A Child with autism will have special educational needs. (SEN)
In the UK, it is the Local Educational Authority (LEA) which makes the arrangements to meet your childs Special Educational Needs. They are covered by a Code of Practice and their responsibilities concerning your child arise from the 1996 Education Act. This means that you as parents have considerable rights as to what you can expect from schools and the LEA.
Copies of the code of practice are available from the DfEE.
So where do we start ?
Your child will probably need a Statement of Educational Needs.
This sets out to determine your childs needs and to gauge the level of support your child will need in school and to assess provision to be granted for your child.
Obtaining a Statement for your child is by design a long process. It is targeted to be completed in 26 weeks. That is 6 months so you can see that the sooner you can start the process the better. Do not wait for 6 months before your child is due to start school to begin.
A Statutory Assessment of your childs Special Educational Needs can be made Pre-school. Discuss the matter with your G.P. or Health Visitor and your nursery staff before you contact the LEA.
The LEA will then advise you about the information they need from you and which people they will need to contact to compile a list of reports about your child. This list includes your G.P., Health Visitor, Speech and language Therapist, Nursery staff, Educational Psychologists and any others who have a knowledge of your childs difficulties.
You will also be asked if you wish to write a report yourself . Once again take your time and include as much information as possible. You should be kept informed throughout the assessment process and you will receive copies of all reports that are written about your child.
Facts about the Statementing process
As a parent you can request an assessment under the Education Act 1996
An assessment can be made from the age of two. The health service has a legal duty to inform the LEA if they feel that a child under 5 is likely to have special educational needs.
It is never done without your knowledge.
You will receive copies of all reports written when the assessment is complete and a decision has been made about whether a statement is to be issued.
A Statement of Special Educational Needs says what your childs needs are and how they should be met including National Curriculum arrangements.
You have the right to disagree with what the statement says or object if the LEA decides not to write a statement. You can appeal to the Special needs Tribunal.
If you agree with it the Statement becomes a legal document.
Where to get Help
||Independant Panel for Special Education Advice
||National Autism Society