Education is immensly important for all
children, however those on the autistic spectrum
do need more help and different aproach to teaching.
Many autistic people are intelligent on the average
level or higher.
Those high functioning children with autistic spectrum
usually receive the Special Education Statement from
British Local Education Authority. This involves 2 years
of working to IEP - Individual Education Plan, psychological
assessment, educational psychologist's assessment, and
pediatrician's diagnosis. In Britain, children are diagnosed
rather late. Very rarely high functioning autism is recognised
in children below the age of three. Therefore, the statementing
process, starts usually in the nursery or reception class.
Cirwen started to see the pediatrician at the age of four and
the diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder was given at the
age of four and a half. This was half way through the reception
class term, so only then the EIP could be started.
At the time the focus was put on her speech development,
social skills, numeracy and literacy. Due to the fact that
she could put three words together as a sentence, it was
a challenge. By this time I gave up speaking Polish as her
autistic mind needed things to be called always by the same
word (even now when she goes to her Nanny who refers
to the piece of the bedding as "duvet" Cirwen doesn't know
what she's talking about as at home we call it a "quilt").
The targets were mostly met, and as long as there was a
progress the school was happy.
Cirwen has made contact with children and even made
a friend. The girl lived in the same building as us and
we walked to and from school together, which made it
even easier to tighten their friendship.
After a year of exercising the IEPs, speech therapy
and occupational therapy, The school SEN-Co (Special
Education Needs Coordinator) announced to me, that
Cirwen is doing very well and because her social skills
are almost typical, she still is not three years
behind her peers in literacy (she learned to read very
quickly), and there are no behavioural problems -
the school will be refused the SEN Statement from
LEA. However, Cirwen was still kept on school
records as a special needs child and benefited from
extra numeracy, literacy lessons, speech and
Some time later, I made an appointment with SEN-Co
again. Cirwen always failed on her spelling tests. Not
even one word out of ten was right. Until I had a good
look at one of the sheets she brought from school...
There were ten words, spelled perfectly but.. all of
them were written backwards! god instead of dog,
even esuoh instead of house! I asked if Cirwen might
be also dyslexic, but again without further tests, I was
told "noo, it's just a fase..! If it is it's a long one, as
Cirwen still writes a lot of letters backwards!
And so, we help her at home as much we can, as much
she can take. There are days when she comes back home
at four o'clock in the afternoon and doesn't even want
to talk about anything. Just wants to eat and relax with
her games or music. You can see she needs to be alone.
Now we are facing transition to a secondary school.
She is positive about it, although I silently am scared
for her. Will she fit in, will she adjust to new building,
people and routines? Will the kids eat her alive on
the very first day? I shall write more in my next post
what was said on my meeting with the new SEN-Co.