Thank You

I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback about my blog. Thank you so much.

There is SO much I want to share with you, I don’t know where to begin. I am trying so hard not to bombard you with too many posts all at once.

I mentioned in another post I would really like to work in the field of SEN, officially, but I am not yet sure in which capacity.

I have spent hours looking at job specifications to get an idea of what to do…but there are so many possibilities…I can’t physically do all of them.

I looked into getting my SENCo qualification but after thorough research, I don’t think it’s quite what I am looking for.

After visiting our new paediatrician today (I will update you on this another time), I looked into becoming a paediatrician who specialises in autism. It appears you need a medical degree (which are apparently competitive courses to get on to) then a further two years of study to specialise. I didn’t particularly want to have to return to education but as I am in my mid to late thirties, and hopefully still have a lot of working years ahead of me, I am happy to do whatever it takes to enter a career that interests me and helps others. The problem really is course fees!

I have lots of soul searching to do. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? How can I make a difference?

Crayon

This book is really lovely. It appears quite simple when you first look at it but there are lots of opportunities to discuss how the characters are feeling and what’s going on in the pictures. Also good for prediction skills and colour recognition. The children love it. Last night Nanny was here. She has worked in the field of SEN for years and is brilliant at sign language, so she taught us how to sign the colours.

Crayon by Simon Rickerty

Triggers

…and things not going as expected, transitions, fixating on things and having to let them go/not being able to access them… etc etc

What a day!

I tried to post this yesterday but it wouldn’t save…

We had the best day today. I’m utterly beaming.

I managed to take the children out by myself to a group, and they absolutely loved it. They were engaged all the way through. We had a slight upset at the end but it was manageable.
We then went to the library to return and choose some new books, as well as to buy a cake to take home.

I’ve had some health issues that are now (hopefully) being managed, so this is a big thing for me. This blog is not about my health but I mention it briefly because it has made everything I have discussed SO much harder. At the moment, I am just loving life and being able to do all the things I once took for granted. I have my bad days, but so many more good.

Anyway, we had an active day where they were engaged and happy, and when I read them their bedtime stories, there was just such a wonderful atmosphere of calm and happiness.

To the outside world today, my eldest in particular most certainly didn’t present as autistic as he used his scripts and toolkit. It was beautiful to watch, and for the first time in my life so far, I got to sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with other parents. Obviously, I needed to have eyes on but I didn’t need to be attached to them.

I know not every day will be like this but what a lovely day!

I want to thank Daniel the Tiger for helping me to resolve a situation where there could have been a mega meltdown. My eldest’s doughnut got squished. I saw all the signs but luckily remembered an episode he watches on repeat about birthday cake being ‘smushed’ but still tasting great.

This past week, he has been singing lots of songs from Daniel the Tiger and has even been teaching his brother some of the advice from the show. It’s going in!!!!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

I am sure I will be referring to how Daniel the Tiger has helped us in other ways. I can already tell you that “If you got to go potty, stop and go right away, then flush and wash and be on your way…” has been beyond helpful!!!!!

Cbeebies

I recommend buying this… #cbeebies

I was going to make phonics resources as I foolishly gave away everything I made when I was teaching.

Now I don’t have to!

Cbeebies
Phonics Resources

School

We found out that our eldest is number one on the waiting list for two schools!!!! 🤗

We have been told this could change depending on who else goes on the list but that all being well, he should have a school place by Christmas.

My husband and I got a little upset last night as the EHCP application is ongoing, and it occurred to us that not only will our son never have the typical first day at school photo, it is very unlikely he will be in the paper for his first ever class photo!

It’s just so sad! 😪

Trust Your Instincts!

When my eldest was small, we noticed a few things that were developmentally different. Having no other child to compare to, it was quite tricky to distinguish whether his behaviours were due to his age or in fact because he was on the spectrum. We made a few comments here and there to gauge other people’s opinions, but generally people were a little dismissive and suggested it was typical one or two year old behaviour. At this point we decided to keep our observations to ourselves.

I can’t remember exactly which behaviours triggered our suspicions, but I will explore what to look out for in another post.

By two and a half, it was very clear to us that he was on the spectrum. Some family and friends had started to notice a few quirks, but some were still very dismissive, claiming that we as parents were seeing things that weren’t there or that we were somehow responsible.

By the age of three it was very apparent and by the age of four, well, I think anybody who spends any significant time with him can see very clearly that he is different.

As a parent of a child with seemingly invisible needs, it can get a bit lonely. Other people are not with your children 24/7 so only see a snapshot.

The worst thing is when people keep telling you they’ll grow out of it!

Or when they confuse ‘being good or bad’ with their behavioural difficulties.

I try to explain that the children are actually ‘good’ in general…they don’t tend to go out of their way to be naughty (unless they are tired or grumpy…which I think can probably be said of any child).

As I’ve said before, we have clear routines and expectations so they know how to behave. I am also complimented all the time on how polite they are. However…when something triggers them, all of this goes out of the window. I’ve instilled manners and good behaviour, so I know that as they grow and learn to self regulate, what I have put in will be clearer to others.

At the moment, confusion, compulsion, overload, the inability to self regulate, along with so many other things, takes over. In the moment, they cannot use their words or access the tools I’ve taught them. At some point, they will, and hopefully at that point life will get a bit easier for all of us.

As an example, yesterday my youngest had two meltdowns. One was because daddy went to work. This lasted for around an hour until suddenly it just stopped! The second one was because I had run out of Peppa Pig nappies and had to use a plain one. No matter what I said or did, his fixation on these issues could not be distracted.

My eldest, over the weekend, had a huge meltdown on our family day out. To keep him safe, I had to pick him up and remove him from where he had collapsed and gone dead weight. In other instances where I’ve had to hold or restrain him, I always try to position him downwards, so that he can’t kick or hit me. Sadly, on this occasion I could not do this and he repeatedly hit me in the face. I had glasses on and the impact of those against my skin caused bruising across my nose and cheekbone.

It was utterly embarrassing and I felt very tearful.

I don’t know if it was obvious to the other parents around us that this was indeed a full on meltdown, but everybody seemed to fall silent as it happened.

I always knew there was something different about him, but I could never have imagined just how prominent these differences would become as he grew, and what challenges this would pose to us as a family.

It’s hard when other people don’t believe or support you, but you are the expert on your child so learn to block them out (and that is tough when they are labelling your child naughty or a brat) and trust your instincts.

You are your child’s champion…they won’t get through this successfully without you!

What is autism?

So what is autism?

The National Autistic Society has explained it here: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

For me, autism is different neurological wiring to that of a typical, or should I say neurotypical person.

Some people speak about autism as though it is an illness and that somehow autism makes an individual inferior.

Autism can bring with it complications when trying to fit in to a mostly neurotypical world, but this just begs the question whether maybe the world around us needs to change to accommodate neurodiversity. This way, everybody can thrive.

There have also been links to particular illnesses and autism, but we can explore this in a future post.

Children with all kinds of SEN, including autism, tend to struggle to ‘fit in’ seamlessly to the school system, but again I have to question whether the problem here is that the system needs an overhaul rather than suggesting that these children are the problem. This is something else I would like to explore in another post. If the curriculum and school environment were to change, would we need the same interventions for SEN children? I can hear people screaming ‘funding’ at me, but our current system doesn’t appear to be working all that well.

I’ve been told that so many children are being flagged up with additional needs, that the workload for professionals involved in diagnosis are overwhelmed, and naturally funding is an issue when trying to organise support.

Do we have to provide support for every individual or can we try a new approach to accommodate everybody at the same time?

I would also like to explore the diagnosis process in a future post, but for now I will say that the process is long, and there are so many children not qualifying for the help they so sorely need and deserve.

It’s a shame that people focus on the negatives as there are also lots of benefits to being autistic. I think the media has played a huge part in this, but again I will revisit this in a future post.

The ability to hyperfocus on areas of interest and obsess over everything they do, can make autistic people very knowledgeable and efficient in any task or line of work undertaken.

I was asked whether I was worried that my children may be autistic. My concern was about their experience growing up and how they would be perceived by others. I was worried how they would fit in at school and how life would be a little trickier for me as a parent.

However, the children being autistic didn’t concern me. I am confident that long term, I can teach the children the tools they need to function in this world, and I believe that with the right support they will be fully functional, well balanced and successful adults. The main challenges, I believe, are going to be experienced through childhood. And I am not looking forward to their teenage years, but what parent does?

It was believed that there are three types of autism.

Now, however, it is just referred to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder…I still have some issues with the terms that make autism sound like a disorder or illness).

My understanding for this change in terms is that people were trying to define autism in terms of low functionIng and high functioning…like it is black, white and linear.

It was assumed that non verbal autistics were ‘low functioning’. I read a story about an autistic person who was non verbal and therefore treated like a child. They were read children’s books and spoken to in simple terms. With recent technological advances, this person was given equipment through which they could communicate, and it became obvious very quickly that this person was extremely intelligent.

How awful must that have been, to have had thoughts in your head that you couldn’t get out…to understand completely what people were saying but having no way to communicate…to be read children’s stories when you really wanted to get your hands on a novel?

There is so much more to say but my youngest is having a huge meltdown because Daddy has gone to work so I must dash.