The Puzzle Piece school for autistic children

imageWhen the speech therapist, for the second year in a row, wanted to send “Gubby” for testing to see if he is autistic, she did so no doubt in order to save herself or rather her department, which she was in charge of, money. She said that she can not help an autistic child but that there are people who can. So far I haven’t seen such a person, and then he has had his diagnosis for over 11 months now. One thing I got to ask her before she basically threw us out from the normal children’s speech therapy department, was “which school should he go to if he is autistic?”. She answered: “I have no idea. But there is a new school called the Puzzle Piece.” I went home and looked it up and at least the home page looked fancy enough. But what was the point in contacting them before we knew if something was really wrong. Everyone I spoke to, thought her balmy for even suggesting such a thing as “Gubby” being autistic. He doesn’t act like such. If one doesn’t know what one is looking for.

Then I finally had his diagnosis but BUP could not say anything about the school. I got most of my information when running in to an old substitute teacher of “Kitty’s”, at the village supermarket. She asked about him and I told her that he is doing so-so, having ADHD and being at a school who has so far failed to educate themselves in what it means to teach a child with ADHD and what sort of adjustments have to be made around him, in order for him to thrive. She told us about her own woes, having a son just diagnosed with autism and him getting zero help at the village school, called “the village school”. A council school with a headmaster wanting to save money. So much so, that some classes are taught with 50 pupils in attendance. She told us that her son can not cope and that they had been looking at the puzzle piece school but were thinking about another school, one just like it,  in another council and part of the province. She said she was fed up with our village.

As soon as “Gubby” had his diagnosis I contacted the puzzle piece school. But did not get an answer. I sent e-mails, tried to phone but got no answer. The special ed teacher tried to contact them for me, but without success. Finally T. managed to get hold of someone, meaning I suddenly had an e-mail saying that he had been put in their queue. Right. Nothing wrong with that but I thought it  very strange to be in a queue for a school that I had never ever even visited and had not spoken to anyone at the school, either. In the autumn, habilitation was on to me, telling me to continue trying to get hold of the headmaster, but no luck. The special ed teacher tried as well and the headmaster at the Montessori school actually got hold of her, but when I tried, no answer. I started getting really perturbed. This is insane, to have a school that noone can get in to contact with. What if one has a child there and worries about the child or needs to leave a message? And noone picks up the phone! Finally, I saw that they were on Facebook. They proudly declared that they had been allowed to open short stay rooms at the school. Some people had written in the comment box how great that was and that they hoped their children could start at the school. I wrote a nasty comment saying that I wish they had paid less attention to creating more and more things at the school and starting law suits against the council for refusing to pay for pupils, and instead should answer e-mails from parents needing answers. Within minutes I had an e-mail from the headmaster apologizing and wanting to know what I needed. I answered that I thought it bananas to be in queue at a school without ever having visited the school. She let me know they would have an open house but not when. So I kept checking Facebook, even though I hate the place. Even signed up to follow them, and two more places called “Underbara ADHD” with things concerning ADHD of course and then also “Barn i behov” which means Children with Needs, which basically pertains to all autistic children. I also signed up to join the Autism and Asperger Association, since I can get rebate on courses, if I am a member and we might be allowed to use the pool at habilitation. Only members of the association is allowed to do that!

Finally, it seemed actually like an afterthought, I found out that they had put together an Open House on the 22 December. So we drove to our neighbour village and found the school via the GPS, right beside the police station. They are actually in the same building. I really don’t know what to think. The school has 12 pupils. 4-6 of them severely retarded, so they are in the special needs school, in a separate building. The others are counted as high functioning Autistic or with Asperger’s, there being a big difference

They might choose to do away with Asperger's and choose to call it autism, but autism it is not! If you call it that, noone will know what autism is anymore and that will create problems in reaching these children and helping them!!!

They might choose to do away with Asperger’s and choose to call it autism, but autism it is not! If you call it that, noone will know what autism is anymore and that will create problems in reaching the truly autistic children and helping them!!!

of course. The building is very fresh, but what stands out is that these children would never ever be counted as high functioning by society, as the headmaster said. How can you be called high functioning when you can’t be around other children or human beings, without it creating conflict? The 6-8 children attending the school, all have a room each where they decorate as they imageplease. They have an assistant each and if it is possible, they can try to do things with another child, but for the most part that does not work. I got the feeling that this is “the final solution” for children who can not fit in at any other school. And I am not sure that it really is the sort of school “Gubby” needs yet. He does function among other children in that he does not act out. He is loving, caring and doesn’t harm a fly, but of course is very naive and trusting, which does not work in this world. He needs to be around other children, he wants to play with others. He just doesn’t know how to do it and is a little bit in his own world, so he plays parallel to other children. But he does enjoy their company. Children at the playground think he is weird, but what is wrong with being different as long as you do not hurt anyone or cause bodily harm to anyone. THAT is “Boo’s” problem. He does act out and is the one who needs a school like the puzzle piece. Unfortunately, we had not put him up in the queue, since he did not get his diagnosis till September, and after that I have just not thought of trying to put him up too. Plain forgot!

I talked to the headmaster for over an hour, telling her about our boys, what the problems are at “Boo’s” present school and what we fear will happen to “Gubby” in a normal school. She shook her head because my fears are not unfounded and the situation really is bad in Sweden for these children. She wished that she could take more children, but there is a limit. And she said they would start looking at the queue in January. I assume that we are not even close to he top, since I have not heard a word from her.  The worse part with a school like this too, is the fact that you can get a phone call saying that there is a place for your child, but then starts the real work for you as a parent. Now, all documentation needs to come in to the school, why your child should be allowed to attend the school. And then comes the toughest part of all, when the school applies to the council to get the money for the pupil. If the council refuses, your child does not get to start and the place goes to the next one in the queue…. We live in a council that has Lund as its seat. Lund is an old University town from the middle ages, a seat of learning, but our council is of the opinion that they only people deserving to learn anything, are those who are NORMAL. There is no room for autistic children, children with ADHD and so forth. So, the puzzle piece which is situated in our council, in a village outside Lund, has no children from the council of Lund. All the pupils come from other councils that think differently and have realized that if you don’t spend money on these children now and help them when they are young, they are going to cost the state A LOT OF MONEY in the future. It is not a coincidence at all that a lot of the prisons in Sweden today, house lots of inmates with ADHD. I would not be surprised at all if they also house people with Autism and Asperger’s! But Carpe Diem, right? Live for the day, tomorrow might never happen? Or let’s deal with the problems when they arise? That is how Sweden look at children in need today. Seems like the parliament is full of people with ADHD, because that is the way such persons think. They live for the 4 second rule: There is no tomorrow, only today. The world will go under in 4 seconds, so we might as well live now. Live now and do not spend money on the handicapped, they might be conveniently dead tomorrow. Or?

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