Enlightened by a flapjack

Son has always had a healthy appetite, but unlike his dad it doesn’t seem to impact on his body shape. At his last school (with less than 50 kids) lunch was very relaxed, with room to spread out and time for him to have several helpings.

At his new school meaningful intel about the practicalities of the school day has dried up. No feed back from school and a son who often wants to quickly forget about the traumas of the day. So I had no idea how lunchtime was going. I payed the school meal bill online and assumed a balanced diet was being consumed. He never complained about it so it must be ok – that’s my 479th bad parenting example, complacency. I did notice that he had a remarkable appetite on his return. Often eating me out of house and home.

This week as I paid the online meal system I noticed by chance an option to view what the menu was. Reassuringly it looked pretty good. Then I noticed another well hidden option which was tomview what he had actually selected. The selection was very enlightening…

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5th Sept – Pasta Main Meal

6th Sept – Macaroni Cheese (very surprising as he hates this)

7th Sept – Flapjacks x2 (sweet granola bar)

After that every day has been Flapjacks x2 apart from 2 days which showed up as a Tuna Sandwich.

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By my calculations that’s 184 Flapjacks since September. Bugger – that’s my 480th bad parenting example, must stop swearing.

So it was time to have a more in-depth fact finding chat with our Son. Apparently on the first two days only his year group was in school. It was fairly quiet and he enjoyed his pasta dish. On the second day he thought the sign said pasta meal and was a bit miffed when he found macaroni cheese on his plate. After those two quiet days school lunch has become a nightmare. Too many kids, too little space and limited time. For a main meal you have to queue up for about 20 minutes. After that you need to circle round the dining area waiting for a space to become free. A bit of a nightmare for anyone, a lot of a nightmare for someone with Aspergers. To jump the queue you can opt for either a Sandwich or Flapjack or icebun. Queue jumping it was then for our son. I was puzzled why he broke his sequence of Flapjacks heaven with two Tuna Sandwiches (especially as he doesn’t really like bread). Apparently they had sold out of Flapjacks….

I have now spoken to school but they can do little, just too many kids to feed. I suggested staggering the lunch starts but apparently this cannot be done logistically. Really!!. They will however think about some dyslexic friendly food signage.

So I’m not sure where this leaves us. Packed lunch is not an option. These have to be dropped off at another part of the school prior to the first lesson and this would just provide more school stress for him. He’s never going to queue. So it’s Flapjacks, sandwiches or go hungry. I suppose at least he is eating something- 481st bad parenting example, it’s not a healthy option. Will just have to ensure he gets a good breakfast and have plenty of food in for his return.

One last thought.

After our conversation he asked what was for tea.

Rather sheepishly I replied

“I baked a fresh batch of Flapjacks this morning”

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For a different and far more astute take on the autism school lunchtime trials please read Robyn’s great post from earlier in the week.

Tell the Story Challenge

Thank you to Pensitivity101 for the Tell the Story Challenge. The story picture is …

I hate being me. I’m always grumpy. I hate being green – why couldn’t I be blue or brown or yellow or white – but no I had to be green. I hate my eyes, can’t find any glasses to fit me. Don’t start me on my feet, how on earth am I supposed to find any shoes to fit. I go to the shop for nail polish and they only sell red, RED – I’ve already got red finger ends. But what I hate most about being a Poison Dart Frog is the fact that everything I touch dies. So I never get to hug anyone. I just have to hug myself….

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I would like to challenge the following fine bloggers to write something about the picture below (only if you fancy it)

Talesfromthemindofkristian

Momlifewithchiari

DerrickJKnight

If anybody else fancies a stab, go for it.

Made up

Today I was thinking about how nice it would be to have some colour in the garden again. I tried to picture some flowers. The flowers I could see in my mind were last years plants. Couldn’t imagine any new flowers.

Our son’s school does ask the kids to do an awful lot of homework. Too much really. One of his assignments was to start putting together his autobiography. Red flag alert. This is a recipe to just reopen old wounds. Son was equally apprehensive. So I contacted school and expressed my concerns. We agreed that rather his own biography he would come up with a fictional one. As his hand is still not fixed I was going to scribe his thoughts.

“Ok I am in my 70s”

“I was born in the South of England”

Good start.

I like music”

“My best friend is called Keith and he also likes music”

“I have another friend called David who I often share clothes with”

Not sure where this is going.

“I joined a band with my friend Keith”

“We played our first concert in 1962”

This sounds a bit like Mick Jagger.

“Well it is Jagger”

No you can’t use him, it’s supposed to be made up.

“Oh, Ok.”

“I am middle aged and I am a lecturer”

This sounds more like it.

“My father is very religious”

“I am an archaeologist”

“I’m scared of snakes and I am also an adventurer”

By any chance does he go looking for the Holy Grail.

“Yes, how did you know?”

Because its Indiana Jones. You can’t use him.

“Why he’s made up”

You just can’t use him, make one up about a child not a famous adventurer.

“Alright can I be an 8 year old boy”

Yes much better

“I am a bit cheeky”

“I live with a large family with many kids. I have a really annoying older brother and uncle”

“I am always getting shouted at”

This will make an excellent biography.

“Every Christmas my family go on holiday but they always forget me, so I am home alone”

Deep sigh…. Fine you win, you can be Kevin….

Cheesy Music.

I came across this story this morning

https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/02/rock-and-roll-themed-cheeses/

Aldi is going to sell some limited edition music themed cheeses.

Sweet Cheddar of Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Pour some Gouda on me – Def Leppard

Wake me up before you Goat Goat – Wham

Thank you Aldi I should be focusing on a payroll spreadsheet and now all I can see is cheesy song titles.

Let it Brie

Go your own whey

For whom the baby bell tolls

I Stilton haven’t found what I’m looking for

Brie quick or Brie dead

Smoked Gouda on the Water

American Cheese Pie

Abbots Gold Rush

Another ADL Brick Cheese in the Wall

Jumping Chilli Jack Flash

Chocolate Stout Cheddar Symphony

Halloumi of the Mountain King

The healing properties of Thunder

Attending a rock concert is always guaranteed to lift our spirits. Last night due to a bit of rubbish ticket booking from Dad we were due to see Ozzy in Newcastle and Thunder in York. An unfortunate case of OzzyFlu sorted out the clash. So off we went on a wet cold night to see Thunder and Dan Reed. We bravely faced the infamous York car parks and the massed hordes of relentless parking enforcement officers.

We both needed a lift and yet again rock delivered. It was different. Rather than crashing guitars we had an unplugged acoustic night. The wonderful Dan Reed and the epic legends, Thunder. Both brilliant. York Barbican is one of the few rock venues where they still come round offering mini ice cream tubs. Something rather decadent about sitting at a rock concert eating strawberry ice cream.

You are always learning and last night was no exception. Dan Reed played a tribute to Ronnie James Doo. He played Dio’s old classic, Holy Diver. I had always thought Holy Diver referred to a fictional decent into Hell. But Dan came up with another narrative. His take was that a Holy Diver is someone who goes on a quest around the world. The quest takes so long and takes on so many different pathways that on their return they have forgotten the original defining purpose of the quest. Sadly this seems to happen to often…….

What works

Anxiety, sadness and fear. Three words which unfortunately are too often near the top of our household vocabulary. Along with fart, burnt food, turn the music UP, where’s the remote, sorry I forgot and Dad you Muppet.So what have we found that actually works for both of us. Here are some of the winners.

5,4,3,2,1

We have found that this technique is really good at taking the edge off panic attacks. It doesn’t work on any underlying problems but buys some time. At the first sign of increased anxiety:

Think of 5 things you can currently see,

Think of 4 things you can currently hear,

Think of 3 things you can currently touch,

Think of 2 things you can currently smell,

Now do 1 large breath.

The Sweetie Jar Oracle

If our son is going through a period viewing the world through unhappy filters we start the Sweetie Jar Oracle. Find a large clear jar and a bag of brightly coloured sweets. Not sure about the rest of the world but in the U.K. smarties, fruit pastilles or Skittles work well. Sort out say the red and yellow sweets. Then identify one of the colours as good and the other as bad. Then over a period of a few days, maybe a week start to fill the jar with the appropriate coloured sweet every time a good or bad thing happens. After a few days hopefully you will see more good sweets than bad sweets. This usually convinces our son that although bad things do happen, good stuff happens more frequently. You can then eat the sweets….

Good Memories Store

We have an old small suitcase which we use to store good memories in. It’s full of old photos and handwritten notes. Every time we remember a good memory I write it down and put in in the suitcase. When times are bad we can then dig out the memory store and hopefully receive an instant boost to the soul. Has the added advantage of making sure you don’t forget those all important wonderful moments in time.

YouTube

Just losing himself in a YouTube documentary works somedays. I remember one occasion when he had an awful day at school but after 45 minutes of YouTube watching he was a happy little bunny. Worryingly he had found solace in documentaries about Caligula. What happened to Peppa Pig…

Wheelbarrow Train of Pain

Talked about this in a previous post. It stops my sudden urge to punch the wall with frustration. Basically load up a wheelbarrow with heavy stuff then push it round the garden. The number of circuits depends on the severity of the frustration.

Lego

Found that building a Lego set really helps take our son’s mind off his anxieties. It’s also good for his fine motor skills. It’s often frustrating for me as it just reminds me that I never got round to buying the Star Wars Death Star Lego set. Now it would be cheaper to buy a real Ghostbusters Proton Pack and get Bill Murray to personally deliver it to us.

Trampoline

Almost everyday on his return from school our son heads for his trampoline. 20 minutes later many of the frustrations of the day are put to the back of his mind.

Late night dog walking

Walking the dog never really helped our son. He was often too concerned about bumping into others. We would be having a happy conversation but suddenly someone would appear on his radar and he would be lost to anxious social thoughts. Almost by chance we then found the delights of night time dog walking. At night no one is about in our village. We have the fields and lanes to ourselves. Now it has become an excellent stress reliever. We frequently use the walks to plan out in detail the next days schedule.

Bad things league table

Every so often we run the bad things league table. We both list all the things worrying us. We then work together to rank them in order of how much pain they are causing us. Points are awarded for the severity of the issue, it’s frequency and how difficult it is to solve. It quickly identifies the stuff we need to focus on or prepare for. Because it’s done as a league table our son finds it easy to talk about and work with. For the issue which is the league winner we then spend a few minutes working out a couple of actions which might help knock it off its top spot for the next league table.

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One of the activists 100% guaranteed to raise our spirits will feature in the next post…

Bereavement and Aspergers

Death is inevitable but so so tough to comprehend. It’s hard for a grizzly mile worn traveller like myself to cope with, what on earth is it like for someone so young. Especially when it’s now 5 major deaths in 4 years. He’s only 11.

My son living with his Aspergers finds comfort in routine and orderly plans. Bereavement doesn’t fit into this ordered and planned world. Suddenly the world shifts, things are never the same again. This complete paradigm shift seems to manifest itself as shutdowns in his processing skills. His fine tuned memory becomes vague and unreliable. Concepts and principles become just random jumbled images. Simple tasks become complex nightmares. All he can think about is that the world and his happiness will never be the same again. Completely lost in this alien world.

Another aspect of Bereavement is a sensory one. Our son constantly fights to control and deal with all the sensory inputs flooding his body every second, every minute, every day ….. hardly ever receding. He has talked about death ramping all these sensory inputs up several levels. Suddenly the noise in his head is louder, he can feel the heart pounding, his skin is oh so much more sensitive, the unsettled stomach becomes a whirling vortex. He is trying to understand death while coping with this sensory storm.

When Bereavement occurs so many worries resurface for our son:

  • Fear of his own mortality. Suddenly every cold, every encounter with an unclean surface, every bump, every cough is a potential path to death.
  • Fear of his Dads mortality. No backstop, no second parent. Images of sad kids in cold foster homes like Harry Potter or strict Victorian orphanages flood his mind. How many movies have this as it’s premise.
  • Fear about losing special loves he will encounter in the future. Is the safest option to just shut the world out.
  • Bad things keep happening so they must be the norm in life.
  • Is it me. Am I to blame for this.
  • I just can’t find order and rationalise things anymore.
  • You learn to love, you learn to trust, then it is gone.

I think that final fear underpins everything. Trust in life for our son is hard to establish. He works so hard to build those bridges. Death smashes those bridges, breaks his hard fought trust.

We have started the healing process. Recommenced all the stuff which has helped in the past. But each time it happens the path to recovery becomes longer and more difficult.

The irony here is that this post is about our son (my only focus) and yet those last two lines (without thinking) are probably about me.

We now try to move on. The motto we have adopted is ‘each morning we dust ourselves down and go again’. Next post I will talk about some of the stuff which helps our son. More uplifting. More humorous. It has to be that way.

Tell The Story Challenge

Thank you to Sadje for the Tell the Story Challenge . “Write anything that comes to your mind in regard to this picture.

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She wanted to live forever. Avoid death at all costs. Every living moment focused on that goal. All consuming. All pervading. Her wealth and all her energy spent on her personal holy grail quest. Friends shunned and family scorned by a pathological obsession. No scientific or mythological stone left unturned.

But when the end inevitably came. What was it all for. A fools gold prize. Body turned to dust. A life ultimately wasted in the desire to prolong it. No fond memories created . No legacy built. Her clothes and a book are all that remained in the end.

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I am tagging

Crushedcaramel

Baffledmum

pensitivity101

If you fancy having a go then have a look at this picture and see where it takes you.

Football

I wrote this just before the world turned again on Saturday. Trying to help get him back to this mindset again. Thankyou for all your support, it really has helped. I know some people will say it was just a pet, but given what went before it….. it really has hit him hard. Feels like he has regressed back to the days when his mum died.

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“Dad I’m going to tell you the winners of the main football leagues since 2009.”

I grabbed my iPad to check the dates and help with the blanks, shouldn’t have bothered

Ours is easy it’s 2018 Man City, 2017 Chelsea, 2016 Leicester, 2015 Chelsea, 2014 Man City, 2013 Man Utd, 2012 Man City, 2011 Man Utd, 2010 Chelsea and 2009 was Man Utd.

Scotland is easy it’s Rangers for the first three years then Celtic since 2012.

In France it’s easy as it’s PSG except in 2009 when it was Bordeaux, 2010 Marseille, 2011 Lille, 2012 was a team starting with M but I can’t say it and 2017 Monaco.

For La Liga it’s Barcelona in 09,10,11,13,15,16,18. Real in 12,17 and Athletico in 2014.

In Italy Juventus have won it since 2012, 09 and 10 was Inter, 2011 was AC Milan.

In Germany 2009 it was Wolfsburg, 11 and 12 was Dortmund, boringly Bayern have won the rest.”

A slightly stunned Dad was list for words. He didn’t like football this time last year. Struggling for something to say all I could manage was – who won the Dutch league in 2010?

“Trying to trick me, that was Twente.”

Ok who won the Turkish league this year?

Galatasaray”

How can anyone remember all these facts. It is beyond me. It’s also beyond me why our society is so quick to write off so much talent in our autistic stars.

“Dad when did your team last win the league?”

Not that many years ago son….

“Dad you will find it was 1927.”

Bugger…..

Sunday’s, Sunday’s

Sunday’s are a time for reflection. For our son he is not at school but constantly worrying about going back the next day. Constant mood swings. It’s a transition day.

Dealing with death. That’s 5 deaths in 4 years. Again trying to comfort a heartbroken son. A quieter much less fun house. Transitioning to another period of darkness – again. Death is awful and is so so difficult for kids to handle. This grieving process is especially difficult for autistic children.

Trying to refocus for the week ahead yet still so tired from the past week. So many tasks to finish yet so many more tasks to plan.

Son having a couple of hours extra in bed. Hopefully shutting the pain out for a while longer. No laughter, no talking, no warmth. Trying to think about the coming week yet realising the house feels so empty – again.

Hopes for more social interaction yet still strangled by the isolation of the preceding week. Day after day, no phone calls, no chance meetings, no…… I am so so grateful for my friends reading this, you literally are my only connection.

Trying to plan for the educational week ahead yet so frustrated with the constant battles with school. Yes progress but why does it have to be such a tiring fight.

Trying to plan ways to make our son happy yet so broken inside.

I think that’s why Sunday morning is always the time that the icy grasp of sadness is strongest. Especially this Sunday. Ice cold thoughts echo round the confines of our home. Self doubt takes hold. I have never been able to break this cycle. I certainly won’t break it today. Probably never will.