Altercation at the park

My son, Max, has  a placement at a park.  It’s like work experience, self help skills, gardening working in the café and other such things you’d find in a park.  I drop him off every day he’s “working” and this week with it being half term I have to take Oliver too. This morning was like most others with the exception of dropping Molly off at the vets for her operation.  The turning into the park is one car width, you turn from a busy road into this narrow gap so everyone slows down because you can’t see what’s coming out and it’s a bit shady due to the trees so can be a bit dim.  Added to that it’s a park, so there’s kids, dogs, college students glued to phones and not checking the road and other people like my son’s with no sense of danger.  Everyone who drives into there is very careful.

Today I turned in slowly as usual and there was a cyclist on the main path heading to the entrance/exit.  I stopped and he eventually saw me and ended up wobbling into the gate.  I couldn’t have gone further down the path as he was there and I couldn’t move from the entry until he’d moved.  I think he didn’t see me until he was right in front of me and he seemed to expect me to move- to where- I have no idea as I couldn’t reverse back onto the main road.  I carried on up to the drop off point where Max meets his 1 to 1 and I’d just got him out and was about to get Oliver out when this bloke comes riding up screaming at me.  I got a tirade of abuse about going to fast, it could have been a child, I’m irresponsible, I didn’t give a shit about my passengers.  I politely informed him that I had seen him and stopped then carried on when he’d moved so he could exit the park.  Apparently I’d driven so fast I had “knocked him into the gate” I said “I’m sorry if you think I was going to fast but I saw you and stopped and waited then carried on…” He carried on screaming at me saying “next time I’d get more than just a talking too” which was nice.

I drive in that park 4 days a week.  I know there are dogs off leads chasing balls, I know there’s people power walking, I know there’s kids and joggers and just people chilling.  I know not to go fast.  I know to have eyes everywhere when driving somewhere like that.  Even if there is a meltdown going on in the car, it has to be ignored until I’m safely pulled over- wherever we are.  I went to the drop off and reported the incident to the boss, told him there would probably be a complaint made against me.  These people have seen me drive into the place.  They’ve seen me park a good few minutes walk away from drop off as it’s safer if it’s busy there.  There are dog owners who are throwing balls for their dogs and I watch and have waited for the dog to take the ball back so it’s in no danger of running out in front of me.  If people I power walking I don’t drive behind them slowly making them move, I sit and wait as it’s their park too and it’s a couple minutes wait.  I was a pedestrian for a very long time, my husband was a cyclist and told me all kinds of stories about impatient car drivers so I try to be a good and courteous driver.

The man today upset me because what he was screaming at me was false, it genuinely was his problem.  He was screaming and swearing in front of my children and he physically threatened me.  If he did have a problem why not just do it politely “excuse me but I think you went a bit fast and it startled me”? Why does everything have to be all shouty all the time and accusatory?  I suspect he may be there again tomorrow now to make another point.  I’ll have Popples with me to tomorrow so it’ll be extra fun.  Like I said I am a courteous driver, a few minutes added onto my journey is nothing and I’m not going to drive like a lunatic when I have my children with me anyhow.  The incident rattled me and I wonder if he’d have been so threatening if I’d been a man.

Vimto Bath

For her 3rd birthday, Popples got a baby bath and a doll that does a wee.   It was a present from her nana and granddad and was a big hit because it has a shower attachment that really works with a pump action tap.  The little ones both love it.  Yesterday Oliver decided there was not enough water in it so carried it to the kitchen sink in order to fill it up.  I let him put a bit more water in it, then told him it was enough and left him using the shower to squirt his face and his hair.  Leon and I were just in the next room gluing some skirting boards on- we don’t trust him enough to go very far when he is messing.  Heard the tap go on, so Leon went back and turned the taps off- he has a stronger grip than me so neither me nor Oliver had any chance of turning them back on.  That was him safe so we went back to the diy.

If I can make a suggestion to anyone planning on doing a quick job sticking bits of wood to walls don’t bother and go straight to screws.  It doesn’t dry quickly it is absolute bobbins.  We gave up and went to get more tools.  Leon checked on Oliver, and shouted me.  Our son had decided to get around the problem of not being allowed any more fluid for the bath by unscrewing a 2 litre bottle of Vimto cordial and pouring it into the baby bath.  He now had a delicious drinking fountain.  Leon saw the problem solving immediately, he’d been denied what he wanted so what could he use to achieve his aim, found it and used it and was happy with his accomplishment.  Popples was not so happy with a sticky dolls bath and I’m not quite as pleased as Leon about the situation.

Then the cheeky bugger asked for a drink and when I served him apple and blackcurrant as that was all that was left, acted like I was trying to make him drink poison.  Fortunately Vimto was still on for 2 pounds for a big bottle so daddy came in and saved the day!

Oliver v’s the range rover

This morning started like most other- getting three children ready for the day, drop Popples at nursery, wrestle Oliver in the car and drop Max off at placement.  All done on time- even arrived early for school and was looking forward to Foundation Stage’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.  We’ve had to grow beans at home and keep a bean diary, and there’s been lots of work done in school with the story being at the focus.  Oliver was part of the beanstalk and had to wave a leaf at the appropriate time.  It was going to be interesting at any rate.

So we pulled up at school and was just finishing listening to Room on the Broom before getting out.  Now I know my son is a runner and a flight risk, we had a near miss just outside the house a couple of months ago where I let go of him to put the key in the door and he ran down the neighbours path into the road.  I shouted and ran after him and got to him a second before the car did.  A couple of weeks ago he got past the teacher on the door in the morning and ran off to the Bug Hotel/outside readers corner.  Fortunately he went down that path and not the one next to it as it would have been onto the road.  Therefore I am super vigilant and hold onto him all the time when he is mobile.  Today I had him by the wrist as it was hot and he is sweaty and I didn’t want to lose my grip on him. Five steps from the gate he managed somehow to get loose and was on the road in front of a range rover who fortunately wasn’t driving too fast and I had reached him and snatched him out of the way.  He is so fast and seems hellbent on escaping and running into dangerous situations that he has no comprehension of.

Teddy’s gran saw the whole thing, she said he was fast and I did nothing wrong but its hard to feel that way when I know him and he’s in my charge.  School made me a cup of tea and had a chat about his Houdini type antics.  I watched some of the play and he was happy as anything waving his leaf.  I think Teddy’s gran got upset too, she used to work with kids like Oliver and it’s never nice to see a near accident. I use reins everywhere else but never needed them to get from the car to school.  Well that’s what you think until this happens and you think “I knew what he was like why did I not do it as a precautionary measure?” When I went to collect him after another day of “what if’s” and sweet tea I took his reins and put them on.  Whilst walking with him out of the gates he managed to get the shoulder straps off.  So I did my research and have ordered him some super strength reins designed for children like Oliver.  They weren’t cheap- nothing is when you put special needs in front of it, but they may save our lives. Teddy’s mum said this afternoon “I bet you can never relax, always waiting to run ” and I am.  I have seen Oliver watching where I put my keys, watching which key I put in the door and I know he is waiting for his chance.

I’ve tried talking about cars and squashing.  Used simple language, told him NO.  Nothing works, he doesn’t understand danger, he has no clue as to the seriousness of consequences, he thinks mum shouting “no” and him having a time out is worth it to “catch” a car.  I need to be more vigilant, and I need to stop being lulled into a false sense of security.  Lets hope these reins help- at that price they had better be good!

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

These guys have my eternal gratitude.  I am a big reader as is my husband and my girls.  They always loved snuggling and reading and discussing pictures.  When I was teaching Max to read I bought the Biff and Chip books that Emily was reading in school.  It worked to a degree, he could read the words but it was mechanical.  We discovered The Gruffalo by accident- I was just looking for something different, bright and options for voices and discussions.  Now he has what used to be termed “classic autism” so to get him reading was an achievement for him but he did do the voice for the owl.  Very proud day when he did the Twit-two.

Oliver, however was totally disengaged.  No interest in any books.  I still did reading at bed time.  I tried the lift the flap Spot books, Peppa books, Little library book sets but he wouldn’t sit with me.  Then my aunt bought him the Gruffalo sound book and things changed.  Being a button presser meant he couldn’t resist the book.  He got fixated on certain noises which was fine, he pressed and I copied the noise gaining smiles and eye contact.  Then we got to the stage where I could read a couple of pages with him pressing the buttons.  It made me so happy that I could sit with him and actually engage in a mutual joyous activity.

We found a dvd set of the Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s child and Room on the broom.  So we bought it and let him watch it.  He was engrossed from start to finish and that night we got through the whole book.  I had to do voices, and roars but does it matter if you sound like an idiot?  No.  It really doesn’t.

On Popple’s birthday she got the witch from Room on the Broom as a gift which Oliver immediately took too (we ordered another one on next day delivery) and the shops had 2 for £6 on a lot of books which meant they could have their own copies of the books instead of me having to sneak them out of Max’s room and sneak them back before he took his nightly inventory.  Room on the Broom was a massive hit!  The squealing when the dragon was coming was music to my ears-anticipation and appropriate reaction.  I started leaving gaps when I was reading familiar stories and he sometimes filled in the missing word or I’d say the wrong word and his outrage would make him correct me vehemently.

Stick man was on over Christmas and we taped it and showed him and it seems that once he’s seen it he is much more amenable to reading the book.  Although he does “read” a lot more books now even if he hasn’t seen them but watching them seems to improve his joining in and language.  We also got given some audio cd’s (they need replacing now they are worn out and skip) that we listen to in the car, after the story there is a song that we all join in with.  The Book People do a lot of discounted books and we got ten paperback Julia Donaldson books for a tenner which we gave him for Christmas, came in a very handy carry bag too.  He opened them first and sat with his room on the broom book and his witch reading it a nd “ziggity zoom”-ing.  He now has all the charcters from Broom which we re-enact the story with.  He has a Gruffalo and the mouse but the mouse often ignores the Gruffalo and wants to eat “Oliver crumble” giggles and tickles aplenty.

Popples bought him a stickman for his birthday.  He lives in his bed and is not to be touched by us mere mortals.  The Gruffalo’s child is an opportunity for squeals and lots of AHA! OHO! He likes pointing to things in Snail and the Whale, Squash and a Squeeze gives us animal noise chances.

So my son who would not read or look at books now insists on his bedtime story and snuggles and points and says some words.  Occasionally the witch gets “whooshed” across the room but it’s all joining in.  His witch is his best friend, but she deserves a page of her own.

So I will be forever grateful to the two named above for their books.  The repetitive language is not boring (as is it in a lot of books), they are bright, they engage all my children and it’s given me an opportunity to do something with my ASD sons that makes me feel close to them which is often difficult with a child with autism.  Thank you Julia and Axel, I hope they know how much they change lives, it may only be a small thing to some people but having a child snuggle on my knee and share a book is a huge thing for me.

 

Manchester-My city

IMG_0865This morning I awoke to the news that a bomb had gone off after a concert at the MEN.  A concert attended by children and tweens who make up a lot of the fanbase.  22 dead including children.  Many more in hospital.  Emergency services did a grand job, as did the people of Manchester, opening doors to those stranded, taxis offering free rides home, even taxi drivers from Liverpool came to help.  It makes me proud to be a Mancunian, seeing the response to such a disaster.  The sharing of those missing on social media makes me choke back tears, how awful to not know where your loved one is.  I am a mum and not being able to get in touch with my child after that would drive me insane and break my heart.  I know it’s only clicking “share” but it shows that people do care and want to help even in a small way.

I don’t understand how attacking civilians is ever justified.  How would that help people rally to your cause?  How can you think that killing children and innocents will give you a pass into heaven? It makes no sense.

I remember the 80’s when my city of Manchester was hit by the IRA.  We rebuilt, we came together and we can not be defeated.  I was watching an interview with a taxi driver on the news and he said “we’re like glue, we stick together, WE’RE Manchester” and we are.

Obviously there are grieving families out there today, never thinking their loved one would not be coming home from a concert.  My heart bleeds for them and I pray they have the strength to get through this- I don’t know how you “get through” something like this but I hope they know how much love and support is there for them.  And it’s not just from us- it’s the whole country and the world.  I remember watching the aftermath of the London stabbing just a while ago and seeing how the world came together to support everyone involved.  It gives me faith that we are still human and our differences do not matter when it comes to something on this scale- humanity wins.

Our Arndale centre has just been evacuated, a bomb threat.  My aunt works in town and I’ve asked her to come home.  Stupid really to ask a northerner to leave- she’s more stubborn than me!  My daughters friend lost someone last night.  I’ve spoken to her, she’s in shock and they are still trying to get in touch with others who were there.

Our prayers are with the families of everyone involved and our thanks go to everyone who, without knowing if it was over, went to the aid of so many in need.  Bravery comes in many guises and are often never acknowledged.  The people of Manchester showed once again how brave and selfless we really can be.

I just hope and pray that this is the last time this happens and the world works together to stop this.  We can’t allow this to divide our communities further, we can’t look at our neighbours with suspicion.  We need to stand together against these people who use whatever they can as an excuse to murder.  Standing together regardless of class, creed or colour will show them they can’t divide and conquer.  They can not win.

 

 

Bing Bunny is Banned!

IMG_0497Ok so that’s like a headline you get in the tabloids, he’s not banned totally, just the DVD’s.  We have noticed that Oliver’s speech has improved recently- not chatting in a conversation way but when he has been playing he has been jabbering to himself using more words than his usual noises.  Playing in the sandpit we’d build a castle then he’d put a flag on it then fall on it and say “oh Pando!” from the episode where Pando falls onto Bings giant sandcastle.  When playing with his Bing toys they would do things rather than just standing in a line.

However things took a different turn when he started throwing books into the bath or washing up water (whatever was most convenient at the time), started widdling on the floor and taking things off his younger sister-just for example.  We watched the swing episode together and then watched others as the swing episode showed us something we didn’t expect – the naughty person was never told off and in fact his behaviour was not even slightly discouraged. The basic premise is that Bing is on the swing, Pando comes and wants a turn so they agree that after counting to ten Pando can have a turn then it’s Bings turn again.  However the little miscreant Pando does not stick to the deal and starts messing about and the worst thing is that his minder, Padget, enables his behaviour.  SHE CARRIES ON PUSHING HIM!  She carries on pushing him whilst saying “come on it’s Bing’s turn”.  Why?  Just stop pushing him and tell him to get off.  But wait- it gets worse.  Bing is by this time totally fed up so runs to the swing in the hopes of pushing Pando off and gets hit with the swing.  Bing then gets a lecture on HIS behaviour! He shouldn’t have tried to seek justice, but no one tells Pando off or tells Padget she needs to sort Pando out!

Anyway watching more episodes (I’m all Binged out now) no one ever gets told off.  It’s always that’s ok, never mind, don’t worry about it.  Now I’m sorry but where are the consequences for their actions? Even at nursery my kids have a thinking board.  If they hurt someone or do something not nice, they get their name on the thinking board and told why it’s there.  And they are a similar age to the Bing characters.  Peppa Pig gets told off if she’s mean.  Ben gets mad at Holly when she upsets him and she apologises.  Why does Flop not tell Bing off for ruining Sula’s mural? Ok there are some good points too like don’t mess with geese which is a valuable life lesson but unfortunately my son has decided to pick out all the wrong behaviours so for now there’ll be no more watching Bing!  He can keep the toys and we’ll try again when he’s a bit older for the dvd’s- the books he chose to “bath” are dead- maybe we should put them in the bye bye box ;-p

 

My husband’s struggle

So when Oliver was diagnosed my husband, Leon was very angry.  Understandably so.  This was his first child (my older two are just mine) and he had hopes and dreams for him.  I warned him after the diagnosis that there wasn’t much else the hospital could do for us but he had faith that they would be able to do something.  We had speech therapy in place, a yearly “tick the box” appointment at the hospital, a GP, the EHC was starting and there was us.  So after our follow up appointment after the diagnosis he expected a plan of action.  He was disappointed- very disappointed.  He expected our marvellous NHS to be able to do something.  I had told him what it was like when Max was going through it and I think he expected more to have been done in 20 years.  It didn’t seem the right time to say “I told you so”, and we do still think the NHS is marvellous its just if there is no breakthrough there is no treatment – well no miracle treatment.

I tried to tell him that it had improved, he’d been diagnosed earlier, he’d got support in place at nursery school (5 hours) and he had speech therapy.  There is no magic pill, there is no quick fix.  It’s a slow but hopefully steady move forward with a lot of hard work by everyone involved mainly me being his primary carer and stay at home mum.  He’s still angry now, 3 years on.  I wonder if he blames me, I’ve asked him and of course he denies it but I wonder if he does.  We feel better if  there/s someone or something to blame, we can focus on that.

I don’t know how to help. He isn’t a talker, he won’t phone the helpline, he won’t go to the group that Family Point have set up for post diagnosis, he won’t talk to me.  The way he acts is like if he ignores it and treats Oliver like he’s neuro typical (NT for future reference) then by sheer force of will he will make it so.  Sometimes Oliver is an arse- no doubt about it, but a lot of the time it’s frustration or lack of understanding or overload on Oliver’s part.  I’ve told him to make his sentences short and to the point, one command at a time but he doesn’t do it.  I think if he accepted that it’s not just contrariness on Oliver’s part and that he tries so hard but just can’t be or do what daddy wants he would get a lot more joy out of family life and be more relaxed, which would be good for everyone especially Leon.

Now I don’t want to paint Leon as a bad man, he isn’t.  He is just struggling so much with this and I feel helpless.  We’ve both been through quite a lot in our individual lives since we met, and he has had his own struggles to deal with, friends, family and moving etc.  I just don’t want him to look back to this time and realise how much he has missed.  I’ve started saying when things are not going well “however hard this is for us, imagine how hard it is for our boys.  We struggle making sense of the world and we’re NT and can talk.  Imagine having no voice” it helps me too.  The boys don’t choose to be that way.  We can choose how we deal with it.  Accepting autism doesn’t mean rolling over and doing nothing.  It means accepting that we have to travel a different path, and different is always interesting.  We wouldn’t apologise for asking people to make allowances for other disabilities, so why should we apologise for our kids having autism?  It’s not bad behaviour, we aren’t bad parents, we are doing what we can everyday to make the world more accepting on both sides.

I love my husband, I would love to be able to help him be happier.  He has just got a new job which should be more interesting for him, it means the odd night away from home, which will give him a break from us, probably a full nights sleep but hopefully miss us all too.  And all our quirks!

I’m not perfect, I have bad days too.  I have Leon to talk to though so it makes it a little easier this time around. I had no one with Max, I know how lonely it can be dealing with it on your own. I just want Leon to know he doesn’t have to be alone through this. I’m right here to give him whatever support I can.