This week I’ve been covering staff shortages again at the nursery where I clean. I’ve been grabbed at, pulled at, laugh at, sneezed on and blatantly ignored. It’s definitely been fun, but tiring.
However, one of the days I was there, the happy but tired me swapped to a more concerned me. This was because I met a little autistic boy. The first autistic person I have ever come across.
The nursery isn’t a special needs one and the staff there aren’t too sure what to do, and even if they were, they haven’t the opportunity to spend quality one on one time with him as the other children are very demanding. They do have a little understanding of autism but it’s not a complex one.
I just felt so bad for him. I did sit with him whilst the other children played and argued over playdough, getting him to laugh a little but for the majority of that time, I sat watching him as he chose a single toy and continued to lick it and hold it really close to his face. When I wasn’t tickling him, he probably wasn’t even aware of my existence; I don’t think he was aware of a lot to be honest, not even his own name. I did briefly think that not being aware of the world around you can have its advantages, in the broader stream of things, like not being aware of the horrors of this world, but not being aware of who you are is just too sad. My heart broke for him even though I was watching him happily playing by himself.
I wanted so much just to help him and others like him. It got me thinking about maybe working with autistic children. I don’t think I’d be able to work directly with them as I have a degree in English, not in childcare of any kind, but maybe I could work with them in an indirect way, or maybe I could find on-the-job training to be able to work with them; I don’t really fancy going back to university to get a masters or anything. I’ll have to do some research though; it’s really just an idea at the moment; a very new idea that hasn’t been thought through properly. I know it’ll be rather difficult and that I’ll need a lot of patience but we’ll see what kind of opportunities I will be able to take and I’ll keep you updated on any decisions I make about it.