On Monday The Boy brought his first report home from High school. When he started High School last September unlike his peers, he had only been learning Welsh for 1 1/2 terms. All the other children had been learning since they started school at 4. Although he had spent a term at the Primary School Welsh unit where he had intensive Welsh lessons for the whole term he was still clearly behind.
In the Education Authority we are under, they stream all children in Y7 based on their Welsh ability. This put The Boy in Set 3. I really wasn’t happy with this as he is a very intelligent young man. Although he has Aspergers, since he has got the support needed in school, in all of his subjects, especially Maths he has flown.
To my horror his first homework for Maths in September were questions based on his 2 times table. I was then further shocked that a large number of the lessons were taught in Welsh and he was not having the support of someone to translate for him. How could he keep up with his subjects if he was being spoken to in a language he barely understood?
Naturally I arranged an appointment with the Lower School Head straight away as although he was clearly behind his peers with his Welsh, he most certainly did not belong in Set 3 for his other subjects, I was reassured he would be helped with his Welsh and would be pushed to his abilities in all of the other subjects. After Christmas for 10 weeks he went the 1 1/4 hour drive each way to Porthmadog where the High School Welsh Unit was based. Again, it was intense Welsh in order to get the pupils up to speed.
His understanding of Welsh has really improved but he struggles a little speaking out of lack of confidence. He is also struggling with writing but has always done that. He is a highly intelligent boy, taking in facts and retaining them. He can rattle them back of to you some days, months later. However, he is left handed and his writing is very messy. He also struggles to get what he wants to say down on paper. He finds it so hard to express himself this way and it takes such a long while for him to do so. If he struggles to get information down in writing in English it’s pretty clear he will struggle in Welsh, a language which he has been learning for just 14 months.
With Aspergers, changes to routine can be unsettling. There were a few hiccups along the way. He sees thing in black and white, right and wrong. He struggles daily with fairness. If there is an hour and 6 people, everyone should have 10 minutes. Not one second more. In certain classes where equipment is having to be shared, he works out how long each person should have and get very worked up if he is not getting his fair share. This is very typical of children with Aspergers. We have come along way with how to deal with his emotions in such circumstances but we still get the odd out burst when others have ‘been warned it was someone else’s turn now’ and still they don’t pass the equipment over after being told a couple of times.
Well let me take you on to the reason of this post. His school report and parents evening. The report itself was full of 1’s (graded 1 to 5, 1 being highest) for effort and homework. Presentation were either 1’s or 2’s but we know its down to his untidy handwriting.
It gives me so much pride that he works hard to achieve his best. A tear comes to my eye when I think back to his first primary school (he actually went to 5) where in Y4 I took him out of school for half a term as the school would not recognise there was a problem with him. My GP ignored it too saying there was nothing wrong. The Education Department and Social Services who I approached thought I was trying to invent an illness in my son to explain his bad behaviour.
He wasn’t on the autistic spectrum, he was a lazy, disruptive remedial child with a temper. He was attention seeking when I had to literally drag him to school each day. It was temper and unruly behaviour when he kicked, screamed and threw things around the room every morning to get out of going to school.
After missing half a term of school the Education Authority agreed to move him and The Girl to another Primary school. Within 2 days, the Head of this new school had the Special Needs team visiting. The following week he was in a 3rd Primary school; a special needs school getting evaluated. The Next term he started at a 4th Primary school with a Statement and assistant for 30 hours a week. He didn’t need a special needs school he just needed support in mainstream school. The Boy began to fly.
He was not lazy.
He was not disruptive.
He was most certainly not remedial.
He was one smart, intelligent little boy who needed things explaining in a different way and then he needed to be stretched. He was behaving this way because he was frustrated. Frustrated because he needed instructions being given in a different way. He needed the task broken down in to small pieces. And what he needed the most was to be tested, stretched and educated at a much higher level than his peers. He was bored.
His 5th Primary school was the one here in Wales and again with his Statement in place and the support there for him he has flown even higher.
After half term, his year will move on to the Y8 timetable which means they no longer have to be streamed based on their Welsh ability.
Excuse me while I shout out loud and proud but my Boy, my precious, loving, intelligent, funny boy is moving to Set 1 for all subjects.
Tears used to fall down my checks as I was fighting and getting nowhere. I wanted the support my Son needed to be there for him. As his Mother I knew something was wrong but nobody would listen. I resorted to drastic action. I was told I would be fined for not sending him to school. I said, fine me and I’ll explain to The Courts how you are not supporting my child. That’s when the offer came for a 2nd Primary School. A school with a Head who recognised there was a problem and help me and The Boy get the help that was so needed.
Today, tears fall down my checks in pride for what my Son has achieved and all that he will achieve in the future.