Luck, Change and Uncertainty

Boy in black clothes on a red bridge in a garden

I may not be as vocal as you, gorgeous boy, but uncertainty scares me just as much as it scares you.

When you started school, the weight returned. The unanswered questions pressed down on my chest. The heaviness of our responsibility made my movements feel slow, sluggish. When you were distraught, when you told me school was a ‘bad place’ and clung to me, begging me not to leave, I thought I might turn to stone, except for the pulsing heat inside my chest and the ringing in my ears.

But then, you bloomed. You are safe, secure, included, cared and catered for, thriving.

After the Christmas of Reception year, you returned to school, bright and happy, and you have not told me that you do not want to go even once since. You hold my hand and talk to me, counting in twelves and imagining giant numbers while your sister scoots ahead, calling back to us – and we both know peace.

Now we must do it all over again.

At the end of Year 2, the end of this academic year, you must go to Junior School. We knew, when we chose, that not going to a full primary school would be difficult, that the change and movement would need to be managed carefully. But it seemed so far off then; there were so many other questions to be answered, so many things that may or may not happen.

Now, in a heartbeat, you are seven. You must be assessed, judged and passed to the next Key Stage. You must leave the familiar classrooms, the routines you know so well and you must go somewhere new.

And we must choose where.

Finding those who will work in true partnership with the parents of children with additional needs is a rare and special thing: the holy grail. I know so many parents who have sought it, desperately, only to be left feeling frustrated and alone. So many parents are disillusioned with the education system, deciding instead to home school, or dealing with school-refusal, simply because the professionals who should support their child cannot or will not do so to an adequate standard.

It is obscenely unfair.

I feel lucky, every day, that you are happy and supported. But can our luck last? Can we move and find others, other teachers, other TAs, other heads, other governors, other SENCOs, who will support you just as well?

I do not know.

The most important thing, my love, is that you feel safe and happy. But we must also think of your future, of those Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 scores, of whether exams and qualifications are in your future, of whether you might be independent, want a job, a home of your own.

Face of a boy behind a green flourescent christmas tree lamp

All or none of these things may be in your future. But while we would be happy to support you forever, we cannot deny you the chance for those things, if you want them, if they are possible. The decision of where to send you becomes oh so much more complicated.

There are specialist schools, which would, no doubt, be skilled in easing your anxiety and guiding your emotions. There are schools closer to secondary schools you might attend. There is the logical choice, where your current peers will be – the safest, most familiar option. I do not underestimate the power of those constants. This transition will be easiest there.

We must juggle the unknowns about your short-term and long-term future, with so little information, so little certainty about what will be best for you, this year, next, in ten years.

There is no way to know which will have the best outcome.

Though I may not cry out, though I may go through the proper channels, fill in forms, visit schools, ask questions, meet teachers – inside, inside, my ears are ringing, my chest is burning.

Perhaps, this time next year, you will still hold my hand as we walk to school, multiplying even bigger numbers, happy and relaxed and thriving.

Until then, gorgeous boy we will both just have to live with the unknown.



For more posts about autism and the education system, visit out autism category.

4 thoughts on “Luck, Change and Uncertainty

  1. It’s so hard. Ben was moved from school to school, new teachers every year. It was awful. We’ve finally got him settled at an autism school where he can stay until age 22.
    He’s “classic level 3” and a runner, so safety was the biggest priority.
    I wish you best luck in the new school search and very few bumps getting settled, once found.💌

  2. It’s a scary time when you have to leave somewhere which has become a part of routine and stability. We’re still finding our feet in reception so reading how you guys got through it has helped me x

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