My son is 4. He has a severe speech and language disorder and global development difficulties. His spoken output is severely limited – possibly a hand full of complete words, and then (after 2 years of speech therapy and constant practice at home) a lot of mostly prosodic but unintelligible utterances. He has an extensive signing vocabulary, but because of difficulties with motor control – you really need to know him well to understand them (oh – and know Makaton as well!).
Consequently he struggles greatly with communication and making friends. We have put him in our local mainstream school because we believe it to be his best way of making and maintaining friends. He has made an amazing start to his school year. He has the most wonderful learning assistant who is truly responsive to his needs. He seems happy at school and the home school communication book goes a long way to ensuring I know what he has been up to so I can chat about his day with him. We have had a good first update meeting on his progress and the actions that they have in place to support him. So all in all everything in principle seems to be working fine.
So why do I still feel that gnawing pit of anxiety in my stomach everyday when I take him to school?
Yesterday, I had to pick him up early from school for a Dr’s appointment. All the children were out in the playground. I stood on the upper deck looking for him and then I spotted him. He was stood alone. Passively just standing there whilst all the children ran, shouted and played around him. He was unresponsive to everything that was happening around him, still and silent, with the blank look he has on his face when his environment has switched him off. Then he turned and saw me – his entire demeanour changed and he ran his daft lolling run towards me and put his tiny hand in mine. The change from marble statue to my warm emotionally responsive son was electrifying.
I know it’s still early days in school and he needs time to settle and time to build friendships and relationships. I don’t know if this is happening everyday or this was just a snapshot in time. But I just can’t get the image of him in his bright orange coat – stock still in the melee of the playground – out of my head. And it makes me sad.