Friday 21 July 2017

End of term or end of an era?

So, as school breaks up for the summer holidays, I'll admit it hasn't quite been the end of term I thought we'd be having.
This is Sasha's message to her teacher at the end of this school year; this teacher has been great with Sasha and tried very hard to accommodate and teach her and it's true that the teacher will be missed.

Sasha has now been at home full time for four weeks; in that time there have of course been many meetings and phone calls and emails for me to deal with. At the same time, I've had to try to persuade Sasha to do work which has been sent home, and have tried to keep her occupied whilst also managing the various workmen in and out of the house. It's not that Sasha doesn't want to be at school; in fact she is currently definite that she doesn't want me to home educate her. She wants a school to go to, but one where there will be more children like her.

We attended a meeting at school yesterday and arrived as the children were outside playing. Sasha hid behind me as we walked in; she wanted to avoid the attention from lots of children at once. Once spotted though, there were shouts of her name and a couple came closer. I could hear one of the classmates instructing others not to approach Sasha, saying very clearly 'she doesn't like that, remember?!'. One girl came right up though and put her arms around Sasha to give her a big hug, even though Sasha still kept her back to her and her hands over her ears!

I think both actions were good in different ways; the instruction to stay away actually showed great understanding, but the hug showed Sasha how much she was loved, by many of her classmates. I like to think she's taught them a fair amount about difference....

Today was the last day of school with an early finish after lunchtime. The tradition has always been to go to the local park with a picnic once school is out and so I tentatively suggested to Sasha that we might go and join them at that time even though she wasn't in school. I honestly wasn't expecting her to agree to go, especially as she was aware that many of her classmates would be there and so the same excitement might happen. Maybe it was the hug swung it for her though; she was a little unsure but agreed to go. We went early so that she had time to check the playground out, and then we watched from a distance as her classmates started to arrive.

As I watched her run across the park towards the first two girls, tears sprang to my eyes. Then I was even more amazed as she went off to chat with a bigger group for a little while, leaving me to chat with the mums (who I've been missing - it's amazing how much you want a school run when you don't have one any more...). Despite being a little anxious of dogs generally she then made friends and played with this cute dog belonging to one of her classmates:

There were then some group photos as we left (amazing that Sasha agreed to pose momentarily for those) and more hugs for Sasha from her lovely classmates.

I went through a whole bunch of mixed emotions; love for the children who have been so understanding and accepting of her, happiness that she has in fact managed so well at mainstream school and for much longer than I ever thought she would, but also sadness that we've now reached the point where she has realised she's too different for that and it's not a way of learning which suits her, and the knowledge that there is no easy path forward. Or at least that's how it seems for now. While you're enjoying your summer ice creams, watch this space and keep your fingers crossed everyone...

To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking for more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, the posts below may help.

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

Autism with demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance?

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