For the past few years, Nadiah goes to Pendidikan Khas school in the mornings and NASOM in the afternoon. But I find that the morning school wasn't doing anything for her. In fact most days she would just sleep in school. Which terribly messes around her sleeping patterns.
Originally, we decided to enroll her in school so that she would have the chance to socialize with other kids. Also to see if she has the ability to cope academically. Lastly it was to increase her independence where everything does not revolve around her family members.
It's her third year in school this year, and I find that 70% of her time she sleeps in school. When I asked the teachers, they said that she was sleepy and they could not get her to wake up or do any work like reading or writing. I find it surprising because when she's at home, no matter how late she slept the night before or no matter how early she woke up in the morning, she never and I really mean NEVER sleeps during the day. Except when she's not feeling well and we give her medicine. She is always occupied with something to do either with her computer or her art stuff or simply just lying on the bed looking through her picture books. So when her teachers told me that she does nothing in school most days except sleeps, I find it surprising indeed. I suppose she finds school very boring, although kindy was a favourite with her. But then again kindy was a lot of singing and arts & crafts and other interesting activities that is fun and captured her interest while the teachers are always engaging. In the big school, the students are mostly left to their own devices when the teachers just gives work and instruction to do this and that.
Nadiah is not ready to be independent yet. She needs to be prompted to do most anything and needs supervision. For example: when it comes to reading a book, either me or her baba will sit next to her to help and prompt her. You can't just give her a book and expect her to sit in corner and read quietly. She may be 11 but her mental ability and behaviour is more like a 6-7 year old. She needs encouragement and help in most everything.
Another objective of sending her to school was for her to learn to socialize, which I find is not working well for her. For one thing, she doesn't know how to make friends and being autistic, it's in her nature to prefer her own company. You have to work hard to make her "be in the moment"with you. The teachers will tell her to go with this girl or that boy to her lessons, expecting her to do it on her own.
And then there's the language barrier. Nadiah only speaks in English.. with an accent, which do not help matters. For one thing, the teachers does not understand her and when they insist on speaking in Malay, she does not understand. When they speak in English, she still does not understand. Another thing about her language is that it's not perfect English. She tends to forget her á', 'the', ís', áre'. She says things like "Mama, where's thumbdrive?" or "Baba, buy Mega Bloks Farmhouse" or Ï hungry" or "Mama, eat spaghetti and mash potato". Just simple sentences which me and hubby understands quite clearly but not many people do when you add in her accent.
Another thing about school is that they put in much of the effort in pursuing academics. I know my own child and I'll be the first to acknowledge that she can't go far academically. Having her being able to read and write and do simple sums is a miracle in its own. I don't need her to know the history of Malaysia, or how does the rain happens or how do plants grow in detail. I see her interest and abilities in computers and I would rather we concentrate her in things that she's interested in and enjoys herself. Nadiah is skilled in using Microsoft Power Point and simple editing in Photoshop. She knows how to google stuff and to copy/cut, paste, rename a file, delete a file, move files from one folder to another, transfer files from one laptop to her thumbdrive then to another laptop or transfer files from her iPod to the laptop. We need only to show her once and she can repeat.
Also in school, they have a lot of outdoor and outside school activities like gardening, bowling, swimming, horse riding and visits to the park, which she is not allowed to take part in. Unless me or hubby accompanies her. What the..?? What is the point of having activities that in essence would help these children but not having them take part in them. Only a select few could go. I take Nadiah EVERYWHERE!!! It does not matter if the place is noisy with loads of people and seems scary to her. But I make her try. It may take a few tries but she has learned to love bowling, swimming, the waterpark, shopping, going to the doctor or the dentist, going on a boat ride and even flying on a plane. You can't give up with these kids. You have to persevere and try again and again. It may take time and a whole lot of effort but it's so worth the while.
So looking at things as they are, we have decided to pull Nadiah out of school and to teach her ourselves at home and concentrate on things that she is good at and enjoys in. Then in the afternoon she goes to NASOM which concentrates on living skills rather than academics, which I find is what would help her to be more independent and needs more to survive in this world. They teach her simple tasks like sweeping and mopping the floor, cooking, beading and a whole other activities. I do understand that in school the teachers have many students and cannot give one-to-one concentration to just one student, which I feel is what Nadiah needs most. And so we think the best thing to do is to pull her out. It's a big decision but I think we made the right move. Praying that it's the best move for Nadiah to have a better future...