I’m sure you’re not supposed to cry after picking your child up from their nursery. I’m sure most people collect their child with the minimum of fuss, leave and head home for a nice afternoon enjoying pancake day (for instance). Unfortunately, I usually leave frustrated, and today I left crying. Well, I made it to the car but close enough. I’m still crying now.
I don’t even know what was so spectacularly different about today that I couldn’t just support the teacher/child development officer in their behaviour management strategies but today I didn’t have it in me to stay strong.
My son is four and starts school in August. He has been attending a big local nursery since his third birthday and is settled there. I know they’ve described his beginnings at nursery as “hyper” to the educational psychologist, but he has slowly settled and learned what is expected of him, and they in turn have learned how to get the best out of him. Every day his key worker, who is fabulous, takes the time to let me know how he has been – good or naughty but never in a judgemental fashion. We practically threw a party when he managed a full five days in a row of behaving, but by the weekend he was twitchy, exhausted and his eyes lacked their usual focus – the effort had simply been too much. We were rewarded with a fortnight of challenging behaviour.
The nursery are good at getting him involved and not letting him spend all day on the computer. For Christmas, he had been well prepared as the baker for “5 Currant Buns in a Baker’s Shop” but my husband was still frustrated that he spent most of it spinning in circles and once his song (cleverly, the first one) was over he rolled around the floor and would only stay still when playing with my phone, which then meant he wouldn’t sing anything else. He was, as he always is, the boy who had to sit beside the teacher, and ours were the only seats reserved for parents to ensure we were near him to minimise disruption.
We are always being told by well meaning friends and other parents that he’s just a four year old boy and that their child is the same – well, they tell us this until they see him in full swing when they usually go quiet. Some are sympathetic. Some are judgemental. One never got back in touch after she had to help restrain my son in a soft play when we were trying to get him to leave. Her response that day was that she always warns her son to behave before she takes him out. Wow! I never thought of that. Trained professionals don’t tell us it’s normal. Trained professionals talk of vestibular issues and possible ASD.
We have chosen to enrol our son at the Gaelic school here in Glasgow and so we felt it only fair to expose him to Gaelic in preparation for this, and so he now goes to a Gaelic nursery 3 afternoons a week. This is where the problem lies.
In general, I am very happy that my son is there. The smaller numbers (eleven max to two staff this afternoon) mean greater interaction with the staff. They seem really hands on and I like that. But they can’t cope with my son.
They started out really well – they visited his “English” nursery to discuss how to deal with him. They ask for reports from people like the Speech & Language Therapist and the Occupational Therapist as though they possess the magic answer to “cure” him. Howver, he struggles to sit still at story time and it is my fault for never remembering to bring the wobble cushion given to the other nursery by the OT. I have suggested using a rug, another cushion or sitting him on a chair instead but they have clung to the idea that this cushion is what will make their lives easier. Today, I remembered the cushion.
Sadly, the cushion is not from Enid Blyton and does not transport my son to a magical world where behaving is easy. I don’t think the nursery were prepared for that so were caught unawares when he continued to wriggle. He was put in a seat but then swung his legs so wildly he was in danger of hurting another child. He was put in Time Out. When in time out he repeatedly asked for the toilet. “Repeatedly” was their word. I’m then told he willfully wet himself and the floor of the toilet. When I suggested that he is not aware he needs until he is desperate and it is always a good idea to get him to the toilet fast I was corrected and both teachers made it very clear that he did it in the bathroom so he had time to wait till he was on the toilet. Interestingly, my son insists he wet himself on the Time Out chair.
Perhaps I’m just over tired today. Perhaps it’s because the community autism team got in touch to arrange his assessment for April. Maybe I just worry about what his time at school will be like. All I know is that today I felt like his nursery were pointing the finger at me instead of looking for solutions. Today I felt like they don’t like my son. Today I am overwhelmed and feel very alone.
Sorry this is so long. Perhaps this is why I needed to start the blog – to get things off my chest.