One day at a time
It is another damp and grey green day here in our Cornish hideout. It has been a while since I visited this blog, I have been busy arguing with the teams of people who self identify as professionals down here in the land that time forgot and this home education blog seemed defunct – but maybe our time in the surreal world of mainstream is coming to an end. Jiggy has been in school for a year now, gradually building up to full time attendance last September. He is usually in trouble, often punished, respected hugely for his story telling skills, tolerated by many, given a wide berth by most. He is acutely alert, academically able, socially inept, creative, chaotic, entertaining, endearing. He knows all of this. He is now in year 6 and theoretically due to move up to secondary school in September. Neither school, nor the educational psychologist, nor the CAMHS psychologist, nor I hold out any hope at all for this being the right environment for him but in the absence of any health department (CAMHS) input into our Education and Health Care Plan due to inefficiency, delay, failure to stick to policy and total lack of any democratic decision making we don’t really know where he should be or what to do with him. School has been a relative success (no medication, no exclusions) for this past year and we must be proud of that but I am increasingly aware that it might just turn out to be a sort of extended field trip. A visit to mainstream. CAMHS and Cornwall Education Dept simply don’t have the interest, ability or desire to support and I can’t change that. Having Jig at home again would have very many benefits (and yes, to us both) but those pre-pubescent and early teen years are a hormonal cocktail that creates the sort of fireworks that make me slightly nervous. I am teetering on the edge of quietly moving back into our home ed world, where we understand the simple commandments of educating children like Jig or bracing myself for the move to a very ordinary secondary school who show no sign of being able to adapt to the needs of the Jigs in their community. I know what works in theory and I cannot find a place that might be able to apply the theory other than home and, to an extent, the small village primary who have worked hard to learn these rules of engagement.
- Relationships are key. Nothing good comes of relying on social understanding of hierarchy. Every interaction has to be built on an understanding of each other and an earned respect.
- Change is your enemy. Changing classes, changing people, changing sounds will all ratchet the adrenaline of an attachment disordered child up past the point of no return in a very short time.
- Rules must be tested to breaking point, immediately. Even identifying a time slot is up for challenge (think of timetables, the foundation of secondary school days, and the myriad of possibilities for disruption before you even get to your desk!) All rules must be chosen carefully and implemented with the full agreement of your Jig.
- Rewards and sanctions will never work and as they are the backbone of all mainstream behaviour policies you may as well not bother.
- Environment is everything. A calm space in a predictable day, with controlled sensory input makes for a child who can and probably will, learn.
The local secondary won’t be able to achieve any of that. We must now decide if that matters enough to keep him out. The local special schools all feel just a bit too special and seem like a step too far. So, after some really pretty high level complaining, emailing, threatening and politicking, we have agreed in principle that Jig can stay at the primary school for another year if we want him to. This is obviously a holding pattern so that I can decide what we are actually going to do. There is no support help or advice available from the local authority and it would be pointless to pretend differently. It would waste my time and importantly it would erode my thinking energy. Jig says he doesn’t want any of his options and I can see exactly what he means, neither do I.
So, what to do? Maybe in this dark time of the year we should just be hunkering down and waiting for the solution to break through the clouds. A finger of God ray of sunlight onto our damp and grey Cornish moorland. It would seem that just taking a day at a time is easiest done when you have absolutely no option.