The Transition To Secondary School For A Child With Aspergers Syndrome

6 Sep

So, the time finally came, Little man’s return to school as a secondary pupil.

I noticed that in the run-up to the big day, Little man’s anxiety levels rose and as a result we did have a rather difficult last few weeks of the holidays.

I was dreading the whole “getting him up in the mornings” scenario. He tends to be the ultimate nightmare to wake, given he usually doesn’t go to sleep till the small hours. Unless you experience such sleepless nights paired with early mornings, you can only but imagine the utter tiredness his experiencing. Consequently I do understand… After all someone needs to keep a watchful eye on him over night.

I’ve tried my best to maintain his bedtime routine during the holidays (that’s if you can really call it a routine)! He usually goes to his room and just doesn’t shut down. His like a long life battery. Melatonin isn’t something we rate highly, and even through the slow releasing type sometimes has a small effect every now and then, it’s far from a reliable answer to the problem. On a high note, little man is more wary of the problem and understands that bit more that it’s this situation leaving him feeling crap throughout the day. He now gets rather upset when struggling to fall asleep and by 3am his almost certainly at the point of tears. When it isn’t a school day and his little eyes haven’t closed till 4am, I’m tempted to leave him to sleep throughout the day. However, as one would expect, this is no solution! Things just become a million times harder in the long run.

So, back to my original point… I was dreading getting the Little man up and ready for school. The nasty insults that fly out of his tired mouth are nothing… I’m used to these! It’s just the whole destruction it causes to the morning. He will often refuse to wash for sensory reasons and once he has I’m faced with the struggle of convincing him to dress. The taxi can be sat outside while the escort is stood at the door and he will still be in his pants. Not ideal but something you get used to.

His first day back was in-fact yesterday (5th September 2012) and to my utter surprise, the morning wasn’t as bad as expected. He almost seemed excited about his day. Tuesday I took little man and the tiny tot to Drayton Manor Theme park and zoo. It’s the home of Thomas Land and we were there to review a new Thomas film just released on DVD, and of course the park itself. Little man had an awesome day and didn’t experience a single meltdown while at the park (in the car was a different story but given it’s a 3hr drive each way, he can be forgiven). I think it was a combination of the long car Journey and the whole day spent at the park that resulted in him actually sleeping before midnight.

He woke Wednesday morning with a somewhat positive outlook towards the day ahead and given it was his first day back, this left me astounded. The fact that Little man had spent the last two weeks of the last term before the summer holidays integrating from the primary building into the secondary department, had obviously helped him a great deal. Now he was better prepared mentally! Yes their was lots of anxiety still, but at least he wasn’t just stepping into the unknown. Anxiety seems to be a pretty common trait for those with Aspergers Syndrome and for me It’s one of the hardest issues to tackle. It’s both heartbreaking and worrying seeing your young child so stressed, especially when the cause is beyond your control.

Little man had his new stationary that was kindly given to him by STABILO all packed and ready and his lunch loaded into his lunch bag when the escort knocked at 8.30 am. He was quite literally ready to go as soon as she arrived. I’m guessing this was something of a surprise to his escort… But a pleasant one all the same!

Throughout the morning I received no emails or calls from the school highlighting any concerns. Any parent can tell you, especially those of a child with SEN, this is always a lovely sign that things are going well.

Come afternoon however, I did receive an email from the class teacher! Luckily this wasn’t to report some challenging behaviour or other equally concerning matter! It was just in-order to let me know that as from the next day, little man wouldn’t be allowed to bring in his chicken burger as they will no longer be heating his food in the microwave! Little man’s school has such a small number of pupils that school dinners are not practical, and even if they were, I’m guessing so little children would opt to have them. Little man wouldn’t even entertain the prospect of even trying school dinners during his time spent at his old mainstream primary school. This wasn’t a huge concern as living 2 minutes away, I was able to collect him, feed him, then drop him back.

Little man will not touch a packed lunch regardless of what’s in it. He may eat such items at home but as soon as your packing it, his not touching it. Warm wrapped sandwiches, warm yogurts, and warm apple juice don’t appeal. Putting it in the fridge doesn’t seem to make much difference, the issue that it was put into the box more than an hour ago seems to be a big no-no for him.

It was decided last term that he could bring a chicken burger and heat it up in school. He has no cheese, sauce, or anything else. Just a flame grilled (not breaded) piece of chicken in a bun. He also has lots of fruit and a drink. His concentration levels were therefore reported to be better in the afternoon as he was finally eating, and I was pleased that I was no longer being presented with an untouched lunchbox at 4pm… I couldn’t afford to keep this up!

The new teacher has stated he needs a healthier lunch and I’m lost at what I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the school have their reasons and I’m in no way stating they are in the wrong, I’m just at logger heads at what to do! Today little man arrived home with an untouched lunchbox. I don’t even thing he touched his drink.

20120906-183846.jpgLittle man’s untouched packed lunch.

He was really upset yesterday. Having received the email I had replied stating that I wished the school to inform him of this change, I knew he wouldn’t be happy and I didn’t want him thinking it was my doing. Of course when he arrived home screaming and yelling, I had to support the school in-order to be consistent! He would otherwise struggle more with this decision and a challenging child at school was the last thing I wanted. However he did cry on his return yesterday, he protested that he had done all his work, tried his best and behaved appropriately! He felt as if it was some type of punishment (as always I blame the old school for such a way of thinking)!

We obviously had some difficulties this morning but despite his upset and empty tummy, I’ve received an email from his teacher alerting me to the fact he has had a really good day. His reported to be doing great in secondary and is settling into the routine better than expected. She also informed me that they had a chat about lunch and suggested maybe taking a flask of soup or pasta. We will try this as on his return today his eaten half the contents of the fridge which for me is much more unhealthy than the burger.

So… There it is, an update of little mans first few days as a child with Aspergers attending secondary school at an independent special school. How I’m relived to have gotten him out of the mainstream education sector in time! I’m convinced that this post would have contained content that displayed nothing but heartache if I hadn’t!

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