Friday, 26 June 2020

A memorable day!

I’ve just seen a lovely post about a bride surprised on her wedding day by 2 students with down's syndrome bringing the rings down the aisle

It brought back memories of a wedding I went to with my then husband, M. 

I was working as speech and language therapist in a residential special school for children with ASD and complex communication, where we had a brilliant team of teachers and TAs. It’s probably my favourite place to work apart from this current job.  I had a really good working relationship with all the staff including Katrina, the music teacher. Katrina was getting married. 

Katrina had a lovely autistic student in her class, J aged 10 years, who looking back, had definite demand avoidance. She was bright, bubbly and we all loved her. She was also very stubborn and said and did things to shock. She had tried a part-time placement at the local school but her lack of inhibition had become too much of an issue.

J had shown a lot of interest in the build up to Katrina's wedding. She was interested in the dress, the groom, the cake etc and these topics had been incorporated into lesson planning with great results as it was following her interests and led by J herself.

Katrina, therefore, said, 'Yes,' when J asked if she could come to the wedding. J's mother was horrified, as she was far more experienced than us at taking J out to places. We always went to planned places with easy exits and at least 3 staff plus Roger the driver and a risk assessment. Her mother said it would be too difficult. As an eternal optimist, I naively said it would be a shame if she couldn’t go and that she could sit with me and M.

On the day of the wedding, I hadn’t actually got around to telling M that we were going to have a third person with us. I mentioned it quite casually as we were parking the car. As we got out, a little blonde head emerged from the open window of a passing Mondeo, screaming LIBBY!!!!!! 'I guess that’s J!?' said M with a strange pained look on his face, that I hadn’t actually seen before.

We sat mid-way in the church on the bride's side and J read through the order of service. As I listened to her (excellent) reading, it dawned on me we weren’t there for  the usual 20 minutes. Oh No, it was a catholic wedding and Katrina was a musician, so it was almost 2 hours with musical interludes and lots of readings and prayers.

Katrina smiled and mouthed Hello at J as she came down the aisle and J bit her hand in excitement and pleasure.

J sat quietly for about 10 minutes, then she began to entertain herself. 'MMMM Reverend Crisp.... I bet he likes walkers best. Do you think he likes cheese and onion?' I whispered, 'Maybe' hoping that would placate her but instead she yelled, 'Oy Reverend, do you like cheese and onion?' I daren’t look at M but could feel the heat from his embarrassed face as the entire congregation looked towards the source of the shout.

Bored, she began to try cuddle me, then put both arms tighter and tighter round my neck until I was struggling to breathe, but at the same time trying not to make a scene or fuss! I had a hat on so couldn’t wriggle out from under her grip, which was what I typically did in similar situations. I also usually had other staff who would come to my rescue, as we always had each other’s backs. M didn’t know what to do as he was upset that he could see I was being hurt but he was big guy and she was a10yo child. I used the super diversion tactic and asked M to get out the chocolate bar in my bag. Emergency instantly over!

Next, with melted chocolate now allover J's face and my cream dress, she turned to the deputy head behind us, 'Is that your son?' she asked, knowing full well it was her husband. The DH never really understood the children, so she hissed her through gritted teeth to stop being rude and turn around. 'There's no need to be rude, you ugly poopy pants in stupid glasses and your dress looks like a bag,' said J!

After a short interlude of silence, she then said quite, quietly, 'I’ve just done a wet fart.' I whispered back, 'Don’t worry, I’ve got some spare pants for you.' This wasn’t sufficient, so she loudly, yelled, 'I said, I’ve done a wet fart!!'...... just as the congregation had silenced to pray...... 

I won’t go on but needless to say it got louder and worse. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it earlier but eventually, we went for a walk, leaving my husband to stay, frozen in embarrassment in the church. I didn't see J's Mother, but she told me afterwards she was hiding at the back of the church just grateful it wasn’t her with J on that occasion. 

Katrina had been aware of J throughout and thought it was highly amusing!  

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