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Opinions please - parent with SEN child


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Hi Everyone

Would you kindly give me your opinions on this :

Parent contacted us by email to ask about a place for her child with physical disabilities. We emailled back asking more about the equipment used (squiggle chair and Ormesa bug) So I spent some of last weekend looking into them and considering whether we could accommodate his needs. Unfortunately we have 3 steps to the outside area which is how we evacuate the building in case of fire etc. Therefore we replied that we could not offer a place due to this.

Today we received another email from parent asking to see our Inclusion policy and so we referred her to that, our admissions policy (which states we consider places individually), health and safety policy and SEN policy. She has now asked for an address to complain to committee as we don't state the fact that the steps are outside. I have let our Chair know of the situation and am waiting to hear but feel totally fed up to be honest.

So, what are your thoughts please?

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Personally I would have invited this parent to come and visit , which would have given you an opportunity to discuss the child's needs before making a decision , as a parent of a child with disabilities I would have felt the door was closed before being given the opportunity to make an informed decision . We operate from a village hall , have no direct access to outside but via kitchen with steps but have had2 children with physical disabilities and overcome any issues safely. These are just added points to consider in evacuation or risk assessments. Would it be possible to review your decision and policy and approach parent that a visit would be in the interests of both parties and try and smooth over any issues. Would this child have extra support within the setting ?

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Thank you Lashes. Could I ask how you overcame the issues safely? I can't see a way to do so and would love to hear suggestions as it really saddened me to have to decline a place. I didn't offer a visit as I didn't want to disappoint if they really liked the setting and then this issue unabled me to offer a place, if that makes sense. After reading your comment I can see that this may have looked like a closed door instead.

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Hi we have a moveable ramp that enables all persons accessibility to our setting, not sure if that would be possible for you.

I think I might have offered the opportunity to come and see your setting, so the parents could make an informed decision whether this was an appropriate place for their child and discussions could have taken place.

A parent with a child with an additional need may have already experienced many barriers and this might explain their reluctance to accept your reply, hence the demand to see your policies.

I would give them a call to arrange a meeting.

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Maybe the lesson to learn then is to look at how you CAN accomodate, rather than disappoint with an email to say you can't? What can you learn from this? My guess is that lashes can give you lots of ideas about how to overcome the issues and maybe your Inclusion Officer? Such a shame to have to turn children away if you only need some simple adaptations to meet their needs. I hope you manage to resolve things.

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Ok so first child was unable to walk but was able to crawl , key worker attended a lifting and handling course and cascaded to other staff, this was needed as we had to change nappy as well. With support he was able to stand and take small steps , so therefore 2 staff would assist to get him outside and the same in a fire drill , remember fire drill or evaluation is about leaving a building safely , you won't need to run or do it manically , we have several exits obviously would depend on where fire was situated , you could buy or hire ramps or speak to council . This child's chair did not fit through all doors so we checked and was aware of which ones he would need to be remove from chair from but again he spent very little time in chair. Child number 2 currently with us initially could only bum shuffle he is now walking unaided but needs assistance with steps , again we assessed his needs , practised fire drill noted what would be best practice in the event of a fire but also daily routine , questions to ask , how doe the child's disability affect their movement , can he/ she be removed from the chair safely and given opportunities other children have for accessing activities, do staff need extra training ? , when outside for play is the outside area suitable for chair or could the child wears waterproofs so they can be on floor / ground to play, can you obtain extra resources from physio to assist in setting ,chair etc , do you feel your staff and yourself need extra support in order to take on a child with additional needs, get a clear picture of this child from all involved especially the parents, look at the ability not the disability , welcome with open arms as you would ny other child , be honest with any concerns you have and allow the parents to decide , if you want you can put in it writing your concerns or how you have adapted your policy to the individual and give parents a copy and one for yourselves so that it is all recorded. Hope my rambling has helped

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Isn't it a requirement that public buildings have to be accessible to everyone? If you don't own the building I'd speak to your landlord about it.

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Depends on the building age as some buildings cannot physically do it and if they are listed the expense and complications involved can be ground on which accessibility can be argued , but in an ideal world , yes!

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am i being a bit dim here??? these children are young would you not just pick them up and carry them???

thats what we did when we had a child with autism (slightly different I know) as she didnt understand what the fire alarm meant at first and thought it was exciting to run around!

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. Hope my rambling has helped

It has, thank you. I am meeting with the Chair on Monday to discuss how we can possibly adapt the setting to suit this child and any future needs too. In hindsight I wish I had invited this parent to visit so we didn't come across as being so closed off and am giving myself a kicking!

Depending on our discussions on Monday, first thing I will do is ring this parent and offer a visit so we can start afresh - I think I need to change my forum name to SteepLearningCurve!

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Onyourmarks, don't kick yourself too hard, this is how we learn, and what better place than here, as there is a wealth of experience to draw on.

Do you have an inclusion team at your LA as this is the sort of thing they would help with, especially as the child may be able to get additional funding, (may not of course with budget cuts, but worth exploring?). They may be able to help you and the parents decide if your setting is the right place for the child, and look at what 'reasonable adjustments' you are able to make. For example, a temporary ramp to get in and out, and you would need to think about toileting too. You would need to know much more about the child's disability, and which agencies are involved, and you would need to create an inclusion plan and maybe a care plan (they can be called different things in different places). All these things can be as you said a steep learning curve if you have never done them before, but just think how much more experienced you will be next time!

Let us know what happens wont you?

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Thank you mundia, I appreciate your comment as I really am feeling pretty low about this issue and feeling that I could have handled this soooooo much better.

However, moving on I'll meet with the Chair on Monday and take contact details of those who could help us along with the parent and hopefully reach a good solution.

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Onyourmarks, I take my hat off to you. It takes a lot to admit you might have been wrong, to reflect on it and then go back to try to put things right. I hope this works out well and for the best, whichever way it pans out, even if everyone decides that your setting isn't the right one for this child, at the very least, I hope that it is a professional decision based on what is best for his needs. Good luck

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Onyourmarks, pick yourself up , we learn along the way and if you have not experienced something how will you know , as said before it is commendable to admit you may have not approached the situation as you would have liked or known , but as I always say knowledge is power , so now you have the power to change things , good luck and well done for taking comments on board ,I hope it works out for you , if not with this parent and child , then others in the future , turn that frown upside down xx

Edited by lashes2508
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