Wow, what a day I’ve had. We had an appointment at an autism specific primary school this morning, the one that is going to be moving locally to us and expanding to include a high school. Beth had a curriculum day today so I thought it would be a good opportunity for her to meet some of the other kids in her year level. My hope was that if I got known that I’d be kept in the loop about the proposed timeline of the new building. I also hoped in a way that Beth would really like the school and I could ask if she could transition over the next couple of years. We had decided that Beth could repeat grade 5 next year, that way if the school wasn’t ready by 2012 as expected then we’d have an extra year up our sleeves as they will only take them from year 7. Well so much for preconceived ideas!
Beth was in full flight when we first went in, running into the principals office while I was signing us in the book. I ran in after her but thought to myself that it was a good thing, showing her autistic side can only help our cause. The lady we saw was lovely. I stated my case and got the same answer as on the phone. They still aren’t sure about dates and exactly what year level they will be catering to. The explanation made me believe that people higher up were the ones actually calling the shots. I was told that how many kids they were catering to was dependant on if they could get the staff they needed. Now if that was me organising it I would be putting out ads everywhere urging people to start a new career, letting them know that there would be jobs available in 18 months. It just didn’t seem to make sense and I got the feeling that she knew it too.
I was then told that the year Beth was born – 1999 – meant that not only would repeating grade 5 be pointless, than in fact by their criteria she should in fact be in grade 6 this year, therefore not able to go into year 7 in 2012. At this point I burst into tears. She was very understanding and passed me a box of tissues that I’m sure has been replaced countless times. I apologized and said that I guess she’d got used to it by now to which she kindly replied that she never gets used to it. She then went on to tell me that because Beth does not have an intellectual disability that she wouldn’t qualify for the school anyway. I told her how ridiculous this was as I know of at least 2 children who have a mild intellectual disability who are much more able than Beth is and much more independant. This was punctuated by lots of nose blowing and ugly crying so didn’t quite have the impact that I would have liked! She did agree however that there are more and more higher functioning kids like Beth who haven’t got anywhere to go.
I, pardon my french, felt like absolute shit when I left there. Beth hadn’t wanted to go to start with but when she saw the playground she got quite excited and we didn’t end up even looking around. I felt like a dog with my tail between my legs. Bev and John had had the other kids for me and we talked about it when we got home. They have suggested writing to the education department which I will do but I don’t think it will do us any good at this late stage. They’ll say that they are building the school as promised and really, they are aren’t they? We are at the start of the autism epidemic that seems to be out there at the moment. By the time my Bill starts high school there will be so much more in place but we only have 18 months. Even the fact that they wonder if they will be ready in 2012 is amazing really. It’s an existing building. You could build a new bloody school in that time! Things like this move so slowly.
I don’t begrudge the younger kids out there with the Faschia funding and all the new avenues with Early Intervention but hey, we’re here too! We got 20 subsidised visits which we gratefully accepted and used in one year. When looking on the government website theres a whole lot there for autistic kids in this years budget but the majority of it is to do with Early Intervention. There is some to educate schools in teaching autism which is fabulous but not much else for the older kids. The government don’t seem to realise that if they don’t want these kids to be a burden on society as they get older then they need to help them now. Or do they think it’s too late for the over pre school aged ones. It’s like they’re the forgotten ones and it’s pissing me off.
Anyway off my soapbox. I’m thinking more calmly now and thinking of plan B. I’ve written to our principal and asked her about the assessments and how they will help us if we can end up getting into this school. If not, I’m going to approach whichever my chosen high school will be and ask about doing part time schooling. The way it’s meant to work is that they get funded for part of the time that they’re at school and they use this for the main and only subjects that they do. The rest of the time they are supervised in a special needs common room and complete homework from these subjects. My concern is Beth having to find her way to this room and her classrooms unaided. I thought that I could suggest that she could come home when she is not aided in a classroom. This way I can still partially home school her. I still get a break and she still gets socialisation and an education. It’s a win win as far as I’m concerned. My main concern is how the funding would work. If she got it for a percentage of her time then they may cut it when she’s not there. It can’t hurt to ask though.
We ended the day well. Beth had a swimming lesson and was in fine form. She did some excellent work with Caprice and made me laugh so much with one of her loopholes that I thought I’d end my post on a happy note. Caprice told Beth that she could choose a somersault or a handstand, only one, when she did a really good lap. Beth of course did both. When Caprice called her on it Beth told her that she had said that she could in fact to a somerstand! The combination made it that she could in fact do both. Caprice and I both burst out laughing. She’s such a funny girl!