Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

A Father’s Anger (guest post by Spectrummy Daddy)

with 16 comments

I haven’t written about this, because I’ve been too hurt, too indignant, but most of all just too weary.  Spectrummy Daddy, however, has settled on angry, and he’ll tell you why.  Please note that LLG (lovely little girl) is another pseudonym for Pudding….

Recently, we’ve tried to find a school that will take Lovely Little Girl.  It can be difficult, but there are numerous remedial schools that have fine reputations here in Johannesburg who aim to mainstream their students.  That’s what we’re looking for, a place that will take her, and help move her to a normal school.  It’s one of the problems we have: Schools won’t take her because she’s only been involved in Autism centered programs, but she can’t get in to a school to give her the chance.  It’s a vicious cycle.

So when we got an appointment with one of these remedial schools and they said they’d take her on a trial for 3 days, I was excited but also a little scared.  3 days isn’t long for someone who isn’t on the spectrum to get acquainted with new surroundings.  Heck, I take at least a week, and I’m purportedly neurotypical.  Still, it was a chance to get going and maybe have her ready for a new school next year.  We didn’t prepare her as well as we should have, but sometimes it is better to have her at her worst to make sure the school knows what they’re getting.  Usually, though, in a new environment LLG is a bit timid at the beginning.  I was hoping she would steal the hearts of the teachers and they would say how excited they were to have her coming the next year.

It wasn’t to be.  They had her for 3 days (actually 2 1/2) and called afterwards to tell us that they couldn’t provide for her, and we should try an autism only school.  Never mind that everyone that has ever had my lovely daughter in a class or therapy tells us that she is a prime example of a child that would blossom with mainstream schooling.  Never mind that you really can’t tell anything from 2 1/2 days of school observation.  Never mind that they used words that showed they were fixated on her being on the autism spectrum.  No, they couldn’t help her.

You know what?  If they truly didn’t have the ability to help my daughter, then I would be ok with that.  I’m not going to force them to take her when it wouldn’t be beneficial to do so.  I have her needs to look out for as well.  What really steams me is that it appears that they didn’t even try.  2 1/2 days doesn’t tell you anything about my lovely daughter.  They said she went on “elopement” during her first day to go and jump on the trampoline.  That’s a particularly “autistic” phrase.  My question is: Did you tell her it wasn’t time to jump on the trampoline, or did you leave her out there to continue jumping?  Did you lay out the rules for jumping on the trampoline?  How many kindergarten children, seeing a trampoline at school, would not go and try to jump on it?  But, because my daughter has autism you assume that she just does her own thing and can’t be told to come join the circle?  REALLY?!?!?

Also, the fact that it was only 2 1/2 days.  That’s all they gave her.  She doesn’t come out of her shell until at least day 3, and even then it’s only a little bit.  New school environment, new teachers, what little kid wouldn’t be a little off.  Heck, I remember crying for my mother when I went to Kindergarten, and she worked in the same school!  (I was a bit of a wuss.)

The worst part is, my daughter loved it there.  She talked about her new school, and cried when we took her back to the school we have her in.  That’s what upsets me the most.  That my wife and I had to tell her that she couldn’t go back to the new school, because it wasn’t to be.  I’ve promised myself that no one will ever tell Lovely Little Girl that she can’t do something because of her autism.  If she wants to be a writer, painter, philosopher, activist or even a mother, no one can tell her no.  She will do what she wants to do, all they need to do is give her a chance.  This school effectively said she couldn’t handle the work they do there, and that we need to lower our expectations.

My response is that my daughter probably would have gotten bored at their school because she is probably smarter than the teachers, and we need to find a place to help stimulate her mind to reach its full potential.  While she needs work on some things (like not poking someone in the chest who wears a Hello Kitty shirt as a way of greeting) in others she’s fine.  Heck, I can’t do lenticular puzzles, but she does them in less than 10 minutes.  She’s already figured out how to use skeleton keys and how to get things from locked rooms without getting caught.  My trouble is making sure she uses her powers for good and not evil.

We’ll find a school to take care of her.  I know we will.  But this lack of trying by a school whose job it is to help those who need help the most still bothers me.  Hopefully I’ll get over it, and one day maybe LLG will use this as the starting point from her speech she gives when she graduates from University at the top of her class.  Even if she never reaches that point, I’ll still always believe she can.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

16 Responses

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  1. I am so angry for you.
    And I hate this. So much.
    Never give up hope. You know what she can do and will do. Many of us do. I can’t wait to see it.


    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm

  2. Not being able to persuade smug, ignorant and/or incompetent and/or uncaring people that they are making the world a worse place is so frustrating. Educational institutions have their own cultures and we have had horrendous treatment from individuals who have won awards for their work with other kids (the ones they can work with, not because of the kids’ limitations but because of theirs). The worst is when someone doesn’t “get” your child but they think they do, and thinking they know more than you do about what your child can and cannot do, they persist in setting them up for failure and robbing them of their chance to succeed. it is a blessing that your darling and valuable LLG is not going to be with those monsters. If this seems like an over-reaction, put it down to my reaction to the trauma of our experiences. I’m so sorry she is disappointed, and glad that she has champions in you to help her find the place where she can blossom and will be allowed to blossom.


    March 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

  3. Wonderful post and I feel your frustration and anger. I can’t imagine having to tell my daughter she couldn’t do something, specifically because of her ‘label’. Hang in there – one door closes and another will open (or some other cliche), this one wasn’t the right one, but it will come.

    Renee | About a Bugg

    March 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm

  4. My heart breaks for you. This sounds like pure laziness in the school system.


    March 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

  5. Pudding *will* take over the world and I would not want to be on her bad side when she does. This school obviously has no idea who they’re messing with!

    All goofing aside, I really feel for you. I hope that this disappointment leads you on the path to the right answer — because there *is* a place where Pudding will shine. Hang in there!


    March 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

  6. 3 days? I could barely get my son’s school schedule right after 3 days. It sounds like your country could use an overhaul in the tolerance department. Eventually, I’m sure, you’ll find the right school for LLG and when you do, she will blossom.

    Jim Reeve

    March 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm

  7. As a parent of ANY child you should never be told to lower your expectations – especially a child with special needs! The nerve. How sad that they don’t employ their own education and training in how to educate children or raise their own expectations. Good luck to you in finding the right place for your LLG (best acronym ever!).

    Angela F.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

  8. Thank you everyone for your comments. I know Spectrummy Mummy and I are happy to hear from all of you and appreciate your support. Pudding will be fine, she’s resiliant like that. We, on the other hand, will have to fight harder for her. I’m sure we’ll get it right though.

    Spectrummy Daddy

    March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    • In fighting hard for her, you are modeling for her and the world that each individual is valuable, important, and worth fighting for. I am keenly aware that someday my children may have to fight for me, or for each other. Don’t give up, and when you feel weary, don’t forget, there’s always chocolate and alcohol!


      March 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm

  9. Oh, I hear you, Spectrummy Daddy. I’ve walked every painful step you’re walking now. Having your nearest relatives no closer than 3000 miles away, and being wholly unfamiliar with the usual school procedures here, never mind the special educational needs system only serves to amplify the stress levels.

    Right now, this moment, when it hurts and you’re angry & fearful at the same time, it doesn’t help one little bit to hear that it gets easier. Understand that you cannot know what you don’t know. All you can do is the best you can, and no one can doubt for an instant you’re doing exactly that.

    For what it’s worth, I’m as thankful we didn’t go with the school they tried to fob us off with as I’m thankful we didn’t go with the school we initially chose either. You cannot know what you don’t yet know.

    I’m glad we fought tooth & nail through tribunals & appeals. Win or lose, we learned. The learning curve is bloody steep, but you get there. You learn.

    With hidden roots & rocks waiting to trip you up, the journey teaches you what you need to know even as it necessarily toughens your hide. As exhausting as it is, with each step, you become more surefooted. You learn.

    Our journey saw us emerge bruised & battleworn, but knowing exactly what we needed & wanted in a school for our Miss E. With what we learned, we found a school (mainstream with additionally resourced unit) where Miss E is not just accepted, she is loved and valued as the unique individual she is. Quirks, flapping & all. She thrives, she has great friends and we’re content. The next battle is for secondary school, for now we relax & just enjoy the breather.

    I won’t lie to you. It will not be easy. There will be tears & tantrums (yours & Spectrummy Mummy’s as much as Pudding & Cubby’s), but I can just about guarantee you’ll never be bored. You’re both welcome to email me & Mr Lollipop if you need or want to vent further. *pressure hugs*


    March 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  10. 2 1/2 days is just ridiculous. How could ANYONE flourish in only 2 1/2 days?! The only upside is that by telling your daughter no, they have given you the impetus to do that much more to ensure she has the best education possible. One of the things that I have grown increasingly frustrated with as a parent is people who see the label…not the child. Grrr…


    March 22, 2012 at 7:40 pm

  11. heartbreaking stuff.

    For the record, I’m not even smart enough to know what a lenticular puzzle IS.


    March 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm

  12. This just sucks so much! It makes me so angry! I am sorry you guys are dealing with all this! I really am. And I’m with blogginglily–no idea what a lenticular puzzle is, but I’m gonna google it!


    March 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  13. I know how brilliant Pudding is with breaking into all those rooms and then hiding certain things under the sink! A school that doesn’t get it (and gives such a ridiculous trial period!!) is NOT the right fit for her. I know it broke your heart to tell her that it was not meant to be because she wanted it so badly and I feel that with both of you. Really, though, I’m quite sure that you would not want her in that school given their attitude.

    You will find the right school. You know that. I hope to be cheering in a comment when you tell me that she did use this story as the beginning of her commencement speech, graduating at the top of her class!

    (Are there even aides that can accompany her to class? We have my son in an all NT kindergarten class but only with a one-on-one aide which is exactly what he will have wherever he happens to go next year.)


    March 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

  14. […] them to regulate.  By Friday, I was just exhausted.  Not only was I feeling too weary to face the effort of getting Pudding into school, or schedule an appointment for a 24-hour EEG for a child who couldn’t handle a 30 minute […]

  15. […] what I didn’t tell you about the times Pudding got rejected here and here, is that they were supposed to be our Plan B.  Our safety schools.  Our […]

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