|This is my child and if I don't stand up for him, who will?|
Each Thursday, J attends a special needs drama group. They have an amazing drama teacher who is really experienced at knowing how to get things right for children like J. He comes out of that group encouraged, enthused, positive and passionate.
Whilst he is in there, us parents wait in the staff room (it takes place in a school hall that the drama club hire). And each week I hear the stories of the other children like J who have been let down by their schools and it makes me cross. It was hard enough battling our way through the education system desperately trying to find a way for J to have his needs met by his schools. It would be great if it was ONLY us. That our case was unique. That there had just been a huge failure in J's case and that it didn't happen to anyone else.
But sadly, time and time again, I hear of so many other children going through the same thing. Of schools getting it wrong, of budgets being put before children, of statements being wrongly refused, of parents so weary of fighting for their child that they are left needing help themselves. And it's not right.
I would love to say to them to quit school and home-school instead. By taking J out of the system we found our stress levels reduce greatly as the educational battles were gone. We still had the day to day issues to tackle because of J's ASD but we found we had the strength and energy to cope with those once school was out of the equation.
But I know it was a hard decision to make. To go from everything 'known' to us and accepted as normal, to doing something totally new to us and, despite the growing numbers of home-educated children, what is still largely considered to be 'different' or 'alternative'.
And I know that not everyone is it a position to be able to home-school. I had to give up my part-time job to be able to home-school and we were fortunate to be able to do that. I know of many others who would like to but can't.
I also know of those who won't. They (quite rightly) believe that their child has a right to have their needs met within the education system and they are going to keep on battling towards making that happen, no matter what it takes.
None of these parents are moaners or whingers. They get on with life in often difficult circumstances. They do not choose to complain. All they want is for their child's educational needs to be met. They are not asking for anything over and above what their child has a legal right to. And yet time and time again, it is the parents that are blamed, accused, and casted as the villains making life difficult for the schools.
Yet all they are doing is trying to stand up for their child. And if they don't, who will?