Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just When You Thought it was Safe......


It' s been great posting recently about all the positive changes with WiiBoy. It really is good to take stock every so often and see the positive things. Sometimes the changes are so subtle and take place over such a long period of time, that we don't even realise that they've occurred. It is good to remind ourselves though ..... and pause a moment to take a well deserved pat on the back!!

Then there are the times that we, well I, kind of forget that things can still be hard for him. You know, when things have improved and you feel that your child is able to tolerate more so you push him/her just that little bit further. Which can sometimes mean a little too far. Like, when all is going well when you're out shopping, so you go into one more shop.... or you squeeze one extra quick job in while he/she's waiting for you to do something for them. Then the "A" word comes right back to bite you on the bum! The Autism may have substantially reduced but......it hasn't gone away you know (like Gerry Adams from Sinn Fein once famously, and disingenuously, remarked about the I.R.A.)!!
I constantly think about the Autistic Spectrum and how it affects WiiBoy and of course, go through my doubting periods. Now, I know he's on the spectrum but when things are really good other people's doubts enter my head. I think about them....then quickly brush them aside.

I had a great chat with a good friend of mine recently who has 4 boys. He was curious about Autism and how it presents. Most things I brought up he could see traits of in his own sons but accepted that it was the combination of traits in just one child that added up to a spectrum disorder. That said, it's good for me to hear that other children react similarly (but not exactly!) like WiiBoy.

The Autistic Spectrum is so wide and varied and just to confound things, it can also be covered with a veil of invisibility. Or, even with a cloak of "normalcy". If you know what I mean ....... and I know that you do. We're usually covered with the Cloak of Normalcy which, to be honest, is a very nice Cloak indeed and does it's job extremely well! We are very lucky to have worked our way up to wearing this Cloak.

I think we wear this cloak every where we go and usually no-one notices, which is great. Hey, sometimes I'm even fooled by this cloak! When I push WiiBoy too far I'll get tantrums and lots and lots of giving out. I'll get firm with him and then it all falls apart. On occasion he has said "But mum....you forget that it's still hard for me". Now, this line can be delivered in a number of ways. On a couple of occasions he really was upset and I knew I'd pushed too far. They were genuine tears and he was unable to cope in the situation. The Cloak of Normalcy had fallen off. So, I'd stop everything, sit down and talk it through with him. If it was a homework issue we might agree that he could do a bit more later on. Some may consider that "giving in" to him but I don't. I consider it being understanding and letting him know that his feelings are important. He knows that I will take his feelings seriously and that he will be listened to. He knows I understand that sometimes it is indeed harder for him. An important lesson for when he's older, I think.

However, WiiBoy is also capable of chancing his arm and saying "Don't they know I went to the Helping School??"! The usual response to that one is : "Yes, but you don't go there anymore because things are much easier for you now..."!!

So then, all is going relatively well now. There are huge positive changes and we can all kind of forget. We think it's safe to go back into the water and then the "A" word comes back searching for a bum to bite! Aha, says the "A" word....let me show you that I am still here!

Last week WiiBoy went to the Barbers with Mr Jazzy for a haircut. His Cloak of Normalcy was firmly in place and all went fabulously. What he didn't know was that his Resource Teacher was driving past at the time and happened to spot him in the Barbers.

On Monday he had a Resource session with this Teacher and Ms B. said; "Wow, what a great haircut". WiiBoy was happy with that. Then she said "I saw you in the Barbers getting it cut". Well, he was having none of this. No way could he accept that she had seen him. She couldn't possibly have seen him because he didn't see her . Nor could he let it go. He spent the whole session quizzing her, he'd do some work then ask her a question about it. Like, what colour top he had on, who was sitting beside him etc. It was a real eye-opener for Ms B, and me too. I mean, there was I happily believing we had Theory of Mind nailed!! ( if you're checking out this link see also the Sally-Anne Test.) See, the Cloak of Normalcy slipped again and the "A" word came-a-biting!

I learned of the above incident because I had a meeting with Ms B., resource incidents don't normally find their way into the Daily Journal. I will have to remedy that, pronto! By the way Ms B. was also his class Teacher 2 years ago and she also sees huge improvements!

I was glad I found out though because last night it happened again. When he left the classroom yesterday, to go to resource they were doing homework. They stopped then and did music while he was gone but he wasn't there and he wasn't capable of imagining that something different took place in his absence. Therefore, he refused to do homework because no-one else had any as they had already completed it in class. There was no arguing with him ( very difficult to argue with that) even though I had texted his S.N.A. to clarify!!

It was funny though, 'cos we eventually got most of it done and then he told Teacher that he didn't complete his Geography 'cos he couldn't do it and "mum was too busy" to help! Teacher said mum will always help him if he needs it, so a very unimpressed WiiBoy responded by telling her, and his S.N.A. that he'd "sue" them!!

Oh dear!!

So in conclusion, it's great to have hope but we will never get complacent because the"A" word is always lurking in the deep waters to catch us out! However, we must continue to be brave and keep testing those waters! xx Jazzygal

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad and ...... The Promising.


I've been very remiss at a lot of things last week, including Blogging. Actually, I've been remiss at a lot of things for quite some time now! I've missed catching up with some friends and attending other friend's shows too, for example. Hopefully I will get my act together this week. I doubt it, but I will try!

Last week was a bit of a mixed bag really. I must say though, before I go any further, that it is taking WiiBoy this whole school term to get settled in. Homework seems to be the main issue, as well as getting used to his new Teachers (class and resource) and their ways of doing things! I don't remember previous years being so difficult. We're getting there though so that's Good. Although I will point out, (there are those of you who will understand this) that it is the stresses around homework and settling back into the school year which has played a huge part in the things I've been remiss at. You see, although homework can go very well at times I don't know when that's going to happen so can't plan around it. For example by the time it's done, extra-curricular activity and dinner sorted it's too late to get to say, a show starting (usually other side of city!) at 8.00pm! To be honest, I don't even bother trying to explain it any more.

We got off to a great start last Monday with homework. He refused to do it outside the Principal's office so I gave him one last chance to do it at home, with the proviso that it must be done as if he was doing it at school. If not, he would have to do it in school every day. It worked too! He did it with no problems at all and he calmly asked for help when he was stuck at something. That was very Good.

It worked on Tuesday too. But then on Wednesday it was Bad ..... on Thursday it was very Bad. Oh, how he railed against all the perceived unfair things that happened! Including Gaelic. It is very unfair when no-one will pass the ball to you! God love him! Hmmm .... now I'm thinking does he really have to do Gaeilic?? He could have done his homework then! Or gotten some instruction on his laptop. I will monitor this and see what can be done.

I think things got harder as the week progressed. He has something after school every day, bar Monday. That's maybe something I need to re-evaluate. The thing is though, they're all necessary. It was so Bad on Thursday that he got very little homework done and he really didn't want to go to Drama. I let it go as we were taking Grandad out for his Birthday tea and I didn't want WiiBoy totally stressed out. In retrospect I organised too much for that day ..... trying to please everyone, as usual.

By Friday he was totally wrecked and didn't want to go swimming after school! As I didn't have the car that day I didn't push him. Didn't really want to argue about it en route to swimming in someone else's car! I don't intend letting him away with anything this week!

Something else Good happened this week. Teacher is having homework trouble with most of the class and she now realises that she's giving too much and is limiting it!! That is very Good! You know, teachers have to settle in too and find their feet with a new class.

Then, later on Friday evening , in order to get him off the computer, Nintendo etc we played Simpson's Monopoly! It was great fun. He is so good at playing Board Games now. It's taken a very long time but we got there. He paid his "bills" and "repairs" and went to "jail" etc when asked! He even tried to make me feel better when I got a bill to pay! He said "don't feel down mum... I had to pay more!" It doesn't get more Promising then that!

Then to top it all, we had an unexpected visitor. A friend of mine called to collect a book I'd borrowed. Apart from being a friend she was also his Teacher in Junior Infants. She only had him for an hour and a half a week but she's seen him on and off since then also. She couldn't get over how he's come on and agreed with me that he's a different child! I was delighted with that big pat on the back ...... and I was thrilled he was playing monopoly and not on computer etc when she called!! Things are very Promising indeed. I must repeat that to myself everyday when the Homework Cloud hits!!

And so, we begin another week and look forward (I think!) to it's offerings, among which are:

  • A visit by to the school on Wednesday by Leo Cullen, Captain of the Leinster Rugby team! Which means NO UNIFORM DAY!! WooHoo!! And probably no homework.... DOUBLE WooHoo!!
  • A trip to Croke Park Wednesday night by the Jazzy family to see Ireland v Montenegro, in the last world cup Qualifying match (apart from the play-offs, that is!). In preparation of our visit to Liverpool on the 25th!
  • The revealing of our "secret" birthday present to Mr Jazzy! Also on Wednesday. We cannot possibly hold out any longer! Every day WiiBoy is just gagging to let the secret out!!
I will let you know how we get on! xx Jazzy

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