Preparing for the move to secondary school
Going to an even bigger school can present a different set of challenges for those with mobility issues. The different environment can include longer walks to get to different classes, negotiating more stairs, and a noisier environment in which to make yourself heard. However, these are all challenges that can be overcome with the right strategies and support systems in place ahead of time.
What kind of help is available?
- Additional Support for Learning: This simple and easy-to-read guide explains in simple language your and your child’s rights, the roles and responsibilities of staff involved with your child, what to expect at meetings and much more. You can download a copy here.
- Choice of school: In deciding which school is best for your child you may find the following tips on visiting a school. You can find factsheets on placing requests and resolving disputes here.
- Equipment: Physiotherapists or occupational therapists will usually visit the setting to provide advice on new or different equipment, as well as strategies to help each child gain greater access to the curriculum.
- Therapy: It may be worth making enquiries about funding for additional therapy to help your child’s mobility, communication, balance and confidence.
- Greater desire for privacy: At this stage of development privacy becomes more important to a child. Additional therapy can focus on specific goals For example, learning to stand safely in toilets with no wall bars, or putting on own pyjamas at sleepovers.
What can be achieved?
- Communication: Will your child’s communication needs change? If they use a laptop to speak into at primary, will they be heard in secondary above the background noise? Do they need to find a way to take more notes without risking muscle fatigue?
- A child’s muscles can get tighter as they get heavier. Secondary can be tiring not only physically, but also psychologically. How will they use their energy? For example, it might be best for a child to use a wheelchair for longer journeys to other classrooms and save walking for the classroom. Some children may be reticent to change behaviour as they see it as a step backwards, it’s often about helping them to see that they need to save their energy for important tasks.
Rachel's mum on preparing for secondary school
“Rachel is going to high school and very much looking forward to it. We did a placement request as she wants to go with her friends. Adaptions will need to be made as there will be more moving around, it’s a bigger school. She is very independent, last time we went shopping she asked if she could go off to the next door shop on her own in her power scooter.
She has support workers at primary and uses a laptop and ipad. But her OT is looking at what she might need at high school as there will be more background noise and that might not work if she is speaking into a computer. She wants maths homework over the holidays as she likes maths and wants to be a teacher. Rachel wanted to be able to stand up and dance. Therapy helped her work on her balance and helped her stand against the wall to support herself. She’s a lot more flexible than I would have known.” Sharon, Rachel’s mum.