At Eagle House Schools
we appreciate how challenging it can be having a child with autism. As a parent or carer, how many times have you been out in public – in the supermarket or just out shopping, and been faced with those looks of disapproval from surprised onlookers as you struggle with your out-of-control, red-faced, screaming youngster?
We know why your child is behaving in this way. We understand that they are probably terrified of noises in the street, by the strip lighting hurting their eyes in the supermarket or that they are simply overwhelmed by their anxiety. We also know that you will try your hardest to shop quickly and will probably return home with only a couple of items from your shopping list because you need to get home in order to calm your child.
As your child grows, we know that your challenges will change and families can be faced with anxiety turning into anger and sometimes aggression. We appreciate all of these challenges and know that you will need to find the best school possible for your child.
In the 14 years since Eagle House Group opened its first school, Eagle House Schools have already helped many families with children just like yours. Indeed, current statistics reflect that 1 in 66 of the population is on the autism spectrum, and as many specialist provisions have been closed due to budget cuts, many more of our children are being placed into mainstream schools.
For a percentage, this can work well, but for others, children can find themselves in a hostile environment feeling misunderstood; a square peg in a round hole,eventually losing confidence, perhaps facing exclusion and with a family feeling further failure.
We have helped many of these families by offering them peace of mind and their child, a positive, autism-appropriate environment. Their children have started to make the progress, often for the first time, but don’t let us tell, you…….
At Eagle House Schools
My daughter was different, even when she was very small. She could be giggly and affectionate with us, but then watchful and withdrawn with strangers. Sleep was a rare commodity, and she was very definite about her likes and dislikes.
With two brothers, one her twin, it became clear that she was not reaching the normal developmental milestones; she didn’t say more than a few words and showed no interest in other children. As she reached nursery age, she began to have regular meltdowns that far exceeded the typical toddler tantrum – she was genuinely distressed and became violent, but I didn’t know how to comfort her.
After she and her twin were expelled from their first Nursery, it became clear that my daughter had special needs. Luckily we found an understanding early years setting who coped with her until it was time for school. She lasted two afternoons in mainstream; she upended the fish tank, threw chairs, hid under the table and bit anyone who tried to approach her. I was asked to take her home and never bring her back! I knew that she was a warm and funny child who could take great interest in the world around her, but she just could not cope in a normal educational environment. A diagnosis of autism followed soon after.
Thankfully, we managed to secure a placement for her at Eagle House School. Suddenly there were people who “got” my child, who were not phased when she had a melt down and who helped her to communicate using a whole variety of methods. The environment was totally geared towards her sensory needs, the small class sizes meant that she got the support and attention she needed. She really enjoyed school for the first time – learning to swim and going horse riding were her favourite activities.
The support we received as a family was fantastic. One of the therapists visited me at home to give individualised advice on how to improve my daughter’s sleep patterns. The Sibs Group was a great place for my sons to talk to other kids who had to cope with an autistic sibling; my eldest son was so excited when he met someone else from his secondary school whose brother also went to Eagle House.
The journey you take with an autistic child is never going to be an easy one, but if you have a school like Eagle House that understands your child and helps them to deal with the difficulties that autism presents, it makes an enormous difference. These are people who want to celebrate your child’s achievements, recognise them for the unique individual they are and really care about making a difference to your child’s life.
When my son was very small, he was smiley and happy but completely oblivious to the world around him. He seemed to develop ‘normally’ until he was 8 months old and then as the developmental checklists came and went, he increasingly failed to tick the relevant boxes. We struggled to persuade GPs and doctors to assess him for autism but eventually achieved this when he was 3yrs old – it felt like a long 3 years.
My son went to our little local primary school and ended up repeating reception class as he had no discernible language and couldn’t follow the class agenda. He couldn’t make friends. However hard we tried to work with staff, they just couldn’t ‘get’ his autism and he became increasingly labelled as ‘defiant and just plain naughty’. This hurt hugely and I felt I was being judged as a poor excuse for a mother. I would hear phrases like ‘he doesn’t do that at school’ or ‘his behaviour came out of nowhere’ and we, as parents, all know that there is always a reason for all behaviours.
We knew we had to find a school that understood his autism and Eagle House is just that. We had a long fight with our local authority but eventually, they knew we were determined and they agreed to let him go. I remember talking to the parent liaison officer and she was so understanding – she has a daughter with autism herself and knew exactly what my fears were. I needn’t have worried. So how is he doing? If he has any behaviours, he’s not blamed, but understood; if he ‘asks’, there is a celebration; if he learns to do a task independently, there are whoops of joy! My tears these days are of joy!
They know him so well including his triggers, his behaviours, his anxieties, and they anticipate them all brilliantly. He feels safe and secure and loved. He has a little friend for the first time and they play together (in their own way). Would other children understand how they play? Doubtful, but they love it and he comes home happy at the end of his day and that’s all I need to know.
I was worried about putting him in to a ‘special’ school but from the day he walked in, we as a family have received so much support that it’s not only changed his little life, but all of our lives. I still worry about his future but I can see that Eagle House have us covered and they will work with him as he gets older, and prepare him for his world beyond school and for that I am grateful.
Eagle House School (Mitcham): 020 8687 7050
Head Teacher: Lorraine Titchener
Eagle House School (Bramley): 01483 912 080
Head Teacher: Tom Milson
Eagle House School (Sutton & POST 16 Department): 020 8661 1419
Head Teacher: Francesca Arocas
Eagle House School 6th Form (Strawberry Lodge): 020 3745 8760
Head Teacher: Francesca Arocas
Out of term: 020 8770 7788
Schools' Business Office
Eagle House Group Ltd
Ground Floor Suite
St Nicholas Way