They’re funny things, professionals’ reports, aren’t they? They make you feel high and low all in one go. Positive and yet despondent. Hopeful and hopeless.
Yesterday we received in the post the report that the Educational Psychologist (EP) has send to the Local Authority (LA) to support our application for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). We’ve only met him once and I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He’s quite, erm, intense. As long as he’s good at what he does though…
The report is set out in sections, such as ‘Communication and Interaction’ and ‘Cognition and Learning’, and is sub-divided into ‘Strengths’ and ‘Special Educational Needs’ (i.e weaknesses). It’s fair to say that in most sections, the strengths are outweighed by the weaknesses. And this is what makes it such difficult reading.
On one hand, we need the report to highlight her areas for development – her weaknesses, as it’s these needs that will, hopefully, convince the LA that she does need the extra support. On the other hand, it’s really, really hard to read things about your child that another person – a total outsider, albeit qualified to assess her needs – has observed, even though you know it’s true as you’ve seen it yourself.
It’s great to read that she followed some instructions, interacted with an adult and said “‘ello” to another child, but it’s more difficult to read that although she’s vocalising more, it’s not nearly at the same level as her peers and she’s hard to understand.
It’s nice to know that the EP was impressed with Tink’s knowledge of colours and it’s lovely that she has started to ‘display some functional play such as eating a toy carrot’, but it’s not so nice to read that she was very resistant to suggestions that she listen to a story or colour some shapes, displaying ‘self directive behaviour’.
It’s great that he observed her showing an interest in other children, but it’s sad to read that when other children try to interact with her, she very rarely reciprocates, but, instead, ignores them, which is in stark contrast to the other children who are all starting to play with each other rather than alongside. It’s even harder to read, in this official report, that Tink threw sand in another child’s face and would not stop throwing it when asked several times, so had to leave and play somewhere else, again reflecting ‘self directive behaviour’.
The part that brought a tear to my eye was where he describes how Tink was unable to sit with her classmates on the floor for an assembly, and cried out several times before being taken away after five minutes. This just shows how much Tink struggles with the norms of a mainstream school life and needs a lot of support to manage it even for a short time, where other children have no problem with it.
But, although it can make for pretty upsetting reading at times, this is exactly what we need to hear – what we need the LA to hear. We need them to know, from an official, qualified, trusted source, that she ‘has difficulties in the areas of communication, social interaction and concentration’ and that these difficulties hinder her ability to access the full range of learning opportunities. We need them to know that he feels that staffing ‘should be to a level that will allow the delivery of the targets’ (that he has suggested) and that resources and the environment and facilities ‘should be arranged so as to facilitate small group and individual teaching as required’.
Then there’s this lovely little sentence, that has given me some hope, after the disappointing medical assessment last week: ‘Adult support will be needed to help Tink maintain her concentration.’ Will be needed. Not ‘may be’. Not ‘could be’. Will be.
Thank you, Mr Slightly-Scary EP. Thank you for fighting our daughter’s corner. Now all we can do is to continue to keep everything crossed that it will all make a difference.