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  #41  
Old 01.07.2016, 08:20
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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If every student who didn't "fit" into the mainstream - the ones with ADHD, ADD, Aspergers, autism, ODD, hearing/vision impairment, physical disabilities, three generations of illiteracy in one family, severe brain damage, Tourettes, epilepsy, dyslexia, the fact that they arrived in the country the week before and don't speak the language, the violent ones, the traumatised ones, the apathetic ones, the ones suffering all manner of abuse, the ones who are just having a bloody awful time of it and are acting up because someone they love is dying or recently dead - were removed to make life easier, then a lot of classrooms would be pretty empty. Mind you, by your reasoning, the "normal" ones would have a jolly time of it and their teachers could bugger off home at half-past three.


The slower ones, as you put it, don't sink, that's what differentiation is for. The G&T ones are stretched too. Lots of schools stream their brightest and ones most in need of support. Some schools stream all classes. Some schools choose to teach only mixed classes. There are fiercely debated arguments for all approaches.


There aren't many special schools - because that's what you mean, right? - in the UK anymore because funding was slashed. And slashed again and many minds, brighter than me, decided it's beneficial for kids not to feel excluded and somehow "less" than others, because they're not.


So we're trained on a fairly ad-hoc basis because we often we don’t know what we’ll need to know next; the memo about little Janie’s anxiety disorder takes a while to arrive and you only find out about Frankie’s violent tendencies when you unwittingly get between him and the door. Similarly, after three terms, no-one quite knows how exactly to get Jamie to sit down and work independently so you deal with him sort of satellite-ing his way around the room and are very pleased when he writes with a biro and not a green Sharpie. And we do the very best we can with the hand we are dealt and we are not allowed to refuse to teach any child. It’s not Nirvana. Or Hogwarts. Or Mallory Towers. And our TAs are priceless.


In my home town of around 110000 people there are easily 15 secondary schools that are within the broader catchment area, not to mention all the feeder primaries. There is precisely one "Special" school and a handful of PRU's. The school is oversubscribed and underfunded. The staff are amazing and the waiting list is ridiculous. The schools geographically closest were then tasked with taking the over flow - with retraining, recruiting and training more staff to cope with the demands. And we adapt and liaise and read reports and try various strategies and different ones again and meet with parents and colleagues and support workers and, and, and. It’s a miracle we get any “real” teaching done at all. You know, the stuff we’re “trained” to do.


Some days the facts and the skills of it have to take a back seat. Some days, that isn’t the most important part of the job by any stretch of the imagination.


Teaching is not just about standing in front of a class and telling them things they need to remember for an exam. Teachers have to be experts at spotting the kids who can’t cope for whatever reason and then helping them to find a way. We have to “work” a crowd, every day. That seems fairly socio-and psycho-logical to me. But then again, what do I know? I’m just a teacher.


That's exactly what I mean: these specialist schools have been closed through underfunding and a wrongheaded policy that says giving children proper help is discriminatory. The needs of the child are ignored in favour of a political doctrine. The result is children who cannot cope forced into mainstream schooling and teachers forced to deal with all sorts of issues that they are ill-equipped to handle.
If you read your reply again from the perspective of an outsider, you'll see how awful the system sounds.
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  #42  
Old 01.07.2016, 09:28
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Hello,I agree the kids that have problems should be integrated in the main stream.i have a friend who lives in Germany,her son is in a glass with children with special needs,and she says it works wonderfully,the special needs kids have a few classes they attend separately for some hours and then are back with the others.
To isolate and shun these kids is defenitely not a solution at least for the child,for the school which has no facility ,yes.

As I have said my son has been feeling extreme stress and feels victimised,since a month it has gotten worse.two weeks back he started telling his teacher he doesn't want to live anymore,she immediately wrote to the school psychologist who now thinks because of that he's mentally unstable.yesterday he was so frustrated in class that he banged his head against his desk till he got a bump,now god knows what the psychologist is going to think,.no one in school or the psychologist have even considered that it could be something to do with him always being treated as "different",punishing him in front of his class mates ,blaming him for everything.since the teacher can no longer hide her intolerance for him,the class mates are picking up on the negative emotions she can't hide and are sometimes treating him like a leper too.if I were in that situation I would bang my head too.
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  #43  
Old 01.07.2016, 10:05
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Tough situation, one thing to consider is school holidays start soon and every one gets a break. Don't underestimate how tired kids get by the end of the school year.
As others have said there are plus/minus for special schools and streaming of students, one size does not fit all. Independent analysis of the your son's learning needs is required, schools are sometimes not the best placed to understand these. From that you will know what is best then with discussion with the school how this is going to be achieved. As you already have an Occupational therapist maybe an in depth discussion with them is the first step to learn his learning style, they may also be able to recommend other services or people able to assist.
How big is the school? Is there another class he could move to at the same level?
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  #44  
Old 01.07.2016, 13:49
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Rama, I agree actually. My daughters' Swiss teachers do seem unable cope with children when they are deeply emotionally distressed. I have qualifications and experience in the mental health field, so it was obvious to me that they did not have the necessary skills to intervene effectively in those situations. And that is what you just described: a deeply emotionally distressed child.

My eldest daughter became extremely withdrawn and could not trust her teacher or classmates, but she still did her homework, behaved well, and attended on time. Meanwhile, my youngest daughter became extremely disruptive with the other students and refused to co-operate with the teachers or school routine.

I accepted eventually, that she would be better served in a small sized class within a therapeutic education environment. That has proved to be successful.

But I did not think the same about my older daughter. After B was transferred, they began to focus on C and demanded I have her seen by the school psychologist. So we did, and she was found to have no learning disorders. She was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and counselling was recommended. But no one fluent in English could be provided, so I had no option except to go elsewhere privately or do it myself.

C preferred to work with me, and thus I was able to coax her along to a much better performance. She is now making progress and there is no more concern being expressed about her.

In hindsight, it is clear to me that we were able to succeed because I convinced her teacher to give her the benefit of the doubt. Her teacher held back on the criticism as long as she could see progress, however small it might be, and encouraged her positively whenever she could.

As a mental health professional, I am appalled by your reports of how your son's teacher is handling your boy. While I can understand it, I can't excuse it. Can you see the principal urgently? because if I was in your shoes, I would be calling this a crisis, and asking for my child to be removed from that teacher's class.
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  #45  
Old 01.07.2016, 14:29
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Hello robbi64, the principle is 100 percent with the teacher,and has been pretty agressive with us if we made even the slightest complaint against the teacher.

I have has many meetings with the teacher ,explaining that he needs small goals not huge ones ,I have downloaded and printed tips about how she can deal with a high energy child,but she does not want the extra job of dealing with him.

Since she's new she has been given a class of 16 children ,.the other section with an experienced teacher has about 23,it might have been good if he was shifted earlier in the year to the other class but that option was never given to us,like I said the principle is a very difficult man,.but now I think it's too late,since Lucas has been branded as a " bad boy",he won't be able to shrug that off easily,right now he,s being watched ,and every little thing he does is being noted down,.
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  #46  
Old 01.07.2016, 15:55
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Rama, can you go around him? Back to the school psychologist, and ask them to intervene? Your gemeinde? What about seeing your doctor? From what you are saying, the relationship between your son and his teacher has broken down.

I'm guessing the reason for keeping your child in the smaller class is "time and energy", but this newbie teacher obviously has no idea. I would say she has little to no chance of repairing the relationship so close to the end of the school year. Her motivation will not be in the right frame with only two weeks left. It is debatable whether she could even continue to teach him next school year - gee, I hope that is not on the cards?

I reached a point of sheer desperation with B. She point blank refused to attend school, so I phoned her in as "sick" and home schooled her for a week. We would have got away with it had I not mentioned the words "home school" on Facebook. That got me a phone call from the school board, but at least they were understanding. If we could get a certificate from our doctor, it would be fine, they said. (I would have got one if she'd kept refusing, but she decided to give them another chance.)
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  #47  
Old 01.07.2016, 17:31
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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That's exactly what I mean: these specialist schools have been closed through underfunding and a wrongheaded policy that says giving children proper help is discriminatory. The needs of the child are ignored in favour of a political doctrine. The result is children who cannot cope forced into mainstream schooling and teachers forced to deal with all sorts of issues that they are ill-equipped to handle.
If you read your reply again from the perspective of an outsider, you'll see how awful the system sounds.
Not every challenging child needs isolating/separating from their peers. A few extreme cases do, but the majority "just" need the right support.

How is it wrong headed? I'm not too keen on you implication that consequently kids aren't getting "proper" help. Children who truly "cannot cope" are found alternative routes to their education. The needs of the child aren't ignored, that's the point.

Teachers are equipped, thank you very much, not least because they absolutely positively give a damn and don't give up. Perseverance, a broad mind and a well -developed sense of humour: essential traits for teachers.

It possibly sounds awful if you've never been inside it. For those of us on the inside, it's simply another day at the office.


Rama, just so sorry to your current situation. I second everything Robbi says. I really hope you can find your way through this.
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  #48  
Old 01.07.2016, 17:38
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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That's exactly what I mean: these specialist schools have been closed through underfunding and a wrongheaded policy that says giving children proper help is discriminatory. The needs of the child are ignored in favour of a political doctrine. The result is children who cannot cope forced into mainstream schooling and teachers forced to deal with all sorts of issues that they are ill-equipped to handle.
If you read your reply again from the perspective of an outsider, you'll see how awful the system sounds.
Many specialist schools or centers have closed in the UK, true. However, it would be unfair to say that children who have a disability, are on the spectrum, have dyspraxia, are dyslexic, ADHD or ADD do not thrive in main stream education in the UK system. The main reason being that UK schools now have to include a clear SEN provision in their written school policies, to help children of all abilities and needs to become an important part of, and included in, mainstream education. The training and skill of in-house staff and systems with clear strategies often mean that children with difficulties do very well in the primary section. I also think having a variety of mixed abilities with disabilities does not in fact have a negative impact on the progress and achievement of mainstream kids as long as there is a clear flexible and differentiated approach to academic goals with pastoral and emotional care included in the curriculum.

Children who have severe difficulties/ disabilities are, once assessed and deemed eligible, given places in UK specialists schools which, by the way, still do exist.

That is not to say that the Swiss provision in some schools isn't good, or that child psychologists assigned to Kindergarten and Primary schools aren't brilliant at what they do. However, going by the amount of threads which have popped up on EF over the years, special educational needs in schools seems to be quite problematic.. and staff seem to have a vacuum of key skills to include a more flexible, differentiated and caring approach required to make a child with needs feel an important part of their class, whole school and wider community.
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  #49  
Old 01.07.2016, 17:48
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

What Swisstree said, exactly.
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Old 11.07.2016, 22:56
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Can you go back to the school psychologist? Or even see a different one? Could you go through the doctor? As I understand it your son's doctor could refer to a psychologist who can write their recommendations to the school psychologist.

We have also had issues with an utterly inept kindergarten teacher, also with the underlining to the rest of the class that out son is 'different' and consequent behaviour towards him by the other children, but hopefully have things in place for the new school year.

In my (limited) experience, of two families I know, the teachers do seem to push for medicating as soon as adhd is mentioned. One family agreed ( and have had huge improvements) the other didn't and the school psychologist is unwilling to diagnose even though the class teacher keeps referring and saying it must be adhd and the child is too lively and needs medication!

The school psychologist will not always side with the school, they have intervened on our behalf before, but I can understand the headmaster backing up the staff. Could you ask for a meeting with Head, teacher and psychologist to discuss the issues? A list of points the teacher has raised with explanations of how you would deal with it at home, or suggestions for the teacher to try. An innocent "well, in [where I come from] this would happen..." And definitely no blame mentioned
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Old 12.07.2016, 08:50
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Not all children with ADHD symptoms can be medicated. The psychologist has the expertise to make that call, not the teacher. I realise it would be great if all lively children could be mildly sedated to ease the way of their teachers, but if they don't have the right set of symptoms, medication can be very harmful.

Still thinking of you and your boy, Rama.

I can understand the headmaster backing up the staff too, but to support a teacher in the verbal abuse of a floundering student? Seems unprofessional and unethical to me. I just cannot see how that is excusable, no matter how worn down the teacher might be feeling.

How does a parent make a complaint about an apparent breach in a Swiss teacher's standards? If the headmaster won't listen, who should we see next?
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Old 12.07.2016, 20:12
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

When I queried a few things with the school psychiatrist, she immediately said "that's a matter for the school inspector." So, I think they would be the point of contact above the headmaster. It should be listed on the cantonal website, look for your region and then it should give the name of the inspector (Erziehungsdirektion, Regionales Schulinspektorat).
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Old 12.07.2016, 20:15
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

Meant to say, we met the inspector for our school at the meeting we had with teacher, headmaster, psychologist and TA to discuss what type and how much help our son would get and when it would start.
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Old 12.07.2016, 20:29
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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Meant to say, we met the inspector for our school at the meeting we had with teacher, headmaster, psychologist and TA to discuss what type and how much help our son would get and when it would start.
Once the help is set up, don't forget to measure its success. Review dates are very important so you can sit down with the teacher and psychologist to find out what works and what does not.. tweaking the set up is the only way to end up with effective and successful individual help for your little boy.

Don't let anyone say they're going to do x, y and z, without setting up a follow up date to review it all with you present at the meeting.

Rule of thumb: plan, make, do and review
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Old 12.07.2016, 21:53
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

So fed up of reading again and again and again on here that special needs education is bad here and that children with special needs get segregated when really all they need to thrive is to be included in mainstream education.

So lets look at facts.

How many of you saying this actually have a child with disabilities so actually speak from a point of actual knowledge?

And do you not think that if integration were the panacea you non special needs experienced people think it to be, it would be implemented - across the board?


My son attends a day hospital where the basic costs, without any therapy costs, are estimated to be close to the 200 000chf per annum mark. It would be SO much cheaper to integrate him in mainstream school - but until now - inappropriate.

OP - all I can say is take advice from members who have actual experience of the system. We have been by turns delighted and amazed by the lengths they will go to. Yes it might be equally good - or better - in other countries - but its really not bad here. Keep open the channels of communication with your school and work with the educational pyschology department - who have not let us down yet.

Good luck and remain positive. There is a lot of good stuff out there. And most of all, remain sceptical about taking "advice" from the internet ...
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Old 13.07.2016, 00:23
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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So fed up of reading again and again and again on here that special needs education is bad here and that children with special needs get segregated when really all they need to thrive is to be included in mainstream education.

So lets look at facts.

How many of you saying this actually have a child with disabilities so actually speak from a point of actual knowledge?

And do you not think that if integration were the panacea you non special needs experienced people think it to be, it would be implemented - across the board?


My son attends a day hospital where the basic costs, without any therapy costs, are estimated to be close to the 200 000chf per annum mark. It would be SO much cheaper to integrate him in mainstream school - but until now - inappropriate.

OP - all I can say is take advice from members who have actual experience of the system. We have been by turns delighted and amazed by the lengths they will go to. Yes it might be equally good - or better - in other countries - but its really not bad here. Keep open the channels of communication with your school and work with the educational pyschology department - who have not let us down yet.

Good luck and remain positive. There is a lot of good stuff out there. And most of all, remain sceptical about taking "advice" from the internet ...


Integration isn't always suitable - that is not in doubt - however, what has been said - and what I stand by - is that segregation is not always the best solution for every child with special educational needs. The OP was/is concerned by the seeming knee-jerk "you must medicate your child" response and the unpleasantness her child has experienced in one particular school and the reactions to this situation have been focused on that.


I don't have a child with SEN so I cannot fully empathise with your situation. It must be very difficult and I know enough to know that that that is a massive understatement.




I have very little experience of SEN provision here, only what I have heard second hand, which is why I was asking questions. However, I know how the UK system works: I have taught many, many children with various (and varied) SEN over the years and, in my experience, only a small percentage actually benefitted from being excluded from the mainstream and those that needed to be moved, were moved.
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Old 13.07.2016, 06:47
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

How strange, I could have sworn I'd written positively about our special needs education experience in Switzerland.

But I also felt scared of it when I had no experience of it but found myself with a SEN child of my own. Who wasn't getting on at school. I felt similar to Rama.

Going on the facts ... our children's needs are vastly different. What has been right for my daughter won't necessarily be the right thing for Rama's son. I hope she is finding solutions.

I wish you well with your child, ecb.
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Old 13.07.2016, 09:01
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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Switzerland is some way behind other countries in dealing with "special" people of all types, this is something you need to realise and adjust your expectations accordingly. There is help out there, but it may not be easy to find or free.
How could that be? I know many people with school children who told me quite the contrary: they didn't think/know their kids had so many problems before coming here, and now the kids are going to ergotherapie, psychomotorische therapie, logopedic therapy etc. All payed by the school/gemeinde and done at school.
It can't be that bad..
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Old 13.07.2016, 10:17
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

I wouldn't agree that Switzerland is way behind as such, greenmount. They are doing it differently, however, by using a special school system. My child was identified in Australia as having some issues, but she was following her older sibs into a school which specialised in integrating "on the spectrum" students. So she was well placed to have those issues dealt with in-house, and they had already begun to address them.

Her symptoms only became full blown in this environment because she could not communicate, and had huge problems adapting. Her grief due to losing all she had known was bigger than we could have predicted.

In Australia, there would have been no specialist help with movement or occupational therapy. She would have had to adapt in the field like her older brother has done. We didn't even realise that he had the same set of problems, until Miss B's special school recommended that we allow her to be assessed. She is now really enjoying her ergotherapie (and they have pointed out that I have the same mild motor skill deficit!)

It was much easier for us to accept the need to transfer her though, because it was only our first year here. If B had made friends in her class and been less disruptive, we might have resisted more and manoeuvred for a better teacher instead. But she didn't make friends. And she was hell to be in class with. It was the best thing for B, and everyone else too - so we have no regrets.

In the case of my older daughter, as I explained earlier: they started in on her in her second year here and unlike B, I did not believe C needed a special school. She did help though. I had to convince her teacher to work closer with me, and the remedial teacher stepped in as well. With that team behind her, C turned her performance around and is now well on track for Sek B or maybe even A. She is older though, emotionally contained, and open to reason.
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Old 13.07.2016, 11:49
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Re: ADHD and Swiss schools

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Integration isn't always suitable - that is not in doubt - however, what has been said - and what I stand by - is that segregation is not always the best solution for every child with special educational needs. The OP was/is concerned by the seeming knee-jerk "you must medicate your child" response and the unpleasantness her child has experienced in one particular school and the reactions to this situation have been focused on that.

I have very little experience of SEN provision here, only what I have heard second hand, which is why I was asking questions. However, I know how the UK system works: I have taught many, many children with various (and varied) SEN over the years and, in my experience, only a small percentage actually benefitted from being excluded from the mainstream and those that needed to be moved, were moved.
My personal opinion is that far more children benefit more from a flexible approach which will almost always include an element of made to measure one (or two or three) on one education without the distractions and difficulties that an everyday classroom provides than are currently given this opportunity in other school systems (the one I know being the UK).

4 years ago when we were looking for provision for my son, the Professor leading his care team bemoaned the move towards integrative schooling for all as being a classical case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There is so much that can be provided in an intensive setting - that would be impossible to provide and totally overlooked in a normal school.

When my son was 4, his need for intensive treatment and therapies far outweighed his need to be included with all the other neuro typical children and it was without hesitation that we picked this route even though integration was offered. I have lost count of how many times I have heard professionals say to us that they wish more parents could be more open in their approach like we were. 4 years on and his needs have changed drastically - due almost entirely to the excellent care and therapy he received. He is now attending regular school part time and will continue to do so for the next year before we consider a move to full time schooling with 100% support from a specially trained assistant (this year the Canton are going to recruit someone to fulfill that rôle as his current educator wants to stay in the special sector so has said will not follow him when he goes full time).

This is where the misunderstanding and misconceptions lie. People think that children are packed off into the special system for life at the age of 4 and consigned to the dustbin of life. It is absolutely not the case.

But it absolutely is the case that the money is in the special school system for excellent treatment through an individual education plan. A few posters have indeed been positive about their experiences here but it wearies me to read the same old comments about CH being bad and backward for special needs. I would far rather my son have taken the route he did than have been automatically included in the classroom with an assistant with no special qualification appropriate to his particular disabilties and perhaps sharing her with two or three other children of vastly differing needs.
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