Blessed

A couple of days ago we had a sad face type of day. Old photographs bringing back memories. Sad memories. But it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Especially when the photograph entails Switzerland.

Today I feel able to correct this….

Switzerland is such a special place. My beloved partner loved it. So did her parents. From childhood she would spend such happy holidays in the Bernese Oberland. The stunning higher part of the Bern canton. Staying in Spiez a beautiful small town on the banks of Lake Thun. Awesome views to the Alps. The summit of the Eiger is visible in the distance and always the last peak to be illuminated by the setting sun. Early mornings would bring on equally stunning landscapes. My partner would sit and just soak up this view. Today this image reminds me of how special Switzerland is and how blessed I was to spend time with my partner. So blessed. Bring on SMILING FACE. 😊

Bird of Prey

Thankfully we made it to the end of the week. Some random animal photos helped. But it’s the weekend and at least for a few hours our son is in a happy place. While he is happy then I am happy.

A few weeks ago we talked about his second favourite animal in the world. Let’s meet his favourite now.

The Peregrine Falcon.

Since an early age he has just loved the Peregrine. Luckily he has had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to handle this just stunning bird of prey. In the U.K. one of our main nature presenters is Chris Packham. He has Aspergers and is brilliant. A tireless campaigner for good. Chris has openly talked about his life with Aspergers. As a child he developed a special bond with a Kestrel. His fascination and bond with the Kestrel mirrors that of our son with the Peregrine.

I now hand over to our son for fact time (his words now)

  • The Peregrine is the fastest animal on the planet. Likely to be the fastest creature ever to live on earth. Potentially the fastest creature in the Universe. In its dive (the stoop) it can reach over 215mph
  • They have special baffles in the nose to stop them blacking out during dives
  • Sometimes called Duck Hawks
  • Favourite diet is pigeons, starlings, doves,
  • It’s nest site is called an eyrie
  • Wingspan is 3ft
  • It flies high, uses its super eyesight to see prey below. folds its wings like a jet fighter and nose dives towards its prey. It will then strike its prey with great force.
  • They can be kleptoparasites. Steal pray off other birds.
  • Lifespan up to 15 years
  • They have larger eyes than humans and can see prey over 300m away

Not PC – Sorry

Son was a bit upset today. One of his classes had a surprise test. He didn’t get any reading help, had to try and type the answers using his left hand and didn’t get any extra time. So understandably he didn’t get anywhere near finishing. Angry face. 😡

To try and lift his spirits I thought we would play a little game. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to go with the first thing that pops into your head.

Can we think of which animals famous people look like. Sorry this is not very PC but it was the first thing which crawled into my empty brain. It did immediately catch our son’s imagination. A few minutes later we were both snorting with laughter.

Some of the images we conjured up I won’t share. But a few we probably can get away with.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May we both agreed on this one.

US Vice President Mike Pence while looking at a video of President Trump our son said that the chap stood next to him who said nothing looked like an African Vulture.

I on the other hand could only see one of those petting zoo Lamas. The ones who stand next to someone quietly and just look blankly into the distance.

US President Donald Trump we argued over this one. Son went for

For some reason I just couldn’t get the image of Sid trying to milk the Male Musk Ox in Ice Age. So I’m going for that Ox as my Mr Trump.

In the spirit of balance it’s only fair that we bring the animal likeness thing a little closer to home.

Me after much debate we have agreed that the Sea Cow is my best fit.

I think it’s now officially time for happy face. 😎

Top Cat Trumps

Our son has always loved Top Trumps. It’s the same ritual every time. Before we play he loves to line the cards up in order for each of the categories. Clearly the girl cat is not a fan of straight card lines. Apart from the cat the other thing which frustrates our son with the game is that he has to rely on me to read out the text on each card.

We continue to try and work together on our son’s dyslexia. Some progress is being made. Although he still struggles in general he now can just about spell the player names from his favourite football team. He can spell my teams player names as well. ‘Loser’ covers that one.

But for all the progress he still can’t read the books he is so desperate to enjoy. This is made worse when he hears other kids talking about the stuff they have read. So I have bought him a reading pen. Basically it’s a pen shaped scanner with a headphone. It reads out scanned text. He has used them sporadically at school and they do give him a sense of independence.

We have opted for the C-Pen Exam Reader. Will report back on its performance. However today a very happy boy enjoyed reading a comic by himself. Plus the scanner works on Top Trump Cards. The signs are good.

Jelly Bean Challenge: How many ScoobyDoo movies and episodes have been made?

Different sites have different numbers but going to use these as our marking scheme

Shows (not including cross overs and stuff not including Scoobie) – 406

Films – 39

Specials – 11

Total about 456

My guess was 350. Son’s guess was 399. So again I visited the Jelly Bean Lounge. This time no bullet in the chamber – lucky to select normal apple flavour. However due to earlier attempted cheating I was forced to select a second bean. This time I can confirm blood flavour is revolting.

The next challenge was set by a random question setter we have found on the internet. The question is how many types of poisonous snakes live in Australia. Apparently the answer “too many” is not specific enough.

Shaggy

I received a card from a university friend who is currently climbing in the Alps. Switzerland is one of places that just stays with you. Gets into your soul. Makes you realise what a beautiful piece of rock we are so fortunate to live on. Shame it feels like such a leap of faith to return there without my partner.

Mad couple of days (& nights) and I’ve finally just about caught up with work (sort of). So its time to completely focus on Christmas and our son. First stage was to undertake the family ritual of me humiliating myself on the Xbox. Even with the use of his weaker hand he still wipes the floor with his Dad. During a particularly one sided football match he asked some more questions about my time at University. I would like to say I was the perfect student. Would be a lie and he wouldn’t believe it. Yes too many hangovers, too much time spent playing sports and sadly not enough dedication to studying. At the time I thought that was really cool.

During an equally one sided Star Wars Jedi Fight the subject moved onto the future. Clearly our son dreams of going to College. But he is so worried about how Aspergers and Dyslexia could limit his opportunities. It doesn’t help that he’s been put in the bottom set – seems a long way to climb. It also doesn’t help that some of the kids name call him. But that happens to far too many kids. We talked through some of the brilliant people that have succeeded in life. We talked about the stories of hope fellow bloggers had shared with me. The mountains that were successfully climbed. We discussed some of the new things we could try. How IT can increasingly help level the playing field. I told him that if a pillock like me could get to University then someone as gifted as he was could certainly do it.

Now we entered the world of ScoobyDoo. Unfortunately my Shaggy Character is no match for this adventure. My points frustratingly remains at 0 as our son’s points moves past 100. Eventually Shaggy gets lost and finally stuck in the maze. At which point our son points out:

“Dad when you where at University you were like a Really Drunk Shaggy”.

That’s not so cool…..

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.

Trauffer

A lot of Autistic people find change and unplanned things really unsettling. At our son’s last school they realised this. They were really good at establishing a routine then sticking to it. Unfortunately his current school are the opposite. Change change change followed by unplanned events. Today I had to go and pick up him up – he was really upset after a series of unplanned activities.

The one thing that has always been guaranteed to settle him down was going for a car drive in the country while listening to rock music. So off we set into the country. However the car stereo now decided to play up. No radio reception and refusing to recognise any of my mp3 albums. For 5 minutes it unsuccessfully scanned tracks then suddenly success. Unfortunately the one album it would play was a million miles from rock.

On our last family holiday to Switzerland I had a mad moment and decided to buy some Swiss music. Trauffer and his band just sound like Switzerland. A quirky mix of pop, folk, alpine and yodelling. Trauffer also manages a famous family wooden toy company – I think a lot of the toy cows you see in Swiss shops are his. It just shouldn’t work but just like Toblerone (a chocolate which is designed to spear the top of your mouth every time you try to bite into it) it works brilliantly.

http://youtu.be/XPXiHGq2Ods

For the first few moments our son sat there a mixture of disbelief and horror on his face. But 30 minutes later an amazing thing happened. He was tapping his hands, trying to yodel (badly) and laughing (a lot). Often change and unplanned stuff causes anxiety and distress. But sometimes unplanned stuff can be good and rewarding. AND MOST CERTAINLY yodelling was not in the original plans today.

Fungi

This little beauty has appeared in a shady corner of the garden. Possibly something to do with it being an area favoured by the pup for his early morning constitutional. I was going to pull it up but …

“Dad don’t kill it. It’s got as much right to be here as us”

Already getting the all so familiar sinking feeling of an argument slipping through my grasp, I tried one feeble counter thrust. An incoherent ramble about weeds.

“What’s a weed?”

That vail of defeat rapidly falling towards me … one last throw of the dice … it’s the wrong type of plant in the wrong place (all those years in the greenhouse with my gardening dad and that’s the best I can dig up!!!!)

Well strictly speaking that’s not a plant , it’s in the separate fungi classification. Also who defines what the wrong type of plant is. Didn’t you tell me that being different is one of life’s blessings”

Total defeat. The weed, sorry no – plant, sorry no – fungi STAYS. Now I have to build him his own little fence to keep the pup away. Deep joy.

Probably

One of the most frustrating thing about autism is that nothing seems to be certain. You can say the same about Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD. The stock reply to questions seems to be “probably”. It feels a bit like that old beer advert “Carlsberg, probably the best lager in the world ”

  • Is Autism hereditary – probably
  • Are environmental impacts associated with Autism – probably
  • Are Autism and Dyspraxia linked – probably
  • Will the behavioural aspects of Aspergers become more pronounced as he gets older – probably
  • Is his Dyslexia linked to his Aspergers – probably
  • Is ADHD linked to Aspergers – probably
  • Will a coach or therapist help with Autism – probably
  • Is a main stream education the best option – probably
  • Could going to a special school help – probably
  • Would home education be more suited – probably
  • Will the loss of his mum have a long term impact on his Aspergers – probably
  • Will he get any specialist bereavement counselling – probably
  • Would educational psychologist be able to provide a tailored educational programme for our son – probably
  • Will an educational psychologist assess our son – probably
  • Could medication help – probably
  • Could medication make it worse – probably
  • Is Aspergers and Sleep Disorders linked – probably
  • Could the use of a reading Scanning pen help with his Dyslexia – probably
  • Could Occupational Therapy help with Dyslexia – probably
  • Could Speech Therapy help with Dyslexia – probably
  • Could the use of a reading scanning pen hinder any potential reading improvements – probably
  • Will the use of coloured lenses help with Dyslexia – probably
  • Have we now ruled out that coloured lenses will not help – probably
  • Will my son get any additional help during his secondary school life – probably
  • Are we trying every available route to try and unlock his full potential- probably

Probably, probably, probably….

Apart from the definite diagnosis everything else seems to have been on a probably basis. That’s frustrating for a parent as all you want to do is try and find the best course of action for your child. It’s more frustrating for the child as he or she tries to come to terms with life and the future.

But one thing is not probably, it’s not maybe, it’s definitely. When your child has had a bad day at school. When the parent is crying inside with the frustration of not being able to take your child’s sadness and anxiety away. When you need a lift.

The pets never let you down. They are our Ghostbusters our Captain America. Guaranteed to save the day and lift the spirits. They don’t need a proton pack or a shield. Just a few cushions will do the job. What a hero. Son and Dad happy again – probably for the rest of the day.

Night out

A few weeks ago I was contacted about an old school reunion. Surely this was an excuse for a night out. My first night out since the world changed over two years ago. The old me would have been really excited about seeing some old friends and having a fun night out. How times change.

This potential night out sent shivers down my spine and I agonised over it.

  • Where am I going to find a child sitter. A child sitter my son is comfortable with. A child sitter with experience in autism. I couldn’t come up with one viable option. After our son was born we hardly ever went out as a couple. If we did go out for a night, it was as a family. But as the autism became more prevalent these family nights out stopped. But at least one of us could stay with our son if the other partner wanted to go out – it worked well.
  • Because the venue was over an hours drive away, even a relatively short stay at reunion would have meant an extended period of childminding.
  • How would I react having my first evening/night away from our son in over two years.
  • Would I be able to cope at the reunion. It feels such a long time since I’ve done anything socially like this.

In the end I sent my apologies. I’m sure that the correct approach would have been to go. Yes you can list a number of valid reasons why I should have gone. But was I disappointed, not in the slightest. For the night of the reunion we ordered a pizza delivery and watched the two Paddington Bear movies. It was another lovely night. This is my world until our son is ready to fly the nest. Yes it does have its downsides but it is the biggest privilege I could possibly have. I count my blessings for this opportunity.