Camp preparations have been months in the planning with strategic sleep overs with friends to get her used to sleeping away from home. Part of it was also preparing me for the first afternoon of no conversations and no cuddles before bed. I also realised that because I have made breakfast for Grace every morning, she doesn’t know how to use a toaster! I remember thinking, as Grace left for camp, that the teachers couldn’t possibly know or understand her as I do. But then I reminded myself that, as a teacher, parents hand their sons over to me each day with the same expectations as I have – to be concerned for their welfare, to care for them and be aware of their needs.
At Ambrose Treacy College, the parent is the first educator. We believe that by entrusting us with your son’s formal education, we must support them both holistically and academically as they journey from boyhood into young men. We are very lucky to have a professional and caring staff in the Exceptional Learning Department. They have a broad range of experience with students of all abilities. Paige Lumb, a staff member and wonderful mother of two children with needs, has shared some of her views on children with ASD. Her first-hand knowledge, empathy and professional approach to assisting students with needs is invaluable to us. Paige confesses “As I can’t help talking about ASD and my boys, I would like to share some things I have learnt on my journey. I do not profess to being an expert but they do say a mum of a child with an Autism Diagnosis does better research than the FBI! I have two beautiful boys who have exactly the same diagnosis and could not be more opposite. They have very different needs, strengths, challenges and personalities. No two people with Autism are alike. If you have met one person with Autism you have met one person with Autism. In many ways it is an ‘invisible’ disability and people with Autism don’t ‘look like’ they have a disability. Autism can be very crippling as it affects a person’s ability to communicate, remembering that communication does not only include saying words but understanding language, deciphering body language and emotions. I believe the biggest myth about Autism is that they don’t feel emotions. If anything, people with ASD feel emotions more intensely than neuro typical people. They do have great difficulty understanding their emotions though, and therefore responding to their emotions appropriately. Our kids might act differently and different scares many people, and people love to judge but I believe that acceptance is the only ‘cure’ for Autism. Our kids success depends on acceptance and understanding not only from their parents but from their teachers and the wider community.”
And so today I dedicate my blog to the mothers who entrust us to nurture their sons, to teach them, to guide them and to care for them on camp! I salute “all of us whose hearts now reside forever outside of our bodies.”
Deb Butler, Head of Exceptional Learners