Sunday, 13 May 2018

School refusal and an autism podcast

So last week I was writing about the positives of autism and PDA, and then this week it all went a bit 'tits up' if you'll pardon my turn of phrase.
Sasha building dens in wood

The hot weather we enjoyed over the bank holiday weekend left Sasha feeling exhausted and so she didn't make it into school on the Tuesday. Instead, we played it very low key at home and had a very quick trip to the local bluebell wood for some fresh air. There, Sasha enjoyed building dens with sticks; she didn't want me with her, preferring to run around with her own imagination.

Her return to school the next day went smoothly in the morning but there were sadly a few issues during the day which led to Sasha having a few minor and one pretty major meltdown. When I collected her at the end of the day, she looked tired. I snapped this photo of her because it was so unusual to see her with her hair down - she always has it tied back in a ponytail - the bobble had come out during PE.
Sasha with her hair down

At bedtime Sasha told me in brief the events which had caused her to be so upset - and she came up with a new word about how she had felt. 'Sangry'. Sad and angry! I was delighted though, that she had been able to communicate some of the problems even if they were only in brief. This is a huge step forward for us.

The next day Sasha went back in and had a much better day; Sasha's lovely teacher called me after school and we talked through what had happened and discussed future plans. All seemed OK and I felt relieved that Sasha's behaviour had been understood and that we'd all had good discussion about it.

On Friday morning, we drove to school as usual, but when we pulled up in the car park Sasha became very tense. She refused to get out of the car and took up her old mushroom position, with her head down. We stayed like this for half an hour, interrupted with bursts of crying and a little screaming, and it became clear that there was no way Sasha would be going into school. So I returned home with her, having had to cancel my plans for that day.
Sasha head down in car

Sasha knew that once home there would be no technology; no games or YouTube, which are her favourite things to do. Despite this, she still preferred to be at home, and calmly went to her room to read when we got in. Sasha never chooses to read at home, so at least some good did come of this day! After lunch we went out to a playground for some fresh air, which felt a little weird when she should have been in school. I do wonder whether she has been a little bit under the weather with something. Sasha finds it hard to let us know when she is poorly though, I'm not sure she understand her own body enough yet.

It's so difficult trying to explain to others that what I was doing this week was for the good of Sasha's mental health. There is no point in forcing her to be somewhere she doesn't want to be; we make joint decisions and therefore she can really trust me. It wasn't that she just wanted a day off school; she was communicating to me that she really couldn't be there.

Sasha is still saying that she thinks this school is the best place for her and I'm hopeful that she will go back on Monday and we'll put some more plans in place for next Friday. School refusal is tough, but some of the stress and worry for me is actually around what others will think, which seems a little crazy as I type it. The system is set up to be one way, when clearly for some children it needs to be more flexible. Trying to make my child do something which she clearly cannot do, for whatever reason, is not going to end well. Digging to discover what is causing the issue is so important, and letting her know that we are in this together.


Now onto something new... Have you heard of podcasts? It's a fairly recent discovery for me, but I've found them to be great for when you're doing the housework or odd jobs etc - and hopefully I'll get more time to listen to some when I start going for long walks in this lovely weather we're set to have!

Recently, I was interviewed by David from @TheSensoryHour for his series of podcasts on autism, so right now you can pop across to YouTube and hear me witter on about life for us since Sasha's diagnosis! Do let me know what you think of it - have I got a posh Northern voice, or wot?!




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