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Autism and school transition, from hellish to hopeful :)

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Autism is a funny old thing. One moment you can be plain sailing through life and then the next, all craziness hits you all at once, out of nowhere, like you've been hit by a train! Suddenly your beautiful child is saying he hates you and wants to live with another family and that you are abusing him!

The last 5 months have been very unsettling for our beautiful autistic son (I might add his behaviours certainly WERE NOT beautiful!) His behaviour deteriorated dramatically from being a quirky, happy little 11 year old boy, to being so defiant, swearing and melting down constantly.

He changed from primary school to intermediate. What he needed was a slower transition, familiar faces, consistent routines, positive reinforcement and positive connections. What he DID NOT need was discipline. NOT taking the things off him that he needs to regulate. NOT intentionally keeping his friends away. NOT to be suspended from school! I mean, really?

Our child was not intentionally being naughty or bad, he was highly anxious and stressed and the only way he knew how to release this frustration and anxiety was by reverting back to when he was a toddler and could not communicate as well. He would hit his face and scream and meltdown, he hasn't done that in years! We needed to take a few steps back in order to move forward.

People often say things which they think are helpful like, "It's probably just hormones" or "does he need to be on medication?" Or "maybe he would be better off with just half days at school?" What our kind and thoughtful friends really need to say is "I hear you've had a rough day, what can I do to help?" What we don't need is people offering us their advice because they DO NOT understand, they HAVE NOT been there and, nor do they want to! The best kind of friends just hug you tightly and say "I'm really sorry you've had a shit day, I'm here for you, lets have a wine!"

So yes transitions can be so, so hard, for autistic children and so very hard for their families as well. My advice to you is NEVER listen to other peoples meaningful advice! :) If you do, then don't take it personally or over analyze it! But the most important thing I have learned during this crazy time is that transitions take time. Our beautiful autistic kids need SO much more time to process all the changes. They need people who are going to support them and go above and beyond in terms of positive reinforcement. They need positive connections with their teacher and other students. They need Mum or Dad to be on the same page as the teachers and have a good respect for one another.

The last 5 months have been pretty hard work as parents

of a beautiful pre-teen autistic boy changing schools twice, however, I am so relieved to say that with persistence and mothers intuition (knowing he needed to be somewhere else in order to succeed) we are happily and positively back on track!

Karlyn x

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