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I think I have made a huge mistake and I feel wretched

(20 Posts)
siblingrivalry Mon 31-Aug-09 20:49:55

I will try to keep the back-story brief, but I apologise in advance for this lenghty post!

DD2(8) has AS and we took her out of school last Jan. She had never settled and eventually began to self-harm, didn't eat or sleep and basically was falling apart.I bitterly regret not doing it sooner, but that's another story.

It took me nearly a year to convince my dh to try HE - in the end I told him it was happening with or without him.
Within weeks he was singing the praises of HE as he saw the dramatic improvement dd made.

Anyway, we had 6 months of thoroughly enjoying the whole process and dd was like a different child. It was so wonderful to witness.
Then, in July she said she wanted to try a new school because she wanted friends. I was completely floored. Then I felt guilty, because I had deliberately limited the amount of HE activities we attended, with the intention of easing dd in gently. This was because she was totally traumatised by her time in school. In hindsight, I got this wrong, because dd ended up lonely sad

So after a lot of soul-searching, we decided that we had to let dd try school if she was so determind to give it another shot. Outwardly, dh and I are being very positive and supportive -but privately we are worried sick.

This is because around the time that dd visited her new school (very small and actually supportive)her anxiety began to creep up again.
Fast forward to today and she is still saying that she is looking forward to school, but she has a list of worries and fears a mile long. It seems that the progress she made from Jan -July has slipped away and she is once more unable to sleep.

Her OCDs are more apparent, she is irritable and volatile and seems really unhappy.

I think we have made a terrible mistake and should maybe have told her we would consider school after Xmas if it was still what she wanted.
Ironically, she hasn't really asked for any of her friends over the summer and has craved time alone.

I am worried sick in case she falls apart again. The PIL and dd's psyc are saying we have to give school a proper chance and not withdraw her at the first sign of stress, but I have no intention of letting her suffer. DH is 100 % with me this time.

But what do I do if she falls apart on the first day? She is so fragile at the moment. I asked her if she wanted to go part-time at first, but she has refused.

I would be so grateful for any words of wisdom because to say I am confused and lost is an understatement.
Many thanks.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 31-Aug-09 20:53:10

Any child transitioning at the moment is scared and nervous - not just her (my own dd is off to secondary and has had a myriad of fears and worries).

She doesn't want to go part-time because part of her wants to fit in and give it a shot.

She will be nervous but it may be ok - you have to give her a chance to settle and just support her with this choice. You can always reassess at Christmas.

Good luck smile

thisisyesterday Mon 31-Aug-09 20:54:54

i have no experience of this at all but my gut feel is that i would go with what she wants to start with. if that is giving school a go then so be it.
but if she looks as though it's not right for her then take her out immediately. it's a no brainer. give her the chance to see what it's like. she might surprise you.
but if after the first day it's all going to pot then you shouldn't feel bad about taking her out again.

colditz Mon 31-Aug-09 20:58:46

You cannot shield her from the rest of her life. You have to let her get a bit scared, a bit fraught, and not whip her out at the first sign of stress... because then YOU are saying "Yes, school is Big, school is BAD, school is SCARY and you need to be protected."

She needs to see that school is NORMAL. It is normal.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 31-Aug-09 21:02:32

And also give yourself a lot of credit for the improvements she has made with you.

She has not lost all of that, her fears and OCD have come back probably temporarily as they are a comfort to her when scared.

My own dd (fostered) has started a bit of baby talk in the last couple of days as she's going to secondary, wants extra reassurance (hot chocolate/teddy bear heated up in the microwave) - some going backwards is normal.

siblingrivalry Mon 31-Aug-09 21:06:34

Thanks everyone, for the replies.
Colditz, I can't go into too much detail here, but unfortunately I left her for over 3 years to become terrified and fraught in a situation that she simply couldn't deal with. The school she attended was bad and scary and they let her down badly.
The end result was her wanting to die. I can't take the risk of her getting to that stage again.

musicposy Mon 31-Aug-09 21:20:12

No, I agree, siblingrivalry. You shouldn't.

As you have said you will give school a try, I'd let her go, and see how she goes. Remember it doesn't have to be a final decision. If she is clearly very anxious and unhappy you can take her out after a week, if need be. I wouldn't consider that a failure if you do have to remove her quickly. I would consider it a reinforcement that school isn't the right place for her. I think it's crazy that we expect that all children, despite wildly differing personalities, will suit school. It's like saying everyone will suit working in an office. Some do, for some it would be living hell.

If you do take her out again, give her as much time on her own as she needs, then when she says she wants friends, find a home ed group. My youngest had trouble with the socialisation part of school (in that she just didn't like or want to mix with other children) and it took 4 months of her being completely on her own at home to suddenly want to meet other children. Now she is so sociable and has so many friends. She has just had her 10th birthday party and had well over 20 children come. At school she used to rip up party invites in case I saw them, so this was a huge first for her - and she loved every minute. But finding and making home ed friends can take a bit of time and effort at the start.

You've taken her out once, you can do it again. But once she starts, it may be fine - she's bound to be anxious before she goes.

Good luck and keep us posted!

colditz Mon 31-Aug-09 21:20:47

You don't have to risk her getting to that stage again. 1 day is not 3 years. Are you going to pull her out of EVERYTHING she doesn't like, after just one day?

I'd say make her do a month, barring absolute hysteria.

colditz Mon 31-Aug-09 21:22:12

Saying that, I wanted to blow ds1's school up last year, so I'm probably talking from a hypocritical standpoint!

ommmward Mon 31-Aug-09 21:56:23

I'd be really upfront with everyone.

To your Dd, you say "ok, you want to try school, we'll go for it. But if at any point you want to pull the plug, we pull the plug. But if we do pull the plug, then we'll be HEing for [name period of time that seems reasonable to you and wouldn't be too embarrassing if she wanted to try school again]. If one day you don't want to go, you don't have to go. Is that ok?"

To the school you say "she wants to try school. IF she doesn't want to come in one day, I will not force her. If she no longer wants to come, I'll take her out. And if she's absent too much for your truancy figures, then let's either agree a flexi-school arrangement or we'll deregister" (or maybe you don't have to say any of that, just do it...)

And to anyone being judgey pants, please bear in mind that this child has AS. Listening to a child on the spectrum and making it completely clear to them that they are heard, understood, and will be helped as far as is humanly possible, is about 1,000 times more crucial to their development into being an independent and successful adult than it is for neurotypical children.

I'd argue for making this sort of arrangement for any child who is ambivalent about school, on ethical grounds, but I'd argue it on mental health grounds as well for a child on the spectrum.

siblingrivalry Mon 31-Aug-09 22:58:34

Omm, thanks for that fantastic post -particularly for the recognition of the difficulties AS throws up.
I have spent the last hour settling dd and she is still awake and worrying. Her dx is fairly recent, but she has spent the last 7 years as a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

I will forever feel guilt about all of the things I pushed her to continue with, in case I was letting her give up too easily. I made mistakes and I feel that I let her down at times. I have to be her advocate now.

I will take your advice re talking to school. I am going to try to organise a quick chat before she starts on Monday, so they are aware of how the summer has been. In an ideal world, it will all go well and she will settle in and be happy. That's all we want, whether it's at school or home.

I have to admit to crying tonight, which I very rarely do. I'm not tough or hardened, but I know that if I let myself cry it will be hard to stop. So I tend not to let it happen. But she just seemed so vulnerable tonight as she told me about all of her fears. It's far more than amy child should have to deal with and I was so angry with the AS.

Anyway, I digress. Thanks again.

Yurtgirl123 Mon 31-Aug-09 23:39:45

Ommmward - Id dearly love you to say your penultimate paragraph to my mother! (Do you charge per hour? I can pay travel costs )

Convo with her today
Her: So when do the kids go back to school?
Me: well most go back wednesday
But <cough> mine arent
Her: Im not going to say a word...........

I would say let dd try it for X time and see how it goes - if it is clear that she was happier being he'd then you will know what to do

Home Education is a perfectly normal thing to do imo
Until a hundred or so years ago it was common!

If you have a child with AS who is quite clearly developing serious mental health issues because of school it is easy to view HE in a whole new positive light

Kayteee Tue 01-Sep-09 14:41:26

Agrre with Ommmward 100%.

Make sure your dd knows that she can come out at any time. All the very best and don't feel guilty, you are only human. I used to regret the years I made my dc go to school. The older one especially as he got very depressed for various reasons. I try to look at it in a positive way and put it down to experience now smile

Kayteee Tue 01-Sep-09 14:42:09

Agree blush

TheDMshouldbeRivened Tue 01-Sep-09 14:57:07

ds1 (also ASD) chose to go back at 13 after 8 years of HE (he was in total meltdown in school and taking him out was the best thing I ever did) and it was a fraught time but he settled in well. ds2 went back at 13 too then came out saying he didn't like it.
I just made it clear that they can choose but if they came out again they stayed out.
Any why not go to HE groups?

siblingrivalry Tue 01-Sep-09 16:19:14

Thanks everyone - I really needed some reassurance. I told dd today that she could go back to HE any time she wanted and that whatever she wanted to do was fine with us.

She is still quiet today and she didn't settle last night til nearly midnight. She has craved time alone all day.

I am resigned to the 'suck it and see' approach initially and I will be watching her like a hawk.

I will update after Monday - and will continue to be a nervous wreck til then!

The best thing to come out of all of this, apart from the lifeline HE gave dd, is that dh is now totally pro-HE. This was a man who adamantly refused to even consider it a year ago (I posted here at the time) and only saw the negatives. He now happily 'bigs up' HE and his about-turn is a testament to how well HE can work.

ZZZenAgain Tue 01-Sep-09 22:05:57

why not continue the HE with more intensive social involvement in groups and if she is still feeling lonely and that she is lacking friendship, try school after Christmas? If she has come into her own so nicely at home, I would give her more time at home personally before trying school again.

Scrumplet Mon 07-Sep-09 13:33:11

I hope your daughter's feeling a little calmer and more settled, siblingrivalry - that her return to school has gone better than she/you expected.

siblingrivalry Mon 07-Sep-09 14:17:28

Thanks, Scrumplet. She started today and seemed okay going in, but she is usually taken with the 'novelty' of a new experience initially. I will just have to watch and wait.

I feel as though I've lost my right arm and dd2 hasn't stopped asking for dd1 all day. It's a really odd feeling - she has been with me every day for 9 months.

MrsAsp Wed 09-Sep-09 21:42:55

Message withdrawn

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