Thursday, 15 March 2012

After the second Parents' Evening, by the Parent

I am beginning to feel like a fraud and am honestly struggling for things to write at the moment, but keen to update the blog at useful intervals to give our perspective.  Last week there was a Parents' Evening and I  could not have been more pleased by what was being said.  I am going to relish it, as not sure this will happen again! It was very positive as regards his literacy and numeracy and even that he is trying at points to interact with others at playtime.  This is so much better than I had hoped as I think, as a parent of a pupil with extra needs, you do often try to protect yourself by preparing for the worst. 

For example, several weeks ago my mobile phone went and it was my son’s Support for Learning Teacher.  I could feel my stomach turn in anxiety, sure it was some bad news about his behaviour.  But no!  The phone call was to ask if it was okay for Robert to do some extra work with a Learning Assistant who is interested in numbers!  We discussed maybe looking at the language that surrounds numbers and I explained his current fascination for space.  I mean, really, could I ask for any more from this school?  Which is another reason why I feel like a fraud.  Am I honestly reflecting a typical mainstream experience for an autistic child?  Surely this is an example of best practice and we have been incredibly lucky to have our son in this school at this time with this sort of support?

As always I am cautious and realistic about the future, things will become noticeable but we will help our son with that when it comes.  At the moment, I cannot ask for more from the school and his experience seems incredibly positive at this time.  

Written by Robert's mum

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Socialising, by the Learning Assistant

I've recently noticed some interesting changes in Robert's socialising...

Today he played hide-and-seek with another child during his playtime.  There were several remarkable things about this.  First was that he played for the entire 15-minute period with this one child, without wandering off.  Robert has, in the past, been asked to play with other children, but often ends up wandering off during the time and playing on his own.  He didn't do that today.  Second notable thing was that this was a continuation of a game that had happened yesterday.  Somehow, Robert and this other child managed to agree to play this game again the next again day.  That leads on to the third point: that there seems to be an indication that Robert might have initiated this interaction with another child - something he has never done in the past.  It will be interesting to see if he continues the game playing with this child tomorrow!

Robert has really been enjoying the weekly social communication group.  I think from the work in the group he has been honing his observation skills, because he is now doing things and actions that he never did before and I think some it is copying the behaviour of other children.  Copying other children's behaviour has never been a problem for Robert; unfortunately, it was generally the negative behaviour he copied.  But recently, the copying has been of behaviour seen to be more positive in nature, and of class and school routines.  I've been getting a lot of cuddles off of Robert (his teacher has been reporting the same thing), which I think is from seeing the other children in the group cuddling me.  He now gets in line when he notices the other children doing so, rather than needing me to remind him.  He is also now giving the quiet signal (finger on lips, sitting up straight and tall) to show that he is ready or paying attention - Robert is now attending to these class routines more and more.

Written by Ms Childs (as told by Mrs Brodie)

Monday, 9 January 2012

Reflecting on the first term, by the Parent

Well, the first full term is over with and could probably not have asked for more in terms of progress for my son and support from the school, so I'm not sure if there is not a great deal to write!  But I am loquacious by nature, so tough!

Firstly, Robert managed the Nativity!  Even managing some of the songs and actions and avoiding joining in with the boy next to him who was very hyperactive and finding it all a bit too much!  However, seeing other perform so confidently around him does highlight the obvious differences that will always be there.  This is  my continual worry: at the moment in Primary 1, lack of interaction, not understanding  instructions and poor comprehension are accepted; by Primary 3, I worry that these differences will become much more obvious and he will be much further behind.  In the meantime, both at school and at home, we are trying to do everything to prepare my son for the “real world”. 

At school, I accepted the invitation to attend my son’s Additional Support Plan review meeting, which was held before the end of the term.  I would be interested to know how many parents usually come along, not because they do not care but not sure how much the school encourages it (or sees it as worthwhile).  I understand this: they maybe do not want to worry the parents unnecessarily, but I think we must have ultimate responsibility, no matter how hard the truth or difficult the task.  At the meeting I am once again impressed by the knowledge of my son and their willingness to discuss next steps, so I try to be as open and supportive as possible. 

At home, I am probably more harsh on my son than a parent would be with a boy of 6 who did not have his difficulties.  I keep things pretty strict (though with lots of cuddles) , very clear boundaries, in a bid to make him used to this for the outside world.  However, he is an incredibly affectionate young boy which is lovely for me and makes me hope he will endear himself to others as well.

Christmas holidays have been very nice, though possibly I was too lax in my Bin Weevil’s computer timings and we may have gone past the allowed half hour slot several times!  My son also got a DS and the family were given a Wii so we have been rather surrounded in the electronic.  Perhaps not the best for someone like him, so it is good that they are back to school tomorrow…

Written by Robert's mum

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jimmy moves on, by the Support for Learning teacher

From fairly early on, most of us involved with Jimmy could tell that his learning situation and learning environment as not working for him; it was even documented in this blog.  I can't recall who said it but it was clear that Jimmy was regressing in so many ways.

In a previous post, I said that Jimmy's parents wanted to appeal his decision not to attend a school with a special unit.  Parents do have a right to appeal these decisions, but these appeals should be submitted days after a ruling.  As it had been months since the ruling, a new application for a special school needed to be completed by us at the school and by Jimmy's parents, with supporting documents from the professionals who worked with him (such as the Speech and Language therapist, the Occupational therapist and the Visiting Supporting Teacher).  A panel of professionals and local authority educational workers met to discuss the application and the new application was approved.  Luckily, a place in a special language unit was available in a nearby school .

Jimmy's last day at our school was Friday and he began at his new school on Monday.  We wish him and his parents the best of luck at the new school.

Written by Ms Childs

Friday, 4 November 2011

The first two weeks, by the Class Teacher

Jimmy has been in his new class for two weeks now.  I have to say I see a big difference in how he is now and what he was like when he first came in to my class, a fortnight ago.  I really felt for Jimmy that first morning, as he chanted away and ran around the room, clearly unsettled.

However, ov
er the past week I have noticed that Jimmy responds to what I ask him to do and is sitting for longer periods of time. He won’t sit on the carpet preferring a chair but that’s fine. He has a small piece of plasticine that he enjoys playing with and it seems to calm him. 

On Wednesday this week Jimmy went to music.  He sat on my knee and joined in with the games.  It was obvious he was enjoying himself.  Today Jimmy came to our infant assembly again on my knee and managed to stay for the whole time, something he had never been able to do before.  He was enjoying the songs we are learning for our Christmas play and it was good to see.

Jimmy has also started joining in with our little Check-in, in the mornings. That’s where the class sit in a circle and say "Good morning!" to each other and tell how they are feeling that day.

While all this is good, I really hope for Jimmy’s sake that a place is found for him soon in a special unit.  I agree with what the team determined at his review meeting: mainstream is not for him at this time. 

Meanwhile - roll on next week!

Written by Mrs Mouat

Monday, 24 October 2011

The first day after the move by the Learning Assistant

Jimmy came into the classroom quite happily after the October holidays.  He smiled when he saw us.  Mrs Mouat, his new class teacher, asked him to sit down on his learning spot and he did.  However, after a few moments, he stood up and was moving about, repeating phrases over and over.  He left the area to play with the farm.  I wrote down a social story for Jimmy to help him use a quiet voice.  He was able to read this and this worked: Jimmy was certainly a lot quieter this morning.

He was happy to do his work outside the class in the quiet area.  He then chose the computer after work time.

Written by Mrs Brodie

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The first review meeting, by the Parent

Well, it could have been worse… it could have been a lot worse, but for several factors:
  • I work as a teacher (albeit in Secondary) in a pastoral support role; so I know what they are talking about!
  • Similarly, I am not intimidated by lots of professionals 
  • I have a lot of faith in the school and trust them and am very happy to work with them 
  • Academically my son seems to be coping (at the moment)
  • My sons behaviour has not been too bad (so far) 

There has, though, been a deterioration in his behaviour and we discussed possible reasons for this and a variety of strategies, I hope this is a phase but we will do what we can.  I am hopeful the firmer boundaries will make a difference. 

I will now get some communication with school via a home/school diary, which hopefully means we can support the school and actually find out he is doing (instead of “I dont remember”).

We saw  his Additional Support Plan (though are not involved in drawing this up).

Overall, it was a friendly, relaxed and informative meeting with a lot of 2-way discussion and support.  However, I cannot help but think that the meetings are not always so open and good natured.  I suspect that  frustrated and defensive parents combined with  a large group of “experts” offering different jigsaw pieces of support does not always make for such a productive meeting.

What would I change?
  • A clear outline to parents before about who exactly will be involved, what their role is and what they will (or could) be bringing to the table, as it were. 
  • An outline of what will be discussed (not too prescriptive though, tangents can be useful) with perhaps some expectations of the parents or a place for them to write their concerns. 
  • Possibly a reality check as well:  your child is one of 25 or 30 in a class; there is only so much support we can offer; we are human!  

Anyway, I continue to count my blessings in this respect and I feel I have perspective about what the school can do, what we can do and what difficulties are part of my sons Autism and thus will never change!  Whether I continue to feel so positive as time goes on I cant honestly say.

I presume I will receive some minutes of the main points but have typed up some of my own notes just in case.

Away from school, my son will start attending the Beavers after the October holiday.  It is run by a teacher so he understands Autism and has had other boys who are autistic previously.  As I was discussing this, a boys father started speaking to me and explained he himself was “HF (high functioning), Aspergers”.  He was most open, relaxed and told me about his wife.  It was very reassuring in so many ways…

 Written by Robert's mum