Meath School assessment by Meath parent Alexandra Frost
Izzy had speech and language assessments with the NHS which were pretty much rubbish. They failed to explain exactly what was going on with my daughter except that she was making little or no progress and that the gap between her and her peers was widening. They seemed reluctant to help getting her a diagnoses or making a proper plan to help her which I felt was due to concern about cost.
Izzy’s old school finally arranged to get her seen at white lodge for multi-assessment planning, which helped in getting her an initial statement. However when what was offered on the statement wasn’t enough to help Izzy progress, we were offered no publicly-funded help.
We had to pay for Izzy to have an OT assessment and an Educational psychologist assessment and a private speech therapy assessment, all of these professionals were great and the education psychologist got Izzy in early at the I CAN assessment centre – as otherwise the waiting list was a long time. The local authority offered no financial help or support and each assessment was at least £800. As a single mother on benefits – without my parents financial help Izzy would have been lost in the system.
The assessment was great. The staff immediately put me and Isobel at ease and when we talked through the end of each day it was explained in a way that for the first time, I could really understand why Izzy had such difficulties and what was going on with her. For me it was like a light bulb going off in my head. It put everything into place and I properly understood her problem which was great in getting her the help she needed as I felt much more confident in what I was saying to people.
Also the feedback wasn’t all downbeat as it had been from previous assessments where they just point out the faults (it honestly feels like they are pulling your child to shreds!) I was actually given hope, for the first time, and that with the right help and support she will progress.
As for Isobel she loved it and didn’t want to go back to her mainstream school. In fact after her first day back in mainstream she came home crying and said, ‘Why I no know what is going on there’ as she realised the relief of being in an environment where everything was very visual and she could understand what was happening and people took the time to understand her. It was heartbreaking to hear Izzy so upset about having to go back to mainstream but it did help all my family become more determined that she would get the help she needed.
Happily we heard in March that the LA will fund Izzy’s place at Meath and we didn’t have to go to tribunal. They have also repaid my dad for the 2 terms he paid for as they failed in their duty of care for Izzy. They had no case at all – they just seem to make it as difficult for people as possible to get their children the right help. As I say if I didn’t have my parent financial help, Isobel would still be drowning in a mainstream school not understanding, be bullied and unable to read or write. No parent would put their child through all this assessment if they didn’t truly believe it was what their son or daughter needed and the LA should listen to us more and help not hinder the children getting what they need.
Find more about I CAN’s speech and language assessments.