This morning Barney’s teacher was waiting in the playground to speak to one of us. Marty took him to school today, so she spoke to him. The paediatrician that we saw last week phoned the school on Friday to speak with Barney’s teacher. She seemed pleased that he had spent so long on the phone and was showing general interest and concern. When she told him how Barney is at school, how anxious and worried, and how he doesn’t interact with other children, the doctors reply was “well, that is not good, we shall have to do something about that then”. She said that once the school and autism team are working together things get done a lot faster. So here’s hoping.
Barney was invited to a party on Saturday. He was really excited about it and wanted to go, but was anxious as always. Marty agreed to go with him and stay as long as was needed at the party, which was in the town hall with about 40 children. Marty ended up staying for the entire party. He came home utterly emotionally exhausted and near to tears. It was the first time that Marty had really seen Barney in that sort of environment, whereas I had been on school trips to observe and had already had my heart tugged at.
Barney’s two friends from school didn’t make it to the party, which made it worse for him as he doesn’t interact with any of the other children. His two friends at school (the teacher calls them the three musketeer's) are a boy whose brother has Asperger Syndrome, and a boy who can not talk properly – Barney has taken it upon himself to teach this boy how to speak. The party was hard work. Barney would not do anything, would not play anything, would not join in with anything, looked constantly on the verge of panic, cried a few times, wouldn’t talk to anyone, wouldn’t look at anyone. He just looked as if he had been plonked down on an alien planet and expected to fit in.
They both got home from the party (Marty an emotional wreck by this point) and Barney ran in to tell me what a great time he had. He was full of stories about the games they played, how he got his face painted. He often seems oblivious to how hard he finds things; as if he is just so used to it that it seems normal.
I’ve just found this last week pretty hard going. Barney seems to be finding things harder and harder and harder. If he is as desperately anxious at school as he was at that party then it seems awful to be sending him there every day. He comes home from school telling me everything was ok, just as he did from the party. Then his teacher tells me a completely different story when I speak to her. I am torn with worry about him at the moment and sometimes it feels like my heart is just going to break for him.
At the moment he has taken to spending every free moment on his own in the play shed. It was full of old stock from Marty’s shop, but they cleaned it out a few weeks ago. Barney has spent weeks turning it into a little club house of his own. He has a rug, seating, shelves, a dinner table, toys. He eats every meal that we allow out there in the club house. The second he gets home from school he goes out there, and we don’t see him for hours on end. He is just quite happy to be out there alone. I have to keep checking on him to make sure he is ok. He has collected all the bottle tops from milks, juices, coke etc over the last few weeks, and he has them all lined up in colour order out in his play shed.