My daughter wants to board but I'm worried she won't cope emotionally...
Written by Julie Lodrick on 03/10/2010
Q. I have a 12 year old daughter who is very bright, musical and artistic. However she is naive and has Asperger syndrome. She is desperate to board so she can make friends better, but I am concerned that when any social problems arise she will be lonely and I will never know. She would never tell me. Can you advise me?
A. It is not unusual for girls who have specific social and emotional needs to board very successfully and enjoy the experience. The key to ensuring your daughter enjoys her time in a boarding environment is to give the House Staff as much information as you can at the outset.
Discuss with them the way the Asperger syndrome manifests itself in your daughter’s behaviour and the way in which she relates to her peers and adults. Share strategies that you use at home with the House Staff and decide whether these will be appropriate in the Boarding House. These may be very simple such as the way in which instructions are given or reassurance from staff is offered. It also may help your daughter if her peers are given an appropriate explanation of things they need to know so that they are able to understand why your daughter’s behaviour might not always be like that of the other girls. When I was a Housemistress I had experience of a girl whose condition meant she sometimes found it difficult to pick up social cues. The other girls in her year and in the house were wonderfully supportive, included her in their friendship group and ensured she was not teased by other pupils. We also worked very closely with her speech therapist and so any input from health professionals who are working with your daughter will be of enormous help to the House Staff.
Regular communication between home and boarding house is essential and will also ensure that any potential issues or problems can be identified early before they escalate.
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