I wanted to make my first post something more light hearted and positive but something has been on my mind today so I decided to put it out there. This is in no way a post to undermine the work done by his school and the great adults who work with him, but more my thoughts about the current education systems and how well they work (or don’t) for some children.
Let me begin by giving you a brief introduction to my son. He is a happy, affectionate, funny and clever 7 year old who also happens to have a brain that works in a slightly different way to most children. The label given to this is Autism, although it isn’t the classic autism most people are aware of. It’s the kind where a child can often just be labelled spoilt, undisciplined, naughty, lazy and just downright weird. He is able to create things out of boxes and bits and pieces around the house, has endless ideas for things and his vocabulary and memory would scare some adults. He loves to learn about most new things and enjoys exploring the world around him.
So why is it so difficult for him to thrive in school?
Imagine…….. the hustle and bustle of a classroom. Constant chatter, unpredictable noise and movement levels paired with high expectations and demands about work, behaviour, sitting still, putting your hand up etc. Your head is full of facts and information about your favourite thing, you’re unsure what the adults are thinking or what their expression means. Are the stern words you can hear aimed at you? In addition, you have to follow the instructions you were given. You can remember most of them but not quite sure of all. You aren’t confident and despite adults trying to help you you become frustrated and hit out.
This is an occurrence that happens regularly. We managed to go for over a term without any hitting or major incidents but it always returns. And usually driven by some hidden anxiety that we have to guess our way to in order to help solve and work through it.
He has a great 1-1, a good teacher but it just doesn’t seem to work for him. Why should he have to sit still for long periods? Why does he have to participate in formal learning constantly. And, why does he need to be tested at the end of the year? At the age of 7? Who benefits? It’s not him that’s for sure.
I often wonder:
Am I asking too much of him?
Am I asking too much of school and the already highly pressured adults around him?
Am I asking too much of the government and education ‘gurus’ by wanting an education systems that is not one size fits all?
The sad thing is, we have little choice. The amazing special school in our locality is not suitable for his needs, the closest schools that would be are a considerable journey away, and home schooling will not help with his social issues and both my husband and I work full time, but seems to be the best option.
I don’t know what we can do. I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know if we can work through it and hit a point where these issues don’t exist.
I do know, my son isn’t the only child in this predicament. He is one of many children who don’t seem to have a place to fully thrive within the current education system. One of many who are left behind because they can’t work in the ‘normal’ classroom set up or the way education ministers expect them to. These children are our future. They are our inventors, our scientists, our ‘out of the box thinkers’ who will make valuable and creative contributions to society and we don’t seem to be able to give them the education the rightly deserve.
Are we really asking too much for him to be taught in a flexible, interest driven way?
I guess that until I have that lottery win and can open a school of my own we’ll have to keep battling through each day, dealing with it one step at a time.
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