Friday, June 8, 2012

A LITTLE HELP HERE?






“He’s just incredibly sad all the time” 


I knew I was doing that furious blinking thing I do when I’m trying not to cry.


“He’s just not coping Mrs Morley, I’m sorry but I’m just not sure that this is the right school for your son.”  I angrily wiped the tears from my face and looked at the Principal. This was a state school, I mean, they didn’t even expel the kid that constantly tried to kick his teacher in the testicles, yet here she was telling me that my sweet Sam could no longer attend?  I turned to look at his teacher. She didn’t meet my eye.


“So then, what do we do?” I knew I sounded childlike, whiny. Not like I should. Not like a mother should. Not like his advocate should.

“Well, there are schools that are more suitable for a child like Sam.

“A child like Sam?” I was thrown. Sure, Sam is an eccentric child. He's a child that needs a little extra help with reading and writing and I'm not deluded, he is definitely different, but “a child like him” sounded so sinister, so final.

“A socially and emotionally challenged child that has difficulty learning without support.” This sentence was delivered with a well-rehearsed and I’d like to think, well-meaning smile. “Sam is not a normal child. When we met him, when you enrolled him, I didn’t foresee these kind of challenges” She looked around nervously, at the floor, anywhere, but at me. When she finally shifted in her chair and looked up, her demeanour had changed. She wanted to get her message through to me, my feelings were no longer her priority. “Look, he’s just not progressing here, and frankly, we don’t have the time to spend with him. Not the time he needs.  I’m sorry Mrs Morley, but you’ll need to make other arrangements for his schooling.” I blinked. Hard. “I have the name of a few institutions; I mean educational institutions that take children like ‘him’.”  They know how to deal with his quirks, his learning disability, they can help.”


And that right there, that word, was the magic one – HELP. Four little letters that could change his world. Because that’s all any of us want for him. When you are holding your new born baby in your arms you aren’t thinking about this conversation. You aren’t even imagining that getting an education for your child will be an issue. Because you live in Australia and you are lucky.


There is no denying Sam is a different kid. He is has Aspergers. He’s not an angry child. He’s not silly, he’s actually one of the best behaved children in his class. Where he struggles is to understand that not everyone is going to want to have a conversation about his particular topic of choice. Flight paths of A380s for instance or the ins and outs of how a tornado is formed.  He doesn’t always read social situations well. He is little. He gets tired easily. But he is generally the loveliest, wittiest and ironically the smartest and most mature child in his group. Not being biased, he just is. He is a joy, yet at times, he just needs a kind, patient and gentle person to guide him. To want to teach him.


And I understand where these teachers are coming from. They have 30 children in their class. They are under resourced, underfunded, under appreciated and underpaid, they don’t have the time to give him one on one attention. Yet, in Queensland, Sam had an aid, he was in a funded environment. He was perfectly fine in a mainstream school environment. And  I know – we moved here, to Victoria,  I shouldn’t complain but excuse me for a minute while I do. Because this is Australia – is it not? How ridiculous that from State to State these rules change. 


Yet there I was, being told, that he wasn’t really welcome although, there was a “perfect school” for Sam, just around the corner, at a nominal (and astronomical) fee. And, please don’t get me wrong, I have no issue spending money to educate my children but my point is that we should not HAVE to. We are a first world country FFS, we are supposed to have access to education, health and disability support for EVERY child, regardless or wealth or privilege.




Right now, Sam is in the process of being assessed. He can only receive extra support in a mainstream classroom situation if he is deemed to have Autism, yet he will never receive this diagnosis. He has high functioning Autism – Aspergers, not funded by the Victorian Government  for extra classroom assistance. So we wait and Sam doesn’t progress.


I’ve spoken with Principals from neighbouring schools and while they sympathise, they are the first to tell me he is one of those many “middle” children. One that needs assistance but isn’t recognised by the Victorian education department as such.  


Tonight, like a lot of nights,  Sam told me he’d had a “hard day” and started to cry.  As I held him I realised that I, his advocate, needed to change his little world. Make it understandable and workable. I guess I just need a little help to work out how.

86 comments:

Sam Ryan said...

with such an awesome name, and clearly a great spirit and loving family he's ahead of many other kids. It is sad that governments give so much money to already-rich private schools for schmick sports facilities rather than providing all kids an equal opportunity for the best possible education though.

Mandi said...

I'm so sorry Bern, I had this exact meeting with my sons highschool deputy principal & year co ordinator just last week! He had been suspended for saying something silly when he was upset & at the meeting to come back to school they were sitting there with forms for a school that takes the worst of the worst kids with emotional & learning issues!! I flat out refused to change his school & they weren't too happy about it! Unbelievable how they try & palm them off to another school at the first hiccup! He also had an aid to help him in primary school as he has/had a fine motor skills delay (handwriting specifically) & gets overwhelmed & upset very easily. I wish I knew what the answer was but I understand & hope you find a school in Victorias education system that is a good fit for Sam! It is gut wrenching as a mother to hear those words & I was made to feel very helpless.

bigwords is... said...

Oh sweetheart I wish I could help fix this for you and San because it's just so shitty. All I can do is offer an ear or a shoulder. I hope you find what you need so Sam can flourish x

Kylie L said...

Bern, so sorry to read this, I really am. I can't even imagine how tough that must be on you and how crap you must be feeling. I wish I can help at all- all i can do is suggest Preshil, though I'm guessing that's the hideously expensive option you've already been given :(

Or go back to Qld. Melb isn't worth it if you can't get an aid for Sam. I'm embarrassed by my own state.

We area way all long weekend, but hope to talk soon. xxxx

Jen said...

It makes me really cross that kids that don't fit into the 'mainstream' are sidelined and not helped as much as they need to be. I can understand you getting a bit whiny because what are you supposed to do? It's not easy to sit there and listen to someone talk about your child like that. Yes, you are his advocate and his only one. I remember a friend telling me that once about my son. And it's true. Good luck, and hugs, to you all.

Easy Peasy Kids said...

Bern that really sucks. When I moved here from the Uk I was shocked at how each state has different rulings. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help Nx

Megan Blandford said...

The state by state thing is ridiculous. It really, really is.

It's so hard as a parent to make it all work for our kids, when you feel out of your depth yourself. Wishing you all the best with finding your way through this together. xx

Mrs Woog said...

That is just so shocking and sad and makes me a bit pissed off to be frank. I know that word ADVOCATE. It is amazing what strength you can find within. Lots of love xxx

Anna Spargo-Ryan said...

Oh BERN. I am right there with you and it is horrifying. Something needs to be changed in the way these kids are supported before we lose their love and spirit. Let me know if I can do anything or just get fired up next to you.

Anj said...

Oh Bern, I shudder to think about possibly going through a similar situation. And I am equally sad & frustrated about how to navigate "the system" with an intelligent child who is not deemed "disabled enough", but who still needs assistance to access all the information/curriculum through the public schools. Unfortunately, some people do NOT have the financial means to send their kids to special schools or private institutions (which, honestly, doesn't seem like the right move for an intelligent and highly functioning student anyhow). And it stuns me that ANY state would choose to leave a good portion of their students without assistance. Hoping you find a solution that feels right for Sam, and your whole family. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I have a pension age Bro In Law with AS, who only found out ten years ago why he had been considered ‘weird’ all his life [and treated accordingly, including a father who was inclined to give him a thrashing at regular intervals for not being as he ‘should’].
Naturally, he is a genius but, without wanting to scare you [because he is 60 years older] he has always been socially vulnerable.

So the first things to note are awareness, genius and – because of the awareness and the concern of his family etc he will never be anywhere near as socially vulnerable. One day he WILL understand.

But right now you are both feeling a shitload of pain, and you are right to be furiously frustrated.

Instead of looking for equal outcomes with stupid NAPLAN tests [your son could probably pass easily without the usual cheating] we should all be focusing on national opportunities. Hopefully one day we will twig the constitution belongs to a time before phones and cars and travel by ship or camel from one part of the country to another, and have federal responsibilities for education and all the other stuff [not that that would be a guarantee of anything].

Ooh, so many things to say. Current Affairs Shows. Women’s magazines. Some of those mags might a)contribute to the fees and b) pixelate faces in photos protecting his privacy. A letter writing campaign to newspapers, MPs and MLAs and equally uncaring PM and Premier could include threatening the mongrels with the equal opp commission. Do something [legal] with that anger. It might not change anything now, but further down the track who knows?

This shit all sucks big time. I only wish there was something constructive I could do to help.

ourbigexpatadventure said...

this sucks. Sucks. It's not good enough. For Sam and you and the other kids who are "in between". Much love. X

traceyb65 said...

in. sane.

my son has no formal diagnosis or any real chance of receiving one, he is just 'different' — incredibly sensitive to his surroundings, unable to work in a chaotic environment, an easy target for bullies due to his friendly and inclusive nature. apart from occupational therapy for motor skills deficits, we have made it through primary school and he is now working through the challenges of his first year at high school.

but there are children at our school who, from this brief description, sound a lot like Sam. funding for assistance is a constant struggle (and is getting worse), teachers routinely go above and beyond to provide the assistance each of these kids need …

i keep thinking there must be a higher authority you can take this to Bern. i wonder if your principal's boss would be impressed by the 'too hard basket' he is being put in? and yes, Mrs Woog, ADVOCATE is a word that resonates strongly.

good luck. xt

The Daughter-In-Laws said...

This is a heartbreaking read and I am so ashamed to call myself a Victorian right now. If a public school cannot accept a child then a government should not be looking away and pretending the problem doesn't exist. Makes me appreciate why our teachers were striking yesterday, the most underpaid in the country yet the national curriculum is apparently based on their standards. Embarrassing.

whatsinemmasbrain said...

From one mum to another, a huge virtual hug.
What an inexcusable heartbreaking situation to be in.
Much love.

Twitchy said...

Bern, I'm so sorry to hear this. You know we understand and though right now it may feel like it you are certainly not alone. We have been so very lucky through Primary School and I don't take this for granted. It's getting harder in Victoria and this situation has a lot of people hopping mad. (Learning issues and disabilities are simply terrible for economics and learning outcome figures! LET'S MAKE IT WORSE!)

As a group we need to do something about it. All this and the need for frustrated parents to give each other support is the reason we started Autism In Our Own Words. For anyone else who doesn't know about us, our FB page is here http://www.facebook.com/AutismOurWords. We post reader questions and the community has been great at sharing their knowledge. Have tagged this post there too. xxxxx

brizcowgirl said...

My sister is a special Ed teacher is Brisbane. I have some
idea where you are coming from. I hope the situation gets sorted out soon, for you and Sam. {hugs}

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Oh Bern my heart's breaking for you, for all of you. I know you have the support you need here - I hope it helps you find the HELP you need to see your lovely boy thrive.

Kate said...

Oh Bern. I hear you. The system in Victoria is bullshit, there's no other way to put it. My 8yo son has Aspergers & ODD. He does not cope, there is no funding to help him and everyone suffers for it. His teachers, his classmates, and most of all him. We're in the process of looking at part time homeschooling because we are simply out of options :(

Miss Pink said...

We are going through school issues ourselves. Not a learning disability but right now I'm to the point where I am frankly pissed off.
A teacher called my child 'stupid' yesterday and when I went higher this morning they shrugged it off saying it wouldn't happen. Why would my child lie? He's just turned six, and would have nothing to gain from it.

Truth is, there is not enough support for your children. For families. It shouldn't be a "if youre child needs it badly enough" if they need it, they need it! And if it's a hard resource give what you can. Share an aide between a couple of children. Just an aide for a few hours a week even!

I am so angry for you Bern. For how your situation has been handled. Paying for your child to have his educational needs met just because he needs a little more attention than others is absolute bullshit. It's bullshit for all families.
I used to think Australia was a great country, but as I've grown and had my own children I see more and more how the government fails us. Yes, we vote them in, but we really have limited options. Politicians who earn an astronomical amount for bickering like children and making promises they don't intend to keep.
Don't have funding for our children's education? How about politicians pull a bit from your salary and give back to the future?

Maria Tedeschi (Mum's Word) said...

Bern my heart is breaking for you and your little Sam. Have the teachers done anything to help him understand why he might be moving? Surely there not going to let you handle this all on your own right?

I hope all you ladies get the help you and your children need.

Love & stuff
Mrs M

Lisa Lintern said...

All we want is the best for our children. My heart is aching for you. But I have a feeling you won't stop until he gets the support he needs. Actually, not the support he 'needs'...the support he 'deserves'. Thinking of you. x

Sarah said...

I HEAR YOUUUUUUuuuu

Our 13 yo has Aspergers and is in the same boat. The private school (because the pubic could not cope) is doing fantastic that he is HEAPS better now but that journey you have started we started years ago. BUt we also are financially not easy to breath...

Oh man... even with the so called "new assessments to ensure these children don't get missed out" seems to have missed them out...

You are NOT ALONE

Just keep at it - I know you feel like you are hitting your head against a wall - often - but keep going with your gut instinct.

Sarah said...

I HEAR YOUUUUUUuuuu

Our 13 yo has Aspergers and is in the same boat. The private school (because the pubic could not cope) is doing fantastic that he is HEAPS better now but that journey you have started we started years ago. BUt we also are financially not easy to breath...

Oh man... even with the so called "new assessments to ensure these children don't get missed out" seems to have missed them out...

You are NOT ALONE

Just keep at it - I know you feel like you are hitting your head against a wall - often - but keep going with your gut instinct.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

my heart is breaking for you right now my lovely.

I understand COMPLETELY and I can't work right now because of the demands and difficulties the mainstream school - that have no choice they HAVE to take him by law - give us.

Alas we are still in the situation, albeit marginally better than it was, where appropriate education and support is only available for those that can pay.

Karen said...

I got a less-than-kind phone call from a hospital admissions clerk this week regarding some surgery I need done. The surgery is minor, it's for myself, and it's a temporary problem.

Nevertheless, her manner reduced me to tears. I felt like absolute crap for having the audacity to not fit the perfect-patient-cookie-cutter she obviously preferred.

So I can only imagine how helpless and worthless you felt after that interview. Bureaucracy is supposed to ensure nobody gets left behind and that everything is open to scrutiny. But it creates such stupid and arbitrary rules that leave people feeling like an annoyance that the rest of us shouldn't have to deal with.

I'm so sorry your family was made to feel so unwelcome. I hope you get the help you need xx

Megan said...

This is an altogether too common story - you poor thing. My son lasted six weeks at our local primary school, six long weeks of incredible stress for all of us. His teacher and the 'system' made no allowances for his particular 'way of seeing the world', which is only slightly different from what is deemed 'normal'. As appalling as that interview sounds with the teacher/principal, at least you have clear information that the school is absolutely not for him. Close the door and open your hearts to the next thing, public or private, mainstream or alternative, Sam's school is out there and you will find it. No question.

Nicole@MyIdeaLife said...

Oh bern, lucky we're not face to face as wouldn't be able to talk for holding back tears. My heart just broke reading about you and Sam. Will circulate your story - maybe we can create some noise that will get things changed. Sending love and strength until then, Nic x

mamabook said...

Bern, I am so sorry. We moved too. And my boy just spent his last day in a mainstream classroom for some time (summer break USA starting today). He is going into a special ed classroom in his mainstream public school with tons of supports in the Fall. I don't think he would have got anything like this level of support in Australia. It is ironic to me that we had to move to the US to get appropriate and actually generous funding.
I am hoping you find the right place for Sam. Giving you lots of energy to fight! There has to be a lawsuit in there somehow - isn't it the job of the state to provide an appropriate education for every child. Your school has told they can't and there is nothing for him in public education.
Stepping off my soapbox.
Michelle x

Brenda said...

So so sorry to hear this, Bern. Hope you get the help that you need. X

Fiona said...

Hi Bern, I am registered teacher in Victoria. I am so sorry and appalled at what is happening to you.

My understanding is that you are fully entitled to adjustments and accommodations in any state school in Victoria.

This is based on the Disability Standards in Education - well worth a read:

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/healthwellbeing/wellbeing/disability/handbook/legislation.htm

Ironically, the link is from the Vic Department of Education. "Inclusive" legislation is the aim, it is something everyone is entitled to in the state system.

Other legislation also applies, including the CRPD, to which Australia is a signatory.

I think I remember something about a mediation person (from the Department) being available in these cases. I will try to chase up a contact and get back to you.

I feel so sorry for Sam. This is just so wrong.

Renee | About a Bugg said...

Bern, I hope you don't mind, but your post today inspired one of my own. I just wanted to let you know hold on, it's ok to be whiney and shouty and teary and even sweary.

We have been there, lived it and come out the other side (for the moment anyway). There is hope and if you need it, support.

Renee xx

Madam Bipolar said...

So much for universal education. Makes me angry.

Fiona said...

There is a useful Discussion Paper on "Inclusive Education" here(Vic Dept of Ed again.)

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/healthwellbeing/wellbeing/disability/research.htm

I'm just gobsmacked that this Principal seems to not even be paying lip-service to the notion of "inclusive education."

It's not an optional extra that schools can pick and choose! It's backed up by legislation.

I would think very carefully about what is best for your son and get further advice/support.

Fiona said...

Here are legal cases relating to discrimination in Education for children with disabilities (including some with autism, where the school refused to accommodate):

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/decisions/conciliation/education_conciliation.html

And maybe you could ring/email via the link below for support in this issue (or to file an online complaint):

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/complaints_information/index.html

Kylie Johnson said...

Hi Bern, I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I've had a similar situation with my son. He's not aspergers, he's not autistic. He's just bright. If a school can't cope with a well behaved, bright kid, then what hope is there?

His former teacher described him as a 'bit of an odd bod' and I hit the roof.

It was such a shock to me that I would need to be such an advocate for my son. I am now, even though I'm well aware the school principal must roll her eyes every time I email or call her.

I figure she'll barely remember me after he leaves school in three years, so I'm trying to be more assertive.

It's great to see such constructive comments to your post. If you can go back to the principal and say 'well, you HAVE to accommodate Sam' and flourish the appropriate legislation, then great.

I did the same with my son and while this year is a better year, I'm still frustrated that the school is so challenged by any child who isn't considered mainstream.

My said...

Hi Bern,
What a shitty situation.

I too have experienced the shock that in this day and age, in this lucky country of ours, there are children not receiving the assistance they need. When my daughter who is neurotypical was in Grade1, she was struggling with reading and even though we practised I didn't seem to be helping her. I went to the school to ask if she was up to her age/grade level standard and what I could do to help. I was horrified when they told me they knew she wasn't up to standard but the reading recovery class was full and while she was not up to an acceptable level there was only funding for one reading recovery class and it was full. I decided to get outside help and paid for private tutoring. She caught up but the big issue for me was the school had never once contacted me to say she needed help - and when I contacted them they couldn't help. At that point I enrolled her in private school because the fact is the public school system in Victoria is underfunded and not able to help kids that need extra.

At birth my second child was enrolled into private school because of our experience with his sister but we sent him to the local 4 year old Kinder. I spent most of the year in tears with the way he was treated by the teachers at Kinder. He was told he was bad, and naughty all of the time and I couldn't understand why my beautiful, well behaved child was acting out. He has since been diagnosed with Aspergers - but even getting him a diagnosis was difficult and expensive. We had to wait months to see a paediatrician (privately) and we paid out thousands of dollars for the assessments which weren't covered by health insurance - although medicare did pay a small amount (less than 5% toward this). This process has made me question our lucky country. And although we are thrilled with our choice of school - he started prep this year at the private school his sister attends. I am not pro private or public - I think the right school can be either. It comes down to a willingness for the school and it's teachers to teach the hard kids as well as the easy ones. Good luck on finding a school that is accepting of Sam and willing to teach him be the best he can be. Thats all we want for our children. Dr Richard Eisenmeyer in Glen Iris is an expert on Aspergers and he might be able to recommend a school. I have heard great things about him but have never used his services. Wishing you the very best of luck xoxo

Fiona said...

I found what I was looking for - here is the formal process for resolving an issue such as this in a Victorian school:

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/contact/pcschools.htm

You can contact the Regional Office at this point, to discuss what has happened. Hopefully, they can clarify your rights and the school's responsibilities.

You can also lodge a formal complaint if you choose.

See above link for paperwork and contact details.

Kim @frogpondsrock said...

I don't have anything to offer you, other than "I know" and my heart hurts for you. It was front page news here in Tassie the other day that a 5 year old Autistic boy had been told to stay home from school next year because his school couldn't afford an Aide for him.

My children are quirky, my grandchildren are quirkier. Amy has Aspergers but because the tests are designed for boys, she only gets half a tick in each box. She is my delightful triangle peg. God kinows what will happen when Isaac starts school. love to you Bern. lots and lots of love

Marita said...

It sucks so hard. We fought with everything we had to get Heidi the bare minimum of funding.

Annie missed out on funding because she has aspergers and it makes school hard. Thank goodness for the part time homeschooling option.

We are lucky our new principal who started during Annie's grade 1 year fights to include kids.

Marita said...

It sucks so hard. We fought with everything we had to get Heidi the bare minimum of funding.

Annie missed out on funding because she has aspergers and it makes school hard. Thank goodness for the part time homeschooling option.

We are lucky our new principal who started during Annie's grade 1 year fights to include kids.

Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad said...

As a mother & teacher/educator this post both made me feel terribly frustrated for you, furious and mostly heartbroken. I can only imagine the challenges that lie ahead for you with this battle and for your little boy. You're spot on when you addressed his right to be educated as any other child here in Australia. It seems unjust and unbelievable that any child can be put in the too hard basket. We live in AUSTRALIA! A privilaged country!
All the best. I truly hope that this is only going to lead your little boy to the education he has needed and deserves.
Thank you for a honest and moving post. I'm a new reader, and look forward to following you going forward :)

Denwise aka Denyse Whelan said...

I'm so sorry Bern... Your Sam is such a great kid .. As you know! My knowledge from perspective as school principal (state) from NSW that a student is entitled to remain in his or her local school. When children do have learning difficultultiss then there have been says of achieving some support. BUT... Now.. Our STUPID NSW government has completely upended its own previously helpful resource system for students such as Sam to be well assisted.. There is now more & more parents saying "WTF?" here too. This matter of education resourcing in ALL states is at the mercy of politics in Canberra. Schools' systems ( private & public) are state- funded BUT using their money given from Canberra. I wish I had better news. My own grandson faces huge issues at primary school yet has some funding for aide time.. In Yr 7 High School 2013 he'll have $0 but I expect he will have suspensions more. It is a POLITICAL issue more than an EDUCATIONAL issue & makes me so mad that schools seem to be blamed when often their hands are tied. Bern I am always happy to listen if you want to vent more. Denyse xx

Dorothy Krajewski said...

That just sucks, Bern. I hope you find a solution.

Dorothy Krajewski said...

That just sucks, Bern. I hope you find a solution.

Kirsty @ My Home Truths said...

Bern, I'm in NSW and they are about to bring in "Every Student Every School" which will affect the funding of most students with high functioning autism and aspergers. My son will lose his access to an aide because in their cost cutting eyes he is not disabled enough to require assistance. I have gone to the local paper and have written to my local member and even tweeted the premier of NSW but no progress as yet. I can see the car crash that's going to happen here but can't seem to stop it. I feel for you and completely 100% agree that our kids deserve the chance to receive public education and have the basic support they need to succeed. I hope you can make Sam smile again and I hope I can do something to stop this car crash of policy happening here in NSW. All the best Bern.

LJS said...

As a mother of a sweet ASD affected boy I dread going through a situation like you describe Bern. It's like being stabbed in the heart.
My gorgeous 5 yr old scored too high to receive funding for an aide but desperately needs one on one help. Our school is an unofficial autism focus school so they are exceptional in knowing about ASD but the reality is they just do not have the scope to provide the level of help we need. Everyone acknowledges an aide would address so many issues but the govt has decided that we don't meet their criteria. In a prep group of 55 kids there are 6 diagnosed with ASD, 4 undiagnosed but in need of help: NOT one aide!!!!
We keep being told that ASD is becoming more understood as it is seen in more people but I now think there's a feeling that ASD is the new medical 'black'. I have friends that have seen the horrible experiences we have had getting LJ assessed and even they roll their eyes when talking about autistic kids getting "handouts" that other kids don't get. They just don't understand that if you are lucky enough to access the Helping Children with Autism package it stops once a child turns 7, just when they need help at school. Obviously the govt knows something about ASD being cured when you turn
7 (!)
Sorry Bern - not helping you but please know that there are many many people in your situation who are doing a brilliant job trying to protect, advocate for & support their children (and will continue to do so for the long haul).
Sending you & every other Advocate (God what a heavy word that is when you are one) support. Take care

Anonymous said...

Not much I can add that the above comments haven't already said - I just can't believe this has happened to someone! As a Qld teacher, I have a boy in Yr 1 much the same as your Sam, but I wouldn't get rid of him for the world! Have you looked at the Sue Larkey website? She's full of great ideas for autism and aspergers kids in school and home. There are also heaps of apps you can get for your i-pad/pod if you search them out (if you hadn't already). Maybe get in touch with your local Autism association - they may have some knowledge of schools more willing to accept someone with a great personality? Good luck, I wish I was closer, then I would tell you to come and enrol Sam in my class! Take care x

Amy Shantil said...

Oh, my dears. I am crying for you Sam and for your mum. I hope you find a way through this that gives your family some peace of mind and happier days for this dear little boy.

wsb said...

Hey Bern,
So sorry to hear that the change of state/schools has caused so much angst for you. It sounds like the commenters above have some good ideas including pressing the issue with the school but it depends what you feel comfortable with.
All the best and I look forward to hearing a positive outcome either way.

Lou Lou said...

Oh good luck with everything, it sounds quite stressful. That is crazy with the difference in state to state rules. The government should really stop funding private schools and put the money where it is really needed...

Tania said...

I'm not sure what to say, I don't even know what to do but I send you and Sam supportive thoughts and best wishes.

nikki said...

wow. i have no words.
i am only discovering the world of 'assessments' 'confirming diagnosis' and 'funded help' right now..
at the beginning of the year i thought i was living a nightmare when with the beginning of grade 1 my son's fragile social balance (created by an awesome prep teacher) completely collapsed..
Then I thought I was being incredibly let down by the teacher (who at open day had told me she had special needs training. go figure). from rock-bottom / child on the run or rolling on the floor we went from class change, principal intervention and pre-diagnosis through the school to what can be considered a completely new - and liveable - situation. and this is BEFORE the actual diagnosis by specialists has been done, so our school is basically forwarding the funds. I can hardly believe how lucky we are and how much this depends on what state you live. i am in Qld but not even inside Brisbane.
i am so sorry to hear about the shit you go through. how old is Sam, would love to be in touch a bit more x

moldor said...

That Principal is a fool - do NOT allow them to kick Sam out. They are a STATE school, they have NO RIGHT to do that. I am so friggin' furious about that, *I*'ll kick him in the testicles myself !!!

So Now What? said...

Can I just thank EVERYONE that has commented and contacted me. It has been amazing the knowledge and helpful information that has been passed onto me. I have people to contact during the week and hopefully, some advice on what I can do to make sure he finds the right place (for him) to learn. But Sam is only one child out of who knows how many. There is a huge problem with the way the government (both Federal and State) is handling the education of children who don't fit into their definition of normal. My email is bernmorley@gmail.com should anyone wish to get in touch.

Many thanks again, Bern

Cisco said...

i really like your blog..have fun reading it

Sarah said...

Your post broke my heart.
I too have a son with Asperger's in a NSW state school. He is in kindy and so far we have scored a great school and teacher. But I fully understand that with the way funding works he could loose his part time aid and it would be a very different story.
I hope you find a place for your boy.

Bette said...

Bern,

I am a secondary teacher working in a Victorian Government School. Quite frankly, the amount of support that is available to you in the secondary system is crap! No matter what year level, you are entitled to know the extent of any funding that you are eligible for. You are also entitled to know where that money is being spent. Insist on it. Make trouble for your principal. Legally, your school cannot refuse your son. There are exceptions to this, but believe me, it is almost impossible to expel a child! They must be truly bad to be able to move them on. But they can make life difficult for you.

My story is similar to yours, but different too. As Australians, my husband and I took our infant son to The Netherlands. When we returned 8 years later, our 2 older children had spent several years in a Dutch school. Recognising they would need support with their English and their learning (English as a Second Language), I contacted all the local government schools in the area we were looking to move to. EVERY government school advised us that we should look at the Blackburn Language School. WTF?!? My children spoke fluent English. We read to them in English.

We went to a local Catholic school, and when we told our story, the Principal thoughtfully mentioned the Early Arrivals Programme. I thought, great we are being moved on again. She then went on to mention that they had an ESL teacher on staff and that the programme would be followed within the school. I immediately enrolled my kids. And it was the best thing I could have done. The caring nature of this school has become a magnet for children with special needs, particularly Autism. But at the same time, the 'mainstream' kids have not missed out. Why? Because EVERY class has a minimum of 1 integration aide. This actually was unfortunate, because it meant my daughter was not diagnosed until she was 8 years, missing out on all the early intervention programmes.

We did not even look at Government schools for Secondary Education, and I am happy with the Catholic Secondary school we have sent my daughter to. Should I need to move her, she will come to my school. Not because we are any better at working with special needs kids, but because I have the opportunity to provide her with support in school, and know who to get involved.

Sal said...

Jeez Bern, how are you all holding up? It has been a really long time since I have swung by the blog and I am just red with rage at the injustice of it all. I know lots of people have offered to help, and I really hope they can, but I may just be in a position to help in some small way. I am a teacher of teachers at uni so have access to quite a large network of schools in Melbourne. If you want to give me a call I can dm my number. I also tweeted you ages back with one of my colleague's email address, who is a parent at the school you are talking about. He being a local may have some good leads for help too...
Stay strong mumma Bern, Sam is lucky to have you and your family. We'll help somehow!
Sal

Jayne said...

Pardon my French but Feck a doodle, this sucks hairy dogs' balls.
Does he have a speech delay?
Is he clinically depressed?
Does he have anger management issues?
These are a couple of other areas you *might* get funding for an integration aide for, instead of the Aspergers.
Consider homeschooling or even discuss part-time homeschooling with a local primary; if he can attend classes like sports, science, LOTE, and you teach him at home the rest of the time - takes the pressure off him and let's him catch up with his peers without the constant 8 hour pressure of a classroom.

Sarah said...

jesus...the middle is the worst place to be. Neither here now there. Ive spent so many hours in the playground talking to mums about the shit state of affairs when they wish a 'diagnosis' on their kids to get access to what they need. I hate saying I dont know the answers, but I dont, but I love your love for Sam. That counts x

Karna O'Dea said...

Hi Bern

YOU need to become assertive like some of the other mums here and advocate for your kid. Get onto your local Victorian member and the Victorian minister of education and the premier and say why you are not happy. You need to ask or rather demand assistance into form of teacher’s aide for your son, As is a real disability with its social deficits despite the normal intelligence. I do not get the idiot idea that according ot the govt he does not need help in the classroom. Obviously they did not speak to any parent of an AS child. I would follow up on the school and to be honest make their lives miserable as the principal and teacher reed to be held to task for their stupid attitudes. However it may not be a good school for him as a positive attitude is everything. Has the Victorian Autism Association followed up on the funding issue as it must affect a number of Victorian families. If you have a kid with any sort of issue you need to be a good advocate for them. Also never go to any meeting alone always take your spouse or another so you do not face a team of evil intent to undermine you as some of the educational personnel seem to be . Always send a follow-up email covering the points discussed and agreements reached so you have a record. I have meet great teachers an hopeless ones but their attitude is the thing that makes the difference.


You can speak to the Children with Disability Australia and let them know your situation as they do follow up

You might find a social skills class would help Sam to learn the rules a bit more about conversation such as turn taking and not everyone is riveted by tornados or the flight paths of A380s. They do seem ot help kids with AS ad HFA. There are a number of IPAD apps that reinforce such thing such as social Express.

You can never be faint hearted when you have a child with a problem. Rather you have to become a warrior mother

Karna

Maxabella said...

So very sad reading this. Sam's gonna be fine with you in his corner, Bern. But what about all the SAMs who don't have a Bern? It's not ok.

The whole 'state' shit has to go. Federal gov needs to step up and sort out an education system across the country. Think off all the resources that would free up - resources that would ensure that no child ever, ever falls in the 'middle'. Grrr... That makes me cross!!!!

C'mon Australia! This s one of the most important Big Things we face.

Thinking of you and Sam too, Bern. x

Fiona said...

So glad to see this has been posted on both MammaMia and the ABC's disability website...maybe this issue might get some momentum and media attention.

Hope things are progressing in some way for you at the moment, Bern.

Katrina said...

That's hard. So hard. Parenting is hard. He's very lucky to have you. Hang in there x

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Laura Bloom said...

Thanks for telling this story. I so relate. Is there any chance you could go back to Queensland?

Laura Bloom said...

Thanks for telling this story. I so relate. Is there any chance you could go back to Queensland?

Kath Lockett said...

Oh.... I wandered over from scuze-i's blog and have read your latest three posts, including this one.

I don't know you - you don't know me, but if I could, I'd give you a hug. Then I'd make you a coffee and offer you a faceful of chocolate.

My thoughts are with you and Sam and hope that the next post about him is full of good news. Hugs to him, too.

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