The reason I jump : one boys voice from the silence of autism.
By Naoki Higashida , translated by David Mitchell
There is a whole array of books about autism available.
I’ve found that most of them are either written by experts. Very heavy in theory. And often quite difficult to read. Or they are written by parents who although they can give a great insight into what it’s like for the patents and can give lots of advice they can’t of course talk for their children.
This book was written by a 13 year old with autism.
It’s written in the form of questions and answers.
It’s written in a very clear open honest way. I found the book informative and moving.
It doesn’t answer all questions. There are things that are true of Naoki , but not true of O. But it really did give a helpful , educating insight into autism through the mind of a child that lives with it.
I knew just a few pages in that I would love this book.
There was a paragraph that really struck a chord with me. Naoki says ” the voice I can’t control is different , this one blurts out , not because I want it to , it’s more like a reflex. ” he goes on to say ” even if we’re ordered to keep our mouths shut or to be quiet we simply don’t know how , our voices are like our breathing. I feel , just coming out of our mouths unconsciously ”
This describes O so well. And it’s something I so wish I could make people understand.
I wish everybody would read this book. At least anybody with autism in their lives or anyone who wants to educate themselves to better understand autism.
this is an important book.
Another must read book , in my opinion is freaks geeks and aspergers. Also written by a child with aspergers.
Again a great , informative insight.
So we started the new thing at school this week. Where I stay with O and he only goes for a short time.
This week it was one hour , I’m hoping next week that will be increased. I think/ hope that’s the plan.
I’ve blogged about Monday already.
It went well. I had a chance to see how wiggly and squirmy O is. It isn’t easy to keep him in his seat. And I saw for myself how different he was in a quiet room compared to when a noisy group worked in the room.
Tuesday was a bit frustrating. We only had ten minutes to do work , the other 50 minutes was when O went to his place to be session ( play therapy) so I had to sit and wait for 50 minutes.
He was calm the whole time and that made the second day he was at school when nothing bad happened.
Wednesday was O’s day at the PRU.
He was picked up at 12:45 and brought home at 3:30 !
It’s always a struggle to get O in the car.
He always says he doesn’t want to go.
But actually he had a good day.
He wasn’t in the actual classroom the whole time , but he got his work done.
We took O’s new ear defenders to school. School were not that happy about the ear defenders. They feel it will be like the hoody all over again. But in my opinion O has special needs and if ear defenders are one of those needs then so be it.
We got O’s work done. When a group came to work in the room O wore his ear defenders and was able to stay calm and concentrate on his work.
We had another good day.
In the morning before school he had laughed and joked with a friend in his class and also with his teacher.
Today was a PRU day again.
O put up a bit of a fight again , but I suspect this has almost become a part of his routine,
When O was dropped off his TA said he had had a much better day. In the classroom a bit more.
So all in all a good week.
O has seen that he can have a good time at school. Which I think is important. I think he was seeing school as a completely negative thing.
And the ear defenders seem to be a good idea.
Next week Monday is inset day. So I really hope they give us longer times to be in school for.
An hour a time is not really enough education.
Also I had a letter yesterday saying that O’s statutory assessment is being carried out.
It’s tiring having O home ALL the time especially as he doesn’t want to go out anywhere.
I’m a bit bored. And frustrated. If I’m honest.
But I will do what it takes to make things easier for O.
Today I’m lucky enough to have a post written by @Mammapolitico !
I asked twitter if anybody had written a post about what it’s like to teach a child with autism and she very kindly wrote this for me.
I have to say that @Mammapolitico sounds like she did an amazing job , I wish more teachers were like this.
Enjoy this lovely post !
Autism : A Teacher’s Story
Any teacher will tell you that there are some pupil’s you teach that you never ever forget. Children that you put your heart and soul into teaching and who even years later, you still wonder how their lives have turn out.
I was an inexperienced teacher, only a couple of years past qualifying, when the Headteacher called me in to her office to meet a small boy and his family. He was starting in my class the next week. Let’s call him L. This was just a spur of the moment, say hello meeting designed to put his parents mind at rest. I said Hello to L’s parents who smiled nervously. L was playing with a small metal car he had brought from home. Pushing it backwards and forwards repetitively, humming as he did so. L wouldn’t look up as I repeated hello. I didn’t think anything of it at the time as lots of children would be shy when meeting a new teacher for the first time.
Later that afternoon, a longer meeting took place with the Headteacher and the parent’s without L. I learnt that L had Aspergers Syndrome or high functioning Autism as it sometimes known. I listened. I went home that night and researched into the early hours of the morning. This child was going to be in my class on Monday morning and I had NO idea at all about Autism. No idea other than what his parents had told me about what he was going to be like. I had a nagging feeling that my classroom was going to be a difficult pace for him to be. I hadn’t had any training to help me teach this child. An extra support assistant would be allocated to the class for a couple of hours a day but that would be it. In at the deep end.
I taught L for two years. I learnt all there was to learn about Aspergers. School didn’t send me on any training courses, though they could have. I learnt from the cues L gave me how to cope with his behaviour. I developed resources just for him. A visual timetable with pictures of what activities we were doing that day so he knew what was coming next. If there was to be a change in routine, I didn’t just spring it on him. I took him to one side and explained what was happening and more importantly the reasons why. L always asked that question. Many times a day he would say “but why?”. Flexibility made all the difference to him coping. I let him line up last when it was time to go to the hall. I knew he was afraid of big rooms and loud nosies. I encouraged his artistic talent, and if he couldn’t cope with the task the rest of the class was doing, then I let him draw. This child could draw a car as a 3d diagram, in such amazing detail, despite being five years old.
It wasn’t plain sailing teaching L. There were 29 other children in the class who needed teaching as much as he did. Unbelievably and sadly, when he first arrived in the class, some parents of the other children, went as far as to complain to the Headteacher that he shouldn’t be there. That he would affect their children’s education. The school stood it’s ground. The governors got involved. As a catholic school we believed that L had a right to be part of our community and that the other children wouldn’t lose out by being in the class. We believed that they would learn valuable things by him being there.
They did. They learnt patience and showed their kindness. They discovered L had a wicked sense of humour and would hide things and pull funny faces behind my back. They made friends with him, got him to draw stuff for them and loved him being part of the class.
L didn’t say much at all. In the years that I taught him, I’d get the odd hello, the question why often, a goodbye at home time. He’d draw me pictures at home and I’d find them on my desk. Remember I said he wouldn’t look at me that day I met him first?
He didn’t make eye contact for very long time, but the day I left the school, after my leaving assembly, he came up to me after all the other children had gone, looked straight at me and said two words that meant the hard work had all been worth it – those words were simply – thank you.