At the start of March, I watched my Facebook feed fill with exciting announcements. Each one stating that their child has got the secondary school placement that they wanted. I congratulated my friends thinking I was grateful that was not a step we have to take this year. There is enough going on without worrying about preparing Ethan for a transition into secondary school.
It wasn’t until later in the week that I realised Ethan is now in year six. In September he will need to be in a secondary school setting. The year of the pandemic with lockdowns and school closures had totally thrown me out.
Thankfully Ethan’s Special Needs school can offer him a place until he is sixteen. I did have a panic wondering if I had to do anything to accept a place in the secondary school section. Apparently, his secondary school placement is all taken care of. We have yearly meetings about Ethan’s Education, Health, and Care Plan. This clearly states that Ethan needs support from this school placement.
I waited for the sadness of following a different life path to hit me. It’s a strange feeling that can totally catch you off guard. That moment when you realise that your son will never get to do the same things as your friend’s children. It can hit you like a bolt of lightning as the sadness of the autism diagnosis hits all over again. This time it didn’t happen.
I couldn’t help but feel relief. Relief that I have not had to look at potential secondary schools. Looking for all of the issues that would overwhelm or confuse our son. Not only having to fight for the right secondary school placement but also fighting for the right support for him. We could have gone done the mainstream primary school route and then move Ethan to a special needs school. That placement would never have been guaranteed and would have also been a fight. I know there will be parents of children in year 6 desperately fighting for a special school placement this year.
Placing our son in a special needs school at five was a big step. A place that I had to fight for whilst being heavily pregnant with his sister. A placement that felt like a lottery win. One that I still questioned when we placed our tiny boy in the school transport on his first day. But I know that Ethan is at the best school for his needs. It has taught him so much and helped us in many ways too. We will have to look into his next education placement when he turns sixteen. Let’s hope it won’t be a battle.