This term I started in a new mainstream school, so I thought I would tell you a bit about how it is going. If you have followed my journey, you may know that I am 10 years old, I have acute anxiety disorder and ADHD and I was not at school for over 2 years because my Local Authority said they could not find a school for me. At Tribunal last November, the judge said I could go to a nearby girls mainstream school that I love, with 1:1 support. Starting at the beginning of this term was the most exciting and worrying feeling ever (which is confusing because I find those feelings difficult to tell apart in my tummy!).
I absolutely LOVE my school. It’s the BEST learning experience I’ve ever had. I’ve attended 100% of my lessons, playtimes and lunches on my timetable so far. I’ve stayed in the classroom and managed to use my techniques to stay focused when I get anxious, I’ve done LOADS of amazing work, and I’ve made brilliant friends. I’ve even been on a school trip to learn about being more independent in secondary school! I would like to tell you about the things that we have done that have helped me at school, as I hope they might help others or give some ideas.
The best thing that has happened is LOADS of talking about me, so that school knew how to help me even before I started. School have talked loads to my mum to understand my needs, and made lots of little adjustments that have made a BIG difference. For example, I started very slowly, with just a few lessons a day, I have a safe place to go when I feel overwhelmed, I can take fiddle toys into class, and I always have my sketchbook nearby. My amazing class teacher has also made easy but helpful reasonable adjustments for me in the classroom. For example, our desks have drawers underneath them, and when my ADHD means I jiggle my legs, I knock the drawer and it makes a noise which is embarrassing. My teacher suggested I take the drawer out, so now I am really comfortable in my seat. It is only a tiny thing, but listening to me and making these adjustments means that I trust school to help me when I need it. Also, my psychologist has been to school to help them understand a bit more about how my brain works. She also explained about the trauma I had from my old school so that all my teachers understand how I might react to different situations. Because of all this talking, I feel that this school really understands me and believes in me, and they are working with me to help me to be the best that I can. This pushes me to try my hardest in every single lesson on every single day. It's not always easy, but I still keep going.
You may be wondering why is this like Hogwarts? I'm listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban right now on audiobook, read by Stephen Fry. I find audiobooks much easier than reading long books, and Stephen Fry is brilliant because all his different voices are original to every character and it makes it easy for me to follow, even when I feel fiddly. I love the suspense that he puts into his reading! In this book, Professor Lupin explained how he had special educational needs at school because he turned into a werewolf every month. He says that no-one wanted him until Dumbledore offered to make reasonable adjustments at Hogwarts for him. Because of this, he loved his time at Hogwarts, and made good friends. Dumbledore believed in him and gave him a chance, like my Headmistress believes in me and has given me this chance. Like Dumbledore, my Headmistress is wise and very kind, and because of that the feeling in the whole school is kind and welcoming, and makes children want to learn. I hope that every child with special educational needs who is looking for a school finds their own Dumbledore and their own Hogwarts like I have.
Thank you to every single person at my new school, including all the girls, who have worked as a team to make me feel safe and welcome. And thank you to everyone who has followed my journey. I hope I can inspire other young people who are struggling at school to find their own voice and get the help they need.