I was pleasantly surprised yesterday. I went to a performance at Beth’s school in the afternoon because she had a drum performance. It was a bit disappointing as she didn’t play the drums but hit a tambourine instead but that’s ok, she did it in time and was very pleased with herself. (and on a side note, I used to wake up with tambourine bruises on my legs from jumping up with the band at various pub gigs!)

While there I filled in the forms for next years subjects. I spoke with our middle school coordinator Deb and asked her advice. I know Beth wants her first option as Media Studies which is right up her alley. This incorporates various forms of print and visual media using information technology. Becoming aware of current news issues, layout and production of newspapers and magazines and the history and types of film, television and radio programs. Hell, I even want to do that subject!  She did some cooking on Wednesday when she went to Senior School and loved it, also doing horticulture which she enjoyed except for the getting wet part. Which, by the way, was because she was playing with the hose. When I suggested that perhaps she didn’t do that she stated that that’s what you’re meant to do with a hose! Horticulture involves using outdoor equipment (God help us) and they work in the gardens and the council gardens too, there isn’t much of a description of this on the form though sorry ! My dilemma was which cooking class to put her down for. I thought essential food studies which is teaching independence in the kitchen, preparing all sorts of dishes including presentation, menu planning, labelling and nutrition. Paul wanted her to do food and hospitality studies which includes safety and hygiene, knowledge and uses of ingredients and broadening their selection of food choices. Both good options. I think it would be wonderful for Beth to start being independent in the kitchen but Paul thought it might be a bit of a waste of time as it doesn’t lead to a job necessarily and the other one may. I figure she’s got three years, if she enjoys the essential one she could go on and do the other one. But as he is her father, I figured that he should have some say in the decision. I spoke to Deb about her opinion and she agreed with me though. She said Beth needs to enjoy her learning otherwise she just wont do it, something I’ve always known, and it would be good for her to learn the independent skills. And therein lies the old problem of – this is where we want her to be versus this is where realistically she is. While I love the idea of Beth in a working environment that she enjoys and knows what she’s doing, I’ll be more than happy if she can make her own breakfast or even cut up her own food. You can’t teach one without teaching the other first. Anyway, long story short, I got my way and put her down for essential skills!

The good surprise was the conversation I had afterwards. Deb was Beth’s teacher last year. When I went for my first parent teacher interview with her, she had said to me that she was really happy with Beth. The year before she had been watching Beth and had said to herself “I have no idea how I’m going to teach that girl.” Beth appears in her own world lots of the time, doing her own thing, digging in the garden every lunch and playtime. She leaps in the air and laughs at nothing in particular and flings herself around a lot. When Deb had Beth in her class though she had been so pleased at how clever Beth is and how funny she is and how much she can actually do. It seems that the senior school coordinator had a similar issue and said to Deb “What am I going to do with Beth next year?” She had responded with “Yes what are you going to do with Beth next year?” and had gone on to explain that she needed mental stimulation, that she takes a dictionary outside with her to read just for fun, that she’s highly intelligent and knows how to play the game. She has pegged Beth and it’s great. I’ve always said she plays people. I remember doing readers with her in class and one of her teachers being so proud because she knew all the words. I got her to read with me in front of the teacher. And. she. read. like. this. With no tone in her voice, and no enthusiasm. So I said ‘Stop being so silly and read properly like you do at home.’ So she read like this! She will get away with whatever she can and if it means playing dumb then ok, I can do that. Deb said Beth will walk past and people will talk and she’ll be in her own world. Deb will say “Beth I’ve spoken to you” and Beth will turn around and say “Oh sorry, good morning …….” She does it here too. And I do think a lot of it is her being in her world, she doesn’t ignore all the time. But she will make the least possible effort if it means she can. Way back in Irabina days (the early intervention program she did) I walked in one day and the teacher was holding Beth’s hand holding a crayon to draw. I asked what they were doing and they told me drawing a picture. They thought it was terrific. I’m sure these people think I’m such a cow but I just laughed at Beth and told her to stop being so lazy. She looked at me with one of her smirks and drew the picture herself. I think some people are scared of pushing, not knowing what reaction they will get. But don’t underestimate my girl, she’s got a lot more going on that she gets credit for. And that’s just how she likes it!

About Sarah

Mother of an autistic child wanting to write about my personal experiences
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