Thursday, 14 July 2016

Fragile X Awareness month - Day 14

If you want to find out more about FX you can go to the Fragile X Association of Australia website. I will be sharing our families story.

Finding the right school for a child with additional needs can be a bit of a complicated process. Now I know the Government will tell you that all schools are the same and I know that the 'policy' is that all State Schools must take a child if asked (at one school I could see the panic in their eyes as they nodded and smiled). However the reality is very different.

When we started to look at school options for Connor we really had no idea what we were doing. So we started asking for advice, and the more we asked the more confusing it got. On one end of the spectrum were the people following the 'policy' line which is all children should go to mainstream school. Then there were the people who wouldn't say anything because teachers and administrators aren't 'allowed' to give advice.

The final fly in the ointment is the special school criteria. In a nutshell you have to have an IQ below a certain level. The Government have written the guidelines so they can change that level whenever they want. They take nothing, absolutely nothing else into consideration. That is why distance education enrolment has gone through the roof. Parents are having to home school so their kids can get an education and don't come home every day physically and emotionally wrecked.

In the end I went into panic mode and at the last minute we kept him back for another year of Kindy. Nothing seemed right, we'd gone to a number of school interviews, done numerous assessments and no one would tell us if he met special school criteria. With no one able or prepared to help us we deferred the decision for a year.

The extra year was the best thing we could have done. On one hand it gave Connor an extra year to mature and on the other hand it gave us another year to do more research. In the end we were able to get him into a special school. The small class size, supportive environment and individually designed education plans are exactly what he needs.

Connor is now in the equivalent of year 1. Merryn is one year behind in prep and I am able to do her homework with him. He can't do all of it, but he is making progress. If he had been in a classroom with 25 other kids, there is no way he would be where he is now, or that he would be loving school so much.

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