Tuesday, 27 February 2018

New School Update

Time for an update about school for Sasha; I'm sure you're all hanging off the edge of your seats...
Sasha on stage at new school

Just in case there are any new readers, I'm going to try to summarise a very long story in a nutshell, so anyone else bear do with me for a paragraph or two.

Our younger daughter Sasha was diagnosed with autism aged two. She followed her elder sister into a mainstream primary school, but it became increasingly difficult for her over the years and towards the end of Year 5 (last summer), we reached a point where she felt unable to attend any more.

So for the past eight months while we tried to sort out a new placement, Sasha has been at home with me. I can't exactly call this home educating as in all honesty there hasn't been a lot of direct teaching going on. For one thing, we never thought it would take this long to resolve the issue of finding her a place at a new school, and so there weren't any fixed plans for being at home.

Anyhoo, after several meetings and a couple of provision panel decisions, it was agreed by our Local Authority that Sasha needs more specialist provision to enable her to learn. She was 'granted' a place at our local MLD (moderate learning difficulty) school, because there is no specific autism provision in our county (I may have mentioned that once or twice before).

Just before half term, I had a first meeting with the school to discuss the way forward, and I took in plenty of information about Pathological Demand Avoidance. Last week Sasha was allowed to have another tour of the school after hours when it was quiet - she'd done this once before, last July, but it seemed like a distant memory to her.

It was lovely that our older daughter could join us for the tour; Sasha wanted to share her excitement with her. She has recently suggested a couple of times that if Tamsin liked it too, maybe she could switch schools... it's been a little difficult to explain to Sasha why that's not possible if I'm honest.

Sasha had so much fun looking around again; she enjoyed the sensory room even though it's still in development. What she had remembered most were the sensory snakes on the walls of the wide corridors, and they were still a big hit with her. 
collage of new school pics

There are plenty of animals at the school, including some fish in a small aquarium. Sasha had been asking for fish at home but I'm hoping seeing them every day at school now will be enough to keep her happy! I'm pretty sure she will appreciate the large school playground and fields; despite it being freezing outside she enjoyed going off for a quick dance and whirl around them:

The girls had fun together in the sensory garden at the front of the school on the way out - so much so that Sasha asked for them to have their photo taken, which is generally unheard of:





There's a little clip here of Sasha playing the pipes on the way out too:


We followed this after hours tour up with a lunchtime visit yesterday. This was one of the ways we suggested to try and ease Sasha back in to what will be a noisy environment compared to what she has been used to at home. Sasha was delighted to see that the school offer the exact same type of potatoes which her old school did - so her fears about not being able to eat anything there have thankfully been pushed away. The children were actually all relatively calm in the dining hall and one young boy even waved at her as we left, which made her feel happy. A teacher came down to welcome Sasha and to offer her the chance to visit again on Thursday, just for half an hour to see her classroom and meet her classmates.

Sasha is thrilled about the opportunity to get back into a school and to be with other children again. My worry (because of course there always has to be one, as a Mum) is that her expectations are pretty high. We just have to hope that she will love it as much as she currently thinks she will. There's the small matter of having to follow instructions again and understanding that she is a small piece of a bigger picture, but hopefully these are not insurmountable obstacles.

Her excitement and nerves are running equally high right now, and I'm doing my best to calm her, but it's no mean feat. Fingers will remain tightly crossed for a happy, long-term outcome.





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