Thursday, November 28, 2013

Transition to "big school"

It's that time of year in Australia when parents who have kids starting school next year are really feeling nervous. Most schools have run a transition program of some sort. A lot of parents are buying uniforms, have been given the date for their childs Best Start assessment (in NSW), and are counting down until the end of preschool for the year. If you have an Autistic child, this can be a very nervous time. It was for me a year ago. We had MissG enrolled in a school I knew was fantastic, but I was still nervous. How would she cope with the noise? The teacher? Making new friends? Having to move around school in a large group? Having to be in a classroom with a large group? Would she remember to go to the bathroom? Would she eat? What would happen if she had a sensory overload? 

We started preparing very early in the year, and I am happy to now be able to say that all our planning paid off. MissG has had a good year. Not without its hiccups, but a good year! 

I thought I would share the links to the posts I wrote last year as we went through the process of getting ready. Here they are, all in one place for you to find easily and have a read through. Of course, not all kids are the same, what worked for us may not be right for you, but hopefully reading our experience will be helpful, even if it only triggers an idea for you that will work for your chid.

Part One- The Overview

Part Two- The Funding Application

Part Three- Kindergarten Orientation

Part Four- The Safe Hiding Space

Off she goes... To School

This is Autism Acceptance
This last link is to a post I wrote after MissG had been at school a few months. I'm including it because I think it is important to share what it looks like when the staff of a school truly accept our kids just as they are, and to encourage all of you to look for a school that will do this for your child. They are out there. 

So there you are, our journey to "big school".

And as I publish this post I send out my best wishes to all of you who are making this transition over the new year. If you have questions or worries and would like someone to talk to, please do send me a message either by commenting her or by using the message box on the Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

L writes for the #thisisautism flashblog

MasterL (14 year old Autistic, who has a 6 year old Autistic sister and 4 other siblings) has something to say to Suzanne Wright. When he heard about what she had written in her recent letter and found out there was an opportunity to reply to her through the flashblog, he asked me to post this.

This is an artwork by L.
He enjoys art, music and computer games.
He is learning to program computers and wants to
work as a game programmer in a few years
when he leaves school.
Dear Mrs Wright,

I don't want to come straight out and say you are wrong because when people do that to me I find it rude.

But, my life isn't miserable.

My sisters life isn't miserable.

My family's life isn't miserable, or, I guess they are only as miserable as any other family.

Maybe you should ask Autistic people if they are miserable before you tell everybody that they are.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

My kids are growing up

My kids are growing up.

Which is, of course, completely obvious. That's what kids do. Yet it still needs to be said.

My kids are growing up.

This time last year I was writing about the difficulties Master L was having at school. He had endured a year of being bullied. His individual funding had been taken away, so he was getting much less support at school. I feared this year would be worse. 

Despite all the problems he was having, L managed to continue to perform well academically, and the school took the step of moving him into the Gifted class for this year. This had the effect of taking out of the way of the bullies and into a setting where learning was more of a focus than socialising, and it turned out to be what he needed, for the most part. 

The first half of the year went well. The second part of the year got harder as work load increased and fatigue began to set in. 

School is still a hard place for my boy. Communication is still an issue. Sensory overload is still an issue. Unexpected change is still an issue. He still does not like school. 

But he recognises its purpose for him. 

We were talking about the fact that he will need to return to the general population of students next year, and he was expressing nervousness about that, and a desire to not go to school, but to be homeschooled instead. 

It is an idea that Hubby and I have kept in the back of our minds for the past two years, and will continue to. If L reaches a point that any academic and learning benefit of him remaining at school is outweighed by his stress we will need to remove him from school. 

But when we last talked to him about it he told us that he can see the benefits of being at school because there he has resources available to him that we cannot provide in a home schooling environment. Despite it being hard for him, he will continue to go and cope with the difficult parts. 

Yes. He is growing up. And I am proud.

As always I asked for and received Ls permission to publish this.