Siblings and schools

Sarah Paull by Sarah Paull Additional Needs

Sarah Paull

Sarah Paull

Sharing fun and chaos of our family life, Whilst helping our twin girls reach there full potential after a brain injury.

Siblings and schools

“When will the twins go to school here mum?” A lump in my throat forms and my eyes start to well. I knew this question would arise one day out of my five-year-old’s mouth. I just wasn’t prepared for it on a Tuesday morning feeling a bit sleep deprived and thinking of one million other things. I hadn’t really prepared for the scenario.

“I don’t know they ever will.” My voice broke at the end of the sentence, choking back the emotion flooding inside me.

“But why not mum?” Of course, that would not settle the curiosity of a bright young girl.

“I just think there are better schools more suited to your sisters’ needs.” Naively I thought that would sort this conundrum that’s unfolding.

Grace, desperate to go to the same school as her younger twin sisters said “Well, I can just move with them?”

I hurry her into the school drop off, “lets chat about this later yeah? Have a good day!”.

As I get back into the car and drive off, I can feel my tears rolling down my face. I wish they all could go to the same school; I wish the same education for Grace would suit her sisters. Being objective about the children you have in front of you today to the children we dreamed of in pregnancy is hard but necessary for everyone to get their needs best met.

I forgot to dream about the scenario both my kids used mobility aids, the dystonia, epilepsy, medications, syringes and care/support plans that dominate our lives. They weren’t featured in my dreams and I am having to factor in now every time I leave the house with the girls.

We have been to visit out local state funded special schools that are best equipped to meet the girls’ needs and both are fabulous; peers are like our girls, teachers that aren’t phased by any medical jargon, equipment strewn down the corridors that look very familiar to the ones in my living room. Just one cravat - both schools are full and oversubscribed, they have wait lists and are both about a 2 hour round trip to get to the school gates in the traffic.

After months of liaising with our local council about our wishes, how to meet the girls’ needs from a health and education perspective, the council’s current offering, we have all agreed to an EOTAS package

This acronym stands for Education Other Than at School.

For some children this means going to an alternative provision provider, others can have teaching assistants come to deliver preset work by a teacher to support the child’s learning. In our case we have converted a classroom on site that is a room full of toys to enhance the children’s development.

We employ the teaching assistants that are trained and leave them to deliver a sensory led curriculum that’s overseen by a teacher on a monthly check in. They go off on educational trips that tie in with what they are learning for this term like a trip to the zoo & aquarium. The girls’ physical education means heading to hydrotherapy and riding for the disabled. By the time they see peers at the weekly social group they are in education 5 half days a week.

In the end, it may not have been the school set up I dreamed of when I first held my twins in my arms. It may not have been the path I had imagined for Grace and her sisters. But today, as I hold the keys to their unique educational journey, I'm filled with hope and gratitude.

Our girls are thriving in an environment tailored to their needs, Grace can join her sisters on weekends at the classroom if she wishes, bridging the gap between the educational worlds they navigate. It's not the journey we planned, but it's one filled with love, resilience, and the promise of a bright future.


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