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Motomum

Additional needs/special consideration.

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Hello all,

 

This is my first post but I’ve been reading for a while.

I have a budding ballet boy age 9, literally just starting Grade 4 RAD. He also has just started an extra grade above this class and some 1:1 non-syllabus work with his dance teacher.

He is also doing a non-syllabus Boys ballet course with LCB taught by Erico Montes, which he is absolutely loving.

All the above occurred because he auditioned for EYB last year and danced for them in Coppelia and he said I want to do this for the rest of my life. So I said ok then what to we do now and off we set. :)

He is a beautiful little dancer, with wonderful musicality and a love of all things classical ballet.

This I suspect is the beginning of our journey, so we are going to apply on the advice of his dance teacher for last year of RBS JA’s.

So my dilemma is my son has high functioning autism and severe dyslexia which means for him that he has difficulty processing certain types of verbal information, initially transposes directional information and is slow to pick up routines.

And most significantly of all he is still very socially vulnerable. However he is proof positive that with the right teacher you can still excel and overcome.

We are not interested in WL or residential schools as he could not cope with these at the moment. 

I have lots of emotional conflict about all of this for him and my dilemma is whether or not to put his additional needs down on application forms or to let him audition without anyone knowing. I suppose I am worried that if I put his diagnoses down he may never be given a chance; and whilst I know he can’t be directly discriminated against how would I ever know.

When he auditioned for EYB I didn’t put it down and as I got to watch the audition along with his dance teacher, I can say I was well and truly gobsmacked he was so good. I had completely underestimated his talent and capabilities despite his dance teacher telling me otherwise.

Long post I know, but have been holding this stuff in my head for ages, and am just about to send RBS application off but.....

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I think you would be giving your son the best chance of success by ensuring that he can access the support available - this means declaring additional needs.

 

There are plenty of students receiving all sorts of additional support  at  vocational schools and associate schemes, and it means adjustments can be made to support him, and teachers are aware of potential issues.

 

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Interesting! 

I was debating this with a teacher just last week. My DS, 10, is quite clearly on the dyslexia spectrum. This year he had asked to audition for vocational school. I didn’t mention it initially but as the school requested more info, I had to give them the details. 

I was pleasantly surprised by their reaction, they said the had boys and girls who had diagnoses of various learning difficulties, including autism, dyspraxia and adhd. They had a full additional needs classroom, and being smaller classes often had better results with the kids.

The main thing the schools are after, is a passion for dance. Educational attainment isn’t everything and if it means my DS is more engaged with the school, because he’s doing things he likes, it will have been worth it.

Saying that, he hasn’t got a place yet! Keeping fingers and toes crossed.

Are you thinking of RBS JA’s?? We are lucky in that DS could be a day student.

Best of luck!!

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Thankyou meadowblythe, you answered my unspoken worry which is that I thought that perhaps because these schools are by definition centres of excellence that no students would have any additional needs.

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As you said in your post, being on the autistic spectrum will make your son very socially vulnerable .... which I believe is the most important part of your dilemma. If you are up front about his additional needs, then all adults working with him will be aware of how he may need extra support in peer group contexts, as well as in academic contexts. Personally, I would put his emotional wellbeing first and let RBS know how they can help him to shine :-)

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Ironically, additional needs are probably is less of a consideration than in a "normal" school setting - the only criteria for success is ability.

 

 

Edited by meadowblythe
grammar
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MrsMoo2 that is so encouraging to hear, thank you for that.

He has special consideration in his exams with the RAD, and he has recently done some ballet master classes with them where they were really attentive to his needs and took very good care of him from afar in social downtime. In class as well.

We have had some very negative experiences unfortunately with a particular dance company/school which makes me want to never let him out of the house again. :)

I didn’t know if at the next level up, he would stand a chance especially with HFA.

His diagnosis is also new to us and we have experienced both the positive and very negative ignorant responses to it.

He has passion and then some for ballet and dance in general, but he identifies in his soul with classical ballet and the music that accompanies it. Always has done.

I have my finger hovering over his RBS JA application, photos are being done this afternoon.

this is all very new to me, it has taken me a little bit by surprise.

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I would be inclined to mention his additional needs I think. I suppose it's true that you can never be 100% sure that a panel member could be biased by this information, but I think it's more likely that they will be more understanding as a result. If he were to need some instructions repeating or something, I think it's better that they know that there is a reason for this rather than thinking that he's just not listening. As others have said, there are quite a lot of students with ASD in full time training and associate schemes so it won't be new to the staff.

I know it's not the same thing, but I've recently had a very positive experience regarding my (non dancing) son and special considerations at his academic school. He has vision problems that cannot currently be fully corrected by glasses but which are not bad enough to be considered a disability as such. So I've never really discussed it with his teachers. But it transpired that he was falling behind with his GCSE Astronomy coursework and when his teacher spoke to him about it, it became apparent that he simply couldn't see the stars well enough to make accurate observations. So then we discovered that there's an alternative coursework available, along with larger print exam papers and he's entitled to extra time in his exams. It would never have occurred to me to ask, as he's always "coped" and like many teens doesn't want to be singled out, but now I realise he's been struggling unnecessarily. So I would say that its always best to be upfront about any problems as there may be help and support available that you wouldn't always think of yourself.

Good luck to your son whatever you decide to do.

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My dd is at vocational school. We were told there is a relatively high incidence of SEN. The school is supportive as far as I can tell and I'm sure the small classes help.

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My DS is dyslexic and dyscalculic. Dyslexia is often associated with exceptional spatial awareness and proprioception - and certainly in his case that's true. So when they get to the age that they learn routines by marking rather than purely verbal instruction, your son may find it easier to pick up and remember sequences.

 

In my opinion I would be up front about his needs. If he is going to proceed further he WILL need some support- if this is not going to be forthcoming then I would imagine it will will make it so hard for him to navigate the environment he will stop enjoying it anyway. And one thing I have learned in supporting a child from recreational ballet all the way through to a professional job is that it has to be enjoyable. The work is quite hard enough even when you love it, without making it unnecessarily harder....

 

Good luck, let us know how you get on..

 

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The vocational school my ds goes to is good at taking into account his processing difficulties in the classroom and academics, but completely refuses to make any adaptations in the studio for him. He had a teacher for two years who gave all verbal instructions, despite being told that ds needed to see what to do rather than just hear it. Thankfully his teacher this year is slightly more understanding but they still don’t really get it. 

 

For JAs I would put all his needs on the form.

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We didn’t put dd’s needs on her lower school applications as we had no idea she had HFA at that point. It was school that picked up on it. 

 

She  is a day student at Hammond. When I compare how she has been treated there compared to the terrible time ds had at his previous school, they have been so good. It’s not easy, there have been a few meltdowns but on the whole she has been looked after. 

 

We we did put it on college applications & she has been offered places & scholarships. 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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We have a previous thread relating to special needs, I think - anyone else know where it is?

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Hello Motomum,

I hope you don't mind, but I would like to share my experience. My son, aged 10, also has high functioning autism. He doesn't do ballet, my dd aged 8 is the ballet dancer in the family, but he does street dance, along with his sister.

The dance school he now attends is fully aware of his needs and have been absolutely amazing, unfortunately his previous dance school was not so understanding. He dipped in and out of classes, and although he always rehearsed the numbers, it was always debatable whether he would actually perform in the annual show or the festivals due to nerves and confidence issues. At last years show we didn't know if he would actually go on stage, but with encouragement from his teachers, although very nervous, he did.

Fast forward a year and imagine my amazement when he announced he had a solo in this years show. I must admit, whilst congratulating him, I had concerns about him actually performing on the day.

Well, the show was last weekend. Along with Daddy, G' Parents Aunts and Uncles we went to support the children in their show. I must admit to feeling very nervous, perched on the edge of my seat when the time came for his solo, would he do it? The lights went down and a lone figure walked out on stage, head bowed, waiting for the music to start. Heart in my mouth I willed him on with everything I had. I watched as he danced, spun, jumped and twirled with every ounce of his being throughout the whole routine, never once faltering. At the end, with a flourish and a huge grin on his face, he bowed and ran off the stage to applause and cheers. At this point I couldn't see through the tears and noticed that the whole family were also wiping away the tears. I later heard that the dance school owner had tears running down her face in the wings.

I have never felt so proud in my life and know it is due, in no small part, to the support and encouragement he has received from the school. He certainly isn't the best dancer they have, but they were prepared to let him have a go and encouraged him every step of the way.

I am so glad I was open with them about his needs because they have embraced them, and him, making me one very proud Mummy.

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Thankyou to everyone who has responded.

The links made for a somewhat depressing read, but they were a few years ago now, and there is IME an ever increasing awareness and understanding of neurodevelopmental conditions.

The reality for my son is that he will require adjustments to be made in the way he is taught, and I want that for him as he moves on with his dance training and development.

As he gets older he will develop more of his own strategies to help him manage. He won’t always need support. He certainly doesn’t need support once he is on stage performing. :)

If I don’t let the organisation know then they can’t support him. If they don’t want to support him by not choosing him then they will not be right for him going forward.

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2 minutes ago, Motomum said:

Thankyou to everyone who has responded.

The links made for a somewhat depressing read, but they were a few years ago now, and there is IME an ever increasing awareness and understanding of neurodevelopmental conditions.

The reality for my son is that he will require adjustments to be made in the way he is taught, and I want that for him as he moves on with his dance training and development.

As he gets older he will develop more of his own strategies to help him manage. He won’t always need support. He certainly doesn’t need support once he is on stage performing. :)

If I don’t let the organisation know then they can’t support him. If they don’t want to support him by not choosing him then they will not be right for him going forward.

I think your last two sentences are absolutely spot on. 

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What a wonderfully supportive mum, as well as being prepared to loosen those apron strings. Not easy for any of us. I don't know whereabouts you live but maybe there would be a compromise in your DS fulfulling his ambition and support his talent and aspirations. Do you live close enough to RBS or other Vocational Schools you would consider? There could be the option to be a day pupil. And split time between homeschooling and vocational training. I'm sure that I have read somewhere that there is Financial support from the Governement for children with SEN to access education. The funding is either offered to the schools direct or to the pupil that can then search for the school of choice. Maybe well worth asking around, be opne and be honest, as it certainly won't be that sort of thing that is advertised and may take time to source the right contacts. As they say you can't win it if you aren't in it. 

Good Luck and just remember not to ever have that 'what if I had let him....' if you don't pursue the application process you may never know and thus may well be repeating this phrase for years to come.  :wub:  Ps Just like all of us Mumma Bears we will do anything we can for a little cubs. Go for it. Your DS is one lucky cub to have a mumma bear just like you. 

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