A parent’s journey to Meath School
Every day parents face the challenge of finding the help and support that their child needs for their speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), as well as the support that they as parents need when dealing with their child’s difficulties. Reama’s son Tait attends I CAN’s Meath School. As well as being a parent, Reama is also one of the school’s Governors and she has a great deal of experience of the challenges parents face, as the journey to finding the right place for Tait to go to school was a long and difficult one.
Tait, who is 9, has Bilateral Perisylvain Polymicrogyria, a rare brain abnormality centred around the areas of the brain concerned with language and its production. Reama describes her son as lucky, because, unlike others with the condition, he can swallow and eat. When Tait started at Meath School he was unable to say more than a few words and these were only intelligible to those that knew him. He was a frustrated, lonely little boy whose confidence had been damaged by his previous experience at school, and at home life was difficult.
When Reama describes the time before Meath School, the challenges they experienced as a family are very clear. She explains: “Tait started school in a speech and language unit attached to a mainstream primary. But catastrophically for Tait the placement broke down and we almost did too. It would take too long to tell you of how the subsequent year-long battle with the local authority affected my family both financially and emotionally –but I will say that we are still dealing with the ramifications of that year.”
Following the breakdown of the placement, a tribunal panel was left with the decision whether to place him in a school for children with severe learning difficulties despite the fact that he has an age-appropriate, non-verbal intellect, and where he would be the only child using sign language, or I CAN’s Meath school where every child and member of staff signs and every child has similar types of difficulties to Tait. The decision was made that Meath School was the right place for Tait.
Meath School has been hugely successful for Tait and he has made amazing progress. He now is able to construct long sentences, have conversations, and can usually be understood when buying something in a shop or when answering the phone. He is a friendly, happy, confident little boy who feels belonging in a place where everyone uses the same language – sign language. Reama can now see a bright future for her son, which was not the case before he went to Meath School. “I see a future where Tait is able to give back to his community because he can, because he was given the help he needed. One where he is not a burden on the taxpayer but a contributing member of society who can take responsibility for himself and have the same opportunities that others have.” She goes on to say “Every school day for the past 3 years my son has thanked me for taking him to school and every day I am thankful for the staff of Meath and for I CAN.”
Reama’s story is one example of the challenges faced by families of children with SLCN every day. Visit I CAN’s website to find out more about I CAN schools and assessment services, or contact Meath 01932 872302 or Dawn House 01623 795361 directly.
Call 020 7843 2544 to arrange a free phone call from one of our speech and language therapists through the I CAN Help Enquiry Service.