Well just got home from my Parent Support group meeting, or are they called Student Support now? Either way, it was a meeting between myself, the Principal, the Teacher and Beth’s aide. I was very proud of myself as I only cried once, and even then only a little bit!
I think it went really well. Beth was happy to go to school this morning which was a bonus. She did a book yesterday on her favourite topic – Disney movies – which she proudly showed us last night. We spoke in our meeting about using her passions in her work. For example they could do an essay on the disney movies or do a presentation – Beth loves to be the centre of attention. She also enjoys looking things up on the internet. We talked about her using a laptop instead of writing everything as they say that kids with autism (or at least ones that find writing challenging) often concentrate so hard on their handwriting that they can’t focus on what they are writing about. My friend Cat says that her son who started year 7 this year is using a scribe for his maths work, therefore doing work that he couldn’t do before, simply by letting somebody else do the writing for him. I explained today that I was going to push for this in high school so it would be great to get it into practice now.
One concern I have is that Beth is apparently now trying to shut out another teacher’s voice. This is the grade 5 teacher who she had last year so I don’t know what’s happened. We’ve stopped her going to music as she had an issue with the teacher’s voice and I’m hoping it’s not going to become a recurring thing. She doesn’t know that she’s stopped going for good and we discussed today about the music teacher sitting down with Beth and talking through what her issues were with music. We think it’s from choir practice where there were lots of coordinated movements as well as singing which can be difficult to do. We thought that if the teacher explains to Beth that that wouldn’t always be the case and try to work through it then Beth may return to music at one stage, something that she used to love. It is in a different room this year and is quite echoey which may compound Beth’s sensititivies. As far as the other teacher is concerned, Beth has her for art this year and is also in the classroom next to her. We agreed that although we don’t know what the issue is we need to try and work through it. Beth can’t dictate everything that happens and I worry that if she thinks we can just remove teachers from a situation then high school will be a nightmare. We have a small school and you can’t avoid every teacher, whether it be during art or assembly or anywhere really, they all do yard duty. And she’s not had a problem with her for the last 6 years. Who know’s what’s going on in her head.
We also agreed that the teacher would keep me informed of anything they were doing with Beth such as a passion project on a subject she likes. For example they could say that she will be researching something from a Pixar movie the next day, that way I have it as my ammunition to get her off to school that day. In art they are studying Australian natives, I suggested that she take in her bug books that she loves and find ones native to Australia. Then she would have something to look forward to during her art class.
The aide was reassuring to me when she said she knew of some of the staff at the high school where we are going. She would be going to the transition days that we plan and said that they are excellent with their special needs students and are not dissimilar to our primary school in their care and concern of the children.
All in all I felt happy when we came out of the meeting. I feel that this year is about keeping Beth (and myself) anxiety free and by doing this setting her up for a positive transition to high school. By using her passions she will have a reason for going to school and in presenting it to the other children she will enjoy a bit of the limelight. It was lovely to hear her aide speak of the other kids in the class trying to encourage Beth to join in in music. She said they say things like “We miss hearing your lovely voice Beth.”
They are such a great group of kids with her, so protective. I hope we find some like that at high school.