I was cleaning out old photos from my Dropbox today. I came across hundreds of them from the small community nursery that PanKwake attended for two years. I was on their management committee, did their grants and monthly newsletters so that is why I had so many. But obviously, there was no reason to keep five year old photos of kids that we no longer even had contact with.
Do you know how many photos I found of PanKwake out of those three hundred plus? Less than a dozen in two years. Some children who were there only a few months had more photos than she did…and she spent two years there. And even the ones I did find…told her story…the story of autism/Asperger’s. She was alone or hanging back from the others. And that was why there were so few of her…none when the man brought the petting zoo, none on the circle time mat, even with Santa there was only one of her.
But what bothered me most was the three or four years of lost opportunity. You see that nursery was excellent. They recognized that the way PanKwake was developing was not ‘normal.’ They even did their best to get her the intervention that she needed…deserved…should have been provided. But all it resulted in was one hour with the council’s early years SENCo. One hour and the woman wrote a report that basically said…she would catch up. I still have that damned report.
How different our lives might have been if back then she and we had gotten the support we needed. But we did not…we waited four more years. Had to take her out of school and home educate her when the school too failed to see what I had seen since she was two years old.
Days like today are not easy…cleaning out old junk, not just the photos but the reminders they bring with them of…what if’s…should have been’s. But we will never know because that was not the path we were given. But looking at all those other smiling faces compared her more stoic was hard…a reminder. But forgiving that SENCo, the school, her doctors…and most of all me…for those lost opportunities takes a lot more effort than simply click and delete. I wish it could be that simple.
All I can do now is advocate for more early intervention/diagnosis of high-functioning autism/Asperger’s. But it will come much too late to help my PanKwake.