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Teaching in a special school.............

Discussion in 'Personal' started by BelleDuJour, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Hettys I am sure you will continue to support your daughter into adulthood, and I am sure you will do everything you can to ensure she is happy and secure.
    I understand how wearing the challenging behaviours can be. Just recently, my daughter who has just turned 12, seems to be presenting us with increasingly difficult behaviour at times. I do believe that this is partly due to the hormonal changes they have to cope with. Apparently for children who are inclined to have difficulties with sensory processing, hormonal changes can have an overwhelming impact.
    Life can be difficult enough for all hormonal teenagers, without the extra stresses your daughter has on top of all that. Maybe things will settle a little when she passes this stage.
    Sometimes it just feels like when you are getting to grips with one situation, another one comes along and takes over. I wish you luck xx
  2. Hettys

    Hettys New commenter

    you're right about the hormones!!!! Thank you for your good wishes, I wish you luck too xx
  3. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Wow, some really interesting posts today.
    I will continue to post on this thread but I will not respond to nasty, nit-picking posts/posters.
    The one or two 'contentious' (to some) comments I have made have since been agreed with by other posters, and I have never said I don't like people disagreeing with me. I enjoy a good debate but not a good slagging off.
    For the benefit of newcomers I would like to re-iterate that I am working in a secure, residential special school for autistic youngsters with severe and complex learning disorders. This is very different to Aspergers or even a special school that is a day school.
    In a very short time I have leant so much from these youngsters, but I also feel (my opinion, that's all) that it's very difficult to understand what it's like in such a school unless you have been in a similar one.I had no idea of the reality of the situation until I found myself there and to begin with I admit, I was out of my comfort zone.
    Like I said, it's a secure unit. I carry more keys and electronic fobs than if I were working in a high security prison! These youngsters are highly unpredictable and sometimes violent, then the next minute loving. As a very experienced member of staff said to me today, we need to try to ensure when these youngsters visit home their parents can have friends round without fear of their son/daughter going for them, and without fear of their son/daughter soiling and smearing. Beyond that we try to teach them how to communicate effectively and stay safe....difficult when they clearly have a pain threshold beyond anything safe.
    I am grateful for the number of fab posters who have added valuable posts to this thread, instead of bitching and nit-picking.There have been some really useful posts that I have read with interest.
    Thank you.
  4. Can I ask if this is a NAS school?
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    You keep repeating this so I guess you've actually convinced yourself that their existence is true.
  6. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    Yeah we exist.
  7. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    No. It's an independent school and run under charitable status.
  8. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    I wonder what it is that makes the autism these kids have, so different from the autism all the rest have?
  9. dande

    dande New commenter

    I wonder which other poster used that term on this thread. Of course you may say it is nitpicking.
    Seems to me what you have done with many of the posts that disagree with what you have written.
    Care to explain where you have been slagged off?

    However, leaving all that aside, I do wonder if you have revealed a little too much detail on here about your personal circumstances.
    I am sure it would not take a great deal for to discover what school you are working in, therefore identifying both yourself and the children. I am not saying you have revealed anything about specific children but one would have to ask if you are not in breach of confidentiality.
  10. I worked with autistic students before I had a baby and I loved the job, and I have worked with students on all parts of the spectrum, low functioning, high functioning, mild, severe, verbal, non-verbal, self harming, biters- all labels which are pretty meaningless and inadequate to even start to describe the child... autism is far too complex to compartmentalise in such a way. I hate labelling kids as 'biters' and 'droppers'. I sound so twee but we should not define a child by their most negative behaviour- they all have such positive qualities- we should not fail to recognise this.
    I hate the term 'mild autism', for a child to be diagnosed with autism it will affect their lives to a great extent and, as I am sure Doglover will agree, there is nothing mild about it. Sometimes, for those whom may be regarded as having 'mild autism' life can be just as hard, if not harder, than for non-verbal children. Children with high-functioning autism are expected to fit in with normal society and often find it impossible to understand why they can't, they want to make friends and may not be able to do this- it is so hard to work around this and help them. A meltdown from a child like this can be just as hard to deal with-, I fid these meltdowns more complex. Sadly, I have worked with many parents who have not had the support they need to deal with very challenging situations. It is just as challenging to work with these students as the 'severe students' Belle decribes- and sometimes the emotional melt downs are far more complex.
    The main thing I have taken away from working with autism is understanding how different each and every person with autism is. The differences in the way autism presents itself is staggering yet each student has the same diagnosis- students at one end of the spectrum can seem totally different and need a totally different approach.
    I adore working with autistic students, I certainly do not think it is harder than mainstream. I have never felt humiliated by 30 kids who do not want to listen in special needs;. Yes, we are at risk of minor injuries but we have the staffing to deal with it and it is part of the job.... but it is easier to deal with than the personal insults... I certainly do not feel I am in need of praise for doing this kind of job... I enjoy it. I adore the students I worked with. Some very simple things could make these students so happy- and they are not afraid to show their joy and that is nice to see.
    Teaching assistants in our school are fantastic and our job could not be done without them.

    As for everyone being on the spectrum... well, most people would have some traits typical of autism- but this does not make them autistic. Autism is such a complex problem and it is far too simplistic to claim we are autistic just because we have one or two personality traits. Autism is such a complex interaction of such traits.
  11. That's my experiences and contributions dismissed then.
    I would disagree with your school being
    There are several special schools around the country that only admit children with a primary diagnosis of autism. Some are residential, some are not, some are charitable/privately operated, some are local authority funded. We all face the same challenges when working with children and young people with autism. This isn't a *** contest, Belle. It was almost a discussion about autism and education.
  12. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    I absolutely agree with you, Moomoon. You have explained it very well.

  13. dande

    dande New commenter

    Moomoon, I would like to say that what you have written is well considered and a most thoughtful insight into your dealings of working in this sector. I really feel that you understand the children in your care, even if you will never really understand some of them. Do you know what I mean?
  14. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    I know what you mean, dande ;)
    Moomoon understands the children she works with, because to her, they are above anything else children with their own unique personalities.My impression is that she sees that first and then she sees the disorders they have. She doesn't put them all in boxes and recognises that every child on the spectrum, wherever they are on it, have an individual presentation, and therefore individual needs.
    Sorry for speaking on her behalf, I don't mean to. it's just what comes across from what she said.
  15. dande

    dande New commenter

    Clearly she sees the children as children. In fact all children come with their own 'baggage' some just carry more than others. Within my own subject I alway try to get the child to put down their 'baggage' and get on with teaching the subject. I once got into trouble as a girl in a wheelchair crashed during an activity. She never stopped laughing! I have never refused entry to the drama studio for any SEN child, in fact with one child (P scale in Year 7) I insisted he attended (minus his support). The other kids give him the support he needed. He was part of the class and was treated as such. At the same time, and within the same school, I couldn't 'deal with' other children. I simply was not on their wave length. One in particular, Mrs D was his form teacher and got on really well with him but we never saw eye to eye.
  16. Dande, The child who you insisted attend minus their support, was this support part of a statement of special eductional needs?
  17. Such good posts both from dinx and Moomoon. I'm also referingto dinx's previous posts. They have, in my opinion, both illustrated what teaching in the special needs sector is and should be all about.

  18. dande

    dande New commenter

    I believe he was entitled to 25 hours support. His dedicated support was employed externally, i.e. not via the school and was contracted for 25 hours. She was meant to also use some of this time for planning which would have been impossible as every other teacher wanted her in the lessons. In fact most of his lessons were one to one, apart from registration. I did say incited, but my offer not to have support was grasped very quickly. Although it was available if needed and I knew where she was if needed. Would have been good for her to use this time to observe but pressure on her time meant she had to try and plan when possible. Everybody though he should have been in a special school, except his parents. The truth is it would have cost more to do this than paying 25 hours support.
  19. Yep- that is exactly what I mean. Thanks Doglover!
    I'm not sure I understand all of the children I work with though but I understand they all struggle no matter how autism presents itself.
  20. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Moomoon, as a parent I wouldn't expect you to understand everything about autism. In fact, to work with a child with autism, you don't really have to be an "expert". Some of my childrens best teachers, have been those who admit that they are not experts.
    The one teacher who made the most difference, to my eldest daughter's school life, was a newly qualified teacher, who said she knew nothing about Asperger Syndrome. I remember at the end of the year, when we were having a meeting about her progress with the Senco, she said, "What is really important to Miss Doglover is that she knows you are genuinely interested in her, that you genuinely have time for her and that you are there for her. She needs to know that if you are praising her, it is because she really has done something well and that you really mean it. She just needs to know that you like her for who she is." Before having this teacher my daughter had all kinds of anxieties around school, and often refused to go. This teacher genuinely changed all that.She didn't know a lot about AS, but she knew a lot about my daughter, and it didn't really matter what the underlying condition was, because she knew what her individual difficulties were, and knew how to address them.My daughter loved this teacher and so did we, lol. I wish she could always have been her teacher.
    When we were looking at post-primary schools for her, we encountered 2 attitudes. The first was along the lines of, "Asperger's, yea we get loads of kids with that. She will be attached to the learning support unit, and we will check every week that she is doing okay. You don't need to worry, we know all about Asperger's."
    The second was, "We don't claim to be experts on Asperger Syndrome, but we do have a few kids with the condition. They are all very different. We can't promise we will get everything right, all of the time, and there will be things we will get wrong sometimes, but we will do our best. Communication between home and school is the key to getting it right."
    Guess which school we opted for?

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