Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reasons to be Cheerful..... Part 2

I was delighted to receive the Happiness 101 award from Petunia recently! Like the Sunshine Blog Award before it, it was perfectly timed as the ideal antidote to my previous, more serious, SNA Post.

When I was a novice blogger with  very few followers (and no facebook to network it) way back in November 2008, I did a similar post listing 10 things that brought a smile to my face that week. I've just read it back with great pleasure and it's funny to see how different things are for us now. We were in a whole other place then! Literally, as we were between two houses at the time!

In order to claim this award I must 10 things that make me happy and then nominate some other victims...em recipients! This list of 10 is a little more challenging then my previous list as it has a "daily" element to it. So here goes......

1. FAMILY

Our little family....... Mr Jazzy, WiiBoy and I! Of course!

2. SNUGGLE TIME

 Starting each and every day with a wake up snuggle with WiiBoy. It really is the only way to start the day! In fact, it's a bit of a family snuggle too as he's usually in our bed so he gets squashy hugs from both sides! Luckily enough WiiBoy is still young enough to want and request numerous snuggles throughout the day so that makes me really happy and I intend to make the most of it while it lasts.



3. GOLDEN NECTAR


My morning bucket cup of tea. Oh God, I need that morning cup of tea and it's good to know I'm not alone in this....that right Jean?!! I wait until I get WiiBoy to school and then I come home and really savour that cuppa with toast and a read of my book. Bliss! It's gas I actually get a withdrawl headache by lunchtime if I don't have that morning cuppa! But it's ok, I'm not a closet tea drinker. I mean there's no hidden stash of used or unused Teabags hidden behind sofas etc to disguise my addiction!

4 LAZY MORNINGS.

 The days (very rare, I swear) when I get to take that cuppa and book back to bed and get some extra rest. Sure it's the simple things in life that does it. I now have WiiBoy in on my secret and on Mr Jazzy's golf mornings, or Easter school holidays, we both get to have brekkie in bed!! Heaven!

5 SECRET LUNCH-TIME TRYST

 (OK.... this one is written in italics and parenthesis, well there's no whisper font, as this is a secret. My big secret, daily  lunchtime tryst with sambo yet another cuppa and......... Home and Away! But, shhhhh.......don't tell! Promise? Wouldn't do my street cred any good if this got out!)

6. HOME.....

 Our extension. I'm still wallowing in the novelty of our "new" extension and love lying on the crescent shaped sofa reading my book (or listening to my new iTouch.) Especially when the sun is shining through our new velux windows. Even on a cold day if feels like sunbathing, so cosy is our extension!
 It's also nice to lie there, of an evening and see the full moon shine through the same velux windows...with all the lights switched off. Magical. It also makes me really happy to snuggle up with WiiBoy with nice cuddly blankets/Duvet and watch movies! Mr Jazzy also sometimes joins us!

7. .....IS WHERE THE HEARTH IS.



My new fireplace. When I'm not in the extension I like to sit in the sitting room, watch TV/read book/listen to/play with my iTouch ( did I mention how much I LOVE my new iTouch??!) and admire my fireplace! Sad, I know but I love the stones we carefully handpicked from the beach and I especially love when the candles are lighting! I know, I know....even Mr Jazzy thinks I'm loopy on this one! But look at the fireplace we had before.........



Now, you see what I mean! I never tire of the changes we've made in this house......

8. TV TIME

Getting my usually daily fix of SATC re-runs! I never tire of it. Of course I also love my weekly dose of   Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives!

9. GOING OUT

This is definitely not daily but I love the rare occasion that myself and Mr Jazzy get to go out. There's no chance of a night away on our own (no family nearby to mind him.... although The Cuz has offered so might take her up on that!) so I enjoy whenever we get to go out together. I think that's why we regularly go to pub for tea. It's our night out, even though WiiBoy comes too...... but we really do enjoy it.

10. FUN TIME

Facebook and Blogging. I know there are some who feel this is a sad existence but it's not ! It's fulfilling, enlightening and FUN! Just think of all the people I've met that I wouldn't have otherwise met and am now proud and honoured to call friends. Plus, think of all the friends of old that I've caught up with. Blogging keeps my mind active! Over active at times, to be honest, but it's fulfilling and fun and it's especially nice to get comments and new followers! And you know I'm not the most techie person in the universe so this has helped my computer and communication skills, and I wouldn't be ashamed or afraid to mention it in any C.V./ Interview if I ever chose to go back to  "paid" employment. So there!


Well, this post has been fun to do and has made me appreciate the wonderful life we have here in the Jazzy house! So, let me pass this on to other unsuspecting victims, I mean willing participants. Hmmmmm.....let me see...... OK..... I tag the following:

Irish Mammy @ Irish Mammy on the Run.

Clive @ Assistance Dog for Autism.

Nan P @ A Journey into Grand-Motherhood.

Tanya @ Teen Autism

Twiggy ( the Newby!) @ Ro Ro Row Your Boat.

Popsie @ The Crazy World of an Autie Mom

Andra @ The Perfect Storm 


And Patsyperdu @ The Odd Adventures of Dr Destructo  

Enjoy! It's fun to do and really great to look at again in the future! 

xx Jazzy

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Choking Game

This is a game played by teenagers and it's a game that does exactly what it says on the tin. The game involves teenagers choking each other to the point of collapse, to get high. It's also called The Good Kid's High as it's perceived as the good kid's alternative to doing drugs.

Now this is not a new game, it is a game that has been with us for generations, I'm told. I was not aware of this as I had a very sheltered upbringing you know, given that I was raised in a working class area on Dublin's north side! In my day the worse thing you could do was smoke. Or get pregnant! Drugs were around alright but not to the extent that they are today. I was of course aware that adults and celebrities partook in this shocking "game". Call me naive but I was not aware there was a "high" involved.

I was choked once.

I certainly didn't feel high afterward...or anything like it.

This is the video that brought this "game" to my attention. I was totally shocked by it and could only watch it once as I find it really distressing.








This Sky News report shows the immediate aftermath of some children being choked, but for obvious reasons does not divulge the precise methods used. You see them shimmy to the floor and then flailing about, as their friends are laughing in the background at the "hilarity" of it all.

It ends on a report about a child who died as a result of this game. The parents had no idea he was involved in such a frightening activity, but they did notice he had previously been listless and sleeping a lot.


There are more stories of children dying and of some being permanently disabled. It is strongly suspected that this 15 year old was brain damaged as a result of playing this game. (WARNING: this is another video I found distressing.)

In this aforementioned US report the 15 year old was without oxygen for only 3 to 5 minutes. He was found alone so no-one can be sure, but the Doctors strongly suspect he had been playing this game. Either alone or with friends.... and they ran off. After watching both these reports I wondered if not only friends carry out this horrific activity but if a group of bullies would coerce  a child that they are bullying into trying it? Perhaps as some kind of "acceptance" ritual........ so that they would video it, YouTube it and "have a laugh". My recent experience with children and how they can bully others via their Nintendo consoles, has made me more aware of  the bullying potential of ANY activity.


This reporter says that children play this "game" in groups OR on their own which is far, far more dangerous, as they are less likely to be found quickly.  The reporter also points out that it's not only teenagers playing this game. Children as young as 9 have been involved.

I find that truly shocking.

All reports I've seen warn parents to talk to their children. NOW.

The children are not afraid to talk about this game in front of their parents and even use the term The Choking Game. There are lots of other names for it, for example: Space Monkey, Cloud Nine, The Purple Dragon, Rising Sun, Roulette and Funky chicken etc.

Have any of those terms been used in your house recently??

An example of  the signs to look out for are: Depression like symptoms along with bloodshot eyes, complaints of headaches,  marks on the neck, even questions about the effects of strangulation, locked doors and disorientation after spending time alone .

Sound familiar??

Read here for more information about this disturbing game .....In 2008 it was estimated that between 250 and 1000 children die from playing this game each year (US figures, I think.). See here also, for more facts (read the PDF document).

I always warn WiiBoy about putting his hands around anyone's neck....either in play OR in anger...... especially in anger. There was an incident when he was younger that knocked me for six. It turned out he was only doing to someone what someone else had done to him. That gave me some relief...to know he got it from someone else and didn't just decide to do it himself. Obviously we worked hard on anger as a result. He still sometimes goes to put his hands around my neck (even typing this freaks me out)in anger but usually stops short. It's not a big problem anymore though, as I've told him my story. He now understands it doesn't take much to seriously hurt someone by doing this.........


Years ago, in MY teenage years,  I was walking through a local park, hand-in-hand with my then boyfriend, the love of my life! As I thought at the time. I was so young and foolish then! We were messing and slagging each other as we walked along. We stopped in a green clearing, with bushes in the centre. There was no-one else around.

I said something and my then boyfriend, jokingly, put his hands around my neck.

I don't remember feeling any pressure whatsoever.

I must have shimmied to the ground, because all I do remember is flailing about as I came to.


There was no-one laughing at the "hilarity" of it all. Tears were shed instead.

I certainly did NOT feel high afterwards. I felt sick and weak.

I even feel sick writing about it now, over 25 years later.

It was a very scary thing to happen, for both of us and it could just as easily have ended differently. Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale but I have often wondered how much more pressure would it have taken for me not to wake up? What would have happened then? There was no-one around and there were bushes nearby..........

I know there is  lots of   controversy  surrounding the death of  Robert Holohan . This 11 year old boy (with ADHD) died tragically at the hands of his 20 year old neighbour, Wayne O'Donoghue, in Cork, December 2005. The main controversy seems to have been about how precisely he died. The defendant said that he died accidentally. He had thrown stones at his (Wayne's) car and there was some "horseplay" involved whereby Wayne had Robert in a headlock. He subsequently lost consciousness and died. Accidentally.


Now, I am NOT getting into the ins and outs of this case. All I want to say is that, due to my personal experience I have always accepted that it was very possible for this poor child to have died accidentally in this manner. All it took was a little more pressure to have been exerted in just the precise spot, for it to occur.


There were, of course other possibilities put forward and Wayne's actions AFTER the event were totally unforgivable. But I am NOT getting into all of that! I just want to point out how easy it can be to seriously hurt someone by accident.

In my case I like to think that my companion would not have acted in the same fashion, and he did have First Aid training.

So, please be on the lookout, and talk to your children NOW.


xx Jazzy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Quiver Full of.......... Robin Hoods!

Today that wonderful support group, Wicklow Triple A Alliance, had organised another group activity for the children and today they got to do Archery! They had previously organised an Archery lesson a couple of months ago but unfortunately we couldn't attend. WiiBoy has hounded me ever since about it!

I was therefore delighted to receive another invite during the week and was determined to make it this time. So determined was I that I arose very early this Saturday morning to get Mr Jazzy,  his beloved Golf clubs and his newly charged Golf Cart (with NEW Battery) to Druids Heath for 9.30 am! Poor WiiBoy had to be dragged sleepy eyed out of the bed too! All in a good cause of course.

Today's lesson took place in Charlesland Sports and Recreation Park in Greystones. This  is a fantastic and very well laid out sports facility.... it even has  a Skate Board Park! It's a wonder I haven't been dragged to that yet!

Like all these group activities run by Triple A this was a small group with a very understanding (and young!) coach. He was great with the children and they all thoroughly enjoyed it.

WiiBoy really enjoyed it and he was actually quite good at it.

He listened well to the instructions.......

                                                             GET READY



                                                             TAKE AIM

                                                            


                                                            FIRE!!


He even got a Bullseye! Well, their version of it. The coach placed a "Side-Show Bob" pic on the target and WiiBoy was the first to hit it. He was thrilled.... particularly as he got him in the head!


Obviously it's good for them to have a specific target to aim for, although I know for a fact that WiiBoy and his Triple A pal had their own target in mind....... their teachers!!


He was quite the Robin Hood! They all were in fact, hence the title of this post!

Hey..... maybe we could line them all  up outside Dail Eireann for more target practise..... now there's an idea ;-)

He was all about it afterwards, so animated as he hopped, skipped and jumped down Main St, Bray for a Mc Donalds treat. Maybe I'll let him tell you all about it, from his perspective, tomorrow over on his own blog!

Of course he now wants to take up Archery! I'm secretly hoping that Triple A will set up more regular sessions, even once a month, as it was so successful! Unfortunately Charlesland don't do weekly Archery sessions. They do, however do Archery Birthday Parties, a fact I'm filing away in my head for a future date!

I googled Archery when I came home and there are a few Archery Clubs around, with one very close to home so we'll see.

There's still the swimming issue to resolve first though.

This is his second year to do weekly group swimming lessons with the school. He's  done 1:1 private lessons for about 2 or 3 years previously. So, I suppose he's being going to lessons for six years. I think he's now getting fed up with them and I've been having problems in getting him to go each week. Now, I'm a great believer in finishing what you start and, in particular, finishing a course that's been paid for so I'm pushing him to see this school year out. It's a good lesson to learn.

Unfortunately things came to a head yesterday and although I got him into the pool (I wasn't the only mother having that problem!) I had to take him out about 15 minutes later.

He wasn't following instructions and wouldn't swim properly. He kept pulling himself along the rope which they're not allowed do. It was escalating and ended with him sitting grumpily on the pool deck with arms folded across his tummy and the biggest scowl on his face, that I could see all the way from the viewing gallery! I tried so hard not to laugh, as did the other mothers! The instructor came over to him a couple of times and on the last occasion  WiiBoy angrily splashed the water, so I knew he was beginning to have difficulty in holding back his anger and it wouldn't be long before he stared shouting abuse at the poor Instructor! No point in letting him disrupt the whole class, so I took him out and we had a bit of a chat, through the tears!

He played the "Special needs" card (clever monkey!) and I simply told him that I understand sometimes it's hard for him etc; but......  Then he told me about something else going on in his head but wouldn't expand on it. Now I don't want to divulge this here because I don't think he'd want me to, but it is something that's come up before. It really freaked me out the first time and while I'm ok about it now I still take it seriously. So while I don't want to be seen to give into him I think  have to follow my intuition. It hasn't let me down yet!

So, I'll give him a break til after Easter and will see, without forcing,  if he'll go back for  a few weeks to end of June. Maybe into the lower group.

I will bring him for his much loved swim -for- fun swims.

I definitely won't sign him up for next year.

But I will NOT be signing him up for any Archery Club until September ;-)

That sound fair enough??

xx Jazzy

NOTE: Wicklow Triple A Alliance is Wicklow/South Dublin based but there is another group called The Arch Clubs that has Social Activities for Special needs children in other Dublin and Kildare areas. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

WiiBoy's Words of Wisdom: My Mum.....

Oh that  WiiBoy, his take on the world and  the things he says. He really makes me laugh!

He has a view on everything and has no problems in sharing them, wherever and whenever he feels like it.

Recently he has shared his views on me as his mum and has showed how much he appreciates all the...ahem...hard work that I do.

You see being a stay-at-home-mum is not all coffee mornings, having my hair and nails done on a regular basis and spending endless hours on facebook. Oh no, I work very hard indeed, I'll have you know. I have been working in my industry (as the celebs might say) for almost six years now and am quite good at my job. WiiBoy is delighted to have me at home. But he doesn't quite get what it is I do all day when he's in school. A fact he regularly brings to my attention.

About two weeks ago I had an extremely busy day. I'd spent all morning hoovering, washing floors etc (with maybe the odd 2 minute glance at facebook) and then it was straight into homework, extra-curricular activity, making dinner, tidying up after and then getting ready to run in and visit my mam in the nursing home. Phew...major wiping of brow here!

WiiBoy had had a hard day in school that day and a hard time doing homework.

He got a bit angry.

He raged at the unfairness of it all saying.....

It's not fair mum.... I have to go to school every day and you get a SIX YEAR HOLIDAY. I wish I could have a six year holiday!! 

Yup...... that pretty much sums up the last six years! It's been a breeze!

Then last week when we were in Bray doing a spot of  iTouch shopping (yes, yes we got the iTouch and it's FAB!!) and he came out with another classic. We were in Mack's Aquatic Shop looking at  the Budgies, Parrots, Snakes and the fish too of course. He saw a fish he recognised..... no, not personally.... he'd seen it on TV! He couldn't think of the name of it so he, ahem, described it.......

There's that fish mum... it's.... it's like a mini-hoover. It cleans up the tank...... so you don't have to.  It's like....... (little giggle) YOU,  MUM!

Right. I see.

I'm definitely doing something wrong here.

I must be working too hard.

Maybe I will return to the (paid) workforce in November after all. That'd show 'em!

Then again, maybe I should do more coffee mornings and spend more time in Dundrum Town Centre instead!

That sounds more like it!

xx Jazzy

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking With Friends......

 We had quite a memorable week last week.                                    

 For some time now WiiBoy has been aware that some of his classmates walk some of the way home from school and he's been anxious to join them.

Now, this thorny issue was raised about this time last year and I have to say I've done nothing about it since then. I had intended to gently prepare the way for the Long Walk Home..... but being the protective mammy I am, I chickened out! Well, he never brought it up again and I was quite happy to let sleeping dogs lie.


He's now a year older so this time I had no choice. I had to brace myself, undo a couple of shackles and loosen those apron strings of mine just a teeny bit.

This was a difficult thing for me to do, given that I am most likely perceived as being an over-protective mum to an only child! And it's probably a fair assumption too. However, before anyone rushes to judgment let me try to put a little bit of perspective on this.

I suppose I am a tad over protective, but our ASD journey to date has had a few twists and turns that parents of non-ASD children won't be familiar with. However, most of you reading this will be familiar with our story, as it mirrors your own! You know the deal: Child's a bit of a runner, has no road sense at all. You are always the ONLY parent on the green when your child is playing with other children, to ensure all goes ok. Especially if it's games of any sort. You are also the only parent who stays at a birthday party your child attends or a playdate etc;etc. So, loosening those apron strings can be a very scary thing to contemplate.

So we had a chat, WiiBoy and I, and came with a plan. I would meet him (as I observe him) across the busy small road he has to cross, to take the laptop off him and give him some money (€1) to spend in the shop. Clever little ruse that! I'd then go on ahead and wait in the church carpark, just across the road from the Lollipop lady  to give him some freedom. However, as the shop is in a busy Petrol Station I stand at a discreet distance to watch and then move on ahead to said carpark.

That was an acceptable plan to WiiBoy, so one knot on the ould apron strings was untied and he walked with his friends most days last week!

Oh, he was so, so thrilled with himself. So animated and full of chat when he came home as he enthused about how much he was enjoying it.

Now, buying chocolate or crisps every day is not ideal, I know and I've no wish to be accused of child neglect! I allow it because it's such a part of the social experience of the walking with friends. They also club together and share out their spoils. So, it really is a Social Skills Lesson. And it is very, very good for his self esteem.

That's my story and I sure as hell am sticking to it ;-) 

Now, the intention was to allow him a little more freedom this week. Perhaps I would wait a little further down the road, once I was sure that he was being careful crossing that little Library Road.

But, you know something........  although he was trying, I really wasn't that sure that he was being careful enough. In fact most of them aren't that careful.They cross that road en bloc, which is kind of good. Safety in numbers and all that. Some take a perfunctory glance which is good, but not good enough. None of them look back over their left shoulder to see if a car is turning right onto the road they're crossing, and that is bad!

So the hyper, over-protective mum in me has decided to ignore anyone else's perceptions of my over-protective parenting and I am sticking to my original plan!

Today I learned that a lady, in her sixties, was knocked down at this very junction this week at 9.05am, on a school morning. She was knocked down by a car turning right onto the road as she was crossing over.

Over-protectiveness is so under-rated you know!

I guess that while I may be loosening those apron strings, I won't be untying them completely anytime soon!

We were very proud of Wiiboy last week though. This latest development is viewed by us as a bit of a milestone. To see him walking with, and being accepted by, his friends fills our hearts with joy.

We were very happy indeed with this memorable development.

Little did we know that there was more to come......

Through my involvement with the school over the last number of years, I've noticed that they allow the older children to mind the younger ones in their classrooms, at break times on rainy days. Forgive me, I know this is probably normal practice in most schools but this is my first experience with mainstream schooling!

It always amazes me to see a child who is giddy at my rehearsals calmly take complete control of a whole classroom of noisy first class children! Not a whisper out of them. I tell ya, I could learn a thing or two from them!

This practice, it appears to me, helps greatly with their self esteem as they are being entrusted with a very important job. It also helps them become aware of others needs and to be more caring towards others. Very fine goals indeed and it is no harm for them to learn that they are NOT the only child in the Universe after all. Particularly if they are an only child :-)

What I didn't know is that the school also encourages the older children to read to the younger ones. From Fourth class on it seems.

Last week they introduced this practise to this years fourth class and guess who got to read to a Senior Infant pupil. 

Yup..... you got it..... WiiBoy!!

Now, if I thought walking with friends was an emotional milestone this really was the cherry on the top, that brought the tears to my eyes!

There he was, the boy who still insists on having a bedtime story read to him every night, reading to another child. Not only did he read to him but he asked him what kind of story he'd like and afterwards asked him what it was all about. It would seem that all those Resource reading hours are beginning to pay off.

A very proud and emotional moment for us...... and his SNA Angel!

In fact it was a very proud and emotional week for us all. Our boy is growing up! And is amongst friends.

It is good for us all to Walk With Friends........ real and virtual.

Take care,

xx Jazzy


















Friday, March 5, 2010

VOTE FOR BALLYOWEN MEADOWS SCHOOL FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN: In The AIB Better Ireland Awards

 AIB's Better Ireland Awards Programme has funding up for grabs for Childrens Groups all around Ireland. There are a number of Autism specific schools out there looking for funding to allow them to continue, or start providing, much needed Therapies for the children.
 

Ballyowen Meadows School for Children on the Autistic Spectrum is one such school. The school is based in Stillorgan but is currently operating from Loughlinstown while the original school site undergoes major re-development. This school is a cause close to the heart of all of us, here in the House of Jazzy!

The school has approximately 40 children in small groups and does fantastic work with these children. Sometimes the school is a stepping stone to get a child ready for Mainstream school (ahem!) or a different Specialist school.

 To VOTE for this school to help them fund their very important Swimming, PlayBall and Horse Riding Therapies etc; please click here . Click on "Cornelscourt" Branch on the map and follow instructions.

Alternatively you can text your vote by:


Texting CORNEL followed by a space , followed by B to 51303

You can vote once a day by Text (standard SMS rates apply)  AND by email (Free).

The funds are allocated as follows:



The group receiving the highest votes will be given €5,000

second place €3,000

and third place €2,000



The more votes the more funds....so PLEASE GET VOTING!!

THERE ARE ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT, SO PLEASE VOTE EVERY DAY IF YOU CAN.


MANY THANKS!! 

xx Jazzy

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hope SPRINGS Eternal...

......As we walked down our lane (with a happy refrain) last Sunday.

It was a lovely sunny day, which was a nice change after all the recent  long cold, dark days! I decided I'd had enough of seeing WiiBoy parked in front of a screen and got us all wrapped up for a short walk down our lane to the beach.

It's been a while since we'd been on this walk. We've been so busy, you see. Would we remember the way I wondered!

Of course we did.And we brought some carrots with us.....


 

                                                      .............. To feed the horses.
Just as we ran out of carrots the foal appeared.......



...so he had to make do with a pat on the head!

So, off we went to our lovely stoney beach which is literally a stones throw away, if you'll pardon the pun!

WiiBoy was delighted because the tide was out....


And it wasn't long before he got his coat off....

 

And got straight down to work....


Making tracks and damns and re-arranging the flow of water, just like he did last time!

He gets such fun out of this. An Engineer-in-the-making?? An Entrepreneurial Engineer, that is ;-)

Eventually I dragged him away and we trotted back up the lane. On the way we found some hay and took some with us....

                                                    .......so the foal got fed too!!

Back home, change of clothes then out on the trampoline!!

 

Oh, don't you just love these days? Now, it was cold but it was SUNNY! It's been sunny and cold for the last two days which makes me think spring is here and it won't be long 'til summer. Happy Days!

'Tis enough to put you in good humour!

But has Spring sprung?

WiiBoy constantly tells me Spring begins Feb 1st, because that's what he's taught in school.

On the radio yesterday we were told "Yippee, it's Spring...1st of March!"

According to a texter to a radio station, and Yahoo answers  Spring will not be Sprung until March 20th, the Vernal Equinox.

So there! Glad we got that one sorted.

For now though, I'll just sit back and look at this one last photo from last year and dream about being on the beach again, very soon, watching WiiBoy splash about in the sea with his pals!

 

I hope you're experiencing some nice weather wherever you are and are feeling that Spring bounce in your step!

xx Jazzy