It’s a long time since I updated this page. Yet I have so much to say. I am guilty of writing most on my personal page when I really ought to share it here.
It’s now the end of April 2021. We went through a small lockdown in November 2020 where schools stayed open; followed by a long lockdown between January and March.
Rosie started secondary school in September. She is Clinically Vulnerable but it was vital she started alongside her classmates to forge the friendships which hopefully will endure for years. She’s fortunate that her school has lots of space and tiny classes. All their desks are socially distanced to 2m apart. They have sanctions in place if children are closer than 2m at any given time - the children have to put their arms up instantly if requested.
Rosie is thriving at school. She loves it. We chose it because it feels like a family, and now she is part of it, we feel it even more. She’s not had an easy ride. She did get badly bullied at times - one was heartbreaking - but each time the school were onto It instantly and dealt with the bullies. I’ve know there’s been times where teachers have picked up on tiny details in class and stopped them going any further. I really feel like the teachers look out for her. Equally they have really helped foster friendships and she’s got some good friends too, and she helps those who picked on her in class as well. She told me only this week about how her good her friendships are. One thing I didn’t expect was a huge amount of self understanding to emerge from Rosie about having Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s been a real blessing to have her at home because she’s had the time to articulate to me about how having Asperger’s affects her and it’s been eye opening.
I always knew Rosie was extraordinary. She sat up at 3 months, crawled at 6 months and walked at 9 months. She wowed the health visitor by knowing all her colours (10) by the age of 2. She toilet trained herself on Day 1. She was reading at 3. But at no point did I ever think she had ASD. She had a compete fear of water as a baby and we bathed her in the kitchen sink. She also projectile vomited for the first 18 months of her life and lived on purées. She purposely refused to call me ‘mama’ even though we could hear her saying it in the baby monitor. The biggest sign I had was that I bought her Happyland for her 3rd birthday. She set it all up beautifully around the playmat and then walked away. She never ever actually played with it. At 4/5 we went through the pain of her screaming blue murder to get her into a swimming pool (strangely I looked after a child some years ago who also got an Asperger’s diagnosis as an adult, and he used to hate swimming too). Rosie is now a competent swimmer. We knew she struggled with friendships at school but just put it down to ‘girls’. However beyond these signs - across several years - there was nothing else until much later. It was later on when school pushed to get an ASD diagnosis for Toby, and at the same time implied that Rosie was lying when I knew she wasn’t but that she was misreading the situation, that I asked her her to be assessed first.
It’s led to me feeling guilty in places that I had no idea that she had issues with things. She can now clearly tell me how she felt in certain situations, or about struggles she had. For example how she never walks on a crack - she knew every crack on the pathway to school; or how she has to eat foods separately etc. Or why she doesn’t understand why girls like make up. More recently she’s told me how she masks and has a different mask for different teachers and friends. She’s also admitted it’s exhausting and I’ve suggested that it’s ok not to mask and just be herself. One of the teachers noticed the other day and commented on how lovely it was to see the real Rosie coming through.
I never meant this to be a post about Asperger’s! In fact I started with photos of Toby, so I digress.
Rosie is really flying at school. She is literally a straight A student. Her teachers now automatically prepare her extension work as she’s usually finished way ahead of the others. The expectations from her are super high - she’s expected to get full marks in everything. Thankfully Rosie seems to thrive on this and she consistently gets high marks in everything. She’s excelled at PE which has surprised me because it’s not my forte but she’s been naturally good at hockey, athletics, even cricket. She switched from violin to viola with the change of schools (I had a viola). I know it’s much harder but it was her choice and she’s risen to the challenge brilliantly.
Rosie has also been a massive help at home. 18 months ago she was literally petrified of the gas hob. She wouldn’t go near the oven at all. Now she’s confidently cooking all our meals because she loves it. I know she finds cooking calming and she will fight me to cook! I don’t mind because I hate cooking! I love that I can sit and prep for her, and then we get time to talk whilst she stirs.
Rosie is so willing to help with anything too. She adores Toby and even though he can be prickly towards her at times, she knows how to win him around.
I know a lot has been said about the negative impact of lockdowns on children but both children have utterly thrived being at home. Both have accelerated their learning. Rosie has grown up massively. We have had time to talk about a huge range of topics, and try new crafts and just enjoy being at home. I’ve learnt so much about both my children. I’m hoping more than anything that the closeness that Rosie and I have now, will help lesson some of the teenage effects that we are rapidly heading for as Rosie turns 13 this year.
I’m incredibly proud of Rosie. She’s beautiful, she’s clever, she’s sporty, she’s creative, she’s a great communicator, she’s a fantastic big sister. She’s my amazing fabulous daughter. Originally published 27.4.2021