Sunday, 22 November 2015

Should autistic children go on school trips?

The door was closing as I backed out of our youngest autistic girl's room tonight, and a little voice piped up:

'Mummy, will I have to go on the trip that the Year 6 children are doing tomorrow when I'm that age?'

I'd love to think it was bedtime delaying tactics, but sadly not.

This is a week long activity trip a 5/6 hour coach ride away that most (not all) of the Year 6 children are going on tomorrow. Including youngest's elder sister. Funny that youngest (Year 4) has shown no signs of emotion about it before that second; hasn't seem worried about missing her sister and hasn't wanted to talk about it particularly. Not even shown no emotion, just no real interest at all. Or so I thought.

'Errr, that depends, I guess darling. Would you want to?'

'No.' came back the very definite reply. 'I'd be sick on the coach anyway.'

It's not just the long coach trip which would raise problems though; there are so many other issues to consider for an autistic child. Having to hold her hand until she drops off to sleep most nights is only one small part of it.

I'd offer to go with them, and drive her there myself, if I thought it was something which would be welcomed and make her enjoy the trip. She wasn't keen on that suggestion, and asked 'can I just stay home instead?'

Knowing what has happened when we've tried that before (see my previous post about School Trips), but not wanting to get drawn into a huge discussion about it, I gently replied that she may have to go into school instead, but she instantly refused, saying the teachers wouldn't be there. I pointed out that the other teachers from lower classes would be there, but she said that she couldn't work in a lower age group class, she wouldn't fit in with the younger children.

Although I know this isn't an issue for me to worry about right now (it's 2 years away still, God knows what will happen in terms of school in that time), it does obviously bring up lots of emotions and questions. S is obviously starting to express thoughts she has - who knows how much more is swirling round in her brain?

The post title is a rhetorical question to be honest - of course autistic children, and any other children with any form of additional needs, should go on school trips, if the trip is suitable for them. Whilst I'm all for inclusion, to me that doesn't mean making all the other children go on a school trip 20 minutes down the road just because my autistic child can't cope with a coach ride or with being away from home. I do wonder though, how many other children in a mainstream class of 30 there are for whom the trip is also not ideal - should there be a second 'fun' option/alternative rather than staying back at school and working maybe? Yes, I know that would create a LOT of extra hassle for the school and teachers - but the alternative is children being left out (=not included). I'd love to know if any schools already do something like this? What are your thoughts?

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