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Advice for Education Issues

Around 3-5 % of the School Age population will be affected by ADHD and around 1 in 68 children will have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Basic training on ASD and ADHD will be provided for teachers and higher level training can be accessed through agencies such as Autism NI and Middletown.

It is important to stress that receiving a diagnosis of either ASD or ADHD or both or other conditions such as Tourette’s, dyslexia and DCD does not automatically mean that your child will need additional support or Statementing. Likewise there are a number of children in school setting who have no medical diagnosis but significant Social/emotional/behavioural needs that do require statementing. Therefore it goes on need in the school setting not on labels applied. Medical staff cannot initiate an Educational Psychology referral in School Age Children unless it is on the grounds of a significant physical disability such as poor mobility, bowel problems or respiratory/cardiac difficulties. In all other School Age Children it would be the school and or Parents who request Educational Psychology involvement.

Informing School of your Child’s condition is entirely a Parental Choice and we do give Parent’s the option of providing Diagnostic reports to the School. Often it is helpful for all those involved with the Child/Young Person to be aware of their Strengths and Weaknesses and ensure consideration is given to any additional support they may require. This may be in the form of  extra time for exams, perhaps a separate room and a scribe or prompter if the educational setting feel this is appropriate. We also use feedback from both the Parents and the Teachers involved to guide us as to whether medication is of benefit for the child.

If the school is aware of your Child’s needs then basic strategies can be implemented to support them. If there are ongoing difficulties despite these basic strategies then an Individual Education Plan can be put in place to focus on specific targets for your child which can then be reviewed on a regular basis. If with the IEP in place your child is still struggling to access the curriculum then a referral can be made to Educational Psychology who would then assess the Child and make recommendations to support them in their placement or consider whether this placement is appropriate to meet their needs.

Pre school Children can be referred to Educational Psychology if they have a significant speech and language delay and or features of a severe learning disability or there are significant concerns from all involved about how this child will manage in a mainstream nursery. It is very important that while you are waiting on appointments or an assessment that you apply as normal for your mainstream nursery placement to ensure you have a place for the Child when they are due to start.

With regards to Young people transitioning from Primary to Secondary Education or Secondary Education to University I recommend that families start looking around at different placements two years before they are due to transition to give adequate preparation and planning time for all involved. There are various agencies which can help with this process and the Education Authority or Intervention Service in your trust may offer transition workshops for those families with a diagnosis. You may want to arrange a meeting with the school or placement you are considering on an individual basis and meet with the SENCO or Pastoral Care department there to talk in further detail to them about services they offer. Other factors such as transport, provision of a quiet room, size of the school and possible peer group/sibling placement will guide you in making this decision.

On a positive note in most of the cases I see the Parents/young people involved have been so well prepared for the transition and so much thought has gone into their placement that overall it is a positive experience. Clear Communication between the Placement and the Families is also of huge benefit. Universities and technical Campuses have Specific Pastoral Care support for young People with an ASD or ADHD diagnosis and can offer practical support such as provision of laptop or a scribe and support re coursework and organisational skills.

The main focus of all involved should be to ensure the Young Person reaches their full potential and is supported appropriately when required.

Additional Information

  • – Charity which offers support to parents on Special Educational needs

  • – Supports families and individuals with ASD, disability or brain injury and offers advice about inclusion, employment and transitioning both for parents and the Young People themselves

  • provides information on education, employment and study tips

  • The NAS provides information and advice for parents and families with ASD on education, transitions, employment

  • – a specialist consultancy that recognises the many strengths of People with ASD and recruits and supports talented people with ASD in the workplace.

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