Fighting for my son’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) planPublished Date: 11 Mar 2021
When I started looking at schools for my son I knew I had to think of where would fit either with or without an EHC plan in place, as the process was just starting for us. The smaller schools we visited had little to no support available for children with additional needs, regardless of whether an EHC plan was in place or not. In the end, we opted for the largest school we visited but also the school who offered the most support with or without an EHC plan.
Nursery didn't initially support my application for an EHC plan as they felt Isaac would not meet the criteria for assessment as he was ‘too advanced’. I never agreed with their assessment of his levels and they assessed him far too high, particularly in speech and language where he has significant delay. Isaac appears extremely confident and uses a range of strategies to look as though he has understood, whereas in fact he has looked to his peers to try and understand what was being asked of him.
Luckily our Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) did agree an EHC plan was worth applying for and so I applied myself. I have some background in this area as I was a family support worker before I had Isaac, but ultimately I’m Isaac’s mum and I know him best, quirks and all. For me, the concern was not only Isaac’s delayed understanding of language but also his frustration at not being understood or being able to get his message across. This would manifest in bad behaviour and I didn’t want him labelled as a 'naughty child'. So I wrote the EHC plan myself, asked nursery to add their assessments and sought support from Sense, a charity we use and who knows Isaac well. I then sent it off and waited for a response. I prepared myself for the worst, but it came back and we had done it, his EHC plan was accepted for assessment.
Isaac was seen by an Educational Psychologist and, again, I put forward my concerns about how he would need support to access education. After what felt like a lifetime, we got the answer on his assessment and Isaac had been given a plan of support for school. The relief was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, knowing he would get the support he needed to access education, have support to socialise and continue to develop his speech and language, and progress in school.
His plan is now in place and his Teaching Assistant is supporting him in school for some of the time. It’s been a bumpy start, he challenges them on a regular basis but the school agree with me in regards to his levels of understanding. They’re putting things in place to help him develop and learn, using strategies suitable to his needs.
If I’d listened to his nursery and not been confident to apply myself, my son would not have his EHC plan, he’d be struggling in school and wouldn’t have settled in half as well as he has. Now he skips to school daily and even asks about 'big school' lots! Sadly, it’s not always this easy and many families don’t get an assessment for their deaf child, so my advice would be to document everything and take time with the application. Hopefully you will have a super supportive ToD like we do who backed us all the way! He’s still loving every day at school and being challenged by his teacher to meet his targets.