Over the past few months it has been a joy to watch my son go happily off to school, it is a far cry from the emotional upheaval of last year when we were on a roller coaster with so many ups and downs. If I am honest it was mainly downs and reading through the letters I wrote to the school and to the Local Authority still makes me well up with the emotion of it all. It is like another world and another place but it was traumatic and the effects on J and myself were significant.
The sheer relief in September when I knew I would not have to send J back to a school where his needs were so poorly met was massive.
Now with the space of several months I can see how angry I was with the school and with the local authority who were seemingly prepared to just leave my child to flounder. The issues stemmed from a totally ineffectual SENCO who said all the right things but who could not put them into practice. The promise of the handwriting assessment which never took place, the promises of support with J's executive function deficits which didn't happen and the total lack of understanding they showed about leaving J in unstructured and unsupervised situations.
I suspect they saw me as "that parent" always in the school, always making a fuss and seemingly never satisfied. How could I be satisfied when they addressed J's needs so poorly?
Interestingly now that J is in a school where his needs ARE met I am no longer "that parent". I am a happy parent watching her child's self esteem improve as he celebrates small achievements. I watch his school nurture him and rewards these small achievements with certificates and praise.
It helps that J also now gets regular occupational therapy support plus speech and language support focusing upon his receptive language difficulties.
J enjoys being part of the school, his joy at being elected to the school council was fabulous to see and so good. The children in his school are those who are so easily sidelined in mainstream education, not valued and not included....no matter what the schools themselves may think.
So it's a good time for us at the moment. I am in no doubt that we will continue to have our issues from time to time but these issues are now no longer a daily occurrence.
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Its been a while since I posted and it's been good to read back through the last few posts. J has now settled well in his new school and they continue to be brilliant with him and the other children in their care. The first term ended with a fabulous celebration assembly during which J read a poem; watching my child and others read confidently and fluently brought tears to my eyes, these children are so often overlooked in a mainstream setting and here they all were taking centre stage and having "their moment". Thank you Grove House School.
Christmas was a lovely time and we went to Wales to be with J's Dad and his lovely family. I think Wales may be my spiritual home, I always feel relaxed when we go there and the scenery is beautiful.
We came home on the 27th December and spent New Year at home before M had to return to Somerset and work.
So J is now back at school and so far it's been peaceful and uneventful ...long may this continue.
Sunday, 22 November 2015
If I thought that all problems would end with a special school I was wrong.
We have in fact run into the problems I knew would occur when J interacted with other children just like him. J has had problems with "the boy with poor impulse control" who teases him at times. He has also had problems with "the boy with Tourette's" who shouts stuff out randomly but also makes comments he DOES have control over. This mostly takes the form of stuff being shouted put in the classroom making the environment noisy. J hates him because of the noise but also because he will say horrible things to elicit a response. To J this took the form of being told "I hope you die a horrible painful death" while they were sat next to each other in a Science class. J left the classroom as he was angry but being J was unable to speak to an adult about what had been said. As always with J he internalised his feelings until he got through the front door and into his home and his place of safety...he then just ignited. The house practically shook with his rage and both I and his Dad were flooded for a few moments before we were able to try and talk him down and elicit the information about what had happened. We asked him why he had not shared any of this with an adult in school. His response was "because I was so angry".
Thankfully the fabulous Grove House School are now on the case and J has a wristband he can use to indicate when he is too angry or upset to talk.
We are still in the early days of settling down but it's still head and shoulders above the support he was getting in mainstream school and the staff within the school are fantastic and supportive.
We feel fortunate to have got J into the school and although it's early days the signs are good that it will support J right through to early adulthood.
Friday, 25 September 2015
Today I attended a lovely coffee morning at Grove House school. We were raising money for the Macmillan cancer nurses. Cakes were made, displayed and eaten. Tea was consumed by the bucketload.
At the end of the morning we'd raised just over £186.
A few of us had got together as well to begin forming a Parents and Friends of Grove House School committee. It felt good to begin talking about how we could start giving something back to the school.
Lovely to meet some of the other parents too. We all understood each other and had experienced similar issues.
Watching the pupils at break time was also interesting. All playing in groups but generally doing their own thing...and J did not look out of place among them.
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
One of the issues J has is that he cannot cope with being teased. He gets upset and angry when this happens as he does not know what to do.
Conversations with him over the past few years have frequently gone like this.
"How was your day at school?"
to his response of....
"X, Y or Z teased me and I hate that f***ing school so get me out of it".
Then would follow an evening of increasing stress while he raged.
So far since he started at Grove House we haven't had this raging all evening. The days have been far from stress free for him but somehow he is leaving it all behind in school.
I feel a little sorry for the teachers as all the children are new and having to adjust. It's stressful for all the children and the reactions to this big change in their schooling is impacting on their behaviour in some cases.
For J this has manifested itself in a very short fuse with the boy teasing him.
Yesterday J managed to ignore "the boy who teases" and I gave him lots of praise for this as he finds this ignoring if teased very difficult.
That was yesterday though and today was another day.
So "the boy who teases" said something provocative to J and J responded by thumping him. The teacher got a thump too as she intervened to stop the boys fighting. J was mortified about that and to be fair I don't think he would ever knowingly hit a teacher...and never has in the past. They are the people he looks to for safety.
The deputy head who phoned me was fantastic, once J had calmed down he promptly said "I shouldn't have hit X (the boy who teases) but he provoked me".
This on its own is good as he recognised that he made a poor choice. The school are going to get him involved in writing a plan for when teasing happens. How he can ensure he doesn't hit out.
This is good but I am still concerned, I've never known J to hit other children who have teased him.
In the past he has raged and left the classroom or playground when teased, I have never known him to fight back.
In a way it's good that he IS fighting back but thumping someone is not the answer. And that's where the work begins on helping him find other appropriate ways of responding.
Aghhh! Damn the autism which makes it so hard for him.
Monday, 21 September 2015
So J has been at Grove House School for just under two weeks now. It's safe to say all the students are still settling in and the staff are starting to get to know J!
J has already found issue with another child who lacks the self control needed not to mimic J or name call. As a result J has melted down nearly daily and required support.
As always it is difficult to get clear information from J and so I am not sure if he has been able to share this with the school.
Last night J drew this to describe what was happening. It was a great piece of communication and I have lots of praise. I wrote in quote marks what J told me. I am going to share it with the school.
However despite this one boy J is struggling with all seems good.
This is what his class thinks of him
That's now up on the wall.
Saturday, 12 September 2015
J has now done his first two days at Grove House School. He has returned home happy and relaxed on both days.
It can be difficult to get information about the school day from J but I have elicited the information that "it's much better than my old school".
I can well believe this as mainstream school no longer suited J.
The other information he remembered was about what he had for lunch. Chicken Korma on Thursday "the chicken was chewy" and "fish fingers and chips and a dark chocolate crispy cake" on Friday.
His home/school diary notes that he has had a great start to the term and is happy.
Onwards and upwards.