Misfits and Meetings

COS_09

When it comes to school – I do the necessary. I drop The Boy off in the morning and pick him up at home time. Sometimes I go in to calm him down if he’s having a particularly difficult day, though I should add that it’s at my request that they phone me.

Some parents do other stuff like going in to read with the children and going on school trips etc., I don’t. Not because I’m a lazy cow who’d rather be sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle point at chavs – no- it’s because I have social, sensory and anxiety problems.

In every playground you will see the ‘perimeter ‘hoggers’. These are the lone wolf parents who lean against walls and railings looking at their phones trying to be invisible. I am one of those people.

My coats have pockets which disguise the fact that I am constantly fiddling with my keys. If I’m not fiddling with my keys I am looking at my phone – sometimes I am doing both. I look at the parents who socialise with ease and know it will never be me, not unless I have lobotomy anyway.

The thought of being jammed on a school bus with noisy kids is my idea of hell and when I was asked if I could help out I had no choice but to tell the truth.

‘I’m having a panic attack just imagining it. I’m not great with crowds and I have anxiety problems, you see. Sorry!

The school are understanding of this now and don’t ask anymore. I feel sad but accept that I have limitations and to push beyond those would do more harm than good as they would have a hyperventilating lunatic to look after as well as the children.

Thankfully The Boy has his SSA and he probably copes better without me in those situations as he could pick up on my anxieties no matter how much I tried to mask them – especially if a full blown panic attack was to occur.

However, when I heard that our SENCo was setting up a group with the parents of children with special needs, I knew I had to be part of it. I was apprehensive but knew the group would be small and that my friend would be there. She’s very lovely and reassuring, bless ‘er.

Having missed the first two meetings due to being elsewhere and, er, mixing the date up – I finally made the third.

Even something as trivial as this causes me anxiety especially when it’s something I haven’t done before, (fear of the unknown), but my mind was made up. I was going to do it because the school has given us so much support and I wanted to give something back.

So the day came and I ran through my notes.

Have something to eat so tummy doesn’t growl like a bastard.

Take reading specs.

Pen and paper because you know you’ll totally forget everything that’s said.

Wear hearing-aid to avoid saying ‘Eh?’ all the time.

Have massive wee before you go.

Drawing on my years of coping skills I went in earlier than the others. I find it hard to walk into a room with people in it I aim to be first in whenever possible. There were six of us in total – so a nice small group which I can cope with.

Heart clanging away I waited for the others to arrive.

I recognised one of the other mothers as a lady who used to work at The Boy’s nursery, (where he was first suspected of being autistic), so there was only one parent there who I didn’t know, at least by sight.

First job – tea and cake.

After years of practice I can now drink in front of strangers but food is still iffy. So the flapjacks were a no-go area for me. Better safe than choking to death having breathed in whilst trying to swallow, eh?

I may not have felt entirely comfortable but I was there.

Most people will consider this an insignificant thing. ‘It’s only a little meeting yer silly mare!’ but I know there will be others who will nod like mad. ‘Oh yes! That’s me too!’

It felt good to be in the presence of people who understand what it’s like to have a child with conditions like autism. They understand the daily challenges and judgement by ignorant gits. I’m used to the feeling of not belonging because I’ve never fitted in anywhere, (hence the misfit reference), but for the hour and a half I was there I didn’t feel quite the “misfit missy”as I usually do.

The school supports our son but they also support me. If I go into school to comfort him and the hall is full of kids catapulting themselves over the vaulting equipment the receptionist takes me around another way to avoid my anxiety levels going orbital. It’s a small thing but means that I am better mentally equipped to deal with my son’s meltdown.

I’m passionate about autism awareness so I really need to be as proactive as I can. My next goal is to attend the autism show. Don’t get me wrong I have been to crowded venues in my time – sometimes it’s required a nip of the hard stuff and sometimes I’ve gone in cold but it’s always been a struggle which is why I tend not to bother now.

It will be crowded and my anxiety will be off the scale both before, during and after but I figure that even if I was to lose the plot – it wouldn’t really matter because most people there will have seen much worse.

My drive comes from years of being ignored or misunderstood at school. Without doubt I have a learning disability and struggled every day of the ten years I was there. Nobody saw my distress and as a result I left school with nothing to show for it. Going through the SEN process makes me realise that, with support, I’d have been capable of much more. As it is all I have are a bunch of ‘if onlys’.

If only I’d have been allowed to stay in at play-times my anxiety might have lessened to a degree where I could take in information in order to learn.

If only I could have entered the class early and left after everybody else then I would have been spared the anxiety of being pushed and shoved in crowded corridors.

If only I could have worked in small groups – I might have learned something except fear.

If only I’d have had somewhere to escape to when it became too much instead of having to endure the stress, the stimulus and the bullying.

If only somebody would have seen beyond ‘shyness’ and recognised that I needed help.

How different my life might have been..

I point blank refuse for my son to go through that.

But thanks to an amazing school with teachers who care.. he hasn’t.

Image Credit Public Domain CC

Sons, Sand & Sauvignon

29 thoughts on “Misfits and Meetings

  1. I feel you have bared your soul here Tracy, it’s such a shame because putting pen to paper you are so eliquent however you suffer so terribly in a face to face situation. Obviously you can’t change what never happened in your past but hats off to you for doing your best for the boy, putting yourself in the most overpowering awful situation for the best for him, that deserves a massive pat in the back.
    I liked to stay on the outside edge of the playground when waiting for my kiddies coming out of class, it’s a knack at evading faces and looking intently at objects, flowers, grass, sky, clouds etc. don’t get me wrong, I had playground mates but I preferred my own company, no I did not want to join in any running of clubs, PTA or anything else. I had been known to go in class a couple of times and also did a couple of swimming and trip out helps BUT I hated every moment of it. I selfishly only did it fir the benefit of my kiddies but had to make excuses and decline after I felt I wanted to kill half the children in the class. Wasn’t that keen on my kids, let alone other peoples. It was the noise and unruliness of it all, *shudders* no, teachers helper was never for me.
    You do all you can to enable lads ease at school to the point where it almost breaks you, he will never look back and think “if only”. Sensory problem must be a complete nightmare in the school and playground. Thank goodness you have a school that cares for not only him but you as well.
    Great insightful blog Tracy!
    Big loves 😘❀️xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sheerie. I’m not the only ‘perimeter hogger’ in the yard but there are only about five of us lol. Some parents enthusiastically take on school life but others are unable to. The playground was a sensory nightmare when I was a child and it’s not much better now. It’s just that I only have to tolerate it for a short time each day. We count ourselves as very lucky with the school as they are so understanding which makes a huge difference. Lufs xxxxxxx

      Like

  2. I’m a parent who doesn’t do anything extra with the school stuff on top of directly supporting their special needs. No reading help, I’m not a school trip helper, I don’t walk the class to their swimming lessons, I’m not a part at any Christmas, summer or other fair or fete, no school parent socials and I don’t get to school before its finished or hang around after the bell has gone. But for me it’s because it’s not right for my sons. I’m not part of school and the crossover doesn’t work for them so I don’t do it. This is such a simple thing that makes them understand the purpose of their environments.

    If only you’d had more people be understanding with some simple things, like being able to arrive early or leave late things may have been easier for you. However, the strength you have shows in your intolerance that it should happen to your son. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. That’s a good point to be honest..Obviously I have my social and sensory issues but aside those, if my son was to see me in the class it would create problems for him. He likes school to be school and home to be home and once he’s left the building, we can’t get him back in – even if he’s forgotten his lunchbox.

      Like

  3. What a big deal for you! I’m so proud of you! I’m glad that you used your coping strategies to help you get involved in something that is obviously important to you. It’s strange to me that you are a person who struggles with interaction when you are so friendly and articulate in your online persona. I think Social Media is a great tool for you. Good luck in your involvement in this group, and hopefully the people will become friends of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “It’s strange to me that you are a person who struggles with interaction when you are so friendly and articulate in your online persona. I think Social Media is a great tool for you”
      There is a barrier between me and people so I can communicate without my brain messing things up. I suspect that social media helps a lot of people like me ‘communicate’. Similarly in life, I can e-mail when I can’t phone. I text as well. All of my online friends have never heard my voice but they understand my struggle with talking on the phone.
      As regards the group, this might sound strange but I’m not after friendship as I can only cope with minimal social interaction but understanding is worth lots to me. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fantastic school and well done to you for taking this step! It must be reassuring to know your son is getting the attention, the support and the right type of teaching that you never got.
    I don’t suffer from anxiety, but I’m not great at socialising and I’m also a ‘fiddle with phone’ mum in the playground to avoid talking to people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sarah, that’s true. I haven’t needed to ‘fight’ because the school is so good but things do change and all it needs is a change of headteacher to mess things up. Also, I don’t know how he will fare in secondary school but I’m ready to make some noise for him in any way I can because my school life was so bad.
      Mobile phones are a great tool for us ‘avoiders’ eh/ πŸ˜‰

      Like

  5. This is an amazing post. I am right there with you on the anxiety front, and have a set of ‘characteristics’ like you, for navigating these public situations. I do not know what I would do without my smart phone to keep me looking ‘fit in’ whilst really steading my shaking hand. I also think of all the stupid things I’m likely to say, and will no doubt say them should the occasion arise. Because I am blessed with verbal diarrhoea when it comes to anxious public situations. We would be great fence buddies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Verbal diarrhoea” is about how I’d describe what happens to me when I open my trap lol. It’s like my brain switches stuff around and it all comes out really fast? So I gabble and get words back to front or use entirely the wrong word and people smile and nod and then I know they haven’t understood a word ha ha. I might be better if I have a think before I speak but my brain disengages on talking so I’ve just learned to go with it and not dwell on it too much. I think the difference is that my issues haven’t changed but my attitude has and it helps.

      Like

  6. I hope this post shows people who might not have “got” it before about just how it can be for some people, including our kids, who struggle in social situations, and that it’s not wise to judge a person unless you know them in more than one way.

    I don’t mind the playground as it’s a tiny school and we all know each other pretty well, and I’ve done a couple of school trips, but it’s not something I relish. I love my kids, obviously, and some children that aren’t mine are quite sweet, but I’m not keen on the idea of long coach trips for other reasons, especially the smells. And God forbid anyone vomits! It’s the one time I’d prefer a gang of teenagers – they tend to have their bodily functions better under control.

    Great post, and well done to the school for setting up the group, and for understanding that parents have needs too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would cope a lot better in a small school like yours. Can I come and live with you? πŸ˜‰ There’s always one child who vomits lol. I remember that from my school days…there was a pile of sawdust on the hall floor most days. where some poor kid had vommed.

      Like

  7. I’m so glad the school do those little things that make a big difference and I’m sorry you didn’t have that sort of understanding when you were younger. I know what it’s like to be unable to do things other people wouldn’t think twice about. Well done for going to the meeting; I hope it was worth it.

    #SpectrumSunday

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, as an autistic person with social anxiety I sides know and feel where you are coming from. I fektall sorts of emotions (empathy, sadness, proud, happiness, anxiety,) as I can totally identify with it all. I am so impressed as I know exactly what your feeling as I have been their so many a time before.
    I know what a MASSIVE step when faced with new social situations, high five!
    I am impressed with your school, wow I soi hope when my son goes to school in september, glulp (shit scared already of the social stuff) they might be understanding about me being an autistic mother, we shall see.
    I love your passion for change and autism awareness and I know your will kick ass X #spectrumsunday
    P.s. please keep posting your making me feel not so lonely in this NT world X

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a brave and honest post. As your writing makes evident, you are an intelligent and insightful (not to mention v funny!) person and it’s awful that your own schooling failed you. Sounds like your son’s school is excellent though – supportive of the two of you. Well done for attending that meeting. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Maddy, I always think that If I could have done my exams on my own I might have fared slightly better. I think the ‘learning disability’ is confusing people. Learning disadvantage might be more appropriate at this stage because I was at a disadvantage the moment I stepped into the classroom, if not before, due to anxiety and sensory problems. Yes, I was failed badly but can’t ask for a better school for my son. πŸ™‚ xx

      Like

  10. So glad to hear your son’s school is doing well – my daughter’s is too, luckily. Sad that you didn’t get the support you needed back at the time when you could have done with it most, when you were young, but glad to hear you attended the mums’ meet and all went well. We often learn the most useful information from other mums… πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. FAB post lovely! And I am totally with you on the increasing awareness so our children can be given the best opportunities in life. If you want a buddy for the autism show (I’d be London) I would more than happily join you…if meeting a total stranger didn’t put you in overdrive?! πŸ™‚ Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday lovely, hope you join me again this week πŸ™‚ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clare, I’m going to the Manchester one but hubs will be with me. Meeting a total stranger would definitely put me into overdrive lolol but than you so much for the kind offer. πŸ™‚ xx

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s