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.


  1. Ah Taz, this is fantastic. I have been seeing those horror stories too and they really worry me. His teacher sounds amazing, its great to hear of him being so happy in school:) Jen xxx

  2. I'm smiling reading this post as it's so nice to hear a positive teaching story these days. Buttons teacher sounds like a fantastic person and I'm delighted to read how "Happy School" is such a success :) xx

  3. Brilliant post and I am so happy your little button found his happy school. Even though Kyle is in mainstream school we have a book that comes home everyday too, and all of it so far has been positive thankgod, I have been told by his sna that all the class love him which is fantastic news too:)

  4. Ah Taz, we could be twins. We must be the two luckiest mammies in the country. When you described the feeling of the weight lifting off your shoulders I know exactly what you mean.
    It' s a crying shame that every one of our kids don't have such a positive experience.
    When outreach works, it's ace XXX

  5. what a school and fab teacher
    delighted button is doing so well

    luca is in a preschool just same as outreach and i love it, he too has his bus and book, to see him run onto his bus every morning is wonderful and i love reading how his day was

    im so chuffed button is doing so well and is happy and has such a positive presence within the school

    such a lovely uplifting post xx

  6. i love positive stories like this.
    boo's a lucky boy to have such a wonderful teacher. she sounds brilliant

  7. You and button are so lucky. Its great to hear such a positive story.
    Im going to send the link to some people who could really do with reading it :)

    I love reading your blog, but this is extra special xxx

  8. When emmy went to asd unit, a close friend told me it'd had taken 7 years off me.That was almost a year ago. Now, he's just 7 and actually walks calmly into school. His teacher and sna's make our whole family life better... loved your post

  9. That is such a positive story with such a happy ending! Sometimes those are few and far between, you are right. Button is such a great little guy and it is encouraging to hear that he is progressing so well from such difficulty to such a positive outcome. Great story, thanks for sharing!!!

  10. I am so happy for you and Button! Sounds like a great school and class. Jaylen also has a "book." Isn't it the best? He now has a mix in his class too, which I love. Some other special needs kids, but plenty of kids with no disabilities to interact with (or in his case) not interact with :)

    And I feel you on the bus thing. Jaylen asks everyday if he can ride the bus when he sees the other kids get on. But I just don't think I am ready for that yet. I know he would love it like Button does though.