Sunday 9 November 2014

an accessible education

Its taken some time between my last post and this... maybe not really a long time... but for me, who posts often, it has been unusual to go so many days without a post...

But sometimes real life gets so big and up close that you have to take the time to deal with it... to take the time to get to grips with the emotions you have about the events that unfold... and then comes the time to start to reflect...

I am not quite sure if I am really at the place to reflect yet... my emotions are still running high...

But if this can help, then I am going to share...

My son got sent home from school... because he blew 10 raspberries in class and did not stop when asked (my son has no memory of being asked to stop... and despite us telling teachers he needs clear and visual support with these kinds of instructions, he is obviously still not getting them... and despite telling the teachers that repeatedly telling him the same thing over and over will not get the result wished, and in fact will get the opposite result and a child that feels he is being unfairly treated and sad and angry - teachers STILL seem to think that he will respond to this kind of interaction)... of course my son was angry for being sent out... he kicked the door several times when he was outside the classroom to share his anger.... to share that he was NOT getting the support that he needed in this situation...
He got sent home... yes the school ringed first... to my husband, just returned from a nightshift... yes Michael could get into our home (he has no key) BUT he would not have a parent that could be awake to take care of him... my husband had just worked a 24 hr shift... the school sent him home to THAT.

My colleagues were amazing and I swapped with a colleague my time, so I could go home earlier and my preschoolers would still have the right amount of teachers... which was just as well as I did... by the time I had got home he had run away from home, and then returned (realising that jackets are useful when outside in winter). I returned to a boy that was crying with sadness and anger, with confusion and a lack of understanding of what had just happened.

My son has been discriminated against for his diagnosis ADHD/autism - the school has a plan for equal treatment and anti-discrimination... and in that plan there is an actual example that sending home a child with ADHD because they cannot sit still (or keep quiet) is discrimination...

It is clear that my child is not getting the support he needs if the teachers cannot cope with him being there. If they need to send him home then he is not getting an education... and since home-schooling is illegal here it is time they made schools accessible for all children and all learning styles...

Why should my son be punished for something the school has failed to do?
We have asked them time and time again for more support... we told them that he would need more support with this new system... they implemented a new system despite the school's special needs teacher saying that this kind of system is not beneficial for children like my son (my son is not one of a kind in this school) - yet the school did not think to support these children, but just expected them to behave like everyone else... and when they fail to, they get punished... why should my son be punished for the school's failure?

This is not a problem that is confined to my son's school (where his two elder sisters thrive) - I know there are others with the same problems in other schools in Stockholm, in Sweden and in other places around the world...

What is being done to make education accessible for all abilities... there are so many articles, research, TEDtalks etc etc about needing a school revolution... but are we actually getting any closer to that? And what do we need to do to make that happen? A real change to make schools a better place for learning... not the filling up on facts... but real learning... learning how to learn, learning with joy and enthusiasm, learning with creativity and integrity, learning to find connections, to solve problems, learning about understanding differences and learning about collaboration...
How can we harnness everyone's positve learning skills in a school environment?

Here are some TEDtalks worth watching...

ADHD As a Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder: Stephen Tonti at TEDxCMU

 Ken Robinson - How School kills Creativity

 a Link to several TED talk to "RE-imagine school"

 also check out these of inspiring teachers.. 

 In the meantime... I am busy with my fight for my son's right to an accessible education for him... and in the process ensure that other children will too.


  1. Oh boy. How old is your son? That he was sent home without a parent picking him up? And in particular in the middle of the day when he is being "punished" and might just have the idea to run away so he doesn't also get in trouble at home.
    Yes, we have a long way to go in terms of "inclusive Education" across the world and the start of being inclusive is beginning to look closely at each child's need. In order to do this, teachers need to have access to resources, such as speech language patholotgists, occupational therapists, special education coordinators, psychologists and any other professionals that could assist to guide the programming and support for your son. Of course, these services all cost money, and in addition to this, the teacher must then have a mindset that each child is capable of learning and be willing to modify and differentiate to accomodate students in his/her classroom. When there is a stoppage along this line, then we have a breakdown in terms of accomplishing inclusive environments for children. While I am very sad that this is happening to your son, I know that you are a skilled and knowledgeable educator, who will advocate and educate which will support your son's education. As well, your advocacy for your son, will impact the education of other children with similar needs, and ultimately this is what will need to happen in order for changes to occur. Just know that you have many, many people supporting your efforts, who are willing to be there for conversations and resources as you travel down this path. I too am a Mom of a child (now an adult) with ADD who experienced tremendous difficulty in school. Constant attention and support was needed and advocacy became the norm. I just hope that some of the information from the conversations that I had with his teachers stuck and perhaps have impacted their teaching practices in a positive way. As a teacher, it's never about just our child....we always know that we are advocating also, for those children who do not have parents who are able to step up and stand up for their best interests.

  2. Hugs to you all, but especially to Michael. Please tell him from me that failure to communicate adequately with him is NOT his fault and that he actually managed really well in the circumstances.

  3. Sending you both lots of love!!!

    My son calls this feeling of anger and sadness when adults fail him (scream and punish) "having a black hole in his tummy"

    It still amazes me that educated teachers think its OK ti treat children this way. Mine has some amazing teachers that get him, but every now and then he will rub some other teachers or staff members the wrong way and this happens. I completely understand your anger and frustration.

    I do worry sometimes about how this will effect him later on - but I worry more about the other children that don't have informed parents. I also worry for society as this kind of "teaching" only nurtures shame and at-risk behavior. They all deserve better - and we would all be better off if they got better support as the consequences are life-long, heartbreaking and in pracitcal terms very expensive.

    Sending you good energy!