We are trying something different this week. A new way of trying to manage Hawklads anxieties. At present they can consume his thoughts, consume his day. They just seem to spread out and spiral out of control. Well let’s see if we can try and contain them a bit. This week when he gets an anxious thought then he makes a note of it and then immediately tries to distract himself. We now have a 30 minutes slot each day in which we discuss the anxieties he has made a note of. Talk them through.
Let’s see if this helps contain his anxieties. Helps him recapture more of his day.
Hawklad has been looking for a marker in the sand. Something to aim for which is solid. To him all the attempts to build bridges back into the wider world has to lead to something.
Yes school could be that. A return to the classroom. But he’s still not convinced that it’s right for him. Is he better off learning outside the school system. Plus it’s not a definite marker. It can be delayed. If the bridges aren’t ready say at the start of September, then maybe October might work.
Well now we have a solid marker.
One of his favourite bands, The Darkness are playing some gigs in December. So we have bought tickets to see them in quite a small standing only venue. A definite date which is far enough away to allow for steady progress. A true test of his progress. We can leave it to the last minute to decide if he’s ready. We can even get to the venue and Hawklad can see what it feels like. If he’s uncomfortable then we can just grab a pizza and come home. He’s seen them twice already so it won’t be a disaster if he doesn’t manage it this time.
You kind of assume that your country is geared up to support its young people. That they matter. Well they should matter and countries should be geared up. But this is Britain, where support and mental health services have been under funded and in recent times cut back. Britain which has a Government that wants to return to ‘good old Victorian values’. Britain where children are only seen in terms of future economic value. In Britain where support is frowned upon by those in charge. In Britain where children taking time off in the immediate aftermath of a significant bereavement is described by the Government as ‘extended holidays’.
In 2016 Hawklad lost his granny and mum within 6 weeks of each other. A traumatic experience for anyone but for an 8 year old with Aspergers, it’s an emotional maelstrom. But here’s the thing. Sadly he won’t be the only child in this position. But where’s the support. Schools are not set up to cope. In Hawklads case the school cared but where clueless. The specialised education services in the area had been effectively closed down to meet savings targets. I approached his Doctor who just referred to child mental health services. He warned that they had a backlog of cases. That was all the Doctor did. Hawklad was already on the waiting list for Aspergers support.
That was it for over a year. No support. Left up to me, someone who was struggling already. How do you start to help someone when you are broken.
Finally we got to see the Child Mental Health Team. They worked on anxiety issues but no bereavement counselling, no Aspergers support. Luckily his dedicated worker was wonderful and she did try but it was not her area of expertise.
Fast forward to 2021 and Hawklad still has not had any bereavement counselling. Taking a wider view. He had some help with a physiotherapist but that was cut. He started speech therapy but that service was cut. He has had a few months of Aspergers related support but the specialist retired and was not replaced. He has had no dyslexia support. He does get some support for anxiety but that is patchy.
AND he is one of the lucky ones in Britain….
It has to be better than this for all our children. THEY ARE NOT JUST ECONOMIC RESOURCES. It won’t change here under this Government, it will only get worse. BRITAIN is BROKEN when it can’t care for its children.
Apparently Hawklad missed 6 exams last week. That’s a whole lotta exams missed in just one week. On the bright side, Hawklad did complete 5….. 5 out of 11 is almost a pass.
Hawklad completed those 5 exams because the teacher or teaching assistant emailed him the paper. In the 6 he missed something didn’t happen and I just can’t put my finger on what didn’t happen…. Can you.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. The teachers are now tied up in the year above mock exams. It’s another mess. We bury will be so glad to see the back of this school year.
Everyday we go for a walk. Each day a little further. When we get the chance edging a little closer to people. It’s all part of our attempt to build up Hawklad’s confidence in the wider world again. Help overcome his social fears and phobias. Allow him to build bridges into the world again, when he is ready.
We are nowhere near entering crowds and busy public places yet. That will come in time. Next stage will be walking into a shop or supermarket. Then when he’s ready going for an ice cream and cake in a cafe. Then maybe school. I’ve already spoken to school about allowing him to work round the school after the school day has finished. But that’s for another day.
So we did a walk. A local walk. Maybe it’s the impact of over a years worth of lockdown but many local places are looking epic . When everything settles down I’m certainly going to appreciate more what I have on our doorstep.
Take for example yesterday’s walk. A circular 2 mile walk from our house. Tell me why it’s taken all these years to do this……
Whisper it. It almost feels like summer here in Yorkshire. Warm, dry, traffic jams, the shops are sold out of strawberries and watermelons. Yep it must be summer here.
So next steps….
This morning Hawklad mentioned that he is now aiming to return to school at the start of September. If he can’t go back then he will go for full homeschooling.
Today in the summer sun we tried a day time walk. The first day time walk for Hawklad in over a year. A carefully selected walk. Quiet. Rarely visited. Across farm land. It was a success. An hour walk completed. Ok not another human encountered but it is another step forward.
So we have less than 3 months to see if we can build Hawklad from deserted walks to being crammed in a classroom with 30 plus other students and teachers. That’s a tough ask. So little time to take so many steps forward.
When I first moved into the village all those years ago I remember going for a walk. No map, no real idea where I was heading. Just went to explore the new locality. Near the farm track in the photo is a path. On that first walk I followed that path. It looked like it was going to take me in roughly the right direction. But with no map I couldn’t check. Guess what. It went in the wrong direction. I got lost and it took me hours to get back home.
Hawklad has been submitting homework studiously all school year. He’s hardly had any marks or feedback returned. He’s been asking me to check his work as he just wasn’t sure how he was doing.
This morning out of the blue he received a very brief teacher comment about a piece of work submitted last week. The first feedback from this teacher in over a year. The comment simply said ‘Spot on’….
Here’s the problem. I had checked that work and it was good but it had mistakes. Some big mistakes. I had sat down with Hawklad to show him where he was right and where he was not so right. We talked through ways to answer those areas better. That’s feedback. I’m sorry but ‘Spot on’ doesn’t help Hawklad. He could end up going into exams doing some things the wrong way. Yes provide praise and reassurance but please also give tips to improve…..
What a difference a different view of something makes. Even just a few paces. Same pole but seen from the other side, just a few seconds later.
I worry quite a bit about the state of the UK’s school system. I don’t like it’s direction over recent times. A Government increasingly wanting to control what is taught and how it’s taught. Modern day Thought Police….
The last year of our school at home project has really highlighted that to me. Most lessons are about force feeding facts. The pupils are just expected to learn those facts parrot fashion. They are told what to look at, which books to read, which facts to absorb. What to believe and what not to believe. Pupils are expected to fit into a mould. So little scope to develop free thinking. Few chances to take the time to look at subjects from different directions. No scope to develop their own views and interests.
It really shouldn’t be like this. The irony. We live in a so called free society where our children are not free to think for themselves.
Yes it’s another one of those massive, multi lane Yorkshire motorways.
We are a couple of weeks into the start of trying to help Hawklad build bridges back towards the wider world again. It started with us taking the mad dog for a walk at night. Nighttime as it would be quiet with no other people out and about. Small steps in breaking out of walls that surround our little house and garden. The isolation which started 15 months ago.
We quickly realised that actually it’s always pretty quiet here, not just at night. So we started going for the walk a little earlier. Now nearer 7pm. Guess what. We still hardly see another soul. Currently that’s perfect for Hawklad. Very rarely we see a farmer or another dog walker. When that happens Hawklad immediately turns on his heels and heads quickly home in the opposite direction.
The other thing is that Hawklad doesn’t like to walk on the path. Just doesn’t feel comfortable doing that. So we walk on the road. Our massive and very busy road….
Well you can see just how big our road is. Just how busy it really is can be gauged on one fact. We have been walking every night straight down the middle of the road. Not once have we encountered a vehicle. The road is ours….
That’s such a cool feel. Such a cool feel for both of us. I can concentrate fully on talking and in the quiet bits, on dreaming.