Thursday, January 28, 2010
Button finds his place
Button started in his new school in September 2007. His class consisted of 4 other boys, all of whom had Autism, his wonderful teacher and 3 or 4 SNAs. They also have a reading teacher. He travelled in and out of school on a bus, with an escort and 2 other children. The bus journey had been my biggest concern - but it turned out to be the highlight of his day! He was as happy as larry on the bus, hopping on without so much as a backward glance at me.
That first day Mr Taz and I collected him, and even though he had been aggressive and unco-operative for Teacher, she still gave him a hug as he was leaving and was very positive in telling us that it was nothing she hadn't seen before, and that we'd get through it. In the car he said "Mummy, I don't go to noisy school any more, I go to Happy School" and that is what we call it to this day. Happy School
The first few months were hard for Button and Teacher. His aggression was very ingrained by now - as far as he was concerned, if he didn't want to do his work, pulling hair or biting should get him out of it. It had worked for him for a long time by now! However, he had met his match with Teacher! She insisted that no matter what the behaviour the task would be completed. Her hair was pulled, she was kicked and bitten but she didn't give in. There would be no reward for bad behaviour.
Even though I wasn't collecting Button from school every day, thanks to his "Book" I knew exactly what he was doing during the day. At the end of every term, his classwork was sent home for me to see, and best of all, Button himself was actually beginning to tell me what he had done that day. He was engaged and excited about school, and the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.
Along with all the usual academic work, Teacher is very insistent that her boys learn important life and social skills. Every day Button has a job to do, some days he sets the table for lunch, or sweeps the floor. But his favourite is to deliver a message to another class. One day I had to collect him early for an OT appointment, and as we were leaving 6 or 7 of the mainstream children said good bye to him by name. I said to Button "everyone knows you", and one little boy overheard me and said "Everybody loves Button! He's so cool!"
And you know what? He is cool!! In Happy School he is respected and loved for who he is. His behaviour is improving every term. And we have gone from every day being a bad day, to maybe 1 or 2 a month. But even when the bad days happen he is cherished and loved. To them he is just Button - his behaviour does not define who he is.
Today Button's book read "Button had a very good day today. He paid very good attention and listened well. In PE he did one full rotation on his bike" Did I mention that they asked me to send in his bike to keep in the hall, so that they could teach him to ride? This is what teaching is all about! This is why when I hear such horror stories among my friends of daily struggles with principals and teachers that I thank the Good Lord (or whatever you believe in) for Happy School.