How The Special Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) Helps Families in Northern Ireland
"My son was diagnosed with Aspergers …I assumed this meant that the help he would require would be given without hesitation ….
However, having put in 3 terms of being asked to wait behind for the teacher, which initially was once or twice a week. I was being told the same thing "He didn't, he won't, he can't, he doesn't" interspersed with the things he did which made him more comfortable with the classroom environment, like removing shoes and socks, sitting under the desk, leaving the school building,
I asked every time what could we do, I kept getting the same answer, "we need help with him, I can't cope with him in a classroom of 24 other children”
At the end of my tether after almost 2 weeks of this daily update in the third term, and not getting anywhere, I was desperate. I had taken notes during an
Autism NI parent support meeting about an organisation called SENAC and I gave them a call.
After a long detailed phone call, I had a list of questions to ask the school and a list of the steps to start the process of obtaining help for my son. I was amazed at the amount of information I was given by SENAC, and even the offer to attend a meeting with the school as support. I was very grateful but decided to attend myself.
I met with my son's class teacher and the SENCO. SENAC gave me the information, advice, support and more importantly the courage to go into the school and sit there and ask. It took a further year to get him help, but if I hadn't approached the school and asked the questions I don't believe they would have started the process at all.
Someone once told me ‘knowledge is power’, they were right, SENAC were my lifeline. Without the knowledge I received from SENAC my child would have suffered greatly through school. As a result of following their advice my son was awarded a Statement of Special Educational Needs and 1-2-1 assistance. This help has been crucial to him. He has now started Year 8 in Secondary Education and thankfully without all the hurdles he faced at the start of his Primary Education.
“Watching my child self-destruct was not an option I was prepared to settle for.”
I felt I was letting my child down on an education front but why did I have to fight so hard?
One of the mums in our support group mentioned they had been in contact with SENAC recently with great results. I had nothing to lose and I was getting nowhere with school - watching my child self-destruct was not an option I was prepared to settle for.
For the first time in a long time I felt someone listened, heard what I said, didn’t judge and was actually on my side. A friendly, reassuring person at the other end of the line who was prepared to stand in my corner and fight for my child reduced me to tears. I was shocked; honestly, I’d been fighting for so long, was worn down and at a complete loss on how to make things right for my son without rocking the school boat any further.
The information SENAC gave me provided me with a greater understanding of what I was entitled to ask and a new level of confidence to deliver it. SENAC drafted a letter for me and once I approved it, it got sent to the school. Suddenly things started to progress. My child got an ICT assessment and has been allocated a laptop with read and write gold software which should make note taking in class so much easier and cut out all the detentions. I can stop fighting with the school and my child has stopped self-harming. I couldn’t thank SENAC enough. This small adjustment by SENAC changed everything for us.
If you would like advice on the best way to ensure your child with a learning difficulty or disability gets the right help, then contact SENAC’s Advice Line on 028 9079 5779 or visit our website www.senac.co.uk