When Severe Isn'T Severe Enough
0 comment Sunday, August 17, 2014 |
We've had sprog in mainstream-with-special needs units since he started primary school, mostly due to the fact they didn't think he was "severe" enough to attend the local special needs school. There's been a lot of factors against this - they're trying to push the whole mainstream angle (mostly due to funding) even when not appropriate; in short, they'd rather overestimate and force a child to try and cope with a system and then try and patch up the damage when they can't, rather than just take a working-the-way-upward approach. Sprog is very intelligent, possibly even a prodigy - I get that. Hurrah, great. However, he is also shockingly, appalling naive and innocent - he'll walk off with a total stranger without even a look back, he'll stride straight into a bully situation and not realise that the level of hostility toward him spikes sharply. He cannot decipher allegory or metaphor vs fact. He may be brilliant, but he has no ability to deal with life, rather like most geniuses, I suppose.
But he COULD learn if people were only capable of being able to reach him. I don't know how - I make it up as I go. But because I'm dealing with people equally as clueless, they call me for answers. But these are not answers I have - I am not a SEN expert in autism, I'm just a mother, with no family or friends to call upon for help. Most of the time I just flounder along best I can.
But we've reached a point now where I think it's quite plain that we can't just make it up anymore and hope the pieces fall into place. The original plan was to move him to another school, which happens to be Church of England; however, due to sprog taking the Easter story as FACT, and my ex, the confirmed agnostic-atheist, blowing his stack due to a conversation about Jesus, there's no way the CoE school is going to work if one of the primary concerns is indoctrination. I don't have an issue with sprog making up his own mind about things. I try to expose him to different beliefs - Hinduism, paganism, he asks questions, I answer them - but he believes everything he is told. And whether that is religion, politics, drugs or peer pressure, it's frightening. It's frightening to me that someone just reassuring Sprog that what they're saying is true, he'll follow blithely along. Get in my car, little boy, mum said it's okay..... dear god, is it any wonder I have nightmares?
The issue is, so far, we haven't found a school that knows how to communicate with sprog in a way he comprehends. When I've asked the current school about teaching about stranger-danger to autistic children, the response was "Well, we leave that to parents". Ah...that's helpful. The problem is I have NO idea how to get that through to my son. I don't have the tools or the autism language, or the experience, to broach that subject with a child who doesn't understand what a "stranger" is, doesn't understand "danger", can't comprehend of being stolen away and hurt - for all I know he probably thinks it might be an exciting adventure. A huge life lesson here isn't being taught, and I have no idea how to do it. More to the point, I'm being left to do it on my own, by the school, the community, his father.
I'm tired of sprog's autism being judged as not-as-severe due to the fact he can talk. That has nothing to do with it. The only reason he can talk is the amount of time and effort I spent getting him to that point, and it took well over four years - it was something I did, on my own, without help from anyone else, and for whatever reason this seems to not be helping my son, but making things worse. Just because he can talk doesn't mean he can comprehend. Just because you can say a sentence to him doesn't mean he hears you. If you took his words away and put him next to a "more severe" autistic child, their mannerisms would be mirrored. His ability to talk has nothing to do with his behaviour - he will still blow up and act like a very hyperactive, autistic child. There are fundamental things about life he just plain doesn't understand, and I don't know how to teach him. I need experts who deal with this sort of thing all the time, not people who have no idea whatsoever and so they take the totally wrong approach.
The special school would, by all accounts (and I have friends who used to work there), be perfect for him; if there's a concern about him "not achieving" to his full potential, then that's where we step in. We take him to the museum, we discuss science with him, we expose him to lots of things outside of school. More to the point, we let the school know we are very motivated about his education - and we watch the teachers' eyes light up. Teachers WANT to teach. They want to have children who want to learn in their classes, and if they have that one child, they'll spend the time. Sprog is doing maths with the class above him right now. He's obviously showing great interest in science to the joy of the science instructor. He also has considerable artistic and musical aptitude, which is also a joy to his teachers. His advancement from a purely academic standpoint isn't my worry. Everything else he needs outside of the classroom or the lab, however, shouldn't be ignored.
Einstein had his wife to remind him to get dressed before going into work. I've always wanted to read Mrs Einstein's biography, as I'm sure there'd be so much to relate to - how incredibly intelligent men can at the same time be young boys; brilliant and naive at the same time. How you need to mother them, and mother them for the rest of their lives. Ex loves to tell people how his IQ is so high they haven't made a test for him yet - but at the same time he completely misses the other cues of boredom or irritation they're giving off while he goes on and on about his incredible brilliance. This sort of behaviour used to just be chalked up to being a genius, being male. But we know what it is now, and therefore I see no reason to let it slide. My son can learn these things, be prepared for them, learn to spot the signs which he might otherwise miss. I don't want him to be "normal" - whatever that is - I just want him to be safe, to not beat himself up over embarassing faux pas, to not put his head in the lion's mouth because he's being dared by people who pretend to be his friends. Most of all, I want more help than I'm getting right now. I have no family in this country - if something goes wrong, I only have my ex to rely upon, and with autism himself, it's more trouble than it's worth. I need more tools, more weapons in my arsenal to keep fighting the fight for as long as I can.
So, onward SEN meetings, onward Tribunal, onward forms in triplicate and bureauocracy and red tape. I've fought for this long. I can fight a bit longer.