Monday, 16 November 2009
*thinks change is a good thing*
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.
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!