OK, so I know some of you have finished term already and most of you are probably more organised than I could ever hope to be, but I’ve spent the last few days agonising over what to get Oscar’s preschool Keyworker and Teaching Assistant as end of term thank you presents. These women have been working with him since he started in January 2015. They have bared the brunt of his frustration, dealing daily with his temper when he can’t express himself. And yet they are also the ones who have worked with him every session to ensure he can verbalise his wants and needs and to help him understand the very basis of communication, the back and forth, the my turn, your turn, without which he wouldn’t be able to manage communication at all, in any form. Yeah these ladies are owed big time.
But really, nothing is going to be enough. Nothing is going to express how thankful we are for their patience with him, or how grateful for the time they have taken with all the extra paperwork that comes with a child on the spectrum (and believe me it’s loads!). I’ve always been cautious of buying teacher gifts. I am loathe to buy any kind of trinket, anything without a practical purpose, because (and correct me if I’m wrong teachers), if everyone in the class did that you’d be left with 30 trinkets to find a home for. Every year! So I made a decision at the end of summer term last year, to always buy something consumable. The appreciation can be felt, but won’t take up room in their homes. Well that’s my theory anyway.
So back to this year. I don’t really know them well enough to buy them alcohol (also is alcohol appropriate for a preschool teacher?). Previously we’ve gone for posh coffee (for one) and posh tea (for the other) or vouchers for a coffee shop so they don’t have to make their own. But this year we wanted something that made a little bit more of a statement.
Which is why we we’ve gone for a box of Harry Specters chocolates each. A box of chocs might sound boring and unambitious, but bare with me. Harry Specters is a very special chocolate company, based in Cambridge. Their mission states:
At Harry Specterâ€™s young people with autism are involved in all aspects of creating our award winning chocolates from production to packaging, sales, photography, graphic design and web design. In our safe and supportive environment they are free to use their strengths to grow, develop and build confidence.
In a country where 85% of adults with Autism are unemployed, Harry Specters are looking beyond the myths and media portrayal of Autism and have built an entire business model around utilising the strengths of an individual. As it should be! That they are also winning award after award for their chocolates just shows how this model is working. It just took one woman to look at things a little differently, to have faith in these people (and yes she is an Autismmama too)!
Don’t they look beautiful? Yes I want them to take them home and eat them, preferably away from any children and perhaps with a glass of something chilled. But while they do I want them to know how important they were in Oscar’s, and our, lives and how very grateful we are for their energy and how much O will miss them . Even if he doesn’t say it! Yes he’s ready to move on in his academic career, but he wouldn’t be had it not been for them.
It just takes one person to believe.
Maybe I’ll just put this post in with the chocolates. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey all this in person. Well not without crying anyway!