We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

21 July 2011

Leaving it all behind

Today its goodbye to a troublesome school year. My daughter who is at the beginning of her educational journey learned to read, made friends and generally had a good year. My son, who has just finished junior school, did not fare so well. Its been a tumultous year starting with a new head teacher who gave him a one day exclusion the second week into September, clearly not understanding his behaviour patterns whatsoever. Teachers who are familiar with him understood his needed 'settling in time' which can take up to a month. And then with the school working to move out of special measures, two teacher changes in his class alone, and numerous supply teachers in and out, he has had a rough time of it. For one reason or another -but mostly due to behaviour he didn't go on any organised school trips at all this year. He did not move up the 'expected' levels in all areas, and his year end report for 'listening and speaking' made me snort out loud.

He scored 2 out of a possible 6. His teacher commented that "his progress has been hampered by the fact that he will not listen to adults when they are trying to explain new concepts or where he has gone wrong.... He would learn more and improve his performance if he listenened better and took on board advice given to him". I understand that my son does not like to admit he is ever wrong, and that will be a life lesson he will digest quietly on his own, but those and other comments throughout this year has made me question whether his teacher and head teacher have ever read even a summary of what Asperger's means.

Despite having a support worker who was there to improve things for my son, he languished this year and mirrored the attitude that seems to have been adopted by the school toward him, just ride it out he's leaving soon. The saving grace of this year has been the fantastic transition team from Sowerby high school where he will be going. Their specialist ASD provision has people who are experienced with ASD kids, and they have been nothing but positive when dealing with my son and have helped do a 360 degree turnabout in attitude toward going to high school. In one meeting with our school staff, they commented on the need for a positive approach (which seemed to be lacking) when dealing with kids like my son. He has had many visits to the school, worked with the learning mentor and has thoroughly enjoyed his transition day and is looking forward to September. The worst part of this year was seeing his confidence badgered and his self-esteem plummetting when as a year 6, he should've felt on top of the world (or at least the school).

I do not like to dwell on the negative though, and last week was a struggle preparing my son for the Leavers Ceremony today, and the school ceremony his class put on yesterday. He didn't want to attend either, saying I hate that place. I would have been willing to let him miss it, given my feelings about the year also, but I felt it was a ritual that needed to happen, a rite of passage in a way, and the end of one journey that needed proper closure. So with careful words and positive imput he managed to clear his head, give his speach, and did really well both days.

A parents collective organised an impromptu end of year party yesterday, as many of the boys in the class (son included) were excluded (behaviour) from what was supposed to be the class 6 year end trip last week. So this impromptu party saw nearly all the kids present, and all getting along so well, so happy, really celebrating. I saw many girls giving my son hugs, and he insisted on photos with many of the lads in class that he hasn't always gotten along with. That to me was how it should be, leaving on a high note, laughs and positivity. That is what I hope he will remember from this year, that he completed his journey fully and we are all glad that he made it.

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