SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and you'll notice that all the writers who feature in this series have SEND in common. They are STARS because they are parents or carers of, or work with, children with SEND, and they are sharing their personal stories or campaigning for change in the form of a blog.
The blogs lead to a greater understanding of challenges faced by these children but I love the fact that the amazing personality of each individual child is being highlighted along the way too. Those with SEND in their lives tend to be very busy - extra appointments, letters to write, meetings to attend, law to learn and the rest, so it's a wonder any of them find time to write at all. I do hope you'll pop over to their blogs or leave them a comment of support below (or do both!) to thank them for being brave and sharing their stories.
So here we go with week 4...
I’m Catie, mum, wife, teacher and EXPAT (living in Holland). I love photography and the beach and I am 43 years old
Who else is in your family and what are their ages?
I am married to Gert (the hubby, he is 43 and Dutch) and we have 2 boys aged 10 and 7.
Which members of your family have SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) or additional needs, and what are those needs?
My oldest son has PDD NOS a form of Autism (Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). He has communication problems, motor skills problems, he is hyper mobile and has anxiety issues too.
Is there an official diagnosis and if so, what is it, at what age was it given and by who?
He was diagnosed at age 5. He was assessed by a team of psychologists at a centre in Holland. We are super lucky as it is very close to where we live.
At first we went to the Doctor. He referred us to a centre where my son was assessed for dyspraxia. He did not tick enough boxes for dyspraxia but they did identify problems including a lot of sensory issues. He was then referred to another centre for further assessment. My son has had physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and has had a range of therapy from psychologists around anxiety, accepting his autism and for a fear of bees.
We also had parent therapy, which I found invaluable!
Are your children in school (if so, what type of school) or home educated?
I went against advice and kept my son in a mainstream school and they have been brilliant. He has a learning support assistant for 4 hours per week. She works flexibly and can be there at times when he needs more support e.g, gym, exams, special days, the beginning/end of the year.
He has 1 1/2 years left here and then we hope will go to a secondary school for children with autism.
What would you like others outside the SEND community to know about your child's condition?
Ignore the stereotypes: autism is a very broad spectrum and no two children are the same. Look at the child not the label.
Tell us a fact or funny story about you or your life which is totally unrelated to SEND.....
I didn’t meet my husband until I was 30. Family kept asking me when I was going to settle down and I joked (at a wedding) that I was going over to Holland soon with the girls and would come back with a Dutch man and that is just what I did.
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