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First Class and ASD/ADHD and so it begins in earnest

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

As with every household September time brings the excitement of school. Even more so this year with ourselves, as parents of an autistic child with ADHD. Our lad was getting a new teacher, who we hoped would lead to new beginnings. Instead our hopes foundered on a disciplinarian.

All kids, especially in school need structure, clear guidelines, guidance in the best ways to achieve the required and a little bit of leeway. Even more so with kids with ASD, though to be fair we and the school were still unclear regarding that.

After a couple of phone calls from the school regarding behavior my wife again sought the assistance of our GP. We had changed GP and the new GP had no trouble in referring us to Lucena. She also got us into the 'Incredible Years' parenting program.

Incredible Years is a parenting program (of differing age groups) which coaches parents into looking at their behavior and parenting skills, looks at desired outcomes, the children's behavior and how small tweaks in phrases, reward systems, structure and up skilling may be able to help families. We went wholeheartedly into the program.

We found the program very insightful, useful and worthwhile. I'll write further on about the program in another session.

The biggest challenging event through this year resulted in our boy being restrained by teaching staff at the school. During a melt down he had gotten off the school grounds, running out across the road in front of the school. The school staff had followed and caught up with him and carried him back to school. Bringing him then to one of the school halls, hoping to give him time and space to calm but it didn't work. After being carried back onto school he was in a higher meltdown. The staff deemed that the only way to keep himself, themselves and possibly others safe was to restrain him. I arrived at the school and went straight into the hall, as soon as he saw me, he quietened down, burst into heartfelt sobs of tears and just sat on my knee holding onto me for dear life.

It was very traumatic for himself. Traumatic for the school staff and was the catalyst to the school recognising that something was amiss and that he needed to be treated differently.

We began working seriously with the school on putting individualised plans together for them and him. This continues to this day - 4th class - so three years work. The school began introducing small changes designed to make him more comfortable with life in school. We talked with them around what worked at home, what didn't work, what we had tried and what we were trying. Basically it felt like we were introducing them to our child, even though he was 3 years at the school. But we were very glad that things were changing to allow the school learn and our child to develop within the school.

The school supported us as much as possible in assisting us through Lucena reports, Psychological assessments, class assessments and the like. There wasn't one fix. There isn't a magic bullet. But each small step - even if it was one forward and two back, at least we were moving and at least our loving and lovable child was being recognised, that he needed to be handled slightly different. The school permitted him to have 'soothers or fidgets' in class - a small piece of plush material that he would keep in his pocket, a fidget or squishy toy, that would sit along side his desk, a light resistance band that went around his chair legs, so that he could kick it, a wobble cushion for his seat. These weren't dramatically disruptive in the class - most of his classmates knew what he was like and many would help him when they could. Sometimes from listening to him talk about his classmates, they knew him better than the teacher at the time.

From our perspective, she had a rule of iron, her way or the highway and it was confrontational. During the 'parents/teacher' meeting she was more concerned about him day dreaming and gazing out the window - when she could get his attention, he would surprise her by answering her question right or repeating verbatum what she had said in the lead up to getting his attention.

It was during this year that his development in maths soared ahead of the class - everything else fell away dramatically. Reading, spelling and writing didn't develop at all during this year, he still struggles but now at age 9 he will pick up small books and read from them - in small pieces. His handwriting and spelling are his biggest challenges but he's not losing heart.

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