I've just had another meeting with Ashton and his mum, Jenn. These meetings have been taking place every couple of weeks throughout the year.
Jenn and I both feel that Ashton has made a little progress this year. Academically, he has been learning, although his writing especially is a huge concern. Ashton's learning is incidental, as he is frequently on the periphery of any learning situations that are occurring.
Socially, Ashton's friendships have steadied and developed somewhat. His classmates have given him a more than fair chance, despite some of his extraordinary behaviour and histrionics.
Ashton has been attending weekly counselling sessions through YOSS. Jenn reports that while it has helped her and James, his stepfather, it has done very little for Ashton. She is at the end of her tether, wondering where they go to seek the help they need.
I have a huge concern about Ashton's future. I worry that he has so little perseverance, that he loves to scare people, that he is so completely egocentric, that he shows little remorse or empathy, that he helps himself to other people's property, that he believes he should have without first earning and so much more.
I have bent over backwards to help Ashton, to show him kindness, to understand his condition, to make sure he isn't stressed or uncomfortable. I am undecided whether the strategies I have used have helped.
When I was a teacher trainee, Jim Blair, my lecturer gave us all a piece of advice that I have always used. Once you have put a line in the sand, don't let your students put even a toenail over it. I've bent that rule for Ashton this year. I think Ashton has spent the year throwing his whole body over that line and I've just said, 'There, there..."
The rest of the class has not suffered, however. They are an independent group of students, apart from a small group who would have benefitted from more of my time had Ashton not demanded it.