Frank is a 15-year-old boy with a diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He has attended the same secondary school since he enrolled at the start of Year 8.
As he has aged, his physical and emotional needs have become more complex and his ability to demonstrate his understanding of the curriculum has reduced, requiring significant support.
Frank has recently moved from a manual wheelchair that he was able to self-propel for periods of the school day, to a fully automated wheelchair that is larger and relies on battery power, making access to some areas of the school more complex. His personal care needs have also increased, as he is no longer able to self-transfer when using the universal access toilet and is becoming physically fatigued more quickly, leading to shortness of breath. Recently his specialist medical team has advised that he should avoid using his hands for fine motor activities and make greater use of assistive devices. As a result of recent physical deterioration, Frank has reported that he is feeling very low and is concerned that he is becoming a burden to his family. He is particularly worried about his foster mum, who he reports tries to hide her sadness, but he can hear her crying at night when he is in his room.
It was predicted that Frank’s physical and emotional circumstances would deteriorate, but he has seen rapid changes in recent weeks and therefore the school-based support team, the school’s consulting teacher for disability, Frank’s foster parents and Frank have decided to bring forward their regular term-by-term case conference to consider additional support services, reviewing Frank’s individual education plan (IEP) and whether there need to be any minor works modifications at the school.
In preparation for the meeting, the Learning Support Coordinator (LSC) has asked all of Frank’s teachers to provide interim reports regarding his progress, and has scheduled a pre-meeting with the consulting teacher from the assistive technology team, to investigate using tablets and voice-activated technology to assist Frank to access the curriculum with less use of his arms and hands. The results of this meeting will be reported at the case conference.
The school psychologist, who has been working with Frank’s clinical psychologist, has asked for a separate case conference with Frank and his foster parents to discuss Frank’s emotional concerns and to make some shared school and home support decisions. Frank will discuss what aspects of this meeting he is comfortable sharing at the case conference if he decides to attend.
The consulting teacher for disabilities has referred Frank’s school to the high support needs team at the School of Educational Need: Disability and a representative will attend the case conference to discuss additional training that education assistants and teachers may need in order to access technologies and new equipment that will be made available to Frank. This will include, in particular, minor works involving the use of a hoist in the universal access toilet and maintenance around the use of the automated wheelchair.
The LSC has also investigated providing Frank with access to the upper school students’ common room to rest when he is becoming fatigued through the school day. These options will be considered by Frank and his foster parents during the case conference.
The LSC and the school psychologist have discussed providing a range of support services to staff and students who are concerned about Frank and may be distressed by his sudden deterioration.
As a result of the case conference:
- Frank will have adjustments provided using tablet technology, for which he will require one-to-one support
- education assistants and teachers working with Frank will be provided with training in the use of tablet technology as required
- minor works will be provided to install a hoist in the universal access toilet
- education assistants will be provided with training in wheelchair maintenance
- the school psychologist will continue to liaise with the clinical psychologist re appropriate and timely information to provide to Frank’s school friends and staff
- the LSC will ensure that all staff have access to the department’s Employee Assistance program.
Another case conference was scheduled to be held in 8 weeks to discuss Frank’s progress and make adjustments to his current access and IEP if necessary.