Burns

It’s hot. That’s Yorkshire hot. Which probably means mild in other parts of the world. My Dad would have called it mafting. It’s that mafting that even the Yorkshire Farm Machinery can’t cope. The photo shows the smouldering wreck of an unfortunate tractor with a badly burnt field. That’s a first on the dog walk.

Our Son does suffer from stress and overpowering fears. When he took one look at the burnt carnage he immediately panicked that our house would soon be engulfed in flames. It’s understandable as the field is less than a mile from us. I tried to calm his fears with words but with no luck. So actions are required. A mad Dad sat down in the blackened field. Look son my bum is getting a little warm but my shorts are not ablaze. Although it did demonstrate a point I should have thought the plan through a bit. Light grey shorts are maybe not that fetching when they have two buttock shaped black marks on the rear.

Although our son’s wild fire fear has been dampened down a little. Sometimes silliness works better than rational argument. It is still there and will be until normal Yorkshire weather returns.

When you have a child who suffers from these inhibiting fears it is vital that you try and keep on top of them. Working in partnership with school and health services is vital. At his last school they were usually on the ball. The teacher would catch me at the end of day or send a quick email to let me know if something had happened. If it was particularly significant school would phone immediately.

Unfortunately at his new school this has completely stopped. I fully understand that it’s a much bigger school and he has different teachers for each subject. But surely they still have a duty of care. I know speaking with the health professionals they say unfortunately most schools in they area are the same now. The close partnership working which was in place a few years ago has dried up. Again and again it comes back to the same reason. Government. As one Doctor said

Under the last Labour Government it was about the patient. Now the patient is a secondary consideration to income generation, competition and profit. Money is now king.

So increasingly it’s just left to parents, families and friends. The days of government for the greater good are over. Its all about self help and what the individual can afford. Must deliver tax cuts. It’s back to Victorian ethics. Days when democracy could be overridden by the powerful and the rich. A time when it was ok to send poor kids up chimneys. When hatred and discrimination was the norm.

Maybe it’s just me and I’m in the minority. Just my irrational fear. But increasingly my country is becoming alien to me. I hate what is becoming. Too many kids do not get the support they badly need. As a generation we have really messed up our priorities. Our leaders happily play fiddles while Rome burns. Or maybe we should now change that to our leaders go to comedy clubs while the Amazon burns.

Hot

It’s hot. Yes I’ve said it now. Yes Yorkshire is hot. When I say hot I mean hot for Yorkshire which probably means it’s probably two jumper weather in Arizona.

A grand day for a trip to the zoo.

Clearly the zoo animals had the right idea. Stay in the shade and watch the silly humans walk round in the blazing sun.

Dad can I have a slush.

What a grand idea. Unfortunately the kiosk informed us that they had just switched the slush machine on and if we came back in a couple of hours they should be available. It was a similar story with the ice cream machine. So we purchased from the limited available snack range. Sat in the hot sun with two cider lollies and a bag of just fried hot donuts.

Dad it’s a good job your a professional athlete or you would be getting a Dads Belly.

Clearly a kid with Aspergers don’t have a sense of humour. Come on Hollywood get your facts right.

Dad it’s getting too busy.

And with that we left. But the zoo gave us one last memory. As we were walking out of the main door a delivery driver had arrived and asked a parking supervisor where he was supposed to drop off. He was told “Through those gates. Just unbolt the lock and drive into the compound. Just make sure you lock the gate immediately”. The delivery driver in a slightly alarmed voice asked “Are you sure”.

Visions of Jurassic Park and a driver about to come face to face with a suitably pissed off carnivore came to mind. Clearly the driver had similar thoughts as he made sure he round his van window up before he ventured any further.

Me Me Me

Blue skies have been a rarity over the last couple of weeks. Strangely this photo is a few weeks old. Can’t remember the last time I had to water the tomato plants. If anything it’s more about trying to stop them drowning in the rain water. The mad dog is currently sat looking out through the back door. Yet when I open it for him he just continues to sit and seems to shrug – if you think I’m going out in that you have another thing coming. Other areas of the county have seen bridges swept away and a Dam almost breached. Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago I was talking about Yorkshire and temperatures in the 90s. Strange old summer.

We have largely been cut off from the outside world this holiday. The occasional and extremely brief trip to the shop but son has stayed in the car. Trip to a castle but at a time (and with the poor weather) that it would be largely empty. We are thinking about a trip to another castle, a zoo and hill walk – but these will be scheduled at the quietest times possible. This is how our son likes it.

But it does have a downside. Next month son will return to school. Small site with over 800 kids and adults. Its just not a natural environment for someone with Aspergers. It doesn’t help that within a few days of school opening it’s the anniversary of his mums death. It not easy for anyone but no kid should have to go through that.

Soon we will need to start the process of getting him as ready as possible for that dreaded return. We will have a few visits to the school. A word with the caretaker will allow a walk round the empty corridors. But that just won’t prepare him for so much noise, so many faces. So we are going to have to visit a few busy places. A couple of trips to a Supermarket. Maybe a visit to a popular museum – York’s Train Museum. It’s a balancing act trying to acclimatise yet not trying to unnecessarily spook him.

The other part to this is ME. It’s about trying to get ME used to people again. It really doesn’t come naturally to ME. Just look at that it’s all ME ME ME with me. I blame it on the rain.

Current mood – Dampish….

Castle Time

Why is it that when you take the car in to a garage the words you never never hear are

Don’t Worry it’s nothing

It’s a cheap fix

It’s sorted and there is no charge

So today the car misbehaved. Took it into the garage and within minutes was told it needs a new ……. and it’s going to cost £XXX

One of the benefits of a spectacularly unreliable and expensive to maintain car is that they seem to have allocated it its own dedicated service team. We can look at it straight away. It will be ready in a couple of hours.

So we had a couple of hours to pass and luckily we were in walking distance of a castle. A fine ruin of a castle.

Pickering Castle was originally built around 1070. It is reasonably well preserved as it missed out on the carnage which was the War of the Roses and the English Civil War. I hoped that this unplanned visit would count against our sons target of 12 new places to visit. Sadly he pointed out the exact date and time of his school visit here 4 years ago.

I always think castles look better in black and white. Brings out their hidden Hammer Horror character.

It was a fun couple of hours as son explained in great detail the history of the castle. It’s linkages to wider English History and the various different structural improvements which have occurred over the years. I added important stuff like cool places for ghosts to hide.

Unfortunately the hours flew by and all too soon it was time to return to the garage. Luckily they still take cheques. That buys a couple of days to keep the bank manager happy. Son helpfully pointed out that a few hundred years ago I could just have raised taxes to pay for it – probably a Poll Tax. That assumes my role would have been Lord and not Peasant. In my all to likely Peasant role I had better start shovelling that muck quicker.

Summer Rain

It’s SUMMERTIME. It’s YORKSHIRE. It’s still RAINING.

As a kid I remember being told if it was settled and fine on the 31st July then the rest of summer would be great. However if it was wet on that day then summer would stay poor. It’s funny how often we have great weather in July then we hit the 31st and the weather breaks. So basically here in Yorkshire at this time of year – once the weather breaks it stays broken. But it’s great conditions for ducks.

See it’s true the Brits are always taking about the weather…..

Today was supposed to be another attempt to visit a new place. A local castle. Unfortunately lots of rain stopped play. So we will try again tomorrow.

Dad if we go now then we will have the castle to ourselves. But it’s a ruin. So no cover. Going to get so wet. On balance I will take a risk on crowds. This is way beyond wet.

Yet one hour later.

Dad can we go out and play footie.

It’s pouring down.

When the aliens come to invade earth they ain’t going to say – it’s raining we will give it an hour.

So in the pouring rain we played football then it was aquatic trampolining. Drenched. That wet that you can feel your feet shrivelling up. That wet that the football becomes like a bar of soap and weighs as much as a set of dumbbells. That wet that the ducks bugger off inside.

Tomorrow the colds will start but today it’s fun.

Switzerland National Day

I try to avoid multiple posts in one day. But sometimes…..

I was going to do this on my very own Swiss Sunday but a good buddy changed my mind.

Not only is it Yorkshire Day. But it also happens to be Switzerland’s National Day. Today in that great country it’s a national holiday. Church bells ring out at 8pm. Beacon fires are lit. Flags and bunting are everywhere. Wonderful communal celebrations. Fireworks are set off. Much great food and drink are consumed.

So to my favourite country on this planet – Happy Switzerland Day from Yorkshire. xxx

International Yorkshire Day

It’s Yorkshire Day. Yes it’s raining but that’s fitting. To celebrate let’s time travel back 5 years. To a time when our country was still prepared to embrace internationalism. Still promoting itself as multicultural and part of Europe. When the prospect of a narrow minded bigoted government seemed a distant fictional nightmare. A time when it was still socially ok to look forward and outwards.

A time when Yorkshire became part of France for a few glorious days.

When the Tour de France came to Yorkshire.

Over 2.5 million people lined the counties streets and lanes to watch one of the worlds great sporting events.

One stage went through my mums village.

I sat with our son on the road curb and watched the racers scream through. Didn’t think we would ever get that close to the Tour. Some of the riders came within a foot of us…

Happy Days. Better Days

And still it rains

The heatwave is here in Europe but it’s refusing to cross the North Sea. While Bern is getting 34C, Madrid gets 35C and blazing sunshine good old Yorkshire gets drizzle and 12C. So still it’s proper weather.

And so as the weather sticks to my post from earlier today, the system also continues to follow that posts script.

Another day and another system letter. A service we did have access to but which has dried up recently. Today brings the confirmation. Government cut backs so the service provider has to prioritise and our son is currently seen as a low priority. So it’s another service we have to reapply for and go through a new assessment process. It’s just not fair on kids like our son.

Waiting

Apparently a heatwave is about to hit Western Europe. I’m not sure the required paperwork and clearances have been signed off for Yorkshire yet. As a result it’s gone back to cold, cloudy and very wet. Here this is called proper weather.

Anyway let’s see if the much vaunted hot stuff arrives. Knowing our luck it could be a long wait. But we are accustomed to waiting for things.

  • Snow at Christmas … 10 years
  • My so called football team winning a domestic trophy … 64 years
  • A U.K. Van Halen Tour … 35 years
  • Last Total Solar Eclipse in Yorkshire … 92 years, next U.K. one 2090

We can add to these the following waits.

  • Bereavement counselling for son … over 2 years and counting
  • Waiting to have son’s dyslexia initially assessed by an Education Psychologist … over 3 years
  • Aspergers Review and Assessment … 2 years
  • Dedicated Aspergers Therapy … 1 year
  • Anxiety Therapy … 6 months
  • Speech Therapy … 4 years
  • Paediatrician Assessment … 1 year
  • Parent Training on Autism … Never going to happen So far 5 years

You get the picture. Nothing comes easy. As a parent. As an Autism Parent. As a Aspie Parent. You have to push for the support your kid needs. Constantly chasing up contacts. Everyday seems like a new or recurring battle. Letter after letter. Chasing up phone calls. That’s something which isn’t mentioned when you start your new life journey. You sort of assume that the professional help will be there when you need it. You quickly find out that the professional help is withheld or is delivered at times to suit the system rather than the child.

What the system doesn’t seem to appreciate is that you get such a short window of time to foster real progress. As one psychologist said

Up to about 14 years is the development sweet spot. That’s when the real, long lasting progress is usually made. That’s when you have a chance to start closing the educational gap. After that it becomes increasingly difficult. If it’s left too long then its probably just about trying to stop the educational gap widening too quickly.

The frustration that causes you. It’s hard to explain that feeling. Maybe constantly walking in treacle. Every step forward is such an effort and yet you are so far away from your destination. But the fight has to be fought. As long as our son wants me to keep pushing then I will keep pushing. That’s what parents do.

Sherlock’s Yorkshire Canon

Last night we sat down to watch a couple of episodes from the wonderful Sherlock TV series. One of which was the Hound of The Baskervilles. Or as my helpful word checker wants to autocorrect to – the Hound of the Basketballs – that would be a slam dunker of a book. It is the episode where Holmes and Aspergers are specifically referenced. When Lestrade talks about the great detectives awful people skills Watson specifically mentions Aspergers. I could see no apparent reaction from our son.

However later the following was said

I know it helps explain Sherlock’s character and his abruptness with others. And it’s kinda nice that the we get a hero with autism. But people will start to think that we are all brilliant, unfeeling and very very odd. Definitely psychotic. One day we will get a character who is just in the middle.”

He is so right. It’s called a spectrum for a reason. Labels just don’t fit. The media focus on the extreme ends but hardly ever look at the middle. But that’s the media and entertainment for you. It’s like when we crashed into the world of single parenting, single father parenting. I remember having a similar conversation

Why do so many movies and TV shows depict the single dad as a suicidal drinker obsessed with dating sites and clearly unable to cope with at least one wild child who has gone bad and needs saving.

Currently sat here with a herbal tea and listening to classical music. That’s not going to make for an interesting movie. Anyway back to Sherlock. We sat enjoying the episode when two thoughts struck me.

ONE: Sherlock was one of my partners favourite TV shows. We are watching her DVDs. She should be sat next to our son enjoying the experience. Life is not fair.

TWO: Looking round at the room. It’s a mess. She would kill me.

So this morning before the dog walk into the strangely blue skied Yorkshire countryside I had a major cleanup. Even put the Sherlock DVDs neatly back in the box. Then on the walk I almost could here her voice saying ‘stop taking so many photos’ so I only took the one this morning. Rather than snap away I looked at the view, imagined a demon hound stalking Dartmoor and I wondered what a Yorkshire themed Sherlock would sound like.

Ferret of the Baskervilles

A study in rhubarb

A scandal in Barnsley

The adventure of the missing Yorkshire Pudding

The adventures of the crooked Lancashire man

The adventures of the Yorkshire Terriers Main.

As much as I love Yorkshire thank god Sherlock was based in London.