We are down to the last two days of the summer school holidays. It has gone really fast, but we did pack a lot of fun into it too. Term 4 of last year was the worst Jacob has had since he started school in August 2012. I wrote last year about his best friend moving to a different suburb without a lot of notice. We all knew it would be devastating for Jacob; but it was even worse than we could have ever imagined. We could not even get him out of the car in the mornings and he started acting up in class. He stopped listening to his teacher, the principal and the vice principal. He would not go out to play during play time. The more he acted up, the harder the school came down on him until he simply stopped caring about what they did to him. His dad and I ached for him, but we did not know what to do. We brought in experts from Mental Health Services and had him assessed. Crisis meetings were held at school. He kept locking himself in the boys’ bathroom, having massive meltdowns and finally started talking about ending it all. He had done this towards the end of the previous year but things had improved and we were being seen by the relevant health professionals. This current crisis triggered the issue all over again. The final day of school was particularly traumatic and we actually had to get a emergency psych team to come to my home to assess him.
So the start of the school term next week was something we all dreaded. We did not know if we should send him back to school knowing the same situation would occur again or whether we should start afresh somewhere. I talked to friends and neighbours and Jacob’s father and I read many many Education Review Office Reports for the neighbouring schools. I spent last week talking to another school about the possibility of Jacob coming to them this term. It looked positive, but we could not make the call on changing schools without giving it one more try in the form of a meeting with his current school which took place yesterday. On the final day of last term I had gone into talk to the Principal and Vice Principal to say that I could not send Jacob back this term without a proper plan in place and they had suggested we meet this week to discuss the issue. We were concerned about the state of his mental health over the holidays to make sure that both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education psychologists were present for the meeting and that we had a strategy on what we were going to achieve from that meeting. When I saw them last term, I was particularly concerned that the Principal’s attitude regarding Jacob was that “he was a clever child and this behaviour was simply to seek attention and manipulate the adults to get his own way”. It finally dawned on me that this was the source of the friction between the class teacher and Jacob last year because the class teacher too displayed the same attitude.
Jacob is just 7 years old and has two serious and life threatening medical conditions plus being diagnosed with Aspergers and hyperactivity caused by Sensory Processing Disorder. That he had spent two and a half years in main stream school and has maintained his academic work at a 9 and a half year old level consistently is a miracle. But here are two grown men (neither of them have children by the way), who worry about being outsmarted by a 7 year old and think their main mission in life is to stop that from happening.
The Englishman helped me put together a plan of action for the meeting which I then discussed with Jacob’s dad and the meeting went pretty much to plan. I allowed plenty of time for the Principal to display his views and attitude towards Jacob, which he obligingly did and compounded it by making it sound like Jacob’s dad was a better parent in managing Jacob than I was and giving him credit for things I said at the meeting. I haven’t spoken to the the MOH Psychologist yet, but I am sure she had enough proof to confirm what I had fed back to them about my concerns regarding the Principal after my last meeting with him. To his credit, it did appear that he was willing to be told how best to manage Jacob’s behaviour and I guess only time will tell if this is mere lip service. But we ended the meeting agreeing to have a Teacher Aide in the class with him full time for the first two weeks of term and then to reassess the situation at that point.
We will keep the other school on the back burner until then as a plan B. I am still very concerned about my little boy’s safety and well being. The new class teacher who was present at the meeting and I have yet to spend any sort of time together for me to get a clear idea of what she is like. My first gut reactions are that she is not the right person. But I am happy to be proven wrong on that. We have a very good relationship with the current Teacher Aide and she is my safety net. I know she will do her utmost to keep him safe. I have brought in all the experts I could think of and have sought advice from several different sources. The rest is outside of my control and all I can do on Monday is drop him off at school and come home to wait by the phone and hope it all goes well. Fingers crossed……