Columnist Jo Worgan: Filled with hope for the future

Guardian columnist Jo Worgan
Guardian columnist Jo Worgan

Well what a difference a year makes. This time last year Tom was attending mainstream school and due to his many difficulties there was not involved in the Christmas production.The whole Christmas-themed activities for him at school were tinged with sadness as he was not part of the festivities.

This year Christmas at school is a happy occasion. Tom is taking part in the Christmas festivities and he is a different little boy to a year ago – all because of this wonderful school.

Many questions ran through my head while I was sat waiting for the show to start. How will Tom cope in a hall full of people? Will he become upset? Will he want to sit with me or try and run away? I honestly did not know how he would react.

One thing I did not worry about though was the reactions of other parents and family members in the audience. We were all supporting our autistic children. Within the room there was a hidden understanding. I was amongst friends.

Once again Tom surprised me. He was one of the Victorian carol singers in the production of Scrooge. Halfway through in walked children and teachers wearing Victorian attire and towards the end of the line in walked Tom holding on to a teacher’s hand. He then sat down on the edge of the stage with a huge grin on his face. My heart broke. I was stunned. This little boy who struggles so much with social and unfamiliar situations sat in front of a large audience of complete strangers and was happy. The world stopped for a few seconds.

My little boy was part of Christmas and more importantly enjoying the whole experience. He did not wear all of his costume, only his waistcoat over his polo shirt but that did not matter, he was there and included.

Thank goodness for this school. I look back to last year and not in my wildest thoughts did I think that Tom taking part happily in a Christmas production like this would be possible.

I am filled with hope. With the correct support, interventions and environment anything is possible for our children. Never ever give up. They may not follow the path you had originally chosen but they will forge their own with the help and assistance given to them and that is all that matters.