Fifi’s Learning School

Fifi was first enrolled in Learning School when Geordie was in Year 2. The enrolment procedures were simple, and involved significantly less paperwork than Geordie’s enrolment in Kindergarten did two years before.

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Fifi in the drawer which served as a ‘portal’ to Learning School.

 

Prerequisites for Learning School consisted only of the ability to be folded and stuffed into a small drawer in the wardrobe, and a certain tolerance for dark, crowded places over long periods of time.

 

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The experience of Learning School was one to be endured rather than enjoyed. It involved long hours of facing the unknown and dealing with the associated fear and anxiety.

The 3 R’s were at the core of Learning School, but not the reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic of school as we know it.

Over time, we were privy to snippets of information about Fifi’s days at Learning School. To summarise the experience, in Fifi’s words:

Everyone seems to know what to do. This is what I have to learn. When my class are doing an activity, I have to do the activity too. Even if I don’t like it. I might be allowed to stand and watch, but eventually, I am going to have to join in. There are certain things I do sometimes that none of my classmates do; they think it’s weird when I do them. I have to learn to stop. The days are long. There are so many things to learn and sometimes it’s a bit scary. But this is the way the world of learning school is.

In a nutshell, the 3 R’s at Learning School were:

run with the pack,

reconcile and

(behaviour) regulation

Fifi spent a good six months at Learning School; he was there every day, even on weekends. According to Geordie, Fifi could not leave Learning School until he learnt ‘how to be good’.

Looking back I can see that Geordie was expressing, through Fifi, how he felt about school. Year 2 was the first ‘stable’ year that Geordie had at school, but it was still peppered with issues – as every year of his schooling has been. So, the fact that Learning School emerged while Geordie was in Year 2 is not a reflection of the year he was having, but more of his growing maturity and ability to express his ideas in this way.

Hindsight would be an amazing thing to possess.

But, then again, I have to ask myself: in this case, what would I have done with it?

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School – through Fifi’s eyes

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I started this blog, my intention was to describe the world of Asperger’s through the eyes of Geordie’s stuffed dog Fifi.

Reading through my previous postings, I realise I have barely mentioned Fifi. This may be because he is no longer within arm’s reach every waking moment. However, he remains an important source of comfort, and an integral means of expression.

There have been numerous times Geordie has enacted something with Fifi that has shown us how he is responding to an event in his life. The time that comes to mind most readily, and is the longest running episode in which Fifi is involved, is school.

Fifi’s  introduction to ‘Learning School’

Geordie has never really liked school. At best, he tolerates being there; at worst, he flatly refuses to enter the classroom. Thankfully, he puts up with school for the majority of the time.

It has always been obvious that school is not Geordie’s favourite place, but it become blatantly so when Fifi was relegated to a drawer in the cupboard:

“Where is Fifi?”

“He’s in here,” pointing to the drawer.

“Why?”

“He’s at learning school.”

A little more probing ensued. What is learning school? Why is Fifi there? And then:

“He has to learn how to behave. He’s been bad and he has to stay at learning school until he behaves properly.”

Is this how Geordie views school?

Is school a place where you get sent, locked up, until you behave properly?

What is ‘proper’ behaviour anyway?

All of these questions, and more, ran through my mind – and they still do. Fifi’s Learning School put in its first appearance five years ago. In our Asperger’s world, it is one of few constants.

For this reason, I would like to spend my next few posts on the topic of school and conformity. It will sound soap-boxy, but I won’t apologise because it is an important topic:

Why?

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Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • School takes up a huge proportion of our lives.
  • The whole world, for my child with Asperger’s, is a world which requires conformity.
  • School, above all else in a child’s world, is a place where you MUST conform.
  • Conforming, for a child on the spectrum, takes a huge amount of energy and is fraught with anxiety and confusion.

 

I invite everyone to join me on the journey into the world of school – Asperger’s style.