So my little boy has been out of school since November 2016. That’s 5 months ago.
Sadly the mainstream school that he transferred to last September were not able to meet his needs. Regular exclusions resulted in him losing any trust in the school. After fighting for months for him to stay there we slowly came to the realisation that fighting was not helping the victim in all of this, our boy. His refusal to enter the classroom and join in with any lessons or social activities was a clear indication that the environment was not right for him. School refusal was the ultimate wake up call. Enough was enough. We had to find alternative provision for him where he could be supported, understood and encouraged.
That’s when the next battle began.
At the end of January 2017 our application for a specialist school was approved and a place offered to us. For September 2017! Although we were relieved to have jumped over one hurdle, the worry of what would happen for the next 7 months took hold. I had tried home schooling and so far been unsuccessful. My boy has a set belief that home is home, and school is school. Fair enough. School homework had always been a battle. I tried every way possible to disguise ‘work’ as a fun activity but he always saw through it and refused point blank to cooperate.
We decided to appeal against the Local Authority’s decision in an attempt to get his school place brought forward. After a very time consuming process we submitted our appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Since then we have received a hearing date of mid June! This is obviously too late, as even if we were successful in our appeal, starting our boy at a new school just weeks before the summer holidays would make no sense at all.
So this is where we are at now. No school. And still another 4 months to go. It is beyond belief that in a country where every child has a right to education we have been left in this situation. Home tuition is not a viable option as my boy struggles to cope with people coming into our home and often hides away, even when friends or family visit. Sadly he has also developed a severe anxiety of leaving the house, so even short trips to the shops or the park are now few and far between. He also struggles with friends coming to play so is socialising very little.
My biggest fear is that 9 months out of school is just too long and he will be unable to adjust to a school routine when the time comes. It will hardly be surprising. Any child would struggle with this. Any adult would struggle with this. But for a child with ASD, combined with high levels of demand avoidance, the enormity of this challenge can not be underestimated. School is vital for our boy in order to receive the appropriate support that he so desperately needs in order to progress academically, emotionally and socially. I just hope it’s not too late.