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Antolak

ASD pupils and school prize-giving ceremonies

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Antolak   

I am an EP teacher in a mainstream school. Almost all my pupils are on the autistic spectrum.

 

At the end of every school year, I sit through the end-of-year awards ceremonies hoping that one of "my" pupils will be called up to the stage. And I am always disappointed. And I feel for my pupils who don't expect to win anything anymore.They merely endure these ceremonies. And so do I.

 

The achievements of EP pupils are rarely celebrated (at least, not in my school). Only EP and some support staff even have an inkling of the milestones some of these childrens have passed during their years in school, and how they have stood up to all the difficult challenges.

 

I would like to have an award (in my school) to recognize and celebrate their special achievements, an award that could be awarded to an EP pupil each year at the annual Leavers' Assembly celebration. I have agreed the plan in principle with my headmistress. But I really don't know what the award could consist of, or what it could be called.

 

Help! Does anyone have any ideas?

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Antolak   

Thanks for your reply.

 

These would be older children, about 11 years old.

 

The prize would be given to a child who was leaving primary for secondary school.

 

During the (public) prize-giving ceremonies to which parents and other adults are invited, prizes are given for sports, Science, English, etc. But there is nothing for ASD children. And I'd like to create a new award (a cup or a plaque) to recognize some special achievement in my school that does not come under the usual umbrella of the "academic subjects". Something that would celebrate the achievements of ASD pupils in a mainstream school.

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puffin   

My children's mainsteam school in Sweden has several awards that are for non-academic/sporting achievements - although these are not reserved for children with special needs they have a better chance of being awarded these - for example one in particular was "Fighter/Battler of the Year" for someone who had overcome some sort of adversity - although this does not have to be disability related

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Antolak   

Thank you Puffin, I like that idea.

 

But I think I would need to change the award title from "Fighter/Battler of the year". It sounds a bit violent. Although perhaps in the original Swedish, it has a gentler connotation!

 

At the moment I'm playing about with something like,"Personal Achievement Award" for someone who has succeeded against overwhelming odds.

 

But it still sounds a bit of a mouthful (and perhaps a bit patronising too).

Edited by Antolak

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bed32   

Why not just give the award a random name "The John Smith Award" so you can choose what to award it for, and just award it for "outstanding achievement" if the basis on which it is awarded is not known then you can give it to almost anyone :)

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Antolak   

Thanks bed32, that's a good idea.

I just need to think what that name could be. No-one in the school we could name it after.

What would you suggest?

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bed32   

I would name it after an individual - the founder, the last head teacher, the chair of the governors, a famous alumnus or whatever, or perhaps after the trophy itself "the rose bowl", "The Calcutta Cup", "The Claret Jug".

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Sally44   

These are just a few thoughts. You could still have "best effort over the year" "best academic progress" "most improved social communication" - and there could be some art or design award - and "for overcoming anxiety" [as anxiety can play a big part in the lives of ASD children].

 

Could you ask the children themselves what kind of awards they would like you to consider?

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Antolak   

Thanks Sally44. I now have lots of ideas to play with.

Yes, anxiety is a major worry for a lot of my pupils. And it's difficult to explain (to others) how utterly incapacitating it can be Many outsiders just dismiss it as "a bit of nerves"!

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Sally44   

I do know how you feel about your ASD students.

 

My son's previous primary school held an "X Factor" day. Out of all the school my son was the only child with an ASD who wanted to enter. He entered as a 'magician' and learnt some magic tricks.

 

He has a severe/profound speech disorder, yet got up on stage and performed his tricks and communicated with the audience. I was so proud of him to have done that. But he got no recognition for it at all. Someone else won and he was absolutely distraught. He felt like he had failed again.

 

I know part of his response to not winning was due to his ASD, but I think he should have got something, a certificate, a badge whatever. He didn't have to come 'first', but what he did was so much harder than any of the other performances on the day. I was very disappointed and upset for him.

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Antolak   

Yes. Most people don't realize the effort (and courage) that is often necessary for ASD children to compete with "mainstream" pupils.

 

Even when they are better than their peers in some areas, they are often overlooked.

 

For example, last year one of my P7 ASD pupils had a gift for drawing. Aeroplanes, cars, factories, cities, he could draw them from memory with all their intricacies and all proportionate and beautifully coloured. His work overflowed onto the outside walls of my class and all down the corridor. The other pupils were overawed at his talent. Many of them attempted to copy his pictures. His work was even displayed at an exhibition in Edinburgh University for a time. I was sure there would be no question of his winning the school Art prize at the end of the year. And so I went along to the ceremony with my camera to record it. Did he win? No. A nice little girl won, one of those who are good at everything. Her work was good, but it didn't stand out in any way. When I asked why my pupil had not won, I was told that his gift was too specific, too narrow, only confined to machines and buildings!

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Lyndalou   

Yes. Most people don't realize the effort (and courage) that is often necessary for ASD children to compete with "mainstream" pupils.

 

Even when they are better than their peers in some areas, they are often overlooked.

 

For example, last year one of my P7 ASD pupils had a gift for drawing. Aeroplanes, cars, factories, cities, he could draw them from memory with all their intricacies and all proportionate and beautifully coloured. His work overflowed onto the outside walls of my class and all down the corridor. The other pupils were overawed at his talent. Many of them attempted to copy his pictures. His work was even displayed at an exhibition in Edinburgh University for a time. I was sure there would be no question of his winning the school Art prize at the end of the year. And so I went along to the ceremony with my camera to record it. Did he win? No. A nice little girl won, one of those who are good at everything. Her work was good, but it didn't stand out in any way. When I asked why my pupil had not won, I was told that his gift was too specific, too narrow, only confined to machines and buildings!

This makes me feel very very sad and I'm glad you are trying to do something to recognise the achievement of your children. However, I must admit that I would want to challenge the reasons given as to why this child could be overlooked in such an obvious way and for such a trivial reason in my opinion. He sounds like an incredibly gifted artist.

 

I won the 4th Year Art Prize at secondary and it's one of my best memories and I felt so proud of my achievement. I still remember the strange look on the teacher's face who gave me my prize however. Now I know that I should have chosen an art book for my prize but I had picked a contemporary (slightly racy) novel instead, lol.

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Antolak   

This makes me feel very very sad and I'm glad you are trying to do something to recognise the achievement of your children. However, I must admit that I would want to challenge the reasons given as to why this child could be overlooked in such an obvious way and for such a trivial reason in my opinion. He sounds like an incredibly gifted artist.

 

There is a prize-giving committee in our school. And I'm not on it. I don't even know who is. Probably the management team. But at least the message is beginning to filter through, and the headteacher has now realized that something needs to be done. We are supposed to be an inclusive school, after all.

 

In general, there are a lot of good intentions around (genuinely). But they don't often get translated into action. I'm glad at least that the EP class (in our school, anyway ) isn't perceived as a "land of the lost" any more. In fact, quite a lot of mainstream pupils in the school want to access it because we do unusual and "fun" things, and we're out of school so often on trips and doing Outdoor Ed stuff. If there's room, we sometimes let them come.That is a big change in attitude compared to just a few years ago.

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