By Nancy Gedge
One of the things I get asked regularly, in my capacity of mother of an older child with Down’s syndrome, is how to write the parental statement part of the EHCP, either as part of the initial assessment or annual review. Seeing as my son is now 16 (I’m not entirely sure how that happened, the last time I looked he was in Reception), I’ve written a fair few of them and this column is an explanation of how I do it. It’s not intended to be the definitive guide, just what has worked for me.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I get paperwork from the local authority, there is never enough room for me to write what I need to, so the first thing to do is to trawl the LA website and find the electronic template. If you google ‘parental contribution to EHCP’ you should come up with some that you will (hopefully!) find useful, and even better, the one that your LA uses. If you can’t find it, so long as you have access to a computer, it should be a relatively simple matter to create one of your own. The fuller and more informative your comments are, the better.
The next thing that I do is to organise my contribution around themes, which in my LA are helpfully provided on the form (although the boxes aren’t big enough – don’t worry, I have told them!).
I start by using the four big themes to start related to the four areas of need detailed in the Code of Practice.
Cognition and Learning: This is where I detail the things he can actually do (as opposed to the things he can do sometimes). I try to keep it a positive list, as opposed to the negative one I have to write for the purposes of disability benefit assessment. I’d include reading, writing and maths in this part, and, when he was very little and we were making our application for his Statement, used the Portage Checklist to help me to describe his progress to date.
Communication and Interaction: This is the part where I start to describe the things my son has difficulties with as well as his strengths.
Sensory and physical: My son has various sensory impairments, so I detail them here.
Social, Emotional and Mental Health: I detail his strengths and difficulties here.
I think it’s important to write about both strengths and difficulties, making sure that I keep to the facts, rather than my hopes. I tell myself regularly that this doesn’t mean I don’t believe in my child, or have aspirations for him – I do, but this isn’t the place to write them.