Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to Switzerland. A country we have visited so many times. A country that generations of our family have been having adventures in for decades. It’s definitely alpine heaven.

It’s now 6 years since our last visit. It’s not so much money that is the limiting factor. It’s life. It’s single parenting. It’s Aspergers and social anxieties. It’s a pandemic. But we are committed to trying again. A plan is forming for 2022. Obstacles are difficult but potentially not insurmountable.

Dreams and adventures are there. We just need to find a way of reaching out and seizing them. It can still be such a wonderful life.

Big Step Tuesday

Tomorrow could be called Big Step Tuesday.

Hawklad hasn’t been to school since March 2020. Not been within one mile of the site. That’s a long time to be away. School at home has replaced it. But tomorrow maybe that starts to change.

We have tentatively setup a school visit. After school closes tomorrow, we will drive through the school gates and park up. Just doing that would be a huge step forward. Then just maybe Hawklad will venture into school. A school with no other pupils and have a walk round. A teacher will walk with him if it helps. Or his muppet dad can. Or he can walk around himself. Whatever he feels most comfortable with. He could stay for an hour or he could spend just a couple of minutes. It’s all about trying to rebuild bridges.

Yes it could be a big step towards a school return in September. Or it could confirmation that September is too soon. Or even it could be further evidence that full homeschooling is the way forward.

Yes Big Step Tuesday.

End of school year

We received an email from school. When the school reopens in September all COVID restrictions will go, in line with Government instructions. No masks, no support bubbles, no social distancing. Not the best time for Hawklad to potentially return. Hawklad who because of his anxieties will be looking for the reassurance of masks, space and safety measures.

How much social pressure will Hawklad be under to ditch his mask. Too much. It’s like the idea that he would put up his hand in class and ask for help with reading words. As much as he needed the help, putting that hand up in front of 30 other pupils was never an option.

It’s such an unnecessary mess.

Deadline

The one thing we have been careful about is not putting deadlines on the way forward. Somethings can’t be rushed. They have to happen in their own time frames especially as there are so many roadblocks out there. Especially when you get days where it’s one step forward and two back. That applies to my life just as much as it applies to Hawklad’s.

But it feels like a deadline is forming. The start of September. That sees the beginning of the new school year. But it’s different this year. His subject options have been picked. He is starting the final 21 month push towards his main exams. Fall behind now and it’s tough to catch up. This school year is hard enough even without anxieties and fears. Hard enough without having to worry about if it’s homeschooling or the classroom. Delaying a decision to return to the class adds so many complications. Hawklad would face the stress of returning to classes midway through the year. New classes. Different from the ones he left. Different faces. Established relationships and dynamics. That’s a real challenge for anyone but to someone with social anxieties, a nightmare.

Ideally September brings certainty. This is the start of how the learning and schooling goes until the exams. There shouldn’t be any sudden changes of approach. That’s why September feels like a deadline. A really tight deadline. Too tight. So many hurdles still to climb, so many bridges still to be rebuilt. Walking quiet country lanes although great progress is a million miles away from sitting without anxieties in overcrowded classrooms. Just under 8 weeks to do all that.

It’s also not much time to organise a full homeschooling approach leading to something meaningful for him.

Yes it feels like a deadline approaching fast.

Plan B

So our most viable plan of getting Hawklad out into the big bad world went up in smoke. And I mean up in smoke.

We are kinda back to the drawing board again. There isn’t another BK drive through in the area. Yes there are a couple of small BKs but they are a nightmare to get to, miles away and as he has never been inside them. So they aren’t really a viable option. He dislikes the other big burger restaurant chain. That’s definitely a Big Fat MacNoWay. He once went to a KFC but asked if they had anything else apart from Chicken. He likes pizza but has never found a pizza restaurant he is comfortable in. He will use the Taco Bell drive through but even before the pandemic hated the feel of the inside seating setup.

So we just don’t know what the new plan b will be. What’s that thing we can aim for. The benchmark to assess progress. We do need something, just don’t know what is now.

Didn’t see that coming

We pass that tree everyday on the mad dog walk. Actually it’s the mad dog pull. Near that tree is a gate that has a hidden wooden stake that trips me every couple of days. It’s been doing that for years…

We are slowly trying to reintroduce Hawklad back into the wider world. Trying to encourage him to build bridges in his own time. It’s not easy at the best of times but when a pandemic is still raging…….

One regular trip out has really helped. A trip to his favourite fast food restaurant. Before the pandemic it was the one place he would be comfortable eating inside with others. He is nowhere near ready to venture inside at present but he has built up the confidence for us to use the drive through. The plan was to keep coming here. Maybe more regularly during the summer holidays. It was the big hope for that first indoor adventure, a meal inside. Get to that stage and a classroom return might start to be in reach for him.

It’s that important it’s built into his health plan.

So we ventured there on Saturday afternoon. To find this.

The photo is from the local paper. The York Press.

It had burnt down on Friday. Thankfully no one was hurt but apparently it’s 60% to 80% destroyed . WE didn’t see that coming. Plan A out of the window. Plan B …… not really sure.

Music

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and sigh.

I was searching online for some new noise reduction earplugs for Hawklad. He needs these in settings with lots of background noise, like school classrooms and dinner halls. It’s not really about loud noise, just lots of competing sounds. His old ones are too small for him now. Problem is that he struggles with the feel of most of those you can get hold of.

So I did a search on if any particular brands of earplugs had been used successfully. See if any of the review sites had any tips. And here’s where I sighed.

The search brought up this little gem of a question on Quora.

“Why do people with Aspergers not like music……”

There are no words.

Well I bought a few earplugs which Hawklad can use when hopefully he sees the following bands in the next year or so.

The Darkness, Hollywood Vampires, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Ozzy….

And for no particular reason here are Hawklad’s favourite songs that he listens to virtually every day.

David Bowie – Space Oddity

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

ELO – Mr Blue Sky

Alice Cooper – Poison

Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness

Kiss – I was made for loving you

Europe – Final Countdown

Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For a Hero

AC/DC – TNT

Frozen – Let It Go

And his most favourite

Alter Bridge – Metalingus

Yes music. Lots of people love music.

Odd choice

Thousands of years of history. A world of unique and fascinating areas for schools to study.

Hawklad’s favourite subject. He loves absorbing and living bygone places and events. Already he has an in-depth knowledge of Britain’s Kings and Queen’s dating back before 1066. He’s pretty hot on the Roman Empire. During lockdown he has developed real expertise in Hitler and German fascism. These all were developed largely without school help.

Now he us keen to expand his knowledge into ancient Egypt and the French Revolution.

It would be nice if the school system would run with this desire to learn. Sadly the UK state school system has developed a Henry Ford approach. You can have any learning as long as it’s only the one that is imposed on pupils. One learning fits all approach.

So what subjects will school history focus on for the remainder of his schools days.

Russian Tsars – ok Hawklad can live with that one

American Wild West ok

Victorian Crime and Punishment……

I’m sorry he has zero interest in that. Learning graphic details of the Ripper Crimes is not his thing. He struggles to even think about this area due to his anxieties. Effectively a third of his best subject course and exam is likely to cause him severe stress.

Of all the fantastic areas they could have picked and they went for this. When did History effectively become Criminology. So a complete school stay and no European history (apart from the two world wars), no ancient history. Here’s what really bugs me. Hawklad’s school history has failed to look at some of the great historical figures. Nero, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Martin Luther, Louis XIV, Charlemagne, Constantine the Great. Nothing. Yet Jack the Ripper gets shed loads of focus.

Some might want that, but many won’t.

Here’s a radical thought. Let the pupils have discretion to pick from a wide range of subject interests. That’s how you great a true lifelong spirit of learning.

Mobile

There is so much wrong with my countries education system. Teachers aren’t allowed to freely teach as they are told what and how to teach by the Government. Headteachers have to follow instructions from above. Parents are threatened with fines by the Government. Government policy discriminates against those fantastic kids who don’t fit the mould set by the Government. Most school classrooms are overcrowded set in ancient buildings that are not fit for purpose and have next to no ventilation. The country has the highest class sizes in Western Europe. Historically our schools have been a haven for spreading bugs rather than spreading hope. Covid cases are rising rapidly in school age children, up by 80% in one week. Over 10% of children with Covid end up in hospital or develop long Covid. That is at a time when Covid safety rules on things like masks have been removed in schools. It’s as if the Government are intentionally trying to infect as many children as possible. There is a massive mental health crisis amongst our young at a time when cuts have left services at breaking point. Thousands of children are going hungry, living in poverty.

So much for the Government to act on. So what is the priority. What is the one thing the Secretary of State for Education wants to focus on…

Stopping pupils using mobile phones in school. Apparently they think there is a behaviour problem. Yes there is. NOT in schools, it is in the Government. It starts with the Prime Minister and infects those at the top.

Talk about skewed priorities. But what do we expect from this Government led by Boris Johnson. What do we expect from a Secretary of State for Education who proudly has a horse whip on his desk.

Our children deserve better than this.

The sooner we get rid of the cesspit in charge of our country the sooner we can start to build the future that our children deserve.

Not sure

A return to school for Hawklad in September will have to be so carefully managed. To be fair to school they are happy to do what they can. Phased start. Days to suit Hawklad. Prepared to make adjustments where they can.

But here’s the problem.

The set teaching material.

Some topics will open old wounds, reignite anxieties. This could derail everything

Let’s take this weeks lessons.

Science exam questions on Cancer,

Science lessons on diseases,

History lesson researching the murders and causes of death of the victims of Jack the Ripper. The details are graphic,

A lesson on food poisoning,

A lesson on mental health and suicide.

That’s one week. I can manage this at home but how do you address this at school. I’m not sure at all.