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When Poss became withdrawn and violent, and her teacher took away Poss’ classroom support tools because she “should be like the other kids”.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