Posted in Review

Meeting Santa at Hamleys.

We were very lucky to be invited back to Hamleys this year, and of course I jumped at the chance to take Z.

This year Z is that little bit more inquisitive, even walking through the arcade to get to Hamleys he was smiling at the tree and all the lights.

Once we got to Hamleys we were greeted by two of Santa’s elves. Who gave each child a name badge, this letting Santa call them by their name adding to the magic that Santa really does know everyone’s names. Of course Z wouldn’t wear his badge, but that didn’t stop both Santa and his elves knowing his name!

We all had to sing Rudolph the red nose reindeer walking up to the party room where I’m sure Z was singing in his own way, he was smiling and seemed quite excited to get into the room, as if he remembered from last year, which from an autism point for me is great as he knew what to expect!

Again, same as last year we had to use some magic elf dust to get into the room, meaning both the elves were interacting with the children which the children really enjoyed, could feel the excitement off them!

Whilst we waited on Santa there were a few arts and crafts to make, whilst everyone got to their seats Z had a bit of a run around, he looked at the tree, the decorations and noticed the huge cake on the ceiling! ( I have to admit it’s a pretty impressive cake!) The room is decorated with it’s Christmas tree and festive table cloth and it just makes it feel Christmasy.

This year he even helped to make a star, which is huge progress in itself!

When Santa arrived we missed him walk into the room as we were in the toilet! But when we came out Z noticed him.

Santa asked all the children to sit down and he read them a story, I love this as all the children sat ( even Z for a little while!) and listen in awe, this year it was the snowman and the snow dogs which was a pop out version so the children could see the pictures too. At this point Z noticed the gifts under the tree and done his best to open them.

After Santa had read them a story he played games, Santa’s footsteps and dancing snowmen, he was so fun, he interacted with each child, he made them all laugh and seeing those children smile was just fab. Come on how many times did you go to see the big man himself did he play games and call you by your name without even having to ask what it is. Bet you just sat on his lap told him what you wanted and had a lolly and was gone. How personal and exciting must that be to a child to play games and Santa calling you by your name!!

Z didn’t really join in this part it was starting to get a little too much, so he took himself to sit next to the tree with his iPad. We managed to get a picture with Santa and his iPad! Santa give him a lovely gift bag.

He then kept showing me the word store and stop, this was his way of saying let’s go.

As we were leaving the store we were given a cup to fill with sweets, this was a lovely little surprise as that meant Z was eating a lolly and wasn’t getting so distressed! Brilliant timing.

When we got home we had a look at what Santa gave us and what a lovely gift, there’s a hamleys bear, a tree decoration, a pack of colouring pencils and a book, and of course a cup of sweets!

At £19.99 I’d say that’s not as cheap as others for seeing Santa, but you get 45 minutes, so it’s no where near a rushed job! There’s no professional photo so you can have as many photos as you want if that’s individually or with siblings or even as a group. I think the contents in the bag would be equal to what you pay.

Z was treated the same as all the other children, the elves and Santa spoke to him like any other child which I love as so many people don’t ask him any thing else after he doesn’t answer the first question! Of corse Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and was taking to him about the words he had on his iPad.

You can book here to get a great meeting Santa experience.

Z may not speak, but he sure knows what to say at the correct time, as we were leaving this is what he was showing me. (And yea it was before he had his cup of sweets!)

‘They have all the best stuff at this store’.

So thank you Hamleys Cardiff for inviting us back this year!

Posted in school

Education

I have to admit I’m one of the actual lucky ones when it comes to Z’s education.

I debated with the whole mainstream verses Sen school. Unit maybe?

I had him signed up to mainstream. I was ready to fight for a 1:1.

When I heard there were going to be 31 children in that class my heart sank. I couldn’t do that my son. I couldn’t put him in a class of 31 to fall behind. I know at that age he was above average in certain areas, he most probably is still 2 years later. But there were places he was still too young. He was still in nappies, he couldn’t sit still, he didn’t have the ability to follow basic simple commands. What if he ran. The school is secure but not for a child like Z that can get out of anywhere if he really wants to. The emotions were horrible. What happened if he went to mainstream and made one friend. He’d only need to make one, then that one friend over time would realise Z was different, still in nappies, didn’t talk, was the ‘naughty’ one that would have gotten away with these things as he wouldn’t have been able to help it.

Then in a few years time when he was still in nappies and still not talking they’d move him. Possibly to a unit.

I toyed with the idea of a unit connected to a mainstream school. This was a no straight away. More so because what if he never left and ended up in Sen school at aged 11? Again what if he made one friend and then ended up moved to Sen school.

So instead of the what ifs, I signed him up to Sen school.

Day one I knew I had made the right choice.

There’s not one day I’ve even thought I’ve made the wrong choice, not one day I’ve wanted him in mainstream. Of course sometimes I get that feeling of that should be my child, he should be in the school photo you have just put up, he should be enjoying that child’s party, he should be part of that group of boys giggling, talking about dinosaurs and playing football, saying hi to each other. I should be part of that community, those parents, that school.

The progress he’s made in a class of 9, with 5 staff members who all love him like their own, who take care of him, change his nappy without even thinking of it, who persists with him to get done what he needs to do you can see how hard they work day in day out and the child can not even say thanks.

I was worried about not meeting other parents, there was no need. Some of those parents are now my new best friends.

If it ever came to the discussion of let’s take Z out I don’t know what I would do. I wouldn’t want him going into mainstream. He will always be different. That I’ve accepted, I’ve moved on a long time ago, I couldn’t imagine him having to go to a new school starting from the beginning. Children looking at him differently, where he is he’s the same, he’s no different to anyone in his class, they are all extra special and as parents we all get excited for everyone’s child when they hit a new milestone! There’s no jealously with us oh mine can do this mine can do that, we all get excited over the smallest achievement, something so small like even pulling up a pair of bottoms, achievements that most parents have hit at least three years ago.

I love Z’s school, the community were now part of, it may not have been the one I was expecting it to be but one I now love!

Posted in Review

Wait until dark.

‘One of the scariest films comes to the theatre’.

When I was invited * to see Wait until dark, my first question was is it scary? I’m a whimp!

This time my Mam was lucky enough to come with me, ( Merry Christmas Mam!) plan was leave early do a little Christmas shopping first. The traffic stopped that!

I had no idea what the play was about, my Mam had seen the film so knew what the story was. All I had read was it was about a blind woman.

The story originally written by Frederick Knott (1916-2002) but was made famous by the 1967film staring Audrey Hepburn.

When I looked at the program I learned that the actor Karina Jones who played Susy, is actually registered blind. ( Was more impressed that she had been on The Bill tv and The crucible theatre, amongst others too!)

The stage was set as a basements flat in Nottingham hill gate in late September 1966, a nice clean tidy flat ( I could have stayed there in a much tidier shape than mine right now!) this is the first time I’ve seen the stage set up looking so busy.

The show starts with a guy entering the basement Mike, ( Jack Ellis) we quickly learn that he’s casing the joint, when some one else enters, Croker ( Graeme Brookes) and he hides, when he jumps out on the intruder we learn that they both know one another from prison. They are then joined by a third man, Roat, (Tim Treloar) The story explains how they are after a doll who’s full of drugs, the original lady who was looking for her is dead in the bed room Roat has killed her,asks Mike and Crocer to help find the doll.

When the owner came in Susy, we saw that she was blind, the intruders plan to include Susi to learn where the doll was hidden. One lying and saying he’s Sams old friend the other a police officer.

When Sam ( Oliver Mellor) Susi’s husband tells her he has to go for his job and then we hear about Gloria and how she moves things about so that Susi trips. When we meet Gloria we see that there’s a bit of a jealousy in regards to Susi I think.

As the play progresses so does Gloria and Susi’s relationship.

I thought the play was very good, Susi using her lack of vision to possibly prove a point of how much she relies on her other senses to work out that she was being conned and those people weren’t actually who they said they were.

She could pick up on peoples footprints, on them dusting down their fingerprints and using the kitchen blind as a pointer. She asked for Gloria’s help and made the flat into darkness, knowing that she knew the flat better than anyone in the dark, plus how much scarier the world is in the dark and sent Gloria to go get Sam and bring him back. She knew to get out safely she has to make the intruders blind too.

It got me thinking how much we rely on our eyesight and how well Karina Jones played that part.

Wait until Dark is showing at New Theatre Cardiff until November 18th evening showings 7.30 with Wednesday Thursday and Saturday Matinees starting at 2.30.

Tickets from £14.50 – £32.00 and can be purchased here.

* I was gifted the tickets for an honest review.

Posted in autism, party

Hot tub party!

When you hear of autistic children not being invited to parties it’s heart breaking, when it’s you’re own it’s a horrible feeling.

I’ve been lucky with Z there’s only once or twice he’s not been invited, we’ve made 90% of those parties and if he hasn’t coped we’ve left.

Queue hot tub party!

How could Z not like this one?

I was worried about either chasing him around a garden in the cold wet weather or being freezing standing outside waiting for him.

The hot tub was in a gazebo, meaning it held the heat in so I wasn’t cold waiting on him to jump out. Of course he didn’t try and even attempt to jump out!

He loved it. The lights in the actual hot tub, the lights above and of course a bubble machine! This was sensory heaven for him.

After around an hour with Z bouncing about I was soaked! That’s when I started to get cold!! Well it is November and around 7 degrees. Of course Z wasn’t cold he was in nice warm water and those lights kept his attention!

Three hours later I was dragging him out. A drink and some crisps and he wanted to go back in.

If I had gone to a hot tub party before Z’s birthday I’m sure I would have gotten him one, maybe for my birthday end of November?!

So thank you K for inviting Z to your party, he had loads of fun. Thank you R &D for getting in with him and entertaining him!

Please Santa can Z get a hot tub for Christmas?!

Posted in autism, friends

Friends and autism

Friends.

I’d say Z don’t have friends as he prefers to play alone but I think that wouldn’t be the truth.

Since he was small it’s been the same, but he’s always taken to one out of the girls at playgroup. Him and E, they always had a bond, maybe it’s drifting away the older they get, when differences are noticeable, E wants to play games, chase and chat, that’s not Z, he likes to run and jump. She will still follow Z around when it’s just them two together, she watches, she observes, she copies him. Maybe when Z learns to use his words E will be that little older and the friendship will return to how it once was. She still says Z is her best friend, and will introduce him to her other friends.

All the children he spent many hours with before school all ask about Z so he has friends who look out for him and accept him even if it’s kind of a one way friendship for now! They know Z is different and they’ve never really questioned it just accepted it. Some will sort of mother him, which is so funny to watch.

Lately, since being in school and I as a parent has spent more time with other parents all in the same position as me, I’ve noticed that Z does play. Not like the children we went to playgroup with, they play. Z, B and G watch one another, they smile at one another they accept one another. They play in a unique way, similar to that of young children at that Parallel play stage. They chase one another maybe not realising that children play the game tag in the same way but the boys don’t play tag, when one has enough they just walk away and get on with something else. Just recently I watched Z play a game with G, to us it was like cat and mouse, to them it was fun, Z would run and G would attempt to push him off. There was no nastiness in being pushed, Z laughed, and carried on. They were laughing, the we’re looking at one another, this was two children with autism playing.

Where as Z and B play, it’s more rough and tumble, both appreciating the sensory feedback they get by being touched by one another, by being laid on or climbed over. Both laughing and just kind of accepting what the other one needs, and when enough is enough I love how they both walk their separate ways!

I never thought Z would have any friends, he’s never shown any interest in children as children, now he’s starting to watch them, take notice in them and engage with them, which as a parent shows me that maybe Just maybe he is capable of making friends.

Blog was originally written for family fund.

Posted in autism

Autism – what people don’t see

With more tv series starting and autism in the press more, it always shows autism as these ‘clever’ people. They show people in working conditions and in mainstream school.

Never is it shown the hardships that some families face daily, the frustration of not being able to tell you what they want, or the frustration of not being able to get out their emotions, to the mess of the home as most children I’ve now met are all sensory seeking. If that means climbing and jumping like Z, pulling everything out, to smearing. Now that’s one thing I really couldn’t deal with. I couldn’t deal with the smell, never mind cleaning it all up. To the family arguments from all being so tired, and the child taking up all the time. Most people don’t have the baby sitters to be able to enjoy a date night, or even a quick trip to the cinema.

Then you have the violence. This one I’ve not come across yet, as I was told always add on yet to autism I’ll add it on to the negative. The hitting, kicking, spitting, house trashing, yes this happens, a lot. Parents being used as human punch bags.

As fast as I clean my house Z comes behind me and everything comes back out, he doesn’t play with it he just likes them out. Why? I don’t know, maybe it’s just something he can control. He’ll always be able to control that as he can always find something to pull out. I’ve come to the conclusion I’ll never have a tidy house, if there’s wallpaper he’ll try to peel it off, there’s grubby hand prints everywhere from his climbing, go upstairs and every bed will be stripped any time of the day, things will be on the floor. From bits of crisps crushed up, again every time you hoover he then wants another packet.

People don’t see the struggles of change, of attempting to go shopping, or when you do manage to get out and that child is still in nappies but no place to change a five year old, that’s stress.

The meltdowns that can last hours, the reason unknown.

No one sees the struggles. No one sees the worries of the parents. No one sees the parents cries as I think it’s just something we just get on with.

I asked what others thought.

Miriam who blogs over at Faithmummy says

“ The through the night worries of your child. The meetings where everything is blamed on your parenting. The behind the closed doors relationship struggles because of lack of sleep, stress and money worries.”

Victoria who blogs over at Star light and stories says

“For me, it’s the look of utter delight on my daughter’s face at the unconditional love of her brother. I was so worried how she would cope with a sibling, but his adoration makes her braver everyday.”

Then Reneé over at Mummy tries .

This part with permission is taken from Here.

“All any parent wants is for their kids to be happy, and it’s heartbreaking watching them be sad………it’s made me realise more than ever that she needs kindness and love to be bestowed upon her from all directions.”