This term seems to have flown by and we are now nearing the term break. There has been a lot of activity around the school in the last two weeks and I think our teachers and students are all looking forward to having a chance to rest and recharge.
Over the last week or so I have had the joy of meeting with the members of the Student Representative Council in the High School as well as having morning tea with our HSC students. It is always so enjoyable to spend time with our students, listening to what matters to them and watching them show their own form of leadership within the school. It is such a privilege to witness these young people growing and developing as they learn.
Some of you may know that this Tuesday was World Autism Day. As with all schools, we have a number of students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I would like to honour all of the amazing incredible people who live life on the autism spectrum. I would also like to honour all the incredible mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles and cousins who know the challenge AND the joy of loving that special person. I honour the teachers who love and care for these students and who learn so much from them.
I thought I might share with you a personal account of autism – a quite common disorder which is often misunderstood.
My understanding of autism comes from my incredible, beautiful, wise, intelligent, gentle, caring grandson. Eli (pictured with me below) is one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met. He sees and experiences the world in a way which is so unique and special – he reminds me every day that my way of seeing and experiencing the world is just one way… not the only way. When Eli came into the world, I discovered a whole new world of love – I wouldn’t want to change who he is for anything. He is brave and strong, thoughtful and determined and his smile melts my heart.
If you want to know just a tiny bit of what it feels like for someone with autism… this description is inspired from a talk Eli gave last year when he stood in front of his whole school and talked about autism ……
Sit quietly for a minute and listen to every different sound you can hear – the fridge humming, the car going past, the cricket whirring in the garden, the bird chirping, the clock ticking, your breathing…. the longer you listen the more you will hear. Then do the same with your hearing and your seeing. For most of us, we filter a huge percentage of the sensory input coming in so that we don’t notice it – it’s just too much. We only notice it when we really concentrate. For a child with autism, the filtering system doesn’t work – so every impression is there for them all the time. When the input is just too much (sensory overload), they can have a “meltdown” – it looks like a temper tantrum or bad behaviour, but it isn’t…. it is the child trying to deal with the absolute sensory overload they are experiencing.
You may have noticed an autistic person “stymming” – performing a repeated action like rocking, tapping, flicking etc., (Eli paces up and down and flicks his hands). This behaviour helps the child to filter out the sensory input – it calms it down a bit. This is a coping mechanism and it works for them (so we really shouldn’t try to get them to stop it … unless they are hurting themselves or others by doing it).
I hope that in sharing just a little from my experience with my grandson, I might have given you some insight into the worlds of those in our community who live with the autism spectrum disorder.
In closing, the P&F held their AGM this week. Sarah Sykes stepped down from the Executive after many years of dedication and hard work. Thank you Sarah for everything you have contributed to the P&F and the school. Michelle Ruthven was re-elected to the executive and joined by Felicity Davies and Gladys De Swart-Pages. Thank you to the parents who attended on Monday and special thanks to Michelle, Felicity and Gladys for being willing to lead our wonderful P&F.
Have a restful and healthy break everyone,