Sometimes people fall through the cracks. You’ve heard that right? It’s a fairly well known statement. It alludes to those people who for one reason or another get missed by whatever system is supposed to support them. As long as your caught up with it’s not a long term problem.
The problem comes when you live life falling through one crack or another. It signifies that support system. Isn’t. Isn’t doing it’s job, isn’t meeting the needs or simply isn’t there.
A follow up to last weeks attempt to put darling boy back in school again after a 3 year stretch of teaching him at home has once again shown me that we live life falling through the cracks. I’ll explain. For any non New Zealanders comes with a brief explanation of our state school system.
Child starts school at 5 when they are assigned the some-what intelligent class label Year 1. They then progress through the primary school levels ending at Year 6 when they are 10. There’s slight variations due to what month your child’s birthday is but basically it’s as above.
Then for 11 and 12 year olds – again slight variation the children are at years 7 and 8 and a vast majority go to Intermediate school for those 2 years.
So then logically at aged 13 child is considered Year 9 and off to high school for 5 years.
The year level of your child is dictated solely and only by their age. It is no indication of their academic ability and as such it’s an automatic.
We went to visit a state primary school to see if darling boy could attend there they have a good reputation for support special needs students and we felt pretty positive with support from the Education Ministry the govt department charged with schools and schooling and funding. Cognitively darling boy sits somewhere around a 5 year old level in some aspects and we all felt he’d do well there. But no as he is technically a year 7 no go. He needs to attend an intermediate school with children his own size and age.
BUT here’s the rub. None of the schools he should attend because of his age and size can manage his special needs in an effective manner. Sure they’ll take him but he’ll be the only child there with his level of needs, there’ll be no special equipment, no safe spaces (bar a mostly empty classroom) and he’ll be the only child there with a teacher aide who due to funding will only spend part days with him so when there’s no teacher aide there’s no school.
SO apparently the solution may lie in asking the local high school with a special needs program to take him as an under aged student. 2 years under aged. Mixed in with adult sized children.
So the school he needs to be at he’s not allowed at, the school he’s supposed be at he can’t be and the school he shouldn’t be at he might be.
There is a solution. There are dedicated special needs schools around the county. The nearest one is an hours drive away, he’s not eligible to attend. There’s one we found. It’s fantastic. In a city with some dear friends and family. A school of 56 special needs kids aged 5 through 21. We’ve had a look at it’s beautiful. They even showed us what would have been his classroom. 7 children all his age all with autism 4 teachers and wonderful rooms full of sensory toys and playgrounds with trampolines and swings and adult sized tricycles. It’s 400kms and $8.500 dollars away. It’s an impossible dream. But at least dreams are free.
I love my darling boy so much, but I am tired.