So, imagine an iceberg….
I can’t help but divert from my usual focus on Post Compulsory Education today. On both a professional and personal level, I feel that Ofsted’s new welfare criteria, which shifts from a focus simply on safeguarding (Sept 2015) is such a helpful act to mainstream schools and colleges who are wanting to help some students and pupils, but cannot grasp those much-needed pennies from the shackles of their funding streams in terms of special educational needs. To be blunt, to me, it’s about raising self-esteem.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by Deborah Jones and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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The influential drive of the Biopsychosocial Model of disability, which began life in mental health services incidentally, has given us the promise of hope in the new ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’. My own (personal) experience of it as a parent of a child with high functioning autism has been extremely positive, but I feel that this is due to a switched on, communicative and supportive staffing team at our school and, if I’m honest, a desperation to do the best for both our son and the other kids. I am the first to acknowledge that this journey has been a massive challenge for the school, due to my son’s hyper-sensory needs and disruptive and emotional outbursts, but they worked with what they had (which was very limited in terms of the budget up until six months ago) to keep him in their fold. They employed the most amazing teaching assistants as extra support, albeit with a limited budget. They actively teach the discipline of inclusion and accepting diversity to all their kids. They encourage the drummers to drum to their own beat. We are so lucky (and I will be forever grateful). Others aren’t.
I should really set the context. My son was diagnosed with high functioning autism, also known as Aspergers, at the age of six. Although we had a supportive diagnosis team, the process was long, extremely stressful for both us and our son, and tainted with a sense of the negative; as if we should be worried or sad about the outcome. So, we were worried and sad about the prospect of the outcome. I am so pleased to say that our insightful and empathetic (yes!) son has taught us that having autism is, in fact, really quite cool and his brain is simply wired differently. He sees the world with such a beautiful mind and his honesty goes beyond any levels in an adult I have met. Girls swoon at him when he looks at them with his big, green almond eyes and tells them they’re beautiful like a princess and a couple of my single guy friends have even taken note of his tactics!
But with him, it’s genuine.
He doesn’t see deceit or manipulation. He sees things in terms of patterns, senses, noises, heightened emotions and absolute truth. Thus, he finds it so difficult to act ‘appropriately’ in certain situations, especially school, so he was faced with the prospect of having to move to one of our very well equipped special provision schools in the area. His school was becoming increasingly concerned about his anxiety regarding his meltdowns. He would lash out and roar and then would feel so bad about it that he would physically try to put himself in the trash and ask staff members to kill him. We talked for hours and tried to convince him of his worth, but his self-esteem was getting worse by the week.
Things came to a head when after numerous calls from the school to collect him due to his self-harming, I was called to urgently attend school to take him to be seen as a head trauma. He had almost knocked himself unconscious on the schoolyard after a meltdown. He had felt so bad about not being able to control his outburst. We immediately contacted the CYPS and were then to wait 6 months to be seen. Fortunately, a suggestion from a friend leads us to contact an amazing Occupational Therapist with a specialism in sensory needs, who immediately made a connection with our son and carried out a sensory analysis and made immediately, short term and long term action plans with both us and the school. We cemented a bond and she came to educational reviews with us and was a source of immense support throughout those six months.
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