James’ Journey Through School

June 9, 2021 Case Studies - Families Ann Anderson

Hi I’m Ann,

Our Son James is almost 18 years old and has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Nearly 10 years after an agonising 18 months to get the diagnosis, this is my journey.

Back in 2012, I was a stay at home Mum with no intention of going back to work. My husband Stewart worked hard offshore for 3 weeks on/off. James was a happy lad, not many friends but always willing to help others, usually sweeping or hoovering.

During the latter part of primary school, I was basically “on call”. I would be called from the school, sometimes up to four times per day (answering the phone while grabbing car keys and throwing something on my feet) and always home at lunch times (unless pre-arranged in advance). J wasn’t always in the classroom either, he spent most of his time at a table in the foyer of the school outside the office (not a great sight for visitors).

In P6 & P7 James spent his mornings at another school which had the ASN base. He got on okay, except for the repetitive verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse from another pupil.

It was agreed, as a family, that James would go to the secondary school base; he was not being challenged academically but learnt to make a mean cup of coffee and water plants!  Towards the end of 1st year, we had a big meeting with the school and social work etc. It was revealed that the Head Teacher did NOT want James in HER school anymore, as the child from before was due to move up and there was “no room for both of them”!

In hindsight, this was the best thing that ever happened.

So, a move to a different High School for 2nd year onwards, with a taxi door to door, was arranged for James. Before year 2 was finished, James was assisted in mainstream for all subjects except English and Maths, which were spent at the amazing ASN Base. What a difference.

Throughout the 3 years at this High School, James gained awards including his bronze Duke of Edinburgh. Following his dream to be a chef, he went onto college to do Professional Cookery & Hospitality, finished and passed just before the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

In April 2020 James secured himself a job as a Janitor/cleaner at a local supermarket, which is right up his street. He litter-picks, grits the streets in winter and also has a wee business cleaning bins in our village. Anything to help others!

This is just a wee insight to our family’s journey, and if there is anything else you would like to know more in-depth detail about, please just ask – speaking to other parents or carers can make the world of difference.

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Thank you for reading.

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Kind Regards,

Ann Anderson (an Autism Supermum)

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