Every time Qwyn Densham (pictured) receives his report card from school, he struggles to hide his disappointment after seeing his low grades
Every year when Qwyn Densham receives his report card from school, he struggles to hide his disappointment after seeing his low grades.
And so his devoted mother Annette, from Brisbane, decided to cheer her 14-year-old autistic son up by writing the ultimate report card evaluating his best qualities.
The card includes top marks for enthusiastic storytelling, courage, empathy and social justice, adaptability and communication.
‘He is an intelligent human being. While he thinks he’s stupid and no one likes him, he has no idea how amazing he is,’ the 48-year-old mother-of-two told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Sadly, the school system has contributed to his lack of self-esteem but he just keeps trying. I want him to know that getting high marks at school is not the only mark of intelligence and success. That being a good, kind human is just as important.
‘I wanted Qwyn to see that he’s so much better than a grade A or B and this is my way of showing him success is more than doing well in maths or science.’
His mother cheered her son up by writing the ultimate report card evaluating his best qualities
Annette said her son was always left feeling devastated after getting his poor report cards
Throughout his education, Ms Densham, who works as a public relations, said her son was always left feeling devastated after getting his poor report cards.
‘If you put it into context, pretty much his whole school life, he was labelled the “naughty boy” who wasn’t good enough,’ she said.
‘Qwyn tried so hard but every report card would say he wasn’t working hard enough or he was not the same as everyone else.
‘As a mother, you can see it really crushed his spirit and self-esteem. Quite often, he would say: “I’m stupid” or “I’m a r****d” or “I’m a burden to everybody around me”.
‘There’s nothing more heartbreaking than knowing you raised this gorgeous kid who’s articulate, well-mannered, funny and intelligent.’
Ms Densham said she noticed her son behaving differently to the other children when he was constantly getting in trouble at school.
At the age of nine, Qwyn was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
‘He’s good at communication but sometimes he has these triggers, he can get frustrated, angry, loud and aggressive,’ his mother explained.
‘These outburst are not frequent but they’ve been enough to alienate him from his peers. People often see autism as something you hold at arm’s distance.
‘I think the biggest challenge is misunderstanding. A lot of people don’t understand what autism is, it’s a spectrum, they are kids who are just like the rest of us.
‘It doesn’t take much to be kind or have empathy for another human being. People often see autism as a disability but Qwyn is just another person doing the best in the world.
‘If you treat him with love and respect, he’ll treat you the same way. But sadly, people can’t see though this.’
The young schoolboy started home school this year after he fell behind on his education
Growing up, Ms Densham said she noticed her little boy behaving differently. At the age of nine, the boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Fighting back her tears, an emotional Ms Densham shared her anguish of her son’s struggle with finding friends.
‘The kids at school won’t go near him. He doesn’t get invited to birthday parties or sleepovers. At school, he would sit by himself at lunchtimes,’ she said.
‘The other day he was sitting on the couch, watching Netflix with the dog keeping him company and he said to me: “All I want is to ride my scooter with friends but I don’t have any”.
The other day, he said to me: “All I want is to ride my scooter with friends but I don’t have any”. I try to organise play dates for him but he keeps telling me: “It isn’t your job to make friends for me”
‘I try to organise play dates for him but he keeps telling me: “It isn’t your job to make friends for me”.’
Earlier this year, Ms Densham made the difficult decision to home school Qwyn for the first time after he was falling behind with his education due to the multiple suspensions he faced.
‘[On one occasion], he got suspended for kicking another kid who was picking on him from day one. But the school failed to see this,’ she said.
‘When a person can’t take it anymore, they fight back in retaliation. But the school never asked why Qwyn did it, and of course, he was suspended for five days.
‘He lost 220 days of his education from suspensions because the schools he attended never supported his challenges. Instead, they were setting him for failure.’
Since starting distance education, Ms Densham said her son has been feeling much more ‘safer and happier’ at home
Since starting distance education, Ms Densham said her son has been feeling much more ‘safer and happier’ at home.
‘It’s the same school curriculum online with a teacher. He sits in front of his computer and a teacher does lessons with him,’ she said.
‘He thinks it’s cool because he gets to sit in his underwear,’ she said, laughing.
Despite the challenges, Ms Densham said her plucky son continues to put on a brave face every morning when he wakes up.
‘The first thing he does every morning is give me a big hug and there’s always a big smile on his face,’ she said.
‘He could be miserable because of all the things that has happened through his school life but he’s always resilient and courageous.
‘Last year I had to tell him that Santa isn’t real because he was getting into fights at school. His poor little face when I told him, till this day, he still can’t forgive me for lying. He asks me “why do we lie? Why can’t we be honest with people around us?”
‘When people ask “who’s your hero?” I would say it’s Qwyn. It’s enlightening to look through his eyes in his world. He’s talented, smart and he’s damn honest.’
Despite the challenges, Ms Densham said her plucky son continues to put on a brave face every morning when he wakes up
The mother said she wanted to present Qwyn (pictured with his father Earl, left) her own report card giving him a mixture of grade As and Bs for his traits
The mother said she wanted to present Qwyn her own report card giving him a mixture of grade As and Bs for his traits.
‘There’s been so much I haven’t been able to protect Qwyn from. I’m not a helicopter parent but it’s my job as a mother to do whatever I can to protect him,’ she said.
‘I also want to repair his self-esteem and confidence. When you’re a mother, you tell them how much you love them and how amazing they are but they just think you’re saying it because you’re their mum.
‘When I initially posted the report card on my Facebook, my friends who know him posted amazing comments about him and it really brought a smile to his face.
‘I really wanted to generate a positive energy so he could see that other people see him as more than just a kid with autism, he’s just like the rest of us.’
By sharing her extraordinary story, Ms Densham said she wanted to raise awareness for other parents who have children with autism.
‘We are the biggest advocates for our kids because it seems like no one is listening to us,’ she said.
‘But you have to keep advocating, promoting the right things for your child and take extreme measures to give them the best life possible.’