A post on the PDA facebook page made me think deeply today. So deeply that whilst absent mindedly walking round Sainsburys I bought some oven cleaner, pfftttt, like that will ever get used! It was about the transition of a child out of mainstream schooling and into the "special needs sector". This is happening to me at the moment as my son starts at a "special" school on Monday. After a patchy history in pre school and key stage one where there were big problems but at times showed a flicker of being "normal" it all fell to pieces in KS 2. It was inevitable but was hastened by gross mismanagement by his school. I am repeatedly reading about part time time tables, children being schooled in corridors and segregated from their peers, excluded from school trips and basically failed by those who should be helping and to be honest.... it makes me cross!
As my child started to deteriorate a very good friend suggested specialist education and i honestly felt cross. I thought "what the hell are you talking about, my child is very clever he just needs a little help" At the time i was only seeing his intellect , i didnt have the ability, insight or knowledge to see this wasnt enough to carry him through. As things got worse, as he was attempted to be educated in the corridors on a part time timetable, as he ran from the teachers, as he hit them and got repeatedly excluded it slowly sank into my denying skull that this wasnt acceptable. BUT and here is the big problem....... no professionals involved with Isaac had the balls to suggest to me an alternative may be better. Isaac was excluded for 5 days the second to last week before christmas, at this point he had no contact with his peers, he wouldnt go near his class room and spent his 2 hours in school sat on a six foot wall manipulating teachers. WHY DID I NOT REMOVE HIM NOW??????? I kept him off for the last week before christmas to chill him out.... why the hell was i not listening to my actions... he really needed to be out of there. BUT after christmas he had the behavioural support team starting, so i sent him back, not realising it was far too late. They tried to implement a rigid "autistic spectrum" time table not realising that the weight of expectation was making this PDA child worse by the day. By week 4 he got excluded 4 days in a row when he was only in for potentially 2 hours... yes it was only now i got it, he never went back. So a week after this we sat in a "Team around the Family " meeting and was told by every professional present i must put my child back in school or I was breaking the law, that that school was the best place for him..... it was at that point my trust went. I had grasped at straws. I hoped the part time timetable would work. I hoped the nuturing curriculum would engage him. I wished it would work. It didnt. I sat with the behavioural guy one morning and challenged him that it wasnt going to work and he replied that his boss would shoot him if he said this but he didnt think so. HERE IN LIES THE PROBLEM... no one will tell you its time for an alternative. They would rather stick a child in the corridor and bleed his self esteem that admit they cant cope. So I am faced with "special needs" hmmm how do i feel???? To be honest I am still struggling and this is down to my predjudices ( not sure that is the right word). THIS WASNT WHAT I HAD PLANNED!!!! As a midwife i have had lots of training in what to do when faced in the moment with a birth abnormality, it is considered to be " the loss of the perfect child". Now i knew my child wasnt perfect (!!!!!!!!!) but moving him from the only way of childhood i knew to another has been really hard and it has been a grieving process. I am having to let go of my rigid perceptions of what i believe a childhood is and open it to one i have no idea about. Even now and i am thinking i am swapping his peers from "normal" kids to " not normal ones".... it may sound ignorant, uninformed or biggoted and i agree yes it may, but I am doing my best. I realised i desparatly grasped on to the part time timetable, the corridor, the behaviour team, i thought it may work, now i laugh at that. I think i am ready to stick two big fingers up to " normal main stream" and embrace the different. I LOVE MY SON.....HE ISNT NORMAL.....HE IS SO MUCH MORE (and i am learning every single day) xxxxx