A few weeks back Zoe picked up a funny phrase ‘follow my nose’. I’m not sure where she heard it but it had us in stitches when she says it and insist we follow her while she is sniffing like a dog looking for a bone!
It got me thinking about the importance of actually ‘following her nose’. Ok, not her nose exactly but definitely her lead! We have and will continue to have to make many choices for Zoe over the years. The biggest so far being where she would attend school. There was the usual three choices; mainstream, a specialist school and a designated special provision. The last is a mainstream school with a SEN unit and can be quite few and far between. From the start we thought that the designated special provision, would be our preferred choice. We were lucky enough that we had a local DSP and that after looking around thought it would be perfect for Zoe. When we finally got offered one of six places we were ecstatic!
Writing this now Zoe has just finished her reception year. She has achieved so much since September, she now talks rather than signs, has made friends, has learnt to count, read and write and we are so proud of her!
We are very lucky that school are happy to allow Zoe to express how she spends her time. Currently in reception she spends 95% of her time with her mainstream class and isn’t particularly fond of the SEN unit. We don’t really know why but we know that this is Zoe’s choice, it makes her happy and she is thriving. Allowing her to be where she wants to be is so important.
Zoe has recently started to ask for swimming lessons and if I’m honest I have been putting it off. The idea of her being in a big group class, with lots of distraction, lots of instructions and no 1:1 support makes me nervous. We have just been to Spain and seeing how much she loves being in the water and how confident she is has made me realise that I’m doing her an injustice and only thinking of the possible implications and not the rewards.
I need to follow her lead.
As her parents, we know Zoe best but nobody knows Zoe better than herself and we need to remember that.
Follow her lead, listen to her and embrace her autism. If she is happy, then she is in an environment where she can thrive.
Natasha is a 28 year old mum to two girls, Zoe (5) and Lily (3). She is passionate about educating people on the subject of autism in the hope that Zoe can grow up to live in a more understanding, accepting world.
Natasha contributed this post as part of our guest post series from parents/carers who are members of the Joseph Spectrum Squad, parent/carer group on facebook.