By Anne Dachel
I added some really apocalyptic stories from this past week. I can’t say that strongly enough. No one ever ventures to ask what the long-term affect on society will be from the relentless increases in the autism rate among 8 year olds or the astonishing special education figures told to us as asides in news reports. I’ve compiled these figures over the last five years.
I mean things like:
Kalmath Falls, OR: 18 percent of students are considered as having special needs.
Hays, KS: 19 percent of students have special needs.
Lewiston, ME: 21 percent of students have special needs.
Brainerd, MN: 22 percent of students have special needs.
Scotland: 32 percent of students have special needs.
Nothing ever levels off.
Two stories from Schools Week in the U.K. would have me shaking in my boots if I ran the Department of Education over there.
One piece from this past week revealed that no one in charge even knows what the figures for special needs mean.
Heads say the system is 'completely overwhelmed'
Special school heads say their classrooms are “bursting at the seams”, but government does not collect data to monitor how the sector is coping with rising demand for places. The number of pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) has risen from 237,000 in 2015-16 (2.8 per cent of all pupils) to 326,000 this year (3.7 per cent). …
Headteacher Rachael Booth said they are “bursting at the seams …It’s not the local authority’s fault, it’s the whole system.”…
“The system is completely overwhelmed,” he said. “Schools are doing their best, but more and more children are missing out on the specialist provision they need.” The percentage of pupils with an EHCP in mainstream schools increased from 48.7 per cent in 2019-20, to 50.4 per cent last year.
Publicly available national data on the Get Information About Schools website (GIAS) suggests 330 out of 806 special schools had more students on their rolls last year than their capacity. Five per cent (38 schools) had more than 40 pupils extra....
The DfE spokesperson added they are working with councils to “better understand demand for SEND provision as we consider how we can best support the sector going forwards”.
Government has committed £2.6 billion [$3.5B] of capacity funding for new school places for children with SEND over the next three years.
The other Schools Week story referred to things as “collapsing.”
The devastating toll of failing mental health support systems on families and schools is revealed in a four-month investigation by Schools Week.
Meanwhile, increases in the number of pupils with additional needs has left special schools “bursting at the seams”, with youngsters left in unequipped mainstream schools.
Helen Hayes, Labour’s shadow children’s minister, was shocked by the findings, but said the government’s mental health strategy “totally lacks ambition”.
“There are professionals working all over the country as hard as they can to deliver the best outcomes for children and young people, but they are within a system that simply isn’t working and in many places it is falling over.” Schools say they desperately need more counsellors and psychologists for students but “don’t have the money” and instead are left to “plug the gap” themselves….
Parents have said their children are being “left to rot” as neurodevelopmental differences or mental health struggles are not spotted early enough, with children ending up in A&E departments….
Theresa May’s 2018 Green Paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health committed £300 million [$407M] to an overhaul of support services. This included mental health support teams to a quarter of the country by 2023, a figure ramped up to 35 per cent by next year. But MPs have said this ambition is “too low”, with schools saying they will not resolve huge waiting lists for other services….
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government was “expanding and transforming NHS services backed by an extra £2.3 billion [$3.1B] per year by 2024, to allow hundreds of thousands more children to access support”.
Also included on Loss of Brain Trust are the usual stories about increasing demand and building ever more special schools across the U.K. and Ireland.
What should pique the interest of Americans, especially those parents with developmentally disabled children was an op ed piece from the Seattle Times.
In this the writer slammed the state legislature for decades of neglect when it comes to residents with DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITES.
Gov. Jay Inslee recognizes the problem and has a solution. In his proposed budget, the governor has prioritized funding to forecast how many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are requesting services from the Department of Social and Health Services, and how many people are eligible and need community and residential services.
State legislators must embrace this long-overdue change for Washingtonians with developmental disabilities by amending Senate Bill 5268 to include full forecasting for all home- and community-based waivers under the Developmental Disabilities Administration and pass the bill this session.
The problem is legislators refuse to include adults with developmental disabilities in critical budget forecasts that establish entitlement spending. These forecasts help set funding levels for vital services for everything from public education and Medicaid to child care and long-term care services for seniors in the community. …
In other words no one is prepared for the tsunami of disabled people who will eventually be dependent on the state for their support and care.
Adults with developmental disabilities have been excluded from budget forecasts for so long we do not even know how many people need services now or in the future, and how much they need….
Nearly 80% of adults with developmental disabilities live with their parents for most of their lifetimes.
So what happens when parents are no longer able to care for their disabled adult children?
And if this is the situation in Washington State, is it also the case across the U.S.?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.