Imagine spending your whole life where, aside from a very small handful of people, nobody really gets you. Where you’re the only one struggling to get your needs met, and the only one who can’t talk. Where you are the odd one out. Then one day you go to this place [school] where everybody uses multiple communication methods – such as picture exchange, makaton signing and really simple, coherent sentences. Where other children are the same, the majority also non-verbal. They make the same noises, they flap, spin and sensory seek / avoid and everybody gets it, accepts it and helps to meet your needs. What a feeling of utter relief that must be. I reckon that’s how it must be for The Monster. Perhaps that’s why when every single morning I have asked if he is going to school he has nodded his head and said “yeeeaaaaahh”.
I don’t think I have ever been as proud of The Monster as I was his first week of school. A huge change for the whole family, but non more so than for my baby. One of the classic traits of autism is the need for routine so I was fully expecting the transition to be difficult. I couldn’t be more wrong *touches wood – it’s still early days*. He managed a full timetable. The most hours he’s ever done and he has never done 5 days before.
His first day he was understandably devastated when I left but he settled OK with the help of an iPad (I don’t reckon many places would’ve whipped out an iPad to play on to calm him down!?). Each day the drop off got easier and by day four I was leaving him at the school gates where a teacher greeted him and he dragged them off towards class without much of a second glance at me – charming!
On his second day he was taken on a minibus for ‘Adventure Time’ where they went for a walk around a huge park. Again, something he took in his stride, other than a wobble when initially getting on the minibus. That was to be the first of three trips out, he also went out to a sensory play place and to a tailored soft play place. What a fun timetable….no wonder he wanted to go everyday and it’s no surpirse that I haven’t been getting the super pleased to see me, bouncing boy at the end of the day like I am used to – I’m completely boring by comparison!
Something that hasn’t alarmed me, but has taken the teachers aback is his love of food and every day he has had seconds at lunchtime (I do feed him, honest!). I am super grateful we don’t have the food struggles many autistics have, that said we are very much the other end of the scale where stopping him eating can be really challenging.
Part of me does wonder if he has been captured by aliens and replaced with a more helpful version of himself though! I snorted when reading this direct quote out of his diary:
“He’s quickly becoming our class helper! he’s wonderful at tidying up and follows single step instructions!”
Errrm, not at home let me assure you! I’m trying to convince them he’s just showing off in his first week!
We finished the week on a massive high when his teacher brought him out to meet me at the gate and he stood holding her hand beautifully whilst she told me how amazingly he had done and how great he is at getting his needs met. He has picked up their picture exchange system really quickly and has been signing to them as well as making some word-like noises. Proof that our early intervention and hard work at home has really helped. When you hear the words (in context of him going around helping everybody)
“Everyone loves him, He’s fast becoming everyone’s favourite”
you know you are raisining a little superstar and you made the best decision in choosing a specialist school. I’m almost certain it would’ve been a very different story from a mainstream school.
The fog has lifted. The future is bright and I am so excited to see where it takes him.