Today I had a twitter exchange with a couple of tweeters I have come to respect for their passion and contribution to Early Years Education. They told me that they were valued by the schools they support and that their provision was good and I have no reason to doubt that from what I have witnessed them discuss.
But the discussion brought back memories of my experience of Early Years Education. The mismatch between what these posters believe they are delivering and what I felt my son received was stark. In short, I felt we received a generic patronising service from the services that purported to deliver essential ‘early intervention’.
8 months after my son was diagnosed with ASD and at 3 and a half yrs of age, (after an extremely tough battled for a statement of SEN), we had weekly SALT, weekly Autism Advisory Service, an EP assessment, and 80% of 1:1 in preschool. I have since learned that this kind of provision is but a dream for many, and yet in what I can only recall as the darkest of days of a true understanding of what ‘support’ actually entailed, I wrote this:
‘Our LA, the Armageddon,
Shallow be thy name
Thy meetings come, nowt will be done
Except CPD on expenses in Devon
Give us this day our daily dread
And forgive us our PECSesses, as we forgive those who laminate against us
Lead us not into visual timetables
And deliver us from unmeasurable targets
For thine is the budget, the power, and you’ll surely
Fail my child again and again.’
To read this back made me cry. It’s not that I didn’t want to be grateful in those early years. It’s that I just couldn’t be. You see, nobody could explain to me one single outcome that resulted from their involvement and I asked, at the first and last ‘Team Around the Child’ Meeting.
The professionals metaphorically held hands, and despite having the question 3 weeks in advance, announced that they had agreed amongst themselves that outcomes were a joint effort. But sadly, no-one could give me even a joint-effort outcome either, at least not a measurable one, or even a vague one I could agree I had witnessed.
The question I put to them is no doubt a question of a ‘nightmare’ parent. But even so, should not the professionals (paid for at quite considerable expense to the tax-payer) be able to answer it?
Not being able to answer this, offered us absolutely no hope for our child’s future, or for the ability of services to meet his needs.