Last week The Boy took his SATs. For those who don’t know what they are – SATs stands for Standard Assessment Tests.
SATs are taken in year 2, 6 and 9. They are not about passing or failing. The purpose of these tests is to see what level your child is working to in comparison to those born in the same month. They are controversial for this age group. However, this post isn’t about how I feel about the tests but about how The Boy coped with them.
The tests were discussed at our last review meeting. The Boy doesn’t cope well under pressure so we needed to know how they planned to meet his needs during this stressful time. I was more worried about how he would cope more than the tests themselves because as well as being autistic, he’s one of the youngest in his year.
Although the SATs for The Boy’s age group are informal with no strict time limit, the school understood that he would require longer than the other children – especially when it came to writing. Because he gets overwhelmed when faced with lots of questions at once, they broke his down into a small chunks then let him have a break. Also, as he is still using the palm grasp and as writing is a challenge, he was allowed a scribe. So with the knowledge that they had covered his problem areas, I could relax as much as an autism parent can ever relax.
My job was to keep him as calm as possible during the week with lots of cuddles and reassurance. I was extra careful of which battles I picked because I needed him to start the day as relaxed as possible. So if his Lego was left all over the floor, I left it there because the biggest and most important thing for him was to keep his anxiety at a minimum.
The tests are a big deal for most children but for an autistic child they can be incredibly overwhelming but the school couldn’t have done anymore for him than they did and once again it proves that we chose the right school for our son.
The thing about The Boy is that he is academic. He excels in maths whereas I failed miserably to grasp the concept of basic multiplication, let alone mind boggling stuff like algebra or logarithms. I was (and still am) creative whereas he struggles to hold a pencil properly which makes writing and drawing an issue. He hates writing and the main reason is because it physically hurts him. Another reason is that his mind works a lot faster than he can physically write the words down, so he gets frustrated and ends up in tears or in meltdown. The school encourage him to write whenever possible but they understand that there will be times when it will be futile to push him and then they allow him to do his work on the computer. As they say, it’s the work that is important more than whether it’s written or typed.
The Boy has a photographic memory, as do I. This should stand him in good stead for exams but I wonder if, like me, it will be the case that the understanding isn’t always there? For example, he was able to recite his entire 12 times table at the age of four. Not many children can do that but while some people thought they had a child genius on their hands, I had an inkling that it was simply down to his ability to recall information, especially about stuff that interests him. Having said that he is now showing that he can work things out as well. He loves maths (the weirdo) it calms him, whereas it had the opposite effect on me. I ABSOLUTELY HATED it!! Also, I was crap at it – which didn’t help.
I know he’ll do well in history because he’s fascinated by it, just as I was. He’s just done a topic on the ancient Egyptians at school and he really got into it so I bought him the Horrible Histories book – Awful Egyptians. Incidentally, he loves the Horrible Histories programme, especially the talking rat, Rattus Rattus. I like Stupid Deaths. It’s funny because it’s true. Woo!
The week ended with one final test and then the children were allowed to watch DVDs and play with a huge box of Lego that the teacher had brought in. Being a massive Lego fan, this pleased The Boy and kept him focused throughout the last test. Every child received a ‘Star of the Day’ award and The Boy received the Head Teachers Award for his effort during the week. His teacher also sent a note home to say how proud she was of him and how he had exceeded her expectations. My boy showed off his stickers with pride.
I’m enormously proud of him because it was a challenging week and he got through it, with support of course, but he got through it without any major problems. The interesting thing is that he is developing an understanding of his condition and he is getting good at recognising when he is becoming overwhelmed and what the consequences can be. For instance, Year 6 were being visited by some owls and The Boy LOVES owls so he and the rest of his class were told they could go and see the owls if they were good. My amazing son made the decision NOT to go outside at playtime because he knows that’s where most of the ‘bad stuff’ happens so he didn’t want to risk not seeing his beloved owls. Impressive eh?
Part of my job as his mum is to guide him towards an independent life and this week has given me more hope than ever that this can be possible. He’s clever and just as his brothers are able to do what makes them happy, I want him to be able to do the same. There comes a day in every mothers life where she realises she’s no longer needed. I’ve been through it twice and it’s bittersweet, believe me. There is relief that you’ve done your job well and they’re independent of you but your heart breaks for the same reason. They’re your babies and they’ll always be your babies and they’ll always love you but they no longer need you – at least not in the practical sense.
More than anything in the world, I want to go through that again. I want to see him go out into the world and and live his life. Apart from teaching him how to do the practical stuff, I teach him how to understand himself and I do believe it’s starting to pay off, bless him.
Thanks for reading.
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