I was called into a meeting at the school with some woman I've never met before, and Euan's ASD co-ordinator (who works across all the high schools in the district, and I also had not met her because all our previous meetings have been with her primary school equivalent). Turns out the woman I haven't met is standing in for Euan's Additional Needs Support co-ordinator (in the school) who is off sick (and has been since the beginning of term), and she herself is about to go away on a secondment.
Why does this matter?
It turns out that NONE OF THE SUPPORTS EUAN SHOULD HAVE HAD IN CLASS HAVE BEEN PUT IN PLACE. I was read a list of reports from all his teachers (he has 12), all detailing the difficulties Euan was experiencing with group work, getting homework done (he is on a 'yellow light' for non submission of maths homework already), meltdowns/tandtrums (or, as his teachers put it 'inappropriately emotional responses/arguments', altercations with fellow pupils. It was glaringly obviously that not only did few of his teachers appear to know that he has Aspergers Syndrome, NONE of them had a clue what that meant in terms of accommodations or additional support for his learning. All the work we have put in over the year devising a structured system of support (visual timetables, assistance with organisational tasks, additional time to complete tasks, use of laptop for written assignments, clear roles and expectations in group work, clear 'time out' procedures and places, clear one-to-one contact person for queries like lost lunchcards, how to register for clubs, what to do when forgot homework etc) has been meaningless because when the ASN worker went off sick, no-one picked up her work. In fact, the replacement woman didn't even have a copy of the staged intervention/transition meeting agreements.
I nearly hit the roof. I demanded that certain things - like the timeout/safe place and the key contact person, and removal of penalties for homework non-completing - be instigated straight away. Other supports are going to have to wait until we can convene a full staged intervention meeting and until a new ASN can be put in place. But in the meantime I am going to be writing an extremely pissed off letter to the principal, and then I am going to be taking a deep breath and rewriting it to take out the ranting.
Poor Euan! no wonder he is exhausted! Every lesson must feel like a constant overwhelming battle, plus he is being teased and isolated. His ASD co-ordinator (who was similarly shocked with the school) is going to initiate a training programme for his teachers and his form on difference and ASD, and will assign him a senior pupil mentor to make sure he can get to his clubs etc
His party also did not go well, which is not surprising now I know the wider context: his friends enjoyed it, but he didn't, and he had a huge meltdown. I am only surprised that I have not been called into the school yet because he's attacked someone.
How can they do this? How can they just drop the ball like this? Does it not occur to senior management that if someone as key as an ASN teacher goes off sick at the beginning of term there are going to be children - particularly NEW children - left without agreed supports unless someone picks up her caseload? And what on earth was the point of the hours we spent in planning and transition meetings if the actual decisions taken are not implemented? And if he gets into trouble now, when everyone is adjusting to being in high school, he's only going to get more isolated and disengaged from the whole thing. And so a bright, quirky kid who needs a bit of help suddenly becomes a terrible, troublesome wierdo with no friends, no skills and poor grades.
I'm so unbelievably angry about this that I actually haven't slept properly for the last few days so I really do need to calm down before I write to the principal!
Kirsty, mum to Euan (12, Aspergers Syndrome) Rohan (7, NT) and Maeve (4, NT)