Ever since DS1 was born there have been indicators of there being something neuro-diverse with him but only indicators. Nothing to quite put my finger on. By the time he got to 3 or 4 years old I was very much convinced that he had (has) Aspergers which is now within the Autistic Spectrum.
The problem is that he, like me, is an excellent masker so his primary school – which was none too great with any form of SEND just weren’t interested. Hell – they weren’t interested in supporting the child that had a diagnosis of ADHD so why would they be interested in DS1’s masking – they called him their “Happy lad”, their “Always does what he is asked lad” even if “he was a bit loud”! Bit being used in the sarcastic form!
So he went off to Secondary school and I expected it to be overlooked again….except they didn’t. They have a SENCO who could see something was a little amiss behind the happy, polite, do anything for you boy within three meetings with him – and I was so glad she did because this lockdown has brought so many issues to the fore with him. He is really struggling with many aspects of being stuck at home including the “home education” side of things.
Now firstly – let me state – I am not home educating my children. Two of them are far brighter and knowledgable than I ever was so no – I am not their teacher. What I am doing though is facilitating their school sending them work for them to do. Within a couple of days we had started our routine – none of this “oh don’t worry about it – a couple of weeks won’t matter”. We had to have the routine because my children needed it – I needed it! And we all still do!
So week one was a case of getting to grips with what was required and expected from us and the technology involved in reaching that expectation. Week two we were on top of the tech but still needing to tweak the timings and structure.
Then the Easter Holidays and routine went for two weeks which was so hard! We would normally be doing things during holidays – like going on holiday! day trips, adventures, walks – all things we could and can no longer do (for now) so we had to find ways to keep them away from the obsessive power of Video games without leaving the house for long at all (or at all in my case!).
We joined in with the school set “Easter Challenge” – 20 activities that could be chosen out of 30 and presented in some way such as a blog, documents, photos etc. The older two chose their 20 activities and started off with great aplomb…..until DS1 decided he didn’t want to be involved. Which left me with a dilemma……do I make him join in or carry on without him and submit just for DD? I emailed his SENCO who has been such a godsend since we started looking on ways to support DS1. I explained to her that we had tried to get him involved but he wasn’t interested – that when it was submitted it would be mainly just DD and that I was telling her because I didn’t want her to think I was favouring one child over another and was a cause of his problems – blame my paranoia! She replied within an hour….in the middle of the Easter Holidays…to set my mind at rest and to offer some support and advice which we followed – and it worked – because the Easter Challenge blog that was produced with their hard work was just perfect (and yes I know that sounds big headed but…well – it was in my eyes!)
You’ll notice I said “their hard work”……..that was because once we started to carry on with DD and her challenges DS1 decided that actually he might like to join in – and he did. Some challenges they did together – others separately and they only went and did really well in the competition – I mean REALLY well! My next blog post will be about that!
So back into school routines we go after the holidays and within two days I had had a meltdown at him – because instead of doing the work that had been set (and it is challenging!) he had been secretly watching Minecraft videos! Videos of other people playing Minecraft! We tech-grounded him and I immediately emailed his SENCO who set up a Face To Face video chat with him within minutes. She reiterated the importance of doing the work, that we were all trying to support him and he had to start working with us to get his good abilities doing what they should be doing.
It seemed to do the trick. The rest of the week he was calmer, working hard, ready to submit his school work – or so we thought! We discovered when he “couldn’t find” any of his work to submit that he had again been linking in to Minecraft instead of doing his work! Another email to his SENCO and she started the ball rolling!
Since then he has had two daily face to face video calls with his Learning Advisor…every day! The LA even did two private maths lessons via video chat with him to make sure he was ok with it. When he started to have a relapse the LA brought him back into line with some firm but fair words and he has been so much better since.
If only we could have had that support right from when he was young but thank Bilio we have it now or I am not sure I would have survived this lockdown so far! Our SENCO and her team are currently phenomenal!!