Pride and Prejudice (SEN Schools)

Noooo I'm not reviewing the book, although I do love a bit of Mr Darcy.

Today was parents evening... should I say 'this evening was parents evening'... *shrugs* either way.

It was our first parents evening at Kyd's new special educational needs school. I am used to going along to these things at mainstream and them saying 'he needs to practice this and that and he needs to wear his hearing aids more.... blah blah blah'. Never anything bad just never really that insightful as we were always in contact anyway.

This was different. 

This felt very strange, I was scared almost.

I have always had this slight prejudice against SEN schools so moving him over from mainstream was a huge deal and only came about because of near future changes in medical needs. I always knew they serve their purpose and were perfect for some but I was very much a 'mainstream is the way forward' kind of gal.

I know that sounds stupid, how can you be prejudice against a way of schooling, but when your child has special needs you don't just have to battle the post code lottery of schooling places, it's the decision to push for mainstream or stick to a special needs school. Then finding a mainstream school suitable and trying to battle getting your child statemented, which is even harder than you'd ever dream of.... the whole thing is a trial and error based thing too, you don't know unless you try and if you don't you always wander 'what if?'.

I think my prejudice comes from the fact they are called 'Special Schools' I HATE the word 'Special' it really grates me. 

Controversially, I actually prefer the word different. Although 'Different Schools' doesn't have the same ring to it.... but he is different. He will always be different.... Just the same way WE are all different. I am not the same as you. You are not the same as me. We will never be the same as the next person... in the same way they will never be the same as their peers of the same disability..... are you still following?.... yes?... 

Well 'Special', to me and so many other parents of children with several disabilities agree... is bloody patronising. I think to start with when it took over from words more likely to offend, it was a great way of describing people with different abilities and disabilities but now... it is over used, comes with an odd sympathetic tone in peoples voices when said and screams Political Correctness to me as people are scared to use any other word in case they offend... *shakes head*

I am part of a new 'un PC' generation of parent. Not in a rude way, a discriminative way or even an ignorant way... just a way that means I am not offended by many words others might be. Depending on the way they are said that is. If nastiness is the sentiment behind a word and used in a vile way then, yes, I am the first to bitch slap the offender verbally down off their high horse and shove them on the naughty step. BUT if they are genuinely using a word out of ignorance of the meaning and in a completely different context then why would I be upset?... it is after all, just a word.... and if I'm not upset as a parent... why should you be on my behalf? 

I believe that the English language has changed over the course of my lifetime, words in which we used when I was Kyd's age are now slang for a completely different word. The meanings and feelings towards words are now completely different to the actual English Dictionary original meaning and when asked, most wouldn't be able to tell you the actual meaning to the word in the first place... if you get what I mean?! It is the same for many things not just words regarding SEN or words describing disabilities... just about everything has been taken over by random uses for quite normal words... which in turn is quite normal.

Anyway, when I was growing up, kids that went to 'Special Schools' went on the 'Sunshine Bus' and were mocked by the secondary school kids as they went passed, I, myself was guilty of this and the guilt about it haunts me everyday. 

Kids are cruel. They will always be cruel... that is what has scared me the most about the future since Kyd was born. 

When I placed him in a mainstream school I was adamant it would do more for the other children of the school in terms of educating them on Down Syndrome, as it would for Kyd to be there learning from them. Mainstream schools NEED to have SEN children at their schools to help battle ignorance to SEN children from an early age. I would hope that the kids that went to Kyd's 3 different mainstream schools will now think of Kyd when they see an SEN adult or child and remember all they learnt when playing with him in the playground, learning with him in the classroom and talking to him in the street.... 

That, right there, makes me proud.

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What also makes me proud is that when discussing his BIG MOVE with his new teacher she said they were all so proud of him too. He has settled so well into the new routine and where he could have potentially buckled under the pressure of the change, he has leaped into his new school life and is now a huge part of the school... and we are only 4 or 5 weeks in. She said she is amazed by his abilities and that his handwriting was the best in the class...... Thank You Mrs Goddard, from George Palmer School, for all your endless work with him on his letter forming, handwriting and reading, it has paid off and he is now soaring ahead. You should be proud of yourself too, teachers like you don't come about that often and we are really lucky that you were there for Kyd when you were... and he misses you lots too.

Whilst we were in the parents evening the kids were allowed to use the sensory room as a creche. They had staff members in there to look after, not only the pupils, but the siblings too. As we walked in and were told they could go in there, Kyd held Rocky's hand and as he showed him to the sensory room he said...

'come on baby, this is MY school, you'll like it here...' 

and as I walked away I had a lump in my throat, from that moment I knew that this meeting was going to go well, I always knew he would make me proud wherever he was...

Because he is different....

But in a better way than you or me.