Wishing you all a very happy New Year now we have returned from the very amazing Obertauern in Austria. This was the children’s first experience of air travel and it was a huge success. We registered for special assistance at Gatwick Airport and this meant we were sped through all of the checks, driven to our own departure lounge and assisted on to the plane. No queuing, plenty of smiles and despite being really tired, no dreaded meltdown.
Ben tried skiing in Austria and was confident and fearless! The altitude helped him sleep and the relaxed hospitality we were given by our hosts really helped the whole holiday go smoothly. We only had two meltdowns the entire break, and this was initially due to changing plans after the incredibly heavy snow fall. Ben cried in the wardrobe for about 20 minutes with me sat outside telling him that it would be ‘okay’ and he ‘was doing really great’. Another time was when his metal snow machine broke after some heavy usage. Again we sat together whilst he raged and cried and I reassured him once he was calm that we could work out what to do together. In both instances the style of parenting is not casting blame or shame when the behaviour becomes challenging for us. I have to remember always to say ‘it’s alright’ and provide a calm space for us to ‘time in’ together to process what went wrong and if we can fix it.
Whilst we were away my father became very unwell and had to have major surgery. Fortunately my sisters and mum were able to be there and I felt reassured that everything that needed to be done to help was being done. I’ve been up and down to the hospital since returning, and I’m pleased to say he is making progress with recovery.
Back to reality..
Monday the first week back to school. Ben is still only doing mornings, but we had agreed together he might like to stay for the club in the gym each Monday lunch time for some social skills practice. He refused his lunch and sat in the classroom until it was time for the club to begin. Ben attended the entire session and had a positive interaction with a friend who also has ASD. It was a success we felt given that it was day one. Other days have been more tricky, with hiding in the school corridor in his coat and refusing to leave the house once we were home.
We are having to pursue mediation with Somerset County Council before they will consider appealing Ben’s case for an appropiate school place, but I am aware this is all just ‘hoop jumping’ until we reach the tribunal stage. The meditation team said this is the norm with Somerset and having to challenge them to provide funding standard practice. We continue to visit asd units in mainstreams (which are full) and the battle ahead feels enormous. I sometimes question if I have the stomach for it, wondering why I must struggle to get Ben a school place given his recorded and verified needs, evidenced by professionals at county already. I think they are stalling to save money and hope that I will give up and go away quietly. But I won’t be quiet or go away. I will be like a headache, that is just at the temple, reminding them of their legal duty to provide my son with an education whilst on a school role. Their paperwork doesn’t intimidate me, or their nonsense processes and jargon. We will go a day at a time forward with our determination for Ben to be educated and to thrive. And they will listen.