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How are sensory issues treated in secondary schools?

Heavenly May 14, 2019 11:59

We have been fairly lucky through primary school, as my son's sensory issues have been mostly understood and allowed for at primary school. However, my boy starts secondary school after the summer and his sensory needs will be right there with him!

AS's tendencies not to sit still (he'll not have the helpful soft cushion he has been allowed in primary) and to be excitable/chat, to react strongly to noise, textures etc, his lack of being able to to deal well with transitions, along with our own interpretation of school uniform/PE kit will all likely be issues in secondary. I am dreading some of this being interpreted as bad behaviour. There is a school transition programme and he was offered 'enhanced transiton', but he has elected to to do this bit, as it will be mostly kids who not only have behaviour issues but learning support needs too, and my boy is very academic and currently doesn't want to 'stick out' more than he already does.

I wondered if anyone has any stories of how sensory issues have been handled in secondary? How do I ensure that teachers know about how his sensory needs can affect his behaviour without labelling him too much? I'm realising that there are resources for kids at primary, but secondary is a whole other ball game! Thanks xxx

Serrakunda27 May 14, 2019 13:34

Start by meeting with the SENCO to discuss your concerns and what you need putting in place. Encourage him to take the opportunity to do the enhanced transition programme. He will 'stick out' a lot less in secondary than primary school. My friend's (not adopted) son struggled very much with accepting his dsylexia in his very small primary where he was the only one, arrives in secondary school to find he is one of many and is much more accepting of the help on offer.

Please also don't think of learning support as something only for non academic children. Barriers to learning may have nothing to do with whether or not the child is academic. When my son was resisting wearing glasses, I explained to him that if I take my glasses off I can't see to read and that stops me using my abilities to learn, they don't mean I can't learn.

If his sensory needs are likely to stop him learning, then its a learning support need. If he needs his cushion I can't see why he wouldnt be allowed to have it, and it they don't allow something so simple I would question whether its the right school for him. My son has ASD and some sensory issues, his school have always been very accommodating, he is allowed his fidget toys for example ( as long as they don't make a noise) but I make a big effort to communicate with them, let them know what's going on with him, work with what they offer, and then ask for more if necessary, But talking to them if key - if they don't know they can't help

windfalls May 14, 2019 17:55

Hi Heavenly,

Has your AS been assessed for any condition? The small examples that you have given could point towards ASD/ADHD. Does he have an EHCP? Serrakunda has given some very good advice above, but if he is going to a big senior mainstream school then I think you may find that he will struggle enormously whatever help is put in place. If it is not too late I would start looking at very strong SEN schools and perhaps ones which are smaller, even consider special education.

best wishes x

Heavenly May 15, 2019 19:19

Hi all. I think I maybe missed a bit out - My boy was offered enhanced transition not just because of his sensory issues but because of his anxiety - something that he has managed to overcome somewhat this year. He has been assessed and worked with an OT and was prescribed a'sensory tool kit' - but he is the one that doesn't want to take his cushion - it will be difficult to carry from class to class, and he worried that in itself will make him stick out. He is also the one that has declined enhanced transition - the other boys in his class that are having it all have behavioural issues, and his class teacher felt he was on the cusp of needing it, so he got to choose, which is fine. He currently functions really well at school other than his sensory issues and past anxiety. I think I do need to get in touch with the primary school and ask about the Scottish Equivalent of a SENCO - he's in a tiny school at the moment where roles are all quite blurred, but I'm sure there will be a named person at the big school! His sister isn't at mainstream school, but he is a world away from her in terms of his learning ability, functioning socially etc. He's very keen to go the same school as his friends, although I am taking a watch and wait attitude to it :-)

Thanks all x

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