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An accurate assessment by I CAN’s Meath School made all the difference to one young boy and his family

An accurate assessment by I CAN’s Meath School made all the difference to one young boy and his family

Getting a full and accurate picture of strengths and difficulties is vital for determining the right kind of support for a child or young person with speech language and communication needs. Ezra’s parents shared their experience of assessment by I CAN’s Meath School and explained just how much they valued the assessment team and their ability to get ‘under the skin’ of Ezra’s difficulties.

Ezra was 4 years old when he was diagnosed with learning difficulties. He was placed by the local authority into a local special school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and learning difficulties. The school were not able to support the use of any electronic communication aid such as a voice output device and the school was not a signing environment, although at this point Ezra had no speech. This meant that Ezra had no means of communicating.

It wasn’t until Ezra was assessed by the multi disciplinary team at Meath School that a more detailed picture of his needs and also his abilities became clear; he did not in fact have the type of learning difficulties he had been diagnosed with.  The assessment at Meath demonstrated that Ezra’s lack of spoken language masked his better understanding of language and therefore the wrong conclusions had been drawn; Ezra in fact struggled because of a language disorder. This impacted on the way that Ezra’s parents interacted with him as well as their expectations of him and his abilities.

Having an accurate understanding of Ezra’s needs has made a huge difference for him and his family and provides a great example of the power and impact of I CAN’s school assessment services. As Ezra’s parents explained:

“We have treated him totally different since this new diagnosis. We talk to him slowly and clearly and sign all the time, all down at his level to maintain eye contact. I make my expressions clear as I now understand that he’s reading these as much as any other forms of communication.

We expect more of him, I ask him to help me with things, to dress and undress, to help his sister or get the table ready for supper. We ask him to make choices over what he eats, wears, watches, plays with – none of which we did before – and I’m sorry to say because we thought he didn’t understand.

His response has been astonishing. He beams all the time and cuddles me spontaneously. He even found his electronic communication aid which we haven’t used in months, brought it to me and pressed the ‘I love you’ button. He hasn’t banged his head in frustration once and when he gets upset because we tell him ‘no’ we can now reason with him and he understands. Ezra loves the independence and responsibility these choices give him and he tries to do more and more for himself.  Before he would simply sit back and let us do everything for him. It’s like we have a different boy”.

The assessment service at I CAN’s Meath School has made a dramatic difference to the way in which Ezra’s family interact with him and has in turn provided Ezra with a new means of communicating. An assessment of this kind can provide answers and clarity and an accurate understanding of a child’s needs and abilities.

For more information about Meath School’s assessment service, please visit www.meathschool.org.uk

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