I found it interesting that the theme for this month's blog is education-related, as we are currently going through the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessment process and this is a subject close to our hearts at the moment.

I'll start with a little background history: Our son has autism and ADHD but was in mainstream school until year four. At the time, he was on 'School Action Plus' which is a step below a full statement. But because he was just about keeping up with the rest of the class academically the school would not issue him a statement, despite his having significant communication, social and self-care difficulties. He was deeply unhappy in a school system that was inadequate for his needs and we ended up making the drastic decision to home-school, for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Three years later and although home-schooling is working well for us, it does present a few problems. We no longer have as much access to speech and language therapy and educational psychology provision that was available in the school setting. We are essentially 'off the grid', which raises real concerns for our son's future, as he will not be able to continue in further education when he is older without some sort of care plan in place. With this in mind, we decided to apply for an EHCP.

The good thing about the EHCP is that it considers ALL of the child's needs and not just the academic ones, making it a better fit for our circumstances. Assessment was slightly different for us, as our son is not in school, so we were assigned a key worker from the local Special Education Needs (SEN) team to help us through the process and then had a visit from an educational psychologist to assess our son. Having no school staff to back up our application, I had to rely on letters from doctors and specialists - thankfully I had a whole ring binder full of them.

The application has to go through two panels. We got through the first one without any issues, and are currently waiting for our case to be heard by the second one. A draft plan has been drawn up by our key worker outlining our son's needs and the provision his school will have to make to accommodate him. We also used a third-party charity called KIDS to look over our application and make sure that the wording was acceptable. I would definitely recommend doing this, as their advice is invaluable and they have a LOT more experience in EHCP applications than I do!

So for now, it is a waiting game. Our draft plan is ready and we are hoping that the education authority can find an appropriate school place for our son. The sad thing is that it never should have come to this. If adequate provision had been made when he first started school, we wouldn’t be going through this now. It is a very stressful time and because our case is unusual, I have no idea how successful we will be.

My thoughts and best wishes to anyone going through the EHCP application process right now.

Louise lives in the West Midlands with her husband, three children and a houseful of pets. She home-educates her youngest son who has autism and ADHD.