The School Feedback Meeting
As Aaron graduated from one grade to the next, getting ready for the school feedback meeting was always stressful.
I would prepare in advance. Id arrive at the meeting with my laptop and take down every word, so that I could unravel the feedback and make sure I didnt doubt what had been said later. My behaviour would always make the teacher nervous but I didn’t care. All that mattered was Aaron and the end goal.
Martin on the other hand, couldn’t care less. He’d tell me that Aaron was doing just fine and he wasn’t bothered by feedback driven by teachers agendas that was no true reflection of his ability, where he’d come from or where he was going. Martin was confident in Aaron’s ability.
As time elapsed and Aaron caught up his delays, we were subjected to less feedback that could cause any parent to require resuscitation.It was extremely difficult for him to lose his shadow. The shadow of autism. The label teachers wanted to define him. The “out of the box” child they’d say. Just because he had some areas to polish didnt mean he displayed enough criteria for an autism diagnosis.
I had to fight the system to get him where he is today. Looking back, we put up a tremendous fight. In time, I came to realise that his teachers had very narrow experience. They hadn’t experienced inclusive education and they certainly hadnt experienced recovery. In the end, it resolved when Aaron proved himself and there was nothing left for them to attack or criticise.
Everytime we left “that” school meeting, Martin was mostly worried about whether he’d said the right thing so as not to upset me. Towards the end of Aaron’s journey, I’d prepare my responses prior to the meeting to find that no response was needed.
I can’t say its been a pleasant experience. In general, I feel that our South African education system falls short of true inclusive education. The support to integrate and provide the learning environment necessary to achieve recovery is lacking. What is needed is simply a change in mindset. I have written about this before but inclusive education is a legal right.
I now get to represent other parents at school meetings. The more parents demand a school system that supports the learner with a difference the more chance we have of a shift away from the old school of thought. The time has come for change! It is up to us to ensure that change and to secure inclusive education as a right for all learners in our country.