If funding allows Ethan’s school offers play days during the school holidays. It’s a way of keeping the children used to school during the break, in the hope that the school return will be easier. It also offers a respite day to their families as a school holiday and the lack of routine it brings can be a nightmare for someone with autism.
I was worried how Ethan would handle being taken into school and I kept saying that he was going to school for the day. This was always answered with a ‘No’ and I kept everything crossed that the day would go well.
Darren was working so I had to take Ethan into the school on my own. When we arrived it was very quiet which I was glad of, but Ethan still clung to my leg refusing to let go. I took him into the class trying to get him interested in something in the room. He was having none of it. The staff tried to help and one did get his attention but as soon as I started to edge for the door Ethan was back clinging to my leg.
After about thirty minutes I declared very firmly that it was time for me to leave. Ethan let go of my leg and said ‘Bye’. I couldn’t believe it and quickly made my way out of the door, keeping everything crossed that he would be OK.
I always thought that I would spend the days clock watching when Ethan started school but we are so busy that the time fly’s past. It was the same for the respite day, before we knew it we were going to pick him up.
My main concern was if Ethan would eat anything during his day there. He had to take a packed lunch with him and with Ethan’s limited food choices I could only fill it with a Nutella sandwich and his normal snacks. When I collected him the staff raved about his food manners and the fact that he had eaten all of his lunch. I was so relieved as food is the first thing that Ethan stops eating if he is upset.
We hope Ethan enjoyed his respite day but it really did upset him. That night we had a complete nightmare getting him down to sleep and we had to give him medication to help. I had to cuddle him to sleep and I couldn’t stop thinking that perhaps he thought we had abandoned him! He woke up so many times that night, more than normal and it caused quite a lot of stress.
The next day we had lots of tears and there was a point when Ethan didn’t want to be around Little E. I had to let her play in her cot for half an hour whilst Ethan calmed down.
So the question is would we let Ethan go again? The answer has to be yes, we have learnt not to give up at the first hurdle no matter how hard it is. Also in the future we may need respite days to have some quality time with Little E. Even if that means just being able to take her to the cinema, as this is an activity we are not sure Ethan is ever going to enjoy.