We had our first scheduled review/meeting last week with our eldest's new teachers - from the ASD unit and from his year class. The ASD unit are well aware of his dual diagnosis (ADHD) and are dealing with him well.
Our eldest started the new school around 8 weeks ago (two weeks off for Easter), so around 6 weeks in attendance. He's begun the 'integration' around 2 weeks ago into his year class, starting with an hour or so a day.
Both teachers sung his praises. Our child was bright, intelligent, friendly, co-operative, engaging and participating - both my wife and I shed a tear. These was the first positive statements from an education institution in years (and I do mean years).
There are still some concerns, points to work on and develop further but overall it was an extremely positive encounter. The difference between trained staff and 'the norm' was staggering. They are working with our eldest, not just giving him a set of rules or guidelines to follow but ensuring he understands the needs to follow the rules and guidelines and also what happens when the rules and guidelines aren't followed.
Our eldest is now splitting his day, half with the ASD unit and half in the normal classroom. Both teachers commented that if he keeps progressing at the same rate, they expect he could be completely integrated before Summer. They won't pressure him though. When school comes back in September, perhaps a half and half until he's accustomed to his routine again and then back into 'normal' class. Though this may or may not be needed.
Given that we had been told by the previous school, his academics were slipping and that he wasn't suitable for 'mainstream' schooling, this was a huge relief and blessing for us. At best, it's what we hoped for. It also backed up the experiences and changes we have seen for ourselves as a family. He's been more relaxed. He's been more engaging. He's been more involved with home life. He's reading more, drawing more and generally in a hugely better mode of behaviour.
His SNA accompanies him, guides him and helps him when needed. In the old school he had 'access' to SNA's. This was at timetabled slots. How on earth the administrators of the school thought that they could timetable an autistic child's needs, is beyond me and actually highlights (if it was needed) that the old school was so far behind the curve. They even went so far as to timetable his movement breaks, minimal consideration given to the child.
We've had nothing to do with the old school now for 3 months and it still grates me. I actually had to argue with myself about putting a reply on a social media site, when a new parent to the area specifically asked about sending their child to the school.
The school have agreed to explore with us the possibility of dyslexia - something we've been asking the old school to agree to for around 18 months, with no support. Everyday my wife and I are thankful and glad we made the move we made in removing him from the old school. From the principal down, the new school staff are engaging, know all the children's names, know the parents (and grandparents) names, they are welcoming and enthusiastic in helping children learn. Inclusive education isn't just a motto for them to have included on their newsletters or website, it's a practical application and has made a huge difference to my son's outlook and demeanor - which in turn has had a hugely positive affect on family life.