I enrolled this girl at my local school today. For the second time. And for the second time I felt sick.
This time last year I had to enrol both children. And I came home in tears. Is the school that bad you ask? Actually it is a fabulous little school with a good reputation. The staff were friendly and the building pretty modern. But I knew without question last year that neither of my children would be going. The emotions of having to enrol your baby for school are high for all parents but for parents of special children having to hear the other parents excitably chatting about how thier children will embark on this new adventure together and have such fun is shere torture. You don’t want reminded how different your child is to others thier age. You really don’t need it to be ‘in your face’ that your child does not fit in.
The school were geared up for the children last year giving them stickers and having them talk to staff. It was the same again this year. Wonderful for the children going. Heartbreaking for the families bound by law to enrol a child the school will never ever meet. I enrolled my son at that school last year. But he never made it through the gates. And probably never will. The children would never hear thier lessons if he did because he would scream so loud the janitor would be tempted to call the police. For all it is a wonderful school it is just not the right environment for Isaac. And 12 months later I am still not entirely convinced it is the right place for Naomi. But the law said I had to go down there yet again. Sometimes I really don’t like the law.
But this time I thought I would call ahead. Maybe the Head might be sympathetic? Maybe this time I would be convinced this was the best place for my baby girl. After all we had deferred her from starting for a year so surely that has to have made a difference?
So off I went armed with all the necessary paperwork, including her diagnosis. The school were welcoming and allowed me to speak to the Head Teacher. As I was about to explain my concerns about wether mainstream education was right for my daughter the head began:
“Ok, can she count?”
“Does she know any of her letters?”
“Can she write her name?”
“Well, yes she can.”
“Is she in mainstream nursery?”
“Yes she is.”
“Well, what are you worried about? School is almost 8 months away. She will be fine by August!”
And away she went…
‘So what do I do about the fact she is still in full-time nappies? She has bladder and bowel issues and sensory and anxiety problems which is making toilet training a very real challenge. Will you change her? What about the fact she will not initiate any contact with her peers or members of staff so she could be in pain, not understand the work or be unable to do something and you will never know? What about the fact she will take everything you say literally? What about the fact she is coming to your school with a co-ordinated support plan in place (a legally binding support document detailing what support she requires and how often) and a long list of professionals who work with her? What about her inability to dress herself due to poor balance and co-ordination issues? What about the fact she can not climb, or run, or jump or catch a ball. How will you help her overcome her fear of other children? How will you support her autism? What about…’
It didn’t matter of course, because she had left.
They did agree to ‘enhanced transition’ and they did say they would attend any meeting before August to help with preparing her.
But is mainstream the right place for a child with Naomi’s needs?
Her Educational Pychologist says she has no learning disability. Based mostly on the fact she drew this picture of herself:
So clearly her social and communication difficulties don’t count. Her gross motor delay does not count. Her anxiety does not count. And the fact she is still in nappies?
She can talk (at home at least), she can write her name and count, and she drew a picture of herself.
So mainstream education is right?
She will be fine by August?
And here was me thinking autism was a lifelong condition?
Why do I sense another fight on my hands yet again for my child’s education?
Don’t you worry baby girl. Mummy will sort this out.
It will be fine by August…