I’m often asked about what school Quinns will go to. The answer is always that he will attend a “mainstream” school provided we can give him the right communication tools.
We quickly realised that we had an opportunity in our move to look closely at the local schools to see which one would work best for both Quinns and Big Sister. I visited all the schools in the areas we would want to live in to get a feel for what was available. They were all extremely good schools. If it hadn’t been for Quinns’ additional needs we would have been more than happy for them to attend any one of them.
Environment was the biggest issue we faced. All the schools I visited were in old buildings. One even admitted that it just wasn’t suitable because there were so many sets of steps to navigate. We know that there need to be reasonable adjustments made but with these sorts of difficulties and such resistance we decided we didn’t need the extra hassle.
Some issues were easily fixable such as disabled toilets being used as storage, he can use an alternative door that does have a ramp, a couple of steps here and there can be fixed by a little lift and upper floors can certainly be accessed by lift.
However, it made me think how much of Quinns’ short school day would be taken up being taken alternative routes and waiting for help to access the lift/s? Yes I’m sure all the children would love helping use the lift but what happens when it’s out of order? And fire drills. I’d need to make sure that the school had a way to get him out safely if there was a fire and I’d need to make sure that they were doing it even when there was not.
In the end it turned out that the school Big Sister attends actually has the best environment for Quinns. She pointed out that all the doors already have ramps. Quinns would be able to go through any door just like his peers. Maybe even his Best Friend will be able to push him out to play at break time!
Their classroom will never need to be on the upper floor which is a simple but effective solution. And it already has an adjustable height bench and hoist in place.
Given the right environment, one where Quinns is able to move around freely with his friends, we are then left to worry about his education just like any other parent.