Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Category Archives: school


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.


Success in 2013

This year the 21st century becomes a teenager.

The teens are typically troubling times in most of our lives, with a lot of change and that’s how I’m feeling at this point. I’ve turned 40, and I’m looking at a year ahead with some uncertainty about how I will be able to measure my success.

I have some aspirations, but if I look closely at them they are routes to success not success in themselves. I need to look more closely at why I want these things, and identify what it is about them that marks them as signs of success. Many of the things I am striving for are intangible, which exacerbates my issue.

The whole SMART concept seems to be heading out of vogue

Maybe. Maybe my success will be achieved when I can drop the whole SMART attitude to my personal life? It seems to result in more concrete results, results that I know when I have achieved, results which I can help my family to celebrate.

I am very outcome focussed in my career. I really enjoy jobs where I have targets identified and where I can look to some kind of scorecard and confirm that “yes, I’m doing my job.” Yet, it seems I may be on a path to deviate away from that kind of work at the moment.

So what might be the outcomes rather than the indicators of success for the Westies for 2013?

  • Continued increase in the range of situations where Bob the Builder Fan can resolve the issue through verbal communication
  • Complete the assessment process for Magpie, to either confirm there is a need for a treatment program… or not?
  • Ensure that Princess P completes primary school ready for high school – both intellecutally AND emotionally. Given that she will be amongst the youngest students in Year 7 at the start of 2013.
  • Support Bec through training, work experience, volunteer work, so that at the end of 2013 she has a clearer understanding of what her future direction should be
  • Have a house that is market ready. But given what’s across the road, whatever I do to my own house might not mean I have a great circumstance to sell it in (honestly, clik that link and see on A Current Affair what I have across the road from my house).
  • For myself… be in a job which is covering my cost of living – with a better idea of what that means if it is another contract role – with a suitable buffer to allow relocating my family out of this suburb if that’s what makes sense in 10 months time.
  • And again for myself, have committed to commencing (if not completed) additional study which will help my future career. At this stage, Business Analyst or Project Manager certification, or possibly an MBA.

I think those things are still specific enough, without being so carved in stone that there is no room for an alternative solution I haven’t considered yet.

Food for future thought.

New Years 2013

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.

That’s it.

PS. Yes, this is last night’s blog.

Success: It’s academic

Tonights post is dedicated to Magpie, who today was presented with an Academic Achievement award. While his classmates recieved awards dedicated to single disciplines such as reading and maths, Magpie’s award was for more generic “Academic Achievement.”

This is indicative of his broadly rounded abilities, and his ability to pick up and run with any topic – even the ones that may not be so interesting to him. It’s great that he is being recognised and rewarded for his efforts.

So, well done to Magpie! Great work.

Talents, are what you make of them

I’m sure all of us have talents. They are in us, somewhere.

Mine tend to be more intellectual than practical, a way of thinking rather than a way of doing. My organisational thinking, and need to categorise, has no doubt imprinted quite strongly on my two sons, and in its’ own way on my daughter – it is there, just not as obvious.

My skills are in mathmatical and problem solving, which have shown through in the work I do, and in the work I was able to do in the Army Reserve in training new troops in use of radio equipment. Even though the reserve members were specifically selected as being likely to be able to learn how to use this type of equipment, many had significant challeng in learning how to use them.
When I come to artistic expression, my talents let me down significantly. I may be able to lean a technique or tool, but that is different to coming up with the inspriation which leads a person to come up with a reason to make use of that technology.


These talents I have, have kept me well employed up till now. I see that the talents my children have, will provide plenty of opportunity in their lives, so long as they have the inspiration, and motivation, to turn those talents to something which others see a reason to pay for.

What’s so great about that, anyway?

It is seen somewhat as a baseline to intellect: What is your favorite book?

My first ever favorite book. And it’s still great!

My favorite book, along with my favorite movie and television show, have altered dramatically through the years. I still remember my first ever favorite book, and I’m happy to say that my children have enoyed it, too: Go, Dog, Go! by P D Eastman.

It is a great book. A ripping read. With a fantastic vocabulary that helps to give beginning readers confidence. I loved the book as a kid, and my kids loved it as they learned to read. For my youngest, this is even more special, because at the same time as he was learning to read, he was learning to speak.

I don’t know what makes a book your favorite, but an emotional connection to moments in our lives, seem like quite a good reason to me, for a book to be my favorite. This book to me, triggers memories of being cared for by my extended family while my mother recouperated from a motor vehicle accident. This coincided with my commencement in school, and our moving to a new house – a house which was ultra moddern, clean and new, compared to the one we had moved out of. The new house had so many clever tricks and secrets which I’m not sure how far I should trust my own memory with. Thirty years later, it was one of a very small number of books I looked forward to reading to my own children.

There have been many books I have read and enjoyed in the last thrity five years. But this one wil be my favorite hopefully to the time I am reading it to my grandchildren, and beyond.

School camp

Today, my little Magpie has gone away on school camp. I think. Either that or I am in Canberra and I’ve got the day wrong …
However even if I have the day incorrect the point remains unchanged: he is as excited as all hell about his camp. He is in the wonderful situation that he has been on a few camps now and he seems to love them. It is a quirk of his mix of personality and makeup that as I was at his age, he is happy to engage with anyone. Everyone is a friend, it’s just that some friends he has yet to meet.

So far he is yet to come home from a camp disappointed, however he did express some annoyance that rappelling and rock climbing have both been removed from the list of activities.

Good luck at your camp Magpie. It will be great.


Best of both worlds

Tomorrow, two wonderful things happen for the Westie family: Our kids return to school (alathough, there is some sort of industrial disruption going on… ), and thanks to the quirks of my own work arrangement, I stay home thanks to a public holiday.

My youngest son, who has Autism, will be over the moon to be back in his routine school setting. His school holidays have been quite limited in their routine: he spent the first week at home, then a weekend in the car, followed by a week with his grandparents, before finally returning home today. The change from home to his grandparents provided some stressful moments for not just himself, but it seems his brother, sister, and both grandparents. His brother, Magpie, seems to have handled the stress the least successfully of everyone.

And tomorrow, they are back to school. We are aiming this term to get Magpie into some form of assessment, and there are a range of diagnoses which would be unsurprising to either Bec, myself, or his teachers.

The flipside is the wonderful public holiday in the Australian Capital Territory, “Family & Community Day“. It’s a new one on me, having only ever worked in New South Wales before (which does not celebrate anything similar to this day). Even though my family will be either at work or at school, I will be staying home, and will make the most of my opportunity to have an extra night with Bec and the kids. In the spirit of the day, I hope you have some extra connection to your family or local community tomorrow.


My wife advised on her Facebook page tonight that BTB Fan won a running race at school today.
Well done young man!
Apparently he was not awarded the win due to a contentious start (ie – he started running way too early) but such details in life only exist so proud parents can ignore them.




Party Night

Two weeks ago, Princess P turned ten years old. In a couple of days time, it will be Bob the Builder Fan’s turn and he will be seven.
If anyone ever asks, having three children in the space of three years was an incredible experience. That doesn’t mean I recommend it to anyone to repeat, though. I digress.
In the last year, our son with Autism has been coming along developmentally like a freight train. He really enjoyed being in Early Intervention Pre School, and the transition to Big School went well enough but in its own way it did interrupt his progress. Twelve months ago though he was over that hump and he has been picking up speed ever since.
Which is lucky of course given that the Autism Fairy waves her wand and cures Australian children of Autism on their 7th birthday. Oops, again I digress.
In the last twelve months, between Reading Eggs, Mathletics, school itself, and the outings they do, on top of his family life, our son is developing independence, resilience, and the communication skills to go with his assertive nature. We are still working on his social skills, and keeping a close eye on what the school considers acceptable levels of both social and academic progress. So far, so good. Our fingers stay crossed.

Wishing my son a fantastic night tonight, as well as the night of his birthday.






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