The Unpredictable Journey
By Lorraine Brown | Published on December 8, 2020 | 5 Minute Read
Hi I am a mum of 4 children aged between 6-18years , my eldest son has ASD, Dyslexia , PDA and Sensory Processing Disorder. He attended mainstream school until year 4 , and had a good friendship group but one of his friends began to bully him and school did not deal with it appropriately and my son aged 9 was suicidal and had a breakdown. He came out of school, and at the same time we were getting his ASD diagnosis. Lots of health care professionals became involved. They had a TAC meeting and one of them said that many ASD children just about cope in mainstream school and then something like what happened to my son happens and they fall off the cliff edge and can never get back to the top. We got his diagnosis and after months off school, he attended an MLD school for 1.5 years which was really nurturing but the academic level was way below his- we have found that within the state special schools tend to mix children of all abilities and needs together.
After my son was bullied he experienced enuresis, severe TICs that could last 24hours, only sleeping 4/5 hours a night, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts - some of this has improved but he still has trouble sleeping and anxiety and mental health can still be fragile - his self esteem has never recovered either.
"What we have experienced as special needs parents has been the hardest times of our lives, but it also bought the most joy."
We could not find a suitable secondary placement as my son could not cope with the environment at mainstream but in special we could not find any that offered the full academic curriculum. At age 11 we went to the SEND tribunal to try to get a place at a private school funded by the local authority as it was the perfect place but we lost after the local authority lied in the tribunal! My son's mental health was fragile at this time and so he was signed off school and received 10 hours a week of tutors in English and maths. I gave up work and taught him the other subjects. He is now at college studying level 3 Animal Management- we could not be more proud. It has been hard at times for his siblings as we have had to put so much time into fighting for his needs to be met, but we try to make up for it when we can. It has and still does feel so lonely and frustrating when your child’s basic needs are not being met - most friends and family do not understand what you are going through.
Some families have said that our son was naughty, some have not understood why he won’t hug them, some have not invited us to parties, but some have offered to support through childcare, chats or advice. I know we will continue to face hurdles and heartaches but we just try to enjoy our family - our son is so kind, he loves animals and is a vegetarian and is so knowledgeable. He loves nature and good food and critically acclaimed movies. What we have experienced as special needs parents has been the hardest times of our lives, but it also bought the most joy.
About the Author
Lorraine Brown is a #autismmom and wants to share her knowledge about special needs and mental health. She runs the instagram account @autism_mum_of_4.