Standards 2 & 5 – Special School Placement

I am working with a year 11 class in a special school.

Today I worked with a boy who suffers from ASD and epilepsy; he has regular violent fits and is required to wear a soft helmet during his time in school. He is capable of walking, but often is in a wheelchair due to either having had a fit, or is showing symptoms of being about to have one. The student is working to about a year 3/4 ability for most subjects – his writing is neat and legible but extremely slow, and often he will do the minimum amount of work expected of him. His eyesight is poor and will struggle to see a board if he is sat too far away from it. Therefore I was asked if I would scribe the majority of his work for him by the class teacher. The task was to watch a news report, pick an issue from the report and write about it.

On the first viewing of the article he picked which article he wanted to do, and I explained to him that he needed to listen on the second playing of the news report to his article so we could pick out some detail from it. When the section of the report in which he was required to listen to came on, he paid no attention to it despite being prompted to pay attention; therefore I requested that the class teacher play the report again so he could get some more information. After this third watching/listening to the report he began to put some of the information together, but I had to tell him the information before he could repeat it back to me. Being new to the special school environment, and this being the first time I had worked with this particular student, I was very unsure of his abilities. The usual TA was sat behind me working with someone else, but was well within earshot, so could intervene if needed to. As I began to challenge the student more and more, particularly after I asked him to close copy a few sentences of what I had scribed so he had done some physical writing this lesson (it was recommended to me that I did this, not my own initiative), he became less and less engaged with the work, and started to become distracted from the task.

After I asked him something related to the work he was doing, he replied “I’ve just had a fit”. The TA hear this and immediately shot him down; “no you haven’t”, and he begrudgingly continued to work. Had the TA not been closeby at that time, I would have believed him. I have put the incident down to merely the student acting like a large amount of 15 year olds would have in order to get out of doing work – exploiting a situation that he knew I was unfamiliar with. However I was disturbed by the fact he had played on a weakness of mine – despite the fact I was getting him to work, me and the student were getting along fine and found out through chat that we had hobbies and interests in common, to which he was delighted. I am glad that I have had this experience within the class; it has made me reflect on my own assumptions and naivety when around students with SEN.

However it is important that despite the fact the student told a lie this time to not forget the fact that he does have a severe condition, and that it could just as easily not have been a lie he told.

I feel that if I had been firmer from the start of the lesson – expecting more of him from when I began to work with him – then maybe he would not have tried his luck later on. Having said that, I did not feel that I was being particularly easy on him – just working to what the class teacher had asked me to do with him.

In the future I will expect more from him from the start so as to avoid the pace of work increasing drastically towards the end of the lesson, and to hopefully avoid him feeling the need to attempt to exploit his condition in order to stop working.