Bam started secondary school this September.
Starting secondary school is a big step for any child. The change is huge – a child goes from having one/maybe two teachers all week to six a day. Suddenly, they are expected to follow a timetable and complete about four or fives times the amount of homework than they received at primary school. Not only that, it’s a new school, new people and it’s generally a lot bigger than primary school.
All these changes are really tricky for a child with autism and if I’m totally honest I worried about how Bam would cope with such a big change. But, he’s coped well – it’s not been really easy, but it hasn’t been really hard either. He went to a different school to his friends because we felt the school he is at offered the support he needed for his particular special needs.
That’s been tough for him but we took lots of time to talk to him about our decision and the reasons behind that decision. He has approached the new environment in a really positive way and I’m so very proud of him.
Reflecting on the transition, I think the huge amount of preparation we did was key to helping him settle quickly. We spent a lot of time talking to both Bam’s junior school and his secondary school about Bam’s particular needs.
Bam went on quite a few visits to the secondary school so he could familiarise himself with the buildings and with some of the teachers.
We also tried to help Bam by talking to him about the change throughout the summer holidays and explaining some of the differences between junior and secondary school.
As for his friends, we have ensured that Bam sees his old school friends throughout the holidays and into the new term. We felt it was important for him to stay in touch with them so he could share the experience of going to secondary school with them.
The biggest thing we did to help Bam transition to secondary school is successfully applying for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP). This has made such a difference as it means that Bam’s receiving the specific support that he needs. It was a lot of work but 100% worth the investment.
It’s a really tough change and my stomach still churns as he heads into school independently but he’s doing us proud, love you Bam xxx