Today is the last day of the school holidays & if I’m totally honest, I’m so glad that my boy is back at school tomorrow. Not just for my sanity but for his too.There’s one thing that doesn’t get talked about much, and that’s how much of a struggle the school holidays can be for families with children with special needs.
I really hope that one day me & my boy can enjoy the holidays but this week has just proven that we’re not there, yet. It’s just so stressful for him, the change of routines, the busyness, the sensory overload, the meltdowns. He may have the biggest smile in this photo but this beautiful smile hides a lot.
His anxiety goes into overdrive, he’s over emotional. I couldn’t even go to the toilet this morning without him screaming that he doesn’t want to be on his own. It absolutely breaks my heart to see him struggle so much, and it breaks my sanity with his demanding & controlling behaviour but that’s just part of his autism. It’s not something he can control.
His sleep gets even worse, only managing a few hours per night if we’re lucky, which affects him even more. Only the other night he slept 8pm – 10pm & that was him awake for the rest of the night & the following day. That meant that I had to pull an all nighter & couldn’t go to sleep until daddy got home from work at 2pm.
It’s so hard to try & makes plans, well you can’t make them too far in advance as you just don’t know whether you both would have had any sleep or not.
After a bad nights sleep you need to do something relatively calm like going for a country walk rather than a day out or something energetic. Thankfully my other autism mama friends understand as a lot of them are also in the same boat.
This morning for example, myself & a friend had made plans to take our kiddos trampolining as today was an inset day so we knew it would be the only quiet day of the holidays. At 1am we were both on Facebook as both our children were still awake. This morning, we had to cancel as our kids (and us) just wouldn’t have coped with something so energetic after only a couple of hours sleep.
You see all the status updates on Facebook, “loving the holidays”, “pj & movie day for us”, and the mum guilt creeps in because I don’t always love the holidays. There’s so many things we can’t do in the school holidays. There’s so many things we can’t do in term time because of how busy places get, how noisy they are. So in the holidays it’s even harder.
We either have to avoid places or go super early in the morning or very late into the afternoon to try & get the quieter times.
We can’t just go to the usual fun days out, the Sealife Centre & Legoland Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre are packed.
The beach is a no go because of the sand & sea due to his sensory issues, no to the fair or the arcades. Too loud, too bright.
There’s too many children running about at the zoo. Too many at the play centre or at trampolining. Too many at the park.
Well why not stay at home then? Well because his ADHD means he can’t concentrate on any indoor activities. Instead he’s bouncing about on the furniture. Things are getting broken, toys are being thrown. The garden isn’t big enough to play in.
He needs to be out & about doing something, burning his energy off. He loves having his own space, somewhere he can play with other children if he feels up to it, usually when there’s only a few kids about, but also somewhere he can keep his distance if he needs to. Today in the park he was happy for a while, it was nice & quiet but even that ended up in a meltdown with tears & screaming. Other parents looking over to see what all the fuss was about. And it doesn’t just stop, it carries On at home. Even if he appears to have coped well whilst out it can still be bubbling underneath, ready to explode later on in the day when he can’t take any more.
We try, he tries so hard but it’s just too much for him.
I’m not writing this blog post for sympathy or to say woe is me but to raise awareness for our kids that don’t cope with the school holidays, it’s not all fun & games for everyone. I can’t wait for my boy to be back at school, does that make me a bad mum?
No, it makes me a mum that tries her best every single day. Some days I don’t cope very well, other days I’m super mum.
I can’t wait for my boy to be back at school, because right now, that’s what he needs.