And here we are, all of a sudden it's April & World Autism Awareness day is upon us. I don't know about you, but it's taken me by surprise. I've been so busy dealing with the bureaucracy & stress caused by our second post-16 education & health care plan review, that I haven't considered an autism awareness blog post.
It's our second EHCP post-16 review. For the same child. As Matt has been an academic year ahead of himself he started post-16 at his school this academic year. However, as he is chronologically 16 this academic year, we are going through it again. And harder. This is the change for County to put him into a cheaper academic placement for the next 2 years. We were ambushed in January at his annual review, with the county representative claiming that he was failing academically as he hasn't yet achieved a C grade at English GCSE. I was so taken aback I somehow forgot to point out that he shouldn't have actually taken any GCSEs yet, and yet he already has 2 grade Cs. How is that failing? Grrrr.
Anyway, there is a bigger chance than ever this year that he will be taken out of his residential school and moved to a more local provision. It will be interesting to see how important the pupil's views are in comparison to budget.
Yesterday, we got a letter through from ATOS, who administer assessments for disability benefits (PIP). I had to complete a 40 page form for Matt over the christmas period, get it back to them just after New Year & have heard not a single peep since. Until yesterday, telling us we had a meeting in 6 days time at our house. That doesn't give us much time to prepare. Although, I suppose it's good that it is happening during the school holidays when he is actually here. They are coming to our house, rather than us going to them, which is not the norm as far as I am aware. Or maybe it is for 16 year olds? Who knows.
Luckily for us, autism awareness is rising. There's more on the TV about autism/aspergers. So maybe we will be dealing with someone who has an idea what it is.
There are a couple of things on British TV at the moment that are highlighting autism. The A word on BBC1 is a drama about a fairly dysfunctional family who find out that their 5 yr old son has autism. I have some reservations about this programme. I am quite glad they are not asking the boy actor to fully embrace an autistic meltdown, but it does make meltdowns look like temper tantrums. However, it's probably not reasonable to expect a child actor to bang his head against the floor/wall till it bruises, or to scream loud & long enough to lose his voice. Or to thrash around blindly without any care for injury to himself or others. So I can accept the compromises they have made. But they need to have considerably more humour in the show. Autism families tend to have an appreciation for black humour!
I am however really enjoying Employable Me on BBC2. Only around 15% OF PEOPLE IN THE UK WITH AUTISM ARE IN FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT. They have dealt with Tourettes & Autism Spectrum conditions very well so far and have shown a pretty balanced view of the difficulties as well as the strengths of the people featured. I really hope it opens employer's eyes to the benefits of considering neurologically diverse employees (in loyalty quite apart from anything else). If you haven't watched it, you should! I had no idea that Tourettes could suddenly affect you as an adult - which happened to one of the two people featured in the first show. The other person on the first show is a man with autism in his 30s who has never had a job. I defy anyone to watch this without rooting for him, and caring desperately what happens. So if you are in the UK, would you take the time to watch it? Catch it on iplayer, enjoy & learn.
And to lighten things up, how about a quick reprive of Special Needs Ryan? Yes? Your wish is my command!