Making Up for Lost Time

Wednesday afternoon is now Tink time in our household. I pick him up from school after lunch and we have a couple of hours dedicated bonding time.  I came to the conclusion over the summer holidays that this would be a good plan for the little man. He had grown to really hate school, finding everyday an anxiety riddled mine field that left him angry at the injustice of having to go. At the end of last term sending him became insufferable, some days the sadness in his eyes would nearly break my heart. I made a solemn promise to him that this school year would be so much better than the last and I have no intention of letting him down.

We have since that time had an ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) diagnosis for him along side confirmation, from those in the know, that he is also wrestling with attachment issues. Sally Donovan, an adoptive parent I’m in contact with on twitter, had mention that her own older son was at home part time as school proved extremely challenging for him. I greatly respect her views on attachment and through reading her blog and our discussions I noticed similarities between Tink’s behaviour and her son. Spurred by this, the diagnosis and my pledge to the boy, I approached school with the idea as soon as the new school year began. I was asked to send a letter detailing my request, an excerpt of which follows,

One of my greatest concerns for Tink is his lack of belief in himself and his abilities. His low self esteem is crippling him in any decision making and causing him to become frustrated and angry as a result. My understanding of children, like Tink, who suffer from early life trauma, is that as they fail to make healthy attachment in the first 18 months of their lives the damage caused will affect their sense of self. This is because a baby will understand from a loving carer that their needs, “I’m hungry, I’m tired, I need a cuddle”, are met and therefore validated. This creates a positive sense of self. For Tink these needs were not met and because the experience of them not being met were so painful he has locked them away deep inside, not wanting to visit them and not trusting anyone else to heal them. These emotions are starting to reveal themselves to us at home and it can be quite traumatic and exhausting for him. At the moment I feel very much that Tink requires as much positive interaction with my husband and I so that his trust in us will grow. Hopefully by improving this bond we can improve Tink’s sense of self and get him to a point where he has greater belief in his ability.

Currently Tink dislikes school greatly and his sadness at having to go is evident. He finds the environment distressing and frightening which is resulting in his sometimes anti-social behaviour and refusal to participate in the work set. I know that everything will be done to assist Tink with this in school; your efforts for him are greatly appreciated. However I feel that what would assist Tink at the moment would be to have a break during the week from this environment and at the same time work with him to improve his attachment with his parents. That is why I am proposing that Tink has a half day on a Wednesday and spends some time at home. I will ensure that this is fruitful time, spent doing activities that I know he enjoys but at the same time provide some dedicated time for talking and bonding. I would hope someday to reach a point where Tink would not want to be at home but would prefer to be in school with his friends but that is sadly a long way off at present.

So today was Wednesday number four. So far we’ve done baking, sewing, swimming and always reading, me reading to him snuggled up on the sofa with our fleecy blanket.  He selected the activity for today, asked with trepidation “could we possibly…..?” My reply “What a great idea of course we can”. So see what we did or rather what Mr H and I let him do to us……….

.  …It was a beautiful and intimate time with lots of smiles and giggles followed by panic when we realised that one of us still had to go and collect Stig from school at the end of the day.


  1. Stix October 4, 2012 / 10:14 am

    I love it. It sounds like wednesday afternoons are really working out for you all, and you’re getting some great 1:1 time with Tink.
    And well done you, you’re providing some great opportunities and I love that you are letting Tink lead, and not imposing activities on him.

    Who did the school run by the way? With or without the make-up??

    • thepuffindiaries October 4, 2012 / 11:56 am

      Thank you, Mrs N. It was a great activity because you initiate lots of eye contact and touch. He loved it and asked it we could do it again on a Wednesday. Only problem with our Wednesday is Thursday mornings, he’s always even more reluctant to go to school. xx P.S. Mr H did the school run, he washed but a few bits of stubborn glitter remained.

  2. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) October 4, 2012 / 3:46 pm

    That letter to your school was so well thought out and explained – your idea is brilliant – and should hopefully work some magic – it is so so confusing for children when they are unable to understand or name their experiences. You are so right – those first 18 months are very important BUT the brain and neural path ways aren’t hard wired – with all your love and parenting skills – things can be undone (new connections in the brain made) and affect positive change!. X.

  3. thevoiceofsarahmiles October 8, 2012 / 5:42 pm

    I, too, thought the letter was spot on. It sounds like you’ve got a supportive school, which is great. The Wednesday afternoon time sounds so nurturing. Hope it all continues to progress well x

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