When I said goodbye to Daniel

Yesterday was a bit of a sad day for me because I said goodbye to a family I’ve worked with for over two years.

The weeks leading up to today have been pretty full on, meeting his new team members, overlapping our sessions, putting new things into place and wondering how on earth I can explain all of this to him.

My leaving would be a big deal to little Daniel and myself, so I wanted to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. I thought a lot about Daniel these last few days especially, and how he’s changed over the years I’ve known him.

One thing you need to know about Daniel is that he is an extremely logical thinker. He understands things that are functional and clear.

With this in mind, I knew the only way to discuss me leaving was to also think this way.

Telling him “I’m not going to be having sessions with you anymore because I’m going to have a baby and need to stop work so I can look after him.” Is a whole load of nonsense to Daniel and would mean virtually nothing.

So I put my thinking hat on – as teachers like to say!

I sat down with Daniel and asked him if he remembered who he’d met and worked with last week.

Straight away he answered… “Jessica!” Smiling.

I continued, “That’s right, and at home time today we need to say goodbye to each other so that you can work with Jessica at school and home.”

Daniel paused and looked out of the window.

“So, who do you need to say goodbye to today?” I asked him.

“Goodbye to Emma.” Daniel replied.

“Yes! And then next week you will say Hello to….”

“Jessica.” Daniel filled in.

Although I was glad he’d grasped what we were talking about. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming ‘end of an era’ sadness about our conversation. (I’ll blame the hormones!)

So I decided to share this with Daniel as I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss emotions in context.

“It makes me feel a bit sad to say goodbye to you Daniel.” I told him.

He gazed out the window again.

“It’s ok to feel a bit sad when you say goodbye though. Shall we have some fun on the spin board so I can feel happy again?”

“Yes.” Daniel promptly replied.

Although Daniel didn’t seem totally engaged, I could see he was taking in our conversation. And sometimes, that’s what you have to aim for…

Let your child unpack these things and make sense of them in their own time. Talk in clear short sentences, and they are bound to understand in their own way.

For more tips on how to communicate with your autistic child effectively and understand their needs join the ‘Unlimited Autism Success Inner Circle’ where I talk more about this and give lots of helpful tips covering your child’s development.

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Speak with you soon until then,

Live every moment, Love beyond words and make a difference today

Emma Ottaway

The Ambitious Autism Ambassador