As I emptied all the clutter that filled DS1’s school bag, I discovered a Well Done certificate, which – according to the legend on said piece of thin card – was presented to him for “having the confidence to speak in assembly”. Wow.
“Well done for getting a Well Done certificate,” I said (I have a way with words).
Some sort of grunt ensued.
“What did you have to say in assembly?”
“None of your business.”
“Oh, I’m just interested – did you have to answer a question?” I tried.
He buried his face into his arms; cries emanating from his mouth.
I got the impression he didn’t want to talk about it.
He doesn’t like praise, unless he elicits it himself. It draws attention to him, you see.
I let him be. I guess, I’ll have to wait until he goes back to school so I can ask his teacher what it was he spoke about.
This talking in public thing, though, was huge. Indeed, in the same week as the Well Done certificate, he showed another sign of speaking in a situation where you wouldn’t expect him to normally.
We are trying to encourage his independence, and I now leave him to walk down the final path to school on his own. We seem to have morphed into this by accident without any attention being drawn to this change. He has control of the situation, so it works. It was his decision, not me suggesting it.
His friend Henry occasionally walks home on his own because he only lives a couple of hundred yards away from school, so maybe this is giving him the confidence.
Last week, DS1 was going round to Henry’s house for tea after school, so we agreed they could walk home together without the aid of a grown-up.
That morning I reminded DS1 that he was going to Henry’s after school and that Henry’s mum wouldn’t be picking them up, so to remember to wait for Henry after school so they could walk home together.
We neglected, however, to supply the finer details.
The two boys usually come out of school together (even though they are in different classes), so we didn’t think there would be a problem. How naïve can you be?
DS1, so the story goes, came bumbling out of school and duly waited in the playground for Henry. After all, that is where I wait for him, so that is where he went to wait for Henry.
Henry, however, waited for DS1 in the changing rooms, which is where they usually meet up for a chat when school finishes, leaving us parents waiting in the rain for a good 10 minutes after the bell has rung.
There’s nowt so strange as the minds of 10-year-old boys.
DS1, thinking out of the box, thought, ‘Henry has forgotten I’m coming round for tea’, so he walked off, through the playground gate and down the path towards the main gate to see if he could see him.
While DS1 was doing that Henry went to the school office to report DS1 missing, causing panic among the teachers – a child on the loose, let alone one with special needs, being a major concern – and seven of them rushed around trying to locate him.
Meanwhile, DS1’s friend Larry and his dad, Warren, spotted DS1 loitering at the main gate and stopped to check if he was OK. Admittedly it probably helped that Larry was there, but he explained to Warren that he was supposed to be going to Henry’s house but he didn’t know where he was.
They escorted him back into school, DS1 going with them willingly. He normally won’t entertain the idea of going back into school to collect something he’s forgotten – school has finished so he’s not allowed to go back in, he reasons. To be fair he’s never forgotten a person before.
They found Henry still waiting in the office and the boys were reunited, a little shaken but relatively unconcerned – unlike the teachers.
So, lesson learned. Always drill down into the finer details. Don’t assume that because they always come out of school together that on the one occasion you actually need them to they will. Ensure he knows exactly where they are going to meet and what to do if he can’t find him.
But, no harm done – If anything it was a lesson in resilience and initiative to show that he could cope when things didn’t go according to plan (not that there was a plan in this case).
And he spoke up!
Making plans for Nigel
Yet another cause for surprise occurred last week. The wife saw a post on some SEN FacelessBook group she’s on, saying that this woman’s son was going to be starting in the autism resource at the same secondary school that DS1 has just be given a place at.
Probably should have mentioned that. We got good news last week – it’s turning out to be quite the week, isn’t it? – when an unexpectedly efficient minion from the local council called to tell us that DS1 had secured a place in the autism resource in his chosen secondary school.
The way it works is that he will still attend mainstream classes, but his form room and some of his lessons will be in this separate block, designed specifically for SEN children, giving them the support they need to access mainstream lessons. They also get a lounge, a kitchen, a TV, a drum kit, a PlayStation and a dog. No wonder he wanted to go there.
Anyway, back to this Faceless post. The woman was asking if anyone else in the group had a child going to this school, because her son was coming from outside of town and wouldn’t know anyone. And, if they did, would they like to meet up, so her son knew a friendly face when he turned up for his first day at Big School.
The wife replied that DS1 was going there. She would ask if he wanted to meet up, but not to hold your breath that he will agree. Being the mum of an autistic child, this lady totally understood.
The wife told DS1 about the message and asked him if he’d like to meet up with the boy.
“Yeah, OK,” he shrugged.
Shock, number one.
Stifling her surprise, the wife pressed on. “He likes FIFA and football, too,” she said.
“Who wouldn’t,” DS1 replied. Fair point.
A little while later, he collared the wife. “When this guy comes over, I’ll need a new football,” he informed her, “because I’ve lost two and the other two have punctures.”
Shock number two.
He’s coming over is he? First she’d heard. She had just raised the idea of meeting up. Now he was getting a full invite to the hallowed sanctuary of DS1’s home.
“Do we know this boy’s name?” I asked.
“No,” said the wife.
“His name is probably really posh because he goes to a private school,” DS1 opined.
He then began to speculate on what his name might be, and how many barrels his surname might have.
Whatever it is, I’m going to call him Nigel – for the simple reason that it makes the sub-heading work.
“So, do you want to meet up with Nigel in half-term?” asked the wife, striking while the iron was hot.
“No, that’s too soon.”
That’s more like it.