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Archive for the ‘coping with change’ Category

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve not posted anything for a while now. I’ve decided to take a little break from blogging.

I’m not sure how long my break will be but I promise I will be back at some point.

We have alot of different “stuff’ happening in the MumtoJ house at the moment. We are still struggling to sort out and deal with Hubby’s back injury, sorry but NHS you are very slow. For the government that wants to get people into work and off of benefits, here you have a man who has been unable to work for 2 years now due to his back injury but is desperate to get his back fixed (as best as it’s can be) and get back to work…………….(and a wife who desperately wants to get him back to work and oput from under her feet, I love him but his boredom is driving me mad). Despite doing everything we can, he is still waiting to be seen by a specialist and (hopefully) fixed. His back injury has also has other effects on family life because obviously he can’t play with our son in the same way that he used to 2 years ago.  J is a very active child and has struggled to understand that Dad can’t play on the trampoline and he can’t climb on Dad etc etc and so that has meant I have had to try to take his place and J has had to adjust his play. J has ASD, adjusting his play has not been easy for him.

We have also moved house and have issues with heating etc, which hasn’t been much fun over the cold period that we’ve been having. As well as moving house J has moved school. He’s now going to a small village school AND he LIKES it…………………HE ACTUALLY LIKES IT!!!! Obviously he’s had some changes to cope with and he’s surprised us by coping remarkably well, so much better than we ever thought he would. We’ve seen a huge change in J since starting his new school, he’s much calmer before and after school, he’s talking about what he’s done at school, he’s telling us how he’s played with C or S or J at playtime, he’s eating his lunch and getting him dressed and ready for school isn’t such a big battle. All of which backs up our claim that school was causing his anxiety driven behaviour. So changing school has so far been a brilliant change and is working well for all of us.

We’ve also had Christmas to deal with, ok I know everyone had Christmas to deal with but ASD parents will understand when I say URGH!

I’ve also had some health issues myself to deal with, some of which are still ongoing but I’m not going to get into right now.

And then there’s been the whole issue of the future. Do we return to Australia? We want to but if Hubby’s back doesn’t get fixed is returning to Australia still an option that we should pursue. J has told some of the children in his class that he IS going back to Australia and we are very aware that there is lots that he misses. The education and Healthcare system works much better for J in Australia, so far it has been pretty crap here in the UK. We are still struggling to get a UK diagnosis, so far tests have shown he has difficulties but he scored one point less than needed on one test for an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis……….Guess Australia supported his needs too well or maybe he lost a little ASD on the flight to the UK. Anyway without that all important UK diagnosis he gets no help or support. So Australia would be and is so much better for J. There’s also the added bonus of an outdoor lifestyle, the weather makes that so much more possible. With the cold weather we are both constantly ill and stuck indoors. That said if Hubby can’t get his back fixed he won’t be able to return to the job that he has done all of his working life and so the question How do we support ourselves financially arises. I’d be happy to return to work but what does Hubby do?

We’ve got lots of other minor “stuff” going on in the background too. So as I said at the start of the post I’m taking a break from blogging so that we can try to deal with some of the things going on in our lives at the minute.

See you soon

Thanks for sticking with me, I’ll hopefully be back soon.

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Hands Up all those parents that are NOT fans of daylight saving…………..*frantically waves both hands in the air*

Here’s why I’m not a fan ……………… 5am!  J has been having night terrors and waking even more than usual through the night for the past 2 months. Strangely they started just after the summer holidays ……………right at the start of the new school year…………..coincidence? maybe or maybe it’s school that’s causing them. Whatever the reason he’s been up crying, shouting, hitting out, trying to pull something off him, saying “get off” “I don’t like it” and a whole host of random words that we can’t even begin to paste together. He doesn’t always wake up completely and actually often looks like he’s “in the nightmare” when I go in to him. We try to calm him down and settle him back off to sleep but a few times he’s been so involved in the nightmare/terror that we’ve had to wake him before settling him.

Despite the night terrors we’ve managed to get J into a routine wake up time each morning. Each and every morning he’s been getting up between 6am and 6.30am, which as alot of parents will agree is great and almost feels like a lie in. However, daylight saving happened! Last week we put the clocks back an hour and so J put his morning wake up call back an hour too. *sigh* For the last week J has been getting up between 5am and 5.30am. Combined with the night terrors and the chesty cold I have at the moment it all means I’m not getting a great deal of sleep.

So anyway back to topic #FMSphotoaday challenge. I took this at 5 o’Clock this morning, it was dark, cold and I was very tired………………

(Not the best photo, I know but hey I was tired!) LOL

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It’s been a while since I posted. It’s been a long summer of highs and lows and we’ve been very busy.

At the start of the Summer holidays I had surgery on my right hand, nothing serious, I have Carpal Tunnel in both hands and so had surgery to relieve it. This meant I was unable to use my right hand for 3 weeks and then had to slowly regain use of it, It’s still quite painful around the area now but the scar is only just visible.  It’s been hard work just doing some basic things (such as washing and dressing), and I’ve been really surprised at how much I rely on the use of my hands.

We renewed our Australian visas during the Summer. We discovered that they had just expired and so spoke to a very helpful person at Australia House who informed us that we could apply for a Resident Return Visa, which ofcourse we did. Our visas are valid for another 5 years, we were gutted to leave Australia in January and so by renewing our visas we might be able to return at some point over the next 5 years.

We opted for several days out over the Summer rather than a short holiday. J and I had a couple of days out with my wonderful friend Supersingle mum and her girls (one of which is J’s best (and only) friend here in England). We went to Wickstead Park, which is a small family fun/theme park and also went to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. J enjoyed both days although was a little disappointed with the wildlife park. In his opinion there wasn’t enough animal interaction, I guess Australia Zoo is difficult to live up to.

 

   

We also had a few family days out, just my Hubby, J and I. We took J to Duxford Imperial War Museum, Cadbury World and ofcourse to the Seaside. He had great fun, in fact he had so much fun all trips were meltdown free!!! He loved looking at everything at Duxford and going to the Sealife centre whilst at the seaside but he was especially impressed with the cups of melted chocolate that he got to sample at Cadbury World. :) And ofcourse we’ve had numerous trips to feed the ducks!

Our housing situation hasn’t gotten any better over the Summer either. We applied to our local council for housing, ticking all the boxes for Housing Associations etc  (as most homes are now with Housing Associations) and so far we have been offered 2 retirement bungalows. Neither were suitable for a family let alone a family with a child that has J’s needs and were both just about big enough for a retired couple, however due to us refusing them our local council have put our housing application on hold for 6 months. Therefore we are stuck living in a house that we don’t really want to be in but it was the only house available to rent when we first arrived back in England. (It’s very hard to rent a house here when you’re previous landlord and references are in a different country!)

And after having a fairly good and relaxed Summer, (other than the housing situation and the surgery), J went back to school 2 weeks ago. He’s already had a week off sick and although he didn’t like feeling so full of cold and coughing, he didn’t mind being off school and was gutted to go back yesterday. Things have already gone from bad to worse since going back and J declared as soon as he exited the school grounds that he’s “had a horrid day!” However then shutdown and couldn’t tell us why! To be honest I have given up almost all hope of communication between the school and ourselves ever working and it feels like they simply don’t want to help/support and that maybe it’s just too much trouble for them. Our ESCO support worker is currently on holiday and we don’t have our next meeting with her, the school and other professionals until next month. We also don’t have our next appointment with the community Paediatrician until next month either and so until then we all just have to bide our time and just try our best to make it through each day. To be honest the nights are becoming harder than the days at the minute, as well as the usual fun and games at bedtimes, J has started to have Night Terrors. He’s been waking up between 3 and 7 times a night, screaming, shouting, panicking, violently shaking, rambling and (it looks like) trying to get something off him. Ofcourse by morning despite us all being a little more tired than usual he has no knowledge of any of his “awakenings”. Not sure what’s suddenly caused them or how to deal with them either but I’m sure we’ll work something out soon.

So that’s it, obviously there’s been lots of other “stuff” but this has been our Summer of highs and lows. As we make our way through Autumn we’re looking forward to trying to work our way through “stuff”, work our way towards Christmas (not too long now!!) and getting out of our rut.

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18 Months ago our world turned upside down……………………and we’re still trying to get things the right way up *sigh*

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Yesterday I was filled with hope……………… Hope that things couldn’t get any worse right? I mean, we’ve had a pretty tough 18 months but the last 6 months things have gone from bad to worse.

We were forced to come back to the UK, there was nothing else we could do (although looking back now I kinda wish we’d pitched a tent in a friend’s backyard and stuck it out n Oz!). Relationships have changed with family and friends, not just because we’d been away for almost 2 years but also because some don’t know and can’t “deal” with J’s behaviour and I just can’t be bothered to deal with them. That might sound harsh but I’m being honest, we’ve got alot going on at the moment which has and is causing alot of stress and I don’t have the energy to deal with those people. We have housing issues which I won’t get into right now but they are causing us alot of stress right now. We’ve had various tests done regarding our recurrent miscarriages and have been told that we may be referred to a specialist in London. Hubby is still seeing specialists regarding his back and I don’t think I could explain how desperate he is to get it fixed and to get back to work. I’m seeing a surgeon this month due to my Carpal Tunnel. We’re still waiting to see the Peadiatrician in order to get J’s all important UK diagnosis, cause obviously all the specialists he saw in Oz didn’t know what they were talking about and we’ve just wasted.

However the biggest cause of stress this year has been school! Ok so J has always had school issues and I’m pretty sure he’ll always have issues with school but this year (and he’s only been there for 4 months!) has made last years school related issues look not so bad! He’s not wanted to go, (I know nothing new there right?), he’s become so anxious about school that he worried himself sick and so had to have the last day of last term off because he simply couldn’t cope! He’s both expressed his anxieties with negative (and sometimes violent) behaviour and has completely shutdown. It takes almost 2 hrs each and every school night to convince him to get into bed due to his anxieties about school the next morning. The school really doesn’t understand Autism and in all fairness we knew this when we chose it but they did seem like they wanted to help and said all the right things etc……… ofcourse not much of those things have happened *sigh*  His current teacher really doesn’t understand Autism or J, she and a TA have attended a course about Autism but neither seem to have gotten much out of it, they say they never see any ASD or anxiety behaviours at school, so obviously they don’t see him flapping, constantly bouncing,  the literal thinking, the chewing of gaping holes in his mouth, the dirty issues he has or the lost look in his eyes. And his TA has even said to me “To be honest I don’t treat him any different, I don’t make any allowances, I don’t see the point!”……… yep those were her actual words!!!

But yesterday we met what will be J’s teacher from September. It was awful, she left us feeling that not only does she not believe in ASD but she also doesn’t want to! Some of her comments included “All parents find it hard the first time round” (she actually said this one twice) and ofcourse the comment that all parents hate “All children do that, it’s normal for children his age!” She actually made his current teacher look like she understood and was supportive!! It was so bad that I wanted to scream when we left and very nearly cried. So now we’re stuck, we can’t simply change school due to our housing situation (long story) but we have serious concerns about sending him back to his current school in September with that teacher! :(

Just gotta hope we can sort things out over the Summer holidays I guess………..and if we can’t, who knows what we’re going to do :(

 

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I’m wondering is it possible to worry yourself sick?

J has had a rough time recently, he’s had to deal with everything that been happening at home, (although he doesn’t know the full story, he’s still had to deal with it), but he’s also had to deal with his biggest anxiety………. SCHOOL!

We had a great weekend last week and both bedtimes lasted for less than an hour…………….the Sunday night happened and every bedtime since then has been pretty hard going.

This has been a tough week for him at school. Monday he went to his first proper planned assembly/worship. Not only was this a huge thing but even before going there he had to deal with a big change……….. Every morning J has been dropped off at the school’s reception and taken through to his classroom, on Monday he had leave 1/2 an hour earlier so putting his morning routine out and then he had to go into school through another entrance, straight from the playground into the classroom. Now I know to alot of parents this might not seem like a big deal but parents of ASD children will know this was huge………..really HUGE and alot of change all at once for him to deal with.  He seemed to deal with it “ok” but by bedtime he was showing signs that he wasn’t “dealing with it” quite as well as I’d thought.

Then on Wednesday he went in early again this time to have some one on one time with his teacher whilst the rest of the school were in assembly. Again he went in early, and through the door he usually exits school. However this time he had been promised that he wouldn’t have to go to assembly…………………………the first thing he reveals to me when I pick him up that afternoon is “And I did have to go to assembly so you and Mrs H lied to me!” He wasn’t happy about it! What had actually happened was he and his teacher had taken his class to assembly, where he had sat with them for a few minutes and then once they were all settled J and his teacher returned to the classroom for their 1:1 time. Ofcourse he wasn’t happy, he had been promised that he wouldn’t have to go to assembly and then he had been taken to assembly, despite not having to stay ……………. I can see why he thinks we lied. *sigh*.

When I picked him up from school on Wednesday we were also informed that his teacher would not be in school the following morning and that J would have a supply teacher for his 2 hrs at school. Sometimes I wonder what some people must think I mean when I say he needs to have prior notice of changes. Ok, so I know some can’t be helped, people get sick etc but she was going on a course. I just don’t understand why they couldn’t have said something earlier in the week, instead we had almost no notice. J had a really tough bedtime and then morning. Yesterday he had a huge meltdown claiming to be dirty (which is part OCD and a huge part a way of showing his anxiety), he had tears, yelling, constant asking if he or the things he touched were dirty and then refused to touch anything, he sat on the bottom step with his hands in the air. (In fact, thinking about it, his “dirty” quirk has been a little overboard all week!)  A few times before leaving for school he asked “what if the supply teacher doesn’t know that I’m not having lunch at school and doesn’t let me come home?” and “What if the supply teacher makes  me do something that I can’t do?” and …………..well you get the picture.

Today it’s the schools Jubilee Party. This should be a fun thing but for a kid on the spectrum it can be hell! His first panic was clothes…………. the children have been asked to wear red, white and blue…………. J’s first response, “but my school uniform isn’t red!” (he wears a blue jumper and a white t-shirt) and then “I can’t wear my clothes, I have to wear my school uniform!” after we tried to explain he could were whatever clothes he wanted to school just for one day. After several conversations we gave up and told him he could just wear his school uniform and red boxers ;) One problem solved, we thought. Next worry was food. The party will be after lunch and there will be sandwiches and ice lollies…………. J’s response “But I don’t like ice lollies and we have to eat them Mrs H said everyone will be having them!” And “What if they have dirty hands when they make the sandwiches? They’ll (the school) get cross with me if I don’t eat them!”  Convinced his teacher to tell him he doesn’t have to eat anything if he doesn’t want to. I thought problem 2 was solved, now I’m not so sure. Next problem, “What if it’s too loud or if someone touches me?” …………………. ok the issues regarding today have gone on and on this week.

However last night he suddenly became ill. Coughing and saying his head hurt. He was awake several times through the night and then up at extra early this morning but just seemed very lethargic and lay on the sofa for the first hour of his day. He did however mention school several times too, asking if he had to go, if he was too sick to go, if the party would make him feel “more poorly” etc etc…….So I’m wondering is he really sick or has he made himself sick with anxiety. He had a temperature and you can’t fake that ………… right? …………… I don’t know but I’m wondering. He has had a really tough week with alot of changes and alot of “stuff” so I really am wondering if he’s worried himself sick. He has made himself  sick with worry before, again over school so I just don’t know.

Anyhow as it’s the last day of this half term and most of the day is the party so I’ve decided to keep him home, hopefully he’ll relax a little over the next week and start to feel a little better.

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Part of me has found it nice being back in England. It’s been nice catching up with some family and friends, I’ve enjoyed shopping a little more over here and Hubby has been seen by a spinal specialist already. However we seem to of had one bad thing after another happen during the last 3 months.

We didn’t have a great moving day and we’re still dealing with an issue from that day. Our container was also “delayed” in leaving and so missed the first ship it was supposed to be on, This has meant that not only has it arrived a month later than originally told but we have had to re-complete all of our customs forms too. Today we discovered due to the incompetence of our removal company in Australia and incorrectly labelled packages, Customs have opened some of our boxes/packages and have confiscated some of our belongings, despite the very same items being owned by us for over 7 years and so have travelled out of and into the UK on more than one occasion. Oh and we won’t know which items have been removed until our shipment is delivered to us on Friday!

We’ve struggled to get J’s diagnosis recognized in the UK. This has meant the school that we chose for him has had to source outside funding in order to provide him with support for the last term, however that funding has run dry and so this term it is expected that he will attend full time with no support. We also had to see the same Peadiatrician that refused to diagnose J before we left for Australia 2 years ago, it wasn’t a good meeting and we’re now waiting to see another Peadiatrician, 25 miles away! In Australia J had support however limited it was in school and he had support from an OT, Speech Therapist, Psychologist and Disability Services………….In the UK so far J will receive zero support.

Relationships with some family and friends have also not been as they were when we left 2 years ago. Time changes people and I guess being thousands of miles apart can also change a relationship too. I know it’s partly my fault too, I know I’ve changed alot. Another thing that’s forced a change in some of these relationships is reactions to J…………and my reactions to those reactions. What people have to remember is J doesn’t remember the majority of these people and so they are strangers to him…………He doesn’t react well to strangers unless he feels a connection with them, (like his best friend H). Then there’s been the people who haven’t been sure how to react to his behaviour and so once he has reacted negatively to them they haven’t returned for a second visit or haven’t been able to relax and be themselves around him on the next visit. And of course there have been the ones who still think our parenting needs work. Not everyone but some have and to be quite honest I just can’t be bothered to worry about what they may or may not think about my son’s behaviour or our parenting ‘cus we’re all doing the best we can and to me that’s all that matters.

Ofcourse the weather’s been up and down but we’ve felt the cold and we’ve all missed the sunshine that Australia gave us! And the icing on the cake………………… feeling cold is going to be even worse tonight, we had our boiler services today and was told it was leaking Carbon Monoxide and so had to be shut off for health and safety reasons, with the hope that it may get repaired tomorrow!

Then there’s Hubby’s back…………..the reason that we returned to the UK. We left Australia after being told there was nothing more Workcover would do and was told to claim financial support from the Australian Government, something that as non-citizens we couldn’t do. Since arriving back Hubby has been seen by a spinal specialist quite quickly but has now been referred to a pain clinic. They now think he has had a trapped nerve that is no longer trapped but is sending pain signals to his brain and body…………………………….Seriously, we came all the way back to the UK for them to tell us that!!!

If you add all of the above to how we miss our nice big house in Australia, (you forget how much smaller houses in England are), our friends that we left in Australia, the beach and the life that we had over there, we’re left questioning our decision. Did we do the right thing coming back? And where do we go from here?

 

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After a comedy of errors and rather alot of stress our container containing almost everything we own is almost with us.

The day of removal/packing didn’t go brilliantly and we still have an unresolved issue with our removal company, something that I can’t go into at the moment, but needless to say it’s an issue that’s been (and still is) causing us a fair bit of stress. Our shipment/container was supposed to be on it’s way to us almost immediately after being packed and should have arrived in England around the 4th March. Obviously it’s April now, so you may have already worked out that, that didn’t happen! Nope in fact we’ve had to fill out all of our customs forms again because it’s come over on a different ship etc……. And to top things off the removal company in Australia didn’t label some of our “packages” correctly and so this has also provided more problems now that it has all arrived in England!

We’ve been back in England for 3 months now and although it’s gone really quickly and we’ve been extremely busy, we’ve started to miss little things. I’ve started to wonder if we packed the right things in our suitcases. We packed 4 cases, had 3 rucksacks crammed full as hand luggage and I had the biggest handbag I could find, as well as coats………….can you imagine the 3 of us (well 2 really, ‘cus J didn’t actually carry anything) trying to navigate check in at the airport and arrival in England with all of that luggage?!?! LOL

In the suitcases we packed the obvious – clothes and a few special toys, but we also had to pack J’s car seat, he refused to get a new one or sit on a borrowed one so we had to pack his. This took up most of the space in one case. We also had to pack J’s pillow, just packing his pillow case wasn’t an option. We tried changing his pillow before we left and he refused to sleep on it ‘cus he knew it wasn’t his pillow and so decided although we were going to have our sleep issues there was no point in making it worse, we packed the pillow………………….this case I had to sit on in order to close it! And ofcourse we had to pack J’s Ready Bed, we also packed sleeping bags for ourselves, (they took up less room and weighed less than blankets or quilts). We also packed a few of J’s “therapy” items such as his bodysock and his therabrushes. As for toys, somehow, (I’m not sure how), we managed to convince J to only pack the essentials………….his Mario figures and castle (obviously!) and a few special toys and books. And clothes………..we knew it was probably going to be cold, much colder than we had been used to for the past 2 years so we packed several jumpers……………..Do you know how much room jumpers take up in a case?!?!  Hand luggage was taken up with J’s laptop and Ipad and all of Hubby’s medical notes and J’s medical and school notes.

When everything was packed we were just over our baggage allowance so couldn’t possibly pack anything else but over the past couple of weeks I’ve started questioning whether we packed the right things. All of J’s medical notes and school notes haven’t made a blind bit of difference and we’ve been told his Aussie diagnosis and everything we’ve done with him over the past two years is worthless and not valid in the UK, (Ridiculous right?!), so was it worth packing? We started missing alot of things too……….. J is obviously missing all of his toys and books and ofcourse the Wii, (he’s really missing the Wii!), but we’re also missing our beds, airbeds are ok for a while but Hubby’s really struggled to sleep on one and is now “sleeping” on the floor because it doesn’t hurt his back so much and J misses his bed…………….me I’m happy just to get some sleep, I don’t care where I have to sleep, just so long as I get a couple of hours rest! I miss my computer and I really miss my big fridge freezer, I miss being able to do a proper weekly grocery shop and it’s costing a fortune having to go to the shop every other day, (we’ve bought a small fridge since arriving back just to keep milk in etc). I miss my wardrobe, wearing the same clothes every week is starting to bore me. And I miss my photographs! Some of them contain precious memories and it’s a horrible feeling knowing that they’re somewhere out there floating on the ocean, you just have to hope that everything will get to you in one piece.

Our container has been in the UK for almost 2 weeks now and we’re hoping Customs won’t hold it up for too much longer………….it’s going to feel like Christmas when everything arrives!……………..Then we have to have a clearout, we’d forgotten how much smaller houses in UK are!!

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So, this is a post that I originally did back in October 2010 but with a few reactions that we’ve had from a few people since coming back home I thought it was a post that needed saying again………………

So here goes……………

I’ve been writing this post for almost 2 weeks, I wanted to make sure it was right. Over the past month I received a few emails and had a few telephone conversations regarding J and the parenting skills of hubby and myself.  These were negative comments made by others, some people who “care” about us. Comments like, “we’re letting J be naughty”, “we let him get away with things” , “We’re giving in to his tantrums and so teaching him that if he has a tantrum he can get his own way”, “there’s nothing wrong with him, it’s just us”, “He’ll be fine, we should just be stricter” and so on…….. you get the picture.

These comments have had a negative effect and for the last couple of weeks I’ve started doubting our parenting skills, questioning everything I do and just generally feeling like a bad mum who can do no right. So big thanks to all those people!

It’s to those people and any others that would like to or need to understand a little more about J and Aspergers that I write this.

J has a hidden disability.  J has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) which is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

This means -

J is a literal thinker, he doesn’t understand metaphors, sarcasm etc, see my post But You Said for some examples of this. J doesn’t understand social cues and most facial expressions. He doesn’t wait for someone to finish speaking, he doesn’t think twice about interrupting a conversation, if he has something to say he’ll say it and he HAS to be listened to because he won’t stop and will get louder until he is listened to. Sometimes he shouts, screams and even growls at people, just because. He can talk for hours about his computer games or Power Rangers and doesn’t understand that some people aren’t interested or are bored and fed up with hearing the same things over and over again. He doesn’t understand that sometimes he has to listen as well as talk.

He’s not being rude or attention seeking, he just doesn’t understand the unwritten social “rules” that we all take for granted.

Because of his lack of social skills, J doesn’t really have any friends, his “friends tend to be adult friends of mine or his Dad or they are much younger or older than himself, like H, (2 years) and S, (11 years). He did sort of make a friend at playgroup but didn’t understand that his friend also had other friends and didn’t always want to play his game with him and actually got quite sad about it, saying things like “*Jack* doesn’t want to play with me anymore he just plays with other kids,”  this was simply due to his lack of social skills and understanding.

J obsesses over things, at the moment it’s his computer games and Power Rangers, not only does he talk about them constantly  , he also “acts” like characters from them, reads the instruction book several times a day, (it’s his favourite “book” at the moment) and no matter what he playing with, it becomes his game complete with stages, bases, lands, levels and of course “baddies”.

J needs routine, he doesn’t cope with change. This isn’t just changes to his daily routine, it’s the way things are done, the route we take home, the order in which we do things, the way things work, if we do something in a different place and so on. For example if  we set his alarm clock before he’s had a quick drink from his water bottle we have to start the bedtime routine all over again, he changed rooms at playgroup just for a short while during one of his sessions but this caused him so many anxieties that a few months later he still checks and worries that he will be in a different room, (although he has now just finished attending playgroup), when we went to a prep open day he refused to go to what could be his new classroom because to him that wasn’t his classroom and Miss S and Miss C weren’t in there.

J has various sensory issues. He doesn’t like certain sounds, he can also make strange sounds at times. He has perfect hearing and yet sometimes doesn’t “hear” what is said to him because he has difficulty processing what has been said and organising all the sounds that he is hearing, something that most of us just do without thinking about it. At times it can seem like he is ignoring you, (and I’m sure at times he is, afterall he is a child), but the majority of the time he’s just having difficulty processing what has been said. He can get easily distracted by background noise too, a fridge humming can seem very loud to him, although we probably wouldn’t even notice it’s sound, so you can imagine how hard it can be for him at times to “hear” everything and process everything that he is hearing.

He also has “super sight”, he sees things that others don’t and can get extremely upset with you when you don’t see what he is pointing out to you. Bright lights can also have an effect on J, he often says they are hurting him.

J is also sensitive to certain smells and tastes and is extremely sensitive to touch. He smells everything and is extremely sensitive to a few smells that he doesn’t like.  He has a very limited diet, eating mostly white, very bland tasting foods. He hasn’t developed fully orally, by this I don’t mean that he has difficulty speaking, he’s extremely verbal, in fact he uses words that alot of 10 year olds wouldn’t use let alone 4 year olds. What this does mean is, he bites and chews himself, others, toys, clothes, etc…. He also licks his lips and gets a very sore mouth as a result of that. He overfills his mouth quite often because he simply doesn’t realise how much he in his mouth until he has too much in there.  As for touch, well J likes to touch everything, (usually when he’s smelling things), providing it’s not “dirty” of course. He HATES getting messy and in particular having dirty hands. He doesn’t like to be touched by others, for example if someone brushes past you in a busy shop you might barely notice it, however J will insist that someone has hurt him on purpose and will shout and scream. He doesn’t like anything to touch his head, so you can imagine how much fun haircuts are! He also has issues with clothes, at times he doesn’t like the colour or the way the material feels against his body, other times he insists that a tag or a seam is hurting him.

J also has difficulty with proprioception, (this is the sense that indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of the body are located in relation to each other) and vestibular (The vestibular system in the brain allows us to stand upright, maintain balance and move through space.  It coordinates information from the vestibular organs in the inner ear, the eyes, muscles and joints, fingertips and palms of the hands, pressors on the soles of the feet, jaw, and gravity receptors on the skin and adjusts heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tone, limb position, immune responses and balance).  All of this means that he has difficulty staying still, in fact the only time he sits still is when he’s playing on his computer games but even then at times he has to be moving. He has an unusual bounce, he likes bouncing and jumping, it helps his body awareness. He doesn’t have great co-ordination,  he has a poor pencil grip, (he tends to grab rather than hold a pencil), he has difficulty using cutlery, (well he rarely uses it, preferring finger foods), he has difficulty pedalling a bike, using a scooter etc. He has almost no sense of danger, (although does have some fears), he climbs on everything so that he can jump off it, (he says that he’s base jumping!!). He has a high pain threshold, when he broke his collar bone earlier this year we had to wait 4 hours to be seen in A & E because he wasn’t screaming so it obviously wasn’t that bad! We quite often find a new bump or bruise, (he quite accident prone), that he hasn’t realised has happened until we discover it. We’ve been working on this with him, trying to explain to him that even if he hurts himself the tiniest bit he must tell someone, of course he’s now telling us everytime he gets the tiniest scratch, we can’t seem to find a happy medium.

J isn’t a good sleeper, he plays the usual games that most children play at bedtime, not wanting to go to bed, coming out with excuses etc, bedtime can take over an hour.Despite the warm temperature he insists on having his fleece blanket and his quilt on him and it must be over his collar bone. Once he is all tucked up fast asleep, he very rarely stays asleep, often waking 2-3 times a night and is a very early riser, he gets up most mornings between 5.30am and 6.30am.

Of course all of the above creates anxieties within J and leads to meltdowns. Please take note, Meltdowns are not Tantrums. When a child has a tantrum it’s usually because he/she isn’t getting their own way or what they want, J has tantrums just like every other child, however when J has a meltdown it’s usually due to his anxieties or his sensory issues. When J has a meltdown anything can happen. He hurts himself and others, he bites, hits, kicks, screams, shouts, scratches, pinches, opens and slams doors, throws things, smashes things……. the works. He seems to develop some kind of super strength when a meltdown occurs. J has difficulty regulating his emotions. Once a meltdown has started there is nothing we can do, we just have to try to make sure we protect him, (and ourselves) from getting hurt and simply wait until it’s over. Meltdowns can last anything from 10 minutes to the whole day. Meltdowns can occur because of almost anything and often occur without warning.

Of course these are just some of the difficulties encountered by J and ourselves, however there are also lots of positives, something we try to focus on and work with.

For example,

J is incredibly smart. At 4 he has just started recognising and reading certain written words, he can count to over 100, he can add and subtract, he knows all of his shapes and even knows the difference between a sphere, a cylinder and a circle. He knows so many facts about the human body, various animals etc you just wouldn’t believe. He can operate any computer games console and is a whizz on my desktop.

He has a great memory – he knows everything there is to know about his computer games, Power Rangers and some animals.

He has an amazing connection with animals, he loves them. He isn’t bothered by their size and colour or if they’re dangerous, he talks to them, hugs them, feeds them and so on. It’s wonderful to watch him interacting with them at the Zoo.

He’s very loyal.

He knows what he wants, once he’s made his mind up about something he won’t change it.

He’s persistent.

He’s a great leader.

He has great attention for detail.

I could go on forever with his positive so I’ll stop there, I think this post is probably long enough already. If you’ve stuck with it and have read the whole post, I thankyou for taking the time to read it and hope that it helps to “explain” some of the difficulties that J encounters and some of the difficulties that we encounter as his parents.

We know that J is going to encounter all kinds of difficulties during his life and parenting a child with Aspergers isn’t going to be easy, but we’re doing our best. We’re learning to appreciate the tiniest accomplishment, (like getting dirty feet or using a shower), we’re learning to understand some of J’s triggers, we’re trying to help him to understand feelings and social skills, we’re trying to help him develop to his full potential, we’re trying to ease some of his anxieties, we’re trying to set a good example, afterall we are his most important and influential teachers.

Most importantly we love him for who he is and we’re proud of him and everything he does.

I found this great post on Dani G‘s blog, please click, visit and read it’s a great explanation of What is Autism.

Obviously there have been a few changes since I wrote the above post but overall it sums up what I wanted to explain, I’ll write an updated version at some point over the next few weeks ;)

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J has NEVER been a child that has dealt with change or surprises well, everything has always had to be planned and J given warning of a possible change or “surprise”.

This weekend has been a tough one, J has been in a not so good mood.

My brother and his girlfriend came to visit Saturday morning, it was a planned visit and J was ready for it. The visit itself went pretty well, J was ok with them being here and showed them some of his things etc. Just before they left he began to have a little “moment” and refused to say goodbye to them when they left, choosing instead to hide in his room. This is where I began to worry what we were in store for next………. saying goodbye to people is something that he ………….prefers to do, so by missing out on doing so I just knew that he’d we’d have a problem. When he had calmed down from his “moment” (if you’re reading this little bro he moved on from banging on the floor to screaming about 3 seconds after I’d shut the front door), he then started complaining and whining because he hadn’t said goodbye to Uncle D………………and so the bad mood began!

I managed to get him to eat some cereal lunch and was just washing up the pots when there was a knock at the door. It was another family member, A, and her little boy. It was lovely to see her and I’d never met her little man before so it really was lovely to finally meet him and to have a quick cuddle :) However this was a surprise visit, one that J was 100% not ready for. He wasn’t very nice to the 2 of them at all, he wasn’t happy about them touching his things and was just really unsettled having them at our house………….Then we had another surprise visit……….A’s brother, JA and his son! Again it was nice seeing them. However, despite being ok with JA and his son on a previous visit, J was not happy about having another surprise and  proceeded to be not so nice to them aswell.

The bad mood continued into the evening and was still present this morning *sigh* So when JA and his son, L, came for another surprise visit it didn’t go down well. Again J wouldn’t let JA’s son touch any of his things and was not so nice to him. Just before JA and his son left J decided to hurt L. He pulled his hair and upset him…………..J tells me it’s because he asked if he could go on his DS!!   Grrrrrrrr!  But it wasn’t just them that he was mean to, this Mummy has received a couple more minor injuries too :(

This afternoon we went to visit a friend, a planned visit that he was looking forward to. Despite wanting to visit the friend he had an issue with getting in the car because there was a blanket under his booster seat (to protect the seat of the car), and he was insisting that he would get dirty if he got into the car whilst the blanket was under his seat………………….Anyhow once we’d gotten through that “discussion”, off we went. He behaved pretty well at our friend’s house, she allowed him to play on her Wii………Mario ofcourse! (Thankyou xxxx)  He began to get a little cross when he had to turn the Wii off and it was time to leave……….unfortunately the bad mood continued once we had left. We popped to Tesco before going home (I needed milk) and although he didn’t have any big “moments”, the bad mood continued and he got a little upset. He’s now gone to bed grumpy and arguing………he doesn’t understand why he has to go to bed, he doesn’t like to sleep, Sleeping is boring…….etc etc (you know the usual things).

On top of the bad mood he’s refused to eat for most of the weekend, not unusual I know but he’s eaten even less than usual.

I don’t know what’s caused the bad mood. Maybe it’s the cold he’s caught, maybe it’s just the stress that’s built up whilst at school during the week, maybe it’s a reaction to events on Friday…………………or maybe it’s all of those things and the surprise visits were just too much to try to cope with.

So family and friends what I’m trying to explain/say/ask is ………………………..PLEASE let us know in advance before coming to visit. Please don’t just drop by and expect us to be happy to see you or indeed expect us to be able to just drop by with no notice. I’m not trying to be a pain, I’m not “playing up to J’s behaviour” and I’m not asking for much, just a little notice………a pre warning for J. We really do love seeing everyone but just need a little warning…………Thanks in advance :)

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