This time of year can be a big reminder to SEND families about our differences to other families. In September social media is filled with fun holiday memories from the summer and back-to-school pictures. Many families with SEND children don’t have those photos to share. Back to school is different for SEND families. Here, several parents share their experiences.
School holidays with SEND children: Our Altered Life has a great post on the differences we can experience in the school holidays. 13 ways to survive the school holidays when your child has additional needs.
All those smiling faces of kids in uniform by the front door can be a gut-wrenching reminder for the families struggling with the education system. Steph from Steph’s Two Girls says at this time of year she is ‘..thinking of all the other families who are really struggling with Back to School. Those who’ve seen an increase in anxious or violent behaviour over the last few weeks as the school start approaches.’ Read more in her post Back to school or not 2021.
Danielle from PDA Parenting shares her experiences in the post School Rejection and Anxiety. An example of how hard it can be navigating the school system when it’s not right for you.
Handling the Coke-bottle effect
For children who struggle with school they can be holding in stress and anxiety all day. This can create the Coke bottle effect. What is the Coke bottle effect? Your child is the Coke bottle. They are being shaken up by little things all day so it keeps building up. So when they get home to their safe place, the cap comes off and you get an explosion. Many young children will struggle when they get home from school. Lizzie from A Curious Journey sets out her helpful tips in How to Tackle After School Meltdowns.
Choosing the right school for SEND children
Most families choose schools based on their geographical location. For many SEND families, we need to look a little further to find the right fit for our children. Choosing the right school for your child can be really difficult because there are so many choices to make. There are so many different types of school to consider – mainstream, specialist, independent, resource based.
Other options can be alternative learning provision or home schooling. Before you choose, it helps to know what the options are. This post on choosing the right school from The Autism Page may be a helpful start.
Ann from Rainbows Are Too Beautiful looks at these choices in a bit more detail in the post Finding a School for a SEN Child. As Ann points out: ‘These are school possibilities because not all parents will be able to choose between those based on their location and the provisions in their area.’
When school isn’t working
Schools are understandably designed to support the majority but this in turn causes many issues for the minority. Unfortunately often our SEND children fall into that minority who the school system is not working for. This can be for many reasons. Some of our kids need more time than their peers and are just not ready for the expectations the school system has for them. Growing Exceptions explore this in her post: Better in their own time.
Ordinary Hopes shares how SEND children can be ‘pushed out of school’. Whilst Jodie from Autism with Love shares Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Change Your Autistic Child’s School.
Many SEND families choose to home school their children. ‘In a school environment, there are many factor which can create sensory overwhelm for children with autism, as outlined in this post from Starlight and Stories. There are sound, smells, tastes as well as tactile input, and as being autistic often means that you experience difficulties in processing a multitude of sensory stimulation, this can easily result in build up of stress…,’ says Malin from Sensational Learning with Penguin in the post 4 Reasons Why Home Education (Homeschooling) is a Good Fit for our Autistic Child.
The SEN Resources Blog is filled with tips for anyone who is homeschooling. Whilst many of our kids have gone back or started school already some children will be taking longer to settle in. Georgina has pulled together a great list of resources to help children learn about emotions. Very helpful for school related anxiety. Mark at the Additional Needs Blogfather has put together another great list of back to school resources.
Let Us Learn Too
SEND families have joined together to form the Let Us Learn Too campaign for the rights of disabled children and young people. This is to help highlight some of the differences experienced by our families and ensure that our children’s needs are considered.