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Old 12.04.2013, 21:35
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

To conclude my wife and kids will leave Switzerland and go back to the UK, I will stay here to finance the move and a Private school for one child. Since i travel a lot and visit the Uk also on business and can work from home (UK) it is not that bad. I will write our story and our experience of dealing with the authorities and how they left us with no other option but to look at schooling outside of Switzerland for our children.
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Old 12.04.2013, 23:05
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Telandy you are not alone. Out situation was slightly different from yours but our son was bullied, the school paid lipservice to help us and we ended up with a unhappy depressed child traumertised unhappy and with massively reduced confidence. He is no longer at the school. We too were meet with a wall of silence and our child was presented as being the problem.
I hear many good things about Swiss school, but equally many really awful unaccaptable things which imo are a national scandal.
I wish you and your family luck in the future and I hope your family will experience more happy times in the UK.
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Old 14.07.2014, 22:47
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Background

Why did we choose to leave Switzerland. Basically we had twins both boys, then 9 years old one with an IQ of 135 (talented and gifted with Irlen syndrome) and one with 115 (above average intelligence with ADHD, Irlen www.irlen.com and dyslexia). They didn't fit well into the Swiss system, they were previously in International Schools and we wanted to integrate them locally into the Swiss system, but they loved asking questions like, why, when, what and how and often weren't getting the answers which they seeked, and were left frustrated and bored. German / Swiss German they picked up pretty well, even say they are Swiss, they were born here, but they were also bullied by Swiss kids for being different. The normal Swiss schools tried to accomondate them, it just proved too much. My daughter then 7 years old started of in the Swiss system and was fine.

Both went into different special schools, the one with ADHD was settled here, but they put all the children with ADHD into one class so the learning effect was enormous and his behaviour decreased rapidly after starting in the school.

The gifted boy was also put into a school where they had many autistic kids and it just didn't work, he rebelled and the school said that they couldn't teach him. The end result was that the authorities here wanted to put him with his brother, we said that we thought that this wasn't appropriate, but the authorities here said that we had no choice and no other option. Furthermore if we didn't agree with their ruling then they could legally take the children off of us, since they thought that they were acting in the best interest of the children, albeit against the parents wishes. Each special school (Sonderschule) was costing the Gemeinde / Kanton CHF110,000 per year. We had tried to give the Kanton other options, but they just didn't want to listen. We had no choice but to leave or possibly have the children taken off of us. As parents you want to do the best for your children and if you don't fight for them, who will.

I apologise for not giving an update earlier. A year on (July 14) here is an update.

The family is still split, my other half and the children are in the UK and I am here in Switzerland, the journey has been tougher and the UK has become more expensive than when we left eight years ago.

Firstly the private school didn't work out, all the children went to a UK primary school. My 7 year old had to cope with doing multiplication and division of three figure numbers, while she was counting up to 20 in Swiss schools. My high achieving son (who was in Sonderschule here) has achieved above average scores at the end of the year and will start secondary school in September. He will go to a specialist language secondary school, with follows the baccalaureate system and he has already said that he wants to learn Russian and Chinese.

The son with ADHD and dyslexia (who was in a different Sonderschule here) has been a real tough one, until we stopped his ADHD medicine. Cut a very long story short the ADHD medicine which we gave him made him angry and voilent (a rare side effect), to the point we thought he may be bi-polar. We have been pulling our hair out until we stopped the medicine for the Easter holidays and saw a different boy. Doctor's here and in the UK kept saying keep going with the medicine and you want to believe them, may be there was more behind this than we anticipated and things would settle down, up the dose and hope, still no joy and still bad behaviour, bordering on crazyness.

The problem we then had in the UK was getting an appointment with a consultant, all over subscribed and even going private proved not possible. One appointment we had with a consultant was cancelled due to illness, the next appointment we could get was three months on. During this time my son had been excluded from the normal school and was attending a special school within another normal school setting, so that they could take him out of mainstream if they needed. Unfortunately he behaviour had become so bad even the special unit couldn't cope and he started getting tutoring partly at home and partly at school. Eventually we managed through contacts and working with the county to get an emergency appointment with a consultant and we switched his medicine to a another type and hey presto we had our boy back. He has made enough progress now to be accepted into mainstream secondary with support. So hopefully fingers crossed we can put this behind us, yes he has adhd and is on medicine, but no angry violent outbursts. It was the side effects of the ADHD medicine which we gave him, which made him worse, much worse and as parents at one point we almost considered getting him sectioned.

I look forward to being together with the family next week, when they come for the summer holidays.

Hopefully in six months I can tell you how it is going with the secondary education in the UK, there is a chance he will have difficulties, but we hope he will fly.

Last edited by telandy; 15.07.2014 at 01:30.
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Old 15.07.2014, 08:11
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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Background

Why did we choose to leave Switzerland. Basically we had twins both boys, then 9 years old one with an IQ of 135 (talented and gifted with Irlen syndrome) and one with 115 (above average intelligence with ADHD, Irlen www.irlen.com and dyslexia). They didn't fit well into the Swiss system, they were previously in International Schools and we wanted to integrate them locally into the Swiss system, but they loved asking questions like, why, when, what and how and often weren't getting the answers which they seeked, and were left frustrated and bored. German / Swiss German they picked up pretty well, even say they are Swiss, they were born here, but they were also bullied by Swiss kids for being different. The normal Swiss schools tried to accomondate them, it just proved too much. My daughter then 7 years old started of in the Swiss system and was fine.

Both went into different special schools, the one with ADHD was settled here, but they put all the children with ADHD into one class so the learning effect was enormous and his behaviour decreased rapidly after starting in the school.

The gifted boy was also put into a school where they had many autistic kids and it just didn't work, he rebelled and the school said that they couldn't teach him. The end result was that the authorities here wanted to put him with his brother, we said that we thought that this wasn't appropriate, but the authorities here said that we had no choice and no other option. Furthermore if we didn't agree with their ruling then they could legally take the children off of us, since they thought that they were acting in the best interest of the children, albeit against the parents wishes. Each special school (Sonderschule) was costing the Gemeinde / Kanton CHF110,000 per year. We had tried to give the Kanton other options, but they just didn't want to listen. We had no choice but to leave or possibly have the children taken off of us. As parents you want to do the best for your children and if you don't fight for them, who will.

I apologise for not giving an update earlier. A year on (July 14) here is an update.

The family is still split, my other half and the children are in the UK and I am here in Switzerland, the journey has been tougher and the UK has become more expensive than when we left eight years ago.

Firstly the private school didn't work out, all the children went to a UK primary school. My 7 year old had to cope with doing multiplication and division of three figure numbers, while she was counting up to 20 in Swiss schools. My high achieving son (who was in Sonderschule here) has achieved above average scores at the end of the year and will start secondary school in September. He will go to a specialist language secondary school, with follows the baccalaureate system and he has already said that he wants to learn Russian and Chinese.

The son with ADHD and dyslexia (who was in a different Sonderschule here) has been a real tough one, until we stopped his ADHD medicine. Cut a very long story short the ADHD medicine which we gave him made him angry and voilent (a rare side effect), to the point we thought he may be bi-polar. We have been pulling our hair out until we stopped the medicine for the Easter holidays and saw a different boy. Doctor's here and in the UK kept saying keep going with the medicine and you want to believe them, may be there was more behind this than we anticipated and things would settle down, up the dose and hope, still no joy and still bad behaviour, bordering on crazyness.

The problem we then had in the UK was getting an appointment with a consultant, all over subscribed and even going private proved not possible. One appointment we had with a consultant was cancelled due to illness, the next appointment we could get was three months on. During this time my son had been excluded from the normal school and was attending a special school within another normal school setting, so that they could take him out of mainstream if they needed. Unfortunately he behaviour had become so bad even the special unit couldn't cope and he started getting tutoring partly at home and partly at school. Eventually we managed through contacts and working with the county to get an emergency appointment with a consultant and we switched his medicine to a another type and hey presto we had our boy back. He has made enough progress now to be accepted into mainstream secondary with support. So hopefully fingers crossed we can put this behind us, yes he has adhd and is on medicine, but no angry violent outbursts. It was the side effects of the ADHD medicine which we gave him, which made him worse, much worse and as parents at one point we almost considered getting him sectioned.

I look forward to being together with the family next week, when they come for the summer holidays.

Hopefully in six months I can tell you how it is going with the secondary education in the UK, there is a chance he will have difficulties, but we hope he will fly.

So basically, the UK system can't cope with the situation, either - I'm really sorry to hear that :-(
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Old 15.07.2014, 11:26
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

This is purely our story, I am not having a go at the Swiss system, the last option which we had was to split the family.

The difference with the UK is that the schools have been very open and have welcomed parental help, the Swiss schools were closed, they were the experts and weren't really open to parental help, however when we really got involved with twelve or more weekly meetings here, every Friday morning to review the week it was already too late for the gifted child. The child's self esteam had sunk like a stone and he was a shadow of the kid we knew. In Sonderschulen the aspirations seamed very low, kids rarely moved from special school back into mainstream and it was as though the children were labelled.

At the end of the day we knew our kids the best and we knew that our children weren't stupid but somehow the Swiss were happy to take them out of mainstream and almost treat them almost as 2nd class children. I got the feeling and maybe it was mentioned somewhen, the one with ADHD can always work in the forest, he will earn good money here and it was more about welfare than academic achievement. Our argument was always there is more than one way to learn.

We acknowledge that our kids were bright, but didn't learn in traditional ways. One stumbling point was handwriting. They had learnt in the International School to write in a particular way and when they entered the Swiss system their handwriting was wrong!!!!! They were forced to start his handwriting again from scratch and this still affects one son today in a big way. All their confidence shattered, their handwriting isn't wrong, it is just different, why couldn't the Swiss school not accept this? I have subequently heard similar stories from Swiss families who moved Kantons who have had similar issues. The issue we had was to throw Irlen, ADHD and dyslexia into the mix and the poor child is struggling to cope.

Switzerland were happy to throw money at it, but didn't have an answer when it wasn't working. In the UK he was given an ipad and could work with interactive white boards in class, plus we had a specific helper in class who supported the child. Because of his behaviour issues he needed one to one support in class which wasn't an option in Switzerland.

We were against ADHD medicine, but we saw that his concentration span was poor, opting to do what he wanted rather than following the class. We heard some great stories about children on medicine who had turned themselves around and may be this was the answer for our child. We were forced with no other option than to go down the medicine route.

The problem with ADHD medicine is that the body has to get used to the medicine, doses are child specific and lots of messing around to get the dosage right. I remember we were concerned about either headaches or stomach aches which he was complaining about after starting the medicine, Doctors just put this down to his body getting used to the medicine and we had to get through this barrier and it would get better. We could see that the child was in a lot of pain and qurestioned a couple of times whether we should continue, reassuring doctors said it would be ok.

The child appeared to get moody and would fly of the handle if something out the ordinary happened. It was almost an impulsive flip. After settling him down we asked him why he had acted in such a way and he didn't know.
We started fearling the worst, they are big lads now and quite physical if they wanted to be, was he bi-polar or schizophrenic. The problem here was that he couldn't be diagnosed as being bi-polar until he was 18 years old and ADHD medicine and schizophrenia don't go together.

As parents we felt alone, we started getting fed up with meetings in Switzerland which were just factural, but with no real goal, we just had a bad kid and may be we were bad parents.

Both school systems could cope with the ADHD, however the behaviour and voilence was another issue. Teachers and helpers are not there to be abused. We were treading on eggshells, was today going to be a good day or an explosive day. On the days that were bad my other half had to pick him up from school, it was almost like she was waiting for the phone to ring.

In the UK they were thinking of sending him to a EBD unit (Educational behaviour unit). After two or three years of taking the medicine we stopped it and somehow have come out the other side, somewhat battered, bruissed, stressed but can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Last edited by telandy; 15.07.2014 at 13:14.
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  #26  
Old 15.07.2014, 12:34
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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At the end of the day we knew our kids the best and we knew that our children weren't stupid but somehow the Swiss were happy to take them out of mainstream and almost treat them almost as 2nd class children. I got the feeling and maybe it was mentioned somewhen, the one with ADHD can always work in the forest, he will earn good money here and it was more about welfare than academic achievement. Our argument was always there is more than one way to learn.
absolutely and you have every right to do so. I know your situation rather well (albeit from the school's perspective) as I regularly have students from special schools and social institutions in my B-profile classes. The main aim in Switzerland is to enable the students with autism, ADHD and other disorders to complete regular courses of study or complete an apprenticeship (EFZ). To achieve this, students are offen separated from the other students in the earlier years of their education but are reunited later (usually Sek I level).

I can't really say if this works or not - all I'm seeing is that the drop-out rate for students from special schools is insanely high at my school.

As for kids who have above-average intelligence but have some social challenges: it's worth considering different schools in Switzerland. Normally, regular primary and secondary schools don't do much in terms of "Begabtenförderung", but there are definitely schools who do and hire professionals for that purpose. The reason why this isn't done on a regular basis is the basic principle on which the school system here is founded: let the kids develop on their own for as long as possible. Normally above-average kids are left in their classes to develop on their own. This might not always work, especially if social challenges are present. I know that in England and the US, parents very often push their kids extremely hard because they believe they're smarter than others - in the end, statistics speak a clear language: those kids don't typically achieve more than others in their lives.

But I digress - your case is clearly different and I really hope for you that you find a way that keeps the family together and optimally aids your kids!

Peter
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Old 15.07.2014, 12:53
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Have you ever considerer Steiner schools? I don't know much about them myself but my OH came from one. Her whole family is deeply rooted in that system and some of her relatives are or were teachers there and they are often saying how good they are with these kids and how the whole environement they create helps against these issues.
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Old 15.07.2014, 12:55
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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absolutely and you have every right to do so. I know your situation rather well (albeit from the school's perspective) as I regularly have students from special schools and social institutions in my B-profile classes. The main aim in Switzerland is to enable the students with autism, ADHD and other disorders to complete regular courses of study or complete an apprenticeship (EFZ). To achieve this, students are offen separated from the other students in the earlier years of their education but are reunited later (usually Sek I level).

I can't really say if this works or not - all I'm seeing is that the drop-out rate for students from special schools is insanely high at my school.

As for kids who have above-average intelligence but have some social challenges: it's worth considering different schools in Switzerland. Normally, regular primary and secondary schools don't do much in terms of "Begabtenförderung", but there are definitely schools who do and hire professionals for that purpose. The reason why this isn't done on a regular basis is the basic principle on which the school system here is founded: let the kids develop on their own for as long as possible. Normally above-average kids are left in their classes to develop on their own. This might not always work, especially if social challenges are present. I know that in England and the US, parents very often push their kids extremely hard because they believe they're smarter than others - in the end, statistics speak a clear language: those kids don't typically achieve more than others in their lives.

But I digress - your case is clearly different and I really hope for you that you find a way that keeps the family together and optimally aids your kids!

Peter
Thank you Peter, as a family I feel that we have been through the mill with the Swiss authorities, it has really put my relationship with my other half under extreme pressure. I just wanted to put down some words, partly to tell our story, but partly as a healing mechanism. We are not out of the woods yet but the signs are positive and our poor lad has missed out on so much schooling, due to exclusions both in Switzerland and in the UK and many symptoms were due to the medicine which we gave him in good faith to help him. I fear if the children had stayed in Switzerland, they would be 'stuck' in the special schooling system, somewhat surpressed and would never reach their potential, what ever that turns out to be. The goal is to bring them back after their UK schooling.
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Old 15.07.2014, 12:59
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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Have you ever considerer Steiner schools? I don't know much about them myself but my OH came from one. Her whole family is deeply rooted in that system and some of her relatives are or were teachers there and they are often saying how good they are with these kids and how the whole environement they create helps against these issues.
Yes we did consider it, we felt that having two children at opposite ends of the spectrum, the Steiner school was perhaps good for one (with ADHD) but not so good for the child with the high IQ. Having one child with a problem would have been a lot easier, but two children, twins was a major challenge and dare I say it put us in a much harder position, compromising one child for the sake of another.

Last edited by telandy; 15.07.2014 at 13:13.
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Old 15.07.2014, 14:02
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Telandy, thanks for sharing your story.

When parents brag about their children, as if their good parenting skills are the reasons for their successes, I smile. Life experiences can sometimes be humbling...

Our experience:
1. Daughter: Teachers' pet at 5 Int'l schools, mature beyond her years, Several lead theatrical roles, President National Honor Society, Valued sports team member, Student leader, Masters' Degree Oxford...etc etc...

2. Son: very unusual toddler...some thought autistic....many educational psychological tests required...(teachers, schools, we were worried...).UNTIL...he became an avid reader, demonstrated an incredible memory, became a honor student..However, never part of cool kids at Int'l Schools or Uni, but graduated with honors......continues to be delightfully socially awkward...

3. Son: DARLING curly headed little boy, whose answer for all questions was SURE!......until he started school....one disaster after another....EIGHT schools in four countries.....no single year completed successfully....LOADS of heartaches and worries....almost five years ago I posted this....
http://www.englishforum.ch/jobs-offe...ng-mentor.html

Telandy, it is nice to know we are not alone. The job as parent is far from over...
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Old 15.07.2014, 14:46
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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So basically, the UK system can't cope with the situation, either - I'm really sorry to hear that :-(
No, but the attitude is different i.e, supportive instead of negative and dismissive. Are at least prepared to try different avenues and approaches and (in OP's case), never threatened to take the children from the family. Have also had negativee experience with the Swiss school system.
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Old 15.07.2014, 15:01
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Telandy, well done for turning your life upside down for your kids. You sound like a great dad.
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Old 15.07.2014, 15:05
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

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T


We acknowledge that our kids were bright, but didn't learn in traditional ways.

Switzerland were happy to throw money at it, but didn't have an answer when it wasn't working. In the UK he was given an ipad and could work with interactive white boards in class, plus we had a specific helper in class who supported the child. Because of his behaviour issues he needed one to one support in class which wasn't an option in Switzerland.

We were against ADHD medicine, but we saw that his concentration span was poor, opting to do what he wanted rather than following the class. We heard some great stories about children on medicine who had turned themselves around and may be this was the answer for our child. We were forced with no other option than to go down the medicine route.

The problem with ADHD medicine is that the body has to get used to the medicine, doses are child specific and lots of messing around to get the dosage right. I remember we were concerned about either headaches or stomach aches which he was complaining about after starting the medicine, Doctors just put this down to his body getting used to the medicine and we had to get through this barrier and it would get better. We could see that the child was in a lot of pain and qurestioned a couple of times whether we should continue, reassuring doctors said it would be ok.

The child appeared to get moody and would fly of the handle if something out the ordinary happened. It was almost an impulsive flip. After settling him down we asked him why he had acted in such a way and he didn't know.

As parents we felt alone, we started getting fed up with meetings in Switzerland which were just factural, but with no real goal, we just had a bad kid and may be we were bad parents.

Both school systems could cope with the ADHD, however the behaviour and voilence was another issue. Teachers and helpers are not there to be abused. We were treading on eggshells, was today going to be a good day or an explosive day. On the days that were bad my other half had to pick him up from school, it was almost like she was waiting for the phone to ring.
Under pressure from the school, our son also received Ritalin for 5 years. He became painfully thin, slept very badly and when we stopped it during the school holidays and at weekends, there was a phase of 2-3 days where he became very aggressive and bad tempered. Once the drug was out of the system though he became much more pleasant and co-operative, even if very active.

None of the doctors, school pyschologists however took my concerns seriously and, as you state, one feels very alone with the problem and don't know where to turn for help. I stopped the medicine myself because I thought eating properly and a good night's sleep were more important than good school results. Results were disastrous as the class teacher refused to take him for the last school year so we had to pay privately which definitely wasn't a fantastic solution but a lot better than the state alternative.
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Old 14.09.2021, 13:55
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Re: Sonderschule can't meet our childs needs

Thank you Telandy for all the feedbacks, very useful to know.

It is scary and ridiculous them threatening to take away your kids. Not everyone has multiple options at hand...

Not sure if other had similar experiences but my small experience leads me to suspect there is a pattern of behaviour/attitude here.

We picked a close by paediatrician basically just to go for vaccines. If we'd need something more important we would then look further and also my family is full of doctors. He is not a particularly knowledgable doctor but not too bad either and has certain flexibility. But I do not value his opinion much as he gave one wrong and some other questionable advices (nothing life threatening ). We skipped the 9 month control because there were no vaccines planned and there was no reason to go for a chat in covid times. Have too little time anyways to wait there and have a non-informative conversation.

Next time we got a lecture on how parents are obliged to bring kids for regular check ups and that most of doctors would report such cases to social services...
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