My beautiful eleven year old son started secondary school in September 2016. He was diagnosed as having autism when he was five years old and has struggled in a school setting. He is high functioning autistic and this can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand he is able to communicate using language well above his age ability, on the other hand this often leads to people assuming that his autism “isn’t that bad”. This is where the difficulty for us can arise. I have had teachers say things to me such as “I understand he has autism, but he needs to communicate with me” when he has shut down due to being over stimulated. He is able to fake being okay a lot. He can come across as articulate and engaging at times and this leads to people assuming that I am making a fuss about nothing, that he is not “that autistic”.
He was excluded from primary school on three occasions. I may sound over protective (possibly I am), but this was never for an offence that I would deem exclusion worthy. Once it was for sitting on the school field and refusing to come in, ignoring his teachers and running away if anyone got too close. I can imagine it was annoying for his teachers, I imagine it was frustrating, but it was an autistic behaviour from being overwhelmed, not a deliberate act of defiance. Schools are often unable to do what is best for a child with autism such as a quiet place with minimal stimuli and to be left alone.
My son (A) is very intelligent, he has a thirst for knowledge and deserves to do well in school. I am unsure as to whether he will. He has started at a grammar school for secondary and he finds it hard. He doesn’t like it when other children are noisy in the classroom, or when teachers raise their voices. He finds the constant changes of lesson difficult to deal with, homework is immensely hard for him to organise as he won’t always see the necessity of writing enough detail down in lesson to be able to complete the task at home.
I am trying to help him with this transition and have made a series of cards for him to use for times when verbal communication is too hard, or he is becoming overwhelmed. I have also given him his own filofax with strategies in to help him when he is struggling. Part of THE PLAN has been to give up work and in part this is to help A settle in and thrive at secondary school.