Yesterday was Dinky’s ‘inclusion and attainment’ meeting at school.
There was me, the teacher, the OT and the SaLT.
Back when Dinks was struggling at mainstream I had to make a decision (not that I had much choice in the end mind), do I send her to a place that can challenge her academically, that she might struggle with because the focus is on attainment and progression at a near mainstream level and not progress much? Or do I send her to a place that is very slow paced and therefore she might be happy and learn more?
I opted for the latter, which is handy as that choice was taken from me when no school for ‘more able’ autistic kids would have her, and the ones that might have, she was too young for. The only school suitable for her needs that actually said they could meet her needs was the school she is currently in.
Dinky has come on leaps and bounds there, not much academically, but she seems to have grown up a lot more since joining the school in January. Which might be due to her being in a class with more severe learning difficulties. Dinky has started to be like a sort of mother hen.
Why do I bring this up? Well it seems that although they love having her there, they are always saying things which makes me feel they don’t think that dinky belongs there.
While her education targets are still reception going onto year one/national curriculum, despite her being in year 3, she is still ahead of her class mates in pretty much all areas, and boy do they like to tell me this. Not that I want to hear it because the only reason Dinky is progressing is due to the low demand environment they are offering, and it isn’t like I had a choice- they were the ONLY school that would take her. The next school placement I felt I had to look at doesn’t take kids until they are 8, Dinky is still only 7. I also want to give dinky a longer placement, again we are 2 terms in and it seems like the point is being made that Dinky doesn’t fit.
I don’t think they realise how difficult it is! How would they like to be made to feel that their child doesn’t belong anywhere? How no one was willing to take them?
Dinky is bloody awesome! I’m sick of schools! I suppose that the fact she doesn’t have a severe learning difficult is a better reason not to fit in than the first school who made it quite clear that our economic class was not a fit! My dinky was worth 10 of any of their most stuck up kids! Not that it was a rich area of upper class, it was a middle class area.
The point is there is no school that would be a match. Dinky is the epitome of the ‘spikey profile’- she is not wholey at any one level in any one area. Take her targets following the meeting-
Literacy- write the letters of the alphabet (which most kids do in reception)… Yet give the kiddo a book for 8/9 year olds and she will (mostly) read it really well!
Numeracy- think about odd and even numbers and counting in twos.(this is reception going onto year 1 level)… Ok maths might be the exception, whoever thinks that ALL autistic kids are great with numbers hasn’t met Dinky!
Social communication (set with SaLT)- listen to others to have a conversation – they are well aware this won’t be one that is done easily! But they have stopped 1:1 speech and language because dinky can talk, and does so excessively! Some of it might be scripting, but she can make herself understood unlike one member of the class who has no functional speech. Plus she wouldn’t go to the 1:1 sessions so it was seen as not the end of the world that they don’t continue. She still has SaLT in daily small group sessions and as part of the class curriculum.
To think about what to do next.
There was one that was basically let an adult help, and another was recognising when interaction was negative and move away, but I can’t remember how that was translated to child friendly one sentence targets.
Her OT one was funny. Only because it shows how new she is to the school and hasn’t spent anytime with dinky or understanding her. ‘I will sit in my bottom on a chair with my feet on the floor so I can work at the table’, why? Because dinky likes balancing on the edge of the chair or kneeling on a chair, or bouncing or facing the wrong way. I think this is a huge mix of her conditions, but mostly the ADHD side. I’m pretty sure she falls off the chair on purpose to avoid the tasks, but the fidgety can’t sit still thing is the ADHD even when medicated. Again they are aware that this is not something that will be done easily.
Yet give the kiddo an iPad and she can do pretty much anything! Using YouTube she has learnt how to set traps on Disney infinity and places them well.
Yes there are some things Dinky is good at, equally there are something’s she really needs help with. Just because she doesn’t have a severe learning difficulty, doesn’t A) mean she is ready for mainstream B) make her really bright/clever. She is still 2-3 years behind her peers even if she is a year ahead of her classmates academically and ahead in terms of communication because she talks more.
So don’t tell me she is really bright or really clever when my 5 year old nephew outstrips her writing ability and is already ahead of her progress in her current maths targets, and is so socially and emotionally past dinky he has asked if he is older than she is.
I get it, dinky doesn’t fit in… Tough, they have to suck it up until she is old enough to go to a different special school that can meet her needs. this is the ONLY school, that COULD take her.