I was advised to get in touch with the National Autistic Society and I was assigned a lady called Jo (who is another angel disguised as a human being) she helped me write the letters I needed to write and proof read everything I sent to the LEA to see if there was anything I'd missed or needed amending. Jo recommended that we hire an Independent Educational Psychologist to go into the school and assess what Joshua's needs were in the school environment. The NAS have a list of the Ed Psycs they recommend, ones who kind of specialise in doing these sorts of assessments on autistic kids for the statementing process. They are very professional and will go to tribunal with you (if it gets that far) and will help you argue your case. The one the NAS recommended in our area was fully booked up and couldn't take us on but she recommended another lady called Ann Marie who turned out to be another angel that touched our lives and I think I would have been locked away in the funny farm a long time ago if it hadn't been for her support.
What they don't tell you when you start the statement process is that the LEA have a limited budget for providing help to SN children in schools. So they will go into school and assess your child but then they will offer the minimum amount of assistance and provision they can in order to prevent spending their budget. They will swear until they're red in the face that what they are offering is what's best for your child and will spin you all sorts of stories to support their decisions. If we hadn't had Ann Marie to give us the benefit of her experiences and providing us with the perspective to see it from her side we'd have been brain washed into believing that what the LEA was saying was true. As we'd never seen a statement before when we received the first draft from the LEA to our untrained eyes it seemed fabulous and looked as though Josh's needs were all covered but when we showed that same statement Ann Marie she pulled it to pieces.
The effect being in Mrs X's class had on Josh was devastating. Every day he would come out of school and say he'd had a "Red Day," He would say that he hated school and wished that he was dead. He would then say he wanted me to die so that then there would be no one to take him to school any more and he wouldn't have to go. Josh was a ticking time bomb that year, the slightest little thing would cause him to erupt in a frenzy. He would bang his head on the nearest hard object, he'd stamp up stairs and slam his bedroom door then he would stand behind it to prevent me from coming in but he would continue to bang the door with his foot or his head I'm not sure which. At the same time he would rant about how he hated being part of this family and he didn't think he should live with us because he thought we were aliens and that he just wanted to die so that he didn't have to be part of this world or our family anymore. Now I'm quite thick skinned and I try not to take things like this to heart as I know it's his anger and frustration talking and he soon changes his mind once he's calmed down but I still find it heart breaking to hear, it's not something you expect a child of 7 to say no matter how bad their day has been and I just want to take it all away from him but I can't. What really upset me and frustrated me the most was that it could all have been avoided if his teacher had just taken the time to listen and put into practise what people were telling her.
Even when the statement was all sorted (2 tribunals later) and all Joshua's needs were being addressed in his statement, I still had no power to make the teachers carry it out. I doubted that Mrs B even read it let alone made any attempt to change anything she was doing to comply with his new statement. It was a very hard, upsetting and frustrating year for us all and one I never wish to repeat.
Luckily the year after that Josh had the most fantastic teacher in the world ever. After Mrs X, Mrs S was a true gift. I lost count of the amount of times I told her I loved her and I think her husband was getting rather worried by the end of the school year! :-) The first time was when she told me that she could tell when Josh was starting to get worked up about something and all she had to do was lean over him and a piece of her hair would fall forward. Josh would notice the hair and start playing with it and he would calm right down. It was something so simple and yet it made a huge difference to Josh. I could have kissed her! But instead I just said "I love you" Both Mrs. S and Mrs. F couldn't help laughing me, but it was just lovely to hear that Josh finally had a teacher that understood him and could read him and knew how to defuse him before he'd even realised himself that he was getting agitated. Mrs S gave me back my son and made me realise the difference a good teacher can make by doing "nothing much really" (her words) other than taking the time to understand about autism and I will always love her for that.