Why Autism And School Ain’t As Good As It Used To Be

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Having autism myself, which was undiagnosed at the time of my school years, puts me in a greater position to understand my 15 year old son Sam who was also diagnosed with Autism two years ago.

This is the shortened version of the torture we went through during this time as a family. 

Only because I have the knowledge of being a school refuser myself, was I able to understand why Sam was refusing to go to school. 

Sam is highly intelligent. He received the one of highest Sats results in the country at the age of 10, and loved the attention that this intelligence brought him. 

Unfortunately with Sams high intelligence also comes high anxiety. 

Anxiety, if not spotted early and dealt with  effectively, leads straight to school refusal in sam’s case and many other children just like him on the spectrum. 

So how have schools changed to include children who are on the spectrum, or meet the needs of a highly anxious child with ASD ?

Some mainstream schools now have what is known as a hub for AEN students. Those with additional educational needs. 

These usually comprise of children with all different varieties of needs.

Sams learning difficulty is not because he finds the work difficult, it is because of the environment in which he is expected to do it in. 

Although these ‘hubs’ now exist in some schools, children are still expected to just ‘fit in’ with mainstream life. 

Having autism for Sam means that he can’t fit in. The energy Sam needs to try and fit into the school ‘box’ exhausts him, and he can only manage it for so long until cracks begin to appear, and school refusal begins again. 

Sam has been refusing school for around a month now. After government cuts forced him into sharing school transport, meant changing his driver with whom he had built a rapport with over the previous year, who he had gained a lot of trust in, and who had shared his triumphs in getting in to school the previous term.

An accident involving the new taxi driver who left the children to fend for themselves after the accident, and failed to inform anybody about it, all left Sam with whiplash, and a huge rise in his anxiety levels, which has in turn spiralled into school refusal once again. 

Schools are still as ill equipped in dealing with Autism today, as they were 40 years ago. 

There have been no changes in the way that people with Autism are still expected to somehow ‘fit In’ with an outdated education system.

People with Autism now have a name for their differences, and are not labelled as ‘maladjusted’ as I was back in the eighties. Much has been learned about Autism over the last few years, but nothing has been changed fundamentally to the mainstream education system It is still as rigid as it always was. Fit in or else.

Sam seems to be paving the way for himself. He tailor made his own curriculum, and up until a few months ago was doing an amazing job of keeping it all together. 

Unfortunately juggling too many balls in a mainstream secondary school setting has been too much for him to cope with. 

The education system in the UK needs a complete overhaul. 

We are creating anxious and depressed young adults who will be our future generation. 

School anxiety has become a huge problem in the uk, with thousands upon thousands of children, too ill to go to school because of it. 

Instead of treating our children with anti- anxiety medication, the government need take a look at the real problem, instead of just treating the side effects. 

The way things are going we are heading into a generation of un-educated, anxious and isolated individuals, who will have problems well into their adult lives because of it. 

If like me you are fighting to get your child an education suitable for their needs, don’t stop. Don’t give up ,we have to pave the way for future generations of children on the spectrum. Autism isn’t going away, its here to stay.

We all deserve a better future going forward.

Love Betty 

You Can lead a Dog To Water but You Can’t Make it Drink

There’s an old saying that goes ‘You Can Lead a Horse to Water but you can’t make it drink.’

This has rang true throughout my week, so today I put it to the test. 

I don’t have a horse but I do have a dog. I led my dog to the water but I could not for the life of me, make her drink it

Yesterday my teenage son was feeling unwell, Sam hates feeling unwell, but will not take medication of any kind. 

Sam has Autism, he believes that nothing works so what is the point. 

so I decide to try a new tactic, and ran a bath full of healing essential oils, for his nausea and headache. 

I tell him the bath will help him feel better. Sam doesn’t want a bath though, even if it means that getting into it might make him feel better, he still won’t do it. 

‘You can lead a Sam to healing water, but you can’t make him get in it.’

My final thought on the subject came today when I finally came out, after 40 years, as being a child sex abuse survivor to my family. 

Nobody wants to believe it, denial is rife, you can lead the people to the truth, but you can’t make them believe it.  

Be your own truth, people don’t always see what is staring them in the face.

You are not responsible for what other people believe. 

A Penny For The Guy, Lost Traditions and Blogging

the view from the joint.

I had already scheduled my daily blog, when out of the night sky a new blog formed. 

I am currently sat in the joint at the top of the garden, it has no heat or lighting yet, but I have my hot water bottles in hand, and my hat, coat and scarf covering the rest of me.

I had forgotten it was guy Fawkes night until I started hearing the fireworks going off all around me. 

I no longer have to suffer the yearly bonfire nights when the children were small, even though I hated them, my children having fun was more important to me, so I suffered in silence. 

Tonight, after 30 years of bonfire nights, I can finally hang my retirement cap up, and watch them from the comfort of my rocking chair. At a safe enough distance, that the bangs don’t jolt my spirit out of my body. 

Fireworks are so pretty to look at, but the accompanying bangs are just too much for someone with sensory processing disorder to cope with. 

Noise cancelling headphones work up to a point, but I can actually feel the vibration right throughout my entire body, it is an extremely unpleasant feeling. 

Tonight I need not worry, I can hear the bangs from a safe enough distance that it doesn’t actually hurt, and I can see the pretty fireworks too. 

Bonfire night was a big deal when we were children. 

Halloween was barely mentioned, but the week leading up to guy Fawkes was magical. We would make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, the Guy behind it all, the one who allegedly betrayed his country, and committed treason with his failed gunpowder plot.

We would use our parents old clothes, stuffed with our mothers old laddered tights, odd socks, newspapers, and anything we could lay our hands on to make a convincing Guy.

We would steal a turnip from the farmers fields for the head, and we would carve the turnip, the same way we do pumpkins now. 

Only a turnip is one of the hardest vegetables on the planet, so this could take a while. Inside the carved turnip would be one of the candles that we always had in the house for emergencies, when the electricity went off. 

Then we would go around the neighbours houses with our ‘Guy’ in a wheelbarrow, and we would ask ‘A penny for the Guy ?’

Money was very tight in those days, you got a lot for a penny in those days. We would share the goodies out between us, then our guy would be placed on the top of the bonfire and set alight. 

We would put potatoes in the fire, covered in tin foil, and toast our bread, I had never even heard of a marshmallow in those days. 

There were no fireworks involved in my early Experiences of Bonfire night, but over the years I have watched while fireworks became readily available to all.

It is strange watching old traditions die out, and new ones forming. 

I wonder how many children waving sparklers in their hands right now, know the origins of why we celebrate this night in the UK ?

Enjoy your Guy Fawkes night, and stay safe, love Betty x