Asil is five years old and has autism. He was diagnosed when he was three years old. His verbal communication is very limited and this is frustrating for him – as he struggles to express himself and his behaviour can be erratic.
Asil was in need of an ECHP (Education, Health & Care Plan) review at school, but Mum was not familiar with the process and lacked confidence in English language. The family originally came from Turkey.
Struggling in London during lockdown
Asil and his family moved to their area in London in 2020 and had a very limited social network due to the COVID-19 lockdowns that were in place throughout the year. Mum was struggling with Asil physically and keeping him safe outside in the garden was difficult as he would easily climb the fence. His Mum found it very difficult to retrieve him.
Concerns were also raised after Asil’s father contacted Mum, threatening violence against the family after court restrictions on accessing his children due to domestic violence. There were financial issues including rent arrears, final bill demands and a need for an update regarding the family’s Disability Living Allowance.
Being introduced to School-Home Support
Asil was referred to School-Home Support through a local charity. His Practitioner, Amanda, upon first meeting with the family, realised it was important to nurture a close relationship with Mum. Mum admitted that she struggled to trust authorities and professionals. In establishing trust with Mum, Amanda was able to support her in making arrangements with the school, allowing for a translator to attend meetings so that she was more confident with working on Asil’s EHCP review.
On completion of a positive review, Asil and his Mum have a good relationship with the school, ready to ensure the best outcomes for Asil. Mum also completed a course on Understanding Autism which has given her a boost of confidence in dealing with her son’s needs.
Amanda was able to source a support cat that has successfully integrated into the family home. The cat has helped calm Asil and he is now showing signs of thinking for others. Asil wants to help care for the cat – he fetches the cat’s bowl at mealtimes, wanting the cat to eat like the family. Asil now listens to instructions (such as not jumping on furniture) as he understands this could hurt the cat. The introduction of the support cat has helped to set boundaries and manage behaviour in the home for Asil.
Ensuring the family is safe
Keyworker Amanda raised an alert with School-Home Support and was able to refer the family to a local domestic violence support agency. Mum now feels able to take control of the situation with Asil’s father without fear – she has regular contact with the support agency and has made her children’s schools aware that the father is to have no contact with the children.
The family have been able to remove the stress of the outstanding debts. There has been a successful bill cap application. Prior to Amanda’s involvement, Mum was unaware that ensuring the garden was safe was the Housing Association’s responsibility. The garden fence is now secure for Asil to play safely. Additional funding secured from DLA has enabled Asil access to additional care support through lockdown to support mum in taking him out whilst he is awaiting a place at school.
“My family moved to London with no one else to help us,” Asil’s Mum explained to us. “Finding Amanda [from School-Home Support] has been so much help to us. I did not know about how everything worked and how to make sure my family got support, especially for Asil.”
How can you help?
School-Home Support is here to help get children back into school, ready to learn, whatever it takes. One key area that we work in is with children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). On World Autism Awareness Day we want to touch on how we strive to ensure children with autism can continue to learn, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
School is a safe space for so many children. With schools shut due to the latest COVID-19 lockdown, this means children are not being seen. This worries us more than ever before.
At School-Home Support we make sure that vulnerable children continue to be seen, and remove the barriers they face in accessing their education. Children deserve a fair chance to build a better life after this pandemic – and the key to doing this is through being able to learn.
Donations will enable us to employ more key workers based in schools across the country to reach other children in need and help them to continue to learn and reduce that disadvantage gap.