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

The review meeting, by the Support for Learning Teacher

The day of the Jimmy's review meeting was nearly five weeks after we saw Jimmy's parents and we all voiced the same concerns.  Since that meeting, the P1s have started to attend school for the full day.  Most of the time, Jimmy falls asleep for a part or most of the afternoon.  He is beginning to soil himself at school too, sometimes multiple times a day.  Overall, Jimmy was continuing to be unsettled in class and at school.  There are some small rays of light, though: Jimmy was granted extra Learning Assistant time to help him with the full days and now another Learning Assistant other than Mrs Brodie works with Jimmy in the afternoons.  Jimmy at times sits, listens to a story and drinks his milk with the rest of the class.  The other children look out for Jimmy and try to engage with him.  It isn't reciprocated, unfortunately.

Jimmy's parents also decided that they were definitely going to protest the rejection of a special school place.  The team around the table (consisting of two Educational Psychologists, a Support Learning Co-ordinator, a Visiting Teacher from the Visiting Teacher and Support Service, Mrs Irvine, Mrs Morris, Mrs Brodie and me) generally agreed with this decision.  After all, most of us had observed or worked with Jimmy in class and agreed that his situation was serious and untenable. 

The team also discussed another, different point: Jimmy being moved to the other P1 classroom.  This move was recommended by Visiting Teacher and Support Service.  The team again discussed the issue and determined that, while we were not sure this would necessarily help Jimmy to settle better, the current situation was so grave that this option must be heeded.  So after the October holidays, Jimmy will move from Mrs Irvine's class to Mrs Mouat's class.

Written by Ms Childs

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The day before the first review meeting, by the Parent

Full days are go, but the first review beckons….

Tomorrow we have our first review for our son and I have absolutely no idea how it will go!  He gives me no indication of what he does in school and getting any information is like pulling teeth.  I am assured that this is normal behaviour for all children, as my husband says, "First rule of school is what happens in school stays in school."  However, I am not convinced that my son chooses not to tell us,  I think he cannot tell us.  I don’t believe his “I can’t remember” answer to everything.  So, that is something I need to discuss, a way to communicate with the school  about what he has been doing and how we can support him at home.  I think other schools can use a home/school diary to good effect; however, as a teacher, I know only too well the time constraints on everyone.

I am very anxious to find out about how his behaviour has been and certainly feel his concentration will be terrible.  On the plus note, we have not been called in to discuss his behaviour so far (surely a positive sign) and I know he is coping with the reading.

When I turned arch-interrogator again today, he told me that it might be maths he is struggling with, which I am baffled by.  And what is “check-in/checking or chicken!”?

As for the full days: well, he seems to be coping okay.  He was excited at first, but has now worked out this means less computer time at home, so I think would prefer to go back to the half-day thing!  What does he do at lunchtime? Well, eat of course, I am supposed to call it Lunch/Playtime!  I know what he does then too.  There is a large “spinny thing” in their playground and I am pretty sure he spends all of his playtimes making it go round.  I have tried to broach this with Robert about speaking to others and asking what they are doing.  He told me proudly one day he had spoken to someone, I was overcome with excitement: “What did you say?” I asked excitedly. "I said, 'It’s my turn'," he answered. I think this is actually my problem and not his, as he is perfectly happy!

Another plus note: he has been invited to 2 parties.  I think the whole class were but I am grateful.  We have been to the first one - I stayed of course.  He interacted very rarely, but the others seemed to accept him.

It is still very early days and I think the kids may get more wary of him.  At this early stage all are friendly and encouraging, but time will tell and who knows what we will hear at the review tomorrow.

Written by Robert's mum