It’s been exactly one week since Barney started his medication to calm his anxiety. It’s been the most anxious week so far! From the morning he started taking it, he got more and more panicky. Having meltdowns trying to get into school, panicking hourly about our trip to Turkey in June. Today I had three phone calls… one from the school, one from the Autism Intervention Team, and one from his psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was phoning to ask how the medication was working and whether we were seeing a reduction in his anxiety. I explained that he had actually been worse, and asked if that could be a reaction somehow to the medication. He seemed pretty stumped. He was a bit silent on it for a while and I wondered if I was coming across as if I was exaggerating or making it up! He said he’d never heard of it having that reaction and that we should stick with it for another week, when he will phone again.
Yesterday a lady from the Autism Intervention Team came out to see us. She was very nice, very understanding and seemed to be the most clued-up so far on how serious this issue of anxiety is. She talked with us for about an hour and offered a lot of useful advice. Today she phoned the school and spoke to Mrs M, the SENCO (Special Needs coordinator) and then phoned us. Then Mrs M phoned us too. I’m not too keen on this Mrs M - out of everyone involved she seems to have the least clue. And she’s the one supposed to be helping.
As I wrote below, we were sent home from school three times last week, due to his anxiety and refusal to go into class. The school did not phone me, or offer any advise or help. We were just left to it. So the lady from the AIT helped us come up with a plan that would help Barney get back into school. She said the important thing was to get him into the classroom, even if only for a few minutes, before the fear got so big that it got blown out of proportion. She said we had to make an agreement with Barney about steps he could take to get back into school.
So that’s what we did. She suggested using a timer, and Mrs D (his teacher) had already said that I could sit in the car and wait if necessary. So we came prepared with a social story that I’d made, showing him staying in school with his timer for 15 minutes. He agreed that he could try to manage 15 minutes whilst I waited in the car. Although he looked as white as a ghost and totally petrified he managed to make it into class with him timer. I told him I was proud of him and waited in the car. 30 minutes went by before he came out. He had managed the 15 minutes and felt ok to do another 15. So that was great.
Tomorrow he has agreed to go in until break time, and hopefully on Friday he will make it to lunch time.
But when Mrs M phoned, all manic and hyper as she usually seems to be, she was going on about it being no good him just sitting looking at a timer waiting to leave. And then something about not being able to sign him in for a full day and the education board getting wind of him having too much time off. I told her that I didn’t give a stuff what the education board thought under the circumstances, and that I had been given no help by the school to come up with a way to get him in. Plus my way had actually worked and was progressing. Then she started waffling on about me not being allowed to stay in the car whilst Luke was at school because if I do that then all the parents will want to. What? Parents will want to join me, sitting in the cold doing nothing instead of getting on with the millions of chores we always have? I don’t think so. She seemed to be totally missing the point that I’d actually managed to get him into the classroom without any help from her.
I said that I wanted a meeting with her, and Barneys teacher, as advised by the woman from the AIT and was greeted with ‘well lets concentrate on getting him back into school first time, then in a few weeks when he’s settled again we can have a meeting to discuss things’. I wasn’t too impressed by that. Surely if things are bothering him or he has issues with school that need addressing, it is better to address them now BEFORE it starts upsetting him again? The AIT was talking about him having time out sessions during the day where he could be alone and have peace and quiet, which is common in schools for autistic children. In my opinion it would be better to get those things into place so that he feels happy to settle back into school; rather than waiting. I don’t think me and Mrs M are going to get along somehow.
Anyway, the AIT have requested that Barney be assessed by an educational psychologist, to assess his needs at school. This may well lead to him having his own assistant in the classroom. But once again it is a waiting game.
In other news…..
Tarja and Badger are off on half term holidays this week. So Rosie is getting plenty of attention. We have our concerns about Rosie who is also showing several autistic tendencies at the moment. I’m not sure whether I’m being paranoid and ‘on the look out’ for them, or whether she will just outgrow these things in time. Only time will tell.
I’ve barely had a moment for my nutritional studies the last few weeks and have fallen behind. (Well, there’s not actually a time limit so I can’t really fall behind I suppose). Excitingly we will be travelling to Turkey in June for the wedding of my sister and her fiancé… we are all very excited about that. The big kids can not wait. Especially since they’ve seen the photos of our apartment, with its lagoon swimming pool. Barney is very nervous about flying but I’m hoping we have time to work on that. BIG thanks to the most wonderful Mum in the entire world (no, not me!! hehe) who is paying for us to go to the wedding in Turkey. Such generosity. For which we are very grateful. I’m really looking forward to it now, and can’t wait to see my little sis in her beautiful wedding dress, with her dashingly handsome new hubbie at their sunset beach wedding. Sounds like a dream!
Oh, and we took a trip to the Ulster Museum on Friday. Just Marty, me and the two little ones. I wanted to show Barney the dinosaur bones, in the hopes that he would develop an interest in them rather than a fear. The second we walked into the noisy museum (I was expecting a quiet place!) he totally freaked out and wanted to go home. With the aid of his ear defenders we calmed him down and actually had a great family day together.