The new school year has begun, and among other things, because my only child still attending at an elementary level is Moderately Autistic, the morning ritual is well on its way to being established.
In case you’re not aware, Autistic folks are very prone to establish patterns. So true is this, that one must be careful to not allow “bad” habits to form, knowing he or she will potentially deal with them for a long time to come.
Last year, the school morning typically started the same way as a result of that tendency towards almost obsessive-compulsive ordering. Daddy comes into my bedroom. He tells me he’s there. He gives me a five minute “snooze button” time. Then my blanket comes off, I get turned around and I sleep through him putting on my clothes and combing my hair.
After that is the obligatory five minute second snooze on the dad-alarm, followed by his pushing me (in a sort of game) off the bed and getting my feet on the floor.
From there, I get my morning chocolate, and we walk out the door.
Once at school, the family transportation is parked at the side entrance and he waits for the show I’m watching on my cheap computer to end. At this point, we get out of the vehicle, walk to the door, and I knock (even if people have already seen us and are on the way to open it).
We walk inside, and make our way down the hallway to my classroom. Depending on how I’m feeling that day, I may be silently resigned to my time at school, happy to be there, or pitching a fit and largely refusing to move forward for a time.
Ultimately, we end up in the classroom, and I accept my fate. From there, it’s give the staff my folder if I have it (that can be confusing), then off to the bathroom, watching the video playing on the big screen as I go.
Such is the life of a Moderately Autistic six and seven year old. No, they’re not all the same, each has their own ritual. I’ve just given you the one my son followed in the last year.
This year is shaping up to be a good deal different. Besides that my son is actually getting up without me counting time so much, because of COVID-19, he’s also going into the school by himself. I knew that day was coming, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.
His teacher assured me we would “break him” of the need to have dad come down that hallway with him. Where I never told her so, that was one of my favorite morning activities. We would walk, talk and pass the sometimes-jeering “normal” kids as I played little games with my boy on the way to the room where he spent a large part of his day. I already miss that.
My son spends, as I say, most of his school time in a suite for want of a better word, very near the front of the building. Instead of taking him in through the side entrance, he now goes in through the front one instead. That makes his walk, and the work of the ones watching after him the much shorter.
For the first couple of days of school, there’ve been teachers standing outside to welcome the special needs students. They would gather up the children as they made their way to the door, and usher them inside.
To begin with, it became obvious our morning confabs in the hallway were a thing of the past in this model. As I say, where I knew it was bound to happen, I’m still a bit discombobulated it occurred so quickly.
The other thing though, is that unlike with the old way of doing things, a teacher really ought to be there, to make sure he and others make their way inside.
Where he mostly doesn’t do it these days, my son has been prone to get “spooked” and run away from the thing he’s expected to head toward.
Yesterday (Friday), when we got to the school, he grabbed his backpack, opened the car door, and headed to the front entrance. I got distracted, and in that split second, I couldn’t see him anymore.
I’m not the type to be alarmist, though I suspect dealing with my boy has made me even more hypervigilant. As such, when I was unable to see him, I didn’t panic, I just made my way to the front ingress point.
Up until recently, they would have buzzed me into the building, I could have checked that he’d made his way to the class in which he was supposed to be, I might have bade him a good day and told him I loved him, then I would’ve been on my way.
I ambled up to the entryway and pulled the handle. The door was locked. “No big deal,” I thought. I knocked, and one of the staff in my son’s class group came to the door to advise me I couldn’t enter. “No, no!” I said, “I just wanted to make sure Garrett got in.” “You can’t come in!” she said. “I wasn’t trying to come in,” I responded, and repeated my earlier statement. At that point she understood what I was saying, and assured me he’d gone to the classroom.
This may not be a concern to you, but if it’s a foreboding of things to come, it’s quite likely I’ll be relatively unaware of what’s going on in the learning environment. That I’ve been able to keep up on that to some degree, has been a strong factor in the success that’s been consistently there between his educational team and myself. That ceasing to be possible will assuredly hamper future progress.
I get concern over the current health situation—though my thoughts and feelings on things don’t tend to match most folks’. Even so, I feel as though I need to have open communications with my child’s teachers to ensure he continues to move forward apace. I’m hoping things settle down as time goes on. That said, I’m a little worried that may not be the case. If it isn’t, I have fears for my son’s well-being, at least in the short term. This is my current concern. I hope and pray things work out for the best, not just for my child, but in general.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.