01 December 2016
Follow the Good Shepherd
Children with autism may be excluded from school because of disruptive behaviour. But the condition that inhibits communication and emotional understanding is to blame, and these ‘lost sheep’ can be found
I always enjoy the Year 6 (age 10-11) drama, the pupils’ final one in primary school, and last year it was a special pleasure. One of the narrators, standing confidently to deliver her lines, was a child who joined us late, after another school in a different part of town had permanently excluded her, informing her devastated parents that she would never be able to attend a mainstream school.
Every year we invite our leavers to share with us their favourite memories. This young lady’s was simple. “I will always remember my first week at this school,” she wrote. “I bet you will too!” Indeed we will. She spent much of her first month lying face down screaming: on the classroom floor, in the playground, and in the street outside.
She was not our highest achiever academically; her time with us was not marked by cups and medals for sporting excellence and she was not one of our leaders. But I do not think there is any child I have ever taught of whom I have been more proud – unless it was the boy who actually was our highest achiever this year. His portrayal of a witch stole the Year 6 performance of Macbeth.
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