This is more about the smallest Murray who is having one heck of a time settling into a brand new Junior School. She moved from a small, supportive infant school, where her fierce (possibly suffocating to the other girl at times) friendship with one girl acted as a crutch or safety-net to aid her socialising difficulties. We chose a brand new Academy on a bit of a gamble really- were thoroughly impressed with the ethos, the Academy Trust, the fabulous facilities and the head teacher. The class sizes are very small (up to 23), and the intake is phased- so there’s only a year 3 this year, and Isla will always be the oldest year group in the school, setting rules, taking on responsibilities and so forth, which is right up her street!
Previously, I blogged that things weren’t easy- it was the end of the summer, and her anxieties were pushing her meltdowns and behaviours through the roof.
She’s still on a very high level of explosion and anxiety, she’s not sleeping, and is often playing alone, but we are seeing really positive, supportive steps from the school which I wanted to share:
Isla is 7, and is only just getting her ASD formally diagnosed. Choosing a junior school was tough- she’s gifted academically across the board, but has massive anxieties, can’t do social stuff at all, and veers between being wholly compliant (too compliant- didn’t tell when a girl slapped her in the playground), and acting out by becoming mute, not-joining in, screaming and needing to be dragged off me in the mornings.
Since starting at the new school she’s demonstrated her high level of support needed right now (hard to watch, but pleased they’ve seen it), and with no extra funding or diagnosis yet, they have given her almost FT 1:1 support, engaged the teacher fully and are offering for the 1:1 to attend a course with us, even though their small staffing team can’t currently support the cover so people have volunteered their time. They have also got us the first Ed Psych slot they have, to enable a long-term support package to be put in place ASAP. Communications from them have been superb, thoughtful, respectful and taking our situation seriously.
We are also doing lots st home right now:
We start our first session on the National Autistic Society Early Bird Plus course in the morning (a course which comes highly recommended by Laine at A Touch of the Perks), and I’m both looking forward to it, and a little nervous it won’t give us anything new.
I’m also going to attend a course here next week:
And we are also meeting with CAMHS (Children’s and Adolescents Mental Health Services) to attend a pre-treatment session with Isla- she is due to start some sessions with a behavioural nurse (I’m guessing CBT type work?).
So- lots going on, and to be frank it feels like we need all the help we can get right now! I have implemented lots of pecs/feelings type charts and reward systems and so forth- rekindling my love with my laminator, so will share some of that on subsequent blogs as I know the sight of someone else’s lovely toolkit can give you a kick up the bum to rehash yours a bit. I also know that as with most of our ASD kids, all of these systems only work for a little while, then you have to reinvent the wheel yet again, which is exhausting!
I wanted to share with you this author: Tania A Marshsll, who was recommended to me by an Autistic mother who also has a son on The Spectrum. I feel that I have a handle (mostly) on Lucas’ ASD, yet Isla’s still feels completely alien. I have heard the phrase “if you know one child with autism, you know one child with autism”, but there is now a body of research into ASD in girls, and it does seem to present so differently that I bet we aren’t the only ones treading water a bit.
Tania had devised a toolkit for assessing ASD in girls:
Here are signs to look for with pre-school age girl,
And here for older girls.
I’m also just beginning to think about supporting Isla through her diagnosis journey in terms of what information she needs, what is appropriate for her to share with peers and so on. Our family is one of disability and difference- she strives to also be different (special?), so says that she wants an ASD diagnosis, but it feels wrong to encourage that idea- that if/when she gets a label she may then use it to define herself. We have joined the excellent library at Cerebra and have chosen a book each to borrow about ASD, so will be offering our reviews on here shortly. They have an excellent selection of book and sensory items, which you can borrow free-of-charge, and the criteria for joining Cerebra seems more flexible than it has in the past- an ASD diagnosis is enough now.
Any photos, blogs or comments on behaviour strategies that you would like to share would be greatfully received, or any experiences of ASD in girls.