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. http://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/ruledout
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.