I am so anxious and angry about everything that’s gone wrong as we move towards my son’s first day at school, that it’s keeping me up at night when I already don’t get enough sleep, and it’s giving me the tight-gut feeling you get when your emotions start to make you feel physically sick.
Sure the school had an arson a month or so ago, that’s not their fault… though I am not impressed with the fact that the school didn’t have sprinklers. Considering how horribly common school arson is, they should have had some measures in place to avoid it happening, or being as bad as it was, or even to catch the culprits (who are still un-caught). Even so, it happened, and they’re doing what they must to fix the situation, but that doesn’t explain or excuse all these other problems we’re trying to work our way through:
There was one day, with a one and a half hour period, in which we could buy the school uniform, from one location (all those details were the same pre-arson I should add). That would have been bad enough, but we made it work. Or it would have worked. If they had the uniform in stock. They were out of the compulsory shorts in my son’s size (he’s just a typical first-year size). This would have been a minor inconvenience perhaps for other parent’s, but like adjusting to the change in classroom, autism makes all these things a lot harder to cope with. We’d been telling him all about the uniform he must wear to school everyday, but it won’t be available until who-knows-when.
We had to figure out what room to take our son to for his first day. Class rooms and children’s names were on lists on the school hall wall. Except our son’s classroom, or his name. My husband had to make special inquiries to find that out. (That feeling that our son is being forgotten about gets worse as you’ll see later in this post.)
And then there’s the replacement classroom itself. Not finished yet, with only two working-days before school starts. Other classrooms are ready for use, but the special needs classroom – the classroom for the neediest children in the school – is one of the last ones to be put together and have access made available to it. Couldn’t – shouldn’t – this have been prioritized since these children would suffer the most from not having their classroom ready on time, due to their anxieties associated with change and uncertainty?
Then there’s the taxi service which is part of our son’s funding package. He is meant to be taxied to and from his school each day; the school is quite a distance from our house, but it’s the correct one for him to attend considering his level of need. The taxi service is contracted out by the special needs school (ie not the burnt school). We bought a booster seat expressly for the taxi. The person who drives this special taxi-service for these children, was meant to turn up a couple of weeks ago so he could meet our son and our son meet him, and discuss the pick-up and drop-off time, check out the taxi van, make sure the seat suits, etc. He never turned up. We contacted the principal in charge of the special needs school and she is still following it up, and hasn’t got back to us yet. Again, with only two working-days to go.
Then there’s the shoes. Our son has just had his scheduled orthotics appointment, and had apparently out-grown his last set of orthotic insoles. The insoles help correct the way his ankles roll in, which is just one of the many physical effects autism has on our son. It will take a month for them to make new insoles. We were waiting until after the appointment before buying his school shoes, and have now been told not to bother until we have the inserts because they may not fit in whatever shoes we buy. So he’s going to have the wrong colour shoes at school, oh well, I guess they’ll go with his wrong shorts. So much for not sticking out.
All these changes of course affect the social story we were reading him everyday going towards his first day of school. It’s become farcical. Almost every page is now inaccurate – the uniform, the room number, the room itself, the taxi service. Every night we read (and adjust) it, is a reminder of how wrong everything is going right now.
It’s got to get better, right? What else could go wrong at this stage? It’s going to be hard enough with him refusing to go toilet at school (he’s made it clear this is going to be a major issue), coping with morning tea time (which freaks him out for some reason), and being away somewhere that many hours in a row for the first time in his life. So many new things for him to adjust to, and all these challenges just making it all so much worse.
Please don’t tell me “it will all be all right”, I’ve heard that enough over the past month, yet things keep going wrong in new ways. I know I have to deal with this anyway, I have no choice, it might all turn out OK, or it might not; there’s nothing more I can do at this stage (that I’m aware of). Every effort we’ve made keeps getting undercut by bad fortune, or other people’s evil (the arsonists) or incompetence. At this point it doesn’t particularly matter whose fault all this is (though I have wanted to write off some strongly worded emails of complaint). What matters is how this is all affecting my son. And me.
All before he even gets in the classroom door 😦