Back in July 2011, I was close to the edge of my emotions, finding it hard to keep everything locked in that I had done for the few years before. On Friday 1st July 2011 I realised I couldn’t cope alone; I’d tried really hard that week to be more relaxed and smiley and for most of the time, it had worked but following a SENCO meet at our sons new Junior School, it hit me that I’d had to kick myself into my own transition. I was trying not to cry, I had to back off from the 1-1 contact with his teacher and try to let him get himself out of school without my getting the daily catch-up that I had grown accustomed to. It was almost like the feeling of the last day of term.. it was horrible and I didn’t know why I was so emotional. I’d coped through the months of assessments, the diagnosis, the fighting and many times I’d wanted to cry but couldn’t and yet that week whilst trying to cope with support from forums, I had tears rolling down my cheeks while I explained my feelings of letting go. I felt like such a dip!
Our sons Infant teacher, SENCO and TA/LSA had been brilliant in their support for him and me and it was now hitting me hard that I was going to lose them all for a school that promoted (promotes) independence yet they had the impression that the Infants were mothering the children, wrapping them in cotton wool and making any problems they had, seem worse than they were. They outright stated that all the children grow up so fast during the holidays and there would be absolutely no problems for the children but more over, our son would be fine and follow the children as the others do! My interaction with the teachers and SENCO would be minimal and finding out the days events would be impossible.
I knew that I should have let all the emotion out, but I really didn’t get any opportunity. On the Saturday while sitting in bed I was reading replies to my post on the forum and I almost cried reading them; while typing my replies, my eyes were filling up but I didn’t have a quiet place to go that wouldn’t mean the children or my husband wouldn’t see. Non of our doors get closed or locked and they would have known if something was up if I had.
What made it harder is that I knew I wouldn’t get the same feedback or such close support that I’d had over that past year. They had been amazing and a deep part of our life.
We were going from daily 1:1 contact and updates, popping into class for a chat or SENCO update straight into no contact and a home-school diary that I knew would fail miserably. I had no confidence in the new SENCO (and yes I had met and spoken to them; it was not confidence filling – if anything, I was now on the defence ready).
I didn’t know at what part was making me so emotional: the thought that I’d be losing great people or that I’d be losing that comfort/support or maybe it was both!
I’d been through so much that year but I’d held it together pretty much throughout but that transition was rocking me.
Gradually over the weekend I’d managed to let my mind wander on other activities and hoped nothing would set me off at school. I’d found out at the start of the next week that our sons new class was job share and it worried me that he would have to deal with the weekly change but what concerned me more was the communication or possible lack of, between the two teachers with their handover each week and how that would affect the children, let alone our son. I started to put my guard up and yet had a couple of weeks of end of term activities to get through, so I tried to ignore the niggling feelings of apprehension for our sons new school and got on with finalising the goodbyes.
I did really well: I spent two weeks going through exhausting school end of term plays, leaving assembly, DLA forms, more Statementing paperwork etc and then handed out our end of year gifts the day before the last day which included bottles of wine and chocolate treats for the LSA’s.
Some people say ‘why go to so much trouble and expense on school presents, they are teachers and its their job!?!’. When you go into school daily and receive as much dedication and devotion to your child, to receive extra support for you whilst trying to come to terms with an Autism diagnosis for your child (or any special needs), they are there to hold your hand if you want it, to let you vent, to offer guidance while you fight for educational needs and not push you away or judge you – to me, that goes above and beyond the call of duty, that isn’t in their job description, not to that extent anyway. That alone is something that stays in your heart for years to come and you will never forget that feeling of gratitude; no words can ever be said to show how much their support means but you can try damn hard to make it so, to show them.
That emotional goodbye was put fast in its tracks by a quick meeting with the SENCO while our son went with his teacher to quietly look at her gift together alone I’d spent just over a month putting together a personal DVD with messages from him which was something from the heart and allowed him to express himself without the need to write (which is one of his biggest issues at school). I tried various music tracks including Ben Folds – The Luckiest, but this song made me tear up every time and it was something I liked and might not have been right for his teacher but it’s now a song that I hold in my heart and associate with that year. With a little help from another teacher, we managed to find another song that was just as meaningful but that I knew would mean more to his teacher (which I won’t divulge)
I didn’t cry, in a way I wanted to a great deal, but my body is too used to me holding it together and then on the Friday when the children said goodbye to their teacher, I don’t think our son really appreciated what the events of the day really meant and while the teacher was being smothered in hugs from various children, we slipped away to go home.
That evening I went to bed at 8pm and didn’t get back up; I was emotionally exhausted and instantly switched off.