Thursday, May 18, 2006

The World According To, #1

Son has been for his first induction morning at the new senior school. This is an act of faith on the part of both schools (Junior and Senior), as in spite of the 8 weeks for statementing having run out on 23rd last month, in spite of the phonecalls confirming the school choice etc the following Monday, the promise of a final statement within the week - no sign of the Statement.
At all.

Consequently no negotiations about transport, no official letter from his bew school, dates, hours, uniform list, all the stuff we need - nothing.

That wasn't why I began this post.

The latest quote from the world according to Son, marvelling at his progression:

"Hey Mum, I've been thinking; I mean, I'm nearly at senior school and after that it'll be University (Editors note: Yay! The kid assumes he'll go to Uni!), so really, you and dad are just holding me down.
"Like a hundred helium filled balloons.
"So stop trying because I'm going to escape and get up to the sky in the end."

And with that he smiled and wandered off again, so I really have no idea whether he has genuine visions of greatness and fulfilment, or whether this was his infamous sarcasm.

Being the mum of an Aspie teaches you to be a bit simple really - 'ok dear, if you say so' is about the safest reaction.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So Proud!

For all the time he's been at school, Son's SATs have been dissappointing. Gradually he has achieved decent (as in marginally above average) results for the sciences and IT, but the approach at school has been that he is an average child with a few dyslexic and attention difficulties.

Last year his wonderful teaching assistant of the time (Zoe Noble) begged approval to allow him to do some work by dictation, just as an experiment. His English work exploded from the usual four illegible sentences written over an hour, to six pages of intricate story, and the school started to wonder what they'd really got there.

The other week the whole class did a week of mock SATs ready for the real ones that they are sitting now - the year six exams that label them and decide the stream they enter at seniors school.

The deal was that Son could not be helped in English papers, where the grasp of spelling and grammar were being tested, that he could have an extra 25 minutes more than the rest of the class for papers like maths because of his need to take a question in slowly and his difficulties with pen control, but where 'knowledge' was being tested, as in science, geography etc, he would be given an amenuensis, ie be allowed to dictate his answers to a teaching assistant who would write them down for him.

First he did a science paper this way, and scored 98%! Top of the class, he failed on only one question. Asked why saucepans were metal, he reasoned this would be to make them heavy, therefore safer as containers for hot food, instead of answering that metal was a good conductor of heat.

I am so proud of that failure - simply because he is answering from the perspective of reason. He is giving answers because they make sense to him, not by remembering facts as a list. He is not and never will be a learner by rote, but if something makes sense, it gets filed away as 'obvious'. I am happy.

Later in the week there was a very long maths test paper. He came home grinning from ear to ear the following day. Apparently the children were all sat in pairs to do the test; all except Son who was odd man out and had a desk to himself. By his way of telling it, the teacher had said it was the noisiest, most unruly day of the week, and that Son alone had remained in his chair, remained silent and continued to work on his test paper in spite of all the distractions. For the first time ever, without even noticing, he became the 'shining example'.

His reward was to be Star Of The Day the following day, with his name on the board and special privileges like getting to sit on a chair with a cushion whenever the rest of the class had to sit on the floor. By my maths there are around 195 chances in every school year for a child to be Star Of The Day. With an average thirty pupils per class, most, like his little sister, have been given the award three or four times in a year, but this was the first time, ever, throughout his schooling, that Son got the award.

All the bluff about not caring fell away and he was beaming.

I wondered about his version of events and was meaning to approach the teacher for her perspective, but before I could he also won the Merit Award. There is only one given out per class per month, and he got it. For excellent behaviour doing tests, by definition noteworthy beyond any effort made by any other child in that class for weeks.

  • Genius science results,
  • Absorbed and excellent behavior in the maths test (probably down to the enthusiasm for tests that the science result gave him - suddenly, for the first time, there was a very satisfying point to them),
  • Star of The Day,
  • The Merit Award,

.....all these are wonderful reasons to be a proud mother, but they are eclipsed by the conclusions he has drawn from this experience.

Son has decided that:

  • Biting his lip and staying still is the way to go - the rewards of being 'good' outweigh the inconveniences. There have been times when he's had a 'what's the point' attitude and a feeling that he can never win, especially with the total lack of Star and Merit awards, which come with public acknowledgement.
  • That he loves being absorbed in his work and has now experienced finding it very easy (although the school still parks a TA beside him to keep him on track).
  • That he can get even deeper into thinking about his work if the rest of the class is more silent and well behaved than usual - he prefers the hushed atmosphere of a test.
  • That this means he will shine in Senior school where the teachers are more strict and the other kids will be quieter in class and involved in their work.

Okay maybe that last one may be based on a shaky, possibly utopian premise, but it doesn't matter. Deep decisions like this take time to come to him, but once they are set they take just as long, perhaps longer, to be removed or altered. He has made his mind up that the purpose of Senior school lessons is to ignore the others and soak up the learning. He has made his mind up that this is exactly what he wants to do and he is looking forward.

Hallelujah - theres no other word.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006


by prydwen @ 06/05/2006 - 10:33:22 (i.e. stolen from Husband's blog)

My son who has ASD has had a horrid time at school from certain teachers who do not or will not understand his problem. One aspect of his behaviour is amazing sarcasm.

This summer he moves up to senior school and has been plotting revenge on one particular teacher when he goes.
We were concerned as to how this revenge would manifest itself but needn't have worried. He told us this week what he is going to do is, on the last day of school, walk up to Mrs J and say.
"There is something I have always wanted to say to you Mrs J... Goodbye"......

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I couldn't think of another title for this. "Ah" is about right. I mean, if I was asked to make a comment for the record on learning the following information, all I could come up with would be "Ah" and possibly "OK then".

Referring back to the PA to the Director of Children's Services who helped me establish that my letter got lost in the hallowed halls of County, here, it seems that it, or the email duplicate, hit the spot in the end.

Further to this sudden turnaround and provision of my requested mainstream school, I have today received a letter from said Director, dated 25 April, so only typed or composed the same day that my caseworker called to say that P school had been awarded and that the statement would be with me inside the week (it wasn't and still isn't, but hey, if all I'd had was the Dir's letter, I wouldnt even know that much.)

With lots of apologies, it's a very conciliatory letter, but the apologies are all backed up with reasons and the last comment screams of covering backs:

"I am confident that 'Son's' special educational needs can be well met in an East Sussex County Council maintained mainstream school and that....."

Thats where the 'Ah' comes in.

I've never met this guy, perhaps he's a lovely bloke and genuine, its just I can imagine that those who were counting pennies when I mentioned the Priory school may now be jumping through hoops and cracking open the best biscuits, knowing they have the backing of the highest authority in the County Education dept to insist that mainstream is good enough.

We'll just have to wait and see if the mainstream school agrees once he is installed, I guess, and anyway Son's educational needs at this point in time need have no real similarity to his educational needs another six months closer to spotty puberty. We face the time of obvious change.

Ok, then..........