My brother, you make me so proud.

21st July 2017

Ashley,

10 months ago you took one of the biggest leap you have ever had to endure. You got up the same as you had done every single day of your school life prior but that day was so uniquely different. You came downstairs for your breakfast and coffee, cards and gifts of good luck scattered all over the table, the look of terror in your eyes and you trying your utmost to hide it. A new start is hard enough for anyone but it is especially hard for those who suffer from autism like you do. You made your way slowly through your breakfast, I couldn’t help but feel for you. a short while later you made your way upstairs and got changed into your brand new uniform I could see in your eyes that you were now starting to feel a bit excited about what the day had in store. We all crowded around you trying to get a photo of you on this memorable day, you getting told to tuck yourself in and you replying in the way you always do, I knew then that you’d be just fine.

You were dropped off by the school and as you walked in, the school and fellow pupils towered over you but you took it in your stride. At school pick up you came out with a big smile on your face, you sat beside me on the sofa and showed me all your brand new books, you showed me your timetable and we had a look to see if you had any of the teachers that I had when I was in school, we calculated you had one! I then asked you who was in your tutor group and that was when you ran through the names that you could remember, after all it was your first day, you wouldn’t have met most of them before. I was shocked to notice that you hadn’t mentioned a few of your best friends, I questioned you on this and that was when you went quiet, you had been placed in a tutor in a brand new school with next to nobody who you could confide in when things started getting tough, now that truly isn’t fair on anyone most of all you when you like consistency. My heart sank for you, you’re my little brother I want nothing less than the best for you and it was so clear that wasn’t happening but you, you still carried on with the brave face and you need to know just how proud that made me.

The first week in and you were loving it, you were loving how grown-up you were getting treated, most of all you were loving their curry pots (you still do!). Before you started I told you how you should try out their fruit cola, chocolate cookies and chicken mayo baguette for lunch as it is simply the best you being you I was certain that, that had just flown right over your head and you weren’t the least bit interested, how wrong was I? You came home one day with a fruit cola and a cookie for me, I was speechless but oh so excited to be able to taste them again and they hadn’t changed!  After getting a fruit colour at least once every week from you I was starting to regret telling you I liked them!

A few months in and you began to struggle it was clear that the honeymoon period was over and everything wasn’t as rosy as we had first thought. You began to get in trouble, suddenly you no longer looked forward to going to school you came home and just led there all quiet on your iPad, what had become of you? As the days went on you no longer wanted to go to school, We called the school to express our concerns and after they had looked into it they were certain that you weren’t being bullied you must simply be going through a tough patch which I am certain every child does during their first year, but your condition makes it all the more worse and harder to handle, near enough every week you were requesting at least one day off saying you were poorly we couldn’t force you to go in because you ended up getting moody and taking it out on us. The school sent letters home saying you were off more on one day than any other, which is when we decided to take a look at what lessons you have on that day, that was when you told us you don’t enjoy doing languages, you had Spanish and German on the same day what on earth is that all about? learning one language is tough but two and on the same day?

It was a tough road getting you back to how you were, loads of tears which believe me broke me just as much as it did you. You see, I’d do anything to make sure your school days are the happiest days of your life because that’s what they should be but I just couldn’t sort this for you and that hurt, when you fall over I  can wipe it and stick a plaster on but this is so much harder than that, a simple plaster just wouldnt sort it. I didn’t want to see you retreat back into your shell, I didn’t want to see you without your smile I wanted to see you enjoying your childhood but that just wasn’t happening.

Some time later, you became you again over night! I could have cried with joy my brother was back. you finally found that spring in your step when you walked through the school gates, you jumped out of the car at drop off and you’re always the last person to leave school! You joined a gardening club which helped you big time as that is your hobby and it sounds like you aren’t short of friends either.

Today is your last day of year 7 and after reading your report yesterday I just want you to know how proud I am of how much you have achieved this year, I want you to know that you should be proud of how far you’ve come, how well you’ve settled in. Autism leaves you with many social boundaries but boy you’re kicking its arse! And remember no matter how hard your days may seem, you will come through them, difficulty is only temporary but happiness can and will last a lifetime.

Good luck for year 8, you’ll smash it!

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