Friday, 5 July 2013

Meeting needs or protecting funds?

A parent recently sent me this account of the process of identifying her son’s needs which I think is, sadly, shared by many. The process described doesn’t bear any relation to that required by the Education Act. Will this change with the Children and Families Bill? I have yet to hear the Government, or any group involved in the reform process, point to one concrete proposal which will prevent these types of practices.

There is much said about the need to change ‘cultures’ in the SEN system. But how will the Bill actually do this? The law is already clear about what should happen, it just isn't always followed. This 'culture' does not arise because of the personal preference of individuals in the system: it is about saving money.

So, will the reforms provide LAs with lots more money to support the needs of children with SEN? 

I'm guessing NO.Perhaps we need to be honest about that as not only are we failing children if we aren't, but it doesn't benefit those doing their level best within extraordinarily tight budgets to pretend it's just about a culture shift.

The parent tells me:

“This is a link to the College of Occupational therapists [COT] and a report they produced into Dyspraxia.   

Although this report is from 2003 it makes very interesting reading and nothing appears to have changed since this report was made.  It shows how important the COT considers DCD [ie Dyspraxia], and the poor outcomes for children with this difficulty if they are not supported or provided with therapy.

In our own service I found that although we were referred to the OT for assessment, that it took 2 years before we were seen.  That was because of how the NHS OT service prioritised children, and those with DCD were always being bumped to the bottom of the list by children with needs considered to be more severe. 


When my son was finally seen and assessed he was not given a formal diagnosis.  I was told he had motor co-ordination difficulties.  He received no 1:1 OT therapy at all.  The OT service did eventually give me a list of 'exercises' to do at home with him.  However this was too little and too late because by then he had already refused school and I personally think he had had some sort of breakdown.

It was the CAHMS Psychiatrist who asked him to do some simple movements and stated in her report that he had dyspraxic tendencies.
None of these difficulties had been included in his Statement.  And at that time I was just becoming more aware of the fact that each and every need should be included in the Statement etc.
So I wrote to his OT asking her to clarify if "Co-ordination Difficulties" actually meant "Dyspraxia" and asking her to confirm the diagnosis made by the CAHMS Psychiatrist.  I also asked for details of what 1:1 therapy he would receive for Dyspraxia.


I received a letter back from the OT confirming Dyspraxia.  She then informed me that the NHS did not fund OT therapy for Dyspraxia and therefore he would not receive any 1:1 therapy.

Again I used the COT report, and the letter from the OT to prove that his needs had not been identified.  Even though every professional involved actually knew he had it and knew it was not in the Statement and knew that his needs were not being met [the same applies for his eventual diagnosis of Dyslexia and Sensory Processing Disorder].

All I can conclude is that needs were not being identified or diagnosed due to the funding implications of them”

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