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Adam* is 20 years old, has ASD and paranoid schizophrenia. He requested mediation to discuss the Local Authority’s decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment.
In the paperwork before the mediation (the Agree to Mediate forms), the LA and Adam each explained their position. The LA’s panel had decided an assessment was not necessary and that Adam’s needs could be met by a college. They recommended accessing mental health support services and Connexions. They also said there was insufficient evidence that a graduated approach had been completed by the educational setting.
Adam explained that he had been out of education for two years, after not being able to complete year 11 and not gaining any qualifications, and had tried to access college in that time but was unsuccessful. He had been accessing mental health support services and Connexions for 1 year. He had been advised that he could do a supported internship but that he would need an EHC Plan in order to access this.
The mediation was held online and lasted for 2 ½ hours. Adam attended, with support from a SENDIASS participation worker who had been helping him, and also from a Connexions adviser. Two LA reps attended – the post-16 officer and the SEND manager.
Adam explained that he had received SEN support since primary school. In year 6 his behaviour became more challenging, and he also found it difficult to understand the work he was set and impossible to pass exams. By year 11 his behaviour had worsened to the extent where he got aggressive and even violent, and he says he freaked out because he couldn’t understand anything. He only partially completed year 11, and he left without being able to read or write. He spent at least a year at home, outside of education. His teacher had suspected he might have autism, and with his and his parents’ permission contacted social services, and eventually an assessment was carried out and he received an ASD diagnosis. He also began receiving support from mental health services. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia some time later.
He attempted to attend 3-4 colleges, but the classes were too large and there wasn’t enough help available. He then contacted Connexions, and they explored various options, but most colleges they approached said he would need an EHCP to obtain the learning support he requires. In the meantime, Adam also enrolled on various work placement and work skills programmes, and successfully completed a Princes Trust course.
The LA reps explained the decision that had been made and noted that much of the information they were now hearing was not available to the panel. They asked Adam about what support he had been given and how it had worked or not worked. They also praised him for being open and honest and very eloquent in describing his efforts and support needs.
We then held separate meetings so that Adam could confer with his supporters and the LA reps could confer with each other.
On returning, Adam mentioned how important his dog was to him, so I asked if he would be ok to turn on his camera so we could see the dog. He hadn’t wanted his camera on, but he agreed and briefly put his camera on. The LA reps then asked Adam several questions about his mental health support and how he manages his schizophrenia, and about his ability to travel independently, and again thanked him for being open with them.
The LA agreed to carry out the EHC needs assessment, and we put this agreement onto the outcome form, along with the date for the start of the assessment and other actions including Adam working with his supporters to draw up a list of services he had accessed for support in the past year, in order to help the LA identify whom to approach for advice during the assessment. There was also some discussion about possible pathways for Adam, and what interim measures might be taken to ensure he has the support he requires to obtain his basic qualifications in maths and English in order to be able to access college courses.
*Adam is not his real name.