I have never written a post about my family. About my eldest son’s struggles throughout his education with dyslexia, my second son’s autism, and the difficulties it has given him. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. It’s probably because I know I can’t tell their stories in a few short posts. It’s a lifetime work! And it’s where to start.
Most recently though, my second son has been having a more difficult time than usual and it has got to all of us a bit. It’s heartbreaking when your son or daughter tell you they have no friends, no one wants to talk to them and they spend most of their time alone. Niall recently said to me ‘I just don’t want to be lonely anymore’.
All through school we fought to be heard, to be understood, to find people who really, genuinely wanted to help and are sympathetic to the difficulties. Niall was statemented at 9 years old when he was in Y5. Up to that point he had been simply regarded as difficult, naughty, cheeky, you name it. I am sure there were those who still felt this to be the case after he got a statement. Our parenting was called into question and what he was generally felt to need was some firm discipline. He had huge problems dealing with instructions, a pragmatic, semantic difficulty means he interprets what he hears differently. He used to panic as a youngster when he mum said she was just going to dive in the bath! Because his problems aren’t extreme it’s easy to think they’re not real, he has never wanted to share them for fear of sticking out. He declined any support throughout high school as in his first term an SEN teacher came into his class and said, in front of everyone ‘Come on Niall, it’s time for your ‘Let’s sort it out’ session.” He tried hard to fit in, to understand the social mores and be accepted.
School was always difficult to get right, not so much academically (although he really doesn’t get maths!) but more socially and emotionally. He interprets things literally, speaks out of turn and inappropriately, but is devastated when such misdemeanours are pointed out. Forging good relationships with staff proved hard and with peers even harder. He has one good friend who he has known since he was five years old but beyond this, he struggles socially.
He was recently told by ‘friends’ at college that no one liked him, they found his behaviour odd and didn’t know how to deal with him. We’re currently working through this with him, telling him that as people get older difference are celebrated rather than ridiculed, that his unique outlook and creativity will serve him well as he enters adulthood. I hope the constant encouragement and support from home can balance the difficulty he faces daily beyond it.