School is meant to be the best time of your life. You meet people who go on to become your closest friends and you learn things that’ll set you up for the real world. School should also be one of the happiest times of your life, with memories that’ll stay with you forever.
I have memories of school. Mostly good ones but there were times where it wasn’t the greatest time of my life by far. In fact, I was made to feel like being Epileptic was a hinderance and Prom, the event every child looks forward to.. Dreams about even! I was not allowed to go for fear that if I did have a seizure the night would have to be stopped to allow me help resulting in the night being ruined for everyone else. That is what I was told by those that I looked up to in school.
When I was getting bullied I was made to feel as though it was all in my head, the people making my school life a misery were believed over me. Now I thought that all these events were more the school being afraid of the unknown rather than just pure ignorance.
4 years have gone by, a lot has changed and it is my brother who is now on his journey through Secondary School. Ashley suffers from Autism and ADHD.
If you are familiar with people who have these conditions you may know that change isn’t something that take easily. I was super worried when he started big school for I know that even those who absolutely love change and new beginnings get a little overwhelmed by it all. However, he surprisingly managed to face it.
Sure! It wasn’t easy. He had some bumps along the way. His first year there he got into trouble now and then and I don’t have any excuses for that because there aren’t any. However, he grew up, he found some medication that worked and he started to become a better person.
He’s in year 8 now, loving the majority of his lessons and even his attitude at home has become that much better. Everyone who knows him knows it, they can see it too… all except his school.
You see, school life for Ashley isn’t “the best time of his life” nor is it exciting. If I am to be perfectly honest we have to persuade him to go to school. The child who used to be up at the crack of dawn raring to start the new school day is spending longer and longer in bed in the mornings. The smile that used to shine bright and have pride of place on his face is slowly dimming. My brother, the happy kid I used to know is slowly fading away.
Each week he comes home saying he got the blame for something that he didn’t do. Something he swore he didn’t do. Now I know my brother and I know when he is lying and I can promise you now, more often than not he really hasn’t done a thing. Just a poor boy in the wrong place at the wrong time, they need someone to blame? They choose him. After all, a boy who used to be naughty doing the naughty is far more believable than someone who only has a hiccup now and then right? Of course!
More times than I care to remember, he has left school at the end of the day thrown his bag into the boot of the car, sat down in the car and broken down. Floods of tears dampen his face as he tells us that he is in trouble for something that he didn’t do.
Just last week he said he had an ear ache to stay off school ( it turns out he did have an ear ache the doctor confirmed it! Sorry Ash!) not only was he saying that but he was also quiet and withdrawn. Now, my brother is the loudest, craziest cheeky monkey you will ever meet. He is the heart and soul of the room. Curled up on the sofa feeling sorry for himself really isn’t him. He came home a few days prior his clothes covered in mud, when we questioned how he managed to get so dirty in one day he told us that he was just playing Rugby then shrugged it off. Something about that didn’t sit right with me.
Fast forward back to when he had his ear ache and he was taking a nap. I had a little look through his phone that was when I saw a message from the night he came home caked in mud. The message said…
Reading these messages my heart sank, I knew something wasn’t right the moment he came home but I didn’t push for the right answers, I believed what he said and as a result he has had to put up with this longer than he needed to. Bullying is hard for any child but a child with these conditions don’t tend to have many if any other friends to fall back on when things get tough.
You could count the amount of friends he has on one hand possibly even one finger. Instead of playing around with friends like we would usually do he sits on his own doing plane spotting. Ashley is a massive fan of plane-spotting, as a result he goes to school each day with a bag full of the essentials that he needs in order to do this.
Yesterday, Ashley came home threw his bag down and shut himself away. When we questioned him as to why he was such a moody mare he told us that in return for being pushed over and constantly bullied he has in fact been told that he has isolation because once again the school don’t seem to think that what Ashley says is true.
Now you are probably thinking, why don’t you just talk this through with the school, maybe it’s a misunderstanding, blah, blah, blah. Nope. we told the school, in fact we have told them numerous times but the problem still remains. We get passed through different teachers because none of them fancy taking responsibility that maybe they have let this boy down or maybe that they aren’t doing enough for him.
Just this morning, mum was sent a text…A TEXT that Ashley hadn’t gone to registration. Now when you know that he left for school because you waved him off that text is one of the most frightening texts you’ll get. Thoughts fly around in your head, your brain runs up all sorts of scenarios. We rang round everywhere we thought he would be yet nobody had seen him, we phoned him and received no answer. Going out of our mind we phoned the school up and were like look, Ashley left for school today he has got to be there. The reply we got? Oh right I will get someone to check his class… Wait what? You didn’t do this before you alerted us to a missing child? What facts are you basing this “missing child” on exactly? Your gut feeling? What? Low and behold they returned to inform us that he was in school! Not only that, he was talking to a teacher about how upset and vulnerable he has been made to feel. A child of 12 feeling upset in what should be one of the safest, happiest environments for him. Something has seriously gone wrong here.
It seems to me that they know that he has additional needs yet all they see is a lost cause, a boy who cannot be helped or guided and to me that is really, really sad. It shouldn’t matter if you have additional needs, it shouldn’t matter if you have a disability you go to school to learn. They tell you school is the best time of your life, how can it be when you’re spending each day in fear? Worrying when your next run in with your bully is, your next unnecessary day in isolations will be.
How are other children meant to treat and respect children with additional needs when those that have a duty of care and support don’t?