You may all be wondering how we’re getting on so here’s a quick update:
My son is continuing to receive home tuition provided by the local authority. For 4 days a week he receives about an hour of tuition a day covered by two tutors. It doesn’t sound a lot but this is all he can cope with at the moment. What has been interesting from my observations is how a teacher’s teaching style is vital to engaging my son. One tutor is very bubbly and chatty which at times is too much for my son who becomes more and more agitated. As a result he becomes disengaged and non-compliant which then causes the tutor to place even more verbal demands on him. It’s a vicious circle and at times I am forced to intervene to prevent a meltdown. I have tried to explain to the tutor the difficulties my son has but unfortunately she doesn’t understand his ASD enough to realise the importance of adapting her teaching style. She is a lovely woman however who is doing great things with my daughter but for my son his autism is more complex which requires a totally different approach.
The other tutor has a very different teaching style. He has a calmer disposition and talks less during lessons. He is also much more flexible to adapting lessons to my son’s ability. As a result we are very slowly getting our son to engage on small practical projects but again he can only manage an hour before he becomes tired and disengaged. But he has made progress because only a few months ago he struggled to even get up and talk to his tutors.
In terms of returning to school, I am not sure that we will get our son back because looking at his difficulties, I don’t think his special school is the right place for him. We are going to have one last go at getting him back this autumn but if we don’t succeed then we will have to devise a plan B which will probably mean specialist tutoring at home. As for me home educating him, this is not an option. I have suggested it to both of my children but they are not happy that I take on this role and I agree. My role is as mother, advocate, carer and everything else. I cannot take on teaching them as well and in any case I think it is important that my children gain confidence with other people outside the family unit. This has to be a path towards their independence from me and their dad.
As for my daughter, she has definitely perked up. She is less down and is engaging well with her cookery teacher and creating some fabulous dishes. However in terms of academic learning, she remains disinterested and disengaged. It’s almost as if she learnt to fail whilst she was at primary school and now has a massive barrier to overcome. In terms of returning to school, the situation is more dire than her brother’s as there is no provision in our town that is geared for girls with aspergers. The local mainstream secondary, now an academy, has been awkward and said that they cannot meet need but then said that with maximum support she could go. Then the LA said that the school could not meet need (confusing I know). We have asked for clarification and are awaiting further psychological advice. Personally, I do not feel she could cope with a mainstream environment but would benefit from a specialised unit but there is none.
As for me, what can I say. Well, I could say a lot and no doubt this post would extend into one of my long, rambling, ranty posts but I don’t think you want to read that as this is supposed to be a quick update. But to sum up, I’m still plodding on, trying to do my best for my children though at times I feel utter despair at the worsening of services. However, I keep reminding myself that there have been slight improvements in my children’s well-being and that no matter how small the progress this is something we can build on. If there is anything I have learnt, that is never to give up!