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Support in education for teens with mental health issues - Carers UK Forum

Support in education for teens with mental health issues

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Just wanted to put this out there for anyone who may be in a similar situation to me.

I have a 15 year old son who has been suffering with psychosis for quite some time. Although it has been a battle, I now feel we are getting somewhere with his healthcare (Early Intervention Psychosis Team - East Kent are fantastic).

However, we are still having trouble with school coming on board. I am not sure whether it is because they are scared of the psychosis label, or whether it really is too much to ask them to support a teen going through such a tough time.

Anyway, it was recommended to me, by Young Healthy Minds, that I contact the Information, Advice and Support Kent (IASK) team (formerly Parent Partnership) and they have been great. I attended a drop in session this morning, and they have already committed to a meeting with the SENCO, scouted out an alternative education advisor in case it all goes Pete Tong and helped me prioritise the actions I need to take. All with a cup of coffee, a smile, and an added bit of humour.

I would whole-hearted recommend getting in touch with your local Parent Partnership if you have a child with a mental health condition. They know what they are talking about and get on with the job, rather than faffing about like so many other agencies.

Hope this little gem of advice can help someone else out there too.
Hi Stephanie,
I'm so glad you have managed to secure MH support for your son. It sounds like Healthy Young Minds know their stuff and your local parent partnership team are competent. Thanks for sharing what you have learnt and keep us posted.

Melly1
Hi Stephanie,

Glad to hear that you've had such a positive experience that has helped sort things out with the school.

If you do come across any further problems getting school on board, if you say a little bit more about what the school are not doing, I may be able to help. I'm a teacher so have a vague idea of how to get things done in a school, and know a little about the changes to SEN provision that are happening at the moment.

Jenna
Thanks Jenna

The main problem seems to be that without diagnosis, my son has been treated as child with emotional/behaviour issues, rather than a medical problem. He is under the care of the Psychosis team, and they are more than happy to say in their professional opinion that it is psychosis, but as we do not have a diagnosis from a psychiatrist (finally have a review appointment at the end of April), school have been reluctant to help.

I have had many meetings with the SENCO, normally asked for by her, to try to tackle the issues he is having, but nothing concrete ever seems to be put in place. We verbally agreed that he needed to sit his exams in a separate room and have rest breaks, but it was not put into action come his mocks. We have talked about how having headphones on stops him becoming too stressed from the noise around him but he is not allowed to wear them. We have even discussed how it is calming for my son to be able to draw and write down any intrusive thoughts, but he just gets told off for doodling, or sent home because he is writing disturbing things.

I feel I have tried to do the right thing by letting them know the issues and some ways to overcome them, but they are just not being put into place. I also think that it is probably a bit too late in the year to apply for an EHC assessment, as he is in year 11 and sitting his exams in 9 weeks time.

If you have any gems of experience I'd be grateful!
Sounds like the message isn't getting through to his teachers. Can you have a session with his form tutor, or head of year, do you think? And maybe email through all the SENCOS recommendations about things like headphones, to EVERY teacher that he has on his timetable? My son's school's teachers all had individual email addresses.
We have talked about how having headphones on stops him becoming too stressed from the noise around him but he is not allowed to wear them
Would ear defenders work for him? School might be more open to these as they are acceptable for pupils with sound sensitivity due to autism, they cut down on environmental sounds etc but do not play music or white noise etc

An e.g. is: http://cheapdisabilityaids.co.uk/1-pack ... -513-p.asp
The black ones are the most discrete.

Melly1
Hi Stephanie,

This might be something you could suggest to the Early Intervention Team to do some work in schools educating staff and pupils about psychosis. There is an excellent service in London who support children voice hearers. They may be able to advise you on how to deal with your son's school. Here's the link:

http://www.voicecollective.co.uk/about/about_main.html

If you click on the flyers and booklets and scroll down to the bottom, there are 2 fab booklets for families. Maybe you should print them off for the school too!!

Anna x
The only thing I can think of is that access arrangements (special arrangements for exams) tend to have to be assessed formally, so I wonder if perhaps that verbal agreement has not been followed up with a formal assessment of his needs in an exam. It may be worth contacting the school and asking for an urgent meeting with the SENCO to discuss the access arrangements, so you can find out why these are not being carried out for your son, and find out what needs to be done in order for them to be put in place.

My school has a very high level of SEN, so if you're ok with it, I'll ask the person in charge of access arrangements at my school what the procedure is for getting access arrangements at this stage in the year? She may well be able to suggest how best to get these put in place rapidly.

Also, it could help to mention being concerned that your son will not meet his GCSE targets. The school is judged on whether your son makes 3 or 4 levels of progress from year 6, so I suspect mention of this may well grab their attention!
Any information about access arrangements would be great. Thanks for your help Jenna.
Hi Stephanie,

I spoke to one of the SEN teachers at my school, and she thought that having a separate room didn't even need a formal access arrangement assessment in order to be put in place, so I can't see why this hasn't been sorted out for your son as it sounds like it's very easy to do. She also said that it's definitely not too late for arrangements to be put in place, even if this was a completely new request and hadn't previously been discussed.

She agreed that it would be best to contact the SENCO to ask why adjustments are not being made to support your son in exams.

Hope that helps a bit.