I’ve just taken M up to her primary school so that she can have a good look around while it is closed to pupils (it’s back to school tomorrow) and check out any changes that may have occurred over the summer. For M this is especially important as she is a very visual person.
We went at the time her new class teacher would be there. M knows her, and has had some limited time with her in the previous term, so at least she’s not a complete unknown. However, she will only be with the school until Christmas when the substantive teacher returns from a sabbatical, so there will be a lot more change again to contend with.
Her Pupil Support Assistant was also there, which was nice as she is the constant in M’s life in this time of new challenges. Mrs T is one of those people you fervently wish you could clone so that every class that needs her could have one. She came to M with no previous experience of autism but with the very best attitude, and she is a calming presence for my little girl.
Anyway, M found her new table for those co-operative lessons (art, topic etc) and went and checked that her personal quiet desk with its sensory den was still all as it should be. It was – phew. I asked about the co-operative lessons as they will be when she is (hopefully) working with other children. The teacher was determined that M would “find out tomorrow” who the other children on her table would be. I could see from M’s stiff expression and her body language that this could well be the point at which I got a refusal tomorrow morning so I pressed her for an answer. This is where I am concerned as although she did tell us, she was at pains to insist M didn’t “spoil the surprise” for the kids tomorrow. From what I can gather most of the day will be spent learning what groups you will be in and where you will be for certain lessons. All the uncertainties that M can live without!
There is also the very real concern of M once again being in a composite class with B, her brother, who is one year older. It didn’t go well before but I think she is less clingy towards him now, and the teacher has made sure to put them into different groups for absolutely everything, which is the best she can do.
We asked for M’s visual timetable for tomorrow and looked through it together. Again, I am concerned as there is a visual for “Topic”. I asked what the topic was this term and was told they “would find out tomorrow.” This time I didn’t push – maybe it was wrong of me but part of me hopes that M will have a meltdown over not knowing and show this teacher that she hasn’t done her homework about my child. She didn’t appear to have read her IEP either as she looked quite surprised that I reminded her (well I’d hope it would be a reminder) that M will not being doing joined-up writing in handwriting lessons as agreed at the last planning meeting. As a left-hander and a very reluctant writer, everyone felt it was important to keep her a) writing and b) writing neatly (which she does) rather than continue to cause her stress by insisting she learns cursive. The teacher should know this already! Why has she not read all the notes about the way in which my child learns and how best to support her and to avoid potential triggers? It is a very small class (about 14 children in total) so what was she doing over the last week? It is not easy to get a full time 1 to 1 support person so just the fact M has one should be enough to alert any teacher, especially one is is younger than most of my t-shirts and only a year out of college.
So, I am concerned. I am concerned that Miss X is young and possibly a little too sure that her methods are right. But I hope to be proved wrong.
And I also hope that M will get up, eat and get dressed, and be at school for nine tomorrow!