Tuesday, 22 October 2013
A consideration for those whose children who do not even begin school
There has been some debate on one of the internet lists lately about, among other things, muscle tone. A parent whose child did not start school remarks, quite correctly, that had her son been at school, a particular type of muscle disorder might have been picked up far sooner. On a personal level, I will admit that my daughter has reached the age of twenty and has never in the whole course of her life, had a hearing test. This was of course somewhat remiss of me; it would have been easy enough to arrange.
We sometimes forget that children at school routinely receive oversight, which is likely to bring to light abnormalities and matters of concern. These may range from the relatively trivial, such as a slight hearing loss in certain frequencies or a tendency to be a little overweight, to the more serious; a tentative diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder, for example. This constant scrutiny of children by professionals who have been trained to pick up on anything from poor eyesight to an inability to play appropriately with other children can be very helpful. Of course, it isn’t perfect; many problems get overlooked. But as a rough and ready screening process, it is invaluable.
Parents are the often not the best people to spot problems in their children. Nobody likes being told that their child is different; still less that there might be something ‘wrong’ with the child. This is where teachers and the health workers who carry out things like the School Entry Health Check are very useful. They are more objective than we are and better able to make an objective judgement about things like the acquisition of expressive language, the speed with which a child grasps the concept of sequencing and the level of social skills possessed by one of the pupils.
Children, like my own daughter, who never start school miss out on all this. There is no doubt that some home educated children who have various syndromes are delayed in getting help as a consequence. How many of us recognise the signs and symptoms of hypotonia, to give one instance? I’m not sure that anything could, or indeed should, be done about this. It is just something that one sees home educating parents mention from time to time and is worth bearing in mind if you have a child who has never been to school.