anxious and deeply traumatised by school. You are not alone. I have taken the step today to remove my son from the school system and de-registered him. This has not gone down well with the authorities who keep advising me that he will get no support if I take him out of the system. What support has he ever got in the system??? Mainstream can't cope with his social and emotional needs, special ed can't meet his educational needs, CAMHS won't provide access to services that might help him as they said his anxiety is to do with his 'autism' and not a separate mental health disorder so I have to go privately for counselling...the system can stuff it - I will take it from here, thank you!
    And Caroline, thank you for your blog. My son has a diagnosis of ASD with unusual emotional liability which was changed by CAMHS to Aspergers but I knew it never quite fitted. I discovered the PDA leaflet in the CAMHS waiting room but they still refuse to acknowledge my questioning of it so it is only thanks to the rare blogs like yours that describe it, that have helped me understand more where my son fits into all this. PDA is such an accurate description of his place on the spectrum but that is one fight I just haven't had the energy to take up with anyone. In some ways, I am one of the lucky ones because at least I have a diagnosis and statement for my child whereas others still face that lonely battle. Keep up the good work!