5

Understanding is impossible unless you have walked it yourself.

Having an autistic child is something that is impossible to understand unless you have walked it yourself.

The sleepless nights because they don’t sleep, and when they do your mind is going at maximum speed thinking of how to help them better tomorrow, what you can do that won’t cause a meltdown, if they will ever get a job, be able to live independently, cook, dress appropriately independently, tell you how they are, ask for what they want, say where hurts, if they will ever have a partner.. and many, many other things.

The worry when they won’t eat and have an extremely restrictive diet if they will be able to keep healthy on the select few things they eat. When they stop eating a certain food and you are left with even fewer foods, and they are losing weight and no one has ideas or provides you with help to get them eating more.

When they go into school in floods of tears clinging to you and you worry and stress through the day if they have settled, are they ok, will the school be honest with how they were, will they forgive and are they happy,

Buying new clothes entails turning the items inside out to see how they will feel to them and having to hunt out clothes that don’t have seams, and when they decide they like something and will wear it happily bulk buying them in every size to ensure that your child will go out with clothes and shoes on.

When you go somewhere they have enjoyed having your fingers tightly crossed so that nothing has changed and hoping it will be really quiet so that they can enjoy it and it won’t start a meltdown.

Will they ever make friends and have a proper friendship with even just one person. Be able to go to the cinema together, out for a walk, lunch, or even just have a conversation together.

How are you going to be able to cope with meltdowns when they are older if they are still lashing out, head butting, and how will I prevent them from self harming when they head butt the walls, hit themselves, scrab at their body, pull thier face..

Would someone else be looking after them better and providing them with better chances and helping them more than you are.

What happens if you end up in hospital and have to spend time there, how will they cope, who will look after them because no one knows them like you do and an even bigger worry.. what happens when you die, who will care for them like you do, love them and understand them like you.

The constant fight for help from services which are meant to want to help but show you the exact opposite.

The need to cuddle and protect them when they are sad, overloaded, having a meltdown but infact it just makes them worse and the only thing you can do is watch and ensure that they are safe and are not harming themselves.

Ignoring the stares, tuts and comments made when out in public and your child is having a meltdown and you can’t do anything to help them or stop it.

And the over whelming feeling of continuous guilt.

-WeeOhana

9

Leaps & Bounds of progress!

These past few months Dylan has been slowly progressing, but over the past month it seems to all be coming together. We have many words now which is absolutely incredible seeing as every time he has been seen by his pediatrican we kept getting reminded that not all autistic children talk and not to get our hopes up. He can request things like his iPad, juice etc, it’s amazing to see and I have got a lot of hope for the future now and I’m sure his language skills will continue to develop and maybe one day we will be able to have a conversation with us! It gives us a lot of hope and really lifts spirits.

In school they have started to use pecs to help him move from one place to the next, his anxiety is brought down a lot with these pictures and I am now running about like crazy taking pictures of everywhere we go so that I can use them at home with him too. I am hoping it will help when out and about with him so that we can keep him calm and hopefully enjoying what we are doing rather than worrying about what is to come next.

He is starting to try new foods, well he has licked a yogurt and they are trying to encourage him to try new things in school via pictures and are going to get me some to try at home with him, which is a really exciting prospect. Dylan’s eating has always been a worry for me, as much as the dietician says it is fine because he isn’t losing weight it cannot be healthy for him and is not ideal. I would love to be able to just pick him up something when out and about but unfortunately at this moment in time that isn’t really attainable as he doesn’t eat very much at all especially for dinners and lunch. Maybe one day he will eat a sandwich, now that would be incredible!

He has also started to interact a lot more with Amellia and the other children he knows. He will ask them for races using his makaton that he is starting to pick up and what is even more amazing is that the kids around us are so great too him. They understand him really well and it is so great to see them running around together and enjoying each other’s company. Something again I wasn’t sure I would ever get to experience with him.

Something he has started to really enjoy also is playing mario, he is learning how to control him and enjoys walking him around the map. Before he just used to hold the button and laugh as he fell off the edge, which is funny.. but finding something he really enjoys doing and playing is great!

Obviously he still has his hard times, but I totally adore him and he is simply wonderful. I will continue to encourage his growth and I truly believe give a child the tools and encouragement they need and they will progress in there own time!

6

I hope it gets easier..

Thursday was the first day for both my kiddies and they couldn’t have had more opposite experiences to the whole school thing.
Amellia absolutely loves her new school, on Friday morning she was dancing in my car with excitement before going in (which you may have seen on my insta story) and she has said that she wishes the weekend was only one day so she didn’t have to wait to go back to school. I just hope she continues to love her new school, they are offering her so much support and that is bound to help her settle and enjoy school more.

Dylans experience was the complete opposite. When we were walking down the hallway to his classroom he was fine and waited for his friend to catch up with him and I was starting to think it was going to go really well and he was going to love it, but as soon as we turned to walk through the door he would not go through and climbed up me as quick as possible while spontaneously exploding.
I carried him in and tried showing him some of the fun things they had out to play; sand, colouring, paint but nothing would settle him so they suggested putting him outside into the playground to see what he made of that. While they hurried him outside they told me to go. . as heart-breaking and as much as I really didn’t want to leave I couldn’t just ignore what they told me because in reality they have done this before and know what usually works best.
The parents then had a wee meeting to get to know some of the staff in the school and what they could do and provide for the children. After 45 minutes one of the classroom assistants came along to tell me that Dylan was settling for 5 minutes, remembering and looking for me and then settling again. After another 15 minutes they then brought the kids back to us and it was time to go home. As soon as he saw me he just kept repeating “mummys car” over and over again, he was more than ready to go home.

The next morning I woke up too carnage. Dylan had decided that doing a bit of poo art was the right thing to do, normally he shouts in the morning which wakes me up but he decided not to alert me and have a bit of a dirty protest and wake me with the smell. It was absolutely vile. I had my fingers crossed that the smell was going to be linked to something secured in his nappy but no such luck. I’m still scrubbing at the stains that refuse to budge! As soon as he saw me he started shouting “no school” over and over and over again.
I got him cleaned up, brought him downstairs and calmed him down. Amellia went to school dancing and singing then it was time to take him to school. After getting part of his uniform on I gave up, imagine wrestling with a alligator to put clothes on, Yeahh.. that’s why I gave up after he was decent.
The whole drive to the school he was going crazy in the back of the car, trying to undress, banging his head, hitting his legs etc.. I was waiting for him to fall asleep he was getting that worked up, but he didn’t.
Pulling into the carpark, walking to the class he was just going absolutely berserk. I had given myself a pep talk that it would be ok, they know what they are doing.. but it didn’t work.
They more or less had to remove him from me finger by finger. He was clinging on for dear life. It was absolutely horrendous. I just wanted to scoop him up and run away and never look back. I ended up in tears as they took him from me, it was such a horrible experience.
They came down to the room where we were meeting other members of staff after 40ish mins and said that he was doing the same as last time settling and then remembering again. This time at least when they brought him back to me he didn’t seem quiet as distressed but was busy shouting bye to everyone because he just wanted to be gone. He fell asleep as soon as he got into my car, which is only something he does when he is really worked up so that sort of summed up the day for me.

On Monday they are going to see how he gets on and have said that they will text/call me when they need me to pick him up. I’ll be sure to let you know how the next week goes.. at least on Monday I can sing to them “It’s my birthday, I can cry if I want too” so I wont look quite so bizarre crumbling into a heap on the ground in tears.. maybe that will make me look crazier actually.. oh well.

Wish me luck!

5

My child, my choice.

With Dylan starting school recently I have had a lot of people giving me their opinions on something which I feel strongly about and tell them before they even start with the back and forth.

My child, my choice.

I don’t agree with putting my child on a bus to and from schools. He’s three ffs. I wouldn’t put a neurotypical child on a bus even if it was a specific one for the school so I’m defiantly not putting my neurodivergent child on one.

People argue that it gives me more time, but I would rather do what is best for my child than what is best for me. I’m pretty sure that’s normal for parents.

I hear things like oh but everyone else does it.. I’m not a sheep thanks very much, I think for myself and what benefits my family the best. Also, just because everyone else does it does not mean it is right. Many things are questionable that “everyone’s does.

Not long till he starts nursery now, where did the time go!? They grow up far too fast and with them both in school now I know the years will fly by even faster 😦

13

Final Diagnosis Appointment.

When I got the letter through the door with the date for Dylan’s final part of his diagnosis I was overwhelmed with emotions. I cried instantly, with happiness that we finally had got a date after waiting all this time, with dread about it being final and what ifs. Thankfully it was for the next week so I didn’t have too long to wait with all these emotions flying around in my head.

I had asked on a local autism group on Facebook about what I should expect as I was pretty clueless to what would happen and wanted to at least be a little bit prepared, and I’m so glad I did ask. I was told what to expect and that the place I was going to was pretty run down and when we pulled up to it I couldn’t believe quite how run down it was. We managed to get parked in the car park which had very few spaces with the majority full and had a little pep talk about how it would be OK whatever happened.

Before we got into the building Dylan was already pretty unsettled and I was worried as had heard from a few friends that if your child isn’t compliant they will rearrange another date for you to come up and get them seen again, which obviously I really didn’t want to happen.
We were met by two lovely ladies who showed us to a waiting room which had a few toys in, typically all the ones Dylan picked up or showed a little interest in didn’t have working batteries in so this annoyed him more and me. I thought they would have ensured that the majority did have batteries considering that they are fully aware of the children who come to the clinic sometimes have a low-level of understanding. Anyway..

After waiting for about 5 minutes they came and got us and told us they would take Dylan into a room which we could see into through a 2 way mirror but that if he wouldn’t settle for them they would get me to come into the room with them and see if it helped. While we sat and watched they tried to get Dylan to engage in play with a shape sorter and some sensory toys but he just kept putting them back where they came from and was getting more and more wound up, until they got a pop up toy out. He loves pop up toys so this settled him a little bit until they tried to take it away and he just kept hugging it close to himself  and throwing away any other toys they offered him. They then asked me to come in to see if this would help settle him after having him in for 5 minutes, I looked at Ad and said I think we will have to come back..

I went in and he climbed onto my lap and was still pretty distressed by everything that was going on, one of the ladies even tried to tempt him with Play-Doh which is usually one of his favourite things but he just got madder. I had been in the room less than ten minutes and she said, “we have enough evidence now, if you want to go back out and wait” I was shocked but also super pleased that despite him not playing ball they managed to get all the information they needed and in such a short amount of time.

He was not for settling after all that had just happened and being pushed to try to settle, but the ladies came back in quickly enough and told us that they had enough evidence today to give Dylan an autism diagnosis, after this Ad took Dylan out of the room to try and calm him and so that I could chat to her and hear all the information she had to offer.

They offered for us to come back to chat without Dylan but we decided it was best if they told me then pass the information on because let’s be honest the place was a 45 min drive away, I don’t know anyone I could leave Dylan with for that length of time.

They have referred us to get support from others, are going to provide us with a few courses to go on so that we can learn as much as possible about everything that is going on and will send the report out with all the information about what they had found today in approx 6 weeks.
We then headed back to the car and Dylan calmed down when he was back in a familiar place safe in his car seat.

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13

The fight for a school place!

We were told from early on that Dylan would need to attend a SEN (Special education needs) school. This means that we started the process to get a school for him at the earliest stage possible. Despite starting this process as early as possible it was still extremely stressful and I still can’t believe that this is still allowed to happen year after year.

We had a lady come out to the house to observe Dylan and ask questions, loads of reports that had to get sent off and heart wrenching forms to fill in.
After doing this all I was hoping that we would be told a date when we would know what school he was going to and that I could leave it up to the board to sort out without calling and hassling them. This was not the case at all.

As I’m sure you are aware for kids in mainstream they are told a date that everyone will find out what school they are attending, yes this can be stressful because sometimes you don’t get the school you wanted. I know how that can be as it happened with Amellia, so how come this can’t happen for SEN kids too?
I personally and I know many others feel that it is in fact more important for SEN kids to find out early on which school they are going too so that they can visit it many times before hand, drive the route to the school, get used to the feeling of the uniform, meet their teachers and many other things.

After many phone calls over the past few months to make sure they had got all the details they need and chasing up others who hadn’t passed on what they needed and having other professionals call to ask what was going on with the whole process it was starting to get very close to the end of term and the education board close whenever schools do so this sent me into a little bit of panic mode.

I called them and was put on hold for 30 mins and then they hung up so I called back and after another 30ish mins wait someone answered the phone and said “Special Education aren’t taking anymore calls today” then hung up again. Now, this was at 10:30am in the morning. So I decided to carry on with my day and try and forget it and call again tomorrow, though obviously it wasn’t really an easy day.
The next day they then told me a different number to call, who then told me another number to call and I must have been given about 6 different numbers and ended up going round and round in circles. While making all of these phone calls I was also running circles after my crazy pair and sorting them out too, eventually I got through to someone who said they would check on the computer .. they then told me they would call me back tomorrow.

She didn’t call me back and it was then the weekend.
They got back to me during the next week and offered me a place in a school I hadn’t even been to see as I was not advised to go and see it, so I told her this and she then tried to claim that the school that was my preference was over 20 miles away from my house. I told her this was not the case and she didn’t believe me after checking my address several times, so she said she would call me back and look it up properly. I decided to do a quick check to see and it was less than 4 miles from my house. When she called back she told me that it was still showing up as really far away, but that she could offer me a different school that I had mentioned I had seen and liked. I was over the moon, she told me I would get the paper work in the next few days and I couldn’t wait. When the paper work didn’t appear after many days I was starting to wonder what was going on. I decided instead of doing the whole going round in circles thing again I would phone the school and ask if his name was down and was he afternoon or morning.

I phoned the school just for reassurance and I ended up in floods of tears, I felt like a complete twat but they were so lovely, supportive and understanding on the phone which was amazing and I apologized a lot for crying. They voiced their opinions on the situation and said they would do all they could to help.

I phoned the education board and said I needed to talk to someone now, but they then told me they didn’t handle placements for nursery so I had to call someone else and after lots of being put on hold they told me they had already sent the letter to the school a good few days ago and on phoning the school back they said that this would not have been the case as they would have already received it. They then told me to call back Monday to see, so I had a whole weekend really fretting about what was going to happen on Monday.

I called the school on Monday and had a long chat with them about what had been happening that morning but they still had not received a letter so she phoned the education board to ask what was going on and why was this allowed to happen to parents as I wasn’t the only one and thankfully she has secured a place for Dylan.

I am over the moon, but can not believe all that we have been through these past few weeks and now my mind is all over the show with absolute delight and such a dump of emotions.

I don’t believe that this is allowed to happen year after year to so many parents who are already going through so much.

2

Music Therapy!

Recently Dylan started music therapy and it is amazing, before he had his first one I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I hadn’t really heard much about it. I am always keen to try new things, especially when I really think he will enjoy it. Dylan has always loved music, if a fast song is on he will go crazy and shake himself really fast and if it’s a slow song he will move slowly, it’s really funny and adorable to watch!

He has now had 3 weeks of music therapy and has really enjoyed it, I am learning a lot of new things to do with him to help encourage his speech and interaction which is obviously  amazing and not something I really expected to come from music therapy.

 

She brings along a whole bag full of instruments, and starts by playing a hello song on her guitar, then she asks if he would like to play a certain instrument and generally he jumps about really excitedly. Then when he is playing the instrument she then sings another song to try to get him to play when she stops and she will also then go at his speed, for example if he is to play fast, she will play fast on the guitar and so forth.
Then after doing that for a while she then gets Dylan to choose another instrument and she will play a beat and encourage Dylan to copy this beat and then copy the beat he does. It is all about give and take, if he copies you then you copy him.
Other things that she also does is sing songs that he knows and stopping at random unexpected words to try to encourage him to join in and say the missing word, sing consonant sounds together to try and get him to copy and again then copying what he says as well.

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While playing these instruments Dylan is also feeling a lot of different textures, Dylan really struggles with many sensory things in his day-to-day life; for example he cannot wear jeans, certain t-shirts and is extremely fussy with his foods. She is also going to add more textures and things into the music therapy like cooked pasta for example to encourage him to touch it when he is having lots of fun and then hopefully after a few times he will touch it in other situations too

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It is a costly therapy but it is one he is really getting a lot out of so we will obviously continue with it, I cannot wait to see what other ideas she gives me to use outside of music therapy and to watch Dylan progress week after week.

-WeeOhana