A journey through grief with autism.

Alan Greenwell

4-Minute Read


Its 5pm on Monday Tams first day back at school since the middle of last week.

Tam is everything to me. I look at him and see the bits of Bev he has, I see the parts of me in him but in the end I see my beautiful boy. He has been handed a really bad hand in life losing his Mammy and seeing his Mammy die. I do my best to protect him and I also try to help him deal with the pain of so many things in life. I often thank my Mam and Dad for the times they let me fall, they are the times we learn. I try to let Tam have those moments, those are the difficult moments.

Now I have been dealing with one such area for a while and that is school. Since October/November Tam has been having some issues at school or going to school. This has manifested in an angry response from him that can last from half an hour to many hours. Tam pulls his hair, throws himself around and attacks me. He is strong enough to dislocate my fingers if I am not fast enough. So last week after it getting too much for either of us and me worried about Tam hurting himself I called for help. I received the help from most corners very quickly but communication from school was still lacking. All I got was a “good morning” when Tam returned one day without his normal polo top on because he had ripped 2 polo shirts. The state of the shirts did not say accident it said anger.

So back to school he went to day with a few changes, slightly later start, no uniform, better communications and slightly earlier finish. Later start seemed to work, no uniform - he did not rip his clothes, better communication - no communication other than me phoning to see if he was alright, slightly earlier finish - no, he had been out on a trip. So a 50% success rate day one. When I sat my school exams that would have been an E-.

Now just after 3:30pm Tam got home. He had cried for the last 30 seconds of the trip home. He was a bit off with me,but when we got home he was OK, wanted cuddles and tickles. Then he asked about “going to school tomorrow” and when I said yes he visibily changed. He started shaking and his face looked like thunder, he grabbed my hand asked again and in a flash, 2 dislocated fingers. Now I accept that my finger might dislocate a little easier than the norm but it is still painful. So putting them back (my mam showed me after a badminton game and a clash of raquets) and fighting Tam off as he tried to kick, scratch and bite me was par fot the course recently. In the end, after about 30 minutes, I gave in. I know by saying no school tomorrow he will calm down.

And that is exactly what he did. The attack stopped, he continued to shake, and pleaded “no school tomorrow please”. He sobbed his eyes out. That stopped about when I started writing this. He is currently sitting next to me tight as can be. A bit anxious and asking about school sporadicly. What am I meant to do? Any ideas? Please let me know.

So school has not kept its part of the process up. I have done my best and I am sitting here wondering what I have to do to get my son back to loving school and not feeling like I am sending to a place he hates. Since Tam started at this school he has loved it. That something like 6 or 7 years he has liked it. He would ask every night “going to school tomorrow” and bounce when me or Bev said yes. If we said no (because it was the weekend) he would go back and forwards between us asking over and over again. Now he seems to hate school. He seems fearful and I keep telling him he is going or I send him without telling him.

Now that last part is important as if Tam does not want to do something I can generally get around it by saying “daddy needs you to …….” whatever and he will grudgingly do it. I think he is doing the same going to school like this morning, but he is telling me he does not like it. That’s why the anger.

So what the hell do I do? I need him to go to school. I need him to like school. I need the rest when he goes to school. So what the hell do I do? All I want is a happy boy.

Alan & Tam

All of these lessons I’ve learned for myself

There is no gain worth the commerce of self

Alterbridge - wouldnt you rather

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