It’s one of those nights where everyone can sleep perfectly except for one person. I really could do with at least a few hours rest but it just won’t happen. Too many worries. When your tired the worries just keep circling around in your mind. Making you more tired but increasing the stress levels so you can’t sleep. So many worries circulating.

With the passing of his last grandparent this September this will be the first Christmas Day when it’s going to be just the two of us.. This is on top of this being the first Christmas since THAT SANTA CHAT.

Are we at the right school.

Is it time to consider sleep medication for our son. He’s got to sleep reasonably early tonight but that’s a rarity.

Which Dyslexia programme to pay for.

Should he return to school today even though his hand is still not right.

Son has not had a holiday in three years.

What happens to our son if something happens to me.

Do I replace the malfunctioning washing machine.

Can I get a couple more months out of the car tyres

Getting further behind the work schedule.

A few too many bills.

I’m not going to resolve any of these in my present mental state. I need to switch the brain off. So I’m going to try something completely left field. A hot milk (I don’t really like the stuff) and lights off then switch on. When our son was a baby he wouldn’t sleep. So we bought him a night light projector – he hated it. So tonight I’m switching on the baby projector. Lets see if the projected little blue and red stars can soothe this tired sole tonight.

Literally

Children on the autistic spectrum can often take words literally. Now most of this can be put down to the confusing nature of language. Why do we make it so difficult. Often English doesn’t even seem like my second language. It did take me three attempts to pass my English exam.

It is something we noticed with our son at an early age. I can clearly remember one time when naughty dad had eaten all the smarties. When our son quizzed the suspect I remember saying

“Must have been the dinosaur in the kitchen”

Five minutes later our son is ransacking the kitchen in a desperate dinosaur hunt.

Another time I remember saying “and Pigs might Fly”. A few weeks later at nursery our son began telling the other kids that pigs could fly. And given a lot of the kids realised how much he knew about animals – they all started believing it to. So if you ever hear someone like Coyote Peterson or Chris Packham talking about flying pigs on their nature shows – then you probably know who to blame. Sorry

We had to become more careful in what we said. We tried to make sure if a joke was told or any colloquial language used that we immediately pointed what had been done and why. Explaining that words can have different meanings. We also tried to stress the importance of not only hearing the words but also trying to listen for how things have been said. We worked on his body language recognition skills. One game which helped was watching the TV with the volume turned off and trying to guess which people were happy or sad or angry or being serious.

To this day he still quite often takes words literally. It’s a worry going forward into senior school. But he is learning. He now frequently asks “is that real” or “is that true” to try and confirm meaning and last week….. He was using my iPad in another room. He kept shouting that it wasn’t working properly. Me being a lazy sod I was trying to shout instructions back rather than going to look at it. After several minutes he shouted that it was still not working. Without thinking I replied “just flush it down the toilet”. Few seconds later the toilet flushed. I have never ran so fast. Fortunately I found a laughing son saying “got you there dad”. Happy Days….

Bridges

Sunday seems such a long time ago. I just love the quayside area of Newcastle. Yes it’s built up. Some of the architecture is 18th century housing modern wine bars, restaurants, fast food joints and pubs. But it just seems to work and dovetail together.

But the highlight for me are the bridges over the River Tyne. All so different and just stunning.

Too often people look towards the famous Tyne Bridge and forget to look in the other direction.

Son was really brave and made it into the football stadium. He enjoyed the full Mr Men display from his dad. He even got animated with the pompous and bumbling referee (without prompting). For anyone who follows English Football – Mike Dean is infamous. Yes it ended up with my team losing again but that misses the point. It was one of those days where our son ventured into a world which is not his and rather enjoyed it.

Monday Monday Monday

Monday finishes off with a visit from Santa. It’s about the only event the village has. Raising money for charity. Raising smiles with children. Sorry for the poor photo.

However we never get a dull day.

Nice dog walk completed. Return of the strange yellow thing. Coffee made. Laptop opened. Work commenced. PHONE RINGS.

As Captain Jack Sparrow would say – “Bugger”

So ten minutes after opening the laptop I’m on the way to meet our son at the hospital. Accident at school and a hurt hand. Few x-rays and it’s a visit to the fracture clinic tomorrow.

Back home for some needed TLC for our son. Work day has turned into a marathon movie day. Can we get through the complete Pirates of the Caribbean series in one day. It’s odd watching the movies having now seen Johnny Depp live – playing guitar.

Lord knows when I’m going to get some work done. Maybe a few all night sessions. But in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. Now back to Captain Jack and the third movie.

Call from school

Friday was going to be a big work day. After that video Thursday was a write off. Friday was positive, Friday was going to be a big work catchup day. So taking no risks with unexpected grief reminders – a carefully selected range of cds was lined up. Work started.

Then the phone rings. The phone call parents dread from school:

“I’m sorry your son is not so good at the moment can you come and pick him up”

As a couple you then have that urgent exchange of calls or texts to decide who is best placed to pick up. Unfortunately as a single parent all you can do is sigh, switch off the laptop and head to school. Monday is now ‘manic work Monday”.

Luckily it was nothing too lasting. Anxiety leading to an upset stomach which is quickly remedied by Tomato Soup and the prospect of the weekend. We often forget how stressful school can be for kids. Added to that – Autism and schools are not natural bed fellows.

Schools often forget that they don’t really do that much to relieve this anxiety. I haven’t forgotten that national budget cuts restricts what schools can do. But surely progress can be made. Large parts of the school are quite old and pretty grim. Without doubt the grimmest location tend to be the toilets. They are awful. Dark, smelly, completely unwelcoming. His last School’s facilities were awful and as a result many of the kids refused to use them. According to our son he only used them once in 5 years. At his new School the toilets are equally Victorian. With the added ingredient that they are poorly monitored and are a hive of bullying.

IS THIS NOT 2018….

OR IS IT A PINK FLOYD VIDEO

Mr Men

This is the best the weather has managed since the strange yellow disk appeared yesterday morning. A brief thinning of the clouds then the darkness descends and it just rains and rains and rain. This is not good for the soul. Another thing which is not good for the soul is football.

I have taken a punt and bought two tickets for my teams next match on Sunday. It’s a bit of a lottery taking our son to a game. He would really enjoy it if it was just the two of us in the crowd. Unfortunately it will be 52000 in the crowd. We turn up at the stadium and see how he feels. If he shakes his head we scrap the football and head towards the river so he can do some Pokemon Go hunting. However sometimes he’s ok to give it a go and when he gets inside the stadium he enjoys the atmosphere. Never been able to pinpoint why we get the different reactions. So fingers crossed for Sunday.

Apart from the atmosphere he loves watching the Mr Men show. That’s not referring to my alleged football team but my reaction to the game. Our son says it’s about getting the popcorn in and then watching his dad go through the characters in the Mr Men show.

Entering Stadium – Dad is going to watch the game MR HAPPY

Trying to find the seats – Dad always gets lost MR FORGETFUL

Start of the match – Dad very nervous MR JELLY

Few minutes into the game – team started ok MR CHEERFUL

Game starting to go downhill – team starting to struggle MR WORRY

Team now losing – team playing badly MR GRUMBLE

Team now getting hammered – Dad getting annoyed MR GRUMPY

Team clearly going to lose again – Dad getting VERY annoyed MR RUDE

Team lost – left stadium Dad needs to eat lots of food to cheer up MR GREEDY

Strange Yellow Thing

The morning started as has the last 5 days have – grey, wet and cold.

The school bus was missed yesterday morning – never a good sign. We slightly overslept, only by a few minutes but…. Sticking to the established routine is so important to our son. Routine is king. I tried to stick to the plan but just slightly quicker. It was never going to work. I could sense the tension building within him so we just went back to the usual routine. So we missed the bus. It’s not a disaster it’s only a 15 minute car journey to school. Plus it’s one less bus trip for him to deal with.

On the way back from school a very odd thing happened. The clouds parted and a strange yellow disk appeared in the sky. I don’t know what it was (remember this is Yorkshire) but it was lovely to see. With this being Yorkshire the strange yellow disk disappeared behind grey clouds thirty minutes later.

Update. Looking out into the pouring rain this morning – even too wet for the dog – I am confidently predicting the strange yellow disk has packed his bags and won’t be appearing here anytime soon.

Mr Hawk

We have a top 50 list of animals in our house. It is a close battle for positions 3 to 50. But the top 2 are so far clear and both creatures have always been so close to our son’s heart.

Above is our son’s second favourite creature on the planet. I present to you the Harris Hawk. The smile on our son’s face when he got to hold the Hawk. I just wish his mum was there to see it. The handler started a pre handling safety checklist. The first question was to ask our son if he knew anything about the bird. Five minutes later. The handler said ‘remarkable’ and just handed the glove to our son and said “here’s the bird, you know more than I do, I’ll come back in 10 minutes.” For 10 minutes the bird of prey and our son just gazed into each other’s eyes. The bird never moved once.

We watched the next person handle the bird. The bird never stayed still flapping his wings and trying to peck. Completely different to his nature a few minutes ago. I just hope his dream of having a falconry comes true.

Animals

Our son has a bond with animals. He feels so comfortable with them. As he says “they might occasionally want to eat you but they never ever try to judge you”. Our local zoo gives you the opportunity to interact with some of the animals. As long as we go early, before the crowds arrive, then he is in raptures. The looks we get as we leave just as most families are queuing up to get in.

Dad was brave on the photo above and managed to get close enough to take a picture. On encounters with snakes, tarantulas and reptiles you normally find Dad a respectful 100 yards away – with at least two walls between me and the stuff of my nightmares. A few weeks ago he got to handle a cotton snake, a bearded Chinese dragon and two tarantulas. He was just so happy. Strangely dad was hid behind a wall.

For all his confidence with these terrifying animals he does have a couple of beast fears. Strangely those two killer beasts I am really brave with and would happily stroke them. 🐄 Cows and 🐪 camels.

Moon Lander

If there was ever a competition for the most inept computer gamer on the planet – then get all your money on me. I am beyond useless. My latest gaming disaster involves trying to land a command module onto the moon. When you look up at the moon tonight just remember most of those craters you can see are down to me.

Pressure was on, son looking over my shoulder. Looking good then panic and yet another smoking crater formed.

“Dad I’ve found the perfect job for you. NASA have started crashing space crafts into the surface of planets. Cassini was smashed into Saturn. You would be the perfect remote pilot. You would never fail.”

“Having said that you would probably hit Saturn that hard you would probably knock it out of its orbit”

AGAIN MY SHAME IS COMPLETE