Since I last wrote here we have been on a wonderful and challenging extended trip to Sri Lanka. We explored and visited, we rode elephants, saw whales, monkeys, turtles and all manner of crawling and flying beasts. We ate spicy food, rode dangerous trains, battled with enormous Indian Ocean waves and pushed through teeming markets and incomprehensible crowds. At first Jiggy was almost entirely overwhelmed and had to visibly brace himself for each new sensory experience. Heat, scent, taste, change and challenges all contributed to his discomfort and he was very, very brave. Only those who understand the assault that children with sensory challenges experience on a daily basis can understand the depth of that courage. Slowly, slowly he began to relax and although he was always very clear that he preferred the Jig shaped world that we have built here he, and we, survived. No, more than that, we passed with flying colours.
We have come back to a decision that has required my own courage. We have begun to reintegrate Jiggy into school. Nearly three years ago we took our whirling, swirling child out of the maelstrom that was his mainstream and promptly disappeared. That time has been very special. We have had days that have stretched me (and him) to breaking and beyond and I have often lost sight of the goals that I set for us. We wanted to create a space where he would learn self control, self respect, belonging, responsibility, self direction and, ideally, the odd educational achievement. I put my head down at the beginning of that process and only really lifted it when we were away this winter. I saw how bravely Jiggy dealt with his fears and difficulties and although I cannot say that we have met all of our goals we have probably met all of them that count. I am very proud indeed of him. The child we took to Sri Lanka was not the same child that could not manage even the tiniest change, the smallest creak in routine without physical restraint. The child that could not manage sand can now play cricket on a beach…
So, two weeks into a flexi schooling arrangement and all is well. I know it is early days and that we have maintained our old life for the rest of the week but school are still greeting us both with smiles. No-one has called us in during the day. Jig tells me that he is only a bit disruptive. But the big news, the really big news is that he has a birthday invitation from a child in his new class… I can’t tell you what a massive step that is. An elephant step, you might say.