specially needing to make a difference.

by Lucy Anne Lawton

Today I feel I may have just made a difference in the world of Special Needs. Small, but significant. After my son’s diagnosis of ASD  in July, I suddenly felt I should move him to a specialist nursery. Greenhill Lodge nursery in Wylde Green Sutton Coldfield is where he has been since the age of eleven months. He loves the staff and they love him. After the madness of my initial thoughts on moving him straight away, a few weeks went by and I was able to rationalise. The staff at the nursery were happy to help in any way they could, even if that meant supporting George through a transition to a more suitable nursery. But George was happy and the staff know him well, so why should his diagnosis have meant me suddenly moving him?

I have stressed in previous posts that there is a total lack of Autism training in mainstream education. I strongly feel that this is the biggest contributing factor to the ignorant attitudes prevalent in society and common misconceptions of the disorder. This is not through direct fault of teachers – of course training costs money, and that’s a separate issue altogether. I shall save that for my next post.

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As George was the only child in the nursery with an ASD diagnosis, the staff knew as much as about Autism as I did, which at the time was not a lot. George’s consultant had advised me that George was ‘moderate’ on the spectrum, and that his needs could change over time as he develops and grows. After much consideration, I decided to keep him at the nursery to much success. One to one support was quickly put in place for two hours a day to help George learn through play. An IEP was put in place and together the nursery and I worked towards his targets. In turn, the nursery have sourced Autism training for the staff, and utilised their space to accommodate George’s needs. There is now a section of the nursery full of information on special needs and Autism. This is not to say specialist education should be overlooked or under valued, children who are more severely affected by the disorder would undoubtedly benefit from a specialist setting. The complexity of ASD leaves the decision to the parents, but from my own experience the lack of training in mainstream leans parents naturally towards Specialist education as the better option.

I completed a review on http://www.daynurseries.co.uk/ as I was so happy with the progress George had made thanks to the staff adapting their approach to George and his difficulties. Today as I left the nursery I  noticed a new mum being given a tour of the nursery after reading my review. She has a son with Special Needs. A small measure I know, but I feel a sense of achievement in our journey with George, and I’m glad I didn’t move him. Positive attitudes and an open mind can help to integrate ASD and Special Needs in to the big wide world of mainstream society, even if it is only one step at a time. Simple but effective.

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