Gaining A Voice with Meath School: Tom’s Story
Below Victoria tells us of the progress her son Tom has made since attending I CAN’s Meath School
Our son Thomas, who is now 11, started attending Meath – I CAN’s specialist school – in January 2010, when he was five and a half years old.
Thomas has a rare chromosome deletion disorder called Koolen De Vries syndrome which has left him with very severe communication difficulties, mild/moderate learning delay as well as severe dyspraxia and low muscle tone.
We pretty much realised that there was something not quite right from the day Thomas was born. He is a twin so we always had a direct comparison, and he didn’t develop at the same rate as his brother did. He was late to stand and didn’t do so until he was 20 months old, didn’t walk until he was 22 months old and he obviously wasn’t forming sounds the way his brother was. We were living in America at the time and were lucky to have him involved in an early intervention which included physical, occupational, and speech and language therapy, but we didn’t get a formal diagnosis until he was about 5 years old.
We moved back from the US when Thomas was about 3 and a half and we were lucky to get him into a nursery that had a speech and language unit attached to it. Through the nursery we were given lots of support and signposting, without them we would have struggled to know what to do to get a statement for Thomas. He attended the nursery for his Reception year as well, and it was the nursery who pointed us towards Meath, I CAN’s specialist school.
As soon as we went to Meath we knew it was the school he had to be in – we just knew that this was the school that would help us unlock Thomas’s potential.
Thomas started at Meath in January 2010 and responded almost instantly…within months he was putting much longer sentences together! He’s a smart little boy, and we always saw it, but his difficulties were keeping a lid on who he was as a person. By unlocking his language it unlocked Thomas as well, his whole personality came out and that was down to the support he got at Meath. He’s a very happy little boy, a little boy that most people pretty much fall for!
For us, finding the right school for Thomas was absolutely the key. I would tell other parents to search for the right provision for their child and to fight for that provision if it’s not immediately available to them. We remain convinced that had Thomas not received the right support and gone to the right school he wouldn’t be half the child he is today.
Thomas has now left Meath and is in Year 7 at a specialist secondary school for children with speech and language difficulties in Oxted, Surrey and we just can’t say thanks enough to Janet – Meath school’s head teacher, and the rest of the staff for helping us unlock Thomas’ potential and his personality.
Find out more about Meath School by visiting www.meathschool.org.uk
You can also learn about I CAN’s speech and language assessments here