This week we went to visit a new school that Connor has been offered a place at ready for September. Up until now he has been attending a local nursery in a mainstream primary school, and needless to say what a horrific experience that has been. For our whole family. For the last 19 months our poor boy has had to suffer judgement, stigma and neglect from teachers, the last people you would believe capable of such things. Now I don’t really want to go into too much detail of the things we have been expected to put up with or the way Connor has been treated, as I think I have made myself perfectly clear to anybody who will listen. So from here on out I am going to forget that that dreadful place even exists and just pray that another family never has to experience the same hate from them again. We have made all the relevant authorities aware so it’s just up to them now I guess.
This past Thursday myself and Neil were invited down to see the SRB school that have offered Connor a place in there wonderful school. We had no idea what to expect and being an incredibly over emotional person I was extremely nervous and considering our previous experience, absolutely terrified. I decided to try to keep an open mind even though I had already convinced myself that this kind of place just won’t be able to meet Connor’s needs. Oh how wrong I was, and I have never been more thrilled to admit I was wrong either. For those of you that don’t know, an SRB school is what’s known as a Special Resource Base school (maybe you’ve heard the term ‘base unit’). It’s a mainstream school with some classrooms available to cater for children with special needs/learning difficulties or disabilities. They come in all different types and Connor’s for example is for children with highly/severely complex needs. The minute we arrived my first thoughts were just how incredibly modern and beautiful the building was, we went in and met with a representative from the local authority and the deputy head teacher to show us around the whole of the school not just the SRB. Which straight away showed me the ethos of this school and how these kids, these wonderful special kids are part of the main school and not segregated off. Each child there that we saw was smiling and we were shown examples of how the children in the mainstream side interacted and involved the children in the base classes in everything they did. These children are being taught that difference is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of, they just embraced it as part of their world. They saw no difference. For me this spoke volumes because I am always afraid of how the rest of the world will treat Connor, this terrifies me more than anything else you could think of. The children in the mainstream will take this attitude through to high school and then on into adulthood, that school is going to be responsible for a whole generation of open minded people. It’s wonderful. The school has two SRB classes, a foundation class (where Connor will be) and a key stage 2 and all children have a range of different needs. Each class has a maximum of 8 pupils sometimes less, with 4 teachers in each class. Which straight away eases my mind as Connor is a runner, he will just simply leave somewhere if he gets the chance. So the more eyes on him the better. Each classroom has the capacity to deal with all forms of communication which is amazing as we are just starting our journey of communicating through PECS (picture exchange communication system) and the fact that it will be used for 6 hours of the day in school makes reinforcing it at home that much easier for me. They also use sign language, as well as many other forms of communication to help give each child a voice and help them with their independence.
One of the highlights for me is that they have a sensory room, which the children have access to whenever they need it. This was a game changer for me, it’s one of the main things I have been battling for all this time. Connor is so sensory driven and has SPD (sensory processing disorder) so the minute I saw this I cant explain the relief that completely flooded over me, I know how much this will benefit him. It will stimulate him to the level that his brain needs so that he will be at a point where he is able to learn and retain any information given to him. We also told that the children in Connor’s class go on a school outing every Monday afternoon, the children are taken on little trips so they can engage with the outside world. Which for someone with Autism is so important, Autism is in many ways a social interaction condition and alot of people on the spectrum have difficulty with this. I know Connor does and this will help him seeing that the outside world can be part of his world. So it’s safe to say I am overjoyed with this school selection and I am finally feeling like my mind is at rest a little. Next week Connor will start his transition days so he get familiar with the building and the faces and know where things are, things like that are really important to him. After the horrid start to his school life this is a huge step in the right direction at a safe place that isn’t going to right him off the minute he walks through the door. He needs this, I need this. After nearly 5 years of having him at home full time I really need the break, and I am fully aware that there are people who cannot have children and I am extremely lucky but I am also knackered, over stretched and lost. My poor little girl has had no time with me just to herself and is limited on what we do because we simply can’t go certain places with Connor, so she is going to get some much needed attention and I will be getting a much needed rest.
So I am going to leave it there (because I am rambling now) and I will update how the first day goes. So excited.
Natalie Abraham AKA Mostly Mummy