I took a bit of a break from blogging recently. Not because I have had nothing to write about (I had plenty in fact) but I have had a lot of things going on. Now I’m back at the keyboard. So, are you sitting comfortably? ……..
One of the changes that have taken place has been me being able to work at Jess’s nursery. I have been lucky enough to get a job as a Dinnertime Supervisor (Dinner Lady to you and me!) this is only temporary at the moment as everything relies on funding etc., but it is very enjoyable. Another thing I have been enjoying doing is Teaching Assistant. I have just been doing one day a week for a few weeks. Although I help out as a volunteer when required and have been doing this for some time, this is normally just for a couple of hours mainly in the hydro pool. Being in school every day for the past few weeks working alongside different members of staff and being allowed in that inner sanctum known as the ‘staff room’ has made me realise that these teachers and teaching assistants work damned hard! I should add quickly that I never thought for one moment that they didn’t but I just never appreciated the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. I give below a few examples:
Sports Day: Like every other school in the country Greenhall had their annual Sports Day a few weeks ago. EVERY CHILD took part in an event, regardless of the severity of their disability. These ranged from a relay race which started with a child crawling to another child who then had to work a switch toy to get it over the finishing line. A crawling race, skittles (a child in their wheelchair pushed a ball down a tube to see how many skittles could be knocked down at the bottom) and many others. Each child in the school had been considered and ingenious events created so that they could all take part. All of the children had a helper with them and they worked together. Regardless of where they came in the event they were all winners for taking part and all received a certificate confirming this. Jess was in the same event as she was last year, she had to walk/run to a bag on the floor, pick it up then keep going down the track picking up various objects and putting them in her bag until she got to the finish line. Last year she had just started to walk and had to be helped with each step to finish the course. This year her helper had to keep stopping her to get her to put the things into the bag as she just wanted to run down the playground on her own! Now that’s progress.
School Picnic: Greenhall said a sad goodbye to Mrs Karen Milligan at the end of term who has been the head teacher for many years. Karen has always been dedicated to getting the very best for the school and the children and she will be missed. A farewell day trip to Stafford Park was organised, complete with picnic lunch. Victoria Park to give it it’s proper title is not a small area with a few swings and slides. It covers an area of 4.95 acres and has lots of fun activities, including a water area which has fountains that squirt in all directions for the children to run through and a large sandy play area. Transporting all of the children and their helpers (one for each child) required hiring a large yellow school bus. Before the children even got aboard a car seat for each child had to be fitted, plus wheelchairs, pushchairs, children’s bags, various medical equipment and a host of other things (including the all important picnic) essential to the children’s well being were loaded on. It was like a military operation but well worth it to hear the children’s excited gasps when they saw the big bus waiting for them outside the school. Once at our destination all of the equipment had to be unloaded and the children were each assigned to a helper for the day. We could disperse into small groups so that we could explore the park and meet up again at the bandstand for our shared picnic. It was a fabulous day. The weather was warm and sunny and a letter had gone home to parents asking them to pack a change of clothes etc so that the children could play in the water area if they wanted to. Jess was with her helper and when I caught up with her in the fountains, they were both having a fantastic time. At lunchtime we all sat in the shade around the bandstand and the children had an assortment of lovely sandwiches to eat, sausage rolls, cakes and crisps. Thankfully there were no medical emergencies so the school nurse was able to enjoy the visit too! A lot of organisation and planning had gone into organising this day out.
|Having fun in the sun|
Jess is now a very mischievous and strong willed four year old. I could go on to list all the differences between her and a typical four year old but I am not going to because I don’t think that this serves any useful purpose. Suffice to say there are quite a few, but Jess is who she is and we love her for it. We are so grateful, things could be a lot worse.
|I loved my cake, it had a photo of Iggle Piggle & me on it|
I have two very talented Granddaughters, especially when it comes to schoolwork. Jessica’s Sister Natalie has received a glowing report from school, A’s or B’s in all subjects and comments such as “Natalie is a pleasure to teach and is eager to learn”. Jess was awarded Pupil Of the Month in her class for making new sounds and being happy in new activities.
|My pupil of the month award makes everyone very proud|
Both things are very different, but both are just as important and we are very proud of the girls.
I am also proud of my Daughter Sarah who now has a Diploma of Higher Education. We went to her Graduation Day recently, suffice to say I got rather teary! She has worked hard for this whilst furthering her career.
Sarah is also carrying our third Granddaughter (scan results indicate a girl). Natalie is very excited about having a cousin. The Mum of a boy in Jessica's nursery group recently took her new baby into class to show the children how the baby liked having a bath. The children then went on to bath baby dolls. I was a little concerned upon hearing this as Jess had bitten some of the fingers off her baby doll and like most of her toys carried it around in her mouth. I needn’t have worried, nursery have some lovely photos of Jess with the baby, she is looking into the baby’s face and smiling. They said she was really gentle. More progress. Jess is interacting more with others now, she is starting to hold eye contact for longer and will smile or laugh in response to people or their actions. Something just did not do before.
Jessica is also babbling a lot now, as mentioned on her certificate. It's as if she is really trying to talk to you sometimes. We have been waiting for this and hope that it will lead to her being able to speak one day. Communication is such an important thing.
Learning to cope with change is another thing mentioned on the certificate. This has taken a while but slowly she is starting to adapt to new things. In the past taking her to something like another child’s Birthday Partyor even changing classrooms at nursery would stress her and cause her to either cry or have a tantrum. She still gets bothered about some things, but she is making progress.
Like a lot of children with learning difficulties etc., Jess likes a routine and things to happen in a certain order. I presume this gives her some comfort and security. As Jessica gets older the frustration she feels manifests itself in the form of tantrums. I witnessed this in her class as I was helping out one morning. After snack time the children have play and during nice weather have been going outside. This particular morning the routine was changed slightly as teacher wanted to read a story about hide and seek before play as she had ‘hidden’ some books for them to find in the sensory garden. Snack time over and Jess made her way to the door which leads to the play area. It was explained slowly & carefully to her that the class were going to have a story first then go outside. She may be non verbal but she understands a lot and upon realising that there was a change to the normal routine she started to make loud noises and to stamp her feet! She was led (still protesting) into the room for the story and joined the circle on the floor with the others but refused to listen and actually turned her back to everyone at one point. At the end of the story the teacher carried on with the hide and seek theme by putting a small blanket over the children’s head in turn pretending she could not see them until the child pulled the blanket off excitedly. Jess loves this game and when she realised her turn was coming up she turned herself back into the circle and eagerly awaited the blanket. After everyone had had a turn they all went outside as promised and Jessica was happy again.
Teaching and caring for a child like Jessica takes a lot of patience and understanding, it is hard work both mentally and physically. Sometimes it can be a long time before you see any progress, and even then it may only be something small, but when that progress is made, no matter how small it may seem , it is a huge breakthrough. When you have a child with a disability you can forget the good parenting guides, the Jo Frost techniques, you learn as you go along, you take each day as it comes and you learn to adapt as you never know what the next day will bring. On the other hand, the feeling that you get seeing that child accomplish something that it had not been able to do before (no matter how small) is beyond words and makes all the hard work, the frustration etc., seem worthwhile.