It is almost term 2 holidays. MissK and MissGs school gives out mid year report cards this week. MissK has not received hers yet, but MissG brought hers home today.
I read through it and was pleased with all the comments her teacher made... she is achieving well academically and her teacher reports she has a good attitude and loves learning, she takes pride in her work, she is confident, flexible and can compromise, she is considerate of others and is sensitive toward their needs. None of this was news to me.
Despite what some "experts" would have us believe, Autistic kids are not completely rigid and inflexible. They are not completely self centred. They are not unable to empathise with others. In an environment that supports their needs, Autistic children- like my MissG- are compassionate and confident beings who can really enjoy being around others.
We see this with MissG at home when she offers toys to her little brother when he is upset, when she helps out when others need it, when she shares with her sister, and in many other situations. We work hard at home to maintain a safe space for everyone, and when we get it right this is the result.
When we do see behaviour that some would label 'rigid', 'inflexible' and 'demanding' in MissG we can almost always identify the cause as being a sensory need that we have failed to meet.
I'm so encouraged to see evidence that the school is also working to support her needs and is succeeding. MissG's class teacher is very good at this. Knowing that MissG is comfortable enough at school to be able to be flexible is a big thing for me.
Those who have been reading the blog for a while will know all the preparation we did before MissG started school (you can read about it by clicking here, if you are interested- the link will open in a new window). We chose the school we did because we knew the teachers there are good at supporting kids in an individual way. The hard work and careful planning are paying off.
It was lovely to read all the positive comments about how well MissG is doing at school. But the comment that really spoke volumes to me wasn't about how MissG is interacting with others, or how she was performing academically.
My biggest concern for MissG when she started school was how she wold manage when she experienced sensory overload or when she had difficulty communicating her needs when stressed.
We have done our best to support MissG by giving her specific scripts to use when talking to others, and also to say to herself, when she is stressed or overloaded. We have done our best to support her by introducing strategies she can implement when she feels overwhelmed.
Just the same as with all our children, we want MissG to be able to go out into the world independently of us and to be able to advocate for her needs and to be able to manage her stress in a way that does not exclude her from participating in activities she enjoys. So the comment that really made me smile was this,
"She is learning to deal with her emotions in a positive way and can independently calm herself so that she can carry on with activities."
Which isn't to say that she doesn't struggle with this at all anymore, or that she always gets it "right"- just that more often now at school she is managing this on her own. And that is progress toward managing the challenges she faces well and independently.
Well done, MissG, well done. I know how much effort this takes for you. I am one super proud mum tonight.