My daughter has just embarked into another school year. She’s an active six and a half year old with some complex needs, educationally and medically. 

She attends a specialised school for deaf and blind children.

However, Brielle would be absolutely LOST without her 1:1 assistant. Linda is most definitely the ‘VIP’ in school to my little monkey.

In fact, when we talk about school, she does the sign (language) for ‘Linda’. So Linda is synonymous with school.

I can’t imagine how Brielle would cope in school without her. She wouldn’t.

Brielle is non-verbal, she is deaf with bilateral cochlear implants and she is severely visually impaired. In educational terms, she is ‘deafblind’ or dual-sensory impaired.

She is learning to listen to words with her implants, and expresses herself mainly in sign language, gestures and body language.

In some countries, including the USA, England and Australia, 1:1 assistants for deafblind children are called ‘intervenors’ although the job description and training has sadly not made its way into Northern Irish special education, yet.

I am advocating and constantly asking about when the intervenor training will be available for Brielle’s assistant.

No funding. So the sensory charity that was going to get the training over here has cancelled it indefinitely.

The Educational Board is reluctant to support any additional training and it was a struggle to get Brielle full-time hours with a 1:1 classroom assistant.

Really appalling that I had to threaten to take them to tribunal to get the minimal support my daughter needs in school!

Brielle’s new classroom teacher has already told me how amazing Linda is with Brielle and how she knows her inside-out!

She anticipates her needs, and encourages her communication and independence, always.

One way that I get a sneak peak into how Brielle’s day at school went, and can chat with her about what she did, is through her ‘News Book’ and the daily recorded message on the Big Mack communication device.

Brielle loves to press the big yellow button and hear Linda’s recap of the day’s activities. I also love reading through the detailed account in her news book and they take lovely pictures, too!

Linda is so dedicated to keeping us informed of Brielle’s progress and helping her to share her news from school.

I’d say this to anyone reading this blog, if your child really needs a 1:1 assistant and your local educational board or school district is refusing to supply, fight for it!

You know your child best, and what they need.

It may take a lot of pushing, lots of phone calls, letters, emails, meetings, but my guess is, you’ll get the support your child needs if you shout loud enough 

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