1

We’re not ready for school, how will he be?

We have been in the new house for two months.  We’ve been in our new routine for two months.  You wouldn’t know anything had changed.  The kids all settled remarkably quickly.  Not one mention of the old house.  Our daughter has her own room, which she seems not to bat an eyelid at.  The boys have a much larger room, where they actually have room to play, when they want to.  We all have a much larger living room for the kids to play in.  A garden, perhaps twice the size of the old one, which allows us to see where the kids are at all times, while we’re in the kitchen.  In my wildest dreams, I did not imagine the move and all the changes that go with it, could have gone so smoothly.  In fact, the only ones that had an issue were the two cats, and that only lasted a week.

Admittedly, the 5.30 starts, three times a week, to get H to nursery are taking it out of me.  But it’s only for another month or so.  They’re also taking it out of him.  Although he’s always already up, getting ready and leaving the house at 7, and for him, getting back at 2 ish, is a struggle.  The more tired he becomes, the more his traits become evident.  The arm flapping increases.  The frequency of the meltdowns go up.  The babbling is heard more and more.

Aside from this, H continues to grow.  His vocabulary is increasing.  Not just words, but phrases.  Answers, questions, statements, back chat, sarcasm.  If I had to, I would say he’s still a year behind, developmentally.  And that brings us on to the next, huge milestone.  School.

We had, thankfully, no issue getting him in to the school we wanted.  They have a wonderful reputation for their reception classes, it’s no more than a 10 minute walk from the house, and most importantly, the structure of the days are very similar to H’s nursery.  All of this is hugely comforting.

My wife and I attended a parents welcome meeting at the school last week.  The headteacher, obviously vastly experienced, addressed everyone’s biggest question, first.  “What it is the most important thing we can do to prepare our child for school?”.  The answer? Make sure they can dress themselves and are dry.  Ah.  Dressing himself.  Well, he helps out already, and I’m sure with a little bit of pushing, we can ensure that H can pretty much dress himself, come September.  The issue though, is that of the toilet.

H still insists on wearing a nappy.  He will not tolerate the idea of pants.  We know this, and we do not know how to get round it.  Both my wife and H’s nursery are attempting to get him on the loo.  He has sat on it.  Begrudgingly.  He has even done a tiny wee.  It upset him hugely.  Is 3 months going to be long enough to get a child with a seeming fear of the toilet to use it willingly?  Doubtful.

This is occurring against the backdrop of H’s little brother, 14 months younger, growing up rapidly.  His speech is coming on.  His behaviour is improving.  He has a willingness to use the potty, and no accident puts him off.  I knew there was a good chance of it happening, but to see H being caught, and soon enough to be overtaken, by his younger brother, is truly heartbreaking.

But back to the school situation.  We have discussed, between us, keeping H out of school until January, or even until next September.  We want our son to grow up and develop, but we want him to do it at his rate, not the rate that society, with its judgemental attitudes, dictates.  We have a meeting with a member of the school staff, at our house, in a few weeks.  My wife will relay our questions, fears and hopes for H and seek the advice of the professional.

My heart says to keep him back.  To allow him to start school when he is ready, not just because he’s old enough.  To protect him from possible ridicule from other kids.  Kids can be so cruel.  My head, however, says to let him start.  He has surprised us all, time and time again.  The counter argument, in my head, is that being one of the youngest, up until this year, he would have been expected to start in January 2016, rather than the coming September.  I was one of the youngest too, and I started in Easter 1986, rather than September ’85.  It didn’t hurt me.  Plenty of other things might of, but that didn’t.

For now, we wait, until the meeting with the teacher.  We’ll make no choice until then, but one thing is for sure, whenever H starts school, we all have to be ready.

Advertisements
0

Preparing for school

Wow, nearly 2 years since I created this blog.  I’ve done a dreadful job at keeping it up.

H has spent nearly a year at nursery now, and will start school in September.  Which school, we don’t yet know, as we entered the application in December and arenow moving to another town, next month.  That’s going to test us all.  We’ll be keeping H at his nursery, which is going to put a physical strain on me, as it means leaving the house at 7.15 and not getting home until 12 hours later.  But it’s for the best.  Since Christmas, H has come on leaps and bounds.  He was reviewed by a Speech & Language assessor the week prior to Christmas, and we’ve only just received the report.  The boy described in the report is no longer H.  Those were the words of his keyworker and nursery.  The person that, other than my wife and I, spends the most time with him.

Two years is a massive amount of time for a toddler.  Half their life.  How much have I changed in the last 17 years?  A monumental amount.  But not as much as H.  His speech is still behind where it should be.  But he’s catching up.  Fast.  He plays.  He shares.  He asks.  He’s funny, polite, grumpy, happy, and everything in between.  At this point, if his speech was up to where it should be, nobody would bat an eyelid.  He probably is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum, but it is somewhere right near the bottom.

By the time he starts school, he would have had to contend with the birth of a brother, starting nursery, the birth of a sister and moving house.  My wife and I have struggled to deal with some of these things, so surely a toddler would too.  He took nursery in his stride.  A couple of weeks of being upset when I dropped him off, but he was only upset for 10 minutes.  That lasted until October.  Since December, he’s loved it.  I have to stop and remind him to say goodbye to me, now.

His little brother being born sent him backwards.  No doubt.  I expressed fears that his sister being born would, too.  I could not have been more wrong.  On their first meeting, a kiss, a cuddle and “arrrr, it’s our baby”.  Since then, he’s been a loving an attentive big brother.  Maybe not to his brother, but certainly to his sister.

He absolutely loved Christmas.  Putting the tree up, singing Christmas songs, reading Christmas stories, watching Christmas films.  He brought us both to tears when he wished my wife “Merry Christmas mumma”.  As massive Christmas lovers, me and the Mrs are incredibly excited about this year.

Next comes the house move.  Unsettling for everyone.  We’ve been living in a partially boxed up house since January, so my wife and I cannot wait to move.  For H, he’ll have a bigger bedroom to share with his brother.  They’ve always shared, and they always will.  Neither likes it when the other isn’t there.  They’ll have a bigger living room to play in.  A much bigger garden.  The only downside is that he’s further from his Grandparents and, for at least 3 or 4 months, will see less of them and his cousins.  This is a shame, as he loves playing with his older cousins.  Particularly the bundles!

He’s being visited by another Speech & Language assessor next month, a couple of days after the move.  Not the best timing, but hopefully he’ll be in fine fettle!  Until then, and hopefully not two years later…

0

A Brighter Future

Work committments have prevented me from updating the blog recently, now I’ve got a spare 10 minutes, I think I can get some emotions down.The health visitor came, she saw, she was non-commital.  I understand.  She certainly didn’t seem to concerned, as a series of subtle little tests she did, H passed.  For starters, a few months ago, he would have hidden by me or his mum if someone new came in.  Instead, he was not fazed at all, and in fact, seem to take a liking to her.

She asked H to point to the window on his lego, which he did, and then she asked him to open it, which he did.  As I say, she didn’t seem to concerned.  She said she’d seen kids that she new instantly were autistic.  She also mentioned that the majority of people will show at least one trait that could be construed as autistic.  If you were to sit and watch my wife and I (especially me) for a day or two, you notice traits that H has adopted.  I mean, what chance does the boy have of being imaginative, when the person he looks to most, can’t?

In the last month or so, H really seems to have grown up.  Apart from the talking, which is improving every day.  They say he should have 50 words by the time he’s 2.  We guessed he had around 15-20.  I’d say it’s now around 30.  He understands everything you say to him.  He answers you correctly.  He has a really cheeky sense of humour, he’s being compassionate to his little brother and to his mother.  He loves cuddles.  He wants to see his Grandparents more.  I’m almost convinced that, talking aside, he’s a lot brighter than most 2 year olds.

So, in short, we have no 100% answer.  I knew we wouldn’t, but the last month or so has convinced me, that there’s very little wrong with our big little man that a few speech therapy sessions, which we have at the end of September, won’t fix.

I’ll update as and when there’s news

0

D-Day

So in a little over 12 hours, we will be seeing the Health Advisor.

I have, in my nearly 32  years on the planet, lot four grandparents, a mother, had 2 children and got married, but nothing comes anywhere near to instilling the amount of, I don’t even know what emotion it is, in me, as what this lady might say tomorrow.

I know that we’re not going to get any final answers, and that a diagnosis is months, probably years away.  Or, she might just say we’re being silly and H just needs to some speech therapy.

He’s change an awful lot in the last 2/3 weeks, funnily enough, just about would have been his birthday were he not premature.  He has become more sociable, loving and funny, as well as playing like a “normal” child would with his toys.

He still does some odd things.  Arm flapping, walking on tip toes (only in bare feet), looks out the corner of his eye (only when tired), takes us too things rather than points, all things which point towards Autism.  But the big things, the lack of socialising, not showing emotion, they are absent.  It’s confusing.

Part of me thinks, and my wife agrees, that if H was talking like most children his age, nobody would say anything.  We have friends with children the same age, and some older, or don’t talk.  Infact, some of them are practically mute.

Who knows.  I could ramble on, and argue back and forth with myself all night.  The bottom line is, that tomorrow, we start down the path of getting an answer, and I am terrified.

0

A Confusing Weekend

I took Friday off work in order to be able to enjoy the sun with the family, and also, I needed it.  Not even a week since Autism was mentioned, and I’ve been through every emotion you could imagine.  Twice.

One thing I have noticed, is that H isn’t too different to kids his age.  Infact, if he spoke as well as his cousin, I doubt anyone would say anything.  Sure, there would still be the arm flapping and the instance on running up and down the garden, but kids are weird.

We were at a birthday party for one of our friends little boys, who turned 3, on Saturday.  The hall was full of kids, from little crawling ones to school age ones.  Only the school age ones played together.  All the others played only with their parents or relatives.  H’s aforementioned cousin absolutely refused to leave his fathers side, whilst H went charging off after whatever toy took his fancy.  In the end, we ended up playing ball, which as usual invovled him bring it back, rather than throwing it.

Other things of note, H is growing up.  He may be a little behind, but he’s copying our speech, answering in context and trying lots of new sounds.  He has also developed a sense of humour, which currently brings itself out in walking up to me or his mummy, getting right in our faces and sneering before running off giggling.  He has been interacting with other children, with his nanny and grandad and even his Uncle, which is unheard of!

It also dawned on me, that I have never showed H how to play with most of toys, and the ones I have, well, he copies me.  Lego for example, I bet if he were to be sat infront of a medical professional, and he built a perfectly square house, they’d question it.  But that’s exactly what I do.  Do you label a 2 year old Autistic, because he’s got no imagination, when he could very well be just like his father?

In many ways, H is his fathers son.  I hope that’s all it is.

1

An Unspoken Fear

My wife spoke to her parents about H today.  They said that they had noticed something different about H whilst we were on holiday in May.  They did some background research, but didn’t know how to tell us.  Even my wife’s aunt had said something and she hasn’t seen H since Christmas.

By all accounts, he’s been a gem today.  We’ve brought him some new toys, including some Lego, to which he has taken a fancy.  When I say that, he’s always liked it, but now he’s actually building things with my wife.

Everything she tells me during the day and when I come home, and the photos she sends me during the day, it all encourages me that there’s nothing wrong with H and then all of a sudden, he’ll ignore me or look at the TV out the corner of his eye and I’m back to square one.

At every second of the day, I am the wrong word away from breaking point.  H has only just gone to bed, which is a full 3 hours after his new, later bed time of 8pm.  I went in to stop him shouting and he just looked right through me.  I managed to keep myself together until I got him settled, but as soon as my wife put her arms around me, I was gone.  I’m useless to her at the moment.  She’s being very practical, stoic and wise.  I’m being a blubbering mess.

I’m sure all parents in our situation have felt the same overwhealming flood of emotions.  It’ll hit my wife at some point and I know I’ll have to be strong for her then.  I hope I can.

1

Is it Autism?

I’m starting this blog, as quite frankly, I have no other outlet.  My wife is almost convinced there’s nothing wrong with our little H, and I’m playing along with her.  Deep down inside, I think I already know the answer.  It’s been eating me up for 2 days now.

On Sunday morning, a typical Sunday morning, I can’t think why but I decided to look at the symptoms of autism.  I found that the following were all common:

  • Arm flapping
  • Walking on tip-toes
  • Not saying two word phrases by 2 years old
  • Real interest in fans
  • Doesn’t play properly with toy cars, just spins the wheels
  • Doesn’t seem to play with others and prefers playing by themselves

There are many others, but these are the ones that scared me the most.  Little H ticks all of these boxes.

The more I read, the more terrified I am.  A red flag would be if at any point the child regresses.  At 11 months H could say “mumma”, “dadda”, “ta”, “cat”, “oh dear” and “Mud-Mud” (we had a cat called Muddles).  Since then, hardly anything.  Recently we’ve had “go, go, go” and a re-appearance of the words he had before.

Even more scary, was that afternoon, my sister came round, unannounced, which is unlike her.  She came to tell us that she had notices some symptoms of Autism in H too.  She works at a Primary School which has Autistic children in and saw the traits.  It transpired that my step-mother and my dad had also noticed and were concerned.

I told myself and anyone that would listen that the health advisor said he has flat feet, hence the tip-toe walking.  What child doesn’t flap their arms when they’re excited? Not all children talk at the age of 2.  Any social problems H might have he inherits from me.  I hate socialising.  H seems very intelligent for his age.  I have a 140 IQ.

I thought I was dealing with this possibility until I bathed H and his baby brother that evening.

Seeing H’s little face with the biggest grin plastered across it and then thinking that their could be anything wrong with my perfect little boy, absolutely broke my heart.

The more I read, the more frightened I became.  What kind of stresses will this put on my family? Is H going to be able to get the help he might need?  Will he be bullied? What kind of life can he hope to lead?  Until we see H’s health advisor in a few weeks time, nobody can begin to answer any of these.  I hate that I don’t have the answers.  I always have the answers and if I don’t, I go and find them.  I can’t find them.  At the moment, nobody can, but I don’t like feeling helpless.  I’m not used to it.

So Sunday and Monday were two very dark days.  My wife and I took it in turns to have negative periods and then positive periods throughout the the two days, ending in my wife saying that her instincts tell her that if there is anything from with H, it’s not incredibly serious.  He might just need some help for the first few years at school.  My wife is always right.  She knows this boy better than anyone, and she knows Autism.  I hope to God she’s right again.

Today, however, was a good day.  My wife and the boys went to a Picnic with the boys playgroup.  Some of the other mums could see my wife was upset and they got talking about why.  She explained the fears we have and was pretty much laughed at, but not in an unkind way.  A whole bevy of mums (what is the collective noun for a group of mums?) have more experience than any health advisor.  They all agreed there’s nothing wrong with H.  He was perfectly sociable with all the mums, he keeps eye contact with everyone, he smiles, he loves cuddles, he played with another small boy (something he has never done) and he even leant his Peppa Pig to a little girl.  Unheard of!!

Hearing all this really made my day.  I was in a great mood when I came home from work.  I walked through the door and mum and H were playing on the living room floor.  With Lego.  Not getting the Lego out the box and putting it back in, but they had actually built something.  H has never done that before.  They were also playing with Peppa Pig and her houses.  Actual proper playing! All of a sudden I thought “there’s no way this boy is Autistic”.  Then came the arm flapping.  And the finger wiggling.  Suddenly, I was back down again, 100% certain he was the very definition of Autism.  I never used to be an emotional man, but my two boys have completely changed me, for the better.  I can’t deal with this range of emotions, it’s alien to me.

So here I am, 3 days after discovering that my boy, my perfect little man, could possibly have a mental illness that will stay with him for life and feasibly wreck any hope we had for him.  The phrase “a rollercoaster of emotions” is not quite adequate, and in the words of the Carpenters “we’ve only just begun”.