I wrote the following post back in April when, like most of the general population, we were feeling very ground down by Covid and lockdown. We were shattered and very worried about Jake at school; following the school closures, he had fallen behind and the gap between him and his classmates had got even larger.
In the end, I didn’t post it but added it to the pool of other posts that are a bit grumpy.
Jumping forward, and Jake is now at a new special school.
Once the decision was made, things happened quickly and we just got him into the school that we’d liked with a day to spare before the summer break.
His lovely teaching assistant who stayed with him through several years at his last school suggested we didn’t call the new place ‘school’ (or ‘S.C.H.’ as our whole family say to avoid Jake kicking off). So we had been referring to it by its name all summer and telling him that school is finished.
It’s at least a two hour drive a day, and hard to leave him, but so far, things look good. No early morning tantrums or hiding his uniform.
It’s a weird feeling, changing from mainstream to specialist, especially as our kids have been going to the local school since 2006, as did Sally, her mum and all her family. It’s a wrench saying goodbye but it’s the right move for Jake now and we are excited for him.
From April 2021….
I slept in Jake’s bed last night. It’s always taken hours to get him to sleep and now he won’t fall asleep unless one of us is next to him and we’ll invariably fall asleep ourselves at the end of another busy day.
The Easter holidays are kicking off tomorrow and he is very excited. He has recently rediscovered his Toy Story figures so has been acting out Toy Story Christmas whereby a rogue Woody and Buzz arrive to disrupt a party with fatal consequences. At least that looks to be the case, judging by Fake Buzz lying on the stairs securely tied up with some pyjama bottoms. The authorities have been informed…
He has also been drawing. A page for each of his favourite stories as trailers for the full books that he’ll then draw. Three Little Pigs, anyone?!
It has been months since I posted anything here as it’s been a tough time and my posts have made me miserable enough without inflicting them on you, dear reader. Lockdown for Jake was actually OK as he’s always very happy to be at home. We managed to get a couple of hours’ focus out of him for his homeschooling and then he’d have a fantastic time in his room, playing and drawing and generally letting off steam.
He’s been back at school for a couple of weeks and it’s been a rollercoaster. His first question when he wakes up every morning is ‘is it not school today?’ When he hears it is, he’ll scream and he’ll cry. Some mornings, he’ll hit and scratch us. If we manage to get him out of the house, he will invariably be upset on the walk to school and tell us repeatedly that he loves us in the hope that we’ll crumble and let him come back home. This morning, he stood on the school steps and bellowed like a bull, much to the consternation of the poor teachers at the door. Yesterday, he capitulated and walked grumpily through the door, saying ‘Well, now I’m really angry’. No sugar, Sherlock.
By 9am, we are wrecks. This lockdown has mostly been brought to you by Aldi’s finest and full-strength coffee. Wrung out and tired, and feeling incredibly guilty and selfish that we’ve just left our anxious boy in an environment that is adding to his anxiety.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the annual review of his EHCP (the old ‘statement’) that lists his needs and how they are to be met. It’s always sobering and we always forget to appreciate the effect it has on us, like all the milestone events through Jake’s life. This time, we were discussing that Jake’s needs in a couple of years when he’ll be moving to high school will probably be better met in a special school setting.
Nobody who we’ve spoken to since have seemed surprised and, in a way, we’re not really. We have already done the tours of the local special schools a couple of years ago (nothing like starting early when you’ve a special needs kid) and we left thinking that Jake wouldn’t have the same level of needs as the kids there. We thought he might take a leap of development when he hit 7, and would be better able to access the mainstream curriculum. Maybe he’d end up sitting a few GCSEs in time so would still need care but possibly in a mainstream school.
We’re now coming to realise that the gap between Jake and his classmates has got big. Even without the disruption of Covid and homeschooling, he has fallen behind so much that he’s probably three or four years away from his peers. Seeing the work set for them in Google Classroom during the last lockdown made it obvious that he couldn’t access a huge part of mainstream education.
It’s another big fork in the road for Jake and for us. With our daughters, I was naive in my awareness of the impact that changes now would have on the whole of their lives. Now with Jake, I automatically jump forward to high school, his life after school, whether he’ll make friends, whether he will live with us forever. What happens when we get too old to care for him? Then when we are gone, where will he live? Are we asking our daughters to stop their lives so they can look after him? Where will Jake be happy and fulfilled?
In the meantime, before we go into a flat spin of existential panic, we will get cracking with what we can control, regrouping and getting on with the task of contacting potential high schools. And avoiding an 8-year-old’s swinging right hook and the nuclear fallout of suggesting that maybe it’s time we gave him a haircut….