It’s nearly the end of term 2 here in Australia and the school holidays can’t come soon enough. We’ve had a dreadful few weeks, I had Beth home for a whole week the week before last. She really just had a cold but she doesn’t blow her nose and is known for wiping it on the nearest sleeve, even if it isn’t hers! She was also coughing a lot and as she doesn’t cover her mouth I thought they’d appreciate me keeping her home. I hadn’t been well either so I did like the fact that I didn’t have to drive two hours a day to Beth’s school. It was nice just taking the other kids up to their primary school, I didn’t realise how easy it was until I had so much further to drive.
Once again my big challenge lately has been my Bridie and her anxiety. It’s hit the roof lately and I’ve felt like I’ve been mentally battered and bruised. With not feeling well either I truly believe I was close to a nervous breakdown. We’ve had lots of school refusal with me dragging her out the door kicking and screaming. She has been getting a lift to school with a friend which has been very handy but I felt awful that I was leaving this feral child on the doorstep to be picked up. I’d call my mother in law who lives next door and she’d come outside to keep an eye on her in case she ran off. I called Bridie’s school principal and she suggested a local psychologist, one who has been recommended by several friends as well. Now my regular readers will know that we’ve been to two psychologists in the past with Bridie. One several years ago, one just last year. Bridie of course would be delightful for them, almost flirty in her charm. She knew the right things to say, she knew she was doing the wrong thing. I even had her informally assessed for aspergers, not wanting to miss anything. Because she’s not like Beth at all I thought that perhaps I was missing something as autism and aspergers can be very different. But no, she ‘just’ has high anxiety, something that in my belief can be as debilitating as aspergers.
The first time we went to see Jenny* (not her real name) Bridie was charming. They played nicely together and she was in there for so long Jenny didn’t get a chance to tell me how they went. At the end however Jenny asked Bridie why she was in casual clothes. I wasn’t sending her to school for the rest of the day, I had thought it would be nice for her and I to spend the day together. Jenny told Bridie that that wasn’t ok with her, that she would have to go to school after the following visit. Well I paid for that for the whole week. Bridie begged me and begged me not to send her. She said she would rather not go at all and not go to school than go to school late. On Monday last week we had our next session. I dressed Bridie ready for school and in we went. Bridie wouldn’t talk to Jenny this time. I left the room as often Bridies selective mutism is better when I’m not around. I heard banging for most of the session, when I went back in Bridie was still sitting with a scowl on her face staring at Jenny and there were blocks everywhere. Yes they had been playing with them but Jenny later told me she thinks that if one had gone flying close to her head Bridie wouldn’t have minded. Jenny told me that Bridie had let her know through writing that she wasn’t happy because Jenny had told her she had to go to school. We left and in the end I didn’t take Bridie to school, she had gotten into such a state that I just couldn’t.
Bridie has been talking about moving to the school three doors up from us. I went to look at it on Thursday, really more because when Bill starts high school (which is next to the primary school) I might put Bridie in to that primary school as she will find it difficult transitioning to high school when she doesn’t know anybody else. At least then she’d be going up with kids she knows. Bridie had such a meltdown that morning that as I walked down to the car she threw her shoes, bag and jacket at me as she screamed. I called her principal after the visit to the other school and told her about the meltdown, also to do the right thing and tell her about the school visit. She called Bridie in to chat with her and got that Bridie just wants to be home with me, that if she’s at the local school she’ll be closer to me. She loves her teacher and her class but she wants me. We have two friends who now home school their kids and that’s what she wants too. I then called the psychologist Jenny and asked her opinion. She told me that she hadn’t seen a child hold her rage for that long before, she was determined hold on to her anger. She also said she hadn’t seen a child present with selective mutism the way Bridie does, she’s not shy and hesistant to talk, she either does or she doesn’t – exactly like Beth had been. She said she would refer her to a team based psychology approach through one of the hospitals. I can’t believe how excited I was that Bridie had ‘broken’ a well respected psychologist! I was just so happy that somebody else had seen it, how I wasn’t going to be sent home with the ‘not sure what to do’ answer. How it wasn’t our parenting and how I wouldn’t be seen to be just giving in to her. I was feeling so paranoid, I was worried that people would see that I have one child on the spectrum, that I was trying to get a diagnosis for another one, that I would be seen as ‘one of THOSE parents!’ Thank God!
Now it’s a waiting game. I took her to school this morning. I organised with our principal to take Bridie early, she wouldn’t go in to before school care but she was happy to sit in reception and read her book. She just wants me to go back to how it was, every morning dropping them off, taking her into the classroom, settling her in. I don’t want it to be all about Beth and her school but sometimes that’s life and I can’t get them all to school at the same time. I’m so grateful that I am able to do this Who knows how long the good mood will last. All I can do is take it one day at a time. She had a massive tantrum on Saturday about a playdate not being extended to a sleepover which I of course stood my ground over. It’s not going to be easy but at least now I know we’re in the system, that it’s finally been noticed.