The transition to Secondary School is a challenge for many people with Aspergers Syndrome, and can be a challenging and stressful time for their family members, in this uplifting article, our guest blogger, Fionn Hamill tells us how it has been so far for him and his mum, Helen, gives the experience so far from a parent’s perspective.
This year I started secondary school. It’s a big jump since primary because you don’t have just the one teacher, you have loads. Some of the teachers are better understanding me that others. Mum had lots of meetings with the school and gave them loads of information about me and Aspergers Syndrome. I like to sit on my legs, sometimes I sit with my knee up and I’m fidgety etc. Below is the list of subjects which I am taking, and a little thought about how I find them
French – At first spelling was really hard so now I get notes on my USB and I get handouts from the teacher of new vocabulary so that makes it easier.
Irish – Again from Irish I get handouts and USB work, but I sometimes get the oral pronunciation from the teacher recorded onto my USB which really helps.
Helen: When learning both languages, we have to separate spelling as a task and forming phrases. These we make games with – Fionn likes to be in the schoolbag, Fionn is under the blue table. He loves this and looks to revise it.
Music – I love music and there is NO disadvantages and nothing extra needed.
Maths – I don’t get handouts in maths and sometimes the teacher tells us stuff in a way that gets me confused. Also maths is challenging because its a new topic every week, so there isn’t much time spent on each one and checking understanding. Mum has to help teach me in a way I get it at home.
Helen: Sometimes teachers in maths use shortcut methods, like move the decimal point, rather than divide by 10, but if Fionn can’t think mathematically about what he is doing, then he can’t process it. We also have problems when it’s a composite task…eg to find the discount on a table when 80% off…you have to ask Fionn –first what do we have to do, then, and keep going back to what is the question asking you for. Its not always automatic for teachers to see this.
English – English is dead easy cos I love to read and write stories.
Geography – I had a really good and funny sub teacher while my real teacher was on maternity leave, and he understood me really well , though the REAL teacher didn’t understand me as well. It would be handy if I got a handout from geography.
Religion – I really like the teacher and she likes me though at the start she was quite angry. She gives me lots of merits and lets me read a lot.
History – I have a really funny teacher who understands me really well and he likes the fact that I ask questions that are a bit different. History is interesting because it teaches you stuff about the present. Revision lists would come in handy.
Helen: Geography, History and Religion are similar subjects in that they appear in books which are cluttered with 2 full columns of writing and a lot of diagrams. For an Asperger’s child that takes a LOT of effort to decipher. So we do think, and have now asked for a summary of the MAIN points that he needs to get from each chapter, or each topic. As he would not be able to decide which bits were important, and which are new. Then these we can change in revision book into spider diagrams and acronyms which are MUCH easier for him to look at and learn.
Science – I really like science cos in primary school we NEVER did it. So it was new. It’s hard because we skip from topic to topic VERY quick which gets me confused because I don’t know if I’ve done it or not. My teacher has recently started giving handouts which is helpful.
Helen: Science is a strange one, Fionn is exceptionally disorganised and his note taking is scant and unclear, so we have had to ask for handouts. The class seem to be working through a workbook in no particular order, which also confuses us helping him…let’s call that a work in progress
I.C.T. – I’m really good on computers and I find most things a walk in the park.
Helen: He loves the school’s Merit badge system – most of which he gets for trying hard…NEVER for presentation of written work (oh dear!!). ICT has really bolstered his confidence by telling him how advanced he is relative to his year group.
P.E. – I’m really sporty so I love P.E. I only got into sport because Mum and Dad thought It was a good thing for Aspies to do. I love playing goalkeeper because I hate contact. When I start a new sport I make an excuse not to do it so I just watch and decide would I like it.
Helen: Team situations are naturally a major problem for an Aspie, but we have encouraged Fionn to stick at things, always pointing out to him what does he want his social life to be when he is 18…and since he wants to be able to go to the town with his friends, we keep reminding him that the most important part of his learning is how to manage people. And as in the case of goalie, we try to find ways to help. He is mixing brilliantly – with encouragement.
P.D. (Personal Development)- I introduced my autism to my class in this subject so they would get me.
Lunch – I have a lunch pass which makes me popular at lunch. It’s for me and I choose 2 friends.
Choir – I was nervous the first day but was fine after. Mam made me go and she was right.
Library – I do my homework in here sometimes and I obviously read here.
I LOVE SCHOOL!!!!