Being a parent to a special needs child is hard as there are many challenges and hurdles we have to overcome meaning that it often feels like you are on a rollercoaster constantly due to the varying emotions you experience with every challenge and hurdle. Schooling is one of them....it's so hard to find if you have chosen the right school with regards to support and inclusion.
Roo currently attends a mainstream with 1:1 support and the main reason I chose that school was because they had experience of children with additional needs, also they have sn unit attached to the school so the mainstream children often get to see the children as they can help out at times, join in with some activities and the sn children are often encouraged to join in the mainstream classes / activities etc.
Roo first school sports day was held yesterday and I was a bit unsure how it would go and expected to feel the tinge of sadness many parents feel when its obvious their child cant do what their peers do etc but it was the opposite if I'm honest and I felt relieved and happy at how they make sure the kids can take part regardless of their issues. There were some in wheelchairs and some like Roo who can walk and everyone took part in all the races - running, egg & spoon, obstacle and sack race.
Roo woke up in one of his moods so I was unsure if he would be co operative but he was so good. Yes he refused to sit with his peers, preferring to stand next to his 1:1 but that was fine, no one batted an eyelid. Running race was first...as soon as teacher said go and everyone ran...except Roo who stood there with a slightly defiant look on his face until 1:1 went to him , took his hand and they ran together , as he passed me I could see him smiling! Cheeky wee monkey!!
Next race was the obstacle and with the help of his 1:1 he did it and got to the finished line with her holding the bean bag on his head :-), egg & spoon was next and Roo along with his wee pal E both overtook the rest of the class much to their delight...the secret? A bit of blue tac to keep the egg on the spoon!! So they both got the experience to get to finish line before the others...last race was the sack race. Roo looked bemused when he was put into the sack and when the race started he just stood there as he cannot do it but then his teacher grabbed one side and his 1:1 grabbed the other and they ran down the field! I captured the moment on my phone and it makes me laugh...Roo looks as if he is about to cry as he seems unsure of what's going on!! But as he sees the P7 cheering him he is back to smiling.
Watching this sports day made it worth while sitting in the freezing wind (yes its supposed to be summer but yet everyone wearing winter coats!) , not once did I feel the tinge of sadness us parents often get when it obvious your child is different, instead I was happy at how the school make sure they include all pupils regardless of their issues, everyone is part of the school community, there is no "them" & "us" like I often hear from other parents at other schools.
Roo cannot write or draw but yet his scribbles are displayed on the walls alongside the work of his peers.
Inclusion at its best.
If only it was like that everywhere...