A recent group of #happyinschool-ers enjoyed the project so much, in particular the friendship they provided for each other, they decided to set up a WhatsApp group. Think about that for a minute. They opted to stay in contact, rather than drift off to continue their struggle alone, like lily pads on a lake. They have created their own community of empowered parents, enriched with the knowledge, confidence and the belief in their power to influence and support their child’s education.
What excites me most about the natural group dynamic is the ‘opting in’ nature of it. Lots of groups fail because the joining in feels forced; this happens all the time in the corporate sector. But when a group willingly gets together with common goal and shared experiences, huge power and potential lives at the core of it.
All parents will testify that everything changes when you’re raising kids, you have to constantly shift your decision-making and boundary-setting, to accommodate your developing child. But for parents of children with SEN, the rate of change is accelerated. Calm waters at school can break into an angry storm within days, minutes. Many small things can create BIG changes in children with SEN:
- Transition to new school, year group, classroom.
- Change in route to school.
- Something different for breakfast.
- Waking up somewhere different.
- A new jumper, pair of shoes etc.,
- New environmental factors: a new teacher, new room or setting, a different position in the classroom, a slight change in routine.
Sometimes, that change is so minuscule, and the impact on the child so huge, it’s difficult to identify what the trigger was. Such is the nature of managing children with special educational needs. It’s a dynamic, ever-changing situation.
The #happyinschool project encourages parents to bond, work together, sharing ideas and suggestions, particularly if their children are of a similar age. The peer support of other autism parents is reminder that we all need to constantly re-adjust, revise and review what’s happening with our children’s learning and happiness in school, as it can change in the blink of an eye. Knowing that someone else has experienced a similar thing will help you to react calmly and rationally, swinging into ‘constructive response pattern’, (the subject of my next blog possibly), rather than press the ‘blame’ button which results in wasted energy, frustration and no actual solution.
One of my watch words is emPOWered parents, the P.O.W. stands for Parents on Wheels! I use this analogy because wheels are all about motion, movement (hopefully in a forwards direction(!) and travelling somewhere, a journey. The autism/ADHD parent journey can be uncomfortable, so travelling with a few trusted friends or confidantes is highly recommended. It can help you see where you’re going and maybe, just maybe, you will enjoy the ride a little.
Warm thanks to everyone who’s already experienced the #happyinschool project. If you haven’t and you’re interested, do get in touch. Click here for Details of the next session
© Suzy Rowland