Last week the boys school had its parents evening, or parent consultations as they are now called. We had no major concerns about either boys academic achievements, so it was a formality to find out what they were achieving and if there was anything we could do to help them.
A few weeks ago, we had, attended a meeting with M’s teacher and the deputy head, after we had concerns about the lack of support he had received this school year – the had been waiting to replace the SEN teacher who left last year, and who had made major strides with re-engaging him after being lost in the system for the previous three years. With the school bursting at the seams – there has been major growth in the town, and the additional school is still a couple of years away, resources are stretched beyond belief, and many child, not just ours, are not getting the support they need and deserve. This situation has led to many of us having numerous meeting with teachers, and school management to try to get our kids their basic rights. Lucky M had a teacher last year, who nurtured him and gave him a willingness to learn, something he hadn’t found previously in the education system. However, things are back sliding, and this means we at home have to pick up the slack to keep him engaged. This in itself leads to more problems as his compartmentalized brain says school work stays at school, and home time is down time, and basic homework becomes a war zone many evenings. After this meeting we had decided we didn’t need to see the teacher again so soon, but a couple of situations had arisen, that meant we needed another chat and therefore we booked an appointment.
I am not sure how any other parents approach parents evening, but I think it is a time for three-way feed back – teacher, parent, and pupil. We therefore spoke to both boys before the event to ask how they felt things were going in school, and if there was anything they would like us to bring up with their respective teachers. M, said no, and kind of blanked the notion that it was taking place, while D said he hated school! This ia a total untruth. D loves his teacher to the point of utter devotion, and he is very clever, but he gets bored because he isn’t soaking up information at a rate that always satisfies him. This is no fault of his teacher, but the system and confinement of the education system, means that keeping the class at a similar level makes it easier. Unfortunately, this means when a child is bright at one aspect of their learning, it can be stunted to let everything and everyone else catch up. I remember when I was a primary school, I loved maths and was extremely good at it, while I hated writing and reading – maybe this is why I relate to M so much!, but I had a brilliant teacher who would bribe me to do the things I didn’t like by letting me to push forward with my maths work, and I was 4 levels above the rest of my year! D’s boredom though comes out in self loathing and frustration. He switches off, because he’s not being stretched, and therefore trying to engage him makes him believe he is totally incapable of achievement. It is very sad to watch the way he beats himself up. His teacher says there is opportunity within some of the online maths exercises for him to stretch himself, which hopefully will keep him switched on to learning. D also asked us to speak about a problem he has with one particular boy in the class, who enjoys putting D down for his lack of athletic ability, and laughing at him during gym class seems to have become a pet game recently, to the point that D will try anything no to be in class on these times. His teacher will of course monitor this, as she agrees this behaviour is not acceptable towards any child.
M’s teacher wasn’t overly surprised at a name we put forward to a boy who was causing him problems, as well as being violent to other children in the class. While the boy has done nothing more than pushing M, he knows how far to go to get a reaction out of M, thus getting him into trouble. Also there had been a situation where M had become frustrated in class, and ended up throwing a rubber across the room, not at anyone, or to do harm – in fact one of his classmates described it as the rubber just seemed to annoy him so he threw it! There was a substitute teacher who instantly chastised M, deducting him golden time. To me, this is a prime example of lack of communication, because it seems M’s needs were not being met, which resulting in him taking his frustration out on a rubber rather than another child! Situation like this are a real worry as I do believe if those looking out for him aren’t able to help him, what hope is there for M? There has also been some name calling, with some kids calling him “bonkers” or “mad”. We have always talked openly about autism and have said to the school, that is children aren’t understanding M, it is alright to talk honestly about why he behaves in certain ways, but it is very difficult to teach understanding, even with the best empathy and understanding programmes in place.
The boys were on total tender hooks about these meeting, even though they both knew they were doing alright. I would in fact go as far as to say the situation had caused them both tremendous stress. The afterwards, D was complaining about a sore throat, and sore tummy. M had developed his nervous cough. They were both put to bed as usual, but by 10pm, M had come into bed with me for cuddles, where he instantly fell asleep. This is very out of character for him, who will admit that Mummy cuddles are the only ones that are acceptable, but even they are few and far between, so to have spent the whole night snuggling hasn’t happened since he was tiny. D started coughing in the night and it became really hacking by morning. I therefore made the decision to keep them home from school on Friday, as neither were right. They both slept until almost 9am, again something that rarely happens! We had a quiet day with films and games, and they were happy with that. The major sign that they were poorly was that there were no arguments from them during the day. Some times giving them down time, can mean they go back to school life refreshed and raring to go again.
You wouldn’t expect something as simple as a ten minute appointment with a teacher could upset a child so much, but both boys find the whole experience beyond painful as it does affect their mental health for a short period.