Unfortunately having an autistic child seems to come with a mountain of paperwork! So the earlier you get yourself a file and keep it organised the better. Every report you get you need to keep as you will have to come back to them time and time again.
There are 2 mammoth paperwork tasks the first is the Disability Living Allowance and the second is the Education Health and Care Plan. Getting through both is well worth it as they end up providing support that we have really benefited from.
What is DLA?
DLA is Disability Living Allowance, a financial support provided by the government.
If a child has care or mobility needs that are higher than that of a child the same age they may be eligible for DLA. If I am honest I was uncomfortable applying for DLA at first but now see more clearly that my sons care needs are much higher than his peers. I have also been able to use the DLA money to go on therapy courses and pay for extra speech and language support for my son.
I used to work for a government agency so am very experienced with government forms. The DLA form was definitely the hardest one I have had to complete, no one likes to list their child’s problems. So if you need some help on how to fill in a dla form for an autistic child then see my post all about DLA . The linked post also includes detail on how much the DLA rates are, who is eligible for DLA and tips to fill in the form.
What is an EHC Plan?
An EHCP is an Education Health and Care Plan. They are legal documents that set out the education, health and care needs of a young person.
If a young person’s needs cannot be met by support that is usually available in a school or college then they will likely need an EHC Plan. Having a EHCP means that you can access additional educational support in mainstream (i.e. 1-1 time) or go to a specialist school. You cannot get a place at a specialist school without an EHC Plan.
Getting an EHC Plan in place takes a long time. After the initial evidence is submitted to request a plan then a detailed assessment takes place. I am so thankful that we got ours sorted out early when my son was at Pre School as it allowed us to apply for a specialist school in plenty of time. If you want to find out how to get an EHC Plan, how the process works and if you are eligible then see my post all about Education, Health and Care Plans.
My post on Early years support details what support there is and provides information on:
- Early years entitlement
- Special Educational Needs support
- Inclusion Funding
- What is a SENDCO – Special Educational Needs & Disability Co-ordination also known as SENCO
It also provides some ideas of who to ask for when you need support.
Team Around the Child
You will soon find you are working with lots of different agencies / professionals and it is important to get them all together. This is where a team around the child meeting or TAC comes in.
If you want to find out who should attend a TAC meeting or what should be on the agenda then see my post all about Team Around the Child Meetings. It also includes some tips for those attending TAC meetings and some information on targeted outcome plans.
What is a One Page Profile?
A one page profile is a summary of what is important to a person and how they need to be supported. It is used as an introduction to a person in educational settings or agencies working with young people. It creates a more person centred approach to supporting needs.
You may already have a One Page Profile for your child, they are commonly used in early years settings. If not it is a good thing to do, it means everyone working with your child will have access to the same information. It will also be used to filter in when doing documents like the Disability Living Allowance Form or the Education Health and Care Plan.
There are so many acronyms and job titles to confuse you when it comes to autism and autism professionals. I have pulled together a glossary that might be useful if you need to look something up.
You will meet lots of professionals particularly if you go through an EHC Plan assessment. I often found that I didn’t really know what their jobs were or why they were assessing my son. I am doing a series of interviews with autism professionals to demystify their jobs for us parents.
Autism Professional interviews:
The first job when it comes to schools is choosing the right one for your child. There are lots of different types of school out there faith schools, free schools, specialist, boarding and grammar to name a few. There is also the alternative provisions such as home schooling.
A big question for many parents to autistic children is if we should consider specialist provision. So if you want to find out more about the types of school available, what is a specialist school and the difference between mainstream and specialist schools then see my post on choosing a school.
If you choose a school that is more than 2 miles away you may also be eligible for school transport.
You might also be interested in 21 reasonable adjustments schools can make for their autistic students.
How to support school transition
Did you know that you can access funding that will support your child to move to school? It is called Transition Support Funding and there is no need to have a diagnosis. It is available to support students that may need a bit more support to change from pre-school to school.
There are lots of ways to support your child when moving to school:
- Picture books
- Story books
- Trying on uniform and PE Kits
To get more tips on transitioning to school and Transition Support Funding see my post on School Transition.
Autism in School
Every child has different needs and this is why the EHC plans are so detailed, they need to make sure the right education provision is provided for that child. However it can take time to get this in place so below are a few things you may want to explore and consider using with your child and getting them in place at their educational setting too.
- Visuals – most autistic children are very visual and may also have speech and language difficulties. Using visuals to support a child’s understanding can really improve their ability to learn.
- If children think differently then they probably need to be taught differently. We have had lots of success using the TEACCH method that is specifically designed for teaching autistic children
- Sensory needs, understanding and supporting your child’s sensory needs is really important ans something I didn’t pick up on early enough. Without the right sensory supports it can create a real barrier to learning.
- There are lots of different therapies to support children with autism from music therapy to attention autism. Find out about the different therapies that have helped us and you may want to encourage your school or nursery to use in my post on autism therapies.
Specialist Schools in the West of England
If you live in the West of England (Bristol, BANES, South Gloucs or North Somerset) then you may be interested in my list of specialist schools for the west of England.
If you want to support your child’s learning at home there are lot’s of things you can implement such as Attention Autism and TEACCH. During the recent lockdown we found it important to structure our learning and have consistent routines.
For ideas to support learning at home check out my kids activities.