Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh SHIT NO - I really need help here people...

I have had some shitfully craptacular news today. Apologies for the length but I need to put this story out as far and wide as possible to get any help and advice needed.

My scarily awesome Cyclone is 6 and is on the Autism Spectrum, and most likely ADHD. He started at a brilliant school at the start of the year but it was clear it was too stressful for him. He is very anxious, finds it hard to concentrate and can get very cross when frustrated. Apart from that he is wonderful and a very bright little spark.

We were referred by his current school to a new school that specializes in Spectrum Kids and ones that aren't coping well. They attend this school for one year, then are transferred back to mainstream school with a whole new confidence. They have an amazing track record of literally changing kids lives.

There are NO other schools that cater to kids like this. It is independent. I had several calls/meeting with the principal of "N School" and she said they could certainly help us out and we organised for Cyclone to start Term 3.

3rd June, 1st meeting at school with principal after several long phone calls.

11th June, Cycone had trial run at N School. He ran out of the classroom after about 30 mins and waited by the car.

Told shortly after that he could not attend N School in Term 3 due to – running out of the classroom. She brought up the fact that the school is on a main road and there were safety issues if he was to run out of the school again. Principal apologized and told me “I know it’s not the news you were expecting” and that they could definitely take him for Term 4 – he just ‘wasn’t the right fit right now’ and after I asked her what I should do with him, she advised me to call Current School and ask if they could keep him in a ‘holding pattern’ as they had already been doing for Term 2. I did not think this was a good idea, she asked me to press Current School to so do, for just one more term. I asked her again if they would definitely take him for term 4, she said yes.

I called several autism services/advisors and asked for their advice.
Discussed situation with several family and friends.

Decided reluctantly to homeschool. Advised N school Principal, she was not happy with this and felt he would get too used to being at home and out of a school routine. I advised I would do my best to keep the routine, and after all it was only one term.

I have since spoken to Principal at least 3 times, to advise her of our progress at home and with professional services and to ask her if there was anything further I could to do help his transition to the N School.

The second to last phone call I rang to arrange for Principal to come and observe him at the local library where we do some of our lessons(her request). She said she didn’t have her diary there but would call me in two weeks to arrange a time. I let her know any time was ok with us.

I have not heard from Principal since, but called today – ready for her to again bring up his homeschooling, but instead was told – that she ‘had it in her head that I was going to call her’, that there had obviously been a miscommunication between us both…(sorry, no). I said nevermind I was calling to make an appointment to formally enroll him ready for next term. She pauses then tells me that there is no place available for him.

I completely contained myself and nearly popped several veins in the process – here is a brief outline of the conversation.

– are you kidding me, what do you mean there is no place available? You told me he couldn’t go in term 3 but you could accommodate him in Term 4.
Her – I didn’t say that.
Me – yes you did, we have had several conversations about him starting next term, I have been speaking to you since May. I have spent the last 8 weeks homeschooling my son and preparing him for this, you are well aware of the situation.
Her – well I had it in my head that you were to call me, there appears to be a communication breakdown between us. The place has gone to someone else. I’m sorry, this doesn’t seem fair does it?
Me – regardless of you thinking I was to call you – was there a point you were going to call me and advise you had changed your mind about my son, did you think I had all of a sudden forgotten he was to attend?
Her – I have several families needing places here.
Me – have they been waiting as long as I have? Where is the priority here? Are you aware the effect that this has had on my life – are these other children still able to attend school, my son isn’t and needs to get back into the education system. You are the one that kept telling me homeschooling wasn’t the answer. Why have things changed?

Look it goes on and on, but at the end of the day she has nothing and can’t answer any of my questions.
1) She has stuffed up royally and expects me to walk away.
2) All kids need to be assessed – he has had ONE trial day and the principal wasn’t even there and has not met him. How can she assess him?
3) This is a private school, so yes they can pick and choose who attends. This will be a problem but I don’t see why I can’t put some sort of pressure on them to accept him. Especially in the light of the fact I was TOLD he was accepted. If I was told at any time that he didn’t have a definite place I would have made a backup plan.

The backup plan would have involved another school with a huge transition program put in place and these things take time. I also would probably NOT have chosen to homeschool and look for alternatives much much earlier. It is now 2 weeks from the end of term so Cyclone is totally stuffed. You would not believe the stress and pressure I have gone through trying to make sure he is keeping up with his ABC’s, doing physical therapy and running him to 8000 appointments.

I can’t keep him out of school another term, I just can’t. I’m not a fricken professional teacher, OT or psychologist. I cannot offer what he needs alone.

Our neurotherapist just can't believe what is going on, and will call the Principal tomorrow to try and sort something.

What else can I do? Who can I contact? The school board? The Stupidhead Principle Police?

If you are a teacher, can you advise me? What other sort of pressure can I put to get him in? TRUST ME, I will do all I can.
Email luluandcyclone@gmail.com

Please, if you know anyone who works in Education, particularly private can you please ask if they know the correct channels to address this.

And, lastly if you think (or know from experience) that I am up the creek in a barbed wire canoe, please let me know...but just do it gently.


Lucy said...


Luce, I am crap, totally crap, in that I can offer you no practical advice at all.

But this sucks, big time, and I can feel your panic and distress coming out over the page. I am so sorry.

I hope you get some good advice and answers SOON.

MMBB said...

Well f*ck me, that just sucks donkey's balls. Some people are just effing useless. Stupid principle. There'd have to be an education board to help with this sort of sito.

Try and get some rest tonight and hopefully by tomorrow the royal twat-face will have some useful information for you.

Good luck with it all, hope you sort something out :( :)

Purple_cath said...

I just saw ur blog retweeted. This is such an awful situation for you to be in and so very stressful and unsupported. I pray that you get some answers. My understanding from having only a small amount of time in schools (normally hospital/private) is that your right, independent schools don't really have to do anything as ling as they have "appeared" to do what they can. Public have to have a place for you and therefore have more accessability to services and support. The louder you are with your concern the better. I believe you would complain to deet area manager and then individual plans are put in place. It may mean limited hours at school to begin with and reinforcing the need for an aide to assist with 1:1 but I think they are in process of funding apps now so need to complain to public principle/ap/welfare person in charge if applications so doesn't miss for next year. In conjunction the area manager so they know about your concerns and horrible experience. Sorry if I'm telling you what you've already tried. Unfortunately may have to cut losses re inadequate principal and just write a nasty letter cc'd to deet head honch. Wishing u all the best and quick resolution

Jen said...

OMG Lulu! that is ridiculous and so infuriating! HOW RUDE!

Do you have anything in writing from the school to say that Cyclone would be starting there next term? I have no idea how the private sector works I am sorry :( so I can't offer any practical advice.

Have you contaced the Autism foundation? they might be able to give you some advice on how to fight this? and they might have ideas or a range of schools that might be good if this doesn't work?

Oh man. Poor Cyclone and Poor you and GRR to the Pricate school Principal!

**actually I just thought about you having anything in writing..well you have your blog and it is pretty much a recorded scribe of your interactions with this school so maybe seek advice from um...somewhere...as that might count as a record of what the school said?

Good luck Lulu xo

Madmother said...

Firstly a disclaimer: *I am terribly sleep deprived and under a lot of pressure so please forgive me if some of this is not clear or makes little sense.*

1. Do a time line in point form of every detail. Keep it clear, unemotional, factual. Do not do he said/she said, state facts only. I can give you exmples if you like.
2. Request any documentation the former school has on communication with N school. You may not get it but it doesn't hurt to ask. My method would be to go in innocent and wide-eyed, "Oh, could you please help. Can you tell me the exact date the initial contact blah blah, I'm so silly need it for this form and so vague I just can't seem to remember date..."
3. Include this factual time line in a formal letter. I would state that it means you had a verbal contract, and that they have broken this contract and may in fact be legally liable for all costs of education for Cyclone until a place is found. This includes all extras he would have received at N school (ie therapies). Be careful how you word it, and see if you could get legal aid to review it first?

Sadly our world revolves around money. If it is going to cost 'em they suddenly become the world's most helpful people.

The BFG said...

Unfortunately no advice, just a giant :hug: and hoping it's all sorted ASAP..
No-one is held accountable anymore, how rude!

Being Me said...

Another who is useless in terms of advice. But I am just outraged for you. Thoroughly unacceptable of the principal.

Anonymous said...

Hi, a reader of your blog has just sent me a link to this post. My son has just turned 6 and has Asperger's. We homeschool, but don't worry, I'm not going to mention anything more about that :)

I don't know what city you're in but if you're in Melbourne, there are two schools such as those you describe. I went for an interview at one of them (and the other is almost the same), they were very vocal about changing lives of kids on the autism spectrum. Then they went in to how this is achieved. In a nutshell I was horrified, they were using the exact approaches which the 'experts' (Tony Attwood, etc) say you shouldn't do and when I questioned adults and teens with Asperger's, as well as people working in the Asperger's/autism field, they were appalled. So... I'm mentioning this in case N School is one of those schools, in which case I ran a mile. The approaches may help the kids with the emotional and behavioural problems who are not on the spectrum, but for spectrum kids who have great difficulty with perspective taking, no way. I've also had chats with well known autism psychologists who say no way to those kinds of schools for spectrum kids and that these schools prefer the quieter, more compliant spectrum kids, simply for the purpose of stating they can change the lives of kids on the spectrum. My son is not the quiet type but I was told they would "ship him in to shape because this is essentially a boot camp for these kids". All said very lovingly of course...

I know this is probably not what you want to hear but arghghgh it's one of those situations where I think the approaches those schools used are potentially very damaging to spectrum kids and I kinda feel I have to get the word out there, you know?

The principal in your case is a disgrace though but unfortunately I have heard stories like this so many times. My son was also kicked out (so to speak) of a programme supposedly designed for kids like him, all because he had a minor but well contained freak out in the first session and ran downstairs and was hesitant to rejoin the group. I was actually surprised that he was so well behaved during this running-out-of-room but nope, still not quiet enough for the programme.

For your son to be considered unacceptable for running to the car is just a bizarre excuse. Honestly, these schools are used to (so they say) dealing with kids who do things like chuck furniture across the room, get in to punch-ons, etc... and they can't handle a kid running out of the room? I'd also be questioning their safety set up.

I think the principal is being dishonest, absolutely. Unfortunately she's already playing the "you must have misunderstood" card and that ultimately boils down to a she said-she said :(

I'm sorry that I don't have any practical suggestions after all my pooh-poohing of the school. The schools I saw had the awesome social programmes but the threat-punishment-exclusion tactics were very wrong.

I really wish there was something I could suggest to help you out. If you're not in Melbourne and N school is not really either the C. School or the Ch. School, then feel free to ignore my comments!

Lulu said...

Anon - please get back to me! I can't find/don't know how to find other schools or alternatives.
They all tell me they have spectrum kids attending but can give me no more information.


I think you may be in the same area of Melbourne as I am and I would love to find out what's around here!