There is 3400 children with Autism in South Australian Schools. More than 50% of children and students with Autism are enrolled in a school without a specialist unit or specialist education teacher. The Department of Education policy fora mainstream school is to have between 21 and up to 36 students per class with one teacher and a school services officer.
Well, if your child needs more attention in school to help their learning, then you really can’t beat 4-7 students per class with 1 teacher and 1-2 Student Services Officers. The 2 boys were all geared up to go to their new school that catered to the needs of children with Autism.
Upon asking the 5 year old Oscar how much he liked the new school he stretched his arms out to show me how much. That was huge!! I hoped that the two transitions the previous month, before starting, would introduce to the physical layout and make them comfortable with the new environment. I think it did. I think they like to wear the uniform, although there was protest about entertaining the idea. I think they liked going into get the uniform from the reception area. While sounds of jackhammers filled the air, (capital works in tow to get school up to scratch before start of school term) we attempted to pay our uniform fee’s. A slightly perplexing assignment for anyone with hypersensitivities in the current context.
Low and behold! My 9 year old called Zak, liked it the first day! He wants to go back after the first day. I can’t believe it. He liked the activities and schedules that they did. As soon as he went to class he got to sit at his own desk and play a word search game about his favorite video games in it. He went in with a mission, he was going to do the day! Alright! Wow! Well, I am shocked to see the ease into the siituation. There were visual schedules and visual plans around to direct the visual learners. There was a visual plan for the day. There were many sensory objects all aimed to reduce anxiety. I felt these were learning essentials catered to an Autistic learner that I had to fight long and hard for with the former school. Kiddo was tired from processing the new environment and activities, he fell asleep in the car on the way home.
The youngest kiddo, the 5 year old did great, but by lunchtime he was pooped. The new environment and new faces! Turning to a blurr! And where is my Mum! The beginning reception students were picked up at lunchtime, as half a day was thought to be enough for them, yet my Oscar had a year at (a different mainstream) school and thought to be more experienced at the whole school thing.
But I had blown it!! I did not pick him up at lunchtime with the other kids. Boy oh boy he let me know it. Oh shite! Oh dear! After storming off, screaming at me and throwing himself on the ground. He turned on the waterworks! I was actually a little pleased that he was firmly moulding/imprinting the shape of his body in the pavement. This kid will be remembered. I asked him “So do you want to sleep at school all night? Or are you coming home with me!”. He thought about it then and off we toddled back to the car.
We will see what the next day heralds! I am pretty sure I shall be commanded to pick him up at lunchtime, the kid has me twisted around his little finger and I for sure do not want to break the bond between mother and child. The sacred trust! Oh darn it! I had stuff planned today! Lol.