Saturday, 17 September 2011

Back to school woes

Over the past week or so I have red a number of posts from other bloggers with children on the autistic spectrum blogging about difficulties their children are experiencing with returning to school, after the summer holidays. Compared to some of the posts I have seen our troubles are not that big but they still worry me and leave me feeling a little hopeless and at a loss at what we can do.

Little Man has always cried during the holidays as he hates the break in the routine from school. The last few holidays he seems to have accepted them alot more easily and the tears have all but dried up. He was however very excited about going back to school.  We did the usual chatting about him being in a new part of the school, a new classroom, a new teacher and which of his friends would be in his class etc and the first morning back (Thursday 1st) he ran into school quite happily. On the Friday he even opted to go to his new classroom alone. This is one area I am struggling with - Mini man has started reception and this means taking him into his classroom which is on the other side of the school. Reception starts at 8.45, Little Man at 8.50 so I don't have time to settle Mini Man and get Little man to his class on time, so the fact he was happy to run over to his classroom by himself was great (he is year 3 now, so just into juniors and most of the others leave their parents in the playground).

Come Monday 5th though Little Man was clinging to me and refused to go instead coming to reception with me and waiting. I spoke with Little Man's teacher and explained he was wanting me to bring him to the classroom and the timing issues and she was fine about it. All week this continued, one morning he was happy to stand with some of the other children and another mum but the other 4 it had to be me. By Thursday he was very quiet, and the whole weekend he was a bit distant and removed.

Last Sunday my parents came down and helped with the gardening (taming of the jungle), we all mucked in, but Little Man decided to sit on the front drive with a hammer and hammer stones for 3 and a half hours. At Sunday dinner which my parents stayed for, he took 2 Yorkshire puddings, a tiny piece of lamb, 3 peas and 1 slice of carrot and placed the meat, peas and carrot in one Yorkshire pud, and placed the other on top then sat looking at it. I took one look at his plate and said he needed more food and reached for the meat to put more on his plate. Now Little Man eats like a horse, he has a larger dinner than me. So this measly amount of food was very unlike him. He was not happy about other food going on his plate, picking it up in his fingers and chucking into any surrounding dishes. As a compromise I said he could eat what was on his plate and then perhaps he could have some more. He then went to pick the Yorkshire pudding sandwich up with his hands. I asked him to cut it and use his cutlery. He said it was too big to cut so I reached for his cutlery and made to cut this 'sandwich'. He went mad saying he would not eat any food that was cut, and I could see him building to a melt down. He kind of does this thing with his face, and starts huffing and breathing deeply.

At this point I focused him on me and asked if he wanted to go into the kitchen with me for a little chat and cuddle. Off we trotted, and he just collapsed on the kitchen floor sobbing. I ended up on the kitchen floor with him, with him sat in my lap just sobbing. It took some doing but I eventually got out of him that he didn't want to go back to school, he didn't like it anymore, and he couldn't do it. This translated to now he is in juniors they are beginning to do proper school work and he can't understand it and 'just wants to screw his work up and throw it in the bin'. He is aware the others understand and he can't. He is aware the others can write and his words are meaningless, no-one else can read them. He is aware he goes out to have 1:1. He is aware he sits on a table at the back with one other little boy who is struggling as well. He is aware the books he is reading are not the same as the other children.

What do you say to a 7 year old sobbing about this? I felt so helpless. I tried to hit on the fact alot of his friends are girls and explain they love to read and write and are always ahead at this age. I tried to bolster him up saying not many in his class could tell us all about gravity and how things work like he can and that the most important thing is that he has the information in his head and putting onto paper will come with time. i tried to tell him how much he had come on and how well he was doing. I tried to tell him about how good he was at drawing.

I managed to bring him down and avoid the meltdown by simply promising to talk to his teacher the next day and also to the special needs teacher.  I did this and his teacher was really upset, nearly in tears infact

I am amazed he is so aware of all these things but what is the answer? He is nowhere near even being considered for a statement, we will struggle to get him anymore help, from what I can gather in all my research and reading the school are actually providing above and beyond what they have to provide, so I don't want to bang on too much about it as they are clearly doing so much already.

I just feel so frustrated. I hate walking to school with him seeing him become more and more quiet and withdrawn the closer we get. Dropping him at his class and seeing him look so lost still and unsure of himself. Where has the little boy gone who use to love school, who use to literally skip through the gates.

I want to do more to help him at home but he is tired after school and doesn't want to do it, he gets upset as he has done it already in school, Mini Man interrupts and demands attention all the time and now we have a dog to throw into the mix.

On a plus side CAMHS have organised a meeting for the 19th October to discuss the ASD with the school, and the school have contacted the autistic advisory board to see if they can access any further support for Little Man, but this will more than likely be social help rather than academic, but they are due in to see him in the next 2 weeks.

I wish I could do more.


Sarah Mac said...

RP, I really don't know what to say but I AM thinking of you x

Tilly said...

Having some problems too in getting Nipper settled back at school.He likes his new teacher and classroom and is slowly getting used to the new routines but he is kicking off whenever he is asked to write anything. This is happening both at school and at home. His teacher has reduced the amount that she expects him to write and I'm going to start using scrabbleletters for him to do his spellings so he doesn't have to write them. Is it possible for you to narrow down what's bothering your son the most so that you can perhaps address just one area and see if you can make any progress? It's all so hard isn't it! ((hugs))

JuliesMum said...

Such a tough time - I remember being in a very similar place - and you decribed so well the way it spills over into homelife. I think that's something school's don't always understand: how the worries come home, and also how complicated it is juggling the needs of two children. But it sounds like you're doing a really great job, the teacher sounds sympathetic, and at least the school has some extra support from outside. Fingers crossed he starts to feel more settled eventually.

Deb at Aspieinthefamily said...

This reminds me of my daughter when she started juniors. Like your situation, our daughter is unlikely to get a statement but she is on school action plus and is getting some support but it is not consistent or enough. Her biggest difficulties is understanding what is said, reading and writing. But like your son she is aware of her difficulties to such a degree that she started not to want to go into school. I thought, oh no not again. At that point she was diagnosed with aspergers and referred to CAMHS who then referred her back to school and the ed psych who is going to assess her in class in the next few months. Besides that, I dont hold much hope in her getting any more academic support. I get particularly annoyed because she comes home too tired to do anything else and I resent how much school takes out of her. I understand your frustration at wishing to do more but you are doing a great job and its good that there is a meeting in October - fingers crossed for you all. Deb x