“So, I received a call today from your teacher!”
“Whats the point mum” Mumbled the little man in a somewhat miserable tone!
“Excuse me” I replied “You haven’t even heard what I have to say yet”.
“But I know mum, I know I’m in trouble” he replied.
“You’re not in trouble, I’m just disappointed that you’re not showing your full potential, what when things were going so well!”
He said nothing, just stared at his feet.
“You’re refusing to engage in your work, you’re falling behind and this year you will be going to secondary school”
“But I don’t want to go there” he shouted as he made his escape out the door and up the stairs to retreat to his sanctuary.
I knew better than to set chase and bombard him with a thousand and one questions, this would only induce a meltdown! Instead I sat head in hands totally lost at what it was I was meant to do next.
Time lapsed, I heard footsteps on the stairs. The little man emerged with a look of seriousness plastered across his face.
“Mum… I’ve messed up to much already to do well now!”
Whatever did he mean I thought to myself!
“How?” I asked
“It’s too late mum, I messed up my education in my old school, I can’t get them years of learning back”
“You’re way to clever, you know that” I encouraged.
“You have 6 more years to make it right, before your GCSE”
He shook his head, proceeded to tell me that I didn’t understand.
I needed to get to the shops before they closed, Little man came too and the conversation continued as we walked around the store…
“How will I start my own business?” he asked inquisitively!
“I want to design and own hotels! I want to design Aeroplanes, how will any of the stuff I learn at school help me achieve this mum?”
“It’s never going to happen” he shouted aloud!
“We all have to learn things that don’t exactly apply to the occupation that we have chosen to pursue as a career. That’s just the way life is” I explained.
“Anyhow, you may feel that something has no direct relation to the occupation you have chosen but often it does” I assured him.
“example… Mummy wants to work in education law but to do so fully, I will need a law degree! This will require me to learn criminal law despite the fact I will not really need it for the work I want to do!”
Little man looked somewhat appalled, shaking his head he said aloud but to himself…
“What a total waste of time”
Technically I couldn’t have agreed more with the little man, but this was beside the point. We all need to learn things even if we feel we don’t need to! Explaining this to a child is hard in itself but to explain this to an 11 year old boy with Aspergers syndrome, who thinks in completely black and white terms was proving a bit of a challenge.
“Why did you tell my teacher about my business idea?”
“Because it’s a good one” I repiled.
I just wanted to help your teacher to inspire you to work by creating a project that you are interested in contributing to.
“But I felt silly” he replied lowering his head.
“Why?” I asked
“Because other children ain’t like me, even those with Aspergers” he snapped.
By now we’re at the checkout, I’m aware that others can fully hear this difficult conversation we’re having.
I try to reassure the little man.
He then proceeds to inform me that his teacher told him that my conversation had inspired him to change his lesson plan for IT.
I ask the Little man if this is a bad thing?
He tells me it is not but he is a little confused as to how this is in anyway inspiring?
“Now Richard Branson, that’s inspiring” He tells me in no uncertain terms.
The woman behind me is loading her shopping onto the belt, she’s very aware of the conversation (Little man isn’t the quietest of speakers you know). She smiles looks right at the little man and tells him that maybe one day he’ll be inspiring too!
The Little Man’s response was to tell her that he will never be inspiring. The lady tells him that tomorrow he should go into school and surprise his teacher with his cleverness.
I smile at the sweet woman for her lovely words of encouragement as we leave the store and head across the road back home.
“So, will you try tomorrow?” I asked enthusiastically.
“Maybe?” He repiled with a shrug.
“And I don’t want you to swear, you hear me”?
“I’ll try” he replies
So, there it was a little progress, or so I thought. Then today I discover a voicemail from his teacher expressing the same concerns from the day previous. This time though, his not only refusing to participate in any work but is totally misbehaving too.
Now I know things go much deeper, his past experiences of mainstream have left him with very little self confidence, this will take longer to rebuild then first expected. His also got the upheaval of secondary school to come. I know this doesn’t require him to change school, we’re lucky enough that his independent special school will educate him up In-till his 16 years old. This is still a very scary experience for the Little man.
It will often takes my son a great deal of time to trust adults/teachers, especially since mainstream, but once you have gained this trust and built a relationship with the little man he relies upon it a great deal. He has now built such a relationship with his class teacher and knowing he will be leaving this teacher come July has really hit home for the Little man.
With the LEA still not responding which makes his annual review well over due, his head teacher is getting on the case to get things sorted! I only hope he makes improvements sooner than later.
I just want him to smile and start believing in himself.
Dreams can become reality and I know my son has the capability to build hotels, aeroplanes and anything else he desires. I just wish he knew this too!