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Friday, August 29, 2014

School Part 2.

I wrote some time back about the challenges Harri is facing at school. It's a common enough lament among parents of spectrumites, school is a special kind of hell, the sensory challenges, the social difficulties, the processing problems. As Harri's paediatrician says "it is a torture chamber for kids like him".  So the best a parent can do if they feel the school is able to offer a decent level of support is to advocate consistently on behalf of your child, to educate and get the best shot at consistency from those who interact with them daily. Hoping to hell all those people have your child's best interests at heart, or at least are well intentioned, open minded and prepared to learn what your child's best interests actually are. Holding in mind it may look very different to what they initially perceive that to be.

Eventually though it's highly likely you are going to encounter someone whose opinions clash with your own in regards to what level of accommodation your child needs. They may balk at differential interventions and other processes that scaffold your child's learning, making accusations of molly coddling a child who is capable of more. They may think the sensory breaks your child is given are pandering to his manipulative and defiant behaviours in class. That his oppositional acts are the direct result of the accommodations being made and therefore he needs clear and consistent consequences, such as punishment to force compliance. And thus it is now for him.

After a tough year Harri's teacher, aide and I developed a clear strategy for dealing with his more challenging and intractable behaviours, and spent considerable time passing on those skills to others who also came into the class with good results. But a senior staff member didn't understand the complex challenges we'd navigated, and the effective outcomes we'd achieved. They made decisions, poor decisions, that pulled the rug out from under all of us, primarily Harri. And we've been dealing with the consequences ever since.

The only response I was left with was to withdraw Harri from school on the days he was at risk from a staff member who clearly believed she had the answers to 'sort him out'.  And so for now he is attending school part time because those who know him least have the power to do the most damage. Parental advocacy can only take your child so far, the rest is up to the good will or otherwise of others. Sadly for so many of our kids ignorance is the antithesis to good outcomes and ignorance abounds still within the education sector.

9 comments:

  1. I am so sorry, Sharon. You would think that in this day and age all teaching staff etc would be more knowledgeable, understanding and accommodating. The person who suffers the most is the child and that is not right.

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    1. Thanks BSoL, it's a very frustrating yet all too common experience. Im trying desperately to protect Harri from this crappy process.

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  2. life near the foothillsAugust 30, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I am so glad I found your blog. As much as I love autism blogs in general, it's great knowing someone half an hour away from you is going through similar things :)

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    1. HI there lntf, I've been blogging for a few years now, glad you finally found me too.
      kind regards.

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  3. That's really gutsy Shaz. And totally appropriate. I wonder does the individual know that they are the reason ?

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    1. She thinks she's right. There's no getting past someone who's certain of their position. Ive just got to hope in time she realises her error and changes her perspective.

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  5. I haven't touched base with you in a while. (Sigh) Wylie is having a hell of a time at school, too. It's been a long time since I've even felt like an "autism mom" and now I'm just dumbfounded by people in the education industry who seem to go out of their way to keep my son from being able to have one. His teacher's behavior is unconscionable. Ugh. I wish you and Harri the best, I'm sorry it has to be this way.

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    1. Hey there SS, Im really sorry to hear about Wylie.

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