a family in park with lorts of people around but are you really connected with anyone, on your EHCP journey, the power of peer support

How to Find Peer Support: On Your EHCP Journey

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Parenting is a journey filled with joy, challenges, and uncertainties. For parents navigating the path of raising children with special educational needs, this journey will usually involve learning more about others and yourself along the way. One of the most valuable resources in this journey is connecting with other parents who are on a similar path. In this blog post, we’ll explore the challenges that parents face when dealing with Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs) and how the power of peer support can offer solutions that make the journey smoother and more manageable.

Challenges on the EHCP Journey:

Parents of children with special educational needs often find themselves facing a myriad of challenges when it comes to EHCPs. These challenges can include:

Navigating Bureaucracy: The process of obtaining an EHCP can be overwhelming, involving multiple assessments, paperwork, and bureaucratic hurdles. Parents may find themselves lost in a sea of complex terminology and unfamiliar procedures.

Understanding the System and Legal Process: The education system and the Special Education Needs legal frameworks can be intricate and difficult to comprehend. Parents might struggle to understand their rights, the rights of their children, and the available resources.

Change in the Parent-to-School Relationship: The moment a parent pursues a pathway of seeking formal help, as in an EHCP, everything can change. As one of our feedback parents put it “During the early part [EHCP process], we found the request for evidence from the school dried up, we did not ask, can you send us some evidence either, just the minimal sources of evidence just seemed to be be more minimal, or was it us being paranoid? Our child used to sit end-of-term tests, just small tests, this was useful in the early days to see strengths and struggles. When we started to refer to these test results in various communications, our child stopped sitting on the tests. We spoke to people about these vacant tests, external to the school even, through a drop-in centre, and we never got anyone to agree with us, this was in any way some underhanded plan to deny us evidence, with the balanced view that our child may find sitting tests stressful so another method would be appropriate i.e. teacher assessment – Result. The LA + School vs us at SENDIST refers to verbal teacher opinion on good progress at school (because surprise surprise our child had not been tested for 2 years. You need to seek independent assessment, what used to be friendly chats for bits and pieces goes out the window when things head towards a plan – probably so if it’s contested obviously”

Dealing with Isolation: Raising a child with special needs can be isolating when your child is attending a mainstream school. Statistics tell us that most mainstream schools have around 4-5% of the student body with EHCPs + the unpublished number of children who are undiagnosed, or held on non-statutory lists such as the SEND register. Autism for example is a spectrum diagnosis, even 2 students with Autism could be at opposite ends. As a parent, you may be on a parent WhatsApp group for example, where your call for different homework, or other changes may not result in the same level of collaboration as one would expect.

Advocating Effectively: Parents need to be strong advocates for their child’s needs, but advocating effectively requires a deep understanding of the system and the confidence to stand up for their child’s rights.

Emotional Toll: Witnessing their child’s struggles can take an emotional toll on parents. The constant worry about the child’s future and well-being can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

The Power of Peer Support:

The challenges of the EHCP journey might seem daunting, but the power of peer support can provide invaluable solutions that help parents navigate this complex terrain.

  1. Shared Experiences: Connecting with other parents who have gone through similar experiences can provide an immediate sense of relief. Sharing stories, challenges, and successes creates a sense of belonging and reassures parents that they are not alone.
  2. Practical Guidance: Peer support offers practical insights and advice on dealing with paperwork, assessments, and legal matters. Learning from others who have successfully navigated the system can save parents time, stress, and unnecessary mistakes.
  3. Empowerment Through Knowledge: When parents understand their rights and the educational system, they become more empowered advocates for their children. Peer support provides a platform for sharing information and resources that can lead to informed decision-making.
  4. Reduced Isolation: Engaging with a community of parents who understand the journey can alleviate feelings of isolation. Online forums, support groups, and local meetups provide opportunities to connect and build meaningful relationships.
  5. Emotional Well-being: Peer support provides a safe space for parents to express their emotions, fears, and frustrations. Sharing these feelings with others who genuinely understand can offer emotional relief and reduce the risk of burnout.

Solutions for Harnessing Peer Support:

Join online forums, social media groups, and websites dedicated to parents of children with special needs. These platforms allow you to connect with parents with similar struggles, accessing a wealth of diverse experiences and perspectives. Just be mindful not to use these channels just to burn off frustrations, there are many good outcomes in this process, try and follow the rule, for every negative comment you add, try and place 2 positive ones.

Seek out local support groups or parent associations that focus on special education. These groups often hold meetings, workshops, and events where you can meet fellow parents face-to-face.

Attend workshops and seminars about EHCPs and special education. These events often feature experts who can provide insights into the legal and procedural aspects of the process.

Many organisations are dedicated to supporting families of children with special needs. They can provide resources, information, and networking opportunities.

Be open about your own experiences and challenges. By sharing your story, you encourage others to do the same, fostering an environment of trust and support.

Remember, every parent’s journey is unique, but there’s immense power in shared experiences. By harnessing the power of peer support, you’re not only helping yourself but also creating a ripple effect that can support countless other parents in their EHCP journey.

Start today by heading over to PARENT VOICES using the menu on this page and share something from your personal journey anonymously if you wish

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