On Saturday and Sunday I could tell that our daughter was starting to dread going back to school today. She is never particularly concise with her feelings so it comes out as grumpiness, irrationality, manic chatter, sloth-like laziness and a very pale face. The complaints of tiredness and tummy aches returns as she has an internal battle with wanting to be ‘normal’ and fit in and wanting to hide in her den.

I believe she enjoys the learning, she is academically very able, she has one pal she feels likes her, she loves most of the teachers, enjoys time with the ever-patience and softly spoken ‘handwriting lady’ the enthusiastic and smiley Head of SLT and her BCBA. But guess, what…most of these people are adults, that dependable breed who are tolerant and patient and attentive! Her peers on the other hand do not feature much on her ‘likes’ list. She feels they stare at her, do not want to sit next to her unless they are forced to, they write too noisily, they chat too much, they raise irritating eyebrows, they whisper behind hands, they laugh at private jokes, they sit awkwardly with their chairs at irritating angles and, on occasions, nip, nudge or hit her. She does not feel liked, let alone loved. She compares herself to everyone else and so perfection is the goal (a hideously unobtainable goal by anyone’s standards).

The carefree friendships, the linked arms skipping down the corridor, the rush to escape to the playground, the game rules, the screaming and shouting, the frenetic physical running around, the cricket balls flying about, the games of ‘tig’, the niche groups, the cliques, the huddles, it is all alien to her. Playtime is not the time she lets off steam, glories in the fresh air and blows away the cobwebs, break time for her is when her stress levels increase as she flounders to understand what to do with this awful chasm of time (during break, she likes nothing better than finishing off a wee bit of work she couldn’t quite complete in class…).

More and more she feels the barbs carelessly thrown out by her confident classmates, they do not glide unheeded, they puncture her thin skin and send a shard of ice to her heart. She does not have the resilience or self-belief to shrug it off when someone teases her, she take it to heart, buries it deep down and lets it fester. She does have one friend at school who she adores and her friends seems to adore her back which is wonderful. But, whenever that little girl is not there, our daughter feels rudderless once more. I really hope they remain friends and a fall-out does not bring everything crashing down.

But what is the alternative? I do not think it is the wrong school, I think these issues would follow her wherever she goes, state or private, rural or urban, UK or worldwide. Home schooling has been mentioned but is that really a possibility for her, me, my husband? Will the acronyms she will get ‘diagnosed’ with really mean that is the best alternative? Another question to add to the ever growing pile.

So, when 4pm arrives, I will go and collect her, and I will be able to tell as she walks down the corridor towards me whether it has been a good day or not. I am hoping beyond hope that it will be the former.



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