More Autism specific schools are needed in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne.
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Having a child with special needs can be a very stressful thing. Even with the right support and people around us we rely on our education system and government to support us and our children. (who do grow into adults. Surprise surprise)
I feel that our government is letting us down with a complete lack of resources when it comes to education options for our kids.
There are only 2 Autism specific schools in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. Western Autistic which has campuses at Laverton and Niddrie. It is an amazing school which provides supported education up to Grade 3 . The other is Jennings Street school also in Laverton which is for students from Prep to year 12.
The problem I have as a parent is that my son has been at Western Autistic making amazing progress in recent years. He started as a non verbal child in nappies to now having some communication skills and being fully toilet trained. With help and support from his teachers , aides and small class sizes he has learned to read, write and do mathematics too. But he is in his final year at Westetn Autistic and now needs to be assessed to see how high his IQ is to determine which school he can go to.
The reason he has to do this is because there are no places available at Jennings Street School , it is at capacity . It has been at capacity for 2 years and we have been advised it is not taking on new students until 2021. If he was to transfer to Jennings St there would be no issue as it is funded by the government in the same way as his current school.
Now however if my son is to attend a special school/specialist school/special development school his IQ needs to either be below 70 or below 50 depending on where he is eligible.
My son like many autistic children is not suited to mainstream. I have worked in a mainstream school and know what amazing support aides can be for children on the spectrum but I know my son and I know he needs more.
Why would I want my child to go from being in a class with 8 students , 2 teachers and an aide who cater to his behavioural/sensory issues and assist with all his special needs to a class in mainstream of 30 kids, 1 (overworked and underapid) teacher and a possible aide (part time) . Will someone constantly monitor his behaviour and make sure he is being safe? How will he communicate to me if he's bullied with his limited skills?
How is he meant to build his capacity in life and on his education without appropriate help.
Not all autistic individuals are like my son but I know there are many who are too high (IQ) for special schools but don't quite fit into mainstream either, whether that is due to behaviour, sensory issues, anxietyand a number of other factors. I would love for my son to be able to fit into mainstream school but thats not the case and putting him into a stressful situation daily is not going to build his capacity to become a self sufficient adult.
Our government needs to provide more Autism schools, there are not enough and it's not good enough.
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