You could be a gloater! We’re upto our ears in gloaters!

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Can I come in for a gloat?

 

Today’s post is somewhat celebratory. A stealth boast. Lord Percy might even label me as a ‘gloater’. For those of us with children who have additional needs, it’s so important to find positivity in every little brilliant thing they do.

 

As one of my friends might be celebrating their five year old getting a swimming certificate, I’m over the moon that my five year old  managed to tell me he’s thirsty.

The change in Owen since he started at his new school has been incredible. His speech has come on in leaps and bounds.

 

We even managed a day trip to Poole last week and I can’t believe what a good boy Owen was. I am a very proud Mummy.

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Catching some sun in Branksome

 

This week, Owen has been:

1)… dressing himself every single morning without prompting and one morning he even managed to tell me that he had forgotten to put his socks on.

He’s also:

2)  Replied ‘Your keys are there Mummy, can you see them?’ when I wondered aloud where they were.

 

3) Asked if I had finished my dinner and took the plates out to put in the dishwasher.

 

4) Sat down at school and actually done some work.

 

5) Asked to read his school reading book every single night.

 

6) Stayed in his own bed, every single night.

 

7) Run into school every morning with a huge smile on his face.

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I don’t even get a kiss goodbye anymore!

 

It’s only Thursday and already it has been a great success.

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However we still have a birthday party, haircut, a trip to Tesco and a day out on Sunday to get through yet. I may yet have to prepare the guest bedroom for Mr.Cockup.

 

A slap up grill for two…

Big day today! Owen is staying at school until 2:30pm rather than 11:45am.

 

I’m currently sat watching ‘This Morning’ with my feet up; a very rare activity but I am most pleased with the appearance of Dr.Ranj on this program and I feel I may become a regular viewer..

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Owen is staying at school for lunch today. He is having a ‘hot dinner’ with the other children. I have no idea at all what is on the menu.

Food can be a very difficult topic when it comes to children with special needs. There tends to be a whole host of dietary problems (Owen is dairy and soya intolerant) and I can only imagine the range of different requirements (from allergies to plate colours and food colours) that the lunch staff are having to sort through at Owen’s school.

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One assumption that is often made about children with Autism is that they only eat food that is beige and that they have to have it set out on the plate in a certain way, with nothing touching.

 

Owen is the complete opposite. He has to have his food all mixed together in a bowl and loves Chillis, stews, roast dinner, fish etc.

 

I really really hope he eats something. If he doesn’t, he’ll get hangry.

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You wouldn’t like him when he’s hangry.

 

I have a ‘fournager’

One and a half weeks. Seven days of school and suddenly my dear little blue-eyed baby who resembles Boris Johnson when his hair is too long has grown up. No longer does he want to cuddle up with his Mummy…now if he creeps into bed with me during the night, he has his own side and does not share pillows. He wipes my kisses off with a look of disgust. Kisses from Mum are, apparently, for babies.

 

Along with this heartbreaking tragedy (I think Shakespeare would even struggle to better it), comes fantastic change. Every cloud has a silver lining….separation = every other weekend to myself,  weight gain = wrinkles look less obvious etc.

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In just ten days, Owen’s speech has improved beyond anything I was hoping for. Before, if he wanted to go on the iPad, he would say:

Do you want iPad?

Now, he says:

Mummy…can I have the iPad please?

He’s even got the slightly ‘oh my god how many more times am I going to hear ‘Mummy’ today’ tone down to a fine art. Naturally, because I am so bowled over by this speech that is coming from him, he is pretty much getting anything he asks for at the moment. Terrible terrible parenting. I’m going to end up with some sort of Kevin Patterson on my hands if I don’t nip that one in the bud.

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Although as longs as he still chooses flowers for me in the supermarket and says ‘Mummy princess’, he can do whatever he likes.

Oh Neil! Neil! Orange Peel!

Owen has recently become something of a ‘People’s Poet’. He must have been really bored over the summer holidays. Thank goodness he’s at school now!

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He absolutely loves rhyming. I’ll say something to him along the lines of:

Owen. We are twenty minutes late. We need to go!

In response I’ll get:

Go! Show! Snow!

If he can’t think of an actual word to rhyme, he’ll make one up! (Bit risky if he’s trying to rhyme ‘duck’ or ‘punt’).

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LUCK! Sounds almost exactly like…

I spent an evening this weekend at a Batmam themed ball, dressed as Harley Quinn. The souvenirs made by the champagne sponsors of the ball (naturally I only attend parties which have official champagne sponsors) were tiny little torches that shine the Batman logo and Owen has been playing with the one I brought home for him.

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Of course, what does one sing when shining a Batman torch? Na na na na na na Batman! Except Owen has been running around singing:

 

Na na na na BATMAN! Na na na na NISSAN! Na na na na PAN! 

 

I’ve had a Google-up to see if I can throw any light on this rhyming thing (and found some really odd websites about Autism ‘cures’ but that’s a rant for another day) but nothing much has come up.

 

Perhaps it’s a sensory thing? There’s an amazing American professor called Temple Grandin who has Autism. I remember her saying that she used to ask her mother the same question over and over again because she loved the way it sounded.

 

This makes sense – I know lots of ‘normal’ people who enjoy using particular words because of the way they sound. I recently told a friend of mine that she has the best surname I’ve ever come across because of the way it sounds and (thankfully) she told me that I’m not the first person to say that.

 

So it would appear to be a combination of two things: sensory, enjoying the way the words rhyme and go together and his fantastic memory. I think he has a little bank of ‘words that rhyme’ in one of the filing cabinets in his brain.

 

So, we’ll enjoy it for what it is and I’ll only worry when his Christmas list reads:

Bongos

Black turtle-neck

Sunglasses

 

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The sun’ll come out tomorrow…

Tomorrow is the BIG day! The end of the longest summer holiday in the history of summer holidays is in sight. Owen has his first morning at his new school! It has taken me an entire rainforest’s worth of paperwork to get him a place at his school but I’m sure it’ll be absolutely worth it. There will be the obligitory ‘in front of the door’ first day photograph on my Facebook page in the morning. (I’ve heard rumours of death penalties if this is not done and I don’t fancy taking any chances.)

 

Everything is labelled, ironed…(any excuse for a picture of Rik Mayall)

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and ready for this morning. Well almost everything….guess which Mum forgot to buy a book bag, water bottle and PE t-shirt?

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Yep, that’s right. Me. The one who is actually a teacher. Slow clap, well done.

 

Five years ago I never imagined I would be here. Five years ago I was married, very pregnant and attempting to teach children whilst trying not to give birth at work. I had plans. Big plans. My baby was going to go to Aldingbourne school…the same school I had been to and I was going back to teaching ASAP!

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I missed out on the ‘blooming’ stage of pregnancy and went straight for the ‘beached whale’ part.

 

Except…Owen threw us all a bit of a curve ball by having Autism (sneaky little bugger).

I didn’t think I’d spend the next five years doing therapy after therapy, learning Makaton and filling out endless questionaires. It’s been hard work but I’m hoping it’ll be entirely worth it. I have a feeling he will flourish in his new environment.

Five years ago I never could have imagined that I would be going out on Friday night and then attending a ball on Saturday, dressed as a Batman character.

I didn’t think I would be sat here, writing a blog about having a child with Autism, whilst he spends some time at his Daddy’s house, the night before he starts at his ‘special’ school.

 

But you know what?

I didn’t think we’d be so happy either.

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I’ve started so I’ll finish…

Obsessions…they are usually one of the first things that spring to mind when people think about Autism. But there is a big difference between something that is a ‘special interest’ and something that is an ‘obsession’. Just because a child is really interested in building Lego and does it daily, doesn’t mean they have Autism.

 

Everybody has a ‘special interest’. A subject they could go on ‘Mastermind’ with and win without even trying. Whether it’s keeping reptiles, racing motorbikes or a particular band (ahem), there’s something that everybody finds interesting and it can play a big part of their lives. It can open up whole new opportunities for social intereaction (going to race meetings, gigs, online forums etc) and can even help mould and shape careers. A person who has grown up being very interested in horses could become a champion jockey etc.

 

Many people with Autism have special interests but on a slightly more intense level. That black and white thinking comes into play and it becomes ‘all or nothing’. We’ve all heard the rumours that everybody working for Microsoft has Autism and we’ve all seen the videos about the boy with Autism who can draw skylines after looking at them just once. When fostered and nurtured in the correct way, a special interest for a child with Autism can be a wonderful thing. It’s just a case of finding that little spark, building a fire from it and trying to keep that fire under control.

 

 

Owen has lots of very intense special interests. They usually last a few weeks and then we very suddenly move on. Normally, it’s a film or TV programme – currently he’s really into ‘Wallace and Gromit’. It gets to the point that he can recite the films over and over again (more cheese Gromit!) but these don’t have a negative impact on his life. He can go without watching it for a day without much of a problem. He also loves fixing things and seeing how they work and I think that this will become his ‘proper’ special interest later on in life…one he can make a career for himself out of. (He really needs to because I’m useless at DIY etc).

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Owen learning about how the wheels on the van work with his Grandad

 

If it gets out of hand, a special interest can become a full blown obsession and that can cause problems. It can dominate day to day life and make things very difficult indeed. It can have a negative effect on a person’s social life…they may struggle to talk and think about anything other than their interest which their peers can find frustrating and boring.

 

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There are no prizes for guessing my own interest….sadly I am yet to forge a career from being a huge fan of the Rolling Stones. All I have to show for it is a tattoo on my ankle and a collection of albums in my car. BUT…it doesn’t affect my day to day life. If I can’t find a Stones album to play in the car, I’ll happily listen to something else. I don’t need to start each day by watching ‘Sweet Summer Sun’ (literally have been there and got the T-shirt). I’ll talk about them non-stop if I’m given the opportunity but will switch topic because, let’s face it, I’ll talk non-stop about anything. It is an interest which I get a lot of enjoyment from but does not have a negative effect on my life.

 

 

Owen has had one full-blown-out-of-control obsession and it was awful. It totally took over day to day life for at least six months – his Dad’s work van. He’d wake up in the night crying that he wanted to go and look at the van and he would spend all afternoon in his coat and shoes, ready to dive out of the front door as soon as his Dad came home from work. It wasn’t just a case of ‘Owen knows all about vans and collects them’ – we couldn’t go anywhere in the afternoons because he was SO terrified that he would miss the van. It was really really hard work.

 

 

It does seem to have resolved itself – his Dad and I are no longer together so the van isn’t here anymore and Owen’s firey obsession has faded back to that spark of interest. How do you stop interests becomming obsessions? I’ve had a look through and apparently you just ‘make sure they are under your control’.

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Did I mention that it’s a mere 67 days, 11 hours and 25 minutes until my 17th time seeing the Counterfeit Stones?

 

Growing up and moving on

If you know me personally, you’ll know that I don’t get wound up easily. I take things like TucTuc drivers making inappropriate jokes in my stride. Put it in a box and move on.
There are some things that wind me up though that probably shouldn’t. Number one on the list is that Asda advert about the little girl starting school…I’m pretty sure it’s the woman’s ‘close up’ voice reading the Dr.Seuss poem that fills me with rage. Whatever it is, it makes me want to avoid Asda for the rest of my life. 

It does however remind me that in three short weeks, my baby is starting school. It is an adventure that I cannot be as involved in as I would like to be. I feel as though I have wished the summer holidays away and now I’m starting to panic a bit. I still need to buy shorts, shoes and label everything. I also forgot to buy a book bag, water bottle and PE top from the office before the end of term and now I fear being labelled ‘that Mum’; the one who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. (I bet I could and it would be brilliant).
He is growing up! Even though his new school trousers are ‘age 3’. His speech improves everyday. Today he was sat in his Grandad’s bed, eating Pringles. ‘Mmmmmm these are nice!’, he said. His understanding improves daily – I can now do the ‘counting to three’ technique which I love! (I think because it works and is a normal Mum thing to do). This afternoon he had his haircut but decided to sit all by himself, instead of on my lap.

It was lovely! I sat and ate my Malteasers (yes I scanned them into my diet app) and escaped relatively hair free. He’s doing things like making his own cup of squash and feeding the goldfish. Owen is gaining independence daily – but I have heard ‘MUMMY HELP!!’ about ten times today and I love Peter Sallis as much as any other person who grew up watching Last of the Summer’s Wine but I’m starting to get a bit fed up with Wallace and Gromit….because I’m on a diet and they exist on cheese and crackers.
How many days are left of the summer holidays?

Glitter glitter everywhere but not a drop (of wine) to drink

An update!

The past few weeks have been somewhat eventful.

 

Shortly after getting our place at the local special school, Owen picked up chicken pox. Bugger. Again it’s the speech disorder that means I can’t explain what’s going on to him. He coped really well and just has a few scars. His new favourite film is, and I’m being deadly serious, ‘Chicken Run’. Hmmmm.

 

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We took Owen away on holiday to ‘Bashley Park’ in Christchurch. I can’t recommend it enough (during term time). A lovely swimming pool, a park and a huge field. Owen didn’t need any more than that. We did take him to ‘Adventure Wonderland’ by Bournemouth Airport. Again, a great little place and fairly cheap as they offer a carer + disabled guest special rate.

 

 

The best part of the holiday was Bournemouth Aviation Museum. A few planes, helicopters, a double decker bus and a fire engine, all in a field. Each has steps and you can climb inside and press all of the buttons and switches etc. For a child whose current favourite toy is a tin of padlocks and keys, this was heaven.

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Sports day tomorrow and transfer morning at his new school nextq week! (If I can bear to let him go 😭)

 

Owen has made brilliant progress in terms of his speech disorder. He understands a lot more now and is using his speech functionally. I’m even getting tiny conversations from him! For example:

 

Owen: Mummy!

Me: Yes darling?

Owen: I’m just going to the garden.

Me: Ok! See you soon!

Owen: See you soon Mummy!

 

I’m so pleased that his speech therapist was there to witness our exchange because I don’t think she’d have believed me otherwise!

 

If I lose (Owen hides) my car keys, I can now ask him where they are and he’ll either tell me or go and get them.

 

He has also learnt the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

 

Me: Owen! Marmite yes or Marmite no?

Owen: Marmite yes. (Good boy!!)

 

Some things have not changed. I still can’t handle my wine, I have bought far too many things on Notonthehighstreet.com and I am still the Counterfeit Stones’ number one fan.

 

Oh and I still haven’t learnt to put stuff like glitter out of Owen’s reach.

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What is 67% of ‘I never want to see a Maths exam again?’

I’ve spent the last three weeks sat in front of a laptop, marking 1200 Maths exams. If I never see one again, it will be too soon. I’m not doing it again next year! (Other lies I tell are ‘I’m never drinking again’ and ‘this is the last tattoo I’m ever having’).

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Struggling to determine whether 400 eleven year old children have grasped the idea of adding fractions was totally optional for me and I got an all expenses paid jolly to London out of it. (Did I mention that I’m never drinking again?).  Hopefully I’ll be able to replace my clapped out car and squirrel some money away for Christmas.

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Have I marked enough papers for this?!

My real ‘job’ is a ‘carer’. It took me a long time to get my head around it. Surely I’m just doing my job as Owen’s mum? But I had to admit that actually, he does need a lot more care than your average 4 and a half year old.

 

 

If my source is correct (CBeebies), it is National Carer’s Week. There are some 6.5 million carers in the UK. Some temporary, some permenant. Wives, children, husbands, mums, neighbours, dads, brothers, sisters etc. It can be isolating and there’s not much support. I myself phoned Carer’s Support several times and never managed to speak to anybody.

 

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I solemnly swear that I don’t just watch CBeebies for the lovely Dr Ranj…*

 

As I said, I’m fortunate that I’m not having to juggle a full time job or being in education with caring for Owen. Caring most definitely is a full time job. Keep carers in mind this week 😊.

 

*another lie. I love him. And his eyebrows.

** I’ve had a glass of wine whilst writing this.

He’s in!

I know the majority of my readers of this blog are also my friends on Facebook, so they will already know the news.
But….
He’s in! Owen has been offered a place at the special school we’ve applied to! And the best part is, that he’s been offered a place in KS1, NOT the Autism unit which is exactly what I wanted for him. 

It’s a beautiful day, there’s ice cream to eat and washing to be dried (how sad that I’m excited about that) and so I shall leave you with Borat, who conveys my emotions regarding this news perfectly. And Prince George who does the same thing.