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.

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…..

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…….

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.

How and why

How…

How do you do that….

Hawklad definitely doesn’t get his memory from me. Today I misplaced my car keys THREE times. Couldn’t remember a colleagues name. Forgot to put washing powder in todays wash. Set off to the shops without my debit card…. That sort of thing. Nothing new there, my memory has always been a tad leaky.

Thankfully the only things that I’ve currently passed down the line to Hawklad are gorgeous eyelashes and a love for ROCK music. Only time will tell on things like my large hairy backside and Homer Simpson side profile…..

One of the great puzzles in life. Secretly I quite like the idea of being a rebellious kid like Bart Simpson but in the end why do I inevitably just end up looking like his Dad… Do’h.

Hawklad doesn’t have his Dad’s leaky memory. In such a short time he can process and store huge amounts of information. If it’s something that interests him then he just soaks it all up. Once it’s absorbed, it stays absorbed. It started with Birds of Prey. Then History. The other day I asked him to name every English Monarch, he did it, perfectly and in order. And he’s moved on to other areas, some academic, some cultural, some other things. F1 motor racing being one thing. He’s been absorbing the results, the characters, the history. Only after a couple of weeks it’s mind blowing to me.

Yesterday I tested him.

Name every winner of the world title since F1 started.

Who has won a particular GP the most.

How many career wins for drivers.

Which manufacturers did drivers race for.

In the 50s and 60s which teams did Fangio win titles with.

He was faultless. Like the last question he instantly replied

Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Maserati.

How does he do that. Somedays I even struggle to remember what car I drive. Why can’t school see this. Why can’t school tap into this.

Why….

Door

A random door appeared in the village today. I wonder which world it leads to. I wasn’t brave enough to open it this time, maybe the child in me might have a few years back.

A closer inspection revealed a note, ‘free to a good home’. Is that referring to the wooden door or the world behind it.

Just over 5 weeks now until school reopens. A return to the classroom appearing to be a more distant prospect than the mystery world behind that white door. Constant hand washing, repeated clothing changes, inability to touch any alien surfaces, unable to be physically close to others, debilitating anxieties bubbling just under the surface. In a quiet, peaceful village with few people and much space, this is manageable. In a classroom and overcrowded school, definitely not currently manageable.

So let’s try to make this summer holiday time as fun and as relaxing as possible. Let’s see where the education door leads Hawklad when it’s time to open it……

July Flowers

The end of July brings the start of the six week school holiday. Wow was that welcome. School had worn pupil and parent down. I’m sure the teachers would say a similar thing. Why does it have to be such a grind for everyone.

This year school kinda just fizzled out, hardly the stuff of an Alice Cooper epic single.

The work and contact with teachers just ebbed away over the last few weeks. Hours and Days would pass where school made no contact with Hawklad. Occasionally work would come appear on the online system. One subject teacher would send an email before some of the lessons providing a two line guide on the upcoming lesson. Nothing from the other teachers. Work dutifully submitted was never marked. Eventually it all just dwindled away into nothing. Finally the last day came and went with complete radio silence. Around midday Hawklad kinda shrugged his shoulders and whispered

I guess that’s it then, might as well blast out SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER then”

And with that the school year ended. No goodbyes. No enjoy the summer. No date to return. No plan for September. Is the school signalling that Hawklad is on his own. NO IDEA. But at least Alice Cooper cranked up to 11 never fails to deliver.

SCHOOLS OUT but for how long.

Swiss Sunday.

As a child living in what felt like a remote, cut adrift Yorkshire seaside town, life felt very restrictive. I knew a world was out there but only via a black and white TV, the town cinema and books. Money was tight in that grey misty town, few had cars, holidays were taken locally. Normally any holidays revolved round a visit to another seaside town a just a few miles up the coast. No one I knew ever got on a plane and went abroad.

How times changed in just a few years ……

But back then I so wanted to escape. To travel. I especially loved the idea of mountains. They looked unreal on the screen or in books, I had never seen a proper mountain, just small hills. I loved the idea that each mountain had its own name, it’s own personality. One mountain in particular stood out, the fearsome EIGER. I dreamt of standing below it and looking up.

Years later, holidays to Switzerland, to The Alps. Who would have thought that my son would end up standing next to that might mountain I had dreamt about when I was his age. Hawklad was capivated by the local fairy tale about 3 the great local mountains. About a Monk (The Monch), an Ogre (The Eiger) and a young girl (The Jungfrau).

Switzerland is that kinda place. A place of adventure, dreams and wonderful memories.

Pushy

The farmer playing real life MINECRAFT.

Day One of the Two Day Heatwave. Todays garden temperature from our mini weather station hiding in the shade was….

That is ridiculously hot for Yorkshire, unheard of. The forecast is that it goes even higher tomorrow. At this rate I might have to take my jumper off. Unbelievably, it was so hot that Hawklad put shorts on, WOW, the last time that happened was when he was at nursery.

You can only fire water pistols for so many hours. Well if the school doesn’t send any work, you have to improvise the learning day….. So as we sheltered inside for a few moments and dried out, I tried to get my head round the Government’s latest ideas to sort out the Special Education mess. From what I can see it’s about replacing one mess with another mess while saving a bit more money….

Currently parents have to jump through a seemingly never ending number of ever shrinking hoops until their child gets a Plan approved (or mostly doesn’t). It’s a process which forces shellshocked parents to take on the mighty big bureaucracy. The lucky few emerge with a plan that is supposed to identify needs to be met. A personalised budget is then awarded to the child to help fund this. Sounds promising but what then tends to happen is that the big bad bureaucracy then says

You now have to give us that money back and that buys you a place in a mainstream school. No money no place. That money then pays for general teaching assistants who the school then use to help out teachers. They provide no dedicated help to Special Needs pupils. Then the big bad bureaucracy talks up the idea that PUSHY parents get this gold plated education for the lucky child. PUSHY parents are taking money from the majority of other pupils. This sets parent against parent while the special need pupil is mostly left without support. That’s the current system.

The new proposed system seems to be, keep the same nightmare approval process, make it harder but add in a bit of mediation when the application is almost inevitably rejected. If you do fluke it through to getting approval then rather than bothering identifying individual child need, parents are just offered a standard ‘one size fits all’ solution. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t suit the individual child, at least we are saving money and it’s much easier to administer.

So it’s a mess and if it changes it’s going to be just another mess, but cheaper.

Sigh, breathe deeply and slump a bit lower in the chair. Definitely time for water pistols…..