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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Smiler said WHAT?


Mr Manley and I drove Smiler to school on Monday as usual, and as I was walking away from his room the class teacher came after me and said *duh duh duuuh* 'could I have a quick word?'  Cue follow teacher into a small room feeling like I'm ten and have been caught cheating on a maths test, a sensation which intensifies when she closes the door behind me and invites me to take a seat. 

They're worried about Smiler.  They have concerns.  They need to discuss it with us.  They are worried.

Of course, I go straight to a state of semi panic.  Seizure activity?  Ankles stiff again?  Fused elbow joint causing problems?  Jaw dislocating more often?  Choking at snack time / lunch time?  Sensory integration issues flaring up again?

It seems Smiler has learnt a new word.  How wonderful!  Expanding his vocabulary.  How lovely!

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So why are they worried? 

Ah.  Yes.  I see.  

That word.

According to classroom staff, on Friday Smiler was sat up to the table, making an invitation, and turned to the adult next to him and said 'fuck you'.  Ten minutes later he was playing (apparently) happily with a puzzle, another child put a piece in and Smiler said 'fuck' to them.  In the afternoon he was taken to the bathroom to be changed, and when asked to help pull his trousers down, he said 'no fuck'.

He said what?

'He hasn't heard it at school, so we wanted to ask Mr Manley and yourself to have a discussion with him at home about the language that we consider to be inappropriate for school.  What he says at home is up to you but it's different here'

What?  

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Having been knocked sideways by this I didn't have an organised response, but did manage to stutter that we've never heard him say it at home, we don't say it at home, but I do know that with his indistinct speech 'thank you' can sound like something else entirely.

Well, yes, but of course he has siblings at home that he might have heard it from, or perhaps on the TV...

Well yes, since Noah is almost eleven now, it is only to be expected that he swears like it's going out of fashion.  And cbeebies - I cannot tell you how many times I have phoned complaints into the broadcasting standards people - Mr Tumble has a mouth like a gutter, and that Nina, well, if she has ever managed a conversation with those neutrons devoid of the f word or the c word - well, I certainly haven't seen it.


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Having not heard it firsthand, I can't be positive what was said, but my thinking would be an adult passed him a crayon or a sticker; or admired his artwork, and Smiler said thank you; when the child helped him out with the puzzle Smiler said thanks; and when asked to help with his trousers Smiler politely declined - no thanks - because his hip has been bothering him.

But what would I know.  When I suggested my alternative interpretation, I got a look - you know that look?  It said you're a great big liar.

Smiler has a pretty well developed conscience, and I'm really pissed that he has been spoken to about his inappropriate use of language - poor kid, confusing or what!  He's answering questions, being polite, and getting told off for it.  As if communication wasn't hard enough, of he isn't understood he runs the risk of being in trouble if he isn't completely clear!


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But the new faces at the secondary site - they don't know him well enough yet - they aren't able to work it out the way they will undoubtedly learn to.  Imagine how frustrating that must be for Smiler - to be unable to make yourself understood; to be saying 'fan koo' and be asked to apologise for being rude; to be reduced almost to tears because you don't have a different way of saying what you want to say.  He's twelve, and adults with training and experience weren't able to understand him saying thank you.  He's been in the class since September, and they don't understand him saying thank you. 

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