Isle of Wight SEND Stories #1: Why can’t my child autism get support? (updated)

Five-year-old Adam’s family refer to him as a “high-functioning” child with autism and say because of this they’ve been told that he’s unlikely to get additional support, but add that the reality is that his “teachers couldn’t possibly give him the help he needs alongside teaching all the other children in his class”

autism on scrabble board

A couple of weeks ago the Isle of Wight council shared the results of a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted which stated that “support for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) has improved“.

The overwhelming response from parents on social media (not just on our Page but when our post was shared by others) was that from their own experience, they didn’t recognise this. Indeed, many said they didn’t know a single family with a positive thing to say about Isle of Wight SEND support.

All is well – Really?
One mother of a child with autism told OnTheWight she was very surprised to see the report showing that all was well on the Isle of Wight.

Emma said,

“That’s certainly not my view, or the view of anyone else that I have met on my SEN journey so far.”

Emma and Adam’s story
OnTheWight asked Emma whether she’d be happy to share her experience of SEND support for her five-year-old son.

She said that Adam is a “high-functioning child with severe autism, severe sensory processing issues, as well as communication/understanding problems”.

Emma explained that Adam initially started at the same school as his sister, however shortly afterwards she removed him from that school. She said,

“The school’s capability to understand his behaviour were non-existent. I am in contact with many other parents from the same school, who also have many issues with the school and the SEN in relation to the care of their child.

“In our view, there is no intention of the school to improve their understanding of SEN in children.”

Emma explained that her son now attends another school, “who do a much better job in looking after Adam”.

Speech and language referral
When Adam was diagnosed, Emma said his report specifically recommended that a referral to speech and language therapy was essential.

She explained this is because his understanding of other children, and the understanding of the world around him and behaviours of both children and parents, are severely misunderstood and confusing.

This confusion leads to severe anxiety and meltdowns at home, “as he masks whilst at school”, she said.

No access to additional services
Emma said,

“Whilst I feel his school is particularly well-trained to manage children like my son, they are not able to access the additional services required to support him.

“The school have advised that they can not help with this without an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP).”

Emma has tried self referring, but was refused. She explains that she now has to pay for this service privately, as Adam so desperately needs the additional support.

“This is not right, in fact he is in a position whereby he is fortunate that we are able to afford to pay for this. However, there is no doubt in my mind that there are many families that can’t.”

Educational Health Care Plans
For one-to-one support to enable him to continue learning, Emma says that Adam needs an Educational Health Care Plan.

She goes on to say,

“We’ve been advised that there is no point to apply for this, as they are instantly refused and he is highly unlikely to get any additional support because he is high-functioning. Disability discrimination comes to mind!

“The reality is that he struggles with bright light, noise, understanding others and the teacher couldn’t possibly give Adam the additional help and support he needs alongside teaching all the other children.”

Expected to cope without additional help
Emma explains that Adam has no awareness of past and present, and no imaginative skills, something that he could really struggle with as he continues at school, yet he still has to cope without any additional help.

She says,

“As a result of this, he is restricted from achieving his maximum potential with his learning, as every day he is overwhelmed by the environment he is in and his lack of understanding of others, causes him so much distress he is not being given an opportunity to thrive!”

Share your story
If you would like OnTheWight to share your experience of SEND services on the Isle of Wight, get in touch.

Your SEND Story will be dealt with sensitively and we can anonymise the report if you wish.

Article edit:
8.18pm 13th Feb 2020 – Reference to example from previous school removed and high functioning and severe autism placed in quote marks as that was the language used by parent.

Image: Jesper Sehested under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 13th February, 2020 6:51pm



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4 Comments on "Isle of Wight SEND Stories #1: Why can’t my child autism get support? (updated)"

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If an application for an assessment for EHCP is refused the best thing to do is appeal – >85% of appeals against refusal to assess are won by parents. This is because the legal test for assessment is essentially: that the child or young person may have SEN that may require support via an EHCP. Without an assessment it is difficult for the Local Authority to prove… Read more »

In the Tory manifesto it genuinely states funding for learning disability support 2024 to be zero. They do not care.

To be fair the £0 budget reflects an end to a set period of additional funding rather than the cutting of a basic budget. Having said that… With the per capita spend on pupils having been cut so drastically there have been huge cuts to provision – and SEND pupils obviously cost higher than average. (Before anyone tries to claim otherwise: double check your figures, the nominal… Read more »

“Tempus Omnia Revelat” time reveals all !