Sunday 2 September 2012

Summer holidays - can they last forever please?!

The summer holidays have been just brilliant.

There was a lovely trip to stay with my parents at the seaside to start. This was followed by all the Olympic excitement, with a few play dates and visitors thrown in (we held our very own 'mini-Olympics' thanks to Mr S), then a week holiday in Menorca (I'd have liked two, but it turns out one was actually a good choice as Sasha was so happy to come home). Towards the end of the holidays the girls spent some time at Chris' parents so I could paint the lounge.

This was all interspersed with some 'gentle' days of not doing very much apart from the inevitable 20 loads of post-holiday washing (OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit, though I am sure it was 19...), and some wondering about how high the pile of toys/clothes/pens would get if I didn't tidy them up for another day.

Of course it's not all been a 'walk in the park' - we've had the usual niggles and fall-outs (and that's just me and Mr C, ho ho), but on the whole, we've had great times together and I don't really want them to end. Back To School time is nearly upon us now and I'm both excited and nervous.

For most children with autism, routine helps. In fact for most children, autism or not, routine is a good thing. As is going to school and learning things, of course, I really can't argue with that. The routine is good for Sasha, but like any other child she's not all that keen on going back when she's been having so much fun at home with mummy. Who can blame her?!

Sasha not wanting to go to school was one of my biggest fears way back at the start of Reception (along with her having school dinners, but that also went better than expected!). It's difficult to explain to anyone just how difficult it is to persuade her to do something she doesn't want to do. I've been immensely surprised and relieved over the past year that Sasha does actually enjoy school, and has therefore not decided she isn't going back. I think she may even be a little bit excited herself, and maybe even intrigued as to how the new classroom and teacher will be.

Year 1 will bring new challenges though, so my worries sadly can't just disappear. There's an obvious requirement to concentrate and learn more which won't sit all that well with Sasha, I fear.

She can be extremely bright and a quick learner, but only if approached in the right way, and sadly I don't think being one of 30 and having general group instruction is the best method for her. I wish that her statement provided some kind of 1-1 support assistant, as I think that would work, but for now that's in the hands of the school. They get to decide whether they have the need and the budget to provide one for her.

Like lots of teenagers, she's not all that keen on being taught by her family. What I really wish we could access going forward is her EYAS (Early Years Autism Advisory Support - you can read an earlier post of mine about this here) as a private tutor to make sure she doesn't fall really far behind. She misses that contact, and I think that relationship was the best she's had. If she realises she's not able to do what her peers are doing, that may well kick start the fear of going to school.

The trouble is, she's scared. Scared of not being able to do things, of not being in control. Today she let me guide her hand with a pen to write what she requested, but she won't try by herself and will only write her own name confidently. Her understanding is still 'behind'; she tried to make me write all she wanted, 30 words or so, in a space the size of a postage stamp. I explained I couldn't but that just made her upset and frustrated. I've been told she can read, and that she does read (basic) books to teachers and other mum helpers at school, but she won't read to me at home. I'm considering whether to give up my time to spend more time in the classroom with her on a weekly basis, to try and bridge the home/school divide. That could bring extra pressure and complications though, and I'm just not sure it's the right thing to do.

So anyhow, that's just me and my worries... or a tiny part of them. Don't get me started on playground time, friendships, play dates, parties, assemblies, Christmas concerts and all the other things that lots of mums worry about, maybe in slightly different ways....

Fingers crossed then, for a good start back (is no rain too much to ask for?!) and the continued attempt at being flexible and understanding Sasha. Back on the good old educational roller coaster we go (that's me with the grey hair...).


  1. I totally empathize with you. Your worries are understandable, and, unfortunately, there are no easy solutions.

    My son did not learn well in a typical classroom setting. It wasn't until our neighborhood school gave up and told us to send him to a "special" school that he began to make some academic progress. The individual attention made a huge difference with him.

    Is there a possibility that Sasha's school will provide 1:1 support if they see things are not working out? Here's hoping your rollercoaster ride is not too rocky.

    1. Thanks Yuji. I'm not sure if the school will, but I really hope so. It's just a shame that they have to let our children fail first before giving them the chance to succeed :(

  2. I do hope your Sasha gets the help she needs and deserves. Your worries are understandable and I guess one step, or one battle, at a time is all you can do. I too considered trying to become a reader in the class my boy was in when he was 5 or 6. I reckoned that he'd act up with me there though so I didn't. Depends on the child I guess!

    1. Thank you. I'm going to give the reading a go now she's moved up a year, just to see what happens!


Comments are always very much appreciated and can really help the conversation go further...