Safe list

The 6 week summer school break is only a month away now. Not long. 30 days. Lots to do in that time. Even more after today.

Hawklad has decided that he wants a stress free as possible summer. Summer is difficult as he can remember the summer of 2016. First day of the summer holidays his granny died and then as the school returned he lost his mum. So summer can be tough even without his current anxieties levels.

Stress free means reducing exposure to those triggers that can escalate his worries. And what is one of the most common triggers. Movies and TV shows. I’ve frequently talked about how often story lines involve death, illness, broken families……

So I have a task. Compile a list of movies and shows that Hawklad can watch which are SAFE. No sadness, no illness, no bereavements. 6 weeks is a long time, so it’s going to have to be some list.

Here’s my list so far

Pokemon

Scooby Doo

Smurfs

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Paddington

Yonderland

Madagascar

Ice Age

Banana Splits

Wallace & Gromit

Kicking and Screaming

Herbie

Willie Wonker

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Shrek

Space Jam

Frozen

The Incredibles

Home Alone

Night at the Museum

The Lego Movie

Fantastic Mr Fox

Big Mommas House

Cool Running

Red Dwarf

The Office (US) but avoiding a couple of episodes

Inspector Gadget

Pink Panther

Three Amigos

Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Remember no triggers. For example The Guardians of the Galaxy – top movie but just NO to the start…. For example Mary Poppins Returns – great movie but mum dies…. For example the Disney movie I’ve forgotten the name of at the weekend , really good apart from the one line about a serious illness.

Test subjects

As of last Monday the Government withdraw the instructions relating to wearing masks in schools. Masks are now not recommended for use in classrooms and communal areas. But they are still required in school buses but masks are to be removed once the pupil enters school property. The official line is that schools are perfectly safe. This is contrary to the Government’s own scientific advice.

In unrelated news it has been revealed that the UK Government removed a page from this weeks Public Health Release which showed the extent to which new COVID variants are spreading at alarming rates in UK Schools. The draft report featured that data but the final approved version dropped that entire section. The official word is that data will be released at a later date. Some data was released late last night (very odd timing for Public Health) but with the key school data still missing.

So why the secrecy?

Is it because the data shows that the Governments own criteria for the ongoing easing of COVID restrictions have not been met.

OR

Is it because the Government is sticking to its original discredited Herd Immunity strategy. This time doing it by stealth and using our children as the test subjects.

This is all starting to feel like an X-Files story line coming true.

Nothing to see here

I was reading a news article about home schooling during the lockdown. A government politician was quoted as saying basically that all children needed to be in the classroom. No exceptions. Pupils discipline and grades had deteriorated during lockdown. Homeschooling could never work properly.

Ok so the last year must have a write off for Hawklad

Well let’s think about that…… Over the last year his grades have gone UP. So well that he was moved up sets. Look at his best subject. A year ago he could talk for days about British medieval history. He could name and describe every English monarch. He could talk well about Roman history. A year later he can still do that but now listen to him confidently talk American, European and Chinese history. Listen to him talk about recent world history, Classical Greek times…. you get the picture.

He’s expanded his knowledge on the animal kingdom.

He’s getting great marks now in English Literature. Macbeth, Animal Farm are well within his grasp.

A year ago we were fighting to get him support for his dyslexia. He needed assistance to read even the simplest text. A year at home and he hardly ever needs to ask for help with reading. He can do it himself. Yes he has to skip some words but now he can read articles on line. He can read books now. Slowly yes, but read definitely. 7 years of classroom teaching and he’s made the leap forward at HOME.

I’m no superman. No Yoda. No expert in teaching. Watch me look blankly in most subjects. I’m a bang average parent. Homeschooling has just suited Hawklad. He’s more relaxed. Can pace around. Can jump around subjects. Take breaks. Look at things he wants to. No pressure asking questions, no anxiety putting his have up in front of an overcrowded classroom. It just works for him.

Here’s the thing, the traditional classroom will suit some children. But not everyone. So why do THEY force all kids through the same hoops. Through the same moulds. Through the same exam routes. If the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that we need to cater for all children. One path just isn’t enough.

Smaller

Dad what do you think about this question. It’s RE and I have to draw a family tree. Show the current connections. Then describe the family relationships. Then talk about what the various religions might say about our family.”

####So we cracked on for 10 minutes. One current family tree was down on paper.####

“Dad it’s a bit thin. Look at the example one and then look at mine.

The example one is all about quantity ours is about quality.

Dad should I add in those family members not here anymore. That would fill the tree out.”

You can do anything you want. Why not just use our much reduced tree. It is how it is. Your just answering the question. Putting my old ‘at school’ head on, it might mean less to write about.

“I could include the pets….”

Why are you chuckling.

I could then write about our extended family. If we didn’t explain that some of the names are pets then I could really make our family sound weird.”

Yes I dread to think of some of the things you could write about. The stories you could tell about the cat and dog…

*************************

But here’s the thing. Isn’t it about time that schools updated some of their teaching materials. Many children will not come from the classic family structures listed in the textbooks. How hard is it for a child to look at the set images when they may come from a broken home, or has a single parent, or has lost a parent(s) or has no brothers or sisters, or has a family set up which is different to the traditional view or has no family. Surely we can come about with learning materials that are a lot more sensitive to the needs of ALL children.

Walk

So each night Hawklad tries to walk a few more yards. To extend is external walk. To slowly start to build bridges again. Last night he bailed out early as he saw people in the distance. But it is progress. It’s a start. At some stage he will be ready to even face people again. But in his own time. Whether that happens before he leaves school, who knows.

I do worry that too many countries are just thinking vaccines. No other permanent changes required. The vaccine will beat the pandemic and return us to that wonderful former world….

But surely with a mutating virus which is still spreading and still so endemic, all a vaccine does is buy us time. It gives us a chance to make changes. To find ways to live safely. To get support out to the people who need it. To increasingly try to make it harder for the virus to spread and thus mutate.

But here’s the thing. The vaccine doesn’t really help with the growing tide of mental health issues facing our society. Speaking with the team trying to support Hawklad. They are being swamped by rising child mental health problems (and the identified problems are just scratching the surface of the real volume of problems out there). Plus was the old world that perfect. Even before a pandemic there was a mental health crisis.

Society and Governments need to quickly wake up to this. There are somethings a vaccine can’t fix for them…..

Are we really happy about this

It’s still not even midday on this stormy Monday and it already feels like it’s been a long week. Much shaking my head at the areas and topics Hawklad is having to learn. Really how will these facts and skills set him up for the future.

Then he listens to the news. It’s filled with talk of pandemics, nepotism and a country rapidly appearing to be an inwardly looking police state. Women having to protest because they don’t feel safe. A complete and utter Brexit shambles. Ongoing environmental disasters. Lots of waving the flag and saying we are better than anyone else. Look how much we can blame on immigration. Everything has a price. Profit is king. A world where the makeover of the PMs flat is more important than a pay rise for nurses. Leaders talking about bringing Victorian values back into schools.

Hawklad hears this. He talks about this.

Are we really happy that our children are being exposed to this. Being brought up in this type of world. Learning this stuff. Are we happy that the likes of these people are in charge of our child’s education.

Deciding exactly what they learn, how they learn it, where they can source there information from. What part of the economy they can be slotted in to.

Is it really about the children or is just about the economy. If it is really about the children then why don’t we ask them what they want. What interests them. What works for them. What world do they want to grow up in.

I bet it’s not this type of world….

Night time bedtime visitor

My poor bed duvet. Caught outside TWICE in the pouring rain. But finally after hours propped over a full on radiator, it was dry. With my adopted manly themed duvet cover back on – Hawklads old Peppa Pig one – the bed was made up. All neat and tidy.

A couple of hours later I head for bed to find.

Some hooligan had decided to move my clean duvet onto the floor and create his own perfect bed.

Look at that face. He wins. That’s another night in the sleeping bag for me…

Autism

It was such a grey day today. Couldn’t find anything to photograph so let’s see what happened a year ago. So back 2020 and guess what was back!!!! After a few really bad storms our lake made a brief appearance.

One of the questions I’ve been asked the most by other parents and a few teachers (but interestingly never by family and friends) is

‘Does Aspergers get better with age?’Even occasionally the question becomes will he grow out of it….”

For every polite question I have trotted out the same answer

The condition will not change but the personality traits may well fluctuate over time. Some traits may become less noticeable while others may become more pronounced.

There is research in this area but I will leave others to discuss that. I will stick to my well trodden line of each child and adult is unique. With Hawklad it is very much on par with my standard answer. Some of the traits have become less apparent as he has got older. Some of his old repetitive behaviours like hand flapping are hardly seen these days. Where’s as some traits like fixation on objects and constant motion have stayed largely the same.

But there are also existing traits which are becoming far more pronounced. Verbal stimming (repetition of words and sounds) has dramatically increased with him. Phobias and social anxieties have increased but how I’m just not sure how much of that is down to the pandemic.

Aspergers is very much who Hawklad is. It’s his personality. It is him. Sadly there is still too often a fundamental misunderstanding of what being on the spectrum actually means. Not enough understanding of what it is to be Autistic. We have such a long way to go as a society.

Weather

It’s horrid weather today so let’s go back a few weeks. That’s better.

I heard someone from the Government brush off a parent talking about her daughters genuine fears and phobias about returning to school. Her daughter doesn’t think her classroom and school is safe enough. From the sound of it her daughter is in a similar place to Hawklad. Really struggling. The interviewer cut off the parent saying that she was in the minority and the vast majority would see things much more positively. The message from the Government followed instantly. People and kids who had concerns and fears needed to listen to the majority. Schools are completely safe, just get on with it. Parents have an obligation to send their children into schools when they open.

Meanwhile back here the NHS Psychologist is just at the early stages of a treatment programme to try and help with Hawklad’s deep seated anxieties. No guarantee that the programme will ever work. This week’s task is for Hawklad to try and stand in the front garden for 1 minute. The message is don’t worry if you can’t do that. Even a few seconds will be a massive leap of faith. And if he can’t do it at all then we can try another week. Pushing people with significant fears and ingrained anxieties can do so much harm to their long term mental health.

The Government and the ‘Majority’ are not trained mental health practitioners. They have absolutely no idea what some people are going through. On this issue they can stand out in the rain and whistle for all I care.

Gone mad

Almost feels like winter….

Worlds gone mad. Well this country has.

This morning I was reading a scientific critique of our Government’s partial herd Immunity strategy. To summarise they found the Government’s approach deeply flawed and has resulted in a significantly higher death toll than should have been expected. The report argued that we should have adopted airport controls and checks at 10 months ago. We should have out in place an effective test and trace system. Lockdowns should have been used more effectively. The Governments decision to offer eat out at restaurants vouchers, open up the beaches for summer and ease regulations for Christmas were argued to be catastrophic decisions. The report pointed to the success New Zealand had achieved.

But then the madness starts. The so called impartial BBC Political Chief argued that it was impossible for the Government to do these things. It was also silly for opponents of the Government to compare here with New Zealand as….

New Zealand is an island and Britain is not an island. It’s a Kingdom.

I must go and check out our new found land bridge with Europe then….

If only that was the end of the Madness.

News today that another health contract has been awarded to a close friend of the Health Secretary (the chap awarding the contract). Apparently a close friendship and a personal political donation of thousands doesn’t constitute a conflict of interest!!!

If only that corrupt madness was the end of it.

After almost a year of having zero Covid checks or controls at our airports the Government has suddenly had a change of heart. Now it’s a 10 year prison sentence if you break the new airport rules. Hang on isn’t this the same Government that only a month ago was threatening parents and schools with court action if children did not go into the classroom. Ok so now you can get a 10 year prison sentence for lying on your Travel declarations. Let that sink in. Boris Johnson wants a 10 year prison sentence for people who lie – that’s Boris the serial liar…..

If only that was the end of the Madness.

The Government Numpty in charge of our schools has said that he is seriously looking into extending the school day and drastically cutting school holidays when they reopen. Reopen without any further social distancing or controls. Apparently pupils must catch up academically and that needs hard work. That is the only priority. Remember this chap. He was the one who clamped down on the time off children could have after a family death. He described bereavement leave as an extended holiday.

This might appeal to some but to me it is madness. Already he has slashed break and lunch times to cram in more school work. Let’s flog pupils and staff even more into the ground. No mention of improving the quality or safety of the learning environment. No mention of changing the disastrous national curriculum. No mention of boosting resources to make homeschooling more effective. No mention of offering the option of targeted help. No mention of mental health investment. No mention of a strategy to help with sports and leisure activities.

This island, sorry not an island, Kingdom has gone mad.