Pesky minus

Autumn is here. The Swallows and Swifts have left for warmer climes. Today felt cold even under a thick hoody.

Hawklad is making great strides on the dyslexia front. His reading is really good, now able to read History Textbooks. It’s hard to believe that back in 2020 he struggled to read books aimed at 6 and 7 year olds and school had decided that he would never read, so there was no point trying anymore. Sadly I realise they never really started trying in the first place. I had even gone out and bought a reading pen. He can now accurately read maybe 80% of the words then he can make educated guesses on most of the other ones. It works for him and that’s all that matters.

What is still very much a work in progress is his number dyslexia. He has finally conquered his difficultly with 4 and 7’s. Getting the two mixed up and often writing the two numbers back to front. But he just can’t break the roadblocks that are decimal points, fractions and minuses. Today he was easily expanding out complex equations, yet he would immediately grind to a halt when faced with something like +5-7. He just can’t visualise that. The problem is at home I can gently help with that, but in an exam there is no help.

This week has also highlighted another school stumbling block with reading. SHAKESPEARE. Hawklad’s way of reading just can’t cope with Shakespearean language and spellings.

And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear’st,

An open et caetera, thou a poperin pear!

I did try to read the sonnets to him but I struggle with Shakespeare as well. Plus according to Hawklad when I read, my character voice sounds like I’m reading parts from a SpongeBob cartoon. My Romeo apparently is a dead ringer for Patrick. But at least we have a solution to this one. Just watch the play on thou swear’st Netflix.

Wrestling with the logistics

He misses out on so much, so much of the teenage life. You can only experience so much when you spend so much time isolated. What highlights the isolation is that since March 2020 he has spent some time with only ONE friend in that time – his only contact with someone his own age. Yes a really good friend but that’s a shed load of teenage socialising missed out on. It’s not the same but when a chance to do something special for him presents itself then you grab it, regardless of the difficulties.

The alarm went off before 5am.

300 miles of driving later, two traffic jams and we park up in Cardiff.

Trying frustratingly to find facilities that weren’t too busy and that could be used without causing too much stress.

Trying to take in a bit of the history of the Capital of Wales while avoiding the crowds.

Watching the anxiety levels rise as we join the long queues to get into a huge stadium.

But then the goal. The whole point of this. Getting the wrestling mad Hawklad into the UK’s first major Wrestling Televised Live Event in 30 years, along with 62000 other crazy fans. Was I so underdressed in a grey T-shirt and Jeans…. With much trying I had obtained 2 tickets at the back but crucially in an area with some space around us. Then for 4 hours Hawklad could be part of something, experiencing something different, something exciting. A brief breakout from the isolation

Then it was over, 300 mile night driving and almost 24 hours later we arrived back home. Wow I was tired. Yes it was difficult. Yes the trip highlighted many issues that create roadblocks to eventually easing the isolation and maybe returning him to a classroom. But Hawklad did some of that exciting living and that is all that mattered.

Back

Autumn is here, school is here.

In the great tradition of Yorkshire Awkwardness, the moment the local water company declared a DROUGHT and brought in a hosepipe ban, ITS NOT REALLY STOPPED RAINING.

So SCHOOL is BACK. Is there an anti Alice Cooper ‘Schools Out’ song. Maybe Another Brick in the Wall…

When I say school is back, I kinda say that figuratively. So far only one subject has set up Hawklad with this year’s class codes, so only one subject is available on the online system. Apart from receiving one code the only other message from school was an email to all parents and pupils reminding (maybe threatening them) them of the attendance rules and the penalties. That’s it.

And so just like the autumn rain, so starts the chasing up school rigmarole, all over again. At least we have the hosepipe ban weather to sunbathe in.

Update… now add one more school email stressing the importance of pupils continuing to work as hard during the nations official mourning period while ensuring their behaviour is appropriately reflective. As Hawklad points out, the UK Parliament has closed for 10 days to mourn but that option is not applicable to schools – again one rule for some, another for the rest of us. WOW he is starting to sound like me, that’s not good.

Summer going

Where did that summer school break go. Just over a week left now and the weather is suitably moody as well.

Something hasn’t really properly sunk in until now. This is Hawklad’s last proper school summer holiday. He leaves school in under one year now. Yes some will get another summer break before college starts but others could jump into a job straight away – official end of childhood according to society.

Where did those years go.

Still no clearer on the educational path ahead. Kinda feeling like I’m going round in circles as a parent. What’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what might not work. What’s best for Hawklad’s future, what’s best for Hawklad now.

I really don’t know anymore.

One thing I do know for sure. I wish I could reset this summer break. Go back 5 weeks and make SUMMER last just that bit longer. Hawklad probably needs that. I definitely need that.

Autumn….

You can almost feel the nights drawing in.

A conversation today with Hawklad’s lead Clinician kinda confirmed the Plan A course. It’s been increasingly the likely path. Support which now comes his way from the NHS will not focus on a return to the school classroom. It will shift towards trying to get him ready for sitting exams in 10 months time, but sitting them away from the main group of pupils. A neutral, non school location. Plus the long term goal is to see if they can help him start College after this year is finished. They will issue a ‘can’t currently return to classroom note on medical grounds’. That is a relief as The Government is pressuring schools to start fining parents for keeping children away from school, even when the parent believes it’s in the child’s best interest.

So another year of school at home beckons, maybe it’s will end up being a full on homeschooling approach. Better stock up on the coffee then. Oh hang on, I’ve quit caffeine. Better stock up on Donuts then…..

Rainbows

Maybe there is a pot of gold there.

Now there are just under 3 weeks until the school opens it doors again. No news on the proposed school plan for Hawklad’s exam year. I know how school works, we won’t hear a thing until at least a few days into the new academic year. Will he get the few hours of one to one support that we have requested. Will they install the technology that would allow him to remotely attend classes. Will school just pull him from exams as they clearly feel he is a risk to their overall exam performance (already they have pulled him from two subjects). Have they looked into alternatives to exams if he is unable to sit them or they just don’t let him sit them. If he was to return to classes have they put in the plans that they promised.

One thing school has never got its head round is that Hawklad needs certainties. He needs to know what is going on, to have a plan and then he can build to it. Anxieties spike when there is uncertainty. I have repeatedly told school this, health professionals have told school this. Yet every year he starts school with no plan. He doesn’t know his teachers, his timetable, what support (or lack of support) he will get. This year he still doesn’t even know which subjects if any that he will sittings exams in, just under 10 months away now. This is starting to be deeply unsettling for him, this anxiety will just keep building.

Maybe that educational pot of gold is there. School will deliver. All we can do is wait for the rainbow to appear, unfortunately we never really know when that will be.

I figured something out

It was time to live life on the edge. We finally charged up one of Hawklad’s birthday presents, a remote control helicopter. Not one of the professional ones, this one was surprisingly tiny made out of what appeared to be the thinnest of plastics and the most brittle of metals. It was one of those Amazon ‘80% off’ deals that entices you in for that one extra present, yet never quite explains to you that basically there is a really good reason this thing is so CHEAP.

Anyway after a few months it was time to give this helicopter its inaugural and probably only flight. The instructions talked optimistically of 15 minutes battery flying time, yet it gave off the impression of a single use item. As Hawklad said

“Well if it’s going to crash and burn on its first flight, let’s make it spectacular and film it”.

He remembers….

This is not our first dabble into the world of remote control, cheap toys.

There was the rally car that split in two when it hit the apple tree.

There was the toy drone that launched itself over the house and imbedded itself in the neighbour’s drive. It ended up as flat as a pancake.

There was the first helicopter then smashed into the house at a Warp Speed 10 and smashed into a thousand pieces.

And there was the so called unbreakable hovering glowing ball that had one uncontrolled hop before it smashed into the fence. It was then definitely anything other than unbroken.

So we were understandably not very hopeful. But you know what. The helicopter actually flew. It hovered. It landed. Yes it had a few heavy landings but it SURVIVED.

It was unmarked when the batteries ran out. Here is the really cool bit that made me smile. Hawklad took the remote control and flew it himself. Normally he backs away and watches others take control. He often just watches me do it. But on this day he had confidence in himself. Yes I had to check that we were fully alone first but he did it. He enjoyed it.

Yes that lawn has taken a hit from a family of moles, a badger and an excavating pup…

And here is what I figured out. Actually this was the first time that he took the controls, the first time I could convince him to have more fun doing than just watching. The first time he could overcome his fears of failure. So what did I figure out then…..

I’ve had the controls every single time one of the toys has crashed and burned. Muppet Dad is a liability. Toys last when I watch and don’t play. OH PANTS.

So my job is now paying for things and then most definitely just filming when they are enjoyed…….

Needs Must

Sometimes needs must.

The UK School Summer holiday is 6 weeks of much needed rest and recovery. A chance to unwind for Hawklad but it brings one big problem.

CROWDS

Any visits have to be carefully planned and precisely timed. Exposure to those pesky, anxiety spiking crowds have to be minimised. So when he says he wants to go to a particular popular tourist area, over 130 miles drive away, it takes some working out.

Three hours drive on some narrow roads….

Crowds probably start building up just after 9am….

Need time for a decent walk, some sight seeing, a picnic…..

Maybe catch some Osprey hunting just after dawn…..

So Needs Must.

Last Saturday morning we set off for Kielder Water while it was still dark, just after 3am. Arrived just after 6am.

It worked, we had the place to ourselves. Three glorious, relaxing, refreshing hours before the first cars started to stream in. When that happened, we set off home. Hundreds of cars and caravans heading West, one rust bucket heading East. A good trip out without anxiety.

Last week I briefly popped into a supermarket. At one of the checkouts was a mother trying to cope with a boy clearly having a meltdown. Sadly some of the other shoppers were not exactly understanding. Too many were being horrible to the mum, yet they had no idea of the back story. No idea what the child was going through, what the mum was trying to deal with.

I have it easy, some parents definitely don’t. They are doing what they can. Needs must.

Swiss Sunday

It’s now been over 7 years since our last family holiday to PERFECT Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Perfect for relaxing. Perfect for adventure. Wonderful food and drink. With its precision perfect public transport, no need for a car. Friendly. Polite. Safe. Cultural. Healthy. I could go on and on. But there is another reason that it’s PERFECT for our FAMILY. Asperger/Autism Families often find travel difficult. Ours most definitely did. Holidays can be a logistical nightmare. For an enjoyable holiday, so many factors often need to be carefully controlled. Routine is important. Does Hawklad feel safe, relaxed, happy. He needs so many factors to be in place to enjoy a holiday. It’s so easy for things to spiral out of control and you end up just wishing to be back home. Back home to that safe, predictable and controlled environment.

But here’s the thing about Switzerland. He is always happy here. Yes the trip part way across Europe by plane or train was usually a nightmare for Hawklad. Yes a logistical nightmare which needed precision planning. But every single time we crossed the border into alpine heaven, he was relaxed and happy. Everything seemed to be in place for him and worked just right for him.

He can’t wait to go back.

I can’t wait to go back.

Yes, to our family, Switzerland is PERFECT.

Heritage 2

A trip to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. It’s a seriously atmospheric and stunning location.

It gets really busy here in the summer so it was an early start. Do as much as we can until the crowds get too much for Hawklad and then it’s a quick exit.

The trip went well. Almost first in the queue when the site opened and for a couple of hours, Hawklad had his much needed space. Precious moments in the 11th century Cistercian Monastery. Precious moments spent without touching anything, spent maintaining distances. Hawklad spent the time dreaming and instructing me on history. Well mostly…

Stood under this amazing rood structure and I asked Hawklad to enlighten me, to teach me something. He instantly described some interesting facts about Starfish reproduction. I must have had one of those slightly confused looks that parents develop increasingly to which he replied.

“Oh you wanted some information about the monasteries….”

History comes alive when you can see it, touch it, smell it. We have so much history on our doorsteps. Bronze Age, Roman, Viking, Saxon, Norman and onwards, all within a short drive of the schools. So why is school history exclusively learnt via textbooks. Not one single school trip to a experience history. What a missed opportunity.

Then the crowds started to arrive, scores of family picnics breaking out everywhere. Time to leave. Time for our picnic but ours is taken away from view, a remote road lay-by with a view. Then it’s a scenic route home.

Definitely a decent trip out but still a million miles from returning to the classroom. I think we can safely say that won’t be happening in just over 3 weeks now.