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Don't ever accept less for ASD/ADHD children

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Quote from the movie The Accountant:

"What if we're wrong? What if we've been using the wrong tests to quantify intelligence in children with autism? Your son's not less-than. He's different. Now, your expectations for your son may change over time, they might include marriage, children, self-sufficiency. They might not. But I guarantee you, if we let the world set expectations for our children, they'll start low, and they'll stay there."

It's a 2016 Movie with Ben Affleck. Not a kids friendly movie (not a great movie to be honest) but Affleck stars as an ASD adult. The quote above is from one of his mentors. It got me thinking of our experiences within education. We've been told this year that our eldest is struggling academically. My response was something like - No sh1t Sherlock, what would you expect given lockdown last year from March to September and then this year nothing but constant suspensions = no longer than 2 weeks consistency in school? I don't think the school liked being challenged. What we are doing at home is not home-schooling or teaching, it's doing the best we can do, we aren't trained professionals.

I asked the teacher for more detail and specifics ; "In maths he gets the answers right but doesn't show his working out and I need to know that he can understand the process not just get it right". I took this as an example and did extra work with our lad, specifically on maths (explaining to him that he had to show his working out to help teacher, as he wasn't sure how he was getting his answer). Low and behold, answers and 'workings out'.

The system is so completely skewed for outliers that it does nothing more than condemn children to fail - if they don't fit in or don't fit the norm. It's disgraceful.

Now I accept, we are having issues with our school. We believe that our son is being managed out of the school as its easier for them that way, as opposed to trying to help him thrive.

In hurling, before the latest Lockdown, one of his coaches commented on how well our lad is doing. He's continually working on developing his own skills (catching up mostly) but he's not giving up, but he's also developing additional skills - if an opponent lifts the ball from the ground faster than him, he reaches across and flicks the ball away whilst it's in the air. His coach was amazed, as they haven't shown any of the kids this skill yet. I explained to the coach that this was the ASD coming out - he sees an obvious way to get from A to B and does it without being told. Not the same thing, I know, but to me it shows two different environments and two different approaches. One where learning is restricted and led, the other where the opportunity for creative or self learning is possible.

It makes me think about my own schooling. Was I taught to adhere rather than think? Was I steered in a certain direction rather than being shown opportunities? I'm not on the spectrum and whether I was or wasn't, it certainly gave me food for thought regarding our eldest lad and how main stream education may actually be hindering him, hampering his growth and trying to control his potential.

My wife and I were completing more forms a night or two ago - but we went through school reports and professional reports which were shared with the school - finds it difficult to sit still and not fidget (one teacher said), needs support and time to be able to move and help focus (the report said), handwriting can be poor and illegible even to himself (the teacher said), pencil grip shows poor micro muscular form and will need OT to assist with control (the report says) - these were from 2018 - it's 2021 at time of writing, I bet you could guess what the school have said in his latest reports.

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