2 April 2022 marks World Autism Awareness Day. In the last three years, we have seen an 87% increase in the number of families we work with, with autism as a support need.
Slow referrals and diagnoses are something our practitioners see too often. Families are not getting the support they need when they need it. The government’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Green Paper, titled ‘Right support, right place, right time’ therefore comes at a critical time and commits to identifying children’s needs more quickly.
Through our expert practitioners, our approach ensures that parents are guided to identify SEND needs and given access to the right support. By working with the whole family to overcome any barriers to a child’s education, we tackle the challenges that a SEND diagnosis can present alongside any other difficulties families may be facing.
A recent report by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) found that while pupils on SEND support make up only 12% of all pupils in England, they represent 20% of all severely absent pupils. In Autumn 2020, the rate of severe absence for pupils on SEND support was close to triple the rate of pupils with no identified SEND. The rate of severe absence for pupils was close to six times the rate of pupils with no identified SEND.
‘The importance of SEND provision and support has never been more stark following the past two years of Covid disruption to young people’s education. There is a lot still to be done to ensure all young people are able to access the necessary support in education settings and beyond. My work with School-Home Support is SEND specific and allows me to make sure families and young people themselves are both heard and understood. Autism affects most individuals on my caseload and presents its own challenges as a spectrum disorder. The challenges faced by those I support highlight the need for better understanding and inclusivity of neurodivergence at many levels. A change in approach could be all it takes to make a huge difference in accessibility! I am proud to be able to raise awareness of SEND and to be able to keep helping remove barriers to education for all.’ Amanda Chalk, School-Home Support Family Practitioner based at inclusive community hub Markfield.
Zainab, her mum, and her younger brother were referred to School-Home Support after they had just been placed in emergency accommodation following a move from an abusive relationship. Zainab is autistic and managing her behaviour through the upheaval and change of environment was particularly challenging for her mum,
How has School-Home Support helped Zainab and her family?
Zainab’s mum was unable to access any financial support as she did not have a National Insurance number. Our practitioner Amanda was able to provide food and utility support, and supported Zainab’s mum to apply for her National Insurance number to speed up the process of accessing Universal Credit. Amanda also made contact with the Children’s Poverty Action Group, who enlisted Zainab’s mum to their project.
To manage Zainab’s behaviour, Amanda acquired a school liaison to ensure the family were able to access the appropriate support, and set up a meeting with school to explain Zainab’s needs and the strategies that worked for her. As a result of Amanda’s interventions, Zainab’s school recognises her support needs and has improved communication with mum by means of a daily diary and phone contact when necessary. Mum now feels confident that the school is equipped to handle Zainab’s difficult days, although these are fewer now that she is more settled and has access to the right support.
It was vital that Zainab’s mum was able to gain financial independence and Amanda provided Mum with support for CV writing and job seeking. She has now accepted part-time work that she will start once Zainab’s younger brother is in nursery placement.
The family have now been offered a direct let to make a more permanent home in a better location, and which takes into account Zainab’s needs.
‘When I arrived at Markfield I did not know how I could be helped. Amanda had the knowledge to find steps forward that others did not see. I am so grateful.’ Zainab’s mum
At School-Home Support we work with the whole family to tackle any barriers to education. With our interventions, Zainab and her family now have a safe home with access to the right support.
Our thanks to The Bloomfield Trust who fund our vital SEND work and ensures so many children get the support they need.