Late nights

Over the school break we were seeing what we could find with our very old telescope. With a bit of patience we got a photo of a distant power station. Took a steady hand and many out of focus disasters. I guess a lot of patience.

When I’m tired my brain has a habit of going into neutral. That’s fine if your sitting or lying down but try to do anything else and your asking for trouble. Last night at around 4am I was watching Black Panther. I decided my body needed a hot drink. So I make a fine cup of Yorkshire Tea. (That’s the tea which has got the new Chancellor of the Exchequer personal seal of approval).

The photo is from Chancellors own twitter feed.

Anyway my late night Yorkshire Tea was made. Unfortunately as I sat down to watch the movie again I realised that I hadn’t brought my cup with me. I was holding the kettle instead.

A couple of weeks back it was even more painful. I was watching a late night movie and I went for a midway toilet pit stop. On my way to the bathroom I completely missed the open door and walked into a wall.

It’s been even worse that that. About a month ago I was struggling with a leg muscle strain. During yet another late night movie the muscle started playing up. So I decided to apply some Ralgex (Heat Rub). A fine idea but in my zombie state I must have forgot to immediately wash my hands. Unfortunately I rubbed my eye and then with spectacular bad timing I decided to go for a wee. Within a few minutes my eye and my undercarriage were basically on fire. Now that woke me up.

But occasionally the late nights can yield moments of clarity. This happened last night towards the end of Black Panther. I had been spending so much time worrying about the future. All the pitfalls of homeschooling. Everything that could go wrong. How I was missing my partner and her advice. Then it struck me. The one thing I had missed was the opportunities. Homeschooling allows you freedom to design your own days. That puts US in charge. That is such an exciting and liberating prospect. And I missed it.

It’s so easy to focus on the negatives. There is an awful lot to be worried about in life. Yet it still can be a wonderful life. If you let it and have patience. So I need to find a balance. If I’m going to think about the negatives then I owe it to myself to think about the positives as well.

Poets Society

The feeding zone has been active today with the usual characters. Yes the characters are making a mess of the lawn but it’s always so good to see them. We don’t get too many human visitors these days so who is going to notice the rugby pitch of a lawn and I don’t think non-human visitors are that fussed.

Another largely sleepless night. One short dream, a viewing of the stunning yet grim Everest movie and a bout of late night blog catchup. While reading a friends post a thought entered my zonked out brain. How many other souls are struggling with sleep currently. We really deserve our own secret club. Maybe the name should be The Dead Tired Poets Society. Dead Poets Society is a truly stunning movie. If we want to be selective we could be the Dead Tired Parents Society.

But why stop there. We could have so many subgroups.

For the financially challenged – The Dead Broke Poets Society,

For the puzzled amongst us – The Dead Confused Poets Society,

For the bad cooks – The Dead if you eat this cake Poets Society,

For those feeling happy – The Dead Chuffed Poets Society,

For those who can regenerate – The Deadpool Poets Society,

For the rubbish Fortnite players – The Dead in five seconds Poets Society,

For the rubbish negotiators – The Deadlock Poets Society,

For the strong amongst us – The Deadlift Poets Society,

For the gardeners amongst us – The Deadheading Poets Society,

For the Monty Python lovers – The Dead Parrot Poets Society,

And for the impassive people – The Deadpan Poets Society.

Today was another fun day. Fun but with son’s anxieties bubbling just beneath the surface. I have emailed school to tip them off but deep down I know they won’t do anything. The teachers won’t be informed and if they were – what would actually happen. Not much. I’m not sure how much training this group of teachers have had in dealing with anxiety. They certainly have had little specialised training in areas like dyslexia and autism. Maybe that’s why my first questions to the teachers tends to be

You do know he has Aspergers and you do know he has Dyslexia and you do know he has Dyspraxia.

The look I get back with the generally vague replies suggests either they don’t or they do but given the 1000 things they are dealing with this is never going to be a priority. So my parenting anxieties are mounting again. That’s why having fun is so important. It’s great for my son and it’s such a release for me. A release which is even more important when sleep fails you. Can you guess what tonight’s insomniac movie is. I’ve dropped enough clues.

Dead Poets Society.

Sliding

So far Storm Dennis has been ok with us. So many have had it far worse than ourselves. Last time I looked there was over 560 flood warnings. Many houses are already underwater. So so sad and it’s happening more frequently.

Sometimes having a messy, pet wrecked garden helps. It’s makes it less obvious when a storm strikes. So as I surveyed the increased mess zone something caught my eye. Unbelievably during yesterday’s weather hammering two daffodils had decided to flower.

The photo is slightly out of focus as they are being blown all over the place in the gales. But it’s such a lift to see them. Let’s hope they survive Dennis.

This week is a school break. Son is adamant that he does not want to leave the house and our garden all week. Can’t blame him at all. He is so uncertain in the big bad world at present. The bridges he builds between his and the other world are looking particularly rickety and creaky. They are so fragile that he doesn’t fancy crossing them that often this week. Actually feels a bit like a game of Fortnite. An ever approaching storm cloud encircling out little world. If you play Fortnite I’m the wally who always gets killed within the first five seconds. My job is to make you look good.

My job is also to make sure our little world is as safe and as fun filled as is humanly possible. As hard as it may seem to some people in the media – kids with autism still like to have fun, do things they like and be happy. One of the reasons why the world feels like a scary game of Fortnite to so many good souls is that too many narrow minded reptiles in the media create the storm that others have to survive in.

Anyway let’s move on to have fun.

Today the grass is an absolute squelch fest. Your shoes immediately sink into inches of mud and water. So maybe it’s the perfect conditions for mud sliding. Let’s see if it’s possible to slide from our back door to the farmers fence. That’s about 15 paces and just slightly downhill. It’s a battle between man and boy. Between my huge backside and Son’s snow sledge. The loser has to take their chances with 5 potentially bad tasting jelly beans. Surely this time I have found a use for my donut fuelled butt.

So we operate in a small world for the next 8 days. I may struggle for new photos for the blog but let’s see what we can find. May need to delve into my dusty photo albums. Don’t worry no muddy butt photos are planned.

Bird Of Prey

Today’s run was turning into a nightmare. Wasn’t planning to go but another power cut prematurely ended work for the day. Thirty minutes later I was trying to run uphill into strong headwind. Already my mojo was rapidly ebbing away. A glance to the heavens (maybe for inspiration) stopped me in my tracks. A stunning predator was circling almost immediately above me.

Given how badly my running was going I’m surprised it wasn’t a vulture.

For a wonderful few minutes it was man against beast. A perfectly designed flying acrobat versus a muppet with his mobile phone camera. Only ever going to be one winner. So the photos are a little lacking in sharpness.

My running struggles were long forgotten.

Five minutes later my new feathered friend was off.

Now on my own the quick realisation that standing still in this icy gale force wind was not great for exposed legs. What possessed me to wear shorts. I was absolutely frozen . The prospect of a warm shower contributed to a rapid return run. My mojo was definitely healed by the encounter. We are so fortunate to have birds of prey hunt in the farmers field behind the house. It’s such a thrill for our Son. To get glimpses of these spectacular birds and not have to leave the safety of his garden.

Our Son has always loved animals. Of all his toys the birds of prey were always amongst his favourites and centre stage in his games. He developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things to do with falconry. When he was a little older he got the chance to handle some of his most loved birds.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen kids with Aspergers bond with birds of prey.

From about the age of five Son started to struggle at school. Suddenly he was withdrawing from group activities, becoming more insular and ill at ease with society. He would avoid physical interaction and all eye contact. So utterly unsure of himself and lacking in confidence outside of the safety of his home. Yet here was the same kid who was at ease and completely relaxed in the presence of these mighty hunters. Happily handling them. Intense, unblinking eye contact with Peregrines and Hawks. Face to face no more than a few inches between them. Complete confidence. Utter love.

Birds of Prey are truly majestic creatures who have another wonderful trait. They don’t harbour any misguided notions of prejudice.

Challenge The Storm

We survived the storm…… The wind and rain finally eased late last night. The electricity was fully restored late afternoon. But has gone off a few times since. One outside light has been snapped off. Our old wind gauge was destroyed. A few items have gone missing. I guess currently being blown around the Jet Stream. We were very lucky in the end. A number of villages are still under water. Houses are still without power. That’s so tough. Many of the places flooded have only just recovered from the last flooding a few months ago.

Today was still windy, damp and cold. Although we did get a couple of hours of blue skies. The run was restricted to roads and lanes. The fields and tracks are either submerged or mud baths. Even sticking to the roads didn’t save the socks and shoes from getting drenched. Now the skies have darkened. The winds picking up again and it’s periodically chucking it down.

After a quick shower and change it was back to a couple of hours more work. Foolishly I left the radio on. Some folk really get up my nose these days. First was the person who was annoyed that people kept going on about a storm. “Well it was just a bit windy. I was fine. Wish people would stop calling it a storm.” Tell that to the people of Hebden Bridge who where 3 foot underwater.

Then we had the commentator talking about a certain world leader. ‘Look at his baffling and often obnoxious behaviour. Clearly he is very clever. You don’t get a bank account like his without being intelligent. Yet he is without any empathy, does not have a sense of humour and has no social awareness. To me the reason is clear, he has Aspergers. It’s the only explanation.’

F##@##g unbelievable.

I’ve noticed a real worrying trend recently. A growing number of self proclaimed experts who are making spurious associations with Aspergers. Every rouge action, every piece of evil behaviour, every unpleasant and mean individual is blamed on Aspergers.

F##@##g unbelievable.

This discriminatory rubbish is too often based on no evidence. It takes its basis from the narrow minded unfounded views of biased media groups, lazy stereotyping in movies and skewed urban myths. The worry is how many actually buy into this dross. Too many. Let’s not forget that only a couple of months ago Greta Thunberg was attacked by the right wing press for looking, acting and sounding demonic. It just shows how far we have to travel as a society. How hard society makes life for people on the spectrum.

That’s why we have to keep fighting. Why we have to keep telling our real life stories. Some storms you are best just battening down the hatches. But some man made storms need to be met head on and challenged. We owe it to so many.

2020!

Who are you looking at…. We hope you’ve washed your hands before you stick them in our cage.

“Dad can we either just start 2020 again or can we just give it up as a rubbish year and move on to 2021”

He then vented on a range of 2020 subjects

  • Australia burning
  • Brexit
  • School exams
  • Impeachment
  • Tragic deaths
  • Corona Virus
  • Planes being shot out of the air
  • Nutters trying to start WW3
  • Government lies

“Can’t believe it Dad we still have 11 months of this to go”

This week we have both been fighting a cold. Perfect timing with exams.

Dad we got the Drama marks back. I came third bottom. Nice of the teacher to tell me that. Funny how you find stuff out only when you’ve done badly. Couldn’t read the paper. Couldn’t spell any of the words. Kept coughing. Can’t wait to drop the subject.”

Such a shame that school have managed to alienate him from a potentially wonderfully fulfilling subject.

With his Aspergers he gets these massive anxiety attacks on specific issues. One of which is illness. It’s also probably linked to losing loved ones. This week he’s been having panic attacks that his cough is the Corona Virus. I’ve spent all week trying to calm those fears. On Thursday night after a long chat where we talked numbers and relative risks, I hoped that we had started to ease his anxieties.

THEN TODAYS HEADLINES – UK’s first two confirmed Corona cases confirmed. They were found about 15 miles from us.

When he finds out he’s going into DEFCON 2 level anxiety meltdowns. It’s so tough for him. When he comes across something like this then he just fixates on it. It just develops into this anxiety maelstrom. A powerful hurricane which just becomes increasingly powerful as it feeds of his nervous energy. Just ruins his life.

So yes I’m with him on cancelling 2020 already. The only problem is that I’m not sure 2021 will be any better. That’s a problem as I’ve got to try and convince our Son that things can and probably will improve. Maybe it’s time to assemble the Gerbil Squad.

Dad are you cheating

Dad I hope your not cheating”

No son of course not”

Dad I saw you. You went outside with some bread and seed. You tried to get the birds in next doors garden to move into ours. You also went over to the tree on the road and you tried to tempt the birds onto our lawn”

Yes I did. I was desperate as it was the RSPB Garden Bird survey this weekend. You can only count birds that land in your garden. This weekend even our normal visitors were refusing to land. Yes I know no shame. I did go and try to tempt birds from next doors garden. Yes I did go underneath the trees to try and tempt birds into our garden. Those beaks and eyes looking down at me in the same disdainful way Hitchcock’s Birds looked upon their soon to be victims.

Eventually a few reluctant souls landed but none of the birds I had tried to tempt.

Came across a great poem from Tina (Pippi’s Poetry) that fitted perfectly with the bird count theme. Thanks Tina for letting me share it.

I’m trying to bee more English
As I take my afternoon tea
It’s the simple things that make life sweet
They are perfect gifts that make life complete.

I’m dreaming of an English landscape
Where daffodils seem to grow wild
And a yard is called a garden
As it was in the beginning–before the world went wild!

I’m imagining a pretty country home
Where sheep graze in distant fields
And bird counting is an annual event
For life is short, and joy it can steal.

So I’m trying to bee more English
As my mind buzzes with daffodil daydreams
And of a land I’ve never been nor seen
But for the views I’ve glimpsed through my t.v. screen.

Tina S.W.
January 26, 2020

The birds that did kindly consent to being in my garden count are regular visitors. They don’t bother flying off when we come out now. I know them better than most of the humans in the village. So far in 2020 I’ve spoken to one person from the village. Whisper it quietly I speak to these feathered characters everyday.

Tina in her wonderful poem spoke of the English landscape and daffodils. Today that landscape was cold, grey and bleak. But bleak is good some days.

It matched my mood. Walking through the village which once seemed so full of familiar faces and friends. Now it seems cold and full of strangers. A world I don’t fit anymore. Yet a few strides and I’m back in our garden. Amongst friends again. My world has shrunk but it’s still a world of beauty.

A welcoming party waiting for today’s food offerings.

Dad are you cheating again. I’m not falling for that one.”

Yes I was. Every year we watch the famous Kitzbuhel Skiing Downhill race on telly. Every year we play the who can spot The Terminator first game. The race crowd is full of famous people but the crowning glory is always Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time we recorded the race. My cheating plan was while Son was having a bath I would fast forward through the recording to try and spot him first. I was busted before I could find him. On the actual viewing I lost the game – yet again. Arnie always where’s a warm hat here. No wonder I couldn’t spot him on my fast forward cheat.

Just goes to show cheating doesn’t work.

Big Sky

Twenty years ago we came to look at our current home for the first time and we both immediately fell in love with it. Yes it was a bit small being a two bedroom bungalow. It needed a lot of work doing to it. Apart from a really small village store it was a long way from any other facilities. The garden was badly overgrown. It would have been so easy to drive onto the next house we were looking at. But then we saw the view from the back garden. That was it. We were sold. I remember saying – that’s a big sky.

It’s still a big sky.

Little did we know how important such an isolated garden would prove when we became parents. Apart from the occasional walker and farmer you don’t see any sign of human life. These days when a human is spotted son will scamper into the house until the all clear is given. I’m not sure he would ever surface if he lived in a busy city.

Today was a work from home day. In fact this is going to be a work from home week. So it’s one of those weeks which could go two ways. Bask in the splendid isolation or feel the intense loneliness. Well after a few hours today it was heading towards the latter. When that happens the house starts to feel very cold and very claustrophobic. So a few minutes later I had donned about 15 layers and was sat outside with the laptop. Sat under the big sky. Today it was particularly quiet. No walkers, no farmers, no farm animals. Just the occasional bird. Yes still lonely but now realising how extremely privileged I am to be sat under this big sky.

Then something struck me. Before the world changed we would always be sitting in the garden. Sat with a glass of wine relaxing talking about becoming parents. Then when son arrived we would sit and watch him play with his toy dinosaurs on the grass. The garden would become Jurassic World. Then after a few hours the big bad daddy ranger would have to locate all the dinosaurs. It’s amazing how camouflaged a raptor can be in a Yorkshire garden. Then the bad stuff happened. Yes I would go outside to play in the garden with our son. I would train and do exercises in the garden. But I didn’t /sit in the garden anymore. This was probably the first time I had sat in the garden since my partner had left us. I guess it just didn’t seem right. It was always our garden not my garden. Almost as if it had become fenced off. Today without thinking just maybe that fence has come down. If it’s sunny again tomorrow I will probably work outside again.

Time to work under the big sky again.

Two quotes

“I AM DIFFERENT NOT LESS” – Dr Temple Grandin

Another week we dust ourselves down and go again. Although the route is still shrouded in mist and we face countless dead ends – we must keep going. If not for me but for our son.

A session with a new health professional. Always a good sign when she does not ask me what I want, she asks our son. The health professional is going to contact school to see what work they have undertaken to help with our son’s handwriting. Assuming school has done nothing and has no plans to do so (which we believe is the position) then the health service will start a programme to help with his writing. This will be the first time in three years work that son will have had specific help with his writing. Let’s see what progress can be made, what writing aids help. If progress cannot be made then that might be the time we start to move away from pen and paper to keyboard and voice recognition.

So we start down another path.

These are the specific areas son asked for help with

  • Handwriting
  • Shoelaces and Ties
  • Holding objects like handles which require two hands.

Interestingly he sees Aspergers as who he is – his personality. Aspergers is not a label just him. However he now sees himself as not dyslexic.

The fact that I can now read some of the words and can mostly guess the rest means I’m not dyslexic. Now I’m just not very good at reading.

I think this recent view of dyslexia is down to school. Firstly school sees anyone with dyslexia as low attainment. Son hates being branded as below average. As a result Son sees dyslexia as an unwelcome label. Secondly the label dyslexic brings him no additional help from school. Whats the point of referring to yourself as dyslexic if it brings no support benefits and only results in being automatically branded below other kids in the class.

The bottom line is the school system has failed him. It has failed too many kids. That’s one of the reasons you read so many cases of great individuals who have decided to hide their dyslexia. Kenny Logan is a Scotland Rugby legend playing 70 times for his country. He choose to keep his dyslexia secret. From his team mates. Even from his wife. Only at the age of 34 did he finally seek help. On what planet can this be allowed to happen. So much wasted talent and opportunities. So much stress and suffering. This is nothing short of a disgrace.

I started with a quote and I will finish with one. One from our son

When someone has a disability your not allowed to discriminate against them. If your in a wheelchair you shouldn’t have to put your hand up for help. So why is it that when someone has an invisible disability you can be ignored and that you have to say ‘Please will you help me’ and when they ignore you it’s not discrimination.

Red School Sky

Red sky at night ready for the school fight.

So the dreaded hour is fast approaching. School opening its gates again. Feel so sorry, sad and angry for the kids like our Son having to face up to the nightmare which is modern schooling. I use the term modern in its loosest sense.

Increasingly my thoughts are turning to homeschooling. When to flick the switch. How to make it happen. Trying to stress tests the plans which are swirling around in my pea soup of a brain. Which options are best. What fits best with our circumstances. The aim being to have a workable plan in place by the end of February. As ever Son is the voice of reason. In fact as it’s his future he is driving the process. It has to be that way. He really isn’t happy but he’s giving the new term a go.

Dad going to give it a real go. Want to either see me moved up in the subjects I’m good at or want to be helped in the ones I struggle a bit in. Just one subject move would be cool.

“It’s not the subjects you struggle in. It’s the way the teachers judge you in those subjects. It’s never about the stuff you know. You have never had one comment about that. Remember what that teacher said last year – Don’t let anyone tell you your not clever. You are. The problems are not yours. It’s ours. We need to find better ways of getting the stuff in your head out into the wider world.

Ok Dad. Well let’s see what happens. What’s the plan if it goes pear shape this week at school?

Send you up chimneys to earn some money to pay for my rock and roll lifestyle”

Are you joking?

“Sorry, yes son I am pulling your leg. At least you can fit up a chimney.”

Your bottom would me a fine chimney sweeping tool. Not much would get past that.

“Let’s hope that school goes really well and your super happy. Let’s cross the over bridges if they happen. Most bridges are good ones.”

Which bridges. If I remember correctly we drive over 5 on the way to school.

And the voice of reason brings his Dad back into the real world again. So many options to consider.

  • Online tutor v Local tutor.
    How much will I teach. I can certainly do Computing, Mathematics, Science.
    Subjects like Geography and History maybe we just let him run with it. As last years Class Teacher said ‘you probably know the subject better than me already“. Just concentrate on how to access his ideas. Find the best way to express them.
    How to tailor some of the tuition around times that I need to go into the work base.
    Restructuring work to fit round the new world. Luckily I can probably do this. Just maybe will have to put off buying that sports car for say the next 100 years.
    When we move into the 15 and 16 age range how to handle examinations. Some of the colleges have courses for qualifications he could opt for. Would that work for him. Or do we go the tutor or online tuition routes.
    Languages – how far do we go down the online packages route such as Rosetta.
    Ways to ensure that he can socialise when he wants and needs to.
    And on and on

So much to consider. Maybe just maybe school might step up to the plate and this is never needed. That is probably a pipe dream so it’s time to sort this out. It will be a reassuring feeling when a plan is in place. When we have an idea what his education week and plan will look like. To our Son that level of practicality is an essential part of the transition process. It will help him at school knowing that he has a Plan b.

If anyone reading this has ever homeschooled then it would be great to hear from you. Either as a comment or email. What did your ‘learning week’ look like. What approach did you take. I’m sure this wont be the last you hear of this. I think the more we can talk about homeschooling the better. In many places it’s still frowned upon or it’s seen as a bit of a dark art. Maybe people should frown upon the mainstream school system instead.

I will leave you with one final thought.

Dad Santa can get down chimneys so there is always hope for you. There is always hope.