PARENTS

Mum Of Son With Autism Explains Why She Can't Tell You Whether Her Son Is Enjoying School

'I really have no idea. I wish I knew.'

11/09/2017 15:24 | Updated 11 September 2017

A mum of a boy with autism has shared why she can’t answer well-meaning questions about whether he enjoyed his first day of pre-school.

Mum Adrian Wood, who blogs at Tales of an Educated Debutante, explained that her son Amos finds it hard to articulate his feelings about his day.

Sharing a post on Facebook titled: ‘The questions I can’t answer’, Wood wrote on 6 September: ”‘How did he like school?’, ‘How was his first day of school?’, ‘How does he like school?’

“‘I don’t know’, I’ve begun to say. I’m supposed to say: ‘Great!’, but I can’t. I hope so, but I really have no idea. I wish I knew.” 

Wood wrote: “It’s awfully hard, never knowing and wondering when your little person can’t articulate their day or feelings.

“I remember when my first three three-year-olds went to preschool. They were excited to go, some more nervous than the others, and when I picked them up, we walked home for lunch and they jabbered about the day.

“What they did, people in their class, the teachers, playing in the gym, even the letters in their names, I heard about every single detail.

“With my son who has extra special needs? Amos? Crickets. I never got a worrisome phone call and I wondered what he had for lunch or if he fell asleep. Did he question why his siblings weren’t on the bus today?

“I saw his face light up when he saw me from outside the window at his bus stop.

“He lit up and wriggled in excitement and when I made my way up the bus stairs, he cackled in delight and leapt into my arms.

“A kind kindergartener handed me his backpack and then he got down and climbed down the big old bus stairs. All by his own self.

“‘Bye bye, yellow school bus’, he said. I think that means he liked it.”

Commenting on the Facebook post, a National Autistic Society spokesperson, told HuffPost UK: “A child’s first day at school can be an anxious time for any parent. Our charity understands how those concerns can be exacerbated for parents of children on the autism spectrum, particularly if their child can’t easily tell them about their needs or feelings.

“Parents will usually have established communication and other routines with their autistic child at home, so it can be extremely disconcerting when they first see their child off to school. That’s why it’s so important that schools work closely with parents - and the child – to find what communication tools work best for them.

“For instance, many families and class teachers find picture cards, which illustrate different types of emotion, extremely helpful. A picture approach allows the child to choose an image which best illustrates how they are feeling. For parents, behaviour diaries can also help to assess their child’s mood over time.

“Whatever happens, every autistic child or adult is different, so there’s not one approach that will work for everyone, but understanding a child’s individual way of communicating will help reduce anxiety and improve the confidence of parents, teachers and the child.”     

Wood has previously opened up about how she felt when her son was diagnosed with autism in March 2017.

“This autism thing seems like a complicated sea of prehistoric animals swimming along futuristic creatures,” she wrote in an open letter on Today.

“You never strike the same way, so I’m scared of what to expect. I’m scared you’re going to ask too much.

“Just give me a little time, OK? I’ll get used to you. After all, Amos stole my heart long ago.”

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