Boo is in that strange year of Primary School: Year 6. The one where you have a ramshackle mix of those too big for their boots, a touch too much bravado, fully-developed girls alongside scrawny little boys, and a looming knowledge of what’s to come. It’s the year where they don’t quite ‘fit’ anymore, and I’m not just talking about their school jumper.
Fortunately Boo has a great fit Year 6 teacher. In fact I’d go as far to say she’s the best fit for him he’s ever had. A fabulous mix of firm, fair, and fun. She gets him. And that’s something special. She gets this quirky little soul who is a ‘human calculator’ who won’t remember a form if his life depended on it. She gets that he may have a fabulous command of the English language but couldn’t tell you how he feels. I could write a post about the awesome-ness of this all itself, but that’s not what this is about… just a scene-setter…
But whilst non-Autism parents are discovering their own challenges in this weird hybrid year, for Boo there’s even more hiding behind the scenes. There’s change afoot, so he’s bound to be apprehensive. There are expectations being spelled out for a perfectionist who doesn’t need to hear them. There’s a growing maturity and physical strength mixed with the confusion and fear of an Aspergers little boy.
There are times that take our breath away with how far he’s come. There are times we see glimpses to the man he will become and are deeply proud. There are times I think I have no need to worry – he’ll do it, he’ll be ok, and I mustn’t underestimate him.
And then there are times that I see a boy who can’t manage executive functioning with any degree of reliability. I see the hormones to come mixing with the meltdown moments of ASD. I see the complexities of the social world bewildering him more and more. I see fear about this strange unknown that is Senior School, and worry if he’ll be ok. I watch an overgrown puppy of a child bewildered and stimming because something didn’t quite go as planned, and worry that he’ll be a target for bullies. I see him zoned out from this world, retreating to where he feels safe. And I’m scared.
I’m scared but I can’t show it, because what Boo needs right now, more than anything, is the absolute conviction that WE, mum and dad, believe he can do it. He needs to believe that we have faith that he will be fine. He needs to learn to calm his anxiety by feeding off our calm.
So once again, we swallow our anxieties down. We communicate it to each other in the stolen looks across the room. We whisper it to each other when we’re sure he’s not listening. And then, we put on the smiles, dust ourselves and him down, and tell him he will be fine. That he is, and always will be, fine.
And in reality, he’s showed us up before. We don’t give him enough credit for managing his challenges. He. Will. Be. Fine. I know it.