Point of view: parent

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I had to do something to turn our negative experience into a force for good, writes Rebecca Clapcott.

Archie’s arrival was a turbulent one, with complications during pregnancy. Yet, here he was, so skinny, so pale, so delicate and so noticeably different from his big brother. We had no idea at the time that Archie would go on to receive a diagnosis of ASD, ADHD and a few other conditions as well. 2008 was the year that as a family, our lives and my personal career path would change forever. Not in the same way as every other new parent, but that of becoming a lifelong parent carer. 

When describing Archie’s conditions, we as a family use the term ‘difference’ in place of ‘disorder’. This is something that we decided needed to be our attitude while bringing up all our children. It helps us to see the achievements, no matter how late or small they occured, as well as recognising and appreciating the little victories and being thankful for the gift of our kids, regardless of how tiring and frustrating being a parent can be at times. 

Primary mainstream education was a tremendously difficult time for Archie. He was so happy and settled for the first two years, learning through play and self expression. Fast forward to year 2 when Archie was expected to be sitting at his desk like his neurotypical cohort, things went downhill fast. Thankfully, I was in a position where I was able to volunteer as his one-to-one (as there was no funding or EHCP in place) and try to help him navigate his way through the school day, This led to me eventually becoming a TA and gaining many years of experience (positive and negative) in supporting SEN in a mainstream school environment. 

I was, and still am, horrified by the lack of provision for SEN children in mainstream. The endless fight for EHCPs and funding; the many unanswered emails and unreturned phone messages; the complete breakdown of parents’ mental health. I speak from experience. I knew that Archie and I had to do something about this and turn our negative experience into a force for good, potentially helping others like us. Together, Archie and I have written four books, all with an autism theme. These books are donated to mainstream schools to help kids like Archie feel represented. Children with ASD need to know that they are not alone and that their opinions and ideas not only count, but are sorely needed.

Rebecca Clapcott
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Rebecca Clapcott is the Founder of Awesome Archie, a non-profit organisation. She is also the author of four books.

Website: https://www.awesomearchie.co.uk/
Twitter: @ClipJane
Instagram: awesome_archie_official

 

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