I’ve previously mentioned a young boy who is a regular at Food for thought. For this blog I will call him Pedro (not his real name). I have been given permission to talk about him on this blog by his mother.
When Pedro first started with us we had no control over him what so ever. He would fight, shout, run around and cause havoc. Everyday we would have problems with him. Over the last 5 months it has been a slow, good day/bad day, process of supporting Pedro in changing is behavioural habits.
We had a volunteer from Italy Simone, who I mentioned in a previous blog, who played a big role in helping us on our mission. During Simone’s time with us we saw a huge improvement in Pedro’s behaviour. We weren’t sure if this behaviour was going to deteriorate after Simone’s departure because Pedro’s significant change seemed directly related to Simone’s presence with us in the project.
None the less, we had to wait and see. Fortunately for us and for Pedro, he has been able to maintain this improved level of behaviour since Simone left around 3 weeks ago. That is not to say that he doesn’t have bad days (don’t we all), but all in all it is like we have a different child in the venue.
We have been in constant contact with Pedro’s mother. We felt that we had hit a wall a week ago when she informed us that he had been kicked out of school. She also said that the school would not have him back until he had been psychologically tested and put on some form of psychiatric drug. This was the last thing that we wanted because of the obvious, nobody wants to see a 9 year old on psychiatric drugs, but we were also seeing huge changes in his behaviour without any drugs. We actually asked the mother at one stage if he was on drugs because of the dramatic change we had seen in him!
I can understand where the school is coming from. They are understaffed and don’t have the resources to put a teacher aid (which he needs all of the time) beside him in the classroom. He makes it impossible to teach a lesson because he is so disruptive and the teacher has to concentrate his/her efforts on the behaviour management of one child and not in teaching a lesson. I can see how they can’t manage lessons with him in them.
I suppose it all leads back to the priorities of the government. Schools are not well resourced, the classes sizes are very big, and quite obviously the government does not see the importance of education.
Luckily for us we are in the position to have support in our classroom. We feel that he needs someone alongside of Pedro to help him focus, offer friendship and support him in a situation (group situation with a lot of other kids) that he has a lot of difficulty being apart of. Admittedly we are a little under resourced at the moment, and can’t have someone beside him all of the time but we usually have someone pretty close to offer a hand.
For some reason the mother hasn’t taken Pedro to be tested, so at this point in time he has not been put on any medication. I hope that doesn’t change because it would be a real shame for the progress he has made. In saying that we have a very long way to go. He is still quite a handful. Still, there is hope. Poco a poco.