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Where were all the special needs students when we were at school?

(167 Posts)
nanna8 Thu 13-May-21 02:07:36

No one was diagnosed with autism, ADHD etc when I was at school. The only person I remember who was special needs was a deaf boy who coped quite well in the classroom without an aide , just a small amount of extra attention. Has something in our environment caused all these children to appear? Is it connected with parenting, is it just that they had a lower profile and there was no diagnosis available ? Are we over diagnosing children and labelling them? I have worked with severely autistic young adults but they were very obviously in need of extra help. Not all who are diagnosed have visible issues, though.

Ro60 Thu 13-May-21 03:05:07

Back in the day children with special needs didn't have the medication & specialist care we have today.
Some died young, some not kept alive at birth.not
Many were hidden away in institutions.
For some, there were less skilled jobs available. Even working in a shop these days is more "skilled" than it was in the past.

vegansrock Thu 13-May-21 03:16:34

Many weren’t in mainstream schools.

Grandma2213 Thu 13-May-21 03:16:43

I think fewer 'Special Needs' children were in mainstream schools then. Most of them were in Special Schools. When I was in teacher training there was a set of children labelled 'maladjusted' which were mostly behavioural problems which possibly were as a result of autism or ADHD, as well as social difficulties. When I moved into learning support more parents were wanting their children to be educated in mainstream schools which meant that specialist support teachers and assistants were required. I'm not sure but I think that a lot of the funding was shifted away from Special Schools at this point. Someone may be able to correct me on this.

freedomfromthepast Thu 13-May-21 03:42:39

Both of my children have been diagnosed with ADHD. After their diagnosis, I realized that I also have it. SO it HAS been around, just more diagnosed now. I was just labeled a troubled child who refused to work at their full potential for teachers and was punished at home despite working the hardest I could.

I also ask myself the same question in regards to food allergies. You rarely heard of them when I was a kid. Now they are everywhere.

I also wonder if there is a correlation? Is there something in our environment causing more instances OR are we better at diagnosing it?

Likely both.

Biscuitmuncher Thu 13-May-21 06:01:02

Its awful of me I know but no one seems just to be a bit thick anymore

Galaxy Thu 13-May-21 06:13:39

Children with additional needs were in special schools or not diagnosed and in a mainstream classroom. They received little help and were left to sink or swim. Looking back there were a number of children in my school in this situation. It was not a good situation for those children.
It's good to talk about children and their families with respect and kindness.

Mamardoit Thu 13-May-21 06:38:25

Those that were ' a bit thick' probably had dyslexia. I was sometimes called 'word blindness' in those days if it was identified at all. These children (predominantly boys) would have been in main stream schools but in the bottom classes even though most were clever boys. Of course then there were plenty of well paid jobs that didn't require O level English.

No child with any significant problem would be allowed in a main stream school. There were separate schools for the deaf etc. and I doubt if any child received a good academic education.

Teachers ruled classes by fear in many cases. Smacking for any naughtiness or poor work was the norm. If parents got involved there would be more punishment at home. Children had to work hard and do as they were told. Childhood wasn't a happy time for many.

My own sons are dyslexic and it was hell of a struggle but they all did well at school.

Loislovesstewie Thu 13-May-21 06:50:32

They were all lumped together and sent to a 'special school'; there was one near where we lived. These conditions are not new, they have been seen from time immemorial. It is thought that Isaac Newton had high functioning autism for example. I hope we are more enlightened now.

CafeAuLait Thu 13-May-21 07:05:34

If they weren't in special schools, they were the ones who were seen as troublemakers, told off for not being able to sit still, caned or given other punishments, treated as or perceived as less intelligent because of learning disabilities that made it harder for them, and generally suffering in their self-esteem. People with autistic and ADHD traits have been documented all the way back to ancient Greece. They've always been there. They were seen as the eccentrics. They were often the geniuses and creators. Now, they are hopefully getting some understanding.

JaneJudge Thu 13-May-21 07:14:21

I find it difficult to answer this when you have mentioned parenting in the first post. Do you know how ignorant that makes you sound?

I know of three boys AT LEAST who lived on our estate who 'went to naughty boys school' it would be an EBD school these days. There were also MLD and SLD/PMLD schools, residential schools, hospital type schools for pupils with severe illness and there were 'homes'

Children with down syndrome were not allowed to attend mainstream education until 1981.

"1981 Education Act – Local Education Authorities made provision for SEN and extended this provision to more children who were considered “handicapped”. From the introduction of this Act, children with Down syndrome started to attend mainstream schools."

I hope that answers your question

JaneJudge Thu 13-May-21 07:18:02

Also, what I find interesting is the shift in rhetoric to people should 'look after their own' . My Mums friend who has a daughter in her 50s who is very disabled got residential special schooling without question, respite if at home, overnight respite for a week if they wanted to go away, a grant to build a big extension on their home, nurses/carers who would go several times a day. That would VERY UNUSUAL now. It is difficult to even get a ECHP in infant or junior school even if the child has significant needs and respite? what respite?

JaneJudge Thu 13-May-21 07:22:24

I'm sorry I should have said you sound ignorant, you were just asking a question. It's just it used such a lot by people who want to pretend these issues didn't happen before.

My friend was adopted and he used to 'play up' in class and the school wanted him to go to an EBD school, luckily his parents had enough money to pay for him to go to a specialist private school and by the time we got to secondary school he was reintegrated back into mainstream. I guess he may have had attachment issues related to his adoption in hindsight or 'other issues' too

Aldom Thu 13-May-21 07:39:10

JaneJudge Thank you for your post. Well said indeed.
Nanna8 How deeply hurtful of you to blame parents. The parents of children with Special Needs devote their lives to their children. I know, because I have watched my amazing daughter and son in law over the past twelve years caring for, and bringing out the best in their son who has Special needs and Autism. Years ago a child like my grandson would have died soon after birth. We have modern medicine to thank for his survival. Thanks to the ongoing support of his multidisciplinary team and the unfailing, never ending input by his parents, he is a delightful, happy, high achieving boy. He will always have difficulties and probably never live independently. But thanks mainly to his parents he is who he is today and in main stream school DO NOT BLAME THE PARENTS.

Chardy Thu 13-May-21 07:41:52

I taught in a special school for children with very specific needs in late 70s, and it was very hard work. There were other special schools in our local authority for different specialisms. I believe every one of those schools was shut down years ago, and the land sold.
A former colleague works in a special school where I live now. All the different kinds of special needs are all in together. And the problems seem much, much greater. Her stories are devastating.
The rest of the pupils are in mainstream.

Galaxy Thu 13-May-21 07:44:06

The children in our area have specific schools relating to need.

nanna8 Thu 13-May-21 07:51:30

I posed a question, didn’t mean that I believe that. It is ignorant to pre suppose that. Extremely rude and judgemental. For the record, I think very few of these children show signs of autism because of their parenting but you just go on judging people if it makes you happy and content. I am appalled.

Galaxy Thu 13-May-21 07:58:29

The thing is families with children with additional needs hear those ideas all the time. As well as facing many many challenges it appears their other unpaid job is to bean ongoing education service for people who dont understand any of the issues.

Aveline Thu 13-May-21 08:02:20

I remember a Thora Hird character responding to this question, 'We didn't have special needs children in my day. They just sat at the back with raffia.'
When I started work with people with learning disabilities there were 850 residents at the hospital. Every town had these large institutions. Mothers were told it was for the best. When our hospital was closing we assessed all of the residents and were appalled to find some perfectly able people who had epilepsy or other physical issues but who weren't LD. Sadly we found women who'd been admitted years back as 'moral cripples' - they'd had a baby out of wedlock (most likely after abuse). Out of sight out of mind. angry

nanna8 Thu 13-May-21 08:09:44

I used to run a group for special needs children. It was very interesting. One young lady could name the day of the week you were born almost instantly if you told her your birthdate. Amazing. I was reluctant to run this group initially because they were so mixed ability wise and diagnostically but I really grew to love all these children and the group ran for several years in the end. Have to say some of the parents were difficult and more demanding than their children but then they had obviously had a lot of stress in their lives, most of them.

TerriBull Thu 13-May-21 08:27:55

I do remember one girl who I was friendly with at junior school, who in spite of being intelligent was a slow reader and constantly berated for her poor handwriting. I wouldn't mind betting she was dyslexic but that condition had not been classified, at least I don't think it had, when I was at school.

Humbertbear Thu 13-May-21 08:36:23

There was a little girl with special needs in my class at Primary School. I remember her very well, even after 65 years. She could be a bit disruptive and hard to settle but she didn’t seem to be that much of a problem to my 8 year old self. Her name was Catherine and she just disappeared one day. We were told she had gone to a different school. We were a class of 40 and there must have been others who would have achieved more had they had some support. I don’t remember any TAs or special needs teachers taking children out of the class or coming in.

Maggiemaybe Thu 13-May-21 08:41:54

No child at my primary school was diagnosed with having any additional needs, but some certainly had. They’d an awful time at a school where children as young as five were hit and yelled at for the slightest thing. We’d a particularly lovely ritual on a Friday afternoon where we all stood against the wall in the hall and were tested in turn on mental arithmetic and spelling. Get your answer wrong and you moved down the line. The bottom four or five got hit, and a lot of abuse about how “stupid” they were. The same children every week.

I really don’t know what happened to these children at secondary level. I just hope they were treated better and that their needs were recognised. But somehow I doubt it.

sodapop Thu 13-May-21 09:05:04

The large institutions for the "Mentally Handicapped" housed many people with varying degrees of disability. Behavioural issues were often a reason for admission and children soon became institutionalised. I worked with Social Care in the 70s moving some of those children now adults from hospitals into the community.
There were so many misconceptions by the public we had to overcome.

Mollygo Thu 13-May-21 09:06:38

There was an R class for each year at my primary school it usually had up to 6 children. The rest of the year was streamed into 4 classes. By the time I was 2nd year junior (Y4 now), we knew that some children in there, ‘got very angry’, or ‘thought we were too noisy’. Some came into assembly, some came out at playtime and they looked quite ‘normal’ to us. I have no idea what happened to them, except for a boy called Percival from the R class who went to grammar school with my brother.
I don’t think parenting causes the current ‘isms’ and ‘ias’, but we are more aware they exist.
I do think it’s hard for us to tell the difference between a child having a tantrum because mum said ‘no’ to their demand for something, which stops when the child gets the object, and a child screaming who is soothed by being given something the parent knows will help, in the case of my DGS, headphones which my DD now carries with her.
Best not to judge.