Graduation speeches

We had the grade six graduation speeches at Beth’s primary school on Wednesday night. Beth had decided to do hers on the leadbeater possum. We had practiced this several times and she had done well. Beth is good at speaking to a crowd as usually her voice is loud and clear. She doesn’t say um or ah either, she just reads things through.

On Wednesday night Beth had an issue with going into the multi purpose room where they were doing the speeches. It’s where they have assembly so I’m not sure if she was worried about the noise or if it echos as it is like a large hall. She tried to run out with her fingers in her ears so I talked with her and told her that Paul would take her to Safeway afterwards to buy a magazine if she behaved and did her speech. This helped and in she went with her friends, still with her fingers in.

The lady running the speeches course that the kids had done is nicknamed “The Welsh Dragon” as she’s known to be rather grumpy with them. She seems like a nice lady who is quite proud of her reputation, her heart’s in the right place and she clearly enjoys what she does. She obviously makes allowances for Beth to a certain extent as Beth often wont be in the classroom or acts defensively when made to do something that she doesn’t want to do. To set the scene I’ll describe the seating for you. The grade six teacher was sitting with the Welsh Dragon in the middle of the wall at the back of the room at a table, facing the audience. Seated diagonally from each were the grade six students. They were in two rows on either side and were also facing the audience. When the children did their speeches they stood at a podium which was in between the rows of students and in front of the teacher’s table.

Beth was the first long speech. There were what is called table talk discussions and introductions for probably 20 minutes and then it was Beth’s turn. Well, welcome to the World of Beth! She started off speaking in an accent and continually fluctuated in and out of this accent throughout the whole speech. She decided to put actions in as she spoke, probably to add a bit of drama. For example when she spoke of where the possums sleep she put her hands together and on her shoulder with her head leaning on it, like you do with little kids when you are speaking about sleeping. Or when the sentence was “We have to stop these trees from being logged” she put out her hand flat and yelled ‘STOP’ then mimicked chopping her arm. Once upon a time I would have been mortified but I’ve come to accept her and actually love her theatrics, as I’ve said before, we could all use a little bit of Beth. If it had just been this I would have absolutely loved the performance but unfortunately not long into it Beth must have had an itchy bum. She pulled her pants half way down to scratch and left them there! I was hoping that one of the other kids or the Welsh Dragon herself would say something but they were all too busy avoiding their eyes! And her poor teacher, he didn’t know which way to look. Anyway, she got through the performance and did several bows at the end saying “Thankyou, thankyou” so clearly it didn’t bother her. Bree and our principal told me later that they didn’t see the pants down at all as they were at the back so that was something.

While all the other speeches were happening Beth ate paper, picked her nose and basically looked bored stiff. She also decided to invent a new way of clapping where she clapped really quickly low down, raising her hands up and up (still clapping), then doing one great big clap at the top right in the air. Bree said it looked like she could see the claps and was trying to catch them. Afterwards Bree asked excitedly to Beth what the claps looked like but Beth looked at her like she was from another planet! If she could see them she certainly wasn’t going to share it with anybody else. I don’t think she could have been much more autistic if she tried and she was fabulous. Well, except for the pulling the pants down bit …..

About Sarah

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