Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Monday, 16 November 2009

*thinks change is a good thing*

I try very hard to keep my blog hovering over the line of Insanity for the most part, but today both my feet are planted firmly on Solid Ground. I had an unexpected letter in my mail this morning; now usually, unexpected letters mean I've forgotten to pay a bill, or some other such message of doom, but today's surprising missive came from my son's school.

Oh no, what now?  I thought, as soon as I saw the header. I should probably explain (as briefly as I can) that my son switched schools five months ago, bang in the middle of the summer term. My 13 year old has D.A.M.P. syndrome, which is a blanket term for all sorts of things. He has classic symptoms of ADHD, as well as elements of autism and Asperger's. That sounds worse than it actually is, because my son is essentially like any other kid his age. What it means, though, is that his brain doesn't process things in the 'normal' way, and so he finds school work difficult, and doesn't deal well socially.

To add to these problems, he is very small for his age. Now, if you add his medical problems to his height deficiency, what you are going to get is bullying. I've battled with bullies on and off for the last six years, some worse than others, and all extremely stress-inducing. The most recent spate of bullying culminated in my son not feeling safe while he was at school.

A child with any problems from the autistic spectrum is going to struggle with school, but when you add bullies to the equation, you end up with a child who doesn't like school, is reluctant to go to school, and point blank refuses to work even when they attend school. This time last year I had a son who hated school, didn't feel he was capable of following the courses, and was scared he was going to get beat up almost every day.

This year it is completely different. I was so enraged at the previous school's complete lack of constructive guidance (not to mention their attitude in general), that I removed my son from their ranks and refused to let him go back. I researched a bunch of schools, chose one which I thought sounded heaps better, and contacted the local authority. Six weeks later, my son was attending classes in a school which exemplifies each and every aspect that we all wish for our children's place of education.

This school changed my son's timetable three times before they felt that they had it just right. They placed him in a smaller class with children of the same ability as him. They stamped smiley faces in his homework planner for every completed piece of work, sent commendation slips home with him to proudly display on our fridge, and just basically made him feel that he could do well in any subject, as long as he tried his best.

The change in my son was unbelievable. Obviously the first few weeks were difficult - starting a new school in the middle of a year is never fun - but after the initial adjustment, my son was coming home smiling most days. Instead of mooching around huddled into his coat, he now looked where he was going. It was amazing.

Today's letter was the icing on the cake. I knew he was doing better in all sorts of ways, but I never imagined the extent of the improvement of his actual school work. The last few years' reports have always been the same - lack of effort, no motivation, easily distracted, must do better, yadda, yadda, yadda. Depressingly depressing, both for him and for me. This year?  Fourteen subjects - 4 A's, 6 B's, 3 C's and a D (and the D was for P.E., which was expected due to his complete lack of interest in any sport that doesn't include water).

What a difference a year makes! Just goes to show, change is good. For all of the stickers, smiley faces, and commendation slips that they have awarded my son, I'd like to offer one in return. Fitzalan High School, I award you The Gold Star of excellence!


  1. good lord, I wish my mum had been like you!! bought tears to my eyes that you recognised the issue was not your son, but the school and the bullies. well done to you!! I want to present an award to you too. 'best mum I know' award xxxxxxx

  2. I'm so so so glad to hear that the new school works better! I remember how stressed you were when the changing of schools was going on, and it's wonderful to hear that your hard work paid off :)

  3. This post was very suspenseful. For a moment I thought we were heading into dark and gloomy territory, but you shocked me with a happy ending.


  4. Aww, thanks Issy! *blushes* To be fair, I didn't do anything out of the ordinary, just what most mothers would do. Plus the hubby was with me every step of the way, so it wasn't a lone crusade. I was just sick to death of all the crap that his last school spouted every time I spoke to them. Enough was enough.

  5. Lordy... more comments!

    Mari - It's great how everything worked out, isn't it? I remember venting an awful lot to you guys six months ago about all this. You should all have a gold star too :)

    MJ - Most unusual for me, this happy ending mararky. Usually I deal exclusively with doom and gloom, what with being evil and everything....

  6. That's amazing!!! And you're the most awesome mum, I wish I could be half of good as you are as a mum!!! golden stars to you!! *glomps*

  7. I beg to differ Tara, the means you went to trying to get the first school to change were astronomical and I know the decision to change was stressful.

    I'm with Issy that you deserve a supermom award!

    I am SO GLAD it is working out well for both of you!