Reading one of the final chapters in the book ‘The Spark’ [highly recommended] was what finally cemented what we need to advocate for next.
In this book, the mother of a profoundly gifted boy was made to wait in a room – purposely emptied – while her son was being assessed. She didn’t know how long this would take, but needed to be there when her son, who was also autistic, finished. It took four hours, and she was extremely bored, having finished reading the book she had brought with her, and a magazine she found in the bottom of her handbag. The assessor explained that that was what it was like for her son at school every day.
WOW!! That was a reality check for me! We needed to do something. Something more!!
Prior to that point we were just considering subject acceleration (with DS9 testing at an age of 18 for maths). However – despite individual research and computer-based maths programmes – he continues to say he is bored at school, and is avoiding doing the work set, while being increasingly compliant and hardworking at the two full days he now attends his gifted programme.
A few days ago I asked my son which of the options (subject or full grade acceleration) he would prefer. While saying it was a difficult decision, he finally answered full high school – he is currently year 5 (in a mixed year 5/6 class).
Today, we attended the local high school open day and he had so much fun. I had sore jaws after two hours of watching him smile and make others laugh – discussing science with one teacher when doing the milk and detergent experiment, talking about air pressure cars with a student, plus spending about 1/4 hour being shocked (and shocking) using the electrostatic generator. My non-sporty boy even had fun playing volleyball and speed cycling there! He is now pretty excited about next year, needless to say.
While academic achievement is not an issue, I am aware he is behind socially. Although he has made progress in the last couple of months after he began working with speech/literacy specialist AND I am also aware that research tells me those social skills will improve with INTELLECTUAL peers.
The other issue might be whether he can follow instructions. I have been talking to him this past week about how we all have to do things we find boring (like me changing bed sheets) and that he needs to prove to his education providers that he can listen and do the tasks he is given BEFORE he gets a book out to read (one of his favourite past-times). Still, I struggle with that fact that that means doing stuff he most probably already knows.
So from here, we will attend a less-fun intermediate school visit in school hours – to set his expectations more correctly. I will fill out the intermediate school enrolment form. We have a meeting set with his current school next week – they know what we are now thinking (after I bumped into his current principal at the Open Day today). And we have our wonderful teacher from the gifted programme speaking to both schools as well.
We are HOPEFUL… and pretty certain this is the way to go. But that doesn’t mean he will be accepted… and what if it doesn’t work out?