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Erin’s story

Wendy talks about her battle to get her daughter, Erin, the right support after she was placed in a mainstream school – a setting which wasn’t right for her needs.

Erin’s experience at mainstream school

I am Wendy and my daughter is Erin.

Erin has right sided hemiplegia. She also suffers from epilepsy, ADHD and is currently going through the ASD assessment. She had her issues at primary school, but the problems started when she went to secondary school when she turned 11. We had tried to stress the point that Erin would not cope in a mainstream school, but we were not listened to and were told she was over the threshold to attend a specialist setting.

My daughter was deeply unhappy and self-harming as a result of the setting being wrong for her.

Sadly, Erin did not cope well in mainstream school, and because of her epilepsy, where she suffered frequent vacant moments, she fell behind. Because of her low academic ability she was also placed in the groups with the ‘naughty children.’

Some of these children found it highly amusing to taunt, tease and bully my daughter to the extent where the only way she could cope was to have a meltdown, resulting in her punching and kicking a wall, which they found very amusing.

Her time at senior school was not a good one and every year we would stress the point to the SENCO that mainstream was not for her, but again were told that Erin’s ability was above the threshold to attend a specialist setting. She continued to suffer.

Reaching out to SENDIASS

Erin reached Year 10 when we said enough is enough and said that she would need a specialist setting. The fight continued and we were told that she would have to continue at mainstream school. We appealed, and this is where we sought SENDIASS for help and advice as we felt out of our depth. I spoke to a lovely lady called Elaine who ended up being there every step of the way.

We won the appeal and Erin was able to go to a mainstream college with a specialist unit for pre 16s. Sadly this did not work out for Erin either and was worse than the secondary school she attended, as it was not the specialist setting that we thought it would be. They were unable to meet Erin’s needs at all despite reading her EHCP.

I again turned to SENDIASS for help as I was suffering from stress. My daughter was deeply unhappy and self-harming as a result of the setting being wrong for her. Elaine again offered to come along to the emergency review meetings that were held.

I found the SENDIASS service invaluable. Elaine was there to support me when I needed it, and it was nice to have another pair of eyes and ears at the meetings. It was helpful to discuss my concerns afterwards and have that person there to listen, to understand my situation and to explain things simply. She was always there for me to have a rant and provide advice.

When the specialist school didn’t work out Erin was given a couple of specialist alternative settings in the meantime and these have proved very successful.

“It just goes to show that the right help and support, and the biggest one – taking the time and effort to understand your child – is the best thing in the world for them. They can get a sense of belonging for the first time in their lives.”

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