Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dogs and Autistic children

Rusty's first day
Welcome to the newest addition to our family- a border terrier called Rusty
This year we welcomed this little fellow into our household. He is our second dog . We already have a black labrador so I really didn't know how it would work. We live in a small cottage and the thought of two dogs rushing around like whirling dervishes filled me with dread! But my husbands heart was set on getting a border terrier since he was introduced to his friend's ,It was interesting to see how they interacted together. Rusty was 4 1./2 months old when we got him and had lived all his life with his mother and sister so was used to other dogs being around. Benny on the other hand has been used to being Top dog in our family but has a gentle nature!They were introduced when my son and I went to view Rusty . Rusty having never met such a big dog was soon scampering around. Benny meanwhile was more interested in Rusty's toys!
I can't believe what a success two dogs have been, The children love them and it has been hilarious watching them together. Rufty tufty terrier v soft black Labrador playing in the front room. When Rusty gets too much Benny grabs his tail and pulls him along the floor or sits on him for a couple of minutes but they love one another and rush off down the drive when they hear someone on the public footpath which runs past the house! Having said 'hello' they then bounce back up the drive with smiles on their faces, tails wagging. Yes I have to say it, having animals has been great for the children . Not only are they  great company, my autistic son has had to learn to consider something other than himself. He is charged with feeding them and the occasional walk round the back field when I am in a rush and need help! Despite having bought a Labrador for its super temperament with children in fact Rusty is  easier for them to handle. He can be cuddled like a teddy bear when they are sad. Chased round the settee at one hundred miles an hour and can sit on their laps when they are watching t,v. (or in his favourite place - my laptop bag whilst I'm typing!)When Benny decided to copy him, he launched himself across the room and landed splat on my husband's knee with his paws on his shoulders, somewhat like Scooby Doo. We hooted at my husband's surprised expression as the two of them nearly fell backwards off his seat! Dogs have certainly helped my autistic son to show his love and concern for them and they are great company for him when his siblings are at school! All  have to do now is to stop them for asking for another one!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Battle of Britain revisited?

Will someone please tell the M.O.D. that my son doesn't like low flying planes? At the moment his dad is on a course and we are nearing the end of the second week. As the days have progressed my son's anxiety levels have increased and his tolerance to noise has decreased, resulting in 'autistic behaviours - wringing of hands, unable to speak, head banging and other repetitive behaviours that home education has largely eradicated.

Therefore having to spend an evening last night with my son shaking, wrapped in a duvet with his ear defenders on, was not what I had planned and I would have appreciated advanced notice that planes would be continuously flying overhead for an hour or so,

We are not unused to military exercise  They happen occasionally in this area. On one occasion I had to throw myself onto the ground at the top of the garden, so great was the noise as a jet appeared without notice from the skies. In fact I believe that something like this happened to my son in the first place to cause his fear of planes. I remember him running into the house like a frightened rabbit some months ago asking 'what that noise was'. I hadn't heard it myself but assumed it was a plane. In fact I probably wouldn't have noticed the aeroplanes last night although my son certainly wasn't the only one, reports were coming in thick and fast to our local newspaper!

Since the day my son was frightened he refuses to be left in the house by himself,hates going outside and constantly looks at the sky like Chicken Licken as though it is about to fall in and it has taken months to get anywhere near normality again.

So Mr Minister of Defence will you please take note that whilst we appreciate the need for your Air Force to train it would be courteous to let us know! Meanwhile in our efforts to lessen the fear we have read your website to educate ourselves about your arguments for low level flying over our beautiful countryside.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Growing up Fast!

I find myself in the position that I advised against only a few months ago. Suddenly without warning my children have at least one after school club a day, sometimes two - not a good position to be in. I suspect that we will be exhausted at the end of the term. We obviously had a choice- we could have taken on less but I was very aware that my autistic son can sometimes hold the others back with his reluctance to go out. He creates whenever we have an after school pick up and it is hard.
I decided however to use the situation to our advantage. If my children are to flourish despite the shortcomings of their brother then they will need to become independent earlier than most children. My eldest is already catching buses, meeting friends in town and generally very able but because we live in the country I invariably have to drive him somewhere because of lack of public transport.
My daughter on the other hand is only 12 and wanted to do netball and dance at school. The logistics were complicated. I would have to leave my autistic son at home to collect her. Problem, whilst he doesn't want to go out neither does he want to be left in alone so you can't win. Which ever you do you have a fight on your hands with the inevitable swearing and bad language.
I discovered by accident that the children could buy a pass which meant that any journey they made throughout the county was £1. Furthermore there was a bus which left the village where my children go to school after clubs ended and which took them to a much more accessible town.(Their school is in the middle of the Lakes district and involves dark, windey roads in winter) Bingo! We discussed the logistics, visited the bus stops at both ends of the journey and discussed our back up plan if they missed the bus. Then we had to put the plan in place. Although we are lucky to have good neighbours who are willing to offer lifts it is sometimes nice to be independent and not rely on people.I can't always commit to offering lifts because my son may make it difficult for me to pick up so I would rather that we do our own thing sometimes.
Anyway my daughter coped admirably with her first bus journey alone. She bounced off the bus with a huge smile on her face and I knew then that she was old enough to do it! She has her independence and can go to after school clubs if she wants. Lets just hope that next term is a quieter one!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Learning when you are having fun!

It's quite a while since I posted. I didn't intend to leave it this long but the Summer holidays got in the way and it's only now the Autumn days are here that I'm beginng to get back into some sort of routine again. That's not to say learning didn't take place. I love having all the kids at home because without the constraints of school we have the opportunity to do things together and gain new experiences. That was certainly the case this summer which  seems to have been full to the brim of new learning opportunities for all of the children.
My eldest son who is now 15 set off with a small contingent of Explorer scouts on a round Britain tour in this jubilee year. From England to Southern Ireland up to Belfast where he was present for the Orange Parade ( a true lifetime experience) then back across the sea to Glasgow, then Edinburgh before travelling back home. They stayed in Scout huts ,budgeting and cooking for themselves and had a whale of a time! Then there was his Duke of Edinburgh Silver expedition where they were stranded in a barn in torrential rain, having been blown down the hillside in unseasonal weather. Two thirds of the way through and they decided it was time to bring in the troops before hypothermia set in. Another experience where they showed their maturity and ability to cope with harsh conditions. We were proud of them all, better luck next time!
An opportunity for a photo shoot at Great Tower Scout camp offered the chance to try sailing for the first time together with kayaking, abseiling and archery.My son is so lucky to have these experiences but he grabs the opportunities offered to him with open arms! It reminds me of a bench we saw today which bore a plaque in memory of someone's husband. The plaque said 'He lived till he died'.Isn't that just how it should be?
Meanwhile, my daughter spent the summer with scouts kayaking across Coniston Lake to Wild cat island where they filmed Swallows and Amazons, She also tried body boarding on the Isle of Anglesey and quad biking and spent a week helping lead a holiday bible club in the village.
Even my autistic son was able to attempt  new experiences. Having his siblings around seems to encourage him and he is more motivated to go out. He started a shooting club, went quad biking, tried archery and had a lovely time in Madeira swimming, playing table tennis and crazy golf.
Anyway the summer holidays are over now, two children are back at school and my son has returned to learning at home without his siblings. I wonder what this school year has in store for us all?