Friday, February 5, 2010

Let it Be...

At the risk of sounding like a typing monkey... 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'

Hippy school is brilliant. Not just for Billy, for everyone. It's the school we all truly wish we had been to when we were kids. People are interested in each other. It is child-centred. Hell, it's child-run. No principal, just a cooperative structure fully understood and run by the children and the adults together. Each giving the other guidance when required.

And with all of that comes two apparent things - respect and freedom. By giving and earning respect, the members of the school community earn freedom. Behaviour, both 'good' and 'bad' has consequences, and so everyone lives in a fluid, thinking atmosphere.

And that buys Billy a lot. Certainly a whole lot more than a mainstream school could. He does not have to wrestle with the need to sit still at a desk, for example. He completes his work, and is free to move around. Any of you with children with autism or ADHD will know how much mental energy is spent by all concerned on that one element of school life alone.

Is he allowed to fidget? Yes. Can he have processing time? Yes. Is he allowed to disengage when he's stressed? Absolutely.

Is he being treated any differently than any of the other kids? No.

He's treated with understanding. He's taken for who he is. And sure, who he is is quite different to many of his peers. But who they are is quite different to him... and quite different to each other. They are all unique.

And no, I don't mean 'unique' as in 'special' and all the other euphemisms for disabled. They are all unique in the truest sense of the word - one of a kind. As we all are.

But, all this floaty loveliness doesn't change the fact that school is loud. School is fast. School is full of the need to decode language. School is demanding. School is exhausting. And the one thing that compensates for all of these things for most kids - the fact that they can play with their friends, well... it's not compensation for Billy. It's becoming more attractive every day, but it's really, really hard for him.


I believe I would have sought this for my child, even if he hadn't turned out to be autistic. But what seems to work for Billy is... 'let it be', let him be... just allow him to feel safe and secure and not constantly wrong.

Do not punish him for behaviour he cannot control, yet at the same time help him understand what achievable behaviour is expected of him.

Hippy school allows that to happen. And the results are unbelievably positive.

He is cognitively matching his peers. He is becoming flexible socially with his peers. He is able to manipulate expressive language in a manner not unlike his peers. His receptive language is 100% age appropriate.

We are all fortunate that Billy chooses flight, over fight. So he does not have many challenging or unpredictable behaviours. He has exuberant involvement, active observation, mute fear and shut down. But before hippy school, in a child filled environment he had tears, panic and shut down. So we're winning.

It's obviously a life long journey but at the end of this part (ie. week one of grade one) I would like to take the opportunity to pat us on the back. It's still hard, but it's right.

And if you are reading this because you too have a gentle, quiet child with autism, them please consider our example... take it easy, keep things slow, listen to The Beatles... Let it Be.

It may be tempting to try and 'teach' your child to hide their autism while they are in the real world. It may even seem like it's working. But... if your gut is screaming that what you are doing is counterintuitive... then listen to your gut.

It knows when to ask for food, and it probably knows a lot about how you could make decisions for your child.

I'm going out on a limb, but I believe our child will thank us in the long run.

1 comment:

burgiboogie said...

Oh this is sooo beautiful and I soo needed to hear this right now!!