Living in chaos.

The electrics in the kitchen were condemned and Wickes were having a 4 years interest free deal on kitchens, how could we resist?  The kitchen was falling apart when we moved in, I think there was only one door still hanging in the end, but with limited finances it got put on the list of things to do- in time.  Now with this deal and our new budget drawn up we could look at getting a kitchen, as the electrics would need doing it could all get ripped out rewired and fitted.  Hooray!

We had a man come round to plan it with us, extra tall cupboards, pull out corner cupboard things, a pull out spice rack drawer and the sink of my husbands dreams (not very exciting dreams admittedly).  In the old coal shed we could put the washer and drier and other sundry items thus leaving the kitchen as just a kitchen.  We booked it after tweaking it to fit in our budget and got an installation date.  Everything going well so far.  As it was a full refit, with electrics, everything had to pulled out and that’s where the chaos started.  The conservatory was packed with stuff we wouldn’t need til after the fitting, the living room contained 2 freezers, a fridge, a tumble dryer, kettle, toaster, crockery, cutlery- you get the picture.  Any other bits were put in bedrooms in boxes.  Kids couldn’t get their toys, we wouldn’t have a working oven for up to 8 working days, no sink for at least 3, no washer.  Fortunately my parents live not far away and would let us eat there and wash the clothes.  So I seem organised and have tried to explain to the kids what’s happening, showing pictures of the new kitchen and moving things while they watch.

Day one- the workmen turn up at 7 on the dot and rip out the kitchen, I say rip out, they probably give it a kick and it collapsed! “I don’t like these mens mummy” says Popples but we seem to cope with the change ok.  We go for tea, do a wash and when we come home the “mens” have gone which makes Popples happy.  Oliver struggles as there is no space for him to play, or lounge with his teddies after a hard day at school.  Then comes the next blow, the pipes have been waggled so a connection to the bath has come lose and started leaked.  The husband caps it off and I text mum asking if we can have baths there too.  He plans to fix it at weekend.  At this point we have one working tap, the bathroom sink.

Behaviours get worse as the week goes on, by all of us.  I’m running around dropping kids off, picking them up, going to the folks, bathing them, washing clothes, packing the clothes in the car to bring home to dry, wrestling three kids back in the car.  It’s chaos.  And for my 2 boys, it’s particularly hard as the routine is gone.  Oliver starts playing up at school.  I end up getting a phone call Thursday to come get him as he has stripped off and won’t get dressed.

The weekend comes and he gets all the plumbing supplies, spends 2 days working on the bathroom, moving the bath and sink as planned to give us more room.  I’d asked 3 times if we should just get a plumber- “no I can do it, it’s just some pipes” turns the water back on at 9pm Sunday night and theres now fountains in the bathroom.  My one tap, my one source of water has gone.  My husband is very upset at this point, clearly it’s more than “just pipes” when it comes to plumbing.  I knock on my neighbours door with 2 jugs begging for water, and I get more than water, I get a 20 minute gossip session too with some very juicy stuff.

The mens fit my sink the next day and I could have kissed him, he also emergency repairs the main pipe upstairs and caps off the rest so we have the water back on.  I get the number for a plumber but Leon knows a friend of a friend (I know, I can see whats coming too).  By this point I’m exhausted and stressed and can’t remember when I last slept and still have to do the school run, cope with three displaced kids and my dad feeding me mega portions as I’m “looking too thin and ill”.  The plumber comes, doesn’t fit the waste pipe properly into the outside waste pipe so when I empty the bath it comes down the newly plastered walls (it’s still drying out).  He also managed to take a tape measure, spirit level, screw driver, saw and other items that had been in the tool box.

I cry.  For hours.  My house is not my home, my kids are stressed, I’m stressed, bits are missing from the kitchen, and then someone says to me “it can’t get any worse, it’ll be great when it’s done” and then they listen to me rant for half an hour.  Leon manages to fix the drainage pipe so the bath works, the kitchen men plumb in my washer and cooker.

On Thursday (a week and a half after it started) I move the living room back into the kitchen, I clean non stop, and organise the toys and rug and teddies and I bring the little ones back from school to a home cooked meal.  Oliver’s face was a picture, wreathed in smiles, teddies on the floor, lying down and covering himself in stickle bricks.  Popples not so happy “I need to go to my nana’s”.

The kitchen is done, the bathroom no longer leaks, Oliver is now keeping his clothes on- at school at least, the odd pencil pot stills goes flying but he has calmed down in school, Max is trying to find his way around the kitchen but knows where the coke and crisps are so isn’t overly bothered about much else.  My husband has agreed in future not to attempt plumbing.  I knew it would be hard but this hard?  Although what eejit attempts a bathroom whilst kitchen is being done?

All settled?  Not a chance, with the severe weather Max’s ceiling has a major leak- think we will leave that to the insurance!




“A thorough investigation”

I spoke about Max and losing his placement in “How can people be so mean” and this is the update.  We were invited to a meeting to be given the results of the investigation into the allegations made about staff behaviour.  They claim there was a thorough investigation and there is no case to answer.  “We can’t go into specifics about people but we found it was a disgruntled employee who we have let go and basically a case of revenge/sour grapes.  Max is welcome to come back”

Their timeline of events was different to mine, when I pointed this out they said I had it wrong.  I asked if the main mean person had been let go.  No he hadn’t.  There was no evidence against him except he said/she said and if we sent Max back then he would have no contact with this man.  I asked about the screen shots I received with his mobile number on it and asked if they’d called the number.  “That isn’t evidence, anyone can doctor a screenshot”, well I can’t.  Also if the man was innocent why would Max have to be kept away?  I asked why nothing had been done when his 1-to-1 first mentioned something to the manager and got “it was only after we let her go that concerns were raised”.  We argued the time line, but it was no use, they wouldn’t budge.

We told of how his activity programme had changed and asked why.  We told of his change of behaviour.  “We have new management” so the old manager who was really good with the clients and keeping staff in line was now being blamed because of his lack of office skills, the new managers had to sort all that out and it “may” have affected services.  I told them that the new manager was the same woman who had been with us from the start, so she knew us and it made no sense to change his activity. “Well I’ve known her a long time, she has been trying to deal with a lot as she hasn’t been a manager before”- yes and? She gets a promotion and decides my sons tailored programme is no good without discussing it with me? The programme she helped tailor!

All staff members have been interviewed and been given a leaflet on respect and dignity.  All clients have been interviewed and no one else has a problem.  What about the people like Max with no voice?  The parent was interviewed to see if anything had been “said” at home.  I asked how they were supposed to say anything when they couldn’t talk, what method was used? A sad/happy board? “we can’t go into details”.

I saw a change in behaviour in Max and thankfully his 1-to-1 told me what was going on, so I could intervene.  My gut tells me something went on, you get a feeling about people, and it’s not scientific and sometimes it’s wrong, but not often I don’t think.  For her whistleblowing she has lost her job, been badmouthed all over and when I spoke to her last she had had a social worker visit her as they had received “an anonymous phone call” about her and her kids.  She is seeking legal advice.

I just wonder when I am going to hear about another incident at this place, or will they be more subtle in future.  One thing is for sure, they had their own agenda and have fulfilled it.  No case to answer.  They’ve skewed things so she has no credibility, and I look like an overprotective drama queen mother.  They’ve lost over £18,000 in fees plus other monies they could claim as he is classed as severely disabled.  The man managing the meeting said Max would be welcomed back with open arms, he brings a lot of money with him.

To me, and I know I’m not impartial, it feels like a whitewash.  Max wasn’t happy.  I’ll never know exactly what went on, I only have screen shots of conversations and my gut to go on, but I know something went on.  He won’t be going back.  My social worker is trying to find something else for him, we will see how that goes.  In the meantime, we have time to get him back to his happy self and rebuild his self esteem.





Time to talk about poo.  We’ve had a few incidents recently from Olly, I had a lot from Max but he was younger so I thought Oliver may have bypassed this phase.

When Max was younger he used to smear at bedtime.  He would play in his poo- decorating the walls and floor.  Obviously I can’t watch them 24 hours a day, and I was told that we needed to get into a bedtime routine in the hopes that he would understand and sleep.  He didn’t.  He used to sleep 2 hours a night.  I would put him in babygrows as he couldn’t undo poppers.  When that didn’t work I put him in pyjamas with a vest over the top that fastened with poppers (press studs) the I tried buttons and zips.  He still found a way to get into his poo and paint which resulted in me stripping his room and leaving him with painted walls and tiles on the floor which were moppable.  Mattress cover, etc to make clean up easier.  I would go up and down the stairs to check every ten minutes.  With his language being limited after a few tries with various words we ended up with “dirty, don’t touch” and so now at 23 he still won’t wipe his bum and if you try to force the issue he says “dirty, don’t touch”.  We are working on this.

Oliver – well he has been fascinated by his bodily functions a while but his last episode was a while ago and that was doing a wee in various receptacles and emptying it in the toilet.  The only poo incident we had was where he slammed his door and couldn’t open it so by the time I had gone up to check on him he had used the volcano out of the dinosaur set as his toilet.  Genius!

Oliver has stopped sleeping in his room again- Christmas changes threw him so he has been camping at the top of the stairs.  The toilet is 3 paces away from where he lies and plays.  One evening his dad went to the bottom of the stairs to look and make sure he wasn’t paddling in the toilet (oh yes that’s fun) he said he could smell poo.  He goes up and I grab clothes and cleaner.  Upstairs he had re-enacted the episode where Bing stands in dog poo, only he had substituted his poo for dog poo and all of Bing’s friends had jumped in it too.  He tried to wipe his bum 2 nights later, couldn’t so wiped his hands on the wall of the landing.  Last night there was a poo at the top of the stairs.  He hadn’t even attempted the toilet.  When I asked what it was, Oliver shouted “Poo!” in a gleeful tone.  I said “where does poo go?” and he pointed to the toilet.  So it’s not like he doesn’t know.  I’ve been told it’s quite common for this to happen, although no one agrees why.  We keep it low key, reinforce the toilet, and just clean it up with no recrimination. We don’t want to make it something he gets lots of attention for.  I carried his pyjamas down to the washing machine last night, carefully I thought, but not carefully enough!

I know kids find poo funny- my 3 year old thinks poo head is the best insult ever!  I don’t find it quite so funny when I’m scrubbing the carpet.  Although thinking about the Bing thing he did- well it does raise a smile.



How can people be so mean?

Max had a placement in a park that had a café.  It was, and is, intended for adults with disabilities to provide a safe place for them to learn skills.  Life skills, relationship skills and maintenance, serving in café, cooking etc.  Each programme is tailor made to each clients abilities and what they are wanting to achieve.  They help support more able clients back to work, helping with cv’s and work focussed activities too.

Max has been there just over a year.  It’s expensive as he needs 1-to-1 care but it seemed to be a blessing when we found it so we applied for funding and got 4 days a week at a £100 a day.  It used to be run by a lovely bloke who retired a few months ago.   Max was given a programme of shopping, doing basic gardening like weeding, cleaning café tables, groundskeeping and going to into town to get used to being in the community again.  He loved it, he was happy, so we were happy.

A few weeks ago, things started to change.  It doesn’t sound much but the staff weren’t there to meet the clients on time, often rolling up, up to 15 minutes late.  Last week I had an appointment with Oliver and I went to drop Max off first.  No one to meet him so someone went down to the meeting room to get his stand in 1-to-1 as his usual one was off sick.  He came back with the message “he’s busy his mum’ll have to wait with him- he’ll come when he’s ready”  so I said I couldn’t wait as I had an appointment, and a lady member of staff sat with him when I left.  I didn’t feel very comfortable about the attitude but had to rush off.  It was only later telling the story to the husband that I started thinking about the changes I had noticed.  The clients had started waiting outside, in the rain at times rather than in the café.  Nothing was as clean as it used to be.  The table Max had been allocated after his meltdown so he could eat in peace away from the noise was still reserved and when I asked I was told he still went there for his morning brew and his lunch- it’s winter in the north west of England!

His usual 1-to-1 got in touch with me and said she wasn’t coming back.  And then proceeded to tell me why.  Horror story after horror story came out and I felt sick to my stomach hearing about the way these vulnerable people were being treated and spoken to.  Max had been shouted at by a staff member, they had taken the piss out of him and the noises he makes (he is non verbal), he’d been isolated from the group, everytime he found something he liked doing they took it away from him, his shopping visits and community visits had stopped and he was not allowed to be helped in his work focussed chores.  We had made it clear from the start he wasn’t ever going to be work focussed hence his programme of skills being designed for him.  Other clients were referred to in derogatory ways depending on their disblilites, swear words used and tasks set that they could never complete.  I asked for evidence and she sent me a text she’d received from Max’s new 1-to-1 complaining about his high pitched noises and saying she had to come back cos he couldn’t cope with him.  I felt so sick- he only makes high pitched noises when distressed so what the hell were they doing to him?  He can’t tell me.

I asked why she hadn’t said anything to me and she said she’d tried to deal with it internally but management weren’t bothered.   We decided to withdraw him .  I don’t want him somewhere he is going to be treated like a burden.  We’ve spent the last 2 days on the phone going through the proper channels to have him withdrawn and all payments stopped.  Now he has no support in place but at least he’s safe, at home with me.  What I don’t understand is how sick do you have to be to treat vulnerable people like this?  Why work at a place if you don’t like the people you’re working for?  We, and the other clients, pay these peoples wages.

My son has now lost a placement where he was happy for a year due to sick bullies.  I don’t know what’s going to happen next for us or for the centre.  I don’t know if social services will keep us informed, I know his personal budget that had just been approved is now no good.  But I know he is safe.  I know it will be hard work for me, but I know he is safe.

I have cried so much over this, how can people pick on my boy like this?  And how can they keep getting away with it?  I am sad for Max mostly, he’s lost more independence and he didn’t have much to start with.  Why can no one see that he is funny, loveable and so eager to please? Why do they have to ruin the little he has?

He has his family who love him, I hope somewhere he knows that and that now he feels safe.




Discharged from paediatric services.

  • We had an appointment at the hospital on Tuesday.  Now this post may be a bit random at times because I’m still trying to process it.  The consultant has discharged Oliver from the paediatric hospital service aged 5.  There’s nothing they can do for him.

Now on one hand it’s nice to have some honesty but on the other hand it’s 20 years since Max was diagnosed and there’s still nothing they can do?  I know the NHS is at breaking point, so I understand them wanting to lighten their books and get rid of cases where they can’t do anything. But it feels like we have just been basically told to get on with it.  The doctor said “yes his behaviour might be unmanageable now but it may calm down as he grows up.  We have no sleep clinic here it’s miles away and I don’t know how you go about referrals” which made me ask who does know?  Apparently family support groups can help but they are full round here and aren’t really able to help anyone else at the moment.  Social workers are overworked and we aren’t an at risk family so no chance of getting one of them.  School nurse should know more.  If anymore non-autistic behaviours arise see GP for a referral.  The problem is as I learned through Max, is that all behaviours are put down to autism once they have a diagnosis.

I feel quite alone now and that it’s down to me doing the speech therapy work- we have a great ST, he sees her once a month and she has given me her phone numbers so I can check I’m on the right track.  School aren’t doing his IEP’s, he actually got sent home with homework last Friday and asking around it was the same as everyone else’s- Finding Nouns.  So you can guess how well that went down.  I know he’s my child and my responsibility, but surely school should be doing their part as they agreed to take him and the extra funding he came with.

I wonder if deep down I was expecting more from the professionals, if I was expecting science had moved on in 20 years.  I suppose it has in a way because the doctor made sure to point out to me that it was probably something from my genes that made him this way.  It’s always nice to hear that.  We have our first appointment at genetic counselling next month so we’ll see what they say.  I think overall I feel abandoned.  It’s down to me and the ST to reach him and make him fulfil his potential- whatever that may be.  I am not trying to make him conform, like school is, I’m trying to find a way into his world and share mine and maybe meet somewhere in the middle.  I’m trying to find a way to ease his frustration and make him happy.  I’m trying to stop the violence and tantrums and tears.  I’m trying to get people to realise he’s just as important as everyone else and has a voice and rights.  I’m trying to make him know he’s loved, no matter what he does.  I’m not worried he will fail- he can’t, I’m worried I’ll fail him.

He’s different- not less.



Summer Holidays- week 5 of 6



Yes we have made it week 5 relatively unscathed.  Uniforms all bought and nearly all labelled just need a pump bag for Popples and I’m done.

To be honest I was dreading the big summer break, 3 kids at home apart from her three sessions at nursery and at first it did not look like it would go well.  The boys are usually out at school or placement so Miss P usually has me to herself during the day.  “You’re my mummy!” has been heard regularly for the first two weeks and I’ve had to explain that I’m everyone’s mummy even Emily’s even though she doesn’t live with us anymore.  For a just turned 3 year old this concept has been hard to grasp but we have persevered and there’s no more griping, as everyone gets mummy time and everyone gets daddy time as well as all time together.  The sharing of toys has also been tricky with many arguments turning into fisticuffs.  For a tiny person, Popples can certainly hold her own.  “That’s not nice.  Let’s share. No fighting. There’s enough for everyone”- honestly got sick of the sound of my own voice!  When it comes to sharing food, no one has a problem everything is distributed fairly with no complaining or hogging.

I also decided this summer to give everyone a break from hard learning.  The speech therapist, Vicki, has discussed with me how Oliver takes time to process things and should be given time when the pressure is off to just kind of make sense of things. So we went back to mainly play based learning, taking turns, colours, numbers letters- etc. Still learning but not at a desk with a pencil and work sheets.  I can not believe the progress they have made.  My non verbal Oliver has not shut up!  We bought Sing! for them and Secret life of pets a while ago and these have been great for both of them.  Oliver made a stage and microphone out of stickle bricks and was singing proper words to proper songs  When he wants to watch it he comes up to me and says “shake it off  shake it off” which is what the pigs sing “piggy power”.  His negatives have improved but Vicki said that’s usual as he is more motivated to declare his objection to something “no more bed time” “no more car” “leave me alone”  but he has also started verbally requesting things “more juice. Want crisps. breakfast now” and telling me just things “bumped head. it’s raining”.  Now for a child who had 20 words at best before the summer, well I’m impressed.  But what made me really proud was yesterday and him voluntarily sharing.  They have a set of secret life of pets figures each, just little ones that were about 2 quid a set from ebay and they love them.  Usually they still fight over them but Oliver split them into two piles and then came over to Popples and said “Peppy’s” (he has always called her Peppy) and then when he found another 2 Gidgets in his set he brought her one.  Obviously I then text and told everyone I knew what he’d done- I was so proud!

I think the turning point in their relationship was when it was raining hard the other week. The weather is not great in the summer holidays- it’s like the universe wants to see who’ll go crazy first.  They’d had enough of staying in so I ran them a bath and opened the back door. There was a huge muddy puddle in the border I hadn’t finished planting in and they both dived in running up and down, screaming and laughing, in the pouring rain, getting wet through and muddy head to toe. I’d done the bath so when they came in they were warmed straight away and into warm clothes- last thing we need is poorly!  Now Oliver joins in when we play chasing, obstacle course, racing, and everything.  He was the monster yesterday so put his Gruffalo gloves on (they are like claws) and chased “Peppy” round the garden shouting “Raaaaaahhh!” and attempting to tickle when he caught her.

We have a week and a bit to go before Oliver goes back to school and I’m worried he may lose his speech?  It’s busy at school and he doesn’t have much confidence in his voice yet- he’s only just found it.  But I’m going to put that aside and enjoy what I have right now.  I’ve heard her helping him with his words and I’ve seen him helping her with her confidence in climbing.  Maybe it’s the start of a beautiful relationship, best friends.



Shoe shopping, dentist and haircut.


These three things fill me with dread.  We had to go shoe shopping this morning for new school shoes as term starts in 2 weeks.  I called in the eldest, Emily, as helper today much to her delight!  I can’t do it alone, it’s physically impossible.  It started well with Oliver in his major buggy watching Popples get measured and choosing shoes.  She tried on every pair in her size and eventually settled on the ones with “little diamond sparkles”.  So far so good- and the added plus that they were in the sale.

How soon the smiling turned to screams of “no more shoes! No! No! ”  and kicking and using his old shoes to try to smack the lady measuring his feet.  We got a rough size and she brought out a selection.  We chose the no-scuff-toes ones and I had him held close talking calmly to him while they tried to fit them.  It didn’t make much difference, by this time he was sobbing, “no shoes, mummy no shoes”  and everyone is feeling like crap.  She checked them, he tried to do a runner, they fit, she asked did we want to try anymore on. (Ray Liotta face) We went and paid (fifty quid for boys school shoes!) but I couldn’t put him through anymore so we paid and left, but I also told the manager that the girl had done a sterling job considering what Oliver had been like.  I don’t know why shoe shopping is so traumatic, Max used to be the same when he was younger.  I wonder if it’s the invasion of personal space, or the feel of new shoes or just because it’s new shoes.

Haircuts are another traumatic time.  We have a fabulous hairdresser called Helen and she used to do Max’s hair so is used to dealing with customers that wiggle.  We have had a couple of dodgy cuts where she just couldn’t finish due to distress by all involved which meant me nipping in at night time and snipping long bits off.  We have had cuts where she’s been lay on the floor next to him snipping bits off.  She gave me her internet password so I could put you tube on my mobile for him to watch (until he managed to grab it and throw it) and last time we took a dvd portable player with Sing! for him to watch.  Last weeks cut was probably the best yet.  One major wobble, one grabbing scissors, and only had to finish the back on the floor.  I am trying to take him regularly so he gets used to it.  He will now let me chase him with a hairdryer and brush his hair so it’s progress.

The dentist- well she checks his teeth whilst he is on my knee screaming his head off.  That’s after I’ve carried a screaming, writhing child up the stairs to the dentists room.

Some things that cause stress can be avoided or be built up to but these three things can’t be avoided.   He needs shoes, he needs his teeth checked, he needs haircuts.  I am hoping that as he becomes more familiar with the situations things will get calmer and easier.  We talk about things, we role play, we read books and I try to present a calm front.  I don’t know why he feels so strongly about these things, I can guess, but I will always try to make them as painless as possible- even if that means buying the most expensive shoes in the shop!