I forgot the ball

by | Relax Kids

 I moved out of my house in Belfast a week ago so right now my stuff is scattered over three rooms in my parents’ house and my car. I plan on being based in Dublin until I move to Galway, sometime in July but I am still teaching in a primary school in Newry on a Thursday and in an afterschool club in North Down on Friday. This week I arrived at St Joseph’s Primary School, Bessbrook to teach my four classes when I realised I had forgotten the ball. In all of the chaos of last the week and my things being scattered everywhere I had forgotten to bring one of my props for my Learning Support class.

I have been teaching in St Joseph’s Autism Specific classes and more recently in their Learning Support classes for two and a half years now. When I started I knew nothing at all about autism. Two months into my classes with them, I was told that people with autism don’t like to be touched. Part of a Relax Kids class is massage, self and peer massage with permission. It’s one of their favourite parts of the class. Had I known that ‘usually’ children with autism do not like to be touched when I had entered that classroom on the first day I wouldn’t have even tried to do massage with them and what a disappointment that would have been!

I have learnt so much about autism since I started teaching there but the biggest thing I have learnt is that each of the children with autism are different. Most of the children like to have everything exactly the same every week which is why forgetting my affirmation ball was such a big deal but in the same class I have other children who like me to change up what we do. Some of the children talk fluently, some of them chose not to speak and some of them cannot speak.

Six months after I started teaching there, a new group of children started with one of the teachers. It was explained to me that one of the little boys in the class wouldn’t be participating in my class for the first few weeks because he couldn’t cope with being told what to do. He had to be given a choice. So the teachers accommodated this by giving him a choice of three different activities. When I was told this I nearly cried. I couldn’t believe how much time and care was being given to one little boy. I have lost a lot of faith in the education system due to it’s ‘fit everyone into the same shaped hole’ attitude to teaching but the autism specific classes and learning support classes in St Joseph’s Primary School Bessbrook have touched my heart.

I love going into the school and seeing how far the children have come. A lot of them really struggled with lying still at the end of class when we first started so I love seeing them enjoy and ask if they can ‘have a nap now’. I love hearing stories about upset children arriving into school and being told to do their deep breathing ‘like Katie taught them’ and them being as right as rain afterwards. I get that warm fuzzy feeling when I hear about the difference Relax Kids is having on the children.

This week I understood the students need to have order and sameness more then ever. Arriving into the school this week felt like arriving home. I had a lovely sense of sameness as I made my cup of tea in the morning and I was greeted with smiles by students and teachers alike. I knew my missing ball would cause havoc but after a chaotic week of moving and packing and goodbyes I wasn’t surprised that something had slipped. Arriving into St Joseph’s was like a breath of fresh air after my tiring, messy week.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content