Some tell-tale signs that your child may be struggling at school include:
• Avoids talking about school
• Spends excessive time completing homework
• Isolates socially / difficulty making friends
• Misbehaves at school and home
• Continuously complains of ailments (headaches / sore stomach)
In addition to these signs your child may find academic learning areas very challenging, such as mathematics, reading or writing. Teachers should express concern if they notice any barriers to learning your child is experiencing, and this is often the first step to identifying and acknowledging that supportive intervention is needed.
This can be a very emotional and confusing time for parents. Often there is a period of denial, and hope that with a little more time everything should come right. Unfortunately the longer one waits the greater the learning deficits or gaps become, and the more difficult, if not impossible it becomes to close those gaps.
Sadly, but understandably many parents in this situation take time to accept the ‘diagnoses’ or recommendations and pressure their children to work harder, pay more attention, stop behaving badly, make friends and stop complaining. This starts a vicious cycle of anxiety for the child which leads to decreased confidence and self-esteem, naturally resulting in withdrawal and poor performance at school. It is heartbreaking to see a family disintegrate and suffer just to ‘push’ a neurodiverse child through mainstream education, because society still perceives academic excellence as the ultimate achievement and determinant of future success.
Aki Kalliatakis, a father whose son Mario is now at Glenoaks Remedial and Special Needs School speaks about his journey. “Mario was in Grade R. As I look back, there were signs that something was not okay. He took far longer to learn to walk. He seemed a little quiet, lonely, and withdrawn when he was with school friends, and was not always enthusiastic to tell us about his school day. We could also see that he sometimes struggled - not only with art, but also with reading, maths, and even his physical coordination. Homework was always a struggle.
It came as a shock to us when the head of the school called us in, and with his teacher, told us that everything was not as rosy as we had assumed. It was recommended that our precious little five-year-old go for testing and psychological evaluation because he had fallen too far behind to catch up and he was also “too old” to repeat grade R.
Reports from various therapists concluded that he lagged behind by about 2 years and had the skills of a 3-year-old. We were desperately worried about his future. Would he ever be able to finish school and study further? What job would he have as an adult? How severe were his problems? Would he end up in an institution? What effect would this have on his happiness? It was awful, and clearly, we needed to take some action to give him the best chance in life, and to allay some of our anxiety.”
Neurodiverse learners in South Africa experience significant barriers in terms of their education and future prospects as adults. Some may manage to catch up academically, however many will not achieve a Grade equivalent education, which in turn prevents them from entering tertiary institutions or the workplace. This reality can leave parents with a bleak picture of the future. However, just because your child has been referred to a remedial or vocational school doesn’t make them any less intelligent or capable than their peers in mainstream schools. It is certainly not the end of their educational journey, and in fact could be the beginning of a journey towards happiness, achievement, social acceptance, and quality of life for your child.
At Glenoaks Remedial and Vocational School, we understand that some learners are academically inclined, and others are practically or vocationally inclined, which is simply an indication that a different way of learning is needed. The provision of accommodations, modifications, Individual Education Programs, supportive classroom environments, therapeutic intervention and more practical outcomes can result in the kind of success that is required for life and for many jobs. We believe in unleashing a learner’s potential, encouraging them to persevere through the challenges and focus on the possibilities!
“After visiting several remedial schools Mario joined Glenoaks. His whole demeanour changed within days, and his confidence rocketed. He was more enthusiastic, less lethargic and seemed more willing to tell us news about his school, his teacher, his class, and his day. He even started doing things at home that were previously neglected: reading books, learning new skills, asking questions, and even helping with chores. His relationships with us as a family improved as he opened up more and more.
Will our son ever go into a mainstream school and study further? We don’t know, but what we do know is that the staff at Glenoaks are doing their utmost to give him the best possible chance in life, and to achieve his magnificent potential. What seemed like an unbearable and awkward situation has created possibility and anticipation in us, as parents, and in Mario. We know he ended up in a place that has not only made him happier but unleashed some incredible qualities in him.”
Glenoaks is a Remedial and Vocational School for Neurodiverse learners in Kensington Johannesburg. We offer a Remedial Grade 1-7, an Assisted Learning Stream, a Vocational Academy, educational assessments, and all therapies in one environment. Join us at our upcoming Open Day on 22 June to see our beautiful school and meet the incredible team who unleash and nurture the potential of neurodiverse learners.
Book for our open day using the following link Quicket link: https://qkt.io/tjiUec