I just wanted to let parents and supporters of these children know about a petition that is currently gathering force at the link below. Some 260 signatures have been received since the 23rd March 2010 ! from parents, professionals and supporters, who are expressing very strong views in support of the need for the creation of High Schools for children with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism.
Parents here in Australia with children who have Aspergers or HFA do not have any choice but to send their children to main stream schools or home school them. For some, this may be suitable, even preferable but for many and perhaps the majority of these children the experience of main stream is disastrous both academically and psychologically. The views expressed in this petition have this common alarming theme. Their children are not getting the education they are entitled to in an environment that is safe for them.
These schools exist overseas. The number of children diagnosed with these conditions are increasing. For many of these children, asking them to learn in a main stream school with the main stream teaching style is like teaching them in a language they don't understand. ALL Australian parents need to feel confident that their children are being educated in an environment that is safe for the child. ALL Australian children are entitled to an education in a safe environment.
If you would like to join us and ask the government to support either a public or private school for these kids in each state, please go to this link.
I also understand that there is currently a NSW Parliamentry enquiry into The Provision of Education to Students with a Disability or Special Needs. I understand that they are still taking submissions. If anyone feels they would like to submit, I guess that now is the time. I believe this is the site to visit if you intend on submitting.
High School and my son with Aspergers
Now in his second year of High School, I could not have imaged the problems that I am currently experiencing. At Primary school was hard enough to prevent my son slipping through the cracks, when he had limited teachers, but high school, with many more teachers it appears to be impossible. I spent alot of time in choosing a school for my son and the one I finally picked happens to be a 40 minute round trip from home. The special needs teacher is very approachable and we communicate by email regularly but the other teachers just don't seem to understand the additional management/direction these children need. Even the detention system of sending forms home when work or assignments are not completed has failed consistently because if my son does not give the form to me to sign and return the next day, the teachers do not follow it up. Specialised High Schools would be great but I think we need to go back to the education of these teachers and make sure they are given a good foundation of information and practical knowledge of how children with Aspergers/Autism and other common uniquenesses are best taught, managed and directed.
High School and my son with Aspergers
I had exactly the same problem with my Year 7 son with Asperger's and his teachers. Frankly, in my experience, most have little if any understanding of Asperger's but you can't tell them that! My son brought nothing home from school - homework, pencil case, notices for me to sign and a specific point I made to the school when we first met to set up his management program was that he would need help to organize these things.
We need specialized schools for our kids but not so specialized that they are isolated from other kids and from the world around them.
My boy was expelled without notice from his Catholic secondary school nearly three weeks ago, supposedly for constantly disrupting his classes. No protocols were followed. His principal did not speak to him and I had to tell him what had happened when we got out the door. No one from Catholic Education seems willing or able to do anything about the matter so I have lodged a complaint with Equal Opportunities and Human Rights to at least try to prevent this happening to another family. He is currently without a school to attend because the local schools which are suitable have capacity class sizes at present. Mainstream schools have a legal and moral obligation to educate our Asperger's children but many of them are not sending their staff to regular and appropriate personal development programs and as a result, are putting kids like my lovely boy in the "too hard" basket. It's both infuriating and heart-breaking.
School and Aspergers
I agree that teachers have no real understanding of what aspergers is. Our Son just started high school and we were promised all this extra help, but instead he was left to fend for himself. Even with the funding of an aid, and outreach support for the first term, it did nothing to really support him. He came home so overwhelmed, with no help to write down messages and no guidance as to what to do with all the incomplete worksheets that were just stuffed in his bag. He managed on his own to scribble down some info for some of his his homework, but was so overwhelmed by the whole thing that he would just sob and say he can't go back there. When you ring the school about the issues it's the same tone all over again - the over reactive parent, 'he's doing OK at school''they would stay. He tried sooooo very hard to hold it together at school. Once he got to me it would all come out.
I have read countless stories like mine, so after 1 1/2 weeks of High School we have decided to homeschool our son. We have enrolled at the Australian Christian College - distance education. They are going to tailor make a lesson program for our son, so that he can finally succeed at learning, because we know there is a good brain locked up in there. The principal was the first teacher to fully listen, understand and care, and we never once felt judged or intimidated, as we have done most other times in the past.
Any way we know it is not going to be easy, and to be honest my husband and I are quite nervous - it's a huge change, but we think it is worth not seeing our son lost, lonely, confused and depressed. We start lessons this week, so wish us luck. We'll let you know how we find it.
All the very best to you all.
Yvette and Matt Goodall
Hi Matt & Yvette
I was very interested to read your blog.
My son is in Year 5 and we're seriously thinking about high schools for him - we're even contemplating moving overseas for an appropriate school.
I remember reading somewhere that a big reason for home-schooling kids with aspergers is that mainstream high schooling is one massive exercise in navigating negativity.
So - I'm wondering, how is your home schooling going?
School and Aspergers
I agree the principal of Australian Christian college is amazing. Our son has only recenly been diagnosed and we have a meeting with her next week. Even when our son had not been officially diagnosed the school have been very patient with lessons and especially homework. Our son is schooled at home now but originally was going to day school but as you can imagine it was all too much. As I was reading your story I could not believe how it was like reading our life story, our son reacted just the same. I have to admit though the schooling at home was ok for the first term but gradually as the year progressed got more and more difficult with the amount of assignments etc. Our only regret is that our son does not have much contact with other students and now he is seems so lonely. He refuses to attend the residentials at the school as he panics about returning there. Next year is year 11 (though I am thinking of repeating year 10 as he is only 14 - 15 in July). Only problem with year 11 as you cannot do it via distance education you have to attend the school. Its all so confusing. Does anyone know if there is anywhere that we can get help with alternatives to year 11 for Aspergers. As far as I can see its either work or TAFE and neither seem to have much assistance. We are really at a loss to know what to do.
All the best to everyone
Stewart & Karen
High school and my twins with aspergers
Hi my boys don't go to high school for another 2 years but I have not stopped thinking about it, I worry what it will be like for them and then there is the bully factor! They are easily led astray and that really worries me as well. I am lucky at the public school they go to at the moment but it is so hard to get funding when they were in infants they got a couple of hours a day now they are in 4th class they get 1 hour if they are lucky a day, you would think that the higher in grades eg: 4th,5th and 6th class they would get more help but it seems to just drop away!
Good high schools
Duncraig Senior High School has over 20 mainly High Functioning Aspergers students in it's mainstream school. It is very successful.
Please do not hide ASD students away in their own schools. Basically everyone wants to make and keep a friend at school. Making friends and building relationships are so important for the ASD student to be feel good about themselves and to succeed at school. This might be as simple as building a relationship through playing Yu Gi Oh cards every recess and lunch with someone who thinks like you do.
Private schools are not the answer. You cannot solve all the social problems by wearing a better uniform. To the outside observer it looks better. If you are the only ASD student in the school who will be your friend? Who will understand you?
Visit Duncraig SHS (Mainstream and NOT the Education Support Centre) and see how they have succeeded in creating the right atmosphere for ASD students to flourish.It is not rocket science and can be achieved within any school.
Then you will know what to look for in your local high school.
Good High Schools
Hi everyone, I agree that Duncraig is excellent, but what happens when you are not in the catchment area and you cannot access the appropriate environment for your child?
Please can you tell me what is the next step after receiving thediagnosis and also what are the criteria for an autism extension program in high school. I have been told it is a 4 phase process but I do not know the phases or the eligibility criteria.
Thanks in anticipation of any replies
My son is currently 10 and in Year 5. I am now thinking about the hurdles that await in 2014 when he is ready for secondary school. I believe it will be an absolute night mare I cannot help thinking that the war I just had to get the primary school on board will start all over again but with more dire consequences and I fear the secondary teachers will be far less understanding.
I was wondering if there was anyway my son could do his schooling on the internet? Home schooling. Similar to kids in remote Australia? I live in main strean surburbia in Victoria.
I just wish our education system was better.
Any suggestions from experience?
My son is the same age and is in year 5. I have exactly the same fears as you. In WA we have been fortunate enough to get him into a private school with a special needs/learning centre attached. The difference has been amazing however after finally getting the primary end sorted we are faced with the High schools.
High school systems are so different. I have been lucky enough to find a private high school with a learning centre and understanding of Autism/Aspergers however I am waiting for an interview as its hard to get into.
Home schooling is common and have considered it myself however as a last resort, its important that my son socialises as much as possible but then again home schooling also supports this to.
You can get more information from the education department website, as we are in WA there will be some differences or if the affordablity is there have a look at schools with a learning centre attached (they're not special ed but they certainly are given more understanding and help in the right areas).
I hear your frustration
@ Amanda Viti
I was wondering if you would share the name of the school your son is attending. I currently live overseas and will be moving back to Perth soon and am looking for a school that will be good for my son (he's 4).
This might be a bit late but Swan Christian High School in Midland, WA have on-line learning.
Hope that's helpful.
I would try Eschool which has a home school system happening Australia wide. They also incorporate support for the students and parents by home visits and a specialist child psychlogist. There are also many private christian schools that have a home school component too. I would look up on the net christian schools in your area hope this helps. Melissa
I have a 15 year old with High Functioning Autism and he is enrolled in a local catholic college. It has been a miserable time from transition for us to be honest. We found from the start that teachers often said they understood and then did the exact opposite. Our child has lost so much confidence. He has been told he has failed subjects when we have asked the school to contact us if there are problems and we all agreed it wasn't positive for this to be told to him. We agreed on a no report or adjusted report for him. This has not happened. They have a policy where they hide him away in a room all day when he is having a bad day. They rarely adjust work for him. We have aide funding but he has no aide. He got hit by a car on school property ( with no official report made). He has had meltdowns and not been found until I came to the school and checked toilets. He doesn't eat at school. He can't cope with the corridors. We tried our local special school and they told us they would ring the police on him if he was having a bad day which we find absolutely ridiculous as we are talking about a 15 year old with autism and extreme anxiety. He certainly doesn't need a police record to add to his troubles. We have now had months of him not attending and making life at home difficult if we even suggest going to school. By difficult I mean intolerable. We are enrolling him in a home schooling program. We definately agree that a school for children with asd would benefit everyone who has the pleasure and difficulties of raising these wonderful individuals with so much to offer and nowhere to offer it.
Just curious . . .
Hi, I have just read your story about your son at fifteen and his time at school and was curious about how he has coped in the last two years? Would love to hear more as I have a son about the same age.