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Hi all,


We have a 3 year old who has autism (as i was told when i joined). But after speaking to his key worker and the manager i've learnt that he hasn't been given a formal diagnosis yet as they are still "doing tests" and they are taking forever. He has had a speech therapist visit and an occupational therapist was supposed to come and observe him but they didn't show up. Our area SENCO advises us regarding his IEP's,

I feel really stumped. What else can we/I do to help this child? I am an EYT trainee and part of my role is to understand how certain factors can inhibit children's learning &development and also to support children with special needs, but if we don't know what exactly his needs are how are we to support him? I have suggested using visual aids but his keyworker told me the SENCO said to stop using that method now.

What can we do in the meantime?


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We have had a child for nearly 2 years - and they have no diagnosis, mum saw the paed last week and further tests are required. What I'm trying to say is would a formal diagnosis change what you are doing for him. All we can do for our little chap is observe,observe, observe and see what areas he is struggling in, what can we do to help and how to move forwards with him.

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Thank you for your replies.

Well, the child is originally from a European country where the doctor said he had Autism (this was about a year ago). From my interactions and observations of him, I've seen that he responds when you call his name, he will sometimes just stand at the edge of the room and observe what's happening but will also join in some activities (he like messy play and voluntarily joins in circle singing timesometimes), but most of the time he's happy to run back and forth across the room and be on his own. He knows his numbers and alphabets extremely well. Communication wise he can say a few words like "go" which he repeats throughout the day along with a few other words.

Interestingly, when my tutor came to visit me she was able to spend some time with this child and later told me that she didn't think he had autism but rather speech and language issues/delays (she's worked with children who have autism).

There is an educational psychologist coming soon for a visit so will see what they have to say.

Fimbo, two years is a long time isn't it? why does it take so long? But i guess you are right. I initially just thought that we would have to be reliant on these other professionals before we could plan and try to move forward with him.

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Whatever the diagnosis, it's clear that this child has communication difficulties and that's what I would focus on.

I'm surprised that the SENCo advised stopping the use of visual prompts. They provide a fantastic way to support independence and communication which are crucial to a child's well being in so may ways. My very academically able 10 year old who has Asperger's and has an enormous verbal vocabulary still uses visual prompts at school and home.

Did the SENCo suggest an alternative way to support his communication?

To be perfectly honest, no report from a professional is going to do any more than offer you a signpost for where to look for barriers to learning. You need to observe the child closely and use the information you have about Autism in general to inform how you do that. Then you will develop your own picture of his individual needs which you can then try to meet with different strategies until you identify those that work. The child's parents will play a key role in this because they know him and what works for him far better than anyone else.

Assessment takes a long time, partly because the services involved are so stretched and partly because the professionals making the diagnostic decision need to be sure that they diagnosis is correct. There are other factors in children's lives that can make them appear to be far more autistic than they should and those need to be ruled out. There are also other, very similar, diagnoses and they need to be sure that the picture they are seeing is the correct one.

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