By Anne Dachel - visit Anne's site Loss of Brain Trust
How can they ignore “increasing complexity of need”?
Looking at the stories I’ve posted from the last week I’m stuck by the common denominator all the officials and experts continue to ignore.
How is it possible that story after story reveals the fact that there are more disable children and that the disabilities are more severe?
In his interview of top CDC autism researcher, Dr. Walter Zahorodny, in the film, Autism: The Missing Piece, Michael Smith asked him about the increases in autism.
Here was what Zahorodny had to say:
I’m always struck by the fact that people think the prevalence is increasing because we’re just getting better at identifying subtly affected children.
That’s definitely not the case.
Autism is going up and has increased significantly across every group that we look at: boys and girls, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, all up significantly. Children from rich communities and poor towns, up significantly.
Interestingly enough, we’ve seen the widest or the broadest increase among the children who have the highest level of impairment of autism, not the subtle, mild levels of impairment.
So I do consider escalating autism prevalence to be a public health crisis.
The cliché now to me, epidemic is a cliché. People talk about it in many different ways. The public’s not sensitive to that term anymore.
If there’s a stronger term, I’d be in favor of using it.
But when we saw autism prevalence go from one to two percent, nobody objected or seemed concerned, and now we’ve gone from two percent to three percent, and I also see no significant concern or urgency.
On the other hand, we’re seen autism escalating very progressively in the last 10 and 15 years, and I’m a little bit concerned why nobody really sees this tsunami right there in front of us.
We saw a very significant rise in prevalence between the 2012 and 2014 cycle. It was over 25 percent in a 2 year period. That’s very significant.
Anyone skeptical about Zahorodny’s claims just needs to look at the thousands and thousands of stories on Loss of Brain Trust. They’re the proof. They’re all about increases, more severely affected kids and more waiting lists.
So where is anyone sounding an alarm? Why doesn’t anyone seem worried that the increases will never stop until a typically healthy child is the exception? Who will be held responsible for ignoring what we see happening everywhere?
Here are a number of the statements in stories I found this past week. No one takes a second look. It’s routine now.
Edina, MN: The Edina School Board passed a resolution last month urging the federal government to fully fund special education programming. ...
The number of children being served across the country through IDEA has continued to increase, leading to districts needing to adjust their general education budgets to accommodate that need, the board resolution states. Districts must meet state and federal mandates on providing those special education services….
In Edina Public Schools, the number of students seeking special education care has increased by 14% in the past three years, Jorgensen said.
Wales: Louie Lee has been waiting years for a diagnosis of his special educational needs and behavioural issues and his mum Michelle Cassemis feels he has been "let down by the system".
No school can be found for Louie, who can only count up to 20, until his diagnosis so, since July last year, he's been at home.
England: It said only 54% of pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were getting their statutory annual review, and claimed that hundreds of SEND youngsters were being left without suitable full-time education.
Cornwall: Educational provision for children with special needs in Cornwall is “broken” with some children having to travel as far as Scotland to access provision whilst parents say they are struggling to get the support they need for their children….
She highlighted a new SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) school planned for Bodmin, which she welcomes, but said it would not meet the demand. ...
In terms of EHCPs the data shows that there were 3,324 children in Cornwall with EHCPs in December 2020 and that a year later that had increased to 3,568 – a rise of 7.3%.
Yorkshire: While the number of children with education health and care plans in the county is set to rise by 24 per cent to 4,225 over the next five years, last week it emerged SEN children are travelling to North Yorkshire from as far as Kent to receive a suitable education for their specific needs.
The number of children and young people identified as having SEN in North Yorkshire has increased sharply since the introduction of reforms in 2014 through the Children and Families Act, partly due to changes in awareness, assessment and diagnostic criteria, and is predicted to continue to do so….
However, headteachers who have seen a rise in number of children with SEN, especially in the early years, have questioned if the additional funding will be sufficient to cope with the rise in demand for SEN classroom places. …
England: Schools say they do not receive enough funding to support pupils, while parents complain of having to jump through hoops and endure long delays to get the diagnoses and EHCPs which are necessary to get their children’s needs met.
A survey by the National Autistic Society (NAS) last summer found that 26 per cent of parents waited over three years to receive support for their child, while 74 per cent said their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs – a figure which has almost doubled since 2017. …
A spokesperson for the DfE told i that local councils were “responsible for school places for children in their area”, with the Government “increasing high needs funding by £1bn [$1.3B] this year”.
Ireland: …an Inclusion Ireland report published in March found more than 50 per cent of families of children with a disability were not in receipt of any service, 85 per cent said they had been waiting over a year for services and almost 20 per cent of the 1,013 families surveyed criticised the quality of services, citing high staff turnover and excessive caseloads as problems.
The report found some families had waited as long as nine years for services with 5 per cent reporting a wait of over six years, 16 per cent waiting four-six years and 27 per cent waiting two-four years. When asked about the type of services their children needed, 88 per cent said occupational therapy, 86 per cent said speech and language therapy, 62 per cent psychology and 55 per cent physiotherapy. ...
The families fighting for services for children with disabilities: ‘It’s a soulless system’
England: Tilbury Douglas has completed the construction of Prospect House, a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) school in Blackley, Manchester.
The new school, commissioned by the Department for Education, provides places for 100 pupils, aged from three to 11, of which 10 will be early-years places. The pupils attending have a wide range of special educational needs, including severe learning difficulties (SLD), profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) and autism.
Finally, one story especially needs attention, which it sadly will never get.
From Lincolnshire was a report https://www.stamfordmercury.co.uk/news/school-to-benefit-from-6-5m-expansion-9252489/about an $8M extension to a special school, which is all part of a $106M “investment into improving special schools.”
The council’s strategy seeks to create an extra 500 spaces across the county as existing SEND schools are suffering from increased demand.
More concerning were the national figures for England.
Government figures show that, in the 2020/21 academic year, over a million children across England required additional help with their learning and education, which has been steadily increasing since 2015.
In many parts of the country, the funding available is not adequate to keep up with the increasing numbers of children who need extra support. As a result, there is a growing financial black hole at the centre of the SEND system….
The data also reveals that the special needs deficit across England has reached at least £1.3bn [$1.6B]— an increase of around £450m [$555M] since last year.
One single sentence demands immediate attention:
Councils blame rising demand and increasing complexity of need, issues exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and a shortage of local government-funded SEND provision for the deficit.
News reports harp about rising demand as if it’s no big deal. It’s the result of better recognition etc. It’s the second part that should scare us all: …rising demand and increasing complexity of need.
Kids are more disabled. Their disabilities require greater accommodation. We could not have missed them in the past.
I’ve seen it over and over in stories. The ultimate child abuse is the fact that no one in authority pays any attention. Why are children so disabled and dysfunctional?
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.