Yesterday was one of those days when my dad comes around to mine, then we go to my sisters to visit. The visit to my sister’s place was later than usual as my niece has been making some good, real progress at the special unit she’s attending, as she managed to cope with 2 hours there yesterday. They’re trying to get her used to things slowly, as schools are overwhelming for her, due to a variety of factors including previous bullying, and Autism Spectrum Disorder traits. We’re all really proud of how she’s progressing.
My nephew is very similar in some ways, and yet opposite to my niece. He’s been bullied numerous times, yet he wants to try and cope with it and confront things. While talking to my sister yesterday we both agreed how spookily similar my niece and nephew’s experiences and reactions to external events are to how my sister and myself were when we were younger.
I would always try to confront things, and try to battle to overcome what I was feeling when I was at school. I’d respond to the bullies, i’d tell them what I thought of them, all the time getting more and more depressed and anxious. While my sister struggled to cope and tried to avoid things more than I did. It’s somewhat ironic now my coping strategies revolve around avoidance of people.
Perhaps that build up over the years took it’s toll more than I like to think. I am fine with acknowledging my problems, but at times, as I hinted at yesterday, it can be quite awkward and a little upsetting to try and acknowledge the severity of those problems. I asked dad, and my sister yesterday did they think I was vulnerable, there was no hesitation, they both said yes! It was quite a shock for me to be honest, i’d never thought of myself in those terms before.
My sister and brother in law had received an unexpected phone call from the Local Educational Authority about my nephew, they didn’t really explain what it was about, they arranged a meeting for yesterday afternoon, however during a course of events over the past week or so my sister discovered that my nephew has not made any academic progress at all over the past 2 years. She has never been told this, and was understandably angry. The school had been sending home reports saying that my nephew was on target to achieve the average for his age. We all knew that he had numeracy and literacy problems, but no progress at all was quite a shock for my sister.
So I looked after my niece and nephew at my place while my sister and brother in law went to the meeting. My nephew was extremely quiet, and, I felt, depressed, while my niece seemed usually oblivious in a way of everything, with a sort of charming innocence.
When picking them up, my sister told me that the meeting had gone very well. The school are going to put in place additional support for my nephew, and if that doesn’t help, the next step is the statementing process which my niece has gone through, and, she, fingers crossed, is just a month or so away from receiving a statement guaranteeing by law a certain level of support. At a similar time to the end of a long process of assessments leading to a diagnosis of ASD.
So why did I speak of genetics and guilt in the title of this post?
I recognise so much of my niece and nephew, their experiences and sometimes some of their ways in myself. My niece’s oblivious nature similar to my own sometimes when not trying to think of the severity of conditions. My nephew’s depression, and wanting to try to battle what he is going through currently. And I believe he is also experiencing PTSD symptoms.
I know so many of their problems are due to external factors, such as bullying, which I can’t blame myself for as their uncle. But sometimes I look at them and shock myself when seeing how similar they can be to me. Sometimes I understand just a little bit how mum and dad have felt over the years when they have both apologised for perhaps inheriting some of their traits. Sometimes I understand just a little bit how my sister must feel struggling with all of this as well as through her own anxiety, and also recognising herself.
I sometimes wish there was more I could do. But I know there isn’t. I sometimes blame myself for their experiences, perhaps they inherited some of my traits I have in common with mum and dad, as well as inheriting traits from my sister. Whether or not that is the case, I am not to blame for how other people treat them. I am not to blame for both of them getting treated awfully by people. It is other people to blame for how they treat my niece and nephew, not me, and certainly not their mum.
Anyhow, I fell asleep on the couch last night watching the tv, I can’t remember what time it was, and woke up just before 5 this morning. Another coffee and a smoke I think now.