Monday 19 November 2012

Autism and Mainstream Schooling - Yes!

Today I'm going to briefly refer back to an earlier post I did this month: Autism and Mainstream Schooling - Do They Mix?

I was apprehensive about the start of this half term for Sasha. Things had not been going so well for the last couple of weeks before the break; I was having to go into the classroom regularly to retrieve Sasha at the end of each day. That might sound like a good thing, almost as if she's having so much fun she doesn't want to go home, but it's actually the opposite - she's been so overwhelmed by the day or upset by an incident that she can't pull herself together and move on. I was concerned that the 'down' instances might snowball and become impossible in the run up to Christmas.

Well..... (I almost don't want to write this *clutches nearest piece of wood very tightly* but...) 
so far, so good. It's nice to be able to update you in a cheerful way. I had the teacher consultation recently, and it was thankfully a very positive one.

The teacher really warmed the cockles of my heart (overseas visitors may want to google or click here for an explanation of that particular phrase...!) by praising how well Sasha has coped with the transition to Year 1. It's nice to hear an appreciation and understanding of how difficult things are for Sasha. Flexibility is key to working and achieving with Sasha, and right now the school are doing that in a great way. There are times when Sasha just will not join in with the group, and so it is true that she is not necessarily working to the same level as her classmates at all times, but at least she is progressing and attempting some more challenging things.

As I think I've said before, Sasha is actually quite 'bright' in a lot of ways - she has now moved on from teaching herself Spanish to attempting French (not curriculum for Year 1!), she is particularly good with numbers, and her spelling and reading have improved significantly. 

She has come on in leaps and bounds with regards to her understanding of all sort of situations - she can now grasp the concept of what will happen in the future, something we struggled with a lot previously. She still doesn't necessarily understand social rules and boundaries, but she's working on them. Unlike the commonly listed traits of autism, she is sociable and can be empathetic. We are extremely lucky that she is a curious and outgoing kind of girl naturally as this has helped in many situations!

Her main struggle currently appears to be writing. Whilst she can write her own name perfectly (in joined-up/cursive writing as they are taught at our school), she refuses to attempt any other words. Partly because her pencil grip is not so strong, but also, I believe, because she has a fear of failure and won't try in case she gets it wrong. It takes me back to when she was at nursery and would always scribble big black lines over any picture she had drawn. A couple of theories given to us were that either she was depicting the nightfall coming after her picture, or that she wasn't happy with the end result so didn't want it to be seen. Maybe at the age of 3 it was neither and she just loved black scribble, who can say?! She certainly couldn't explain why herself back then. Her use of language has improved measurably too, something which I will be coming onto in my next post. 

Anyhow I digress... I just wanted to update everyone with an answer to my own question - I'd say that 'YES!', autism and mainstream schooling do mix - for us, and for now at least. 
I don't have all the answers, but we're hanging on in there.Smiley

Last week I was also extremely thankful for all our lives after watching our eldest girl, Tamsin, nearly squished on a zebra crossing by school - she was half way across with a friend, when a car overtook, on the wrong side of the road, two stationary cars which had already stopped at the crossing. Smiley The speeding car missed my girl by inches and I think I spent the rest of the day in shock. It strangely made me happier and more determined to live life to the full though - go on, spread the word!