Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mixed feelings

Bit of a weird day today. Sasha had an 'introductory' type day along with her peers at school to prepare her for Reception start in September. So we found out for the first time who her classmates will be as she progresses through school. It's a 2 form entry school (i.e. 2 classes of 30 children per each year group), so the 30 morning nursery children already at the school were split up and mixed with the 30 afternoon nursery children, and some children new to the school will join each class.

Thankfully two of the girls she mentions most now are going to be in her class, but I'm disappointed that some of the other children she loves are not going to be with her. Familiarity helps to settle Sasha, as it does for lots of children this age obviously. It's just that routine is generally a key feature of autism, so the whole environment and teacher change at the same time will be more than enough for Sasha to deal with. I guess I'm just apprehensive. I'm a bit sad for me too as some of the mums I have enjoyed chatting with, who I know have lovely children, will now be waiting outside a different classroom and so I'll not be chatting as regularly with them. How selfish! Part of the sadness though is because I know their children would have been lovely to and with Sasha - but then I realise I have to stay open minded. I'm sure the new classmates will be equally lovely :)

Also, I'm not sure how the school does the mixing up, but it never fails to amuse the parents that they put children with the same name in the same class, when they could have been put in separate ones to avoid the Jane A and Jane B (example only!) scenario.

I'm very pleased with the teacher Sasha will have, as I've heard good things about her and I believe she is very experienced. Knowledge and understanding is half the battle with autism! I half wish I could line all the teachers at the school up and talk to them about Sasha though - first point on the list would be 'try not to shout at or say 'no' to her directly'!

Sasha skipped into the new classroom quite happily, and got on with playing alongside her peers, so it was a good day for her, although all a little confusing. I am still eternally grateful (in a strange way) to the old nursery for really forcing us to send Sasha to this school's nursery, which hadn't been our plan at all. Now she has been well prepared and the change is not such a big shock for her. We are extremely lucky also that Sasha has such an independent streak in her, so on good days she doesn't cling and likes to get on by herself. I think part of the difficulty we face is that most of the other mums would probably have thought that there is nothing wrong with Sasha if she can do that; surely she doesn't need special treatment? Well first thing to mention is she doesn't really get special treatment other than (hopefully) people explaining things slowly and clearly, directly to her, sometimes using pictures. The trouble with school is really the aftermath - she is extra tired tonight (as I'm sure they all are, with the excitement). In the morning she won't really understand now why she can't go back to that new classroom - if it's her new class, why not stay in it? Of course we try explaining, but the time concept is still a difficult one for her, and doing unusual things/not following patterns is also strange.

Every day since her birthday she has asked for more presents - but not in a greedy child sort of way (she wouldn't mind at all what was in them!), just in a 'I like presents very much' kind of way! Sweet, but very repetitive. She also asks to visit various places at inappropriate times - like her grandparents a 4 hour drive away (which she's mentioned at least 6 days in a run), the local farm at tea time, or the 'chip shop' (dreaded M) on the way home from school. She gets upset when we say no as she doesn't understand why not - again difficult to explain the difference, but it's not in a spoilt child kind of way. Along the lines of the pen on carpet type of experiences (see here), she does naughty things, but not to be naughty. It's more that she's just inquisitive, exploring, or hasn't realised what shouldn't be done in the first place. See I had told her to only draw on paper, but I never did say Sasha you mustn't draw on the carpet...! What other children can deduce naturally just doesn't come to Sasha... sigh. But she is a bundle of laughs and we love her very much :)
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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I'm back!!! Yippeeee!! no Bloggers Block for me!

Oh blog, how I have missed you. It's been far too long (almost a whole month!) and in that period there have been so many times I've longed to sit down and tap away to let it all out. With both girls' birthdays, plus my own, 2 other close family members', 2 best friends' and a few random school children to buy and wrap for, there's been never a dull moment. Oh yes, and not forgetting some HABA toys to review and a fabulous holiday in Sardinia - more on those another time.

I really didn't intend to stop writing for so long, and it certainly wasn't a case of Bloggers Block, as the thoughts are all constantly there in my head. I just lacked the time to be able to spew them out in any sense whatsoever. Which doesn't bode well for the re-start, so please do forgive me Smiley

To bring you all up to date, life is fine if somewhat manic. Sasha has been slightly unsettled for the past week with her 4th (wow, that time has flown!) birthday in the middle of it. Generally everyone keeps saying how well she is doing, and at nursery she certainly is, but in a way it's a bit like having a pressure cooker on the go. Tamsin is mostly a star as usual, but we do notice certain behaviours creeping in which are obviously a reaction to Sasha's problems too. Her dad sat her down and explained a little more about autism (in a very basic, non-scientific, Sasha-relevant way!) which seemed to go in and help a bit. The next evening she had friends over for playdate and tea, and when they asked why Sasha didn't stay sitting at the table for long for tea, Tamsin blurted out 'yeah, well, she has autism'.  Smiley

Think it was probably a little bit lost on them, and I'm not entirely sure Tamsin was using it for exactly the right reason, but we let that one go. I also refrained from pointing out that Sasha is only just 4, and Tamsin still rarely sat at the table to eat until after she turned 5! Tamsin still suffers from a terrible case of 'ants in the pants' at mealtimes even now....

The past two mornings I have really struggled to persuade Sasha to get dressed in the morning. She runs off and puts up a real struggle - so much so that on Monday I had to put her in the car still in her pyjamas. As we arrived at school the first friend of hers we saw was dressed as a pirate (someone got the wrong day for dressing up, whoops! Got that excitement to look forward to soon...) and the second was in her own clothes as she was poorly and not going in. So that didn't exactly strengthen my case to Sasha as to why she should change into uniform! Wouldn't have made any difference if they had been in theirs anyway, to be honest - Sasha is certainly not one to be worried about looking or acting differently.... Once I had left her at school she was then apparently quite happy to change into uniform for the teachers, typical.

I'm looking forward to her start in Reception in September mainly because she will be allowed to wear a school summer dress, yippeee! This will make her extremely happy - the less clothing the better (i.e. no tight waistline due to sensory issues) as far as Sasha is concerned. I'm still not really sure what the school will say when she wants to carry on wearing these dresses all through the winter..... she doesn't feel the cold of course, so will see no reason to change to a heavier one.

Tomorrow is the day when we all find out which reception class/teacher our little ones have been allocated, and who their peers through the school will be. I am intrigued to find out, but am definitely thinking 'Que Sera'. I was given a great bit of advice; that I should try and stand back as far as the schooling goes, and wait to be asked for help before getting too involved. I am still feeling very positive about the next year, after such a great start in nursery, and am eternally grateful that we decided on such a good school when choosing for Tamsin. Ha, wonder if I'll be linking back to this post in the future when times are tough. I probably thought similarly about the original nursery we had for Sasha before they said they couldn't cope with her! Ah well, water under the bridge, their loss Smiley

For now I'm going to sign off so this doesn't get too wordy, but I know you'll be waiting with baited breath for the 'back instalments'....
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