This past week was a rather emotional one for me as a Mum. It’s probably the first negative autism related situation we’ve had (I’d love to think it’s the last but something tells me I may have to prepare for more battles over J’s life time). Now I’m going to be careful not to mention names but basically J has been going to a toddler group since he was 1 and when he turned 3 he moved up to the older session which is a structured session (this isn’t entirely new to J as he goes to nursery so is used to me not being there and having to follow a routine).
I tried to prepare for this by having a chat with the leader and offering suggestions how to help J and themselves. Sadly my suggestions were not wanted. They didn’t want to use J’s symbols and didn’t take on my suggestion that I stay for a couple of weeks.
So, J was sadly set up to fail. The second session was this week and yet again there was no support for J so of course he did what most 3 years do which is getting over excited and fidgety. Then the instructions got too ‘over explained’ to him and the Autism side kicked in and he went off for a walk.
I made the decision to take J out. This is sad as I have photos of him there ever since he was little having fun but now he’s older they seem to expect way too much. Without the support system J needs in place, he won’t thrive. Luckily J has been pretty much unaware of all of this and as far as he was concerned he was just having fun.
I looked for a new adventure.
I found Tumble Tots. This is a gymnastics based club. I was anxious as I picked up the phone. What if they didn’t want him? What if they didn’t listen? What if they set J up for more failure? It turns out my worries were for nothing. The instructor was really friendly. She asked questions about J and what he needed and how they could help. They suggested that I stay close to J for the first few weeks so they can get to know his little ways and how he communicates.
We went for our trial session on Thursday. Let’s just say that by lunch he was fully signed up for the next term.
It was amazing. From the second we walked through the door we were made to feel welcome. They greeted me and J. They asked a few more questions such as did he like to be touched? It’s considerations like that which make all the difference.
I went round with J, helped him to transition between equipment and to sit and listen. He did so, so well. He sat with the group and moved to the different obstacle courses with minimal prompting. They set up the whole session so it’s really preschooler friendly. They use visuals such as the ‘follow train’ and have 3 adults so the children are well supported.
J balanced, climbed, jumped and crawled. He colour matched, counted and practised throwing skills with frisbee. They had a music and movement session at the end. This was the time J was ‘done’. He doesn’t like singing and being crowded by groups making noise. It’s too unpredictable and overwhelming. So he went and ran up and down the hall.
He didn’t hurt anyone, didn’t put anyone off or interfere with the session. He was happy. At the end he got a sticker and was praised. I had a quick chat with the staff who were all full of compliments about my little man.
I almost cried, I was so happy. J straight away asked to go back and is looking forward to starting properly after half term. So today’s photo for me is a symbol of hope. Hope and a reminder that I am my boys Mother and I am his protector. I am there to make decisions that benefit him and protect him from the parts of the world that aren’t ready to accept autism.
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