Well, my aim for part 3 was to discuss my sons assessment and diagnosis but I thought I would discuss my son’s low self esteem as I know it can be a problem for many children with or without additional needs.
It was whilst waiting for the assessment (the whole of 2007!) that I had started to notice how my son, then 9 years old, was describing himself as a retard, dumb or other unpleasant words. I found this really upsetting to hear and no matter how often we told him he wasn’t any of these things or to point out the things he could do well, he continued with this self criticism. Where did he get such words? It wasn’t from home, we never used such language, and he didn’t do out-of-school activities so we assumed it was from within the school environment yet when we asked him about school, he could hardly tell us anything about his life there, a life that amounted to 30 hours a week. That is a lot of life isn’t it so it makes sense that if things are not right at school then it can have an effect on a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
And things were not right at school for my son. His learning difficulties meant he struggled academically and his clumsiness and heavy limbs made sport difficult and then there were the social difficulties which meant he was in a lot of conflict with his peers and the resistance to change which meant he missed most school trips. Then there was the pattern of behaviour that the school refused to accept – how he let off like a champagne cork at the end of a school day, to such an extent that we regularly had to deal with verbal and physical aggression. It was obvious to me that his difficulties were not being helped by the attitude of the school; a school who did not acknowledge his issues and insisted that the school was supporting him academically even though he was making little progress. This is why I went the medical route, not only to seek help for my son but to seek evidence for the school to act on.
Anyhow, while we were waiting for his assessment, we started to work on his self-esteem by enrolling him in golf lessons, which my son had expressed an interest in. I was really excited about this; for the first time in his life my 9 year old boy wanted to do something outside school and home. Up to then, we had never enjoyed all those things most other parents take for granted, you know the sports days, football, school plays, parties. My son was never part of that scene; he couldn’t coordinate his body for football so was never part of the in-crowd for teams and his social difficulties meant he hardly had any friends or invitations to parties. Golf gave him an opportunity to do something different that didn’t require him to coordinate his legs or to be a team member. It also gave a great opportunity for my husband to do something with my son for I had wondered whether my son’s increasing aggression was perhaps a call for fatherly attention.
You may also be interested to read: