The Unsociable School Mum

unsociable mum

I don’t really talk to any of the mums at my sons school. I am the unsociable school mum. I’ve always been pretty quiet and I like to keep myself to myself (she says, whilst sharing her life on the internet!) but I am capable of having a conversation with people and being friendly. However, I think to the other mum’s in Max’s class I must come across as quiet, awkward and just generally not very approachable.

Here’s why.

School mornings for me are, quite honestly, a nightmare.  And I’m sure that most parents of children on the autism spectrum will understand what I mean. Max’s behaviour at home is challenging at the best of times, but add to that the fact that he has absolutely no concept of time and does not like being rushed and it makes for very stressful mornings. Now, I will admit that I am not the most patient person and I snap and shout more often than maybe I should, but honestly I think that even someone with the patience of a saint would struggle with my mornings.

Our main problem has always been getting him to actually get dressed. He will literally just sit on his bed and stare into space, even after reminding him 10 times (I’m not even exaggerating), or he will just get distracted by something else. We’ve tried removing his iPad, charts, rewards, setting alarms to let him know when he needs to do certain things, and nothing has worked for longer than a few days. Currently we’re asking him to get dressed as soon as he wakes up, so that he doesn’t have chance to get distracted by anything and he’s then free to do what he wants until it’s time to leave for school.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had school morning meltdowns because; he forgot his gloves, he doesn’t like learning to tell the time, because he dropped his juice bottle, because I shouted at him for wiping Nutella all over his uniform, because he got pen all over his hands after I’d asked him not to use the pen, because he doesn’t like P.E, because he doesn’t want to go to school, because he wants to take a pack lunch, because he doesn’t like me anymore, because he wants to take Shopkins to school, because his shoes don’t feel right, because I’m rushing him despite being 10 minutes late already… You get the idea. IT. IS. HARD.

By the time I actually get him to school we’re all pretty wound up, and quite frankly I’m emotionally drained and it’s only 8:45am! So the last thing on my mind is having a natter about the weather or what I’m doing at the weekend. I just want to get out of there as fast as I can, get home and most likely have a cry before I burst into tears there and then in the classroom.

So what about school pick up time? You’d think I’d be a bit more relaxed by that time and and could take advantage of this opportunity to have a chat with the other mums? Nope. I have no idea what Max is going to be like when I pick him up, what mood he’s going to be in, so I’m a ball of anxiety just hoping he’s going to be happy to see me and won’t have a meltdown on the way home.

So there you have it. It’s hard, but I’m getting on with it as best I can. And our life isn’t always like this. Weekends and school holidays are much easier as he isn’t being rushed. But I can’t see a way to improve our school mornings.

If anyone has any tips on how to make school mornings a little easier, especially from other autism parents, please please do let me know. I need all the help I can get!

Thanks for reading.


 

5 Comments

  1. February 25, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    Aw Emma, sorry it’s so stressful at the moment for you, I hope you find a way to improve things. I find it stressful without adding autism to the mix so well done you for carrying on. I’m the quiet one too and only really talk to one or two other mums. I’m either rushing to work or somewhere in the mornings. I’m quite a solitary person and have avoided any social school mum’s outings so far. I just like peace and quiet when the boys are at school or in bed!

  2. February 25, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Ah so sorry to hear this. I’m one of the sociable school mums but then we have very different circumstances. Don’t really have any other tips then maybe asking him prepare his bag and clothes himself the evening before – maybe that would help him in remembering to get dressed and not try sneak in Shopkins… I’m not an autism parent though. It sounds tough for you, I hope you find a way!

  3. Gemma
    February 25, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    This sounds exactly the same as my own daily school run experience!x

  4. February 26, 2017 / 8:02 am

    My tip is to keep trying things just as you are until you find something that works for you and max.

    I can tell you what worked for us (but of course it won’t necessarily work for Max – it’s trial and error).

    When D was younger we had a pasta shop, Dex earned a bit of pasta whenever he did good things. E.g. If he was downstairs with his clothes on ready for breakfast by 7.30 he got a bit of pasta. He got them for other stuff too. Then on weekends he could ‘spend’ his pastas on stuff I had Ina plastic tub. E.g. Little toys from Poundland, sweets, pencils. He loved it. That same strategy worked for him but never was as successful for Tabitha.

    Now he’s older he’s a screen addict and not bothered about earning pastas so we have a rule no screens until he’s ready for school. He’s allowed to have his breakfast in his room in front of the screen though as long as dressed. Once we started that I’d never seen him get dressed so fast.

    Generally nowadays I’m a bit more wary of behavioural strategies (still use them but only on certain things) as usually there’s a reason for the behaviour. E.g. D got to the stage he was having major violent meltdowns about going to school. In that case using a behavioural strategy to get him to go quietly would not be appropriate as the meltdowns were his way of communicating the extreme stress he was under. So we tried to change things at school for him so he was happier. A year later we had to accept school was not going to work for him and he’d never be happy there. He is now home educated and it was such a good decision. I have a happy child again, and the meltdowns are really rare. It might be there’s something max is struggling with at school that you need to get to the bottom of.

    Good luck.

  5. February 26, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    This is SOOOO me too! I am very socially awkward and shy. I have a few mums I chat to but mostly keep to myself 🙁

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