This post might be a one off. Time will tell.
Each of the children are now attending school full time. Lady (now 12) started secondary school in September. It is going well for her. She had been concerned that she would find the work too difficult and didn't fully believe my assertions that she would cope well with everything expected of her. She lacked confidence in her abilities and thought my judgement of her worth wasn't objective enough to trust. She now knows for herself that she is smart, a good learner, flexible, social and far more organised that even I thought she'd be and this has boosted her self esteem. There are aspects of school life that she dislikes and many that exasperate me but the current system means that if you chose the school option, you get these things along with it. Lady is happy and the advantages for her and all of us outweigh the disadvantages so to school she goes.
Thomas (now 8) is in the same primary school he started just after Easter. He is happy too. He is so dedicated and conscientious, he works hard and still loves PE best. Like Lady he had made new friends. His school is across the road from a country train station just one stop away from the station 10 minutes walk from our house so he takes the train to and from school on his own every day. He enjoys the feeling of independence and personal responsibility.
Both of them are still in the gymnastics squad. Thomas left the men's artistic team and like Lady he now does acro gymnastics and tumbling. Lady is also in the cheerleading team and competes in an all-Ireland competition later this month. They are thriving.
Duncan (10) is also at school- one for children with severe learning disabilities so he gets the right level of adult support. I could not be more pleased with the school, his teacher and the other classroom staff. Duncan adores it and talks about it all the time. He tells me about his friends in the class and what they do each day. He is having a total blast. Today he will have gone horse riding for the 2nd time. The report back in his home-school diary last week was that he is a natural and loved the whole experience. He thinks he's Cowboy Woody so here's hoping he doesn't try to gallop off! Not just yet anyway. Every Friday they go swimming. They have had a magician and the Ulster Orchestra to perform for them. They've been on outings to the airport, to sheepdog trials, to the wetland centre and aquarium. Duncan loves going places.
I was prompted to write today to record the meeting myself and his dad had this morning with Duncan's teacher about his individual education plan. His teacher is obviously a perceptive person as she is utterly enchanted by Duncan. She realises he is very capable academically and is keen to encourage and enable him to be the best he can be. She thinks his little animations are so clever-she says that she is convinced that one day he'll be famous! - and that he is such a loving, happy and kind boy. She talked about all the ways they are helping him to progress in his self control, communication and understanding. It was a most positive and helpful meeting. I only just realised that neither of us mentioned the word autism once- we didn't need to. We both know that Duncan's autism is just part of all the amazing, astonishing, at times infuriating and always awesome way that he is so we only needed to talk about him and his environment and how to reduce the barriers he faces to be well.
Here's his latest video.