From Exclusion to Inclusion
Read how one Bristol mum got a school placement for her child after support from our Birth to 16 team.
Before Muna came to Autism Independence she had not been getting much help for her child. As a result she felt very alone and was struggling. Her son had been diagnosed with autism when he was five years old. She did not understand the diagnosis, know where or how to get support, or how to manage this.
One day, she met another parent who had a child with autism. They suggested that Muna visits Autism Independence where she would be able to get advice and support. When she first came to us, she mainly received help with form filling and advice on what autism was.
No support from school
At this time Muna’s son was at mainstream school. He had been getting some support, but it was not enough. He did not have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and he desperately needed one. Muna did not know what this was, and the school did not advise her that he needed this.
When he was in year 5 things became very challenging for her son. He was finding things difficult, and he kept running out of the classroom. Halfway into year 5, the school said that he could no longer attend full time and he could only come for half days. Muna was constantly being called to the school and was at a loss at what to do. She did not think the school was listening to her, and she was at breaking point.
Things continued to get worse. When her son was in year 6 the school said his behaviours were too disruptive, and he could no longer come to the school. It was at this point that Autism Independence got more involved.
How did we help?
The team pushed for alternative educational provision so that Muna’s son was not stuck at home. It took about a month for the Local Authority to arrange something else for him. Eventually it was agreed that he would be taken out to do activities around Bristol three days per week.
This was welcomed by Muna, but it was a very confusing time for her son. When someone has autism, they often struggle with changes, and it is important to manage these changes gradually. The exclusion from the school happened straight away, so he did not have time to adjust to the change to his routine, and he would get upset.
In the meantime, Autism Independence went to the first school meeting to start the process of getting an EHCP. This was an important step to getting the right educational provision in place. They put pressure on the school and Local Authority to ensure that his exclusion from education did not continue indefinitely.
Prior to this Muna had thought that the school was handling everything but when he was excluded there was no communication at all. As soon as Autism Independence intervened things started to progress quickly.
They also supported Muna, the school and the Local Authority to overcome the language barrier. Whilst Muna speaks English she did not feel confident enough to speak to professionals. Autism Independence translated from English to Somali for Muna and from Somali to English for the professionals. This helped to bridge any cultural or linguistic gap and move things forward for Muna’s son.
Finding the right school
Autism Independence went to more meetings to discuss Muna’s son’s EHCP and looked at alternative schools that could support his needs. They suggested Venturers Academy, which specialises in working with children with autism. Over the summer the forms were completed, and school transport arranged and from September he started at the new school.
How are things now?
Muna’s son has settled in to his new school well. He is calm and does not cry as much. He is not as aggressive and he interacts with his fellow pupils and with his family.
Muna used to get calls everyday and she would have to pick him up. It was a lot for the family to deal with and it affected everybody emotionally and mentally.
Since her son’s EHCP is in place and he is going to a school that supports his needs, life is calmer for Muna, her son and for the rest of the family. She is very grateful for the support and how it has changed their lives for the better.