Thursday, 29 December 2016

Early School Years/Pre School and Nursery...

Mrs Toy's Pre School...

Yes, she really was called Mrs Toy.  And as I have no intention of telling you where the preschool was I think it would be a shame to change such a fabulous name, don't you?
Besides which, she's not an integral part of the story...

This particular pre school (like most in our area) was used as a 'feeder' school.  By that I mean you start off in the safety and confines of it before progressing onwards into the main body of the school. Milly wasn't actually ever going to go to this school though.  I took her there because they had an intake of pupils two terms ahead of the school she was going to go to and I wanted to get her used to the idea of being away from mum.

Milly actually really seemed to enjoy going here every afternoon.  The intake was small - 12 pupils in the morning and 12 in the afternoon.
Not a lot of significance happened in these two terms, but a few things do stand out...

Firstly, Milly started poo smearing (apologies if you are eating or about to eat).  This phase didn't last for long at all - I think about a month maximum, but if you do a quick search online you will see that it's quite a common indicator for those who may have Autism.
I wish I had known that back then.

Secondly, everyone who worked at the Pre School quickly learned that Milly had to be given her apple before everyone else as she was such a slow eater.
At least that was consistent with her behaviour at home!
...  I remember Milly coming home from school one day, telling me that someone had told her she shouldn't be eating the apple core as well as the apple itself and I remember wondering how on earth she couldn't know that already?
But you see, I only ever gave her two or three apple slices at home.
I had tried a whole apple with her initially and she made such a small inroad into eating the thing that it just didn't seem worth the waste.

And thirdly...  It was raining on the way home from school one afternoon and I gave Milly an umbrella to use that I had just bought for her.
She couldn't hold it above her head - neither then or for many years afterwards.
(Autism often has other conditions that coincide with it.  For Milly, this eventually got diagnosed as Developmental Coordination Disorder - formerly Dyspraxia.
This condition only got diagnosed as part of her Autism diagnosis).

What also became apparent after starting Pre School was that Milly was a 'germ magnet'...
and by that I mean that pretty much any and every illness that was going around the class would find its way to her and make her ill.  
I think we single handedly kept Calpol (a toddler brand Paracetomol medication) in business for many years whilst she was ill at home, normally with a high temperature.


After two wonderful, happy terms at Mrs Toy's Pre School (where Milly learnt about 'Clifford, the Big Red Dog' and 'Toffee, the Cat') it was time to start at Nursery - the name given to the Pre School at the school we had chosen for Milly to attend.

Milly still went to the afternoon sessions...
but now the class size had leaped to thirty pupils and this nursery was spread over three rooms as opposed to just the one.

At our first parent's evening I remember the staff telling us that Milly wouldn't go into the other rooms.  Not one of us thought anything much of it...  but again, with hindsight, this is such an indicator for Autistic behaviour.
(Boys with Autism often react differently to girls with Autism in social situations and because so much less is known about girls on the Autistic spectrum we were clueless to the subtle signs that were beginning to stare us in the face).

This was also the time when her phobia of foxes started...  and the night terrors.
To this day I haven't a clue what set this off in her head - but I suspect something at nursery was to blame.
What I can tell you is that this fear lasted for years...  and it included many broken nights sleep.


I know I've undoubtedly said this before, but I so wish I knew then what I know now.
I also wonder if Milly would have coped better if we had kept her at the smaller school with a smaller pupil intake.
We chose the bigger school based on its OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) results.

Like I said, the joys of hindsight...

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