Raising an autistic child often feels like a battle you might never win.
And I’ve found that the best way to survive is to break down the difficulties in to smaller chunks – divide and conquer, so to speak. The only trouble with it is that the battles come fast and frequently, leaving little time to recover in between. And the more battles you face, the more tired you become.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Sawyer’s annual review meeting was held. This is where I meet with teachers and specialists to review his EHCP funding and decide what is working for him in school, and what needs to be changed. I wasn’t feeling positive about the meeting because since Sawyer had gone back to school in September life had become increasingly difficult, and he didn’t seem to be progressing at all. That said, I have worked hard on my ability to think logically about potential solutions for Sawyer’s problems and suggest suitable remedies. I wasn’t feeling positive about the meeting, but I certainly wasn’t worried it couldn’t be fruitful.
The planning meeting happened to be scheduled on the same day as my work’s Christmas event. I joked with myself that the fun of eating and drinking with friends would either help me to celebrate a positive meeting or commiserate a terrible one. But what I hadn’t realised was that the meeting would leave me with a realisation so pivotal to my family’s future that it would take a lot more than a lunchtime tipple to help move my mind elsewhere.
The planning meeting began with every horrible moment of Sawyer’s school life being stretched out in front of me, poked at and dissected. Problems were thrown on to the table like monopoly money, yet nobody seemed to have any answers. My mind raced, trying to keep up with the pace of what was going on around me, needing to think rationally about my replies, but not having time enough to go through that process in my head. Whilst I dug hard to come up with a solution for the last problem, the next one had already been identified, and was already being discussed.
I stared down at my hands, clasped together in my lap. I systematically stroked each bauble-painted fingernail as the conversation continued around me for what felt like a lifetime, but can only have been a few seconds. I must have blinked heavily then, because when I looked back up something felt different. I was in the room, and I was outside of the room, too. I could still hear the concerns but suddenly they were no longer important.
With all the noise and chaos going on around me, a moment of clarity ensued.
Mainstream school is just not working anymore.