Today I want to tell you the story of Adam (not his real name!) who was a seventeen year old lad with Aspergers that I used to work with a few years back; and his problems at college.
Adam lived at home with his parents and older brother in a small town.
He had a very keen interest in snakes and what he didn’t know about snakes probably wasn’t worth knowing!
He had done OK at school and was now at the local college for 16-18 year olds, where he was doing a vocational course about animals and enjoying it pretty well (although it wasn’t quite “snake focussed” enough for his liking!)
The college were doing such a good job that he was even joining in after school sports activities like 5 a side soccer (and this kind of physical activity was pretty much unknown of in his school years).
But unfortunately this seemingly positive activity quickly turned into a big problem for Adam and threatened his entire future at the college…
You see the college had been working well with a basic plan to meet his needs; part of which was that if he was feeling distressed and likely to get upset he was to show a yellow card to the teacher.
The teacher would then automatically allow him to go off to a designated “quiet spot” to calm down for a few minutes, before beginning to engage him back into the activity again.
This had worked well in lessons when it was needed… But no-one had told the physical education instructor.
So Adam was taking part in the 5-a-side soccer game when a young man on the opposing team deliberately handled the ball (which is against the rules).
Adam was outraged and stopped playing immediately waiting for the referee (the physical education instructor) to stop the game and award a free kick to Adam’s team.
But play continued which further exasperated Adam. So he grabbed the ball and kicked it way off the pitch and showed the teacher his yellow card.
The teacher then got very close to Adam and started to verbally berate him and went to grab him as Adam walked off to his “designated quiet spot”.
Adam turned around and head butted the teacher in the face – and then Adam was quickly restrained by the teacher and two of his colleagues.
This then led to Adam being suspended from school for 2 days and being brought with his parents to see the college principal.
Which you can imagine caused a great deal of problems for Adam and his family, and Adam took some persuading to actually return to the college at all.
And the worst thing was that it could all have been SO EASILY avoided.
If the physical education instructor had just followed the guidance, instead of thinking that “I know best”.
Sadly this is by no means a unique story; and I’m sure you can think of similar frustrating situations that have happened in your own child’s schooling.
And this story also just emphasizes the need for parents to take a proactive approach when it comes to ensuring that the school (and ALL the staff who may interact with your child) are on board with the plan.
But because if you don’t keep pushing your own child’s agenda in the school – it’s unlikely anyone else is going to do it.
Thanks for reading,