Stay awake for this September

It’s nearly September, and this means one thing – school.

Christos enjoys school. Obviously, we have had incidents involving bloodshed and tears but he has been good for most of the experience. I don’t really remember the routine we all had getting up in the mornings and getting ready for school. When it was just me, my mum would do the mornings as she had to go to work and dad worked late. When Chris came along the whole house was up. We would wake up begrudgingly and have tea, I would brush my teeth and wash my face, get dressed and then wait. I remember screaming, i remember clothes being thrown around, i remember socks thrown in the bin (the Sock Wars).

They need to be put on perfectly, if not you start again. If you touch the wrong spot, or accidentally stroke his ankle, toe at any point you have to start again. If you tickle him or give him an inadvertent ‘Lets go’ pat, you start again. If you don’t start at the right end, if both sides aren’t moving up at the same pace, if its too high or too low, you start again, you start again, you start again. No loose ends, no marks, no holes otherwise you start again. Even if its not visible, is it a new pair? Are you sure they’re a pair? Start again, just in case. Then come the shoes. Something’s not right; is it the shoes or the socks? Take everything off and start again.

I can’t help but laugh thinking about it now. But let me assure you, we were not laughing at the time. I imagine it took months/years for my parents to teach him how to dress himself. I think of all the mums and dads out there trying to figure out how to make the nursery-to-school transition, teaching their children how to dress themselves. I don’t remember what his first ever day at school was like, i was a teenager – I wouldn’t remember where i went to school if my mum didn’t drive me there every morning. I remember general memories of nursery, and the special unit at regular school. I remember visiting, spending days there, observing, picking him up and being so proud of him. I will have to talk to mum and dad and write separately about that.

The point of this post is clothes.

schoolMarks & Spencer has launched a uniform range to help children with Autism, called ‘Easy Dressing’. It covers ages 2 to 16 and has been developed with the help of the National Autistic Society. Some of the adaptations to the ‘regular’ uniform include the replacement of buttons on the t-shirt with Velcro, and trousers being pull-ups instead. This will eliminate a good portion of the morning stress for both the parent and the child (and the siblings). This is not to say that they shouldn’t learn how to do buttons or laces but it means that that tricky first year will run a tad smoother, and once they tackle the change in routine and the woes of school, they can do anything.

I’m so excited for this I might pop down to M&S and have a closer look. It’s so great to have a household name designing a line just for the spectrum. It means that when parents go shopping and their kids ask why they aren’t shopping in that section or why that kid gets pull up trousers, the parent is given the opportunity to have the ‘talk’.

An estimated 120,000 children who are on the spectrum will be joining the school system this September. Every child’s first day is overwhelming, but if your kid has the ability to make someone else’s school experience better, or even tolerable, wouldn’t you want to teach them how? Think a year, 10 or 30 years from now, when people talk about school kids helping their ‘other’ classmates, when they commend them for being inclusive, when the ‘other’ kids grow up and look back at their school experience and they remember that kid that picked them up when they were down, asked them to prom, invited them to parties – don’t you want to be the parent who says ‘Yeah, that’s my kid.’ ?

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