Mainstream vs A Special Needs Setting?!

When I received Riley’s diagnosis on the 17th June 2015 I had already 100% made my mind up I would send my little boy to a ‘special needs’ primary school as that is more specialised within his area.

A year has almost passed since receiving this and wow what a complete contrast! I am seriously reconsidering sending my little boy to a ‘special needs’ setting. The more I hear about the specialised schools the more it changes my mind.

I like to think I am confident when it comes to airing my veiws and trust me when I say I usually have an opinion and a half! The more I think about a ‘special’ setting the more I can’t help but think I am labelling my little boy. Is this the best route for him? Or easier for me because it means acceptance for my son?

Recently you may have seen on the news/ Facebook about Asda dedicating an hour for the ‘Autistic?’ Is this because they have noticed between the hours of 8-9 am on that particular day they are no hitting figures therefore if they ‘raise awareness’ it looks like they’re doing a good deed but actually it’s a way to gain the custom they’re probably not getting? Call me negative if you will, but I find it very hard to believe that a huge supermarket chain would do this as a ‘good deed’ for nothing.

I find it in a way insulting that I am being told when it is ‘OK’ to take my autistic son shopping. As a mother I know my son better than anyone and therefore I know when is a better time to take him shopping and I will have a back up of snacks, iPad etc. I feel that giving a time for ‘autistic’ shopping is further causing a divide and a label to this already corrupt community.

Ultimately my goal is that one day Riley will be independent and my God you can bet your bottom dollar I will go above and beyond to support both Riley and Summer to be just that. Whilst I would love to hold both Riley and Summer’s hands until the day I die there are going to be many times I cannot be there to fight their corner and I aim to bring my kiddies up to cope under pressure and stand up for what is right or what they believe.

The more I think about a ‘special’ setting the more I think I am being a hypocrite and adding to the already divide between ‘normal’ and ‘special needs.’ Not only am I unhappy with the special needs pre-school but they are the same people that run the ‘special needs’ primary school. I have heard some awful stories of goings on and I have a gut feeling this isn’t the right path for my little boy.

I don’t care about the judgmental people, the stares and comments etc. Yes I will probably cry in my pillow after putting the kiddies to bed and wishing them both sweet dreams but it’s not about me and my feelings. One condition with Autism is lack of awareness and this must be the best part. Because whilst people may stare at us when in public and question my parenting skills when Riley has a meltdown I as bright red as a tomatoe but Riley on the other hand doen’t give 2 fucks and sometimes I wish I could be him and just switch off from all the negativity.

What about Summer on the other hand? Will she get bullied for having a ‘special’ brother? I am the sort of person that if I have something to say – God help you! But when it comes to protecting my babies, times that by 1000 and trust me you must have a death wish! Whilst I want the best for Riley I also want the best for my little girl Summer. Having my babies close together was planned because I thought they would go to school together, grow up together, play together and then I’d get rid of them both together and claim back my life, just saying (hands over eyes) Not everything goes to plan! Saying that I wouldn’t change a thing about my little family that I have so longed for for many years.

I want to raise Autism awareness and ultimately I want Riley to life a ‘normal’ life (as much as he can) Riley is unbelieveably happy at the mainstream preschool he attends 2 mornings a week. Even when I say in the morning ‘Riley has school today’ it’s as though something registers in his brain. He smile and seems very happy. He also abandons me when we get the the school entrance so somethings is going right! So why not keep Riley in this environment that he is already so settled in?

Whilst the ‘special setting’ maybe more ‘specialised’ in speeding Riley’s development up to where he ‘should’ be I can’t help but think this trade isn’t worth depriving Riley’s happiness over. My son is Autistic and there is no cure I just want him to be happy and know that I love him more that words can explain. Summer on the other hand, I want her arse in grammer school!

I see a difference in Riley’s behaviour when we attend events with SNAAP and also at the Portage Stay & Play group. It’s difficult to explain but I see a change in him.

Do you have any words of wisdom? Any past experiences you could share with me, I’d love to hear any input you may have 🙂

Mumsy Mum x


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  1. Judith
    29/04/2016 / 7:54 PM

    Soooo much to say on this topic having worked in both! Its different for each child but can tell you my experiences. Let’s talk over coffee soon! X

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