Child with sensory challenges banned from field trip - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a child with Sensory issues who is under-responsive, has no sense of fear and is a thrill seeker. We were given a few days notice that there would be a field trip to a place with high walking bridges. We mentioned to the teacher that the child likes heights and has no sense of danger and requested that they be extra vigilant. Late Friday we received notice that our child couldn't go on the field trip, and that they are not available over the weekend. They never talked to us, or included us in any discussion about this matter.


This is a small private school that advertises itself as being inclusive


Anyone have any suggestions as to what we should do?


We did make the suggestion that I could accompany my child.

I obviously won't be able to work anyways.




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#2 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 02:34 PM
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Seems to me what they would need is a person/staff to basically be your child's "escort". When my son was in preschool they received funding (after an evaluation) to have such a person whose sole job was to stick by my son and help him engage safely with the other children. I don't see why your school couldn't provide such a person for your daughter. Certainly they would receive funding from the government for such services if your child has a diagnosis (I'm in Canada so it may be a bit different if you are in the US or elsewhere). 


I am not sure I would make it a human rights issue, but I think the school handled it all really badly. They should have been able to provide her with an assistant or, at the very least, invite you to come along too. At the very least they certainly should have included you in the discussion. I think they have not met their mandate for support for your daughter. 


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#3 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 02:55 PM
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Personally, I would let it go.  I think they handled the situation *really* poorly in terms of communication with you, and also I feel like this sounds like a bad idea for a field trip if they don't feel like they can keep all the kids safe.  I don't know how old your daughter is, so that definitely makes a difference.  Regardless, I am guessing that they genuinely see this as a safety issue for your daughter.  You yourself describe her as a child who likes heights and has no sense of danger.  Personally, if my son was that way (and he does have sensory issues  that make safety an issue as well), I wouldn't want him going on a field trip like that.  Maybe what I am picturing is all wrong, but I hate heights myself and am picturing kids walking over a cannon on a tiny bridge where they take one step and fall know that is probably not close to the truth, but you get what I mean.  You're asking them to watch her really closely and giving them good reasons to do so, and they are then thinking "maybe this isn't such a good idea and maybe we're not comfortable that we'll be able to keep her safe."  If I was going to be sending my child to this school next year, I would want to sit down and have a meeting about this in greater detail, particularly the part about the poor communication.  As it is, I would let it go and move on. 

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#4 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post

At the very least they certainly should have included you in the discussion.

This. I can't believe they'd just tell you she can't come, with no discussion, no attempt to figure it out... greensad.gif That's horrible. I don't have children in school so I'm not quite sure what you 'should' do but I wouldn't let it slide unnoticed, I'd definitely do SOMETHING, that's just not right.

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#5 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 03:35 PM
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From what you said, she would be in danger on this trip. I don't understand your response. It doesn't seem to be about what is actually best for your child.

This is a private school, they don't have to let your child attend at all.

If it were me, I'd be sad that they hadn't planned a trip that my child could attend and enjoy with her peers, and then I'd let it go.

This isn't something that putting a ton of energy into is going to help you child.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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She is 7 and the other children are 5-12/13. I wouldn't say that she is the only child who needs close supervision. There is at least one or 2 children who appear to be similar type of issues. I also wondered about the appropriateness of the trip as I'm sure there will be some that will be very scared.


I don't know if being a private school gives them the right to just exclude a child without any discussion. It is not a behaviour suspension.  The school receives government funding and we pay school fees and field trip fees. I did offer to go.

From the way this was handled and communicated, my instinct is there is something else to this exclusion.

I wouldn't put a lot of energy in this to help my child, but I would want any other child to be treated this way.



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#7 of 11 Old 06-18-2011, 09:08 PM
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If your child has the struggles you outlined, and you emphasized them to the teachers and they felt they could not safely bring her on the trip, I don't see why you are angry she isn't going.  It is too bad they didn't pick a safer field trip.  If it's a canyon like I'm imagining, she could die.  I see this as them being smart and safe with your daughter.  They *should* have told you that they need you to come and be individually responsible for your daughter's safety, but they didn't.  I'm sorry you're ending on a bad note with the school.  I imagine they are crazy busy wrapping things up and that added to the miscommunication.  Ultimately your daughter isn't going to fall into the canyon on field trip day and I think that is the most important thing.



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#8 of 11 Old 06-19-2011, 06:46 AM
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This was a poorly thought out trip and they handled communication with you poorly. As to their legal obligations, if they receive government money they should be subject to IDEA and the ADA (see At the least I would want to have a meeting about this with them; not to beat them up about how they handled it but to get an understanding of how they will handle field trips and special needs in the future (and remind them of the law if applicable).

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#9 of 11 Old 06-19-2011, 07:05 AM
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The school handled it very poorly. It's worth following up, just to sort out the process for choosing field trips, communication, the procedures for ensuring adequate supervision and the policy on parent volunteers. I'm sure it's all incredibly disappointing for your child and the school has made it worse by handling it so badly.  


I understand the school's concerns. They probably have recent news stories in mind. I'm wondering if there is a liability and insurance issue between the school and the operator of the destination with the high bridges. The operator may have some clause that if the school knowingly brings visitors with high risk behaviour, the operator isn't liable etc. etc..  It doesn't excuse poor planning and communication on the school's part, though. If they advertise as inclusive, I'd hope that they could organize adequate supervision on this kind of field trip. 

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#10 of 11 Old 06-19-2011, 11:07 AM
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You might be able to take this as an opportunity to plan ahead with the school about plans for the coming year, and how your child's needs will be taken into consideration.


This seems like the type of situation that would have been covered in an IEP, ie need for one to one, line of sight, supervision in outside school activities to ensure safety.  I know that this is a private school you're in, so my guess is that an IEP isn't valid there?  I'm not sure.  Either way, now is a time to plan ahead, and if I were having that conversation, I would have on the table the request that my "inclusive" school have field trips that can be attended by all children.


FWIW, I cannot imagine wanting your dd to be on the field trip.  It sounds incredibly dangerous for your child. 

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#11 of 11 Old 06-22-2011, 07:26 PM
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I think that the school was wrong on two fronts, both the picking of the trip and not allowing you to be responsible for your child.  My son who sounds very much like yours was on a field trip today where there where what I would consider "moderate dangers" (water, trees that are climbable, getting lost in the bush).  Our policy with our son and the school is that Alex can go on trips, but we will vollenteer to go on the trip and be responsible for him.  This was set up when he was in Kindergarten, at times it is a pain because we have to alter our schedual but it means that he can go on the trips - and that is more important to us then the inconveince.

There are several kids in each class like this - if a parent can't go then they try and arrange for one of the floating educational assistants to go.

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