Coming out from under the table

I am a reader. Whether it’s escaping into a novel, or falling down the rabbit hole of reading one blog and then another and then another. I pour over the paper and follow my twitter feed, clicking through to anything that interests me.

Sometimes I stumble on a post or an article that inspires me, sometimes it’s so far removed from my reality I am drawn into the different-ness of it. And sometimes I read something that is so familiar to me that I can feel my heart breaking through recognition.

I haven’t been reading as much as I normally would. My time has been spent packing and unpacking and trying to find some sort of routine in our new home. But two things I did read this week, have hit me with that recognition that has made me want to cry for the writers.

One was this blog post by Bern Morely. I have to admit, I am not a regular reader of Bern’s, it’s nothing personal – she is just a new discovery to me (I am obviously late to the party, because her blog is fabulous) and the other is some comments by another blogger, Kate Young from Kate Says Stuff (who is one of my long time favs).

Both are struggling with the Victorian public school system; wondering where their kids fit, if they fit. Not sure where to turn next and what will become of their children.

Hiding under the table

When I read them, I am thrown back 12 months. Back to a time when Poss hid under tables every day and her teacher told us she didn’t believe Poss has Aspergers, she was just “defiant and naughty”.

When Poss cried herself to sleep every single night and her teacher told us that she “didn’t have time to read her file”.

When Poss became withdrawn and violent, and her teacher took away Poss’ classroom support tools because she “should be like the other kids”.

When we had to learn how to advocate for our girl.

To challenge that teacher and call in support. To ask for a second, a third and a fourth opinion. To go above heads, write letters and to make threats, that we fully intended to carry out if need be.

To be prepared to lose friends and be the subjects of playground nastiness, but also learn to accept help and support from those who stood strong by our sides.

Twelve months on and today I had Poss’ term two ILP meeting. We spoke of how far she had come. How she now self starts, how she can go a whole day without needing ‘time out’. How she now knows how to remove herself if she needs a break. How violence and seclusion isn’t really a huge concern any more. How she doesn’t go under the table anymore.

There is still much to do. Some of the challenges are big and I honestly don’t know where to start. There will be things that we will ALWAYS have to do, every single day, to support her. And who knows what’s around the corner?

But, we have come so far. And we did it together. We are still at the same school, it’s been a ride, but we have taken it together. I have no doubt that they have grown in having Poss as a student, and we will be forever grateful that they were prepared to fight the battles alongside us.

And that’s what I wanted to let Kate and Bern know. It probably doesn’t feel like it now, but there is hope.

There will be a place for your fabulous kids somewhere, and while you might not be like us and be able to work it out at the current school, you will find that place.

And when you do? It will be like coming out of the dark of under the table and into a bright new world.

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  1. Thanks lovely <3

    I think our school is doing all they can do, and the problem is due to the system of funding (or lack thereof) for high functioning ASD kids. In many ways my Aspie boy does it far harder than my autistic one. Master 3 is clearly different to other kids his age, and is treated as such. My 8yo can fake it enough to cope in the classroom, just. His ability to cope when there are strict routines and expectations means that in theory he is fine I guess? But it doesn't take into account the stress for the teachers who deal with his violent outbursts in the yard (or mine when they happen every afternoon when he gets home).

    Ultimately everyone pays the price though. The teachers who have to try and cope with all this whilst managing their classrooms. The other students who lose out on time and attention. My boy who is judged harshly by his peers and their parents through lack of understanding. No one can win while the system sets us up for failure.

    katesaysstuff recently posted..Overheard conversationsMy Profile

    • I hear you completely Kate – and this was exactly what were dealing with too! Poss is fabulous at ‘fitting in’. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know – if that makes sense. It’s only when things get WAY too much that she looses it. And of course, by then, it’s too late.

      We do have an aide, but it was one we fought tooth and nail for. Poss isn’t ‘funded’ in the State system, so she is in Catholic, where she is entitled to some hours. However, our school ended up picking up the cost of some extra aide time to ensure she was receiving the support she needed. This was a huge thing for us, but that one on one support has been invaluable.

      We also have a teacher now, who understands. She gets it. She picks up on stressors BEFORE they become irreversible.

      You are spot on though. There simply isn’t enough understanding, nor funding, nor support in the public system. And we are fortunate that we are in a position to have another option available to us. But we should never HAVE to be forced into that option.


  2. “To go above heads, write letters and to make threats”
    Exactly what it takes.
    You’ve got me thinking about writing out our experience Renee,
    Hannah recently posted..New AirMy Profile

  3. This is so true Renee and also over time, policies and cultures can change. When Mr12 started primary school he had an advocate in the Principal and gained low level funding for his entire Primary schooling. Toward the end of his time there, the current Principal had hardened up to “too hard baskets”, (his class teachers were still brilliant) and today he is eligible for $0, despite being the same kid, starting High School, which is so very daunting.

    Yes it’s been a massive adjustment, no the funding situation is not fair but the school are doing their best to stretch their resources to make him happy and comfortable and I really don’t know if we could hope for any better in the public system. It’s taken half a year, but he tells us he’s happy. And if he’s happy, we’re happy.

    • Thanks Twitchy. I am a firm believe that having that advocate in a principle is crucial to success, although you are right, things do change over the years as schools change and evolve over the years.

      And you are spot on, if he is happy, then what more can you ask for?

  4. A message to the young champion- I am so proud of how hard she has worked this year!!! I’m so glad things have started smoothing out for you Renee. It is really truly awesome that you have found a school that works for what your kids need are, not just what their plans are.
    And for anyone else stuck- the most important part of my job as an OT(for me personally), is o make sure my clients get what they need. Being an advocate for these kids, when their parents can’t yell loud enough or don’t know what to yell, is what makes my job worth it.
    My therapy is meant to compliment the kids needs- and if that means kicking a school in the butt I’ll do it! And if you talk to your therapist, they will probably feel the same way! Don’t forget us!
    And good job Renee at being super mum this term!!!

    • Thank you so much Lucy. We always really appreciate you cheerleading for us from the sidelines! It can be hard, it sometimes does suck – but I tell you what the team we have around us, our OT and our Speech Therapist are amazing and they make the job that bit easier. We know they have our back – and sometimes that’s all a parent needs to know.

      Missing you xx

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