And so, into November…
I was away all last week, organising a big conference in Belfast. Before I set up my own business three and a half years ago, I got quite a bit of overseas travel in; these days, I still enjoy it when the opportunity arises, but I get very homesick and miss the family. So it was a beautiful thing to meet Jake from school on Friday, pick him up for a hug and see the big smile on his face while he studiously looked somewhere to the right of my face as if I wasn’t really there, and gently stroked my cheek. He’s been reassuring Sally all week that ‘Daddy will be home soon. He’s on a aeroplane’.
Secondary school is occupying our thoughts at present. Still a while to go obviously, but we are wondering whether mainstream is the best option for Jake. His primary school is fantastic and the staff, especially his teacher and two teaching assistants, work hard with him. We’re still years off secondary school but, if we’re starting to think of alternative choices like autism units or even home schooling, then we might need to start shifting things around. We are both fortunate to work for ourselves and from home – how we’d manage without both of us being around when we need to be, I don’t know.
There’s no doubt that anywhere outside of our house is a nervous place for Jake. At school, he behaves OK but he does push other kids if they get into his space. The kids themselves are lovely with him. Patient, friendly and understanding. Not sure if teenage kids are going to be so accommodating. You have to ask why would we put Jake through a situation that will make him feel anxious and potentially isolated? The alternatives are potentially huge. If we home school him, he’ll be fine with Sally but I only know about bad 80s television and the hits of T’Pau.
That’s if he makes it to secondary school. I was making dinner yesterday and thought Jake had been quiet in the next room (we now have hearing like bats, highly developed over five-and-a-half years, to anticipate impending disaster). Sure enough, he’d taken a bottle of water and poured it all over the TV, DVD player and assorted cables. I’m still waiting for everything to explode.
I told him off for being naughty. He cried (mostly because I turned off Boss Baby on its third showing that day before he disappeared in a ball of flame), then tried to hit me, and then – with a dramatic Callas-like throwing of hands up into the air – shouted ‘Daddy, I’m so sorry!’. It was in an American accent so was probably plucked from the TV, but he meant it.
Going back to the schooling question, the ‘A’ Word is back on TV and we both cried through most of last week’s episode. The boy’s parents decided to move him into a specialist school, having been called into school to talk him down from the roof outside (OFSTED would have a field day). It’s very close to where we are at, and really excellent.
A few weeks ago, I woke in the night thinking I was having a heart attack. I felt a great weight on my chest, like I couldn’t move and woke up with a start. As I clutched my chest and sorted out where I was, I realized that Jake had been creeping around in the night, carried a (very dusty) pair of dumbbells from under our bed, and placed them gently on my sleeping form. Sal woke up a few nights later with a pair of shoes on her head. Keeps us on our toes…