Goodbye 2013

ASD Mummy with issues.

As with many people, today is a day for reflection on another busy year.

I was going to talk about all that has happened in the boys world during the past 12 months, but Hubby was up before me this morning – in my defence I was up with a poorly M in the night, and he has written a piece on his blog summing up all they have done.   It seems silly to repeat it all, so if you haven’t read it with him, then here it is – http://jas2jar.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/an-up-and-down-asd-year/

I am therefore sitting here with the dregs of the Quality Street tin – its only ever the orange chocolate crunch left by this time, and am thinking about what I have achieved in the last 12 months.

A year ago, I was coming to the end of a horrible couple of year.    I had hit rock bottom, and…

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Pizza Time – Homemade Style

We’re taking it easy at home today on the last year – well with the exception of Jane. She’s been busy in the kitchen to get ready one of our favourite meals. We love to make our own pizza dough so we can put together our own pizzas. They really are lovely, and each of us can load them with our favourite toppings. I can already taste the pepperoni, salami, onions, sweetcorn & chillies on mine! The base is lovely and thing, the toppings thick. There’s a bit of work on preparing the dough – currently rising as we speak – but the fun part comes later. Spreading out the dough and topping them is a task the boys love. Its a real sensory experience for them, and they both love helping in the kitchen.

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They so enjoy getting their hands in the dough – its as much to feel what its like as much as it is preparing it for topping. Everything done in the kitchen has a dual purpose. The whole food preparation cycle is a sensory experience for the boys, but most of all they love getting their pizzas exactly as they like them. We know its something they love doing, and crucially they are keen to eat the end result! Well, if it means they’ll get a filling balanced meal – particularly Matthew who hasn’t been eating this week after being poorly, its all worth it. Roll on tea time!

An Up and Down ASD Year

Inevitably, we use the last day of the year to reflect on the year that’s gone by. Its been no longer than any that’s gone before – shorter than 2012 by a full day! Our 2 ASD boys might not understand how some days/weeks/months/years can seem longer than others. Most of us know what we mean when we say, “Its been a long year” but Matthew and Daniel – like other ASD kids – see things literally and logically. To me, 2013 has gone by fairly quickly. Its helped that we’ve had a couple of short breaks at Easter & in October to sandwich our summer holiday.

The holidays have broken down the year into manageable chunks for the boys and gave them something to focus on. Without that, it may well have been a long year. Its part of the challenge with ASD children – getting something for them to focus on. Its an attempt to give some sort of routine to the year. The danger in that is that when we go to Haven at Haggerston Castle for our short break, and Haven Primrose Valley for our main break, that is routine, and its what the boys will expect to do every year. Making a change to that will end up being a disappointment. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but for this year, it was perfect. The boys both enjoyed their times away, and Haven is perfect for them. The parks have plenty to hold their attention on site, and Scarborough has plenty to offer offsite too. The boys had the added attraction for their auntie & cousins visit for the weekend at Primrose Valley, and they had a great time with them.

The school calendar year has been a bit of a mixed bag. Both boys are achieving well at last. There’s never been a problem with Daniel in that regard – he is very studious and loves his time learning. We had no problem with him at all in school. He can get annoyed with other kids in class who talk or interrupt when he is concentrating on a task. He liked his P1 teacher a lot, but loves his P2 teacher. She likes Doctor Who & Star Wars, so is COOL! Matthew on the other hand has really had a mixed year. At the start of the year, he wasn’t getting much SEN support, and it was showing. He started to struggle a bit with his reading, and wasn’t enjoying school. It didn’t help that he was being bullied by a boy in class – that wasn’t being dealt with. Ultimately Matthew took matters into hands and belted him. Naturally, it was Matthew that was punished – punishment that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He was moved out of that class – away from a teacher I felt wasn’t good for him to a teacher that understood him, and nurtured him. Sadly, she left to a promoted post at Easter, but his new teacher is still with him in P4, giving him continuity at last. He’s also getting a lot more SEN support. He adores his SEN teacher, and can’t wait for sessions with her. He also has time with another SEN teacher in the school’s special needs hub. Both are excellent teachers, and I have a lot of time for them. The SN hub teacher was one of his job share P1 teachers, so he knows her well, and is comfortable with her.

Away from school, the boys are becoming a bit more volatile, Daniel in particular. He will often head off into a world of his own. He also is susceptible to increasingly frequent meltdowns. He is easily frustrated as he is a little perfectionist and if it doesn’t happen for him immediately, you can seen the steam coming from his ears. Its not all meltdowns with him – which are largely focussed on the home – he is adept at trying a tantrum to get his own way. What we’ve had to learn this year with him is how to discern what’s a tantrum and what’s meltdown. When he tantrums, we need to lay down what is acceptable behaviour. Its unfair to punish him if he’s in meltdown (its usually a trip to the “naughty step”) but equally, its not right to excuse what is bad behaviour and blame it on his Asperger’s. He’s sleeping a lot better, which is something. Matthew is too, but we still get regular nights when he is through in the early hours, disrupting the house when we try to get him back to bed.

Daniel has developed other little difficulties. At a review meeting with the school, we’d mentioned his double jointed fingers – he has difficulty holding a pencil, and also finds it difficult to raise his arms. The Educational Psychologist proposed referring him to Occupational Therapy. We also asked to see the school doctor, and he was due at update visit with them. The school doctor was concerned with his joints in general, and saw enough to refer Daniel to orthopaedics at the children’s Hospital in Aberdeen. The end result is Daniel has been diagnosed with hypermobility – if you watch Daniel running, you can see his knees point out the way instead of straight ahead. The end result now is he’s awaiting an operation to put pins in his knees to straighten his joints. We’re ending the year waiting for the op. In the meantime, he’s on the waiting list for OT. We’ve got him chunky pencils, and grips for regular pencils to help with his holding of a pencil. Its working so far, and his writing is improving. Other than that, their health his year has been pretty good. Missed days to illness have been very, very rare in the latter part of the year. Given Daniel was troubled with a lot of chest infections, that improvement has been most welcome.

Although Matthew still has great trouble understanding and initiating friendships, Daniel is blossoming in that regard. He’s still not bothered if he doesn’t see his friends for a few days – or more – but he is enjoying playing with them outside of school much more. He’s been to a couple of friends houses to play, and is comfortable in doing so. Its a big step forward. On a slightly downside, although they are maintaining their relationships with their grannies, neither (the grannies) seem overly troubled in engaging them. Jane’s mum is happy being miserable, and Daniel is often the target for her frustration. Daniel is maturing and can entertain himself and has new interest and that has made Jane’s mum jealous. Woe betide he watch Star Wars. My mum very rarely comes over, using the boys being at school as an excuse. I’ve ended up taking them over on the odd Sunday, but when we get a visit, there’s usually a spurious reason as to why she can’t stay (cleaning for non-existent visitors, or the church is more important.) The boys are still craving their attention this year, but as they grow older, they’ll see through it, and will drift away from their grannies. It will be their loss, not the boys’

Overall, its been a good year with them. We’re continuing to learn how to cope with their ASD – and how to help them cope with it. We’re continuing to learn how to best advocate for them at school. They’ve loved some of their activities this year, particularly their special needs dancing at the Deeside Dance Centre, which was arranged through local special needs charity, Scills. That’s been a big positive for them. They’ve met other special needs children, and realise that they’re not alone in having a special need. The girls in their dance class are Downs, but that makes no odds to them. They are so accepting of differences, and many adults could learn from that. Its been a decent year, and the boys have both grown in the physical, mental and spiritual sense. Well 2014, we’re ready for you. Bring it on!

Don’t give me your germs.

ASD Mummy with issues.

On Boxing Day, M started coughing.     There is nothing unusual about this during the school holidays.    The stress of the change of routine tends to manifest itself in a real barking cough.      We therefore tend to ignore it when it happens.    We don’t want to feed his stress levels by paying them attention.     We acknowledge it but nothing more.    We don’t want him to think getting stressed is something to make a fuss about but instead, he needs to work through his misgivings until he can cope with things.

By the Friday, the cough was getting worse, and he was complaining about a sore throat.     Being the terrible person I am, I just told him that it was no surprise it was hurting, as 36 hours of constant hacking would give anyone a sore throat.      Nothing more was said.    That is until he coughed himself sick after tea time.      This…

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A Canterbury Tale Movie Time

Christmas holidays for me on TV usually involves watching old movies. Anything from Johnny Wiesmuller’s Tarzan to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes via Will Hay and Abbott & Costello and lots in between. Today though it was the turn of one of my top five movies of all time, the enduring adaptation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Its the 1944 release of A Canterbury Tale, and I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it.

The movie is set in wartime rural Kent (and Canterbury, obviously!) and centres around 4 characters, who ultimately all make their own pilgrimage to Canterbury for their own reasons – Alison Smith (Sheila Sim), British Army sergeant Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price), US Army seageant Bob Johnson (John Sweet) and Thomas Colpepper (Eric Portman). Smith, Gibbs & Johnson arrive in the town of Chillingborne where Smith is attacked by the “glueman” who pours glue in her hair before running off. The movies then deals with Smith, Sweet & Gibbs’ investigation of the attacks (11 other women had been attacked.) The movie also deals with Johnson’s acceptance of the Anglo-American differences, and his learning of the English way of life. Ultimately their investigation identifies the culprit as local magistrate & gentleman farmer Thomas Colpepper. Colpepper was acting in good faith, attempting to protect local women from soldiers stationed nearby, and also to remove distractions from the soldiers so they could attend his lectures on local history. The four meet on the train into Canterbury – their pilgrimage for blessing or penance. In a beautifully photographed scene, Sim, Price & Sweet are sitting next to each other on the train – on the bench – as the train passes through a tunnel, giving the impression of them sitting in judgement of Portman’s Colpepper. Colpepper accepts his fate, reiterating that he acted in good faith. Gibbs intends informing the Canterbury police.

The end of the movie is lovely. Smith receives her blessing in the form of being told her fiancé is still alive, having been feared killed in action. His father tells Smith, and tells her he no longer objects to their marriage. Johnson meets an army friend who hands him a wad of letters from Johnson’s girlfriend. Johnson had received no correspondence from her, believing her no longer interested. He receives his blessing with the letters. Gibbs – a cinema organist – is blessed when he is allowed to play Bach on Canterbury Cathedral’s organ. His conversion to an understanding of the rural Kentish land and its people leads to his decision not to report Colpepper to the police, meaning that Colpepper receives a blessing rather than the expected penance.

Its a wonderful movie, and remains one of my very favourites. What is special for me is its neo-romantic view of the English countryside. It paints a beautiful version of rural England that harks back to a time gone by. It reminds me – and all of us – what is really important and is worth protecting. The “local” characters are endearing and it just leaves me with a feeling of how wonderful it would be to exist in such a bucolic time and place. The central characters – Smith and Johnson in particular – come close to my heart, and you can feel their pain as they seek a blessing on their personal pilgrimages. Indeed, the same can be said for Gibbs who clearly feels unfulfilled as a cinema organist. Its a lovely gentle journey as each of the characters ends up playing out their moral choices, which gives each of them peace.

Next year (2014) is the 70th anniversary of this beautiful, if commercially unsuccessful movie. Its premiere in 1944 coincides with my birthday of 11th May (not 1944 I hasten to add!) I’m already planning to sit down and enjoy it once more to mark the 70th anniversary of its initial screening. Its a big part of British cinema to me. My own pilgrimage in honour of the movie may well be just as far as the sofa to watch it, but I know I’ll be blessed by 2 hours of beautifully crafted British film making.

See UKIP supporters’ reaction to Nigel Farage’s call to let Syrian refugees into UK

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UKIP!)

To get a good idea of the real face of UKIP, all you need to do is to have a look at the reaction from party supporters on the official UKIP Facebook page to Farage’s suggestion that the UK should let some Syrian refugees come to the UK.

Here are just a select few from hundreds of similar comments on the thread (click to enlarge):

UKIP1UKIP5UKIP4UKIP6UKIP3UKIP2

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So according to UKIP supporters – immigrants and Muslims are ‘filthy’, ‘dirty’ ‘scum’ who deserve to be shot.

So much for Farage’s attempts to portray the UKIP as a modern, moderate, libertarian, non-extremist and non-racist party.

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Please feel free to comment.

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Using the leftovers.

ASD Mummy with issues.

Like many households, it doesn’t matter how carefully I try to work out what everyone will eat at the Christmas feast, there is always enough food leftover to feed a small army.

I spent time on the afternoon of Christmas day playing fridge tetris to find homes for it all,rather than worry about it too much then.

I have said before that I hate wasting food, as most things can become another meal with just a little imagination.

The veggies quickly became soup. Old person would live on cuppa soup if I let her, so making soup from vegetables at least means she is getting some nutrients into herself. I do have a soup maker – http://www.gianiuk.co.uk/giani-brands/giani-electrical-essentials/item/201-17-litre-soup-maker/blender Its the second one I’ve had and is brilliant because it’s a normal liquidizer as well as a soup maker! It was definitely worth the money as you put everything in and let…

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