Last night, I stayed up until nearly dawn writing a report that was 5 times longer than I’d originally envised it, detailing Harry’s… quirks… for his new nursery staff at School Fabulous (© May). I’m hoping his more adorable qualities will become self-evident to them, because I haven’t had space to talk about those. It’s… kinda long.
John and I took him to meet the staff there today (he banged his head three times in 30 minutes). There are four nursery staff, and currently only 3 other children doing afternoon sessions, one of whom we already know. It is, you will not be surprised to hear, a special school, catering for children aged 2 to 19, all of whom have special educational needs.
School Fabulous is a pretty cool place. Sensory garden, light room, soft play centre, hydrotherapy pool, huge indoor sand pit, areas for every type of play I can think of, and a playground strewn with Exciting Stuff. There are speech therapists, physiotherapists, nurses and nursing assistants, all visiting on-site.
The school is well-known throughout our county, as… THE special school. How can I put this? There’s a lot of parking for wheelchairs. There’s lots of kids wearing head protectors. When I tell friends who haven’t heard about Harry’s lack of speech that he is starting there, they all look mildly horrified and blurt out a variation on ‘Why, what’s wrong with him?’ before hastily re-modelling their faces into Kind Concern and I’mSureHe’llComeOnVeryWell fervent nodding.
What I feel about that generally depends on how much I like the friend.
What I feel about his admission, following a panel meeting, is huge, profound relief. I sat and wept writing my long, pitifully long list of the things that Harry does that, taken as a whole, make him such a challenge to parent. I’d never held the collective weight of every single one of our difficulties in my mind before then, and I’d not realised quite how many minor troubling issues I had been hoping he would grow out of.
Whih is absurd, really, because Harry is making very discernable progress, if not in his actual speech, then certainly in his communication. Either his comprehension of our speech has taken a leap forward, or his newly-acquired skill of nodding has motivated him to integrate with us more – perhaps both.
This morning, on a whim, I asked him to say the word ‘Tesco’ (Yeah, yeah, I know. Of all the words to pick. We were outside!). And he tried! He’s never mimicked a sound on request in his entire life. I think he either hasn’t hitherto understood what ‘say’ (i.e. ‘Harry say it’) meant, or his brain just can’t retrieve and reproduce memorised speech-sounds accurately yet. Again, probably both. I’d most likely have had no luck had I asked him to mimic any sound except T or D, which letters begin most of his babble, but he definitely sat there having a go at repeating ‘Te…Te…Te’ after me.
I floated into the shop. Which was some achievement considering the scales registered an all-time personal worst for me this morning – why, yes, that does include pregnancy OMFGlalalalaHalpHalpHalplookattheprettyweather. Looking on the bright side (I will, consequently, have to move out of the way of the GODDAMNED SUN) I have re-joined my old gym, and will shortly be gymming and swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons while Harry is in his new nursery, just around the corner. My health, sadly, desperately needs these 7.5 hours a week devoted to improving its host.
I am planning to keep him at our local mainstream nursery on Friday mornings, and extend his session over lunchtime. We will be financially better off all-told, as his new nursery place is fully funded on account of his specific need, and I will be paid a mileage allowance for taking him there.
Which brings me to the only part of this that makes me really bite my lip and think about the whole Holland thing again. I don’t have to take him myself if I don’t want to: Harry is entitled to free transport there and back, as it is a needs-based placement. Although I would not even remotely consider the option at present, the school would arrange to deliver him door to door.
In their – short – Sunshine bus.