Tuesday, 9 February 2016

To my son's teacher.....

I would like to inspire you.
You see my son as any other child, sometimes a bit rude, occasionally giddy, slightly academically behind,  but on the whole you see a normal ten year old boy.

At home we see something different. Of course there is the violent, highly anxious side, but this isn't what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the bright child capable of focusing intently on a subject that has taken his fancy, his outstanding capacity to learn facts. The funny boy who makes clever jokes with words.
We see a child with untapped potential.

I understand that during the school day, you don't see this. He doesn't show this side because he is afraid of ridicule from his peers, afraid of letting go and embarrassing himself or hurting someone. He heard the cruel comments from his friends whilst watching a Newsround clip about Sunderland AFC introducing a sensory room for their autistic fans, which was hurtful, but sent the clear message that he can never be himself in school.

I know that I have sent many letters explaining how you can help him, little things that require no costly training courses, no expense to school at all. I have sent those letters, but all that I'm getting back is that this is a problem. I am a problem.

I am that mother. The one you subtly roll your eyes at when you see me approaching you yet again.
The one whose emails you have stopped responding to (which is plain rude).
The one who is keen to help co-ordinate meetings between various agencies because the alternative is leaving it to people who forget all about it, or forget to liaise with a vital cog in the wheel, thus rendering the meeting pointless.

I am that mother that wants to attend all meetings concerning my son, who wants to make everything wrong in the world right for him (if only I had the energy...), the one who can see how little changes could make a world of difference.

But this isn't about me, I'm an old hag, my potential isn't at stake here. I don't really care if you hurt me, exclude me, decide I'm fabricating this whole autism thing.

This is about my son. This is about his potential being capped. His own glass ceiling is his inability to show you his amazing side, which comes hand in hand with what he calls his dark side, which he will not show to anyone outside of close family.

But you can make a difference, honestly you can. You can assume that everything I've told you is true, you can change your mindset and see the rudeness as him trying desperately to show you that he's not feeling good, you can see the giddiness as overload which, in the school environment, means his body doesn't always do as it's told. You can change your language ever so slightly so that he doesn't feel threatened.

Do remember the time he swore? Saying fuck in front of a supply teacher and several children was not a good move, but he can't remember it at all, he can't really recall anything of that day because his anxiety levels were so high. He can remember feeling numb and faint when he was shouted at, and having all his breaks for the week removed. He can't remember the massive meltdown he had that night (the one when he made a hole in his bedroom door) and the next morning and several nights following, at his perceived injustice at being punished.

He was crying out for help at that point, and if you'd read anything I sent you, you would understand this.

So now, instead of begging you yet again, I'm going to take a different approach.

Let's fast forward ten, fifteen years or more. My son could be the next David Attenborough, or the wealthy creator of a new computer game, he could even be a singer or actor, he has so many talents.
I would like you to be able to look back to those few years you taught him and feel proud that you were a part of his formative years, giving him the gift of a future.
Actually, when I think about it, even if his chosen career path sees him stacking shelves in a supermarket, I'd like you to be proud that the understanding you showed him has helped him to be a happy, productive adult, no matter what he's doing.
The future is shaky enough for our children with autism. School can be a place where a bit of understanding can go a hell of a long way.

You don't need to see his amazing or dark side to know that it's there. The trouble is, when no understanding is shown, my boy's dark side wins out, through terrifying meltdowns and suicidal behaviour. When he feels understood, it gives him the space to be amazing.

Let him be amazing.

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