Updated: Apr 26, 2021
5 weeks ago our lad started a new school. He's been diagnosed now for around 2 years with ASD and ADHD. Thankfully he remained within mainstream schooling but we managed to secure (by the grace of God) a place in an ASD unit. It's 30-40 minutes away from our home (during lockdown - not sure what it will be when the country opens up again) but it's proving well worth the drive.
It's been five weeks now and the difference has been unbelievable. Our lad is communicating with us (not just broadcasting when he talks), he's actually engaging in conversation. His moods are much better, he's brighter, he's a spring in his step going to school and coming out. His demeanor has improved and all in all it's been an amazing experience.
Now I'm not saying, there haven't been a bump or two over the last few weeks - of course there has - but he is faster to calm and reflect, he is faster to recognise when something isn't right and he is communicating with us. As parents, we can see he is trying and is improving.
His teachers are so well trained. SNA's constantly around the class. It's amazing. I appreciate it's only five weeks but the difference has been amazing. The unit has the Deputy Head as teacher and 2 SNA's. He is in a class of 6, so it's almost care of 1 to 2. He is thriving.
This week, the school feel confident enough with him to begin to re-integrate him into his age group. Which is amazing, considering from September to December (2020) his previous school were telling us that he wasn't able for mainstream schooling. He was too problematic. He was too demanding. His education was suffering.
The difference in attitude between the two schools is night and day.
His re-integration, begins with joining his age group for specific classes. He will start with joining the class for a 30 minute lesson in the morning before his break. He will then move to a 2 hour session (covering 2 or 3 topics) in the afternoon. He has been coached and has 'bought into' this. His ASD teacher has spent some time introducing his teacher. The teacher has introduced the class and we have been reminding him of his new adventure over the weekend. He's excited and is really looking forward to it.
He has a 'I need a break card' to show the teacher or SNA if he feels he needs to step back a little. He knows he is welcome back to the ASD class at any stage through the day, as long as he lets his teacher or SNA know. He knows the children in his new class know and understand a little about ASD and that they are looking forward to welcoming him.
The previous school is one of those in South Dublin that are listed by the Dept of Education as supposed to have an ASD unit. I've been in contact with our local TD's, the Minister of Education and Minister for Inclusion regarding the experiences we have had as a family. Unashamedly the school don't seem to mind their name appearing on lists in the local and national press. If the school would only do what they are supposed to do, life would have been an awful lot easier. Aside's from the affect the school has had on our children, they are oblivious to the affects of their actions and behavior on the families of children.