Am I restricting my sons socialising?


It is Tom’s birthday party next week, only 3 of his friends are coming, he’s devistated. He’s only been invited to two parties all year and I suspect the invitations were more to do with my friendship with the mums than the boys friendship. He is starting to realise he doesn’t get invited to parties. He places a lot on his need to have friends at school but his behaviour at times, especially around the school run, probably puts some parents off inviting him over. 

He is a very sociable little boy and appears to have lots of friends when I’ve watched him in the playground however that doesn’t relate to invites to parties or after school. We’ve tried some after school meet ups but Tom really struggles and it’s not fair on him to do them regularly so I don’t go round inviting people over, but I now feel I may be letting him down. 

It’s such a struggle to balance building friendships and social skills with a need for Tom to self regulate after school. I’m not sure if I’m getting the balance right and feel I may be to blame for not making more of an effort with the other parents, most of the time I dread the school run as it is such hard work and I don’t have time (sanity) to socialise. It doesn’t help that I’ve not been well for several months and currently feeling sorry for myself as I await a date for further surgery and the stress of end of term disregulation hits me. 

We all need a break and time to reflect on how we support Tom as he goes into year 2, it’s a new teacher & a different mix of children. I just want him to be happy and I worry this party is going to be a disappointment as he had such big ideas about what he wanted to do with his friends. 

After all the things we’ve struggled with I didn’t think we’d have such a hard time getting people to a party!

Starting school.

 

So we have completed our second week of school and I wanted to share a few things about how we got on.

The first day:

In my dreams hubby would have had the day off and we would have taken photos etc. but we knew that would just make it really hard for Tom to leave us so we made as little fuss as possible and hubby went to work as usual.

On the Sunday we did our last drive past the school and talked through what was going to happen, he was nervous but excited. He went to sleep the same as any other day.

On the Monday we got dressed and went with minimal fuss (except the parking). It was easier than I thought, he just took it in his stride. 

When I picked him up at lunch all he talked about was the mash potato, he didn’t seem fazed by this significant change. While I was waiting to pick him up the head teacher popped out to say hello (they all seem to know who we are, maybe they heard about all the prep I tried to do for the teachers and thought it best to play nice). The head teacher was lovely, she asked questions about how we were feeling and gave some good advice- the kids do really well the first week or so and then they start to struggle when they realise school is a long term thing. It was great that she acknowledged this and gave me hope for when we do have our expected wobble. 

School achievements:

Now this heading sounds silly but here are some highlights from his first 2 weeks.

1. The teacher said he plays well with other children and likes asking them questions, they were very impressed with this as other children apparently don’t ask many questions of their friends; we did give him a question to help him talk to other children “I’m Tom, what’s your name?”, however this has transpired as “I’m 4, who are you?” but it seems to work for him. Previously the feedback was always that he didn’t know how to interact with other children or play together so this is huge for us! They even said he seems more socially advanced than most of the other children (I’m proud).

2. He has managed to play without adult prompting during play time. Again a massive step, we expected play time to be impossible but he’s just got on with it (I watched through the gate one lunch time).

3. He has shown empathy! Most of you will understand this is amazing. The teacher sent me a text about it saying this “well done to Tom who showed what a kind friend he is today by looking after an injured child. We are very proud of you”. (The school do lots of communication by text). Apparently another boy really hurt his face and Tom was very caring. I was so pleased to see yet another massive area of growth and especially pleased that his teacher (knowing the problems he has) took time out during her day to text me. He has never shown that level of empathy before, again I’m really proud.

So in summary my boy is amazing and school seem to love him and he’s settled amazingly well.

The difficult bits.

So all is great then…… I wish, he has sensory and attachment issues so despite school being great, home is worse.

He isn’t sleeping great, he was up 7 times Thursday night with nightmares and has been clingy on and off. 

He’s been aggressive when we try and get him ready for bed and fighting us to stay up saying he wants to be with us (heart-breaking).

He’s been getting home and is clearly hyper stimulated and literally bouncing off the walls and trying to hurt me (sadly I have been on the end of more violence again). I have started doing an hour of sensory regulation as soon as he gets home and this has helped the last few days, but is hard work especially with his brother around.

We are still mixing full days and half days trying to build up to a full week soon and I’m working on my range of sensory regulation tools to help with the come down after school.

I am hopeful for the future, the school are responsive and we are seeing huge improvements in his behaviour generally. I feel if we can get the regulation right at home we might just get through the next 13 years of school.

Chill out time.

  

We are currently waiting on a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder for our eldest: while we wait for SW, PASW, CAMHS etc to sort themselves out and work out who will assess and potentially treat my boy I turned to the wonderful world of Twitter for advice.

As usual the amazing people on there came up with loads of suggestions which make so much sense.

After some research and a bit of a dive into Pinterest I decided to try a sensory box. I created a sensory box for home and 2 pencil cases (1 for nursery bag and 1 for my handbag). I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was doing. I tried to include things he could scratch and fiddle with in a focused way, things I knew would hold his attention, they are a random mix of things if you look at the picture above. The box for home include a sensory ball and sunglasses among other things. We named them the “chill out box/bag”.

I have started by offering the bag / box when I feel he he is becoming hyper-vigilant or hyper-stimulated. The first time I used it was when he was playing with Grandpa and I could see he was over-stimulated, I offered the box and gave him a space away from us but where he could see us and turned the sand timer to 10 minutes. I was amazed. He sat with his glasses on and scratched and fiddled away for the 10 minutes. Afterwards he told me “it was amazing” he seemed brighter and came back into the lounge a calm relaxed boy who was able to carry on playing with his Grandpa (I’d had words with my father-in-law about not doing rough play or tickling).

I was shocked, this was our little boy who previously would be unable to stop and would likely escalate to violence and screaming, we had averted the crisis and he came out of it really happy.

He has asked for the box / bag several times and has always been keen to have it when we have offered it. It came in very handy when we were away with family last weekend. Obviously it doesn’t solve all our problems and we still get seemingly random acts of violence, but it helps him regulate and prevent the escalation we were becoming used to.

As usual we’re not sure what we’re dong and making it up as we go along with a little help from our Twitter friends!