Back to school. Those three little words fill me with dread each year. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that my children’s (particularly my daughter’s) experience of school mirror my own. That, combined with the early starts, which none of us are good at, lead to a sense of dread in our household as September approaches.
This year, I was more organised. I prepared an ‘information pack’ for each teacher. My son, as luck would have it, came down with a virus the day before school was due to start. So, he hasn’t met his new teacher yet, but I had a quick chat with her and will have a meeting with her next week. My daughter’s new teacher was very receptive to the info. It helps that she taught my son last year. Fingers crossed she’ll read the info and it’ll make a difference.
So, what exactly is in this ‘information pack’. First of all, I am delighted that there are now Irish charities I can go to for information. The teachers seem to like these more than their English equivalents. I suppose because there are slight differences in the education systems of the two countries.
For EDS info, I printed off two leaflets. They were prodused by Irish EDS and HMS. The first is A Teachers Guide to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome/Joint Hypermobilty Syndrome and covers the basics. The second is Tips for Teachers of Children with EDS/JHS and gives more practical advice.
For information about Autism, I went to a newish charity run by an autistic person, Adam Harris, called As I Am. They have produced a printable school handbooks, and I chose the one called All About Me. It provides boxes to fill in, where you can write about how different aspects of autism effect you, personally. It seems to be aimed more at secondary school students but my kids had no problems filling in the spaces. Though I did all the writing, with them dictating to me what they wanted written. It should hopefully give their teachers an overview of their situations.
Another item I added to the pack was a notebook, to form the basis of a Home/School diary. This is to enable me to write messages to their teachers, maybe about any issues they may have at home such as flare up of pain or fatigue. Likewise, their teachers can write about any school issues, so I don’t end up hearing about them a week later when less can be done about it.
Finally, I went to the fabulous Stickman Communications shop and ordered the “Today is…” Wristband set, one set for each child. They haven’t used them yet as we forgot in the rush to get out of the house, but hopefully they’ll come in useful. Especially as my kids have trouble expressing to teachers how they are feeling.
So, that’s the sum of my ‘extra’ preparations for back to school for my kids this year. Hopefully it’ll make a difference.
This year, “back to school” has additional meaning for me as well. You see, I myself may be going back to school too! I’m seriously considering applying for the University College Cork Autism Studies cert/diploma. Its a part-time course (one year for cert, two for diploma), and I can actually do it here in Galway as part of the UCC outreach program. The application deadline is fast approaching so I really need to make my mind up about it soon. If I do go ahead and do it, you can be sure I’ll be writing plenty about it!
[image of the contents of the information pack I prepared for my kids teachers. On the left are printouts of the two leaflets produced by Irish EDS and HMS. Next to that is the printout of the As I Am booklet “All About Me”. Overlaying these is a red hardback notebook, to be used as the Home/School Diary. On top of this are three wristbands, one red, one orange and one green, that form the “Today is…” Wristband set. The background is a wooden floor.]