I'm not sure I could work in a special school. I deal with The Boy and his outbursts and challenges because I love him dearly, and because that's the hand we were dealt. But there are so many people who impact hugely on his life because they choose to. And that choice, something I've personally never made, moves me greatly.
There's still a view in the wider world of a special school teacher and the type of thing they do. Hippy types, caring people with long flowing hair who spend their days sitting in a circle playing 'Kum Ba Yah' on the guitar as the children sit around prompted by a couple of smiley teaching assistants to clap in the right places. In the afternoon, maybe a bit of finger painting before rounding off the day with a rousing rendition of 'Go Tell It On the Mountain'.
The reality is a little different. Teachers, teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors (dinner ladies to you and me) in special schools do extraordinary jobs. And what can be dangerous jobs. They can face a level of abuse on a daily basis that the rest of us would find hard to tolerate. A lot of it from my son. Here's an excerpt from The Boy's home-school diary yesterday. There's nothing particularly 'good' or 'bad' about this day, it's just a snapshot of everyday life. All names have been changed to protect the innocent:
"The Boy had a bad start in class. Refused to do his work, used bad language to Miss Charlton. Threw 2 timers at Miss Greenwich and hit me twice. The Boy was given time-out to cool down. Mr Bromley also asked The Boy to take time-out to calm down but The Boy threw a chair at him.
The Boy did calm, we had a good chat. He said he was upset as he had wet the bed. He did apologise to me.
The Boy had an excellent Science lesson, working really well using microscopes.
The Boy joined in well for Drama, but used a lot of bad language in PE. The Boy has lost 25 minutes off 'Choosing Time' today.
Have a good evening!"
My favourite part? "Have a good evening!". As if none of it ever happened, and tomorrow is a new day. It's one thing dealing with abuse. It's quite another treating the abuser with patience, compassion and understanding throughout.
So, in case you ever wondered, that's why they're called special schools. They're filled with special people. And not just the children.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.