On Facebook today, a photo memory popped up of my oldest boys heading off for their first day of secondary school seven years ago. It was the end of seven years of ABA for them, they had been to mainstream nurseries and schools accompanied by their 1:1 tutors. It was time for a special needs secondary school.
Seven years of specialist school has now come to an end.
We have come full circle.
Today, the boys are going back into mainstream education, albeit under the umbrella of an autism unit. They will be attending mainstream Btec classes with 1:1 support. It seems like they are back where they started at 4.
But, they are light years away from where they were at 4. They went into reception class speaking only single words, with severe behaviours which culminated in them having to leave their first mainstream school. They could not read. They could not socialise. They only went to school for a few hours a day.
What miracles ABA worked. By the time they left primary school they were able to read, they were age appropriate in maths, they had friends, they could tolerate noise and chaos. They could learn and they had proved that. They loved school. We had hope for their futures and we were able to find a small school where they no longer needed one to one support.
The next seven years cycle has begun today. We have an 18 – 25 years old EHCP in place. Its a really important stage as it will impact on their future life choices.
Thomas will be doing an Art Btec. He showed a talent for art even before he learnt to talk. We have always known this would be his future career. He hasn’t done any art for the past two years apart from photography so this will be a great year for him to get back to doing what he does best.
I worried for years that we wouldn’t find something for Benjamin to do. He too needed a passion. He found one. He started drumming and that has grown into a serious talent. He can drum. He writes his own songs and composes them on the piano. He can’t read music yet as he plays by ear. His teacher thinks he has perfect pitch. Most importantly, he is passionate about music. His favourite era is 70s and 80s pop music. Perfect for the rest of us in the house to listen to him drumming along to.
He is doing a music performance and technology Btec. Perfect for him.
One of the rare positives about autism is the focus our children have on anything they are passionate about. If you can redirect that passion for trains and lego to something that could turn into a future career, then you are really fortunate.
The boys are determined to make the most of their talents. They work so hard. Their focus and commitment makes me feel humble when I watch Thomas spending hours perfecting a piece of art or Benjamin going over and over a few bars of music to get it right.
I know they will succeed.