Category Archives: Special educational needs

Gardening. Day 2

An image of how I would like my border to look. So beautiful! But it will never resemble this garden, because it contains too many Azaleas. 

I spent several happy hours in my sister’s garden today, and by the time I left, her herbaceous border was weeded and thinned out, and I had loads of stock to plant in ‘my’ garden, so we were both happy. I’d offered to keep her garden tidy, and she’s now had a good first installment of that promise, but I’m not sure whether I’ll have the time to keep up with it, because my garden is quite large. It’s in two parts. At the moment I’m working on the strip in front of the building, but there’s another strip at the side of the block, and it carries on along the back. This area is also very public, so it’s important to try and get the whole of it in order. There’s also a private garden for the residents to sit in which probably needs work, but I haven’t even looked at that properly.

We have some younger residents with special educational needs, and I may try and encourage them to help me. People with educational difficulties are often undervalued, and because of that they sometimes believe they have no use. I volunteer in an Oxfam shop, and one of Oxfam’s policies is to encourage so called ‘disadvantaged’ people to help in their shops, where they can learn valuable skills and feel like valuable members of society, perhaps for the first time in their lives. I would like to offer the residents a similar opportunity. I’d also be genuinely glad of some help.

Maybe we could get a cold-frame at some point, and be allocated a space for seed sowing, who knows? Growing plants from seed brings a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. I have seen wonderful transformations in individuals as a result of working in community gardens. maybe this garden can make a positive difference in somebody’s life.

It would be nice to grow vegetables… 

But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. I’ll make more of an effort to spend time in the community room, and properly get to know people. An old friend of nearly 40 years standing has been living here for several years. She knows all of the residents and is close to a couple of the women with special educational needs. I may have a quiet word with her in the next week or two.

© Jane Paterson Basil


We mustn’t talk too loudly, because Dolly’s asleep in her cot over there. She’s teething, and I’ve only just managed to get her off.

They said I shouldn’t have a baby. They that said if I did it would be taken away by social services because I’m mental. At least that’s what the neighbours said. The official people just said that it would be too hard for me to cope, and I wouldn’t understand what to do.

They think I’m stupid.

I know they were trying to be nice, but it’s not fair to say I couldn’t look after a baby. I mean it’s natural, isn’t it, having babies. Anyone can learn to feed a baby, and change its nappy and keep it warm and safe.

I take her out every day in the buggy, because grandma said babies need fresh air. I never leave her behind in the supermarket like they thought I would. I talk to her and play with her, and she’s learning really fast. I bath her and always make sure her clothes are clean and dry. She’s never had a day’s illness because I look after her so well. I love her more than anything, and she’s easy to love anyway, because she’s so pretty and good, and she hardly ever cries.

And love is what really matters, isn’t it? Just because I’ve got what they call special educational needs, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to love people, especially my own child. Loving is easier than learning.

Anyway, I proved them wrong. They never even check up on her, because I’m doing such a good job. They said so.

I called her Dolly after my grandma, because she was clever and kind and she always said nice things to me, and I want my little girl to be like her when she grows up.

I wouldn’t want her to be like me, because people make fun of me and I don’t think they like me very much. I don’t know why, because I’m always polite and friendly, like the teachers taught me to be.

The father? She hasn’t got a father. I don’t know how it happened, it just did. Well, I suppose she must have a father somewhere, but we don’t need him. He must have been someone I stood beside at the bus stop when my carer took me out one time. When I was in school my friend Lena said that can happen sometimes. She knew lots of grown-up things, but some of them didn’t sound very nice, and I don’t believe people would do them.

Oh! Dolly’s waking up. Would you like to hold her?

Don’t say that! Why does everyone keep saying that? She’s not a doll, she’s my baby, and I’d like you to leave now. Go on. Go away and leave us alone.

© Jane Paterson Basil