Earlier today I did have a clear idea of what I wanted to post in my next blog but it somehow has got all mushed up in my head after dealing with the last tantrum. So yet again this will probably end up being an ‘all-over-the-place’ post which would accurately
represent all that is going on in my head right now.
Firstly, updates from the last post; I knew myself too well to make a commitment that I probably wouldn’t keep, and since that Thursday I have only had one other Thursday that I could have possibly gone jogging/waddling/walking (no appointments, meetings, plans for coffee hehehe)… and I didn’t go as I had too much other work to do…. and it was too hot… and on a day off (or something that resembles it) the last thing on my mind was going for said jog/waddle/walk. I exercised my brain instead 😛
I have had lots of people comment that they enjoyed the post on Autism and I am long overdue for another one. Here goes…
The last two weeks have been tough on the Autism front. Having a child diagnosed is one thing. ‘Fixing’ (early intervention) it is another. Working between school, therapy and home is yet another. Dealing with the new HORRID curriculum is another ‘brick’ added to a nice little wall of issues that has been built this year. On a side note, I will do a separate post on the new National Curriculum (as I see it) that is being eased into some schools and is implemented full force in others.
History: Last year my boy was at Kindy in an ‘overflow school’ where the school in our area couldn’t fit him in, so he went to another school, in another uniform, learning another curriculum. This school was either easing into the new curriculum or implementing it at a later date. He learnt the letters S A T P I N and numbers 1-10 as was standard for Kindy.
This year he is at the new school in our area where he will now stay till year 6/7. He was also the only one in his class from Kindy to move over to the new school. This new school is implementing the new curriculum in full force, starting on day one with sitting down at desks for writing activities. We were notified in the newsletter that Pre Primary is now more similar to the old year one level, sitting at desks a lot of the time, resulting in losing a whole year of ‘learning through play.’ This makes me want to cry, particularly for the boys who are already behind the girls (as a generalisation) and often not ready for this sort of formal learning at ages as young as 4! And it’s not just the boys I am concerned for.
Furthermore, this new school implemented or at least prepared their Kindy children last year for the new curriculum, learning the full alphabet A to Z. My boy has entered the class, both with a disability AND having being taught (not necessarily having learnt) only 6 letters and sounds out of the 26. Last year the class consisted of 22 children and 3 teachers, this year 27 children and any number of teachers ranging from 3-6 including prac students, in a demountable (where noise bounces).
Sooo… we are now confronted with my child being about as teachable as a brick wall. I don’t make light of his disability, but if you were to sit down and read him a book, or teach him a simple task, you would see what I mean. After reading a book or completing a task, you can question him on what he has just done/learnt, and the blank look on his face, which he is now combining with saying “I have lost the words” is quite troubling. Troubling to the point where I have not been able to stop my brain from wondering all sorts of things from “will my child ever be able to learn in a school environment” to “is this fixable/what
if it isn’t??”
My boy has not always presented as a ‘typical’ child with Autism in public, at least not in public with people we know. (at shopping centres we have had all manner of tantrums
where people are happy to watch and stare. Needless to say I can get through those ‘serve yourself’ checkouts rather speedily!!). At school his behaviour is fine, the teachers see no sensory issues (rocking, licking, flapping, tippy toes etc), his social skills definitely need work but overall he has good eye contact and is generally always happy. Do you know why they don’t see it at school?? HE SAVES IT FOR WHEN HE GETS HOME!!! Hence the title of this post…
We are now beginning to understand that children with high functioning Autism use so much emotional energy keeping themselves ‘together’ at school, that they are absolutely spent the minute they get home and let loose with horrid, demanding, stressed, loud and destructive behaviour that is very often hard for the family to control and is set off by the tiniest things including… well about everything that doesn’t go their way or that they are not in control of.
Back to the ‘brick wall’ learning issues with my boy. In all my questioning of “What the crap is going on with my boy who is supposed to be smart but can’t even tell me or the
teacher what he just learnt” I have discovered several things, and several avenues of help/early intervention.
We could be up for dealing with Working Memory loss, where my boy could really not be retaining any information – I don’t know or understand the reasons why yet.
It could also be that there is so much noise/smells/lights in the classroom that he is working so hard just to cope and keep himself ‘together’ in a socially appropriate manner, that there is physically/mentally/emotionally no more room for him to learn or absorb any information. Again I am only at the very beginning of learning about this and how it affects my little man and how to deal with it.
It could be a combination of both. It could be that he is not interested and therefore does not value what is being taught a school. This is also very typical of Autism where all
conversations, activities, interactions etc are based on the child’s interests only. My boy often asks me about something, and after about 5 words he has had enough, or has heard the basic answer and just walks off or starts talking over the top of you. Not appearing to be rude, but more oblivious to the fact that it is rude to do so.
Oblivious is a good word to describe my boy a lot of the time. And something I am very grateful for. He is oblivious to the fact that he is WAY behind any other kids in the class.
Oblivious to social interactions in the playground, ie: he is not upset if he plays by himself all lunchtime (this doesn’t happen as he now chooses a friend and an activity each lunchtime using a special poster aid stuck on the door), oblivious to the fact that he is doing separate work from all the other kids.
But he is happy! He is enjoying school; he is confident, he thinks he is brilliant and absolutely shines when you tell him that you think he is brilliant too. This makes me smile
We now seem to be on the right track after booking his third OT assessment in 18 months (no you don’t always find the right one that works well with you and your family and teachers the first time… or the second!) covering all the issues we are dealing with at school at the moment. Hopefully we will have answers and progress soon.
I would like to leave this post on this note, something that I find comforting and a verse I have loved since I was little;
love you and
never leave you.
the times of
you see only
set of footprints [in the sand]
was then that I carried you.”