Its been 8 months since Ollie set foot in a school after I pulled him out of his god awful previous school, today we visited his new school where he has a place in the ASD unit , this morning was Ollies first visit to his new class (asd unit) and it had all the makings of a disaster.But he did incredibly well. He started the day tantrumming and throwing things at me saying he wasn’t going, then when it was time to leave he took ten minutes to put his socks on, so of course we left late. He was annoyed that we had left late (excuse me mister, your fault) so I called the school to say we may be late, which calmed him a little. At the bus stop we texted to see when the bus was due, 11 minutes , we had 14 minutes to get there. I also forgot the ear defenders so of course the bus was busy and noisy, as we were in a bus that stops outside Wimbledon tennis stadium ( is it a stadium?)
We actually got to the reception with one minute to spare so obviously Ollie was annoyed at me for thinking we would be late but the day was saved quite quickly because as soon as we got into the reception the staff welcomed Ollie by name (nice touch I thought) and we were shown straight to cherry tree class, no hanging around.
we were greeted by Ollies lead teacher mrs M who introduced herself to us and introduced us to one of the pupils, A, who is going to be Ollies buddy. Each child and teacher took it in turn to wave and say hello to Ollie, then A showed us around the outdoor area, there is an outside classroom area, a big play area and then we were shown to the part that seemed to be Ollies favourite, the chickens and the fruit and vegetable patch. Cherry tree class are in charge of cleaning , feeding and caring for the chickens, they even get to bring eggs home sometimes, they are allowed to touch the chickens if they want to.They are also in charge of the fruit and vegetables, they are able to pick and eat them aswell as getting mucky planting them.
Ollie enjoyed looking for and picking a strawberry .We were shown around the classroom by A, an art lesson was going on, they have a specialist art teacher and I have to say that for a class of autistic children of all ages, some verbal,some non verbal the class was incredibly calm quiet and happy. Ollie chatted a little to the teachers and answered some questions, which really surprised me..
Ollie was shown the visual timetables and we had a little look at the dining hall which was very nice and small (although cherry tree class can choose not to eat there) Ollie actually said ” you never know I may eat in the dining hall”
Mrs M told Ollie that every week they do cooking and also music with a specialist music teacher,and if needed they get therapy , occupational therapy and social skills support in the classroom.
The whole thing went really well, Mrs M told Ollie that next Wednesday he’s going to stay for an hour and try to join in with the afternoon activity. He seemed keen 🙂
We chatted to the office staff about uniform and the receptionist was very kind chatting to Ollie, just a little about how lovely cherry tree class is.
We left with a lovely strawberry which Ollie had picked (we shared it, it was deliscious)
We have something to think about, Ollie is entitled to travel to and fro school in the green bus, or with me on public transport. There are pros and cons to both, on the bus with me we can do the journey in ten minutes, the bus stopping directly outside of the school and I get daily contact with his teachers, but Ollie is not keen on buses, they can be too noisy and busy for him and he gets frustrated if there is a long wait.
On the green bus he would go door to door, travelling with his classmates, but depending on where they are on the route some of the children are on the bus for up to an hour , too long for Ollie, also I wouldn’t get daily contact with the teachers. Ive told Ollie I will be led by his decision because whichever we choose we can change our minds.
I asked Ollie on the way home how he was feeling about it all and he said he didn’t hate it, which from Ollie is a hugely positive thing , I’m looking forward to our next visit next week.