I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve spent the morning at the Trees Adventure Park in Belgrave with 9 other mums and the lovely french men who run the place. Nic who seems to be the main man is such a nice person, nothing was too much trouble for him as he called words of encouragement to all us old boilers as we (or at least me) tried to reclaim our youth while in fact having a mid life crisis! Actually everybody else seemed to manage quite well, it just showed me how bloody unfit I was. I think the flying fox that didn’t quite make it was the undoing of me. When it didn’t get to the end and I had to pull myself up with my hands it took all the energy out of me. Then I realised that I was less than half way around the course. I sweated and fogged up my glasses and at one point had to have a wee break (by that I mean a small break), sitting on one of the platforms. I fell and I imagine I’ll be quite bruised in some places in the morning but it was well worth it and we all had a ball. I was very proud of the girls who were petrified of heights but went up and up and up, even up to the highest level. I myself only got to the second one and that was enough for me! Nic asked after Bethie at the end which was sweet though I still don’t think I’d be getting her up there.

Yesterday I woke up determined to get some answers to my dilemma with the special school. I spoke to our principal in the morning and told her that I’d been told that as Beth doesn’t have an intellectual disability or IQ under 70 that she doesn’t qualify. She couldn’t believe this as schools have been led to believe that the only criteria required is that the child must be autistic. We also agreed that the age thing couldn’t possibly be right as that would mean that Beth would have had to have started school at 4.

When I got home I called the education department who referred me to the regional office and the politician who deals with these situations. I wont mention any names but the woman in question is well known and was very helpful to me. The unfortunate news is that the age thing is indeed right which is bloody ridiculous. In the special needs system a child is not assessed on what level they are at school but at the fact that they need to be turning 18 in the year that they are leaving school. I explained that a friend has a child in prep this year who is doing dual schooling with this particular autism primary school and he has just turned 6. It seems that if he continues on to the high school that he would then skip year 7 altogether. Sadly we don’t have that luxury as the school wont be open until 2012.

I discussed the fact also that surely because Beth has level 5, virtually unheard of these days, that it should be a given that she does in fact have an intellectual disability even if not on paper. The lady I was speaking to was shocked to know that she has level 5 and said that in fact if children get level 5 funding it will carry them through to high school also, therefore not needing to do the testing in grade 6 for high school. This means that she (in their opinion) would never be able to function without full time aiding so there is no point in reassessing her. Yet still, no intellectual disability! What the?! She then suggested another school quite a bit further away, saying that in light of our funding issue that rules can sometimes be bent depending on the circumstances of some individuals, maybe we could get her in there. I thought to myself, if you can bend the rules to get us in somewhere with a waiting list as long as your arm, why can’t you bend the rules and get us in to one that is just around the corner. Surely if you can bend the rules to do with IQ you can bend the rules by the fact that she was born too early to qualify. As I was once again crying, though on the phone this time, she encouraged me to stay in contact and not to give up hope. I hate that it has to come to that, that I have to beg and cry for the right for my child to get a safe and appropriate education.

I also spoke to somebody from a home schooling site that I had looked up. She was lovely but didn’t seem to get that it’s not something that I really want to do. I was explaining to her that if I can’t get into the special school that I would be speaking to the high schools about part time education, part time home schooling. Even when I said to her about it being a question of my sanity to need at least part of a break she started talking about how nice it is to have them freely learning what ‘they’ want to learn rather than following a curriculum. I realised too late that it wasn’t in fact a correspondence home schooling person that I got on to but rather somebody who had basically signed a form to say that she would teach her children the life skills and education skills that she felt were appropriate. I need more structure than that and would only do it under advisement. I find it amazing also that there is no financial benefit to home schooling your children as you are going against what the Government wants you to do in regards to your childs education. At least if there were some sort of payment then I would feel better about giving up my able to work years. I feel for the parents in the same situation as me who don’t have any choice in the matter. I am the only one in my group of friends who feels that they have to go to this extreme but so far I am also the only one with an older child who is a girl. I think this makes such a huge difference as I have to worry about sexual things as well as the usual bullying. It just doesn’t bear thinking about. Hopefully I am able to do the part time thing, that way I get a life too, Beth gets the socialisation and the education, then the life skills side of things with me. I think I can handle that!

About Sarah

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