Ashlyn’s Journey and Victory

Last week was our final school prize giving. I admit it – I might have wiped away a stray tear or two, especially in the first part of the evening which takes place in the classroom. Here, each child receives a ‘character award’. Being a Christian school, this is an area valued as much—if not more than—the academic side. I like that in a school. A lot.

Then it was into the hall, packed with high school students, teachers and parents, to honour the academic and sports achievements of the learners. And there something remarkable happened. Ashlyn was awarded a silver academics badge and then went on to win two subject trophies (Computer Applications Technology and IT).

My youngest daughter, whose schooling—and childhood—has been marked by a struggle with mental health issues including Asperger’s, anxiety and depression marched onto that stage, beaming proudly. This somewhat belied the ‘humility’ part of her earlier character award, but nobody was holding it against her. Most of the teachers there and many of her peers knew the long journey she’s been on.

Reflecting back on that moment, I realise that what I felt was far more than parental pride. That moment on the stage wasn’t just a great academic achievement. It was a victory. Continue reading

Meltdowns & Milestones

Since April is Autism Awareness month, I’m sharing a little of my daughter Ashlyn’s story.

On the day the headmaster walked the sixty-odd paces from his office to the pre-school, the first warning bells should have gone off in our heads. It wasn’t a route he walked all that often in his busy schedule, but that morning he set out to discover why the piercing screams he had been hearing for the last forty-five minutes weren’t stopping. The relentless little screamer turned out to be our four year old daughter Ashlyn and—although this may have been one of the first—it certainly was not the last of the meltdowns she would have at school. Continue reading