I don’t know how may blogs I will start like this…I guess until it’s not an issue anymore…. but I am struggling to write. Not due to lack of material. Just because I am struggling to calm my thoughts. So much has gone through my head over the past few weeks. I worry, no matter what the world has been going on, but this is on a next level. My anxiety is high much of the time I feel like I just want the world to go back to how it was…. or do I? I don’t know.
I have noticed so many things……things that were there “Before” and things that were not. But the biggest change I have seen is that in my daughter.
My little girl turned 11 this week. Her birthday is always in the holidays, sometimes he has a party and sometimes she does not. She had planned to have a party this year, before we went into lock down, but she never mentioned it since the announcement was made. Not a word. Which is strange …. because she usually gets upset about things like that. My daughter is undiagnosed ASD. I have mentioned it before, and I think its fair to say that the lock down brought out all manner of emotions for my daughter that she could not deal with. She likes routine. She tells me daily that she hates routine and that its boring. However, if there is change in the routine, we have she will become upset, distraught at times.
The first 10 days were horrendous. For both of us. As much as my daughter hates school (and trust me she does hate it) she become very upset that she had left stuff in her locker. She had been unwell on the Thursday so didn’t go in on the last Friday. She didn’t get her friends numbers, the work packs. The closure.
And then on the Monday we started “Home school”. I was determined to be a super mum. She would do so many lessons a day. We would build and do science. I convinced her to create her own timetable. She didn’t want to. But I said that she could choose some lessons she wanted to do. When she came and showed it to me, I was so impressed. She had done it how I had asked. I looked at the lessons…. there was English, maths and science….and then there was ones that she added like “learn how to iron” and “watch bugs grow”. I was impressed that she wanted to learn new things.
The first day of lessons didn’t go well. Not well at all. First…I’m not a teacher and do not want to be one…. second…. I didn’t understand the extent of my daughters SEN needs in terms of education…. Third….my daughter already both of the above before we got started.
The school had set up work to do online but to get you used to the format they had asked all children to complete an online word search. Just so you could see how the format worked and such. Easy. We sat and looked at the list of words. Nice and simple…. teachers’ surnames, colours and the schools core values. Sweet…. I left her to get on with it. I came back a few minutes later and she looked upset. I went to ask her what was wrong, and she burst into tears. I had no idea what was going on. It took me a few minutes to settle her. So here is the list of things that had gone wrong for her in the 3 minutes it took me to get my drink and fed the cat:
- The words were moving (She has recently been assessed for erlings There is no doubt about it, she must use an overlay to read. However, by a stroke of luck, I had ordered her overlay and it had arrived, so we got that out and put it over the screen. She nodded and said that it looked better)
- She could see loads of words that were not listed. She showed me 7 words that she could see in the word search but not listed to be found. She HAD to explain to me why each one should be a word.
- She didn’t agree with the words that they had said to find. They had not used her teachers’ surname. She found this strange. And she kept repeating “But why did they use all the others” (they had not).
- When she found a word, it had to be highlighted on word with a colour of her choice. When two words overlapped, she could not cope as one of the words was not “Marked” correctly. So, she changed the colour of some of the words. She then felt bad that some words were now one colour and the others another. So, she gave each word their own colour. Then got upset when the words merged as it meant some words didn’t get a block of colour
- She said it was pointless to do a word search as she can read all those words already.
In the 15 minutes all the above took place something happened to me. I would like to describe it as an internal mini break down. I was calm on the outside as she spoke, said reassuring things. Inside I was screaming. Screaming my head off. Because I can’t do this. How can I support my daughter and educate her? Me… me… me.
It was not until that night as I lay in bed feeling like the worse mum in the world that I thought how bad all this is for her. The word search did get completed and then we tried to do the maths which had another whole list of issues. We argued.
But this is her life. This is how she sees things and in school it must be awful for her because her school didn’t offer support for a long long time and now the support, they do offer…it would not cover her emotional distress. The distress that she must internalise at school and then when she comes home…boom…. takes it out on me.
I mean…I knew that already. Its not like that was the first time I had sat and done a piece of work with her. Homework brings similar issues ever week. But I had never seen her like she was today.
And that was us for 10 days. Lots of tears. Lots of anger. Lots of questions. I wouldn’t allow the news on and only told her what she needed to know. I explained that she couldn’t go to the shops and we could only go out once a day for exercise. I said she could still go and see her dad but that was all.
She had questions like I would imagine all kids would and I tried to answer them. But she stopped wanting to get up. She stopped doing anything. Her ticks become worse and I would be laying in bed and here her ticking and making sounds in her room and I would cry. I cried so much in the first 10 days. Not in front of her, never. But she is not stupid, and children pick up on your emotions.
I remember thinking “How will she cope, she can’t”. She wouldn’t face time her friends. Would not text anyone. It was the saddest I had ever seen her, and I was worried. How would she cope?
The thing is, I should have been asking myself that question. “How will I cope?”. Instead I rushed around, panicking. Scared. Trying to make sure we had all we needed. I turned into a bit of a crazy person for 10 days. I should have been worried about myself also.
We continued lessons I stopped being so strict about them. I stopped panicking. I stopped trying to create this perfect world. I stopped making excuses. I slowed down. And so, did she.
She asked me if she would still have her birthday gifts I said yes. She said would she still have them laid out like she usually does (I do balloons and cake and such) I said yes.
She asks if we would “Get rid of the cats”. I looked at her confused. I later found out that she had seen the news at her dads, and it talked about people getting rid of their pets during this time for various reasons. So instead of just saying “No we won’t give away the cats” we talked about it. I showed her the boxes of food I had got in “Just in case”. Enough to last a few weeks If needed. She said what if it run out and we couldn’t get to the shops. I said we would feed them tuna and then they would go mouse hunting. I told her that the cats are our family as well. That I would never “Get rid of them”. Ever. And she became calmer.
She asked me if I was going to die. I said I didn’t know but I doubt I would die from COVID 19 as I am fit and healthy. She asked if she would die. I told her the same thing. We agreed that anyone could die from COVID 19 but that didn’t mean that EVERYONE would die. And she became calmer.
She said would she stall have fresh fruit and milkshakes. I said yes, however there might be days she has to wait until I go to the shop again, but that’s OK because she would look forward to them when she had them. She became calmer
She asked if she would return to her primary school. I said I didn’t know, but I didn’t think so. I said that all the parents had made a Facebook page and that we would organise something so they could all say good but. She asked me again if she would return to primary school soon. I said no. And she was calmer.
We started going for bike rides. Not something we really done before. I don’t know why. We lie near the beach, so we rode there a few times. Once she was very angry, so we took our bikes near the beach and she rode full pelt along the pier. No one was there. She rode until she was out of breath. And she said she felt better. And she was calmer.
She asked me why I worry so much. I didn’t know what to say so I said…because I always shave. She said that I worry too much. And it makes me sad. And she was right.
The night before her 11th birthday I baked her cupcakes, laid out her gifts and told her she couldn’t go downstairs now for the rest of the night. She sat in her room bouncing about, over excited about her birthday in the morning. I went to bed and she come in about 5 times to ask silly questions and then went to bed and listened to David Walliams stories on her phone before she fell asleep about 11pm.
Before this started, she would still be rolling around at 11pm on a school night. Ticking and making noise. Saying she feels sick.
She stopped ticking after day 10. She just stopped. She stopped saying she felt sick. My daughter has been “Feeling sick” at least 3 times a week since she was 5, I have said countless times to her that it is anxiety, or she is worried, but she won’t have it. But nothing for days….no feeling sick. No saying her breathing feels funny.
No crying about school. No confusion when we go to the shops because it’s too bright/loud.
The lessons are easier. We just go at our own pace. She can see that her friends are ahead of her and done more. So, she just turned that part of it off and now she doesn’t know. Her choice.
She is face timing and texting people. She made a bracelet for a nurse that we know, and we posted it.
She has put on weight! She is stick thin but now she eats and eats. Not out of boredom. Because she doesn’t feel sick any more or that she can’t swallow.
He birthday…. she woke up at 6. I said it was too early and she stomped off to bed and I smiled. No ticking. No, screaming. Just a normal 11-year-old stomp. She opened her gifts, I cooked her a sausage and egg muffin. She left all her new toys to go and play computer on face time with her cousin. I looked at the toys left and listened to her talking to her cousin, chatting away about all her gifts and such.
And I smiled.
She got dressed to go to se her dad, just as she usually would. She came downstairs and she looked…. stunning. Radiant. Healthy. She has not only put on a bit of weight; her eyes are no longer dark. She looks rested.
My daughter hates school. She hates the lights in her classroom and that her teacher smiles when telling people off. She hates the fact that the teachers don’t explain things in a way she understands, and she gets frustrated she keeps forgetting stuff. She hates the morning rush and having t go breakfast club so early because I need to go to work. She hates that she doesn’t always get the school dinner she liked, and she hates the fact that she has to wear her hair up because some day’s it makes her headache.
She hates shopping. The noise, the lights, the people. She hates that we have to que up and that its so busy.
She hats plans. In the holidays I plan all these things…. she hates it. She sometimes likes it once we get three…. but she always says that we shouldn’t plan everything.
She hates me being busy all the time. She often says that she has not seen me sit down or watch TV.
And all of a sudden, these things have all stopped. Not like the summer holidays, as we would be out and about. Just …stopped.
My daughter struggles in many ways. But her biggest obstacle in life is …. the doing. The having to be places and doing things. Having to go to school and having to learn a certain way. She was doing her online lessons last week whilst doing a handstand on the sofa.
She has found a way to cope. She is not asking to go out on her bike and when I suggest we do so sometimes she will say yes and sometimes no. She is not asking when this will be over. She is not asking “What next”.
She is just living in the moment and asking questions when she needs to. She is taking each day as it comes and nothing more.
She will return to school eventually. She will have to go shopping and plans will be made that she might not like. But right now…. she is getting a break from life. A recharge. And its doing her the world of good.
When the lock down was announced I made all the plans to teach her…. funny…. because she is the one doing the teaching.
We will get through this; she will get through this. I will get through this.
Also…. I am not a SEN teacher…. but I am a SEN parents….and that will do.