Today, I dropped off my beautiful, brave, eleven year old girl into your care. She sat in the car and cried, she begged me not to go, but I did what’s mums do, I told her she had to, I told her it would be ok.
It took us three attempts, and with each one she became more distressed. She wasn’t sure which entrance to use, or what the routine would be, or who would talk to her. She couldn’t ask for help. Anxiety had taken over.
So I parked the car and handed her to you, ‘she isn’t sure where to go’ I say. But inside there are a thousand things I wish I could say.
You see unlike at primary school, there will be many teachers that make up her day, different classes, different rooms. Unlike at primary school most will never get to know the funny, charming, enthusiastic person behind the mask.
Instead you will see her serious looking face and mistake it for disinterest. You will notice her lack of eye contact, made worse when she is nervous and mistake it for impoliteness. You will hear her silence, and mistake it for lack of knowledge. And when you look in her book and see that this child wrote less than you expected, you’ll mistake it for lack of effort – not inertia caused by a desire to be perfect.
Her primary teachers knew all this about her, and so much more.
They transformed her life, and by default all of our lives, when she moved there age seven.
We got back our girl, our spirited wonderful girl. And they got a student who wanted to be involved in everything, a girl who missed school only twice in the whole time she was there – once for chicken pox and once because she was sick. They saw the person she was inside, and they cherished her.
You see as teachers we have the power to make children or to break them. And my girl is so much easier than most to break.
So I ask you this week to please look closely at the children in your classes, look beyond the mask and find the child, read the paperwork that gets put on your desk about those students in your classes – especially those who don’t have support – there is no one fighting their corner – no one willing them along.
And if you aren’t sure how to help, pick up the phone, please do. Because this week, mums just like me have left children in your care. Mums just like me, need to know you care. And we will help you, because although you are the expert in your subject, we are the experts in our children.
Together we can make a difference.
We can enable our children to be #UNIQUEANDSUCCESSFUL.
For now, I’ll leave you, I know you have lessons to plan, classrooms to decorate and a million and one other jobs to do.
But please, please from the bottom of my heart I ask you this. Please be careful with my girl and others like her.
Give them a chance to thrive. Send them home whole.
One day maybe, you’ll need someone to do the same for a child you love.
Why not join our lovely, friendly Facebook Group full of parents and teachers working together to share strategies to help our children.
If you do want to learn more you might find our autism section a useful place to start. It’s full of different strategies to try out.
Or if you’re looking for more personal support to help you take that action, why not check out our Consultancy Services.