The Other Side: Living With Asperger Syndrome - Part Six
Chapter Twenty Eight - Turning Back Time
Here is the report, which has served as a diagnosis, from my Dyspraxia assessment:
As you know, it was at this time that I decided I needed to get my GCSE's. Here is an email from the local education officer, which he sent in response to my Mum's email when I was trying to gain a place in school two years out of age range, to do the GCSE courses:
"Dear Miss Marsden
Because of the uncommon nature of your request I have discussed your application for a place at [name of] High School as a Y10 pupil in September 2008 with admissions colleagues and [name of], Senior Educational Psychologist, before making a decision. I have to say that the unanimous consensus is that it would be inappropriate for [Willow] to be placed with a Y10 cohort in the autumn at [name of high school] or any other comprehensive school.
There would be concerns over [Willow's] obvious social maturity and whether it is in her long term interest to try to reintegrate back into a school given the difficulties of the recent past and the school phobia you mention. Pupils who are allowed to work with a younger age group normally have some kind of developmental delay, learning and/or social difficulty that is long term and complex. Most often they are within the infant age range and usually only drop back one year group rather than the two you propose. Pupils who repeat a year in secondary schools have often had some kind of medical difficulty that has caused distuption to their studies. Those who have similar difficulties to [Willow's] would most usually receive alternative arrangements in a college environment rather than attempt to work with a younger age group as in this request.
Accordingly it seems to me that the Post 16 Centre offers the best alternative (when no alternative is perfect)."
Of course, the headteacher ignored this advice and met with me after I wrote him this letter, eventually allowing me to attend:
"Dear [headteacher],I used to attend [name of first] High School, but unfortunately had to leave due to bullying. I left in time to start [name of second] High School in the September of 2006, but again bullying became a problem so again, I left school. I was then referred to [name of town] Training Agency, which was fine, but I wasn’t happy with the courses they could offer me at the time, so once again ceased attending. After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I both need and want my GCSE’s a great deal, but do not want to acquire them at college, because not only do I feel the need to overcome my issues with school, but college doesn’t offer as many GCSE’s as school does, and I also feel like I have missed out on the experience of school, the social side of it, which I don’t think would be the same at college. I’ve also had problems with my mental health, and have still not being properly diagnosed, all I have been told is that I have some form of personality disorder, but I am not currently receiving any help for it other than once a week counselling.As I do not seem to be having any luck getting professional help, I decided on my own that I need to help myself get better. I strongly believe that going back to school to get my GCSE’s is the right thing to do. I would want to be starting this September in year 10, so that I can complete the 2 years that I have missed out on. Obviously getting my qualifications is a big part of why I want to do this, but also I feel that attending school would help take my mind off some of the problems that come with having a mental illness, for example, getting out of the house daily would be a big step in itself, but one I am more than prepared to take, the social environment would also be very beneficial for me. I realise that as I am nearing my 16th birthday, I would be 2 years older than the people who will be in year 10 from this September, and I understand that for some people this could be an uncomfortable environment, but again, is something I am more than prepared to deal with. I have discussed my situation with my counsellor and she agrees that it would benefit my getting better.Having said all of this, I admit that my Mother has already rang the school and briefly spoke to [deputy head] about this, but she didn’t get to explain all the details behind the request, and was told that there was no place for me, and that I am too old to attend school and would be better off at college, and I have already explained my views on college earlier on in this letter. Because we had no chance to explain exactly why I needed so badly to go back and re-do years 10 and 11, I think it unfair to get a blunt ‘no’. So I thought that writing to you would be more appropriate, so that I could express my feelings about the whole situation.I understand that this is probably not the easiest thing to go about doing, but I ask that you consider my request, as this is literally my last resort. I cannot attend any other school, as I have concerns about starting again completely, but as I have already attended [your school], I am familiar with the teachers there, which is more comforting that not knowing anybody at all. I must also mention that as of my 16th birthday I will not be [old name] anymore, and it would be great to have a fresh start with my new name.I know of people that have repeated year 11 because they failed their GCSE’s, but I have missed so much of years 10 and 11 that I think it would be necessary to start over. I attended [second high school] for roughly 5 months of year 10 and then not at all for year 11. I know that my attendance sounds extremely bad, but you have to believe me when I say that it would not happen like that again. I am very aware that this would be my last chance and trust me; I have no intention of quitting this time. This is something that I have decided on my own, whereas going to both [second high school] and [town name] Training Agency, were decisions that other people made for me. Therefore, my determination to do this is unbelievably strong.The reason why I know this would work out so much better than it has done in the past is simply that I wouldn’t be with my age group, and that seems to be the biggest outstanding problem. In addition to that, if I were to re-do the 2 years, I would be able to attend sixth form afterwards, and my year group would have left, so I wouldn’t have to encounter them, as I think my anxieties about school are mainly connected to them.I don’t know what else to say to make you see how important this is to me, apart from begging you there is nothing left to do. I hope that you will allow me to come back to [your school], as I did really enjoy it before the bullying started. But all I can do is ask, and say please."
Here is my formal contract for being allowed to attend school out of age range: