It hasn’t been a good week and I’m in a bad mood. It all started with the ‘big meeting’ when the local authority told us that my aspergers daughter needs to transfer into the local Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). (This is a separate service from home tuition which is what my daughter is getting at the moment.) We weren’t happy with this suggestion because we wanted our daughter move into a ‘proper’ school with the right ASD support from the word go. We told them this and they attempted to reassure us that this PRU teaches children with medical problems including those with ASD and anxiety related disorders. The officer also explained that the unit is small (only about 40 children) and teaching is done in very small groups; there is also access to other services and support which we currently can’t access. It sounded like a sell to be honest and a way of avoiding the issue that there is no suitable secondary provision in our area but we have agreed that we would move our daughter across but only on a temporary basis until we find a suitable school.
So for a day we were OK with it until we got a phone call from the manager of the home tuition service who said that my daughter would remain with home tuition but have her lessons in the PRU building. There was no mention of her education being transferred across to the PRU which is what we were led to believe. This is an issue because home tuition is not well resourced and lessons are restricted to only a few hours a week. So it looks like we have some more telephone calls to make to sort this out.
But what really upset me (again) was the manager’s insistence that my daughter be transferred to the building on Monday. Monday for heavens sake! I explained that it was ridiculous that they expected my daughter to move across just like that. I said that they couldn’t expect an autistic child to be able to cope with immediate change without any preparation. And it is not fair either; other children get opportunities to visit a new school and to meet the teachers so why is is that my daughter can’t have something similar? If anything there is more of a need to help my daughter visualise her new school.
But of course it’s not about that. If you read my previous post, you will know that we are having a lot of difficulties with an unprofessional teacher spreading gossip. Part of that gossip has led to suggestions that my son is having a negative influence on my daughter and that it is imperative that my daughter be moved out of “that house” (the words used to describe my home). I’m still upset by my family being discussed behind my back and that I haven’t had the opportunity to defend my son.
I think there is an assumption going on here that because the tutor is a ‘professional’ that she knows what she is talking about but she doesn’t know what she is talking about. She may have worked with children with emotional and behavioural problems but that is a very different beast from autism. It is clear to me that she has little or no understanding of autism and that is the problem. In fact I would say she is the problem. Sitting too close to him, talking too much with no pauses, nagging and placing excessive demands on him without proper explanation has overwhelmed my son and made him react aggressively, not in a physical way but verbally. Unfortunately when he gets like this, she doesn’t give him any space to recover and continues to place even more pressure on him until it gets to the point that he refuses to do any more! In fact it has become so much worse that he now won’t come out of his bedroom while she is in my house (she teaches my daughter as well). It is his home, the place where he should feel safe and I have this awful teacher that is causing him to hide away. It has so angered me because the main aim of this home teaching was to reengage him with learning, not to disengage him!
I’ve tried to explain my son’s learning style and her response was that teaching was primarily about talking. She just couldn’t understand the impact of excessive speech on an autistic brain or the need to teach in a visual or practical way. I realise that no matter how hard I try this woman will never adapt her behaviour to the needs of my son. In fact I am not sure she has what it takes to adapt. If there is anything I have learnt about ASD and that is the importance of being calm and keeping your emotions separate. And I don’t just mean how you talk but how you behave; it is amazing how emotions can be expressed through subtle behaviour too. My son can pick this up very easily and in a way that can cause him even more discomfort and anxiety which then spills out in the form of difficult behaviour. Unfortunately this tutor doesn’t understand what lies behind my son’s behaviour and instead she makes it out as if it’s his fault when actually its hers!
This is what has really p****d me off. Blaming my autistic son for behaviours that he can’t help and which have been brought about by her insensitive teaching. Why can’t people see that behind the mask of aggression is a vulnerable child that deserves compassion and understanding.