This week signals the end of the Christmas holidays and the return to school. I love having my children home for the holidays but I absolutely dread the return to school. For my youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum this total change in routine is very upsetting for him and you can visibly see his anxiety levels rising. This is the blog I wrote on the morning of his return to school.
'What a morning, the first morning back to school after the Christmas break. My stress levels are at their highest and now that Tom has gone I feel like a total failure.
He woke at 5am, got into our bed without saying a word and this I knew was a bad sign. He then dozed until 6am and then after much persuasion managed to get him downstairs for his milk. He then sat and had his milk, followed by cornflakes while playing on the IPad. All of this time saying, 'no school today' and 'I hit you'.
Anyway the time for getting dressed loomed nearer and this is when the trouble began. He lay down on the couch and refused to take his pyjamas and nappy off. In the end I had to wrestle them off him which then resulted in him clinging to me saying 'no school today, put my pyjamas on', he held on so tight, it nearly broker heart. After much cuddling I did manage to get him dressed and popped his dressing gown on. He chose his 'monster' today.
While waiting for the taxi he wanted cuddles so I picked him up and again he clung on so tightly with his arms around my neck. As the taxi appeared tears started to roll down his face, his anxiety so very real, repeatedly saying 'no school mummy, no school'. I remained calm and slowly putting him down held his hand and walked him out to the taxi. I felt so utterly helpless.
He sat in the taxi still crying and his final words to me were 'I hit you.'
This is the reality, the brutal reality of living with and raiding a child on the autistic spectrum. I feel awful, I know he has to go to school and I also knew that this morning would be difficult but it still doesn't stop the feeling that I have done something wrong. I wanted to carry him back inside the house, away from the world, away from the world that both confuses and frightens him. As a mother you are meant to protect your child, but this morning I feel that I have failed.'
Having now had time to reflect upon what happened I do realise that I am not the worst mother in the world and that I did what I had to do, but at the time it was very hard to 'see' this.
The events described in my blog post are very typical of thousands of parents out there, every morning, trying to get their autistic child ready for school; this was shown in the many twitter responses that I received from other parents.
I am certainly not alone.