Thursday, 27 February 2014

a crisis

N's TA is leaving school at the end of term. She has been offered a better paid post at a special school closer to her home.

This is a major crisis for us. Without a TA who can support her at school; communicate with her, tube feed her, change her, supervise her so she doesn't fall, drive her to swimming and riding and do her stretching exercises at lunch-time, she will not be able to manage in the mainstream school environment.

We love the children's current school. It is a small village affair and from grassroots level up, they have been fantastic at supporting N. All the children know her, she loves going and joining in the class activities and  playing in the playground with her peers. At the special school, there are a large cohort of children who do not communicate because of their disability for one reason or another; and this is the reason that we chose to go the mainstream route for her this time last year.

However. The SENCO at school only has four hours per week to deal with all the children with additional needs. And, in my opinion, looking at it from the outside, that is not enough. It takes forever for phone-calls to be followed up, for emails to be sent or replied to and for anything to get done.

Now the TA is leaving, they will need to re-appoint. They want to appoint a job-share, which I think is a reasonable aim, giving them potential cover for illness and so on. However given N's very complex needs, I think they are probably going to have difficulty finding one, let alone two, people to fill the role.

We are starting to feel that the struggle to keep her in mainstream - to get training sorted for feeding her, for using the suction pump, for getting the standing frame and the seating and her electric wheelchair and her walker and her manual wheelchair all used properly - is too hard. If she was in a special school, all of that stuff would be covered automatically; they do it every day. A bus would be available to take her in every morning. Her physio and swimming and riding would be part of her school routine rather than bolt-ons that we would have to organise.

It would be so much easier for all of us - for B and I, and for L.

I feel so guilty though, thinking that, because the social side of school is something that N gets such a lot out of. Balancing the needs of us all as a family unit against the needs of N is extremely hard and it's not going to get any easier.


  1. good luck with whatever you choose

  2. Someone I know whose adopted daughter had been severely damaged by foetal alcohol syndrome sent her to the local village school for two (or maybe three) days a week and to a special school the rest of the time. Lizzy needed a TA constantly with her, she was able to walk with leg braces but had severe hearing and sight problems and was tube-fed. Could you consider a similar arrangement?

  3. Perhaps what you think of as best for you, is actually also best for N?

    It may be you get more time to relax with her outside of school, because you have less stress trying to keep everything right for her at school.

    Maybe N will also find other wee friends that she can relate to on a more equal footing - rather than always having to try to keep up with kids in mainstream. And the time in mainstream will still help, as her peers in the community will know her from days she was with them.

    Not an easy decision. But not one to feel guilty about, which ever way you choose.