Tyger had a home visit from his key worker and the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) early this week in preparation for him starting preschool. It was just a quick visit to see him in his home environment and to let him meet them again before the induction. It went well. Tyger even agreed to wear clothes…although he removed all of said clothes in order to change into a Gruffalo onesie part-way through the visit because…it…was…essential…or something. Also, the ‘t-shirt’ he was wearing was actually a pyjama top because that’s what he wanted to wear and he didn’t have pants on under his trousers but he agreed to wear clothes, however briefly.
The next day he had his induction. I had to take Baby Bear along because my mum – who lets us all live with her/my dad/my sisters rent free while we’re saving up a deposit, cooks dinner most nights, often watches the cubs whilst I shower/make their dinner etc., and generally leads a pretty selfless existence – had the audacity to be unavailable to babysit Bear due to acting as taxi to my sister. I know, the absolute cheek of some people! So, I didn’t really get to watch Tyger much because I spent the first half hour trying to stop Bear from scooping sand from the sand tray onto the floor and the second half hour trying to stop Bear from scooping soapy water from the water tray into his mouth (actually, that’s a lie; I spent about two minutes trying to stop him and then let him get on with it since it’s no different to drinking bath water and both boys have consumed litres of that with no ill effect (I’m pretty sure there’s no link between drinking bath water and autism)).
All that’s left is for Tyger to start.
And I’m not upset by that.
I’ve read a lot of very good blog posts in the last few weeks about children starting preschool/nursery/school and the consensus seems to be this is something upsetting. When I was at the induction, one of the other mums made a joke about trying not to cry on Tyger’s first day.
Once again (like in my blog post Babies Don’t Care About Birthdays) I’m left feeling like I’m missing something. I’m not upset about Tyger starting preschool. At all. In fact, I’m looking forward to the peace and the opportunity to spend some one-to-one time with Bear.
There are several reasons I can think of for this disparity between other people’s emotions on the subject and my own.
It may well be in part because unlike school or some nursery places, he won’t be going every day. He will start off doing only two mornings a week with a view to working up to two mornings plus a full day. However, the mum who told me to try not to cry knew how often Tyger was going to be attending and her own daughter is doing similar hours. I also don’t think I’ll feel any different when it comes time for Tyger to start school.
Perhaps I’m just more heartless? Or – maybe at least – more practical. This is simply the next step in parenting. It should be good for Tyger and learning some independence is a positive step for a child.
It might also be Tyger. Of course I feel the same unconditional, totally staggering love for the cubs most parents feel for their children…but Tyger is hard work. Really, really hard work. Tyger’s ASD makes simply being near him completely overwhelming at times. Whilst he’s loving and intelligent and funny and thoughtful he’s also a violent, unreasonable, unpredictable wall of sound. Spending all day, every day, with him is exhausting and I am more than looking forward to having a couple of breaks a week from him.
I think his ASD also highlights something for me that parents of neurotypical children might not get. The health care professionals who have been assessing Tyger have used words and phrases like ‘subtle’ and ‘end of the spectrum’ to describe his ASD and I think it likely he’ll end up with a diagnosis of Asperger’s (since this is still used in parts of the UK). So, Tyger’s chances of leading a relatively ‘normal’ life and going on to live independently are reasonably high.
High. But by no means guaranteed. I don’t know how Tyger will cope with school in a year’s time. I don’t know if he’ll make it through secondary school with much in the way of qualifications and how often he’ll even manage to attend. I certainly don’t know whether he’ll be able to hold down a job and move away from me and the Wolf. So, the fact he’s excited about going to preschool and the staff have been so amazingly understanding and proactive about his autism – even without yet having a formal diagnosis – is something I can only see as a good thing.
Or maybe I’ll be in floods of tears tomorrow after dropping him off. I guess we’ll find out!