‘So what do you do all day while the boys are at school?’
I wrote in the summer about finally finishing full time ABA which we have been doing for 16 years with all four of my boys full time.They all started at the ages of 2 or 3 and I managed their home programmes from the beginning until very recently. For several years, I ran three programmes at the same time which meant a team of tutors.
The boys did go to mainstream primary part time increasing their sessions over the years. But, the older boys never went full time until they started secondary school by which time, our youngest, Marcus was newly diagnosed and the whole cycle of ABA tutors needed to continue.
I have lived with tutors and therapy and often being the middle man between school and home. My life during the week has been governed by managing the programmes. During good times, we had a full team of tutors but when I couldn’t find decent tutors , then my days were spent trawling the internet and advertising and interviewing potential tutors to train up. It has been more than a full time job.
Do I regret that time? Never, never, never.
It has been the most effective thing we have done for our boys. It gave them a voice, literally, a voice when they were non verbal. It enabled them to learn life skills for mixing with other children at school. It taught them how to learn and from then onwards, they could learn – how to read, how to write, how to do maths. The tutors were their friends, they were there with them through primary school enabling them to understand the mainstream world of which they are now very much a part. I don’t like to think about how they might be now without all those years of ABA. It makes me feel terrible when I think of how many other children in this country would benefit from the intensive support my boys had but which is not offered routinely and indeed, often needs to be fought for at tribunal.
I have now had nearly 6 weeks of all four boys being in school/college full time which means 6 weeks of free daytime for me. It’s quite an adjustment. I have to admit, I am enjoying being able to focus on other things.
No, I don’t watch daytime TV or read during the day. I still have enough to occupy me.
Four statements to convert to EHCPs this year has been fairly stressful but so far we have succeeded in getting the older boys 18 – 25 EHCPs sorted so that has really been worth all the effort. Two EHCPs down and two to go before Christmas still.
I have years worth of clutter hiding in the loft to sort but funnily enough, I am too busy to do it!
The boys still require a lot of organisation and I still employ after school/evening/ weekend carers for them. They all have different needs and interests and it’s impossible to manage all their activities single handed. To be honest, I would miss not having young people in their twenties in the house chatting to the boys, being their ‘friends’ so the gap left by ABA tutors has been filled. But, it’s part time, not full time so our house is my house all to myself during term time.
And…I still have over 21 weeks of school holidays a year so in another two weeks, the boys will all be home for three weeks. The peace does not last long.
In between, I have been writing. My second book is now finished and in the process of finding a publisher. I hope it won’t be too long as I may need something to occupy me in the New Year.
My last dream team of ABA tutors.