The summer is coming to an end and there is a distinct feel of autumn in the air. Days are shorter, mornings are fresher, the central heating is cranking into action and condensation is starting to dampen the windows. And as I look out of my kitchen window, my garden is starting to look as tired as I feel.
The trees and shrubs that edge my garden are turning yellow, discarded leaves are being blown across my mossy lawn and the summer bedding is losing its vibrancy. But for all the early signs of decay, the garden is still productive. To the side of the lawn sits the old apple tree that has once again found the energy to supply us with an abundance of apples. And at the end of my garden lies my small vegetable patch, slightly overgrown and weedy, but still with plenty more vegetables to dig up.
I love this time of year. I love the golden colours of our trees and the rich colours of autumnal plants. I love the way leaves get whipped up by the wind before settling into the gutters and across the pavements. I love the sunny days when the last rays of warmth tease me with the prospect of blackberry picking or conker collecting with my children. But above all, I love gathering my own produce which reminds me that as a human being I am nothing without a healthy and productive environment.
I also love September because it symbolises the start of a new year. The memories of my own school days, the excitement of new books, new stationery and squeaky new shoes has forever defined September as a time of starting afresh.
But now that I am a mum that sense of looking forward is tinged with emotion.
As my daughters return to school, I can’t help but miss their chatter, the fights over whose turn it is to go on the computer, the slamming of doors, half finished artwork and discarded clothes everywhere. Normally this sadness would lift as we settle back into the routine of school, weekend, school and I would once again start to enjoy some time to myself. But this year I’m going to have to wait a while longer.
You see my son is finding life difficult. After struggling to get him into school on his first day back, he now refuses to go in at all and has now spent the last day or so holed up in his bedroom. I am beside myself with worry because after working so hard to help him recover from his agoraphobia and to get him into a specialist ASD school we now fear some sort of regression.
At the moment we are talking with the school trying to work out the possible causes of his refusal and also trying to talk with our son though he is unable to tell us why he doesn’t want to go back. What I did notice though is that after his first day in school, he was so exhausted that his autistic behaviours worsened and he was unable to communicate with us. What I think has happened is that the change from home to school was such a shock to his system that his brain became overloaded. As a result his autism worsened and his levels of anxiety increased. This has come as a total shock to us all as up to now our son loved his school and showed no indication that he was nervous of returning.
Our biggest concern is if his anxiety prevents him from leaving the house at all. I really don’t want to go back to those dark days when my son (and I) were confined to our home and all the isolation that comes with it (read more about this here). So for now we are allowing him to rest in order to bring those anxiety levels down whilst we think about what to do next.