Aspergers: Autism Spectrum Disorder - Asperger’s Syndrome - How We Got or Get Appropriate College Education
Dan Has Autism Spectrum Disorder - This Is The Story of Our Fight For Appropriate College Education.
Dan has autism spectrum disorder. He was turning 16 years and forced to look to the future. This is very difficult if you find pending change an impossible thought. This type of fear leads you into a dark frozen void. Yes, Dan has Asperger’s syndrome and the change in his life involved college education. Dan is someone with ASD, trapped and exasperated within a conflicting adolescent body. What he needed was not something mainstream education could offer. It was something especially designed with his special needs in mind. This is our story of winning the right for an Asperger’s Syndrome college education.
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Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2004. You can read his story by clicking on the link in the resource box at the bottom of this article:
- My Asperger's Syndrome Son
People with ASD have problems with Social Interactions
Daniel’s social interaction has always been problematic. He never was a mixer, although, he would occasionally develop one to one friendships. He has always been an isolate. He was always willing but never able, socially. Teachers considered him an enigma and very troublesome – he lacked attention and easily lost his temper. Acceptance of change never came naturally to him. Well, what do you expect from an Aspie?!
Dan has had difficulties all his life, has needed help in independence and social skills. Although his secondary school did their best to cater for his needs – he just couldn’t cope in mainstream education. Much of his time he would abscond or retreat to the SENCO’s (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) department just to run away from the stresses and strains of an education system unable to deal with people with autism. People like Daniel.
Yes, Autistic Spectrum Disorders are definitely for life and not just for Christmas. What this hub is about, however, is living with an adolescent who has Asperger's Syndrome. This is our life since Christmas - see resource box for link...
- Asperger's Syndrome & ADHD: Autistic Spectrum Disorder's Are For Life, Not Just For Christmas!
People With Asperger's Syndrome Can Be Impressionable - They Are Vulnerable and Can Be Led Astray
Dan was impressionable. Boys who wanted to set him up for trouble had led him astray. Well, they thought it funny – Dan just thought they were friends! Try telling that to the Police when they came knocking for him – telling him that those types of boys was not the sort to mix with! Ultimately, he had been involved in an incident where his ‘friend’ threatened a Shop Assistant with a scalpel! Ah, but that is another story for which I have provided a link for opposite.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, Dan didn’t thrive in mainstream school and he wasn’t going to thrive in mainstream college education. What he needed was specialist college education that would cater for his needs. Furthermore, he needed to move on. He was abusing me and, more importantly, his brother who has his own health problems to contend with.
Asperger's Autism Vs Diabetes = Sophie's Choice
Christian is an insulin dependant diabetic since 18 months old, has always been overshadowed and bullied by Dan. I had to do the best for both my children. Christian, now 14 years old, needed his time to concentrate on being his best, get some qualifications from school and live life without threat. Deciding that Dan needed to leave home felt like a scene out of Sophie’s Choice. The only option was to find him somewhere that would help him reach his full potential – to be the best he can be and a valuable citizen of our society. I don’t want him to cause anyone any harm, but in order to achieve this, he needed specialist college education.
In my other articles (click on the links at the bottom of this article), I explain why and how to win the Right For an Asperger’s Syndrome College Education and I can say the process very nearly tipped me over the edge. I had to focus myself on getting the best for Daniel, so gave up some of my work to create time to the cause. Notice I say cause? Well, for a while, I had to escort Dan to his lessons at school and the rest of the time was spent in appointments to various multidisciplinary agencies to imitate reports and assessments. If you have children, you have to prioritise their needs over your own.
The Priory Group
Helpful Support From My Member Of Parliament & G.P.
I spoke to my Member of Parliament – Mr David Heathcote-Amory – who was particularly helpful. He understood our needs as a family and provided a letter in support. As with our brilliant G.P. who knew the history of the problems, we as a family, had gone through.
Unfortunately, Social Services had closed our case 12 months previously without notifying us and telling us that they had recommended that Daniel needed to go to a special school for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. We never received such recommendation previously and it was only by luck that a copy was dispatched to us upon my persistent request.
This is what appropriate college education did... the keyboard player is Dan!
How Can I Send My Baby Away?!
Social Services - An Example of Emotional Blackmail
A Social Worker from Frome, when contacted, just gave me ‘councillor’ spiel about how she could ‘hear how upset I was’. She didn’t tell me the case was closed after my contact at Christmas (it was February when I chased her up again) and withheld information as to the recommendations.
When I told her the situation with Dan’s behaviour was intolerable, abusive to my younger son and that I was considering placing him into care, she said ‘remember when he was a baby, you loved him so. How can you do that to your baby? You are his mother. Rejecting your baby will lead to him being broken and it would be your fault. Can you really do this to him?’
Mothers always feel guilty. It seems to be part of the role, but these comments were emotional blackmail – to stop me from hindering the budget and to cover a mess up in their administration. It seems that, in her eyes, it was alright for the younger sibling to be abused. What if I was abused by a partner? Social services would have acted straight away because the family would be at risk. Contradictory eh?
Chasing The Multidisciplinary Team & Finding the Perfect College Education For Autistic Spectrum Disorders
So… I chased to reopen the case – which Social Services were reluctant to allow. I chased up the Clinical Psychologist – there had been a change in their restructuring. I arranged for assessments and attended meetings (always with my Parent Partnership advocate by my side – as she has been for many years). The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) had, almost daily, communication.
Other agencies became aware of my name. I appeared strong, well informed to them, but deep down was cracking. However, I now had a focus. After my research – ringing around and gathering advice and tips – I found the perfect college education for Dan and his ASD. Furthermore, there was a bonus. It was within a 15 mile radius of home and not one of the multidisciplinary team had knowledge of the further education version of it.
Fighting For Funding
Things started to hot up. An application was made – albeit late – and we attended a viewing. Dan liked it! That was it – our focus. It was the last push that was the hardest where we had to contend with the fight for funding. £90,000 a year is not a sum to be sniffed at in education and fighting for it was like a tug of war – although this was necessary for Daniel. He needed this. We needed this.
My role was to pull the team together. I was the glue and the force behind them all. Each and every member had to be pulled together from various disciplines – health, social welfare and education. They all had to work in partnership for Dan’s benefit and I had to be the link to them all. I exchanged details to each and every one of the multidisciplinary team for their files and kept them all up to speed in what was happening and whom they needed to speak to, directing them toward our Connexions advisor who was working on Dan’s case. This was so she could formulate a good case to put forward to the County Council for access to funding.
Rejection From Mainstream Education
Our SENCO very cleverly linked us up with the local mainstream college who advised us that we needed to apply to the college and be rejected. This was a necessary evil and was obvious that Dan was not suitable for mainstream because of his difficulties and challenging behaviour. He would also be rejected on the grounds that the course for which he wanted to do did not accept people with Asperger’s syndrome. This was a public services course where social intelligence is particularly important.
We applied for the course. This was difficult for someone with autistic spectrum disorder to understand. Why apply to do something when he will probably be rejected? Well, that is just part of the course in getting what he really needed – college education that was individualised to his needs. Of course, he got rejected but instead of a ‘boo hoo’, it was a ‘horray!’. However, in the meantime, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The uncertainty and process was making me ill – the Doctor said that it wasn’t medication that I needed – it was a resolve.
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What College Education Specialising In Autism spectrum disorders will do for Dan:
- Teach Him Independence
- Teach Him Understanding
- Giving him a one to one in achieving his educational qualifications
- Link him to the social world
- Help him with employment and career development
- Teach him to budget
- To Be a Valuable Citizen and Member of the Community
- Open him to opportunities
- Learn to share
- Teach him respect
Asperger's Syndrome But Hope For All.
My brilliant Doctor must have shared concerns with Social Services (a visit had already taken place by this time) and the other agencies because it started to all fall into place.
Connexions had finally drafted the recommendation report and submitted to the County Council shortly after the education college for ASD formally accepted Dan.
This must have meant that Social Services had agreed to fund the residential component of the college because it is joint funded when it comes to the residential component. I didn’t have to, therefore, put Dan in care in order to get what is right for him which was a relief.
This further educational opportunity for Dan has given my other son a chance to have a life like any other kid – something that he has never had before.
Me? I am no longer at a brink of dispear. I am looking forward to developing a meaningful relationship with my Autistic son. As from September, he will be home one weekend in two. It will be lovely to look forward to seeing him instead of dreading it. For us, it means that we all have a second chance and, at last, the future has hope.
College Education Rights Are So Complex You Need A Degree To Get It!
Autism spectrum disorder is a social condition. It affects those with this condition in a very individual way. It is for this reason that individual educational and social plans have to be developed in order to cater for the complexities of ASD. Dan, like many young men who suffer with Asperger's syndrome, needs an appropriate college education to cater for his special needs. It is a shame, however, that many families have to be brought to the brink of break-down before their voices are heard. It is even more of an indictment that in order to get what is right, it is beneficial to hold a diploma in health and social welfare, certificate in further education and an Hons in Psychology. Why? Because the system is so complex that 'Joe Public' wouldn't even know where to start without these qualifications! I hope this article helps you!
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