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Amputation & special educational needs - What can be done to help?
A child or young person can face the trauma of amputation in a myriad of circumstances, be it from the treatment of meningitis or cancer, or as a result of an accident or injury. However, whatever the cause of injury, the recovery and rehabilitation of a child or young person are always at the forefront of parents’ and carers’ minds.
Educating disabled children
Following an amputation, your child will be registered as disabled and they may require the support of public services. There may be an entitlement to benefits and access to Motability support. All this will be new and often overwhelming for parents.
Education, of course, plays a major factor in any child’s life. The correct support and school placement will prove crucial to your child, both mentally and physically.
Disabled children and special educational needs
There is understandable reluctance to accept another label - that of a child with special educational needs (SEN). Often, when people consider SEN, thoughts turn to those children with cognitive or functional challenges. SEN actually means that a child has greater difficulty in learning than their peers. That difficulty can extend to access to education.
Remember that every child has a right to be educated in a mainstream setting. Your school is under a duty to make reasonable adaptions and adjustments and clearly should not discriminate on the grounds of disability.
Consider, therefore, how your child’s needs impact on their learning need, what sort of school can meet these needs and whether your current setting can meet those needs.
Examine your setting
Does it have resourced units? What is accessibility like? There is no point in selecting a school which is not wheelchair accessible and cannot be made accessible fairly easily (perhaps it is a listed building). Can reasonable adaptations be made? Look at ramps, lifts, wider doors, appropriate toilet facilities, handrails, and specialist seating/desk space.
Can IT technologies assist?
Your child may require the input of physical therapies such as occupational therapy and/or physiotherapy. As your child reaches the end of their education, will they require training for learning independent living skills?
Every school has an ascribed budget designed to assist the extra needs of pupils with identified SEN. Where that budget proves insufficient then extra funding to support placement can be sought via a request for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). There is no means testing.
There is also an option to request a personal budget in order to have some control over the process of delivery of provision e.g. to source and contract your preferred occupational therapist.
Any education or training, and that includes where health or care needs can be shown to educate or train a child, will be educational provision deliverable by and legally enforceable against your Local Authority (LA). Under the SEND Code of Practice this can extend to social, emotional and mental health educational needs.
An amputation, in addition to physical issues, can quite easily lead to frustrations and anxieties which may require further support from a key worker, the implementation of strategies to provide respite in times of stress and fatigue or specialist input from CAMHS. Provision that can be considered educational support includes certain psychotherapy programmes and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Legally enforceable delivery of services is crucial in an era of cutbacks upon public budgets.
In addition, and in recognition of the need for all public services to work together to deliver the most effective provision, there is currently a pilot scheme in place to address health and care needs whereby a Tribunal can “recommend” provision of such support. It is expected that these recommendations are followed.
Finally, an EHCP has the potential to deliver support until your child or young person reaches 25, as long as they are in further education or an apprenticeship.
If you want to discuss how to add provision for your child's amputation to their EHCP or therapy then contact our dedicated special educational needs team by email at email@example.com to discuss how we can help.
I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved.
James' mother, Boyes Turner client