Tabitha is in year 11 and thanks to the years of delays in obtaining therapy her coping strategies are completely inadequate to the new level of tension.
The cracks started to show at the end of last year; studying the Holocaust upset her so much it effected all her subjects. I wanted her to drop English but that would stop her from getting where she wanted to go. This year she has been deteriorating steadily.
Unfortunately with her brand of autism her response is to go silent and withdraw. She doesn’t even know her own triggers. There is so much work to be done and so little time. It was a race and we were losing badly.
Finally she hit the wall. Two really simple assessments and she just couldn’t start them. Unbelievable as it may seem the following is not exaggerated in the least.
Tab came skipping up to me and asked my help with a Drama Assessment; her favourite subject. So I asked questions, the answer to each being downcast eyes and a shaking head. She had been trying to start for 3 weeks; we had been trying to start this assessment for a week, and unknown to me Grandma had been working on it for the last hour.
The assignment involved comparing Tragedy & Comedy. The first task was to make a list of aspects to cover; she couldn’t, the list was available could she copy it down, no. Did she want me to start a list and just keep talking; finally I got a nod.
Step 2 I write down the word character and then ask if she can think of a play to use. Triumph; she actually says ‘Romeo & Juliet’. Now we are getting somewhere; I kid you not this felt like an incredible step forward.
How about a comedy; I mention a few, head shakes. So I recommend we start with ‘The Importance ofbeing Earnest’ because she performed this play on stage; an incomparable Miss Prism, just a month ago. Head shakes tears form; she’s gone. I found out later that in the hour with Grandma that I didn’t know about, Grandma had listed lots of Shakespeare’s plays in an attempt to penetrate the wall of silence she was getting.
It took her father & I about 40 minutes to calm her down enough to eat part of her dinner. It took Grandma & I 20 minutes to take her from the table (her father had gone to pick up Cat) and physically drag her to her room, turn on her favourite music and force a book into her hands. She was making noises and trying to get back to her homework.
Unbelievable, maybe to some but this is simply life with autism.
So she had 2 unfinished assessments and she couldn’t even discuss them. If I sent her to school she was highly likely to snap. She was physically exhausted from the emotional strain. I contacted the school, the Autism Association, her psychologist and her occupational therapist, I let them know what was happening and begged for help.
She was home for two weeks while we fired around emails. Then the associate Principal of Senior School called for a meeting. And after patiently listening to my ravings presented me with the perfect solution. Would Tab be willing to drop from the high flying ATAR university pathway down to the general pathway?
Cat had faced a decision like this and had rejected it, feeling the humiliation was too much. Alex had faced this and been placed in a situation where social pressure was worse than the previous pressure. But apparently in the marvellous school Tab attends, less academic classes are populated by dedicated, polite students who have made a sensible decision. I love that school so much! She has friends in the new classes and the principal believes it may actually still lead to the acting course Tab wants to pursue; if not there are other pathways.
But to my great surprise and even greater delight Tabby loves the idea!
Without the pressure of needing to get good grades Tabitha can relax in the nurturing environment of the greatest peer group and school staff I have ever heard of. Without a terror of missing a vital class she can go to neurofeedback and then other therapy so she can learn how to deal with her autism and anxiety.
This is so fantastic!
Now all I have to do is catch up with the good news because my body is still in the throes of my nastiest psychosomatic reactions. Excuse me and remind me when I get back to take an Imodium. Am I due for more pain medication, yet?