It was the last day of school today for Jon and I went to a 2 o'clock assembly. I was late, had been rushing around doing all the things I won't be able to do from Monday. Summer holidays are my captivity as his carer. I crept to my seat on the back row whilst they were singing the cheery Cliff Richard song "Summer Holiday" led by Class Teacher, Anne.
About thirty children from two groups of eleven year olds, stacks of class support workers, and only a small handful of parents. Award Certificates were being handed out to each child leaving to go from primary to secondary.I looked around the hall and my eyes soaked up the scene and it almost ripped out my heart. Four wheelchairs contained severely physically disabled children, two boys with Downs, the rest were autistic.
* Cameron had his hands over his ears wailing
* Josh (so handsome, tall with blond hair blue eyes) rocked and hand flapped
* Kyle had his fist in his mouth
* Luke got up to study the glass in the door behind Anne for ages
* Jatinder sat behind everyone at the back on the floor, by his chair, a carer constantly grappling with him
* Alex had his mouth open staring into space
* Jonathon sucked his thumb and chewed his fingers, oblivious
* John hit his own face again and again, then a carer held his hands
* Jack went "eeeeeeeeeee" throughout
* Chloe sat very well indeed
Another boy was jumping into the corner facing the wall
In front of me, one was lolling his upper body on his own lap
So many of them in one place, several I'd not seen before. It was overwhelming.
In the commotion of that room I sat between Cameron's Dad and Jatinder's Gran and gazed around as Cam's Dad described how he mixes up who's who because the boys (all good lookers) are so alike in their behaviour. I said I blamed the vaccines, he agreed. I'd never talked to him before. It was hard to watch Jon stand to get his certificate, then not move forward, have to be taken, have his thumb removed from his mouth and his arm lifted out to accept his certificate, then escorted back to his seat, clueless!
The worst part came at the end. Jon had been at respite all week, I hadn't clapped eyes on him since last Sunday and I was all excited to see him. As he was brought to me, he just took my hand as if I was a carer to take him back to class. I said "Jon, it's mummy, look" and gave him a big hug. Nothing, not a flicker of recognition, he just stood, vacant. School is not the place to break down - so I didn't - but I wanted to let out a primeval scream. What have they done to our children, to my son? (Aside from my taking him for his MMR jab, the responsibilty for which I admit, and I am paying for daily).
That was an awful thing to see today, such a throng of autism, in one hall in one school in Shropshire. Young boys who should be able to do the simplest tasks but can't, should be playing football with their mates, going off camping, bursting out of school ready to climb trees and soak up the summer fun but instead are being led out by the hand or hands to their buses by carers. An utter waste of beautiful children.
I want the fucking bastard who damaged them, held to account. Please help me to do this.
Alli Edwards (one very angry mum) is with www.cryshame.org in the UK.