It’s hard to believe Louie is now embarking on his final term of reception. Over the past 6 months at full time school I have seen my son grow with confidence and most importantly happiness. Of course from the outlook he is happy and embracing his school life however it has taken a considerable amount of hard work, consistency, meetings and forms to enable us to achieve this.
The Easter holidays seemed to hit me like a sledgehammer as the monumental preparations of the EHCP seemed to have its affect on me. Being organised does not come naturally to me therefore the Spring terms rigorous sechedule of meetings and form filling have taken their toll on me mentally. Alas the hard work has paid off and we are on our way to a decision concerning Louie’s EHCP. I will keep you updated in a further post about our journey with the EHCP when the decision is made and when I can bare thinking and talking about it again!
Now with a much better knowledge of school routines Louie has settled well into reception. After the October holidays in the Autumn Term it was apparent that Louie did not understand why he was suddenly not at school, something I wasn’t expecting was a nightmare half term as he tried to process why his routine was completely thrown. Therefore with the help and guidance from the school we staged a thorough transition into the Christmas Holidays and back out of them into January. Through social stories and a countdown of “sleeps” we were able to ease Louie into the Christmas holidays. Since November 1st Louie has asked me how many sleeps until next Halloween… I am now asked how many sleeps to Halloween, Christmas, his beach holiday and his birthday every single morning within minutes of him opening his eyes. To say this isn’t a grueling way to spend the first 2 minutes of my morning is an understatement but I’m confident that my mental arithmetic skills have had a good reawakening since my school days!
The Christmas holidays were a success and the visual timetable also helped to structure each day for Louie and him to have a good idea of what to expect from each day.
He seemed happy to return to school after another countdown of sleeps leading to the “back to school” day. In January the school start a programme called “Forest School” with the reception class. Forest school is described as a “specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education” Louie and his class would go out to the woodland area behind the school every week on a certain day to learn through the natural world. I was excited for Louie to be starting Forest School he has always loved the outside especially woodland areas and nature and these are the times when he is at his calmest. Although it did worry me how he would cope with the change of routine to the school day and also the fact that on those specific days he was to attend school wearing waterproof clothing and non uniform underneath. We picked a waterproof onesie together and although the first few weeks were stressful due to him not wearing a uniform like his sister in the morning he soon understood that they were forest school clothes. Louie loves forest school we always manage a great conversation on his way home from school of what he has learnt and did at Forest School and he now loves his “farmer suit” which he wears with pride on the way to Forest School!
As the term as progressed I noticed Louie began showing an interest in signs when out and about and also some of the packaging in the home. He began by asking what they said then what they meant and obviously the all relenting question “why?” Explaining why the soap is called soap and other mind boggling questions to reason with him has been tiring but so worth it. I never ever imagined he would take such an interest in text and reading and although sitting with him, with his reading book is a near on impossible task which always ends in an angry outburst, this to me is just as important, as a key sign he is ready to start engaging in learning. From here he began pointing out the letter L and stating “L” for Louie which then progressed to other letters he recalled from his name. One morning he was drawing at the table when he sounded out his sisters name, I then looked at his page and he had attempted to write the letters, I couldn’t have been more proud. These are the little things that I could never ever have imagined happening.
February was a difficult month for us as a family due to a close family member becoming very ill and my husband having to fly back to Ireland for a fortnight. There wasn’t time to prepare Louie for the change as us ourselves struggled to cope with the dramatic turn of events that befell that period in our lives. All I could do was keep things as consistent as possible for him and the others indoors with timetables and being truthful and honest about the event. I didn’t give him a sugar coated story of why daddy and mummy may be upset and gave him as close to the facts as possible and I think because of this he understood and accepted what was going on. Obviously it wasn’t an easy time for any of us but Louie coped remarkably especially taking into consideration how close he is to his dad.
Many meetings were attended by myself and teachers in March with the progression of Louie’s EHCP which I will blog about at a later date when I finally have my head around the process!
Throughout March I noticed a change in Louie, he was becoming more confident and self assured. We were beginning to have conversations and to finally his voice, as in views and opinions, start to emerge filled me with pride even if they were simple monotone phrases such as “and I laughed because that was funny” His relationship with his older sister is as I’ve always stated extremely close and he has always been reliant on her and used her as safety blanket in social situations. However in March I started to see Louie becoming his own person and forming friendships of his own. At the little park in the village he would play with a couple of boys from his class whilst his sister had the much needed respite of playing with her own friends.
Louie and Alice love imaginative play and look forward to their games together after school. With barbies and action figures they reenact scenes (usually in mock, exaggerated American accents) and play for hours. Louie likes to control all elements of the games which makes me sad for Alice as he tells her exactly what to say in answer to whatever phrase he says. She willingly obliges each time and when she doesn’t the violent outbursts occur. I have spoken to the school about this as it does concern me, especially if he plays like this at school as he is just creating bonds and I don’t want them to be affected due to his methods of play. The school are are working with Louie on this by reading social stories to help him understand the best way to play with friends and approach potentially new friends. I know this one is going to be a long road but am confident with the progress he has made so quickly already we will achieve it.
Now in his third and final term of reception we have had some amazing news as a family as Louie’s EHCP has been approved meaning one to one help at school until he is 25. We are at the very start of understanding all this means so will come back to you very soon with a full post on what it has entailed up until this point and further more into his future.
For now I am overjoyed to see the progress he is making and the knock in effects his happiness have on the whole family. At the beginning of our journey, after Louie’s diagnosis aged 3, I would pray for answers and a crystal ball to see into the future. My anxiety of what his future held was suffocating me ; would he be able to communicate? Would he make friends? How would I get him into a specialist school? And many more continual questions that I couldn’t comprehend and needed answers for. Now two years on I am calmer, I realised a good parent’s worries never pass, for each solved problem a new one arises and I have realised that all I can do is continue to fight and work hard for what my children deserve in their education and happiness in life.
The Cockney in the Countryside