Archive | September, 2014

Just a Normal Morning

24 Sep

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I’ve just been to a MacMillan Coffee Morning at the school. Nothing unusual about that you might think. Well, no, there’s not.

The children (Nursery, Infants, Juniors) take it in turn to perform some songs relevant to their recent learning, we applaud and then we tuck into scones and cakes that the staff have baked for us. We pay money and we go home happy after an hour of chatter and fund raising.

This morning I didn’t take my camera. I felt I had been so reliant on it that it would do me good to see life through my eyes for once and not a lens. Of course I am now regretting that decision as I sat there and watched M, front row, quietly confident and looking so smart, singing every song word perfect, and with no hesitation. It took me until I got back home to realise her PSA wasn’t anywhere nearby (in fact she might have been taking a well-earned coffee break herself) but the fact is, last year M would have been on the end of a row, probably at the back and nearest the exit.

I’m not saying she looked bursting with confidence – she didn’t. But no one who had dropped in from out of town would have had any clue that my little girl struggles every single day with the sensory and social demands that school places on her as an autistic person in a mainstream setting. Her school does everything it can to enable her to cope with the school day and it shows that they listen.

I am ridiculously proud!

(had to have a happy photo so here is one from a few weeks ago)

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It Might Go Better This Time (Fingers Crossed)

20 Sep

The eldest offspring goes back to university tomorrow. This is nice for me in only one way; the drive down takes over four hours and we do get to enjoy a good bit of banter on the way, as well as a tasty breakfast at a great truck stop.

It’s bad news in every other way.

1) I will miss her.

2) Everyone else will miss her.

3) M will miss her most of all.

Actually that last one might not be entirely true but it is the one that worries me the most. M cannot seem to process the change that E not living here means. She is a bright girl, very bright in fact, and while she can understand on an academic level that from mid September to some time in December her oldest sibling will be living in Glasgow, on an emotional and gut level the messages aren’t getting through. I know she loves her dearly and is usually content to be left in E’s care if I need to pop out, but I think the real problem is that something has changed.

She knows that R goes to boarding school every Sunday and returns every Friday. That has been happening for so long that it is written into her coding somehow as “usual”. E going to university just isn’t. I mistakenly assumed that last January would be easier on M than the September had been, as she would realise that we were all speaking the truth when we said E would come home for a holiday, but in fact every time E departed the behaviours were worse than before.

So, my concerns that next week could be very tough indeed after a three month summer break are, I feel, well founded.

I just hope I’m wrong.

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Silent Sunday

14 Sep

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All Change

3 Sep

It’s been a busy two and a half weeks here in the Highlands.

The children are now in their third week of the new term, and boy do we know it! M has moved up to the Junior class and it brings with it a new teacher (although luckily known to M through shared class experiences last year) and once again being in a composite class with her brother B. The teacher has been keeping them apart which suits everybody just fine.

Added to the stress for an autistic child of returning to school (and by this I mean the anxious sort of autistic who needs the comfort of family over the routine of the school day) M is dealing with going up a class at Sunday School and as from tomorrow, leaving the Beavers behind, and joining Cubs the following week. All of this is exciting, and indeed about time in the case of Beavers as she is the oldest there by several months now and academically the move is well-timed. But, and there is always a but when I write, it’s tough on her having so many changes at once. I was asked if I wanted to delay her move to Cubs till January, but there was no mention of any way in which this could benefit M, and what was unspoken was the leader’s possible dismay that from next week he will have lost an assistant leader (me) as I shall be transferring to Cubs to support M. I was polite in my refusal to delay but I might have mentioned that M is autistic not stupid and therefore I cannot see how holding her back would be either right or kind. The more she can stay with her peer group the better. If she has an emotional outburst more likely to be seen by a three year old then firstly I will be there for her to comfort and remove her if needed, but more importantly she will hopefully be supported by the very people I hope will learn to love and accept her for who she is, namely said peer group. If she continues in education for the foreseeable future she will need the acceptance and support of her peers when things don’t go to plan.

The downside of all this is that processing all the changes takes its toll on my beautiful girl. She bottles all her emotions and panic and worries up throughout the school day and then as soon as she feels safe at home, or sometimes even on the way home, the lid comes off and bang! The explosions happens. It is often verbal (quite frankly I’m surprised I’m not deaf) but sadly there is far too often a violent physical reaction. B is the one who bears the brunt of M’s physical outbursts and we are still “training” him to walk away at the first sign of danger instead of acting like a typical nine year old boy and fanning the flames to see what happens.

I noticed this morning that I really do seem to be the only member of our family that truly “gets” M. Hubby was doing the morning routine as I was in a tearing hurry to get to an appointment. I had already done the majority of the work, having set out all the breakfast items and the children’s clean clothes. However, he utterly failed to keep calm when M kicked off. Consequently she was up and down the stairs several times in floods of tears which meant I had to stop what I was doing to comfort her, then get her back downstairs and re-engaged with Hubby. I will just say at this point that I do have a very good husband but there are times when I could cheerfully strangle him. So what he’s not a morning person? Well guess what? Neither am I but I have learned to gulp my first cuppa, to prise my eyes open and to grit my teeth rather than raising my voice as it just isn’t worth it. He has yet to learn that this is an essential morning survival technique in our house. I despair but I’m not ready to give up on housebreaking him just yet.

So, we’re over the hump in week three of the new term and M hasn’t legged it from the classroom or been hiding in her den. It’s good. But it’s not yet enough. She is overly anxious (even by her standards), as jumpy as the proverbial cat on hot bricks, and extremely prone to tears.

To end on a positive I took her to the hairdressers this afternoon. M adores the hairdressers. Even with all her sensory issues this is a happy place for her. This is part way through her appointment today – I shall share another photo soon of the end result. A calm wee girl in my house this evening. Long may it last.

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