Before we moved to Washington Theo’s schooling was an absolute nightmare. He was stuck in a mainstream school that had a Learning Centre that was for children with additional needs. He had a one to one support worker called Mrs Herries, she was an angel with invisible wings! He really took to her and stopped having anxiety attacks leaving me because he loved her company, she lifted such a massive weight off my shoulders it was unreal! The head teacher of the Learning Centre however was her absolute opposite, I call her “The Battle Axe”, (I called her it to her face so I’m not being two faced!). This woman wouldn’t accept help from Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Sleep Therapists, no one and nothing was up to her extended knowledge of children who were needing additional support. Her idea of a school day was for Theo and his angel to go walks as soon as he showed signs of being stressed – normally this was spending five minutes in her company!).
The Battle Axe told me nothing other than “Theo will never do this”, “Theo will never accomplish that”, negative, negative, negative! The best line she ever came out with was “Miss Magee is such an incompetent mother, it’s the lack of parenting skills that has stunted his development.”, I couldn’t speak to her at the time, I couldn’t trust myself not to bite her head off and stick it where the sun didn’t shine!
He was only there for two years, then Stuart and I decided that we were moving to Washington, it was killing him being away from his son for as long after being used to seeing him every day. When we made our decision that we were going to move my eyes were opened up to see what a different educational life Theo was going to have.
After we’d found a house and got all the moving dates sorted out we had a meeting education for both Ali and Theo was next on the agenda. Alisdair was going up into secondary school – massive step for him that was coming several months early with the difference in the education systems in Scotland and England. Alisdair was a bit nervous about it – he knew he wasn’t up to the same levels of learning because he was basically missing a year out. He coped with the move fantastically though, the support that they were giving him for his Dyslexia was amazing in comparison with Scotland!
Theo on the other hand was going to be starting a specialist school for children on the Autistic Spectrum. I met with the Head Teacher and his Class before he started and I was absolutely amazed at the school. The head was very proud to tell me that the school was one of the top five in the country, I completely understood her pride! I went onto be introduced to the Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist who were based at the school. I had to double check that I’d heard that right and it was true, they were infact based at the school! We’d only received a letter from SALT at the beginning of the school year to say that Theo was on a waiting list for SALT in Dumfries as he wasn’t a priority. To actually have this support on site, every day he was at school, absolutely amazed me!
Theo’s class was fantastic, there was him and seven other children in his class. One teacher and three – yes three learning assistants! Each one of them were amazing, not one of them questioned Theo’s Autism, they were all filling in his home to school diary with all the positive things that he’d achieved, what they were going to be trying to do with him next, I genuinely couldn’t believe there wasn’t a system put into place like this in Dumfries with the amount of ASD children there is there!
The activities that the school were involved with amazed me too, horse riding every week, swimming every other term, football coaching from the professional coaches and players at Sunderland Athletic Football Club, just to name a few!!
Over the past three years both Theo and the school has completely blew me away. Nothing is ever negative, I never hear what he wont achieve, I never hear what he’ll never be able to do. If there is something that is becoming an issue the school consults with me then we as a team put a strategy together for to try and help him.
Today I received his school review and it’s been very tear jerking to read! He’s made phenomenal progress, when I sit and compare the difference between the two schools where there’s only just over 100 miles between them it astounds me the differences. Even the differences in him, he is now a much more confident little boy, has learned self calming techniques so he’s able to participate so much in other things that before were just never possible! He’s truly amazed me and does so every day!