Education, educating, and helping others.

tl;dr version

Lauren has a Pleggie page at https://pledgie.com/campaigns/25354 .

She’s a bit of an introvert, and hasn’t screamed and shouted and asked for RT’s for this. Daily I see Kickstarters raising thousands of pounds so someone can make potato salad, or charitys making money so someone can travel across a continent.

How about we see if we can help someone help others?

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Approx 6 years ago (more if you’re not reading this just after I wrote it!) I gave up working somewhere I hated to homeschool on of my kids. We weren’t sure of a diagnosis at the time, but it was sufficiently different to his severely autistic brother, and we put his behaviour down to Dyspraxia (which his older sister had/has) He wasn’t badly behaved at all, but had an extremely heightened vision of right and wrong. He’d get extremely upset at someone committing what he considered as a wrong action. This could be anything from using the wrong pencil, to mass genocide, and his reaction would be similar.

Anywhoo, his teachers weren’t dealing with it well, and as a result neither were the other children. We’d collect him to reports (from him) that he’d been forced to play with children who would hold him down and rip his clothes, and reports of “his head teacher dragging him along the corridor by his arm.”

They were ‘helping’ him by giving him his own desk in class, away from the other children, and leaving him to do what he wanted.

Eventually we decided it was better for him to be home schooled, and we took him out of school. We started by using an online school (was a new idea at the time) where the teachers would teach via an online meeting room, and the children would watch, and answer when required. It was poorly managed, and after reviewing his top marks from his teacher, and realising that these top marks didnt reflect any of the work being submitted, we realised that once again he was being ignored, and left to do what he wanted.

We chatted about this, and decided that Cal would go out to work, and I’d quit the job I hated and home school him instead. This would also allow me to spend some time with our youngest as she grew up.

(God, this is a long intro to what I was going to talk about 🙂 )

So, I spent a few months with him, raising his learning levels back to what they should be, and then surpassing that. Once he was back up to where he should be, we decided to try him back at school again, because we were worried that he was missing out on the social aspect of school.

At this point, I was ready to go back to work again. I got my CV out there, and found there was very little work in the IT area. (I was living in Bournemouth.) So after several months I decided I just needed to do something.

I had enjoyed teaching my son, so I spoke with the head teacher at my other son’s school. It was a special needs school, and they were often looking for volunteers to help out. I offered my help, and arranged to work 3 days a week, so I could still look for work. They paired me one on one with a disruptive child who wouldn’t stay in lessons for more than 10 minutes at a time, and would instead flip chairs and tables and run from the room.

It was incredibly challenging work, and I always wore my steel toed boots to work to save my toes. Over the period of two years, we went from being in lessons no more than 10 mins at a time, through spending all day in lessons through to attending a main stream school for two subjects each week. During this time, I was taken on as a full time TA, then given training to be an HLTA (Higher Level Teaching Assistant) meaning I could teach classes in the teachers absense. I trained as an ELSA (Emotional Learning Support Assistant) meaning I could take groups of between 1 and 6 children for out of lesson sessions to help them understand their, and others emotions.

It was incredibly rewarding, but incredibly low paid. I was earning just above minimum wage. Most of the other TA’s were holding down second and third jobs to make ends meet. A common theme through-out each child’s extra needs, was that they needed to see a specialist.

Whether it be Speech and Language therapists, Child Psychologists, Behavioral experts, or Physiotherapists,  the waiting list for each was very long. Whenever the council or school had funds for extra staffing in that area, the pool of candidates was tiny, and the theme was “there just isn’t enough qualified staff.”

If you’ve made it this far, well done. I’m about to hit my point!

My step daughter (I mentioned her before, briefly) is Dyspraxic. She’s made it through school, college, and just finished her degree. She’s 21, and since school had decided that she wants to be able to help children with extra needs (she’d tell me off for not using correct terminology, but my brain barely remembers how to spell, let alone terminology). Rather than giving in and saying “I struggle with Dyspraxia, she has instead decided she wants to help others understand it (and other conditions) and work as a Child Psychologist.

Unfortunately though, her parents aren’t loaded. as I mentioned earlier, my salary (and her mums) aren’t amazing. We’re not earning a huge wage, and haven’t been able to save for her to study for a Masters. Her Dad is in a similar situation. That’s not stopped her trying though. She’s investigating every possible avenue for funding, but most are coming up as a ‘No’.

Its ridiculous really. We’re failing to find people qualified enough to fill positions, but at the same time, we’re making it impossible for people who WANT to qualify to be able to afford to.

Lauren has a Pleggie page at https://pledgie.com/campaigns/25354 .

She’s a bit of an introvert, and hasn’t screamed and shouted and asked for RT’s for this. Daily I see Kickstarters raising thousands of pounds so someone can make potato salad, or charitys making money so someone can travel across a continent.

How about we see if we can help someone help others?

Please?

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