Here comes Summer!

Joshua will finish his first full year in 6th form on 24th July, which seems unbelievable to me, where did that year go? It seems just a blink of the eye since I was anxious about his big move upstairs and his early days when he was kicking at closed doors, trying to escape. And now he will be moving to his second year out of three, so if that one flies by just as fast then we are in trouble.

But before I can think about Joshua moving classes in September, we have the long summer holiday to contend with. We will go away on a family holiday for two weeks of the six weeks off school and so we need a plan for the remainder , when I work Monday to Thursday. It is quite a logistical juggling act to manage childcare during the holidays but I think I am sorted now.

But I know that school holidays are a stressful time for many families with children with special needs : the change in weekly routine can unsettle many children; I have heard of some families having to drive to school to show a pupil that it is really closed. We are fortunate that Joshua slots into the holiday routine and he tends to make the most of lie-in opportunities whenever they arise and that he does not fret or question a change to routine. Joshua has always faced life as the ‘here and now’, I do not believe that he thinks about the past or worries about the future, he deals with whatever is in front of him. I often think that my life would be easier if I approached things like my son does.

School holidays can be an isolating time for many parents and children, as they lose the social contact and structure that school provides. Not many of our children will receive invitations to play round someone else’s house in the holidays, as would happen for mainstream children. I have tried to remedy that , on a small scale, by inviting four mothers and their children round for lunch, hopefully in the garden, in August. It can be hard to find things to occupy our children in the holidays as they are used to a structured and busy school day.

I asked at one of my parent coffee mornings just before May half term what they planned to do in the school break and I received one reply which was “coping”. Another has described the summer holidays as the most stresful time of year as their hyper-active autistic son requires close monitoring for all of his waking hours. That for me sums up the issue for our families. I know that many mainstream pupils will complain about being bored in the holidays, but for our students, it is not just about boredom, it is about so much more and many parents will already be counting the days until the new term in September.

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