Three things I’ve learnt about Asperger’s and Primary School

Upon the completion of Primary School, I figure it’s time to reflect on the first 8 years of Geordie’s schooling. (Note: I’m including Preschool here as well.)

It’s been an absolute roller coaster of a ride.

I’m not talking about one of those sad little roller coasters that don’t require serious safety harnesses either. The roller coaster ride we’ve been on has included bone-shaking spirals, heart-stopping triple loops and never-ending corkscrews with the added bonus of surprise sprays of water,  pitch-black tunnels where the unexpected awaits and sheer frustration at the waiting times. It’s been exciting, satisfying and damn-right scary at unpredictable intervals throughout the whole ride.

I love roller coasters — and not only because they are the only showground ride I can go on without vomiting. I love the fear of the unknown, the thrill and the grand feeling of accomplishment at the end.

I feel the same about Geordie’s Primary School years. There have been highs and lows, times of terror and frustration, unexpected twists and turns and then, the smooth ride to the end with the bone-shuddering stop and the feeling of elation at having survived.

We’ve learned a lot in the last eight years and I’m struggling to select the most important gleanings. I’m determined, however, to limit myself to three (as three is the magical number in writing).

Not all teachers ‘get it’ — but those who do make up for those who don’t.

Without naming grade levels, I can say with confidence the mix of brilliantbarely average teachers has been 50/50. The brilliant teachers have seen the good in Geordie and worked with him (and me) to highlight this. A couple of these teachers had some shocking times with Geordie — one for well over a term — but the difference between these teachers and the ‘barely average’ ones is that they didn’t give up, and they didn’t take it personally. Geordie blossomed under the ‘brilliant’ teachers and ‘plodded’ with the others.

As the parent — you are sometimes the only advocate for your child.

Teachers do it tough in Primary School — I know, I’m one of them. However, this does not mean they should be allowed to do things that disadvantage your child. There has to be give and take in the teacher-student relationship. Children should not be expected to conform constantly if the teacher is unwilling to do so. As a parent — if your child is coming home every day and having a meltdown then there is something wrong and you need to find out what. Staying silent and hoping it will get better, or not wanting to rock the boat makes you as bad as the teacher who doesn’t get it. Harsh — but if the parent won’t advocate relentlessly for their child, then who will?

Being an advocate doesn’t mean you can’t be kind.

I’ll admit it now — I have made a couple of Geordie’s past teachers cry. The tears came when I was being relentless in my pursuit to find a solution for Geordie with some matter. I don’t regret my motives, but on reflection I know I could have been a bit kinder. It’s a fine line — particularly difficult when people don’t have emotion metres on their foreheads.

On the whole, Geordie’s primary school experience has been positive. I cannot honestly say that even the worst years were all bad. There are positives in everything and every experience has made us both grow and learn in some way.

I cannot finish this without commenting, however, that the last two and a bit years (I say ‘a bit’ because one of the three years had that horror term in it – through no fault of the brilliant teacher) have been spectacular. Fabulous teachers who understood where Geordie was coming from and have appreciated him for him. We’ve worked together as a team and have helped Geordie achieve spectacular milestones.

I’m sad that it’s ended, to be honest.

I’m scared for the new roller coaster ride of high school, but still anticipating the highs and lows and twists and turns. I’m expecting the same level of excitement and fear. I hope the ride will be as spectacular as the primary version.

roller coaster ID-10082551
Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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