Routine is important in our house, it helps the day run more smoothly and it helps James to cope with the many transitions that the day brings. Our school-day morning routine has been carved in stone for many years… James is got up at 07:30, comes down to his den to be helped to wash and dress into his school uniform, and to have his breakfast, and then at around 08:15 the school minibus arrives. We move into the hall, put shoes on, pick up his school bag and off we go out to get on the minibus to school…
At least, that’s how things have been since James started in Reception until about two months ago (he’s 15 now)… Around that time, and it’s hard to be specific as to exactly when (which would help…) James started to refuse the transition to the minibus in the mornings and made a great deal of fuss about very much NOT wanting to go on it… Although we’ve had some sporadic success when, again for no obvious reason, he’s happily jumped up and gone onto the minibus (usually about once a week… none this week), it’s generally been a very clear NO.
Plan B involves one of us (usually me) taking James in by car, with all the work-related disruption that a school day starting at 09:15 brings (we usually drop him in at 09:30 to avoid the rush). He happily comes in with me, goes with me up to his classroom and settles at his desk…
So, we’ve been thinking of theories as to why the sudden change; why James has taken against the minibus, especially as he is generally happy to come home on it still…
Here’s where we’ve got to:
Maybe something happened on the way to school: We’ve asked everyone involved, but no one can recall any incident or accident that has happened on the minibus run in to school. That James is generally happy to use the minibus at other times of the day, and especially to come home, suggests this may not be the issue… Although as he is mostly non-verbal, he can’t easily tell us if something has happened, or what.
Perhaps he struggles because it gets busy/noisy: James is the first to be picked up, so the minibus is empty and quiet when he gets on it. As the round continues and more children are collected it gets fuller and noisier… James might be finding this hard.
He’s a teenager… it’s early: James generally sleeps well, but finds mornings hard… He’ll get up at 07:30 when I go in for him, but he’s in a bit of a daze and once dressed slumps on the sofa in his den… In many ways he is a typical 15 year old lad! Maybe he just needs a bit longer to ‘rally’ in the mornings than he used to, and prefers to do this at home rather than on the minibus.
He’s prefers ‘Dad’s taxi’: James likes going out for trips, and a ride out in Dad’s car is usually fun, and sometimes involves food or a trip to somewhere nice. It might just be that he would rather have a ride into school with Dad than on the minibus with lots of other children.
And of course it might be a combination of several of these things… or something else entirely! Maybe you’ve had a similar situation and figured out what it was, or maybe your child is struggling in a similar way at the moment and you don’t have any answers either?
Or maybe your child is struggling in another way? Wherever you are at, it’s good to know that you are not alone, that there are plenty of us out there that ‘get it’, and may even be able to offer some ideas… If you are looking for answers, or maybe have some lived experience to offer to help others, do join us at the Additional Needs Alliance Facebook group, a safe, informative, friendly, helpful space for childrens/youth workers, parents, practitioners and others involved with children/young people with additional needs, to mutually support, inform, help, and cheer each other on…
You’ll find a warm welcome here: www.facebook.com/groups/additionalneedsalliance
Looking forward to getting to know you!
7th July 2017
Image rights: Mark Arnold, Free