Celebrating My Son's Successful First Year in Secondary School

articles Jun 02, 2023

In this blog post, I celebrate a significant milestone:

My son is finishing his first year in secondary school.

I feel immense joy and amazement at his progress. Reflecting on his journey, it's incredible to see how much he has grown. As a mother of a child with additional needs, my aim is to share our story, offering hope and inspiration to fellow parents who are also navigating similar challenges.

Early Years and Diagnosis

When Sebastian was three years old, he attended the local preschool. Unfortunately, he struggled to settle in, and we soon realised that something was amiss. Our public health nurse made a referral to an early intervention team. The team assessed Sebastian, and he was diagnosed with autism. This led us to enrol him in an autism-specific preschool, where he spent two years. Thanks to the dedicated and experienced staff there, Sebastian made remarkable progress.

Primary School and Inclusion

At five years of age, Sebastian transitioned to our local primary school, where he joined the autism class while participating in mainstream activities. He would only engage with the mainstream class for certain activities for some years, while in other years, he could spend more time there. Throughout his primary education, curriculum adaptations were made for him.

The Worries of Secondary School

As Sebastian approached secondary school, my husband and I were anxious. Although he secured a place in the autism unit in our local secondary school, we discovered that it wasn't a separate class but a support system within the mainstream setting. This posed a challenge for him as he had never experienced full-time integration with no individualised school curriculum. We wondered how he would cope and adjust to this new environment.

Support and Progress

Thankfully, the school principal and Sebastian's tutor guided us through the initial months. He was assigned a full-time Special Needs Assistant (SNA) who provided invaluable daily support. Witnessing Sebastian's growth and maturity over this year has been truly remarkable. He has developed a routine, waking up promptly at 7 am, preparing his breakfast, and dressing himself. All his teachers have nothing but positive things to say about him. While he still requires close guidance and support from his SNA and teachers, Sebastian has thrived in the mainstream environment. He even completes his homework independently as soon as he returns home.

Challenges and Growth

As the year progressed, studying for exams became a source of anxiety for Sebastian. I continually reassure him of his achievements and encourage him to do his best. However, he is reluctant to seek help in improving his study skills. This is an area where we, as his parents, will focus on providing guidance and support, taking one step at a time.

Sharing Our Story

As a mother, I am often unsure how much of Sebastian's personal life to share. I decided to share this milestone as I believe it is essential to share our experiences because, during Sebastian's early years, listening to other parents who had already embarked on the journey of raising an autistic child provided me with practical advice, hope, and strength. Even now, I find immense value in listening to the stories and perspectives of autistic people as they navigate life's challenges. Their insights equip me to support my son better and celebrate his achievements.


I couldn't be prouder of Sebastian and how well he has handled the challenges of his first year in secondary school. Despite our initial worries, he has exceeded our expectations. His progress is a reminder that every child can grow and succeed, regardless of their unique circumstances. As parents, let us continue to support and advocate for our children, drawing inspiration from one another's journeys. And now, with a well-deserved three-month break ahead, Sebastian is delighted!

Would you like to send a message to Sebastian? Leave a comment below for him to read.

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