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Managing the School Run

Helen Horn by Helen Horn Additional Needs

Helen Horn

Helen Horn

I am mum to two young men. My eldest son James, who is 27 years old, has a diagnosis of Wolf- Hirschhorn Syndrome and Autism. On my blog I write ab...

Managing the School Run

When my eldest son James started school, my youngest Harry was a baby. James has a severe learning disability and complex needs. He was to go to a MLD school about 3.5 miles away from our home. There was no question that I would take him to school myself.

Driving James to school was just part of mine and Harry’s daily routine. As he got a little older, I remember how we sat in the car waiting for James at the end of the day, Harry had learnt all the company names on the mini buses that came into school and we’d play a game, which of us could correctly guess the next bus to drive into the gates.

In Sept 2004 all that was to change. Harry was to start at the local infant school himself. It was just a 10-minute walk from our house. In the interim period James had changed schools. He was now attending a SLD school approximately 2.5 miles from home.

I owed it to Harry to be there for him.

It wasn’t only that, yes, I wanted to be the one to walk him to school just like his friend’s mums did. In In all honesty, I wanted it for me too, not only Harry. It had all been so different with James.

So, when Harry started school that September, I experienced the normal emotional turmoil that parents go through. But that year I had it doubly hard as for the first time James had to go off without me on the school bus. I remember that first morning anxiously putting him on the bus with the driver, escort and children we had never met and waving him off. He was absolutely fine. It’s often us parents that find it harder.

I loved mine and Harry’s little walk to and from school.

It was 10 precious minutes just the two of us. He’d tell me all about his day. This was a whole new experience for me too, chatting with the other mums in the playground while we waited for the children at the end of the day. It was all just so normal.

Fortunately, James’ morning pick up time was early enough that I could get Harry to school on time but the end of the day was more difficult. James would arrive home at just the time I was meant to be picking up Harry. James could walk but only slowly and so I’d wait with his wheelchair and as soon as he arrived, we’d rush off battling our way through the oncoming pedestrians to pick up Harry. Very often we’d arrive to find Harry sitting alone with his teacher long after the other children had gone home.

The teacher was lovely but I felt so awful being late for Harry.

We continued like this and then once well established at Junior school, which was even closer to our house, Harry could go alone or with a friend. Until that was, Harry started secondary school when it all became much more difficult again. Harry’s secondary school was further away and he had to be driven there as the local public transport wasn’t up to much.

For the next few years, I was very lucky that Harry’s friend’s dad would give him a lift in the mornings. By now James used to go straight to a carers house for a couple of hours after school just two days a week. On those days I’d pick up Harry and his friend. On the other days he’d get a lift home with his friend’s mum. They helped me out so much during that time.

Aged 19yrs, James left school and went to day service. Harry left school a couple of years later and went to college even further away, again with no way of getting there himself and so it all began again…back on that merry go round!!


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