You know you’re stressed when you feel a headache come on out of nowhere.
There are moments like this at work, and today had one of them.
There are a couple of autistic children who attend the school my business partner/colleague and I teach at, and I’ve griped before about the problem of mainstreaming special needs kids in a public school with forty kids a class.
Joshua is one of the kids in P1, and his mother accompanies him at school every day, all day. Joshua spends all day running in and out of classes with his mother following close behind. He seldom attends our gymnastics PE classes, and when he does, he’s mostly disruptive and we have to pay extra attention to make sure he doesn’t run into the other kids, or worse, climb up the funny climbing thing that most government primary schools have in their halls.
Today, we had to move our lessons to the school’s music room because they were having one of those infernal end of year activities in the hall. Joshua decided he wanted to join his classmates for a spot of gymnastics. He burst into the room, with his mother close behind, and promptly charged across three lines of kids doing line drills. Instant headache time.
Me, I went into panic damage control mode, charging up and down the room making sure Joshua wasn’t going to run into things and other kids. Half angry, I told his mother the room was a bit small for us to be handling 40 kids and her son.
Then my business partner/colleague, who is the expert head coach special needs specialist with twenty years’ experience, showed how it was done. He simply picked Joshua up every time the boy tried to get in the way of his classmates, playfully swung him upside down, downside up, placed him down out of harm’s way, and carried on instructing the rest of the class. Seamless.
Near the end of the class, Joshua actually attempted a forward roll all by himself, and succeeded. Elated, we tried getting him to do another couple of rolls, but he shot off in the opposite direction and started jumping up and down at the other end of the classroom.
I looked at the back of the classroom and saw his mother beaming proudly. When the class was dismissed, I went and apologised to her for not being able to give Joshua the extra attention he required. She thanked me instead for being able to let Joshua play. I think Joshua was happy too.
My business partner/colleague? Just another day’s work for him and his fab skills. I’ve got a lot to learn and I know it’s worth learning, because to make Joshua and his mother act as if some miracle had just happened is pretty much the ultimate reward for a long day’s work.