Sunday, 12 June 2011

School Refuser

This morning I’m acquainting myself with this document. As many parents get school uniforms and school bags and homework and packed lunches sorted, I’m reading about what happens to parents when your child does not attend school in the UK.

I’ve looked for the section on disability and school refusing but oddly it doesn’t seem to be there. Shouldn’t the government website which deals with absenteeism have a least a caveat to address cases of disability?

There is one sentence which alludes to children too sick to be at school who are therefore exempted-but my child isn’t sick, she’s disabled.

This is the problem as it seems the government both local & national suffers from a certain selective hearing loss and visual impairment of it’s own, when it comes to disability.

They seem to hear but not listen and look but won’t see.

Often the incidences of school refusing by disabled children most specifically children with autism- go hand in hand with routine bullying and lack of adapted facilities. Neither of these situations are necessarily the fault of the parents or the child yet they are the focus of censureship and punitive measures.

They are both failed and held up for scrutiny and blame. They are it appears by virtue of their disability and parental responsibility the architects of their own misfortune. In this country in this age we are in many ways no further forwards in terms of understanding than we were in 1950’s.

Worse it seems that the local authority can send one of their “experts” to your house to advise you on parenting contracts and methods of getting your child to school. If that fails they can fine you and if that fails they can send you to prison.
Judgemental attitudes, ignorance, bullying and blame it’s great being disabled isn’t it?

This isn’t a dig it’s a fact. Society as a whole and many schools in particular -unless dovetailed to the specific needs of autism, are woefully failing our children on the Autistic Spectrum.

We are lucky that this doesn’t apply to us. Yet.

Currently the school are being very supportive and understanding of the fact that Emily’s autism, learning disability and epilepsy mean it’s not a case of picking her up putting her in the car and taking her to school.  

We are lucky that they understand that Autism is a complex and misunderstood condition and they know too that I want Emily to access life as fully as possible.

I’m not going to force her or make her miserable.  Her time left in full time education realistically means that we are counting it in months not years. Why force her to become dangerously depressed?

The irony is of course that whilst our disabled children are being enforcedly educated within a prescriptive system , the decision makers seem to see no need to educate themselves in all forms of disability.

It feels sometimes that “installing a ramp” is really all they have. Ask any wheelchair user and they would attest to the fact that they don’t always manage that effectively.

The thing I have learned about autism and the people I love with the condition above all other things is that No really does mean No.

My favourite aspect of their beautiful minds is that my girls don’t see the point of lying.

I see it as an amazing compliance on Emily’s part that she has managed 9 years of education as it is. With her senses assaulted at every turn, with the world a frankly confusing place at best and deeply terrifying at worst,

For children like my daughter their parents flat refusal to comply with “the system” taken to the limit, means prison. 

In applying once again their one size fits all approach the bureaucrats have managed to make good parenting a criminal offence.