With a Special Child 
1, 2002 - by Lucy Test, Sim Dale
Lucy Test is sharing experiences
from her own life. If you missed the beginning of her true story, please
click here. To be continnued next
a r t t
h r e e :
J a c k
S t a r t s
S c h o o l
There were problems from
the start with Jack going to school, Alex and I felt that he should go
to the same school as all the other children in Sim Dale, but the local
council thought he would get on better at a special needs school.
This is something Alex and I felt very strongly about. We arranged
a meeting with the head of the local school, Mrs Angelo and a representative
of the local council, Mr Mann. Mr Mann expressed his concerns over
Jack, feeling that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other children.
I know Jack needs special attention, but I’m sure this is something that
can be given within a normal classroom environment. We explained that Jack
loves being with other children, and Mrs Angelo agreed that Jack could
attend the school, with a classroom assistant to help. Mr Mann was
still very opposed to the idea and said the council wouldn’t agree to fund
an extra classroom assistant for Jack. We left the meeting feeling
very down heartened, it’s very important to us that Jack is treated the
same as any other child.
The new school term started
and Jack had to stay home, as we still had not had a resolution.
Jack used to sit at the window, looking at the school bus picking up other
children from the neighbourhood, I was very sad for him, watching him staring
at the bus. Jack is a very bright child and could even read a few
words, like cat and dog. Finally, three weeks into the new term the
council agreed that Jack could attend the school if he underwent a needs
assessment. Although Alex and I weren’t entirely happy about this, we knew
it was a big step forward.
On the day of the assessment,
I took Jack to the school, but I had to leave him and collect him later.
I spent the day downtown, window shopping and thinking about my precious
little boy. I hoped that he would be able to start school soon, I
was sure it wasn’t good for him to stay home. When I collected him
at the end of the day, Mr Mann said that Jack had failed the assessment
tests, and that he needed more support than could be provided in a normal
classroom. Jack was enrolled in Mount Heights, a school for children
with special needs. I left the school crying. I had so wanted Jack
to be like any other child.
Alex and I spoke that evening
and Alex said maybe it would be best for Jack, I couldn’t believe he wasn’t
taking my side on this, and we had an argument about it. I refused to let
Jack go to Mount Heights and we employed a home tutor for Jack, so he could
be home schooled. Miss Pau was very good with Jack and by the end
of term he could count to 20 and read the whole of “Spot goes to the Farm”
by himself. I have never been so proud of him. Jack was coming on
in leaps and bounds and I went to speak to Mr Mann again, sure I could
convince him to give Jack a second chance, but to no avail. He was
as resolute as ever, insisting that Jack must attend Mount Heights. Jack
continued to be home schooled by Miss Pau.
At the end of the school
year, Jack had just turned six and Adam was due to start at Sim Dale Primary.
I again met with Mrs Angelo and Mr Mann, to try and convince them to let
Jack start at the school next year. The meeting turned into a heated
debate between Mr Mann and myself, but in the end, I emerged with a small
victory, Jack could attend Sim Dale Primary for 3 afternoons a week, and
if he did well, it would be reviewed again at the end of term. So
in September Jack and Adam both went to school, with Miss Pau continuing
to home school Jack two days a week. Jack was a lot happier and settled
down well, and his school report at the end of term gave him an average
of C-. By the end of the year, Jack was improving greatly picking
up a B on his end of year report, but still Mr Mann would not agree to
let Jack attend school full time. Natalie also started at the school, making
Jack feel even more isolated at home with Mss Pau. Jack started becoming
very difficult, reverting to screaming and biting, it broke my heart to
see him so distressed. He was as good as gold when he was at school, but
at home he was very disruptive, wouldn’t sleep and became very hyperactive.
Jack was seven when I discovered
I was pregnant again and I didn’t have the strength to fight, I agreed
to let him have a trial at Mount Heights, He would go to Sim Dale Primary
on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Mount Heights on Tuesdays and Thursdays,
and spend Fridays at home with Miss Pau. It was not a situation I
was happy with, and much to our dismay; Jack became even more restless
and disruptive. He seemed to find it hard to settle anywhere and I knew
the constant changing was not good for him, a child like Jack needs stability.
I withdrew him from school completely and Miss Pau once again took over
teaching him at home. Although he was not as happy as he could be,
continuity was good for Jack and he settled back into a routine.
In December, two events happened
to change everything. Firstly, our third son, Kurtis was born but
also, Mr Mann finally agreed for Jack to attend Sim Dale Primary, full
time. And at the start of the January Term, Jack, Adam and Natalie all
went on the school bus together.
Jack has continued to improve
and I know I made the right choice for him. I can only hope that
the school’s experiences with Jack have made them more willing to take
children with special needs. Miss Pau has become Jack’s classroom
assistant and continues to have a great influence on our son’s education.
Jack adores her and I think she has helped him settle and progress more
than a stranger would have.
To be continnued.