Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
Category Archives: autism
Normal scheduled services will resume…. Well, soon.
For tonight, you get this snapshot.
Look back two posts ago. A year has passed.
Goals were set. In stone ways those goals have been met.
The Westies don’t live in Western Sydney any more. We now live in Canberra, having moved from one city to the other on Magpies 10th birthday.
Three kids, in two new schools.
One has made the transition not only between States, but from primary school to high school. So far, so well.
One son has moved from one mainstream class to another. It seems ?
***. the only thing that has changed, is that he has to use Skype, or a Hangout, to talk to his friends in Sydney now instead of talking to them in the playground. He is into the school seemingly as though he has been there since Kindergarten. Except his stress is through the roof…
The youngest is in a Learning Support Unit – Autism. It is the first year of operation for the unit, and so far, it’s very telling. It seems though to be working ok.
I have gone from contacting to consulting. It seems very similar so far. I’m wondering if it will be long lasting or if I will return to contracting shortly?
Again goals are being set, this time the span is two years. By the time Magpie starts high school, we are aiming to be living in a newer, larger home. Again, without selling any properties.
Since my redundancy in 2011, I have bought two more houses than I owned in 2010. My goal is to continue buying at least one property every two years… Eight properties by the time I turn 50…. Eight properties by the time my Autistic son is considering what happens after high school.
To achieve such ambitions will need a set of sacrifices to be considered, and either accepted or discarded. Discarding to many will demands a reassessment of the goal.
So far the goals seem worthwhile. Let’s see what Christmas 2014 had in store for us.
My return to Canberra was a little abrupt. Well, sure, it was a long time coming, but then it was “so, you start tomorrow, OK?”
This is a very interesting way to live a life, especially with one confirmed Autistic and one suspected “quirky” child. Or maybe that’s two quirky children? Or something. News for another blog, really.
I’m rambling… There was a theme here, somewhere!
Oh yeah. Progress. We are making it.
The plan for this year is all about being prepared, and aiming for improvement.
With my job taking me away from home again, I get to look at BTB Fan with the eyes of both an insider, and a frequent visitor. I’m noticing more and more, that he is picking up means if expressing his personality, and his thoughts or wishes. His teachers report continued progress in academia, however this can be difficult to observe outside of school – until he says or does something I hadn’t expected based on him having to have read or calculated something far more complex than I expect of him. Teachers of Autistics should ensure communication in three directions: to the Autistic child, the parents of the child, and to school management.
So the idea then is to stop having such low expectations. He can achieve more than I give him credit for. Parents of Autistics should provide opportunity to their children, then encourage those children to tackle that opportunity head on.
On the family front, I have been investigating the local property market. This is a little difficult given my absence from the scene five days a week, and the fact that buying and selling is better suited to people far more extroverted than myself. I have finally made some inroads though and have decided: it does not have to be ideal, it has to be sufficient. With that in mind, I have a busy weekend coming in six days time.
It came to my attention today that there is currently a very confronting autocomple search phrase waiting on Google for anyone who commences a search with
A range of possible solutions to this were discussed on the Facebook wall of a Page I follow but the only one that makes sense to me is to provide an alternative result to current search terms.
This is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Autism community don’t tend to refer to themselves as Autistics, but as people with Autism or sometimes Autistics – I’ve never seen it in plural from anyone who actually identifies themselves as a part of the community.
But, it seems, Autistics should.
Autistics should own the plural format “Autistics”.
Autistics should be valued, the way John Elder Robison is valued.
Autistics should be supported in the school system, the way my son is.
Autistics should strive to succeed with whatever strength they have, like Temple Grandin did, with single minded attention on the few topics which mattered to her.
But mostly, Autistics should not have to defend themselves against ignorance and bigotry.
Something happened right at school last year: Princess P finally has a fried close enough that it’s a long walk to her house. Far enough that a sleepover makes sense. So we’ve had a few back-to-back sleepover sessions these school holidays.
They have come with a few challenges. The concepts of “ambush mum and dad while you’re on the phone to your friend” or “ask if a reciprocal sleepover is ok when mum comes to pick you up” have both raised their head. Some extremely loud play has ensued and questions have been asked about if the accomodation (Princess P’s bedroom) is in a fit state for guests.
We have also, given the weather, had some issues with sunburn. Given our daughters age, that’s as much her own problem as it is the mother of her friend. But if it continues it will be yet another nail in the coffin of sleepovers till at least Easter.
I would love to think these two-way sleepovers achieve two things: both an “escape to normality” for a girl growing up with disabled brother, and a “window to her life” for Princess P’s friend – some of both Magpie and BTB Fan’s behaviour have been eye-opening it seems.
On an unrelated note. Damn it was hot today. But at least unlike Tasmania, there don’t seem to be any terrible fires throughout New South Wales.
Compared to what other parts of Australia are going through right now, 34 C is pretty easy.
One benefit of Autism that I have come to lean on a fair bit is “rules.”
Generally, once our son knows what The Rules are for a given situation, he actually is quite good at following them. I see this as a consequence of “rigid application of routines.”
This has allowed me to give my son a fairly “long leash” in situations he is familiar with – when we are at the football with his brother and sister, or even, at the local pool.
Today, this fell down a little. And shock, horror, I was called on to actually supervise a seven year old boy.
The problem wasn’t so much the failing to follow the rules – in this instance a quite reasonable and significant saftety type rule – but due to his condition, the inability of the supervising staff to engage him to actually follow the rules. This coincided with me not really being motivated to sit around and supervise him having fun at a time when I was trying to actually achieve something for myself.
So what gave?
There was a consequence for both of us. Actually, all four – because his brother and sister were there – our time at the pool came to an abrupt end, even though I hadn’t done everything I wanted to do. Along with his ability to generally comply with rules, my son really does understand that not following “the rules” usually has consequences. So, with very little discussion, we left.
*sigh* as complaints about children with autism go, that’s a pretty lame effort. He really is coming ahead in leaps and bounds, and these Christmas holidays have been fantastic for him.
Resolutions for 2013.
- Become less unfit. This is not “become super fit.”
- Drink less, and have more alcohol free days.
- Work toward relocating my family to a new city in time for school year starting in 2014.
PS. Yes, this is last night’s blog.
I absolutely love the whole Bourne series of films. They do a fantastic job of setting a stage within a very close-to-real universe which could believably overlap with the one the rest of us happen to inhabit.
Then along came The Bourne Legacy.
A fantastic cinematic experience with a great cast, and a great storyline. Without going too deep, it just happens to be very similar to the movies that came before. It relies on those movies to set the scene. But if you think your experience with the earlier movies is going to tell you everything there is to know about The Bourne Legacy … well you’re in for a shock. You may even get upset that it’s not what you were expecting.
Just like getting on an airplane bound for Rome, and hopping off in … Holland?
Or expecting that your experience with previous children – maybe even children with a disability – will prepare you for a child with Autism.
Taken as an experience on their own, a child with Autism on the most part is a joy. One that may be a lot of hard work. But in the main, Autism itself does not preclude a full enjoyable relationship between child and carer. Let assumptions based on other children assume control of the journey though, and everyone involved will become confused, upset, and possibly needlessly angry.
Enjoy the movie you have. Stop wishing it was a movie that was never made.
Today was a bit of a big one at Westie Central. For the first day since I came home from working in Canberra, Bec had to work, leaving me with all three kids all at once. Which of course is a Big Deal for a dad, even though I’m one of the first to say if they are my kids it’s parenting not babysitting.
There has been far too much electronic time happening in our place since Christmas (or even since Magpie’s birthday). Yesterday I thought that Bec’s return to work was a perfect opportunity to do something about that. So the kids were put on notice that once I returned from my own run, they would be coming with me for a run. So I ran my lap of the suburb, did a few chores and we hit the pavement.
There is a very convenient landmark which is almost exactly 1km from our front gate, which is right on the path of a running track. So all of us headed for that landmark (it’s a bridge), me leading he way with BTB Fan and the dogs. Given the dogs had already finished about 8km, Howie was still eager to go while Lizzie was a bit over it. Yet in only a small fraction longer a time than my standard time, there I was at that bridge with BTB Fan and two dogs.
About a minute later up came Princess P.
Several minutes later again… Magpie finally staggered up. Grumbling about not being at home.
My understanding is the run home was quicker by all parties – except me, who at this point was pushing 10km for the day, and had mown the lawn as well…
Later we headed off to the pool. Both Magpie and Princess P had been told point blank that they would be requried to swim a lap of the full size outdoor pool, because with all the pool time they have had they have spent none of it improving their swimming. I take responsibility for that, but I will reqiure them to put some effort into improving the situation in my own way, if they don’t fix it themselves.
This was accomodated quite readily by Princess P. But somewhere it seems the message had not filtered all the way into Magpie’s head.
As a result… he was less prepared than I had thought he was.
So I had my first in-pool meltdown. In front of some of his school friends, as well as a lifeguard…. Which ended with him swimming his first ever lap of the Olympic pool, back-stroke. Well done mate! At which point I told him that he needed to do it “freestyle” (meaing “front crawl“), and we had another meltdown. In the pool. But again, I perservered, and he swum the lap in the stroke I expected him to use, albeit freaking out and grabbing the lane rope every three to ten strokes.
At the end of it all, he was glad he’d done it, though.
Later, I went through much the same with my littlest Westie, “swimming” (with me supporting his hips) two lengths of the outdoor childrens pool.
Not the best trip to the pool for us. We had been going so well before Christmas, too, but with our routine broken… it was as good an opportunity to establish the routine I need these kids to follow, if they want me to take them to the pool every day while it’s hot and I’m not working.
Stretching our boundaries will bring some growth. One way or another.
Well it seems we are still here so unless that was a spiritual or emotional end of the world, they were wrong.
As has been stated, the Mayans seem to have successfully predicted the end of employment for a bunch of people I have been working with. I’m too tired to get over that quickly I think, but I should be fine by the time 2013 rolls around.
Today is the 22nd of December. A Saturday. Three days before Christmas. and I am taking one child diagnosed with Autism and his two siblings – one under assessment for Autism – to the shops.
Great question. There are a few answers.
Autism should not rule you put of experiences. It should not be an excuse to opt out of every experience you are not 100% equipped to deal with right now. But parents should be right there to support monitor and intervene.
On top of that. I’m time poor this side of Christmas. That is not my preference but comparing the certain money available last week with the uncertain money available next year it was not s difficult choice.
I will take some pics. There will be more to follow. I will celebrate my kids success. I may also mourn if it becomes too much.
Yesterday, my family went out to dinner to both celebrate Magpie’s birthday, and because after being away for so long I just wanted to.
We came home to a message that my nephew is in town and would like to catch up with his cousins. So today for the first time in a long time I went to a Sydney beach – at Coogee – in fact it was the first time I have been to a Sydney beach with my wife or kids!
We had a great day. Well, I did, and BTB Fan seemed to.
My nephew is having the type of career I was worried I may have when I was very young – driving agricultural equipment – but unlike me he is enjoying it and earning a pretty ok living (I drive plenty on my fathers farm).
It was really great to spend the day with him, and his girlfriend. I hope he left knowing how much his offer to spend his time with my family meant to me.