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Day 5 – Education – #Blogtober17

Here we are on Day 5 of #Blogtober17 and todays prompt is Education. If you’d like to catch up with my other posts so far you can here.

education, autism, special needs

Back in the day… I was a bit of a rebel and didn’t really like school. My rubbish GCSE results reflected that. I really regret not knuckling down now.

When my son got a diagnosis of Autism I wanted to know everything there was to know about it. I bought books and googled lots but I wanted more. So I signed up with the open university and took part in a course called Understanding the Autism Spectrum. I loved it. It was so in-depth it confused the hell out of me at times, especially the part about how the brain works. I hasten to add I passed with flying colours! For the first time in many many years I was incredibly proud of myself!

A few years down the line I came across another course, this time a Diploma on Autism Awareness. That was a fairly quick course but still incredibly informative and interesting. I passed that too! 🙂

I really love learning now. Especially as I get to pick the things I learn about which is a big thing I think. At school (other than when you take your options) you don’t get to choose what you learn. A curriculum needs to be followed. I found most of it boring. I was an idiot!

Once Fraser is a bit bigger and I get a bit more time to myself I am going to learn more. I don’t know what subject yet but I want to learn more. I did set out to get an Open Degree with the open university but our finances just wouldn’t stretch to it. Plus I barely get time to scratch my backside these days so finding time to study would be impossible.

I might not have wanted to know when I was 15 years old but now I am eager to get those brain cells working again! I’m hurtling towards 40 years old and want to better my knowledge.

 

Did you further your Education after school or take part in any learning in adulthood?

 

blogtober17

 

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Autism and the Summer Holidays

As the Summer Holidays draw to a close I’m taking a look back at how Xavier has found them.

 

beach, summer, brighton, autism

We haven’t done a huge amount these holidays to be honest. It’s really hard. Izzy prefers to be out and about doing things. She is old enough to do this with her friends now though. Xavier much prefers to be at home where there is an iPad and WiFi!! Its dreadful really… what do I do? Cut myself in half? I feel like I have really let the kids down this summer. We have had a few days out. Not as many as I’d have liked but at least we managed a few. We have spent a few days with family too which has been nice. Xavier has a fear of dogs and all of the family bar a couple of people have them now. My sister around the corner from us has one too but Xavier is getting better every time at coping with being around the dog. It’s so hard for him and I don’t force him into the situation but he does want to spend time with his cousins (especially on their birthdays) so he copes. Just.

One in particular to Brighton. We met up with a few friends and had an incredibly windy walk to the seafront. The kids loved playing on the beach. Xavier really didn’t want to go home. It has been tough because I also have a colicky/refluxy baby to consider now too so for the best part of the holidays we have been at home. He loves his baby brother so very much and is so good with him. Look at them together. I love this picture so much! You can tell they are brothers can’t you!

 

autism, brothers, siblings, summer, holidays

 

So as the end of the holidays have drawn closer, I have noticed that Xavier has become more edgy. He has been asked by various people if he is looking forward to going back to school? Looking forward to being a Secondary Student? He has always laughed and said Ewww No!!! He does love his school and although he is staying in the same building, he will be upstairs, will have a female teacher for the 1st time in years, there will be a couple of new people in his class, so there are NEW things going on. New things to get his head around. He is 95% a very placid boy. Over the last few weeks we have had a few mini meltdowns. For reasons sometimes unknown.

 

 

So tomorrow is D-Day! First day of Secondary education. I cannot believe how grown up Xavier is. He is so polite, well spoken and intelligent, it is like talking to an adult when conversing with him. I’m really proud of him for everything he has to deal with. It must be really hard for him. I’d love to spend a day inside his head. I bet it is manic in there!

 

A new school year begins, lets see what is in store! He has gone to bed as calm as you like this evening. I hope it will be like that in the morning…. I’ll let you know!

 

 

 

 

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Primary School Finished!!

So I officially now have two children who are of Secondary School age! WOW!

 

I can’t believe Xavier has finished Primary Education! Here he is on his very first day!

Well when this day came we had no idea of the challenges we would face further down the line. We had no idea of the stress and heart ache. We knew absolutely nothing about Autism.

I think it was only a matter of weeks into Xaviers school life before I started getting called in to see the teachers after school because of his “behaviour”. It wasn’t so much naughty, it was “we’ve noticed this, we’ve noticed that” and they were growing increasingly concerned. They suggested a meeting with the schools SENCO. Someone had suggested there may be something wrong with him! My boy?? Theres nothing wrong with my son! I remember he had a few “odd” ways but just thought thats just him, I didn’t think anything more of it. We went to see the SENCO and was told she thought our son was showing lots of traits of having Aspergers Syndrome. She told us the school nurse would be in touch with details of a possible referral to our local child development centre. Again, we knew nothing about it. I went home and googled Aspergers. Well he ticked every box!

Lets cut a very long story short. We got a referral, he was assessed, we went back again 6 months later and he was diagnosed with Autism. By this time he was in Year 1. Very lucky to be diagnosed so quickly as I know of a few who have waited and are still waiting to be diagnosed YEARS down the line!

Looking back now I am very grateful to the Reception class teachers for picking up on this…and one TA who was with him in Year 1 on and off,  but thats as far as my thanks goes unfortunately. Xavier should have had LOTS of help put into place, instead I was told he was lazy and he couldn’t be bothered, he was shoved into a corner of the classroom with a screen around him so he couldn’t be distracted from doing his work, he missed playtimes because his work wasn’t done. He wasn’t refusing to do the work, he couldn’t do it…. he needed help and guidance. He was bullied and it wasn’t dealt with. The SENCO told me that now he had this diagnosis there are loads of jobs he won’t be able to do when he is older. Those words will stay with me for my whole life. How is that helpful? How is that productive? She also told me that they wouldn’t dream of applying for a Statement for him until he was in Year 6 and ready to go to secondary school.

It was time to pull him out of there. He left in the the December of Year 2.

I had such high hopes when he moved to the 2nd Mainstream school! I was so excited when a week in to him starting there they called me in and told me that they could see that Xavier has clearly very complex needs and they recognise that he needs help and they would start the Statement ball rolling ASAP! I actually cried!! I was so happy! FINALLY he will get the help he needs and the education he is entitled to! Yes!!!

No! It just didn’t happen! I was spun a web of lies for 2 years!! For 15 months I was told The statement process was underway, they just needed this evidence and that evidence and this report and that report before they could send it all off! It was the most frustrating time of my life. In the mean time Xavier was again, multiple times targeted by bullies, his mental health was impacted in a huge way, he kept threatening to kill himself, he was violent, he was aggressive and he was very very unhappy which was not in his nature at all. He wasn’t learning, he was just being left to his own devices in the classroom, he was given a different support staff every single day that he couldn’t deal with. Autistic children like routine and continuity. He couldn’t handle the amount of children in his class or the level of noise they make, he couldn’t handle the smell of lunchtime in the hall so ate lunch on his own in the office. The list is endless.

Then I was made aware of being able to apply for the statement myself! My god I wish I had known this earlier! I applied for him to be assessed with a 10 page report I had written myself and the assessment was agreed! That 1st process took 2 weeks! Fast forward 9 months and after weeks and weeks of stalking the postman, checking emails, making phone calls and generally annoying the life out of lots of professionals MY SON HAD A STATEMENT!!! I actually cried!! LOTS! I was very nearly broken from this ordeal!

Next hurdle was to get him into a Special Needs School as his ability to cope in a Mainstream setting was non existent.

The named school on the statement is the one the county council are saying he will continue his education in… the named school was the one he was currently in! No!! No way! I couldn’t let him carry on where he was! I had to appeal!

So I started the appeal process and contacted the Special Needs school we had visited previously. This was before he had a statement and they told us they would be able to help Xavier but they wouldn’t be able to take him on without a Statement. They said they’d have him happily but its whether the county would agree. The wait for that decision was a killer! ……. but I did it!! I won my appeal! Ecstatic doesn’t even come close! The phonetical I made to his then current school to tell them I would be removing him from the school, relieved so much stress and upset.

 

Xavier started his current school in April 2015, after the Easter holidays. The school and staff are INCREDIBLE! They care so much, they have taken my boy under their wings and the effects have changed our lives!! All of our lives! He is like a different boy! He is learning, thriving, flourishing, having fun, producing work, trying new things without hesitation, he has friends, he gets party invitations, he gets support, he is learning to swim, he has narrated the school Christmas play infant of a hall full of people! Just WOW! He’s so calm, he’s happy, he laughs all the time, we have no meltdowns, no violence …. nothing. None of the bad stuff! Its amazing and the staff are the ones I have to thank for that! This last year he has had a different teacher. They’ve had a great year, had lots of fun, I’ve been to parents evening and LOVED hearing how well he is doing and how he is progressing. He loves to help out at school. Its just so so great to hear all these positives after such a negative start to his education! He actually won the Year 6 prize for the whole academic year for his efforts! I am so incredibly proud of him! Here he is with his teacher receiving his award! What an amazing end to his Primary journey! He will be upstairs after the summer holidays to begin his Secondary journey!! I can’t wait to see whats in store for him!

Thank you so much for nurturing my boy. He has come so far and couldn’t have done it without you!

 

 

Spectrum Sunday