Choosing a school
Most children who are blind, deafblind or have low vision attend regular classes within their local school and get access to extra help provided by their school.
If your child is deafblind or has a complex range of needs, the school will approach the Ministry of Education for extra support.
The most important thing is that you and your child are made to feel welcome at enrolment time.
If you feel a school is being unwelcoming or is reluctant to enrol your child, then talk to someone in your child’s vision team. It is likely they will suggest calling the Ministry of Education, Special Education and getting advice from a district manager who will know what to do.
You have a range of choices when it comes to enrolling your child at school. Discuss your child’s needs with their support team. Listen to the team’s advice—but, remember, you know your child best.
“During our child’s time at school, when it all went well, it was great. But when it turned bad, it was awful. If things get tense, reach out for support. Failing that, chocolate cake definitely helps. Who can remain angry when there’s chocolate cake involved?”
Special schools, satellite classes and special units within regular schools
If your child has high or complex needs, you may choose to enrol them in one of the 28 special day schools around the country.
Some children with high needs go to special classes known as a satellite classes. These classes are run by special schools but are located on the grounds of a regular school—BLENNZ’s James Cook High School’s satellite class in Auckland is an example.
Some special schools also offer a special education mobile teaching service where children with high or complex needs can be enrolled in their local school but are taught by specialist teachers from the special school.
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a special school, you will need to have what is known as a Section 9 Agreement—Section 9 of the Education Act covers enrolment at special schools.
Some regular schools also have units that provide specialist support for children who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. Your child can move between regular classes and the unit.
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu—The Correspondence School and home schooling
Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu—The Correspondence School offers distance learning in certain circumstances. You can choose to home school your child and there might be extra support available to help you. Talk to someone in your child’s vision team if this is an option you would like to look into.
BLENNZ students can be assessed by a national assessment team. Assessments involve an ophthalmologist, optometrist, a functional vision assessor, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, developmental orientation and mobility specialists, music therapists, psychologists and others.
BLENNZ is New Zealand’s very own school for children who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision. In practice, this means every child with a diagnosed visual impairment who meets BLENNZ criteria can enrol in whatever school he or she chooses and can be enrolled with BLENNZ at the same time.
Doing this means you and your child will have access to everything available from the education system, as well as what is available from BLENNZ.
The range of services and support you might access from BLENNZ include:
- advice and support for families and whānau
- teaching expertise from BLENNZ’s network of Resource Teachers: Vision based in Visual Resource Centres across the country
- Homai Early Childhood Centre and Campus School
- residential services and satellite classes
- assessment from the National Assessment Service
- access to The Expanded Core Curriculum, which will give your child the extra skills they need to learn and participate in class and outside the classroom
- specialist services, including orientation and mobility services
- technology expertise from teachers who know about using assistive technology
- immersion courses on topics such as using assistive technology, learning braille, adapting the curriculum and daily living skills.
Starting school can be an exciting time for your child. School provides wonderful opportunities for a child to grow and learn about the world.
Your child will have the opportunity to:
- make new friends
- learn new skills
- become more independent, as well as be part of a group
- explore new environments
- think about and plan for their future
- develop confidence, self-esteem and a positive identity.
Give your child lots of encouragement and be enthusiastic about starting school. Your involvement and the involvement of your wider family and whānau are important and valuable.
Starting school involves change—you and your child will be leaving a familiar environment with people you know and stepping into a bigger world with different routines and new people.
You will also notice that services and support are different from what is provided in early childhood.
Teachers and staff at your child’s new school will need to get to know your child. They will need to learn and use different strategies in class to help your child develop and succeed.
They will also need a shared understanding about what your child needs and it will be important for everyone to communicate and work together.
When your child starts school, you also become part of the school community. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in school activities and meet other families whose children will move through school with your child.
“We’ve seen a real growth in confidence in our child recently. I’m not sure why. But he does have an awesome teacher this year. He’s talking more, he gets up earlier and he’s dressing himself for the first time …”
“Our daughter’s teachers are amazing. They love her to bits and they go that extra mile to make sure she has what she needs to stay ahead—it’s a lot of extra work.”
Succeeding at school
To succeed and enjoy their time at school, your child needs:
- a high-quality learning environment—where both the school and classroom are well set up and are safe for your child to access and get around. Resource Teachers: Vision are there to support learning and teaching and can give practical advice on classroom design, lighting and storage for your child’s technology and equipment
- every opportunity to learn, participate and engage in the school curriculum—that means your child can access information and has the opportunity to contribute and express what they know and can do. Your child may need their learning resources produced in large-print format or braille. They may need their teacher to verbalise different aspects of the lessons and classroom activities more. Again, Resource Teachers: Vision are there to help and advise teachers on what to do
- teachers with high expectations of what your child can achieve and the skills to change their approach to suit your child’s needs—a Resource Teacher: Vision will know what to do
- opportunities to form relationships, develop independence, learn alongside their peers and develop a positive sense of self. Your child’s teachers may need to take extra steps to stimulate interaction and communication in class and promote your child’s self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect.
“In my experience, a good teacher can make all the difference. I remember one of mine coaching my sighted peers on using concrete language and verbalising things more, so I could understand what was going on.”
“Making friends gets harder and harder as kids get older—which can be heart wrenching as a parent. But this year our daughter’s made a wonderful friend. They text each other every day, hang out in the weekends—a couple of typical teenage girls doing typical teenage stuff, it’s just lovely.”
Assistive technology—options for learning
Any equipment and technology your child uses at school will depend on your child’s learning needs and school environment.
- children who are blind or deafblind and cannot use their vision for learning use braille technology such as braille note takers or refreshable braille (where text from a computer is converted to braille using small plastic or metal pins that move up and down to display the braille characters) and screen readers
- children with low vision can use large-print software and print magnification and scanning technology.
This equipment and technology is called assistive technology. It aims to remove any barriers to achieving and reaching learning goals.
Applying for assistive technology
Schools, with help from a Resource Teacher: Vision, can apply to the Ministry of Education for assistive technology using an assessment framework that looks at:
- your child and their abilities
- your child’s learning environment
- the classroom tasks your child needs to complete
- the tools best suited to your child, the learning environment and the tasks your child needs to complete.
Selecting and using assistive technology
Once your child’s needs have been identified and the best assistive technology for your child selected, your child will be encouraged to:
- become familiar with it to make sure it is the right technology for your child and that it works as expected
- develop the skills needed to use it for specific learning tasks and activities
- use it across a range of situations and tasks
- become independent in its use and care.
Equipment for mobility
There are several options available to children who need mobility equipment to move around safely and independently at school—a cane is one.
There are three types of canes:
- A long cane (that extends to chest height) with a Teflon tip for identifying surface changes, curbs and other obstacles.
- A thinner symbol cane (measuring around 70cm in length) used only to indicate the user has a vision impairment (it doesn’t give the user any information about the environment).
- A support cane for extra support when walking that also indicates the user is blind or has low vision.
Talk to someone in your child’s support team (such as a Resource Teacher: Vision or developmental orientation and mobility instructor) or the Blind Foundation for more information.
Planning and monitoring your child’s education
Your child’s vision team will play a key role in helping you to plan and monitor your child’s education. It is important you know what is going on and how to support your child when you need to.
This means maintaining a strong partnership with your child’s vision team and working with the school to decide on the best approaches and learning programmes. As part of their planning the team may develop an Individual Education Plan for your child.
“Along the way, you and your child will meet some fantastic educationalists—be they teachers, teachers’ aides or canteen staff. I like to make sure I tell them how valued they are. Never presume they know.”
The relationship you have with your child’s vision team and school will work best when everybody:
- creates a supportive environment
- accepts responsibility for meeting the learning needs of your child
- has a view on how these needs should be met
- works together to find answers
- works with others in ways that concentrate on your child’s needs
- presents their views openly, sensitively and honestly
- respects the knowledge and views of others
- understands and respects the cultural needs of your child
- shares information
- deals with problems as they arise
- keeps in regular contact.
The Individual Education Plan
An Individual Education Plan or IEP is a written plan that shows how the school and classroom programme will be adapted to fit your child.
For example, your child may need their learning materials provided in large-print format or braille. They may need additional computer use and keyboard lessons integrated into their classroom programme with help from an Resource Teacher: Vision.
An IEP involves you, your child’s Resource Teacher: Vision (as well as other members of your child’s vision team) and your child (if appropriate) and is typically reviewed twice a year.
Tips for families and whānau
- Before the meeting, talk to someone from your child’s vision team (e.g., the Resource Teacher: Vision) and make a list of what you want to talk about and who else should be there.
- Ask your support person to make sure everything noted is covered.
- Ask questions if you don’t understand something.
- Take your time making big decisions—don’t be rushed.
- Make sure the goals agreed to are important to you and your child too.
- Before you leave, check in with your child’s vision team to make sure you clearly understand what has been agreed to, including your role.
- Check the date, time and place of the next meeting.
- Remember that you can ask for a meeting at any time.
What you can expect your child to learn at school
Teaching in schools is guided by the national curriculum, which is made up of two documents, The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium schools and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa for Māori-medium schools.
Children in English-medium schools learn a range of skills and understanding related to English, the arts, health and physical education, learning languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences and technology. The New Zealand Curriculum is also designed to encourage enjoyment of learning and the ability to think critically, manage self, set goals, overcome obstacles and get along with others—the attributes we all need to succeed as children and adults.
Children in Māori-medium schools (schools that use mostly te reo Māori) learn the skills and knowledge to be able to participate and contribute to Māori society and the wider world. The learning areas are te reo Māori, pāngarau (maths), pūtaiao (science), hangarau (technology), tikanga-ā iwi (social sciences), ngā toi (arts), hauora (health and physical education), ngā reo (languages) and te reo Pākehā (English).
Your child’s teacher will be able to answer questions that you may have about the curriculum.
“At high school you need to build relationships—with the principal, with your child’s teachers. I’m on a first name basis with them all. I ring them and email them all the time. Communication is the key.”
What is the Expanded Core Curriculum?
You may hear your child’s vision team talk about the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). The ECC is an internationally-recognised term that refers to the vision-related skills that students who are blind, deafblind or low vision use to access the school and classroom curriculum. It is not an alternative or additional curriculum. Instead, the ECC is used as guidance for the Resource Teachers: Vision to help adapt and differentiate teaching and learning within the national curriculum to best meet the needs of students who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.
The ECC is also sometimes called Stepping Stones it includes the following skills areas.
Communication—braille, tactile skills, handwriting, computer use, keyboard skills, sign language, communication, concept development and listening skills.
Sensory efficiency skills—development and use of vision skills and visual aids.
Physical abilities—postural control and balance, movement, physical strength and endurance, and physical education.
Orientation and mobility—muscle development and coordination, development of orientation, environmental considerations, mobility devices and formal strategies for travel.
Social skills—interaction, socially acceptable behaviour, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-advocacy, interpersonal skills, recreation and leisure.
Living skills—self-care, organisation, time management, decision-making, vocation and career, advocacy, awareness of and access to community resources, independence and interdependence, and money management.
Technology—use of technologies and research and referencing skills.
Career and future planning—awareness of opportunities beyond school, e.g., tertiary study, work and community opportunities.
Funding and support at school
There is a range of funding and support available to students who are blind, deafblind or have low vision at school.
Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
The ORS is Ministry of Education funding for individual children with a range of special education needs (not just for those who are blind, deafblind or have low vision) who require extra support at school to participate and learn.
The amount of funding differs according to whether your child is verified as high or very high. Not all children with low vision qualify for ORS funding.
The school where a child who receives ORS funding is enrolled receives:
- additional teacher time
- support from a teacher’s aide as agreed by the team
- funding for consumable items
- specialist services as agreed to support the curriculum.
Applying for ORS
Usually your Resource Teacher: Vision will process your child’s application to be verified for ORS funding by responding to questions relating to his learning needs. Talk to someone in your child’s vision team to find out more about the application process.
The Blind Foundation produces textbooks, handouts and exam materials in accessible formats for school students who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. Students can access resources in large-print, braille and a range of audio formats.
The Blind Foundation also has an extensive library of recreational reading material called BLINK (Blind and Low Vision Information Network for Kids and Young Adults).
Freephone 0800-243 333
Special Education Grant
All schools receive an operations grant for all children enrolled. In addition, schools receive a Special Education Grant (SEG) to support children with special education needs. Schools have discretion over how they use their grant. It may be used to cover extra teacher’s aide hours, to adapt programmes or the learning environment, or provide extra equipment or curriculum material. The school principal sets the priorities for student needs and decides how this fund will be used within their school.
Special Education School Transport Assistance
The Ministry of Education also provides a subsidy or allowance for transport assistance so your child can travel between home and the nearest appropriate school.
To get this support, a child must:
- be aged between 5 and 21
- be enrolled at a state or state integrated school
- meet the Ministry’s requirements for mobility and safety
- attend the nearest appropriate school or educational setting that is able to meet their special education needs.
Talk to someone in your child’s vision team to find out more about how to apply.
If your child is changing schools, you and your child’s vision team will need to plan ahead to make sure the change goes as smoothly as possible. It’s important to tell the new school about your child’s needs well ahead of time so that the right support is in place when your child starts. It’s also important that you and your team know that resources might change from school to school.
If your child receives ORS funding, the funding, specialist and teacher time will go with them to the new school. But the level of teacher’s aide time may need to be reviewed.
Your child’s vision team will know how to help you and your child prepare for the change and adjust to the new school.
They may suggest discussing these points as you plan for the change together.
- A planning meeting for your child’s transition.
- Preparing your child for change—when shall we talk about it? What will we cover? How can we help them see the positives?
- Any changes to property required—this will need to be checked every time your child changes schools.
- The transfer of your child’s records to the new school—who will do it? Is written consent needed?
My Story: Resource teachers—the key to settling in well at school
Heading off to intermediate school has been a big deal for 11-year-old Boston Beattie and his mum, Sharon.
Boston, who was born 26 weeks prematurely with hydrocephalus (or water on the brain), is blind.
He started intermediate school this year, after several months of transition planning led by Boston’s Resource Teachers: Vision, Judy Fox and Cathy West.
Sharon is delighted, and a teeny bit relieved, to report that Boston is settling in well.
“I felt a bit nervous about it, I think. He’d done so well at primary school thanks to wonderful teachers, his Resource Teacher: Vision at the time and a lovely teacher’s aide. His primary school had worked so hard on developing a really supportive culture.
“I just worried that intermediate would be different. Kids can be a bit hard on one another as they get older. We’ve all experienced that,” says Sharon.
But, so far, so good, she says.
“In fact, I’ve noticed a huge growth in Boston’s confidence. I’m putting it down to having an awesome teacher and the preparation work Judy and Cathy have done. He’s become more open in his talk. He’s up earlier and his independence has grown.
“I’m actually thinking he might like to spend a bit more time up in Auckland in the Homai centre with BLENNZ to experience life away from home.”
Sharon, who is mum to six kids, says parenting Boston is more hands on and takes more planning compared with the others.
And that’s why Boston’s Resource Teachers: Vision over the years have been an invaluable support.
“We’ve both (Boston and I) built up some very good relationships with Boston’s Resource Teachers: Vision. They are relationships that will be with us forever. Each of them has offered us a lot. With Boston, they’ve made him persist with learning his braille—he’s doing well with it now. But he tires easily and needs a lot of encouragement.
“They’ve got him involved in Homai immersion courses to develop his daily living skills and helped him get to know the layout of his new school before he started.
“With Boston’s teachers, Judy and Cathy make sure they have the large-print and braille materials he needs and that his technology is working as it should.”
Sharon says Boston’s Resource Teachers: Vision give her confidence that Boston will do the best he can at school.
“My advice to parents is to spend time with your child’s Resource Teacher: Vision. Trust they will do their best for your child. Develop a good relationship with them. You’ll need it. I take my cues from Judy and Cathy all the time. I ask them heaps of questions and I tell them my honest opinions.
“They’ve been a huge source of strength for me, too. They help me stick with things and remind me to notice the positives.
“Sometimes it’s a smile on Boston’s face that’s my reward. Other times it’s the bigger stuff like maths achievement. Both are lovely to see.”
Preparing for secondary school
Preparing yourself and your child for secondary school can be another tricky time emotionally, as well as practically.
Your child is growing up and getting out in the world more and more. Aside from that, there is a lot to organise. It’s normal to feel worried and for some of the old feelings of sadness and apprehension to resurface.
Take some time to sit down and talk to your child about where you are both at. Talk about your feelings. Get your child’s vision team involved and discuss some of the changes your child can expect from secondary school. Your child will have an exciting choice of subjects, travel to a new location and maybe wear a uniform for the first time.
“We started planning for secondary school in term two of the previous year. And I’m pleased we did. It gave us time to pick her subjects, order braille resources and visit the school numerous times. It meant she was ready to go from day one.”
Think about how you will plan ahead for the move—discuss what has worked well in the past and what you might do differently this time.
Give you and your child’s vision team 12 to 18 months to plan.
Together, think about:
- how to transfer funding and other support your child receives at primary or intermediate school
- any property modifications that might be needed (when you’ve decided on a school, these need to be planned for well before your child starts)
- checking the assistive technology your child uses is suited to the new school environment
- any additional curriculum input your child will need from a Resource Teacher: Vision
- exam support needed further down the track and how to plan for that, e.g., your child’s vision team and school may want to apply to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority for exam papers to be provided in braille or enlarged print
- familiarising your child with the new environment and new routines of secondary school
- emotional and practical support needed to manage the change of environment
- preparing the new school.
Ask the Blind Foundation about STRIPES—an ideal programme for young people. It teaches daily living skills; pre-employment skills (such as time management, decision-making, connections and leadership); personal and social development skills (such as teamwork, confidence, and achievement) and teens get to take part in a range of recreation events.
BLENNZ runs immersion courses for secondary school students on study skills and planning for tertiary education. Contact your Resource Teacher: Vision for more information.
Starting secondary school
Your child will find secondary school very different from primary or intermediate school. There will be new routines, new teachers, new support people and a new school system.
Some of the things they might find different about secondary school include:
- a new and wider set of classmates
- having a form teacher and different teachers for each subject (instead of one main teacher for all lessons)
- different support people from the people who worked with them at primary school
- getting used to a timetable where lessons for different subjects are held in different classrooms
- finding their way to the next class and getting there on time
- a longer school day
- learning new subjects such as languages
- more homework.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of mobile phone technology. Our daughter has hers linked to her braille note, using blue tooth. She can research online much faster now and texting has given her a whole new way to join in the conversations of her peers.”
National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
NCEA is the main secondary school qualification for students in years 11 to 13. NCEA stands for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement and can be gained at three levels—usually level 1 in year 11, level 2 in year 12, and level 3 in year 13.
The NCEA system gives a more accurate picture of a student’s achievement, because any student who demonstrates the required skills and knowledge to the level of a particular standard achieves NCEA credits. Each student receives a School Results Summary that presents all standards taken throughout their school years and the results for each.
Support for tests and exams
Most students who are blind, deafblind or have low vision will need extra support (called Special Assessment Conditions) to sit tests and exams at secondary school and to be assessed for qualifications such as NCEA.
Students can apply for the following support.
- Exam and test papers to be provided in braille, large print or an electronic format.
- Permission to use the assistive technology your child usually uses to learn in the classroom.
- Reader, writer or reader-writer support, where a student has content of the assessment read aloud to them and they speak the answers to a writer.
- Extra time (in some situations) for assessments over a certain length.
- Other support such as rest breaks, home supervision and special papers.
Talk to your child’s Resource Teacher: Vision and vision team to find out more about Special Assessment Conditions.
Check out the Halberg Allsports website to find out about the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation’s community programme. The programme includes disability sport advisors who help get young people with disabilities more involved in sport in their region. It features open days for young people to try out sports, mentoring, funding and more.
Visit the Halberg AllSports website.
Contact the Blind Foundation to access their wide range of talking books, braille books and audio magazines. The library is a great study resource—and the Foundation delivers free to anywhere in the country.
Enjoying life outside the school gates
For young people growing up, there’s more to life than school! Getting out and about in the community, making friends and generally enjoying life are just as important as good grades.
The Blind Foundation has a nationwide team of advisors who help children and young people take part in all kinds of activities. They organise camps and activities and can adapt sports, so that children who are blind, deafblind or have low vision can participate and enjoy life. For more information about their activities, contact the Blind Foundation on: email@example.com.
BLENNZ regularly runs two- or three-day immersion courses in Auckland for young people keen to meet, socialise and learn about topics such as music or performing arts. Travel and accommodation costs are covered. For more information on BLENNZ immersion courses, talk to your Resource Teacher: Vision.
The Ministry of Social Development also offers the Out of School Care and Recreation Subsidy to help cover the cost of an after school or school holiday programme (for school-aged children).
Visit the Work and Income website for more information about the Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy.
Finding life tough
It’s not uncommon for teens to find life a bit tough at times—sometimes exam stress can be too much or they may struggle to fit in with their peers. Feeling down in response to difficult situations is pretty normal and usually these feelings fade over time. But it could be depression when these feelings are intense and will not go away.
A range of mental health resources and services are available for teens. Talk to your family doctor if you have any concerns about the mental health of your child.
Youthline (0800-376 633)
The Depression Helpline (0800-111 757)
Lifeline (0800-543 354)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800-787 797)
Other support services
You might also want to contact the following organisations for counselling and support.
Blind Foundation (0800-243 333)
Parents of Vision Impaired (0800-312 019)
Kāpō Māori Aotearoa New Zealand Inc (0800-770 990)
Parent2Parent (0508-236 236)
Deafblind (NZ) Incorporated (www.deafblindnz.org.nz)
The Blind Foundation offers people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision a peer support service called Telefriend. All calls are confidential and protected by a code of practice.
Call Telefriend on 0800-100 051 on weekdays from 1pm to 4pm. Outside these hours, a message can be left and the call will be returned.
The Ministry of Health offers a range of initiatives aimed at young people through the Youth Mental Health Project.
Find out more by checking out the Ministry’s website. Visit the Youth Mental Health Project on the Ministry of Health’s website.
My Story: Secondary school gets it right for Renee
For Letitia Patete, all it took was one meeting to Wellington Girls’ College and she was convinced her 14-year-old daughter Renee would love it there.
“I’d heard lots of good things about the school, but I did need to check it out and see for myself.
“I was afraid Renee wouldn’t be accepted; that it would be much harder for her at secondary school.
“But after that first meeting I felt reassured. The principal was incredibly welcoming. She was excited to have Renee enrol. I could see the teachers were passionate. I could see they cared about the kids in their classes.”
Renee is an exceptionally gifted student who’s been blind since birth.
She excels at a wide range of subjects, including maths, science, English, languages and music.
By three, she’d learnt braille. At six, she was one of the youngest people ever to master a braillenote (a braille word processor).
“She’s got this incredible memory and ability to retain information. She just loves to learn. But it’s hard work keeping up with her and making sure she has everything she needs to be successful,” says Letitia.
That’s why Letitia and Renee’s Resource Teacher: Vision started planning for Renee’s transition in term two of Renee’s last year at primary school.
They started by visiting the school and meeting the learning support team. By term three, they began to pick Renee’s subjects and order her braille textbooks. In term four there were regular visits to the school to get Renee used to the layout and comfortable with her teachers.
“The well-planned transition made all the difference,” says Letitia. “But, I have to say, the support didn’t stop there.”
Right now, Renee’s teachers are planning for NCEA to make sure Renee has the braille resources she needs and the assessment process is well organised.
The principal recently rejigged the timetable to foster a fledgling friendship that’s developed between Renee and another student in her German class.
This term the girls were encouraged to do a joint presentation to the school assembly on the importance of being polite and conscientious towards one another.
“Renee’s friend had noticed that Renee was finding it hard to get in and out of doorways after class with 1,300 girls rushing from place to place.
“So, their teachers encouraged them to talk to assembly about the importance of looking out for each other and being courteous. Renee wasn’t singled out for attention. It was a message for everyone. That’s the way they do things here.”
Letitia believes Wellington Girls’ College, with support from Renee’s Resource Teacher: Vision, are doing a great job of helping Renee to succeed academically, as well as setting her on the path to a happy, independent adult life.
“Adolescence doesn’t come without its challenges—and there tends to be even more for kids with disabilities. But I’ve noticed Renee becoming happier and happier at secondary school and I’m over the moon.
“Last weekend she and her new friend jumped on a bus and spent five hours in town like a couple of regular teenagers. It was lovely to see her off and venturing into the world.
“She was buzzed for days. And, to be honest, so was I.”