Today is the official leaving day for school leavers finishing summer 2017 in Scottish Schools. Whilst I shed a tear at the end of primary school for my son I can safely say that a sigh of relief and completely done is how I feel at the end of high school.
Since realising our place on the Autistic Spectrum school has been an uphill battle. So glad that I will never have to hear “nothing replaces face time in class” ever again. Because we all know that nothing detracts more from our child’s learning than this outdated, inconsistent and anything but inclusive means of educating.
Sir Ken Robinson called for a transformation in our education system in his TED talk in 2006, and still the system has neither reformed for the better or transformed to provide an inclusive education for children of all abilities and needs. There is still a great big crack along the side of the education system that too many parents watch their children fall through on a regular basis.
So, school’s over and am I going to take my local authority to task for failing to provide the best education possible for my son? After all we Aspies hold tight to our principles and values. No I’m not because in spite of the broken system my son has found his way onto the next step on life’s ladder and has well and truly let school go, and with respect for his needs and my sanity I will too.
I will continue to advocate for a transformed and fully inclusive education system and provide a listening ear where needed but my anxiety driven fights are over.
I will share what I have learned over the past few years:
- No-one knows your ASD child’s ways as well as you, their parent.
- Your child is entitled to the best education possible – and the possibilities are wider than the first option suggested by schools, an outreach worker bringing homework.
- If your child is unable to attend school they are entitled to tutors provided by your local authority, this one on one time is invaluable and can do wonders for your child’s confidence.
- Internet communication is not demonic – it is in many ways a life saver and in this day and age can ensure that your child does not lose touch with their friends, some may not even have noticed they didn’t see them in school.
- Any child with additional needs is reviewed regularly within the school, ensure that you receive regular updates and point out all discrepancies (there will be many).
- Yes, teachers are catering for many children and your child, whether or not they are able to attend class, deserves the same education and attention.
- In asking for different help you are not taking advantage of your child’s condition but using the mandatory resourcing your child deserves.
- P.E. and group activities are not a necessary means of enhancing your child’s social skills.
- The first ‘no’ will not be the last ‘no’ but persistence can get you to ‘yes’ or to ‘another way’.
- There is always another way.
I’m sure I have learned a lot more, although I am still no further forward in understanding the need for or purpose of surds and still in a state of exhaustion.
And so I move on to our next chapter. We’ve been bruised, broken and battered by the education system but we are now taking back our power and letting go.
Good luck to those of you still hanging in there, if I were to leave you with one bit of advice it would be to figure out what you want for the next school session and get your requests in now, forewarned and forearmed etc….you have more power than you realise, may you dig deep and find it and have the strength to ask for help when the power escapes you.