Surviving the Special Educational Needs System
How to be a ‘Velvet Bulldozer'
Some children's 'difficulties' do not present in an obvious way, which makes diagnosis problematic, and access to help unforthcoming. This was the experience of Sandy Row, who, after a decade of misdiagnoses and unsatisfactory explanations for her children's struggle in mainstream school, realised that her children had special educational needs (SEN) and began her long quest for help from the SEN system.
Row's testimony illustrates how the special educational needs system works and empowers other parents to demand help for their children who have special educational needs that require attention. This frank and practical book challenges the theoretical and often impenetrable established literature on SEN, and instead provides an accessible and effective resource for those needing advice and answers about their rights to services and help for their children.
'Each chapter stands alone in this excellent self-help manual for parents of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Everything you need to know is here: What a Statement of SEN looks like, how you go about getting one, what a SEN Tribunal (SENDIST) is and how to go about appealing, useful contacts, extracts from letters and lots of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). – Dyspraxia News
'She offers clear advice and support in a way that readers will find personable, knowledgeable and digestible. She is better able than most to take parents through the system, having navigated it on behalf of four children. Parents and carers will empathise with the daily challenges, share in the worldly-wise humour and benefit practically from the case studies, basic legal and technical definitions, example letters and proformas, a special insight into adoption and a pervading can-do attitude'. – Communication
'I thought this was an excellent book. With humour it guides a parent through the system while describing their own journey through it with their four adopted special needs children and pointing out the pitfalls they found. It was especially helpful as the age range of her children over the years means she could give a wide range of advice. It made me feel sad to read how much damage the fight caused the family but I could also relate to the feelings she shared and it confirmed why I had removed my special needs child from the system. – Education Otherwise
...an honest and unique book offering an effective, accessible and empowering tool for parents. Any parent facing the prospect of a tribunal needs to read this book from a practical and emotional point of view. For those parents just entering the world of SEN and the bureaucracy that goes with it, there's a couple really useful chapters, a jargon busting section and a step by step guide to what a statement actually looks like. It has to be the best book I've read this year on anything to do with autism. – Autism Matters
There is lots of practical advice including clear, highlighted explanations of jargon, definitions, legal aspects of SEN provision and even sample letters, to help you find your way through the system. But, perhaps, most importantly, it is all from a parent's perspective and this could help to restore your faith in yourself and when you are having difficult times trying to ensure their needs are met. – Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus
Essential reading for all parents with special needs children! – SEN teacher and adoptive parent of children with physical and emotional difficulties
(This) fantastically moving book (has made me) even more determined and committed to supporting youngsters with Asperger's to succeed and get all the support they so rightly deserve... it is a must for all the staff here to read. – Support Worker at 'Jack's' Special Needs College who is also a mum of Asperger's son herself.
I love the Velvet Bulldozer and have recommended it to all my parents. I even leant my copy to another therapist so that she could see it and recommend it. – Charlotte Wilson, Speech and Language Therapist
How you found the time and energy to write such a magnificent book I do not know. Absolutely wonderful and I shall be recommending it. – William Seymour, Headteacher of St David's College
'The author writes in a very clear and conversational way and her book will prove invaluable to parents seeking to find their way around the special educational needs system - Sandy is helping them to learn by her advice'. – Rathbone
This book is a valuable resource for parents who need advice and answers about their rights to services and help for their children with special educational needs (SEN). The author's account of her own experience of how the SEN system works should enable other parents to seek help for their children. The publication explains how you know whether your child has SEN, gives information about Statements of SEN, provides information for how to obtain a Statement of SEN, and gives details about the tribunal, SENDIST and appealing. In addition, there are a number of 'real life' stories and helpful sections including frequently asked questions and useful contacts. – childRIGHT
...this book will be a useful resource for many families whose adopted children do not fit and cannot cope within mainstream educational provision... Although this is a personal story, it is also a detailed practical guide dealing with such things as diagnosis, statementing and presenting a case to the SEN tribunal...The message of the book is ultimately a hopeful one both for parents struggling to find a way through the SEN maze, and for the children who blossom when they are in the right educational placement, receiving the right support. – Adoption UK
Now, Sandy has written a book to help other parents struggling with the complexities of the special needs system. Sandy tells her own family's story: the mistakes they made, the misinformation they received and the battles they fought and includes a whole chapter of useful contacts and addresses she has built over the years. – The Organiser
This fascinating book is a mine of information on procedures and pitfalls in gaining access to special educational needs provision. As a parent of a dyslexic child, I find it mirrors some of the difficulties which were experienced in the 1980's... If you are looking for a well-structured guide to the stages of statementing, interspersed with human stories, I recommend this book. – Dyslexia Contact
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