So, September has arrived, and, with it, a sense of ‘new beginnings’. A friend wrote on Facebook that September ‘is the new January’, and it really does feel like that this year. Not least because Tink is about to embark on a new adventure in the form of school nursery, and H is starting at junior school next week. There is a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air, but there is also a feeling of trepidation.
When H started nursery, it was so exciting! He was such a bright boy, and he was more than ready to go off to nursery each afternoon and learn lots in a more formal setting than he had been previously. He had been to nursery (day care) before, for a couple of days a week, and had spent one morning a week at Preschool (which he protested mightily each week by crying as soon as we dropped him off). Although excited, we were partly dreading leaving him on his first day at school nursery, expecting tears and tantrums, but, of course, he trotted off quite happily and it was us that were crying on the way out! He made some great friends at nursery, which stood him in good stead for the rest of infant school as many of them have moved up together.
Tink, however, is another matter. Oh, we have no qualms about her going. Like H, she is very ready and, going on how much she enjoyed Preschool (unlike H!), she will love it. So many things to do and explore. All that sand and playdough to eat!! She’ll be in her element. She’s been a couple of times to visit and we’ve had to drag her away. She even seemed to bond with another little boy who has additional needs, which was great to witness. Nursery have very helpfully given us a book of photos so we can prepare her; it has all her new teachers and photos of the rooms and areas. She has managed to learn a couple of names, but tends to identify more with the animal group that teacher leads, so her teacher, Mrs S, is ‘Elephant’ (!)
However, this time round it feels totally different. Tink has no concept whatsoever of what’s happening. Or, if she does, she can’t communicate that to us. But I don’t think she does. Not until she actually starts, and her routine becomes one of ‘nursery in the mornings’ and ‘home after lunch at Grandma and Grandad’s’. There’s no excitement, no conversations about what she might do and learn (well, I try, but they’re a little one-sided!) and no wondering about the friends she might make. In fact, she quite probably won’t even make real friends. Not yet, anyway. She’s still in her own bubble and happy to play alone, although I’ve noticed more and more that she is watching other children and copying what they do, so who knows?
I worry that she won’t be understood. We still struggle to understand much of what she’s trying to communicate, so a bunch of strangers and other 3 and 4 year olds will have a right game, I’m sure! The teachers will get to know in time, but I am worried that the children will give up when she doesn’t answer their questions, or if she doesn’t understand their games or follow their rules. I’ve seen it happen on several occasions and it’s heartbreaking. Not that Tink seems to mind.
I worry that her behaviour will have an impact on how she is perceived by others, children in particular. She’s rarely deliberately naughty, but she still doesn’t have any social skills to speak of and doesn’t understand that her actions can have a negative impact on others and that may affect how they treat her.
I am worried that before the end of this year we will be applying for her Reception place at the school. I am worried in case this isn’t the right school for her, despite their assurances that they will do everything they can to support her and help her grow. I am worried about the fact that we are embarking on the world of Education Health Care Plans (which used to be called a ‘statement of special educational needs’, or, simply, a ‘statement’) and meeting with support people such as the Communication Autism Team and goodness knows who else. I probably shouldn’t be worried – getting extra support is the benefit of having a diagnosis, but I am. It’s a big, scary, new world for us and I’m worried I won’t know what I’m doing or talking about, or that we’ll have to make big decisions – I’m crap at making decisions, as most people who know me will know! And then, of course, it’s knowing what support is out there and actually being able to access it… and then I’m worried that various appointments and meetings will impact on me being able to do my job properly in terms of them being scheduled for when I am meant to be working.
You might have noticed: I’m a bit of a worrier. It does me no good, but I can’t help it. If I didn’t worry, I’d be a pretty crap mum, wouldn’t I?! So, I have decided that we just need to take this one step at a time, day by day, week by week. We’ll cross bridges if and when we happen upon them and if it takes baby steps to get to the other side, then so be it. Wish us luck!