A blog to myself really.
On Wednesday I collected R, my ds1 from his boarding school for the Easter holidays. I travelled with my eldest dd, and the 2 youngest. After a lovely Easter service at the school we then headed down the road to Strathclyde University for dd1 to attend an open day. R was extremely uptight about this as I could not seem to find anyone at the university who was able to tell me of somewhere quiet that R would be able to wait while we schlepped about in dd1’s wake. We do live “in the sticks” so to him, Glasgow is the epitome of the big bad city, with all it’s attendant noise and smells, to say nothing of the sheer numbers of people.
I had noticed a car park next to the hall we were starting at, and luckily we were able to park there. Little M went straight into her special needs buggy as a) she was highly anxious and b) I couldn’t risk her bolting. Poor R, aged 15, has no such safe place. He did accompany us into the hall, which luckily again wasn’t too crowded, but after 2 minutes he was starting to really twitch and I knew I had to do something. In desperation I asked him if he’d like to sit in the car. He jumped at the chance, and after making him promise he would lock himself in, I handed him the keys and he ran out the door.
I kept texting him to make sure he was happy every time we moved somewhere else, and he assured me he was perfectly fine. He had snacks, a drink, and he was plenty warm enough.
In the end we got back to the car 1 hour and 45 minutes after initially parking. R was totally immersed in a game on his Nintendo DS and was astounded we had been gone so long. He was safe, warm, quiet, in familiar surroundings and completely relaxed. But all I had felt was guilt I had “abandoned” him.
We chatted a bit on the way back up the road and he was truly surprised that I had been feeling like that. His view was that if I had dragged him round with the rest of us then I should have a right to feel guilty as he would have been subject to numerous sensory problems and high anxiety. I had been “the best mum” for leaving him in the peace of the car. I was projecting my 15 year old self onto the situation, where I would have been extremely upset to have been left behind, thereby missing out on all the new and exciting discoveries. Of course, all the “new and exciting” to R is a form of torture, too many changes and would, without massive amounts of preparation, have been his worst nightmare.
So although I consider myself quite the expert on my children, and no novice at the parenting of ASD children, I learned a valuable lesson. One I won’t forget in a hurry.
Yesterday morning I purchased a teeny little bottle of something that other parents on an autism chat forum had told me could be helpful in getting M to sleep, seeing as she is really suffering from lack of melatonin. She’s suffering? So are we!
Anyway, this tiny bottle says it’s suitable for the whole family, and I quote, “has been used to help switch off the mind from unwanted repetitive thoughts”. Hmm, I thought, they’ve met M then! I must admit I wasn’t convinced. I decided to try it for taste, and put one drop onto my tongue. It was quite pleasant, slightly sweet but not really, and most importantly no bitter after-taste.
After the evening pyjama and teeth-brushing routine I was rather surprised to see that M was so keen to try it – maybe I shouldn’t have been as the poor girl really hates being in bed and not being able to switch off (we have had years of tears and tantrums to testify to this) so I put 4 drops on her tongue and hoped she didn’t start spitting it out or screaming. No, all good.
I took her to bed and we had the usual night time routines of lining up all the toys in the “right” places, making sure there were no mistakes with the way the blankets went, and fussing over the pillow, along with a cuddle. I gave her a last kiss and promised her the “sleepy juice” would work it’s magic. (Seriously, I have no idea what possessed me to promise her – what was I thinking?)
In the pre-melatonin days I was very used to random bumps, chattering, books hitting the floor and small feet pattering about as M tried in vain to do anything but lie down and wait for sleep, it was as though her body just could not stay still. So I was expecting the noises. None came. Like, none at all.
In the end, when I could bear it no longer, I crept upstairs at 9.20 and she was fast asleep! I think she was in fact sound asleep well before then, maybe even by 8.45, but I was too scared of disturbing her. Although she was a bit restless about midnight she stayed asleep till morning. What a result!
Now of course evening is approaching and I am praying like mad that last night was not a one-off.
The product I bought was Bach Rescue Night. I would just like to point out that I have not been paid for writing about this product, or sponsored or anything like that.
Poor M is on her third day of no melatonin.
We think she might have an adverse reaction to it, as she has been telling me that her heart has been “going very fast Mummy”. She has been to the GP who said not to worry (I’m sorry this is my child and you’re telling me not to worry!), and she is due to have an ECG and an appointment with the paediatrician asap.
But of course, it could be the melatonin, or there is enough evidence from the internet searches I have to done to suggest that, so as any sane parent would do I have removed it from her bedtime routine.
Friday wasn’t too bad as she had been suffering with a sickness bug and fell asleep propped up against me on the sofa. Last night was a different story. it was 10.20 before she finally dropped off. Sadly this didn’t make her sleep any longer this morning, and tomorrow is a school day so I am dreading how hyper and sleepy she might be. It doesn’t help that we have had half an hour (so far) of yelling and telling me she won’t go to bed as she won’t be able to sleep. Staying calm whilst dragging a 6 year old up the stairs is no easy matter.
I have had some suggestions from other parents of autistic spectrum children about alternative sleep remedies to try, so tomorrow I will be ringing the local chemist to see what they stock, and hoping that one of these remedies will work.
Until then, I may suffer from some grumpiness!
After yesterdays bleak day it is wonderful to look out across the bay and see the sun glistening on the water. Boy is it cold though! The wind chill is harsh.
I was looking for signs of Spring while I was out in the garden hanging out the washing for the first time since last year, and I took this picture. It’s not even properly in focus as I could barely see through the viewfinder, but it has made me so happy to witness the new green shoots bursting out of the dead-looking stems. I’m not naive enough to think the bad weather is behind us, but with this evidence of new life and the occasional tiny lamb spotted in the fields I think it is safe to say Spring really is on the way.
It’s probably a bit early to be writing this with snow on the ground, but technically it will be Spring in a couple of days and with the longer daylight hours it’s been on my mind more than usual to get the house sorted out.
I am not the world’s best housewife, in fact I wouldn’t make a list of the just-about-oks but I do like the place to be clean. We always have a sparkling kitchen table before we sit down to eat, the loo gets a shot of bleach and no one has ever said there’s a weird smell. BUT, it looks as though a bomb has gone off half the time. We are not tidy people.
My first plan is to physically get rid of anything we don’t really need. There’s a difference between keeping stuff you know will be useful and hoarding for no obvious reason. Sometimes I find myself perilously close to the second. In part I am blaming my mother for this – as a child she had nothing of anything (being a war baby and all) and although her house is very tidy on the surface there are cupboards crammed with all sorts of “just in case” items that I am sure have been there 20 years and not been touched. Our trouble is lack of storage so that all our “just in case” items are piled higgledy-piggledy in piles. it’s not good.
My other huge obstacle to getting rid is young M. I don’t know if it’s part of her autism but it seems that a lot of parents with asd children have the same issue. M simply cannot bear to part with anything. She might not ever play with it, but she is desperate to keep it. I suppose it’s not liking change. Even drawings on scrappy old pieces of paper are lovingly pored over and stored in a box. So. now she is in school till 12.30 (I cannot believe this, a whole morning!) I am taking advantage and sneakily removing some items that I am hoping she won’t miss. They are being stored in an opaque bag in the boot of the car. If I can get away without her asking where they are for a week they will be making the trip to a charity shop in a distant town (no chance of her seeing them then) and I shall feign ignorance if asked after that.
The temptation is also to buy more storage boxes but I am resisting. If I buy them they will end up being filled with goodness knows what and that’s not the point. I want empty boxes!!
Right, enough procrastination, I’m off to have a clear out! Wish me luck.