Tag Archives: embrace

#HAWMC DAY 25 – D-DAY

28 Apr

That day was here, it had finally arrived. She put on her coat, took a deep breath as she closed the door behind her.

Sat at the bus stop a thousand thoughts bombarded her brain, she developed a list of endless questions storing them safely to the front of her mind. Boarding the bus she knew it was almost crunch time. 

The child & adolescent mental health centre was a modern building boasting floor to ceiling windows that had been brightly stained in an array of colours. She sat staring at the rainbow of colour the suns ray had projected through the coloured glass onto the cold tiled floor only to have her trance broken with the calling of her name.

Looking up she recognised the woman stood before her as the Child Psychologist who along with others, had sat for hours observing the behaviours of her then 9-year-old son. 

The Psychologist smiled, though it was one of those awkward half smiles with her head slightly tipped to one side her whole expression cried sympathy!

“How are you?” she asked as they headed for the elevator! She responded by smiling gently while nodding her head and stating “Yes, I’m fine thank you” This couldn’t have been more dishonest! Her life seemed no less than a giant mess, her eyes alone expressed the story of sleepless nights and utter worry.

A weird, awkward moments silence commenced for what seemed like minutes though in reality it was only seconds when finally the ding of the elevators doors rang out. Stepping out of the elevator the Psychologist turned and with that same tilted head and half smile, asked “Are you ready?” 

She was as ready as she’d ever be, for no amount of time could ever prepare her for this day. 

After a short walk down a brightly lit corridor they came to a door, it was on the other side of that door that answers await, the answers to the question she had asked some two years before!

Entering the room they were greeted by a whole host of professionals, each on armed with a clip board, a glass of water and that same tilted head and half lit smile.

Taking a seat she felt her whole body tense, why did she suddenly feel this way? Looking at the tissues the Psychologist had now placed on the middle of the table right before her, she asked herself “Do they expect me to cry?”

After all why would she? 

It had been more than 18 months since that first appointment, her son had seen every single one of these specialist and more besides, almost all giving the same conclusion following observation of his behaviours! Yes, if it wasn’t for the mix up, the mistake of a closed case following a silly mixup in paper work, she was almost certain this day would have come long go.

After that first appointment and first drawn conclusion with a child Paediatrician she had gone home and researched all there was to know on the topic and therefore realised that yes the reality of what that Paediatrician had told her was in fact more than a possibility!

So… why in god’s name would this woman now cry?

There was a whole lot of words, words that went in without being fully absorbed. Each professional adding their view on what support her child would likely require, what this involved and just how to go about getting it!

Then a pause… 

Here it comes she thought!

Looking at the psychologist she concentrated on the movement of her lips as she said them words…

“So, we are all in agreement that the most suitable and fitting diagnosis for your child is that of… Aspergers Syndrome”

It wasn’t a shock… as mentioned the possibility had always been put forward.

As his mother she had taken it on board and adjusted her way of thinking when it had come to parenting her son, she already considered him a boy with Aspergers.

So… why did she find herself reaching for the tissues?

She didn’t cry through sadness, she cried because it was suddenly all so real, so official! With the diagnosis also came a certain degree of relieve, a reason for her child’s uniqueness. She could stop blaming his meltdowns or difficulties on that of her own parenting, school could stop shaking their heads and finally wake up to the fact that this is real and not an excuse.

Silence

Then…

“Do you have any questions”

Of course she did, she had that whole long list that she had readily stored at the front of her mind!

So… why could she not think of one to ask?
 
 
It’s been over two years and this woman has come along way. Like any family they have good days and they have bad days. She embraces her child’s uniqueness and encourages parents of newly diagnosed children to reach out to one another, sharing the message…
 
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!    

But do you know what?

She still can’t remember that list of all important questions she stored so safely in the front of her mind!

 

Post 25/30 in the wego health #HAWMC

As easy as child’s play

27 Sep

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Play, A god given right for all children!

 Its importance is critical to the development of every child regardless of, Class, age, race, gender or ability!

 With every game of peek a boo, every story told and building block added to a carefully constructed tower, your child learns something new & exciting.

 A child may not speak or be able to hear, he may not walk, they may be even confined to a wheelchair, nonetheless this doesn’t mean the child will benefit from play any-less, regardless of a child’s disability, they should be encouraged in play, and will enjoy it like any other child.

 As a mother to three children, I really love playing and interacting with my children, whether its make-believe, a board game or something else all together! Though yes, I do admit it’s not always easy to find the time, yet its something I consider important so try to make it a priority (something we engage in a few times a week minimum).

 As most regular readers will know, my eldest son has Aspergers syndrome which forms part of the autism spectrum. At almost 11 years old, Little man was my first-born, when I was at the tender age of 18. I noticed pretty early on in little mans life that his play style was somewhat different from what I considered to be typical play for a child his age.

 My daughter didn’t come into our lives for a further two and a bit years, meaning I had plenty of one on one time with my developing baby. Games such as Peek a Boo or sing alongs didn’t give of that WOW factor for Little man, instead they sent him into a howling frenzy. 

 Regardless of the above I persisted in my quest, a road of discovery, encouraging my child to engage in interactive play. I knew he got enjoyment from playing alone, I didn’t discourage, though I didn’t reframe from interactive play either! I’m convinced this has been of some benefit to my child now his older. 

 Play helps feed a child’s imagination helping it grow, it allows a child to use creativity while helping them to connect to their surroundings and adapt play to their environment. I believe that play can help a child learn certain roles and requirements while aiding the development of dexterity, physical, cognitive strength.

When your child is on the autism spectrum, play may not be what you typically expect it to be!

 Yes, I learnt the hard way, don’t we all? 

 I learnt that my child didn’t actually require all the latest toys that the boy next door was playing with. My expectations both before and after Little man was born were unrealistic, I had naively assumed that all children played the same way! Play was play, nothing more, nothing less, It all amounted to the same thing! God I had a shock awaiting me and a hell of a lot to learn.

I had no intention on lying to my friends and family when I announced that Little man loved Bob the builder only to end up with a house full of Bob merchandise come Christmas! In some respects I think I half convinced myself it was the case, well he had at least glanced in the direction of the tool kit I had brought him!  It wasn’t just Bob the builder, I was a mother moving with the times & quite honestly the latest craze that I quite often learnt about from the gloating neighbour who would quite often proudly inform me about the latest Spiderman bike her son was now whizzing around on! The next week Little man would have that very same bike, though it remained in the cupboard by the front door only ever seeing the light of day once, twice if you include the day I awkwardly tried to get it home on the bus. This was one of hundreds of toys that were both a waste of time and yes money!

 Looking back as I write this I get a glimpse of how bloody crazy I was! Yes, total denial sweep through me.

 It was only once I had taken a few steps back and observed the situation that both myself and especially little man began to benefit.

 I note… No, Little man did not like playing with Cars (though he quite does today) he did however love spinning the wheels over and over again! I decided that actually that was OK.

 I note… No, Little man did not love Bob the builder (though I only wish I had kept all that merchandise as my youngest is Bob gaga) though he did love Thomas the tank. I decided again, that was fine!

  I discovered that between the ages of 2 and 7 Little man only ever really played with train sets and transport mats despite his bedroom now looking like the Disney store!

 Finally I excepted this!

 I stopped focusing on that Little boy next door, therefore letting go of that, “My child should be playing with that toy” scenario! I focused on the Little man instead and what I saw was no longer what I felt I needed to see through my own stereotypical rigidness, I now saw Little man for the child he actually was! I successfully learnt my first very valuable lesson about play! 

 “Play is unique there is no right or wrong way of doing it”! 

 By stepping into Little man’s world while taking small steps to engage with him in this child lead play I noticed he slowly became more interactive, wanting me to take an interest in his games. 

 Yes, all along I just needed to go with the flow (so to speak) I needed to embrace and celebrate his interest, a massive milestone

 Oh, and did I mention that big credit should be given to my wonderful daughter? Siblings can actually be a massive source of learning  for the child on the spectrum, Alice-Sara certainly was!

 Alice-Sara was that child who played like I also assumed all children did! She played the way I always expected the Little guy would!

 Through sheer willingness and determination his younger sibling did something wonderful without really knowing it! She introduced her older brother to role-play! She taught him the value of this type of play and helped him develop the tools needed to engage in it!

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 It is this aspect of play that I firmly believe is the true instrument needed for a child with Aspergers to progress.

 I don’t know if Alice-Sara just longed for this type of interactive play from her older brother, but as a small child she fought to get it, and she did!

 OK, it isn’t perfect, as much as he is able to engage in such play it is still largely ritualistic and he can become overly controlling often using his younger sibling as a play object, yet his come a long way!

 However ritualistic and Un-spontaneous his play maybe, his sister has successfully taught him how to play schools (a game he still plays today, though it always involves a school “bus”) he also loves playing shop keepers and hospitals (if his the ambulance driver of course)! 

This variety of play offers so much to the child on the spectrum. The child will learn important social interaction skills, and a number of other important life skills they will acquire in life. 

 I’ve seen my Little man go from the child who really did prefer the box as opposed to the toy that came in it at Christmas (mainly due to what I was giving him) to a child who now enjoys play so much more and through he still does it alone, he is much more willing to play with his peers even if they don’t always oblige to him joining in. 

 Yes, he still has them “odd” items on his Birthday and Christmas wish list; Batteries padlocks, neon electric fly zapping lights; and 20 cans of DR pepper to name a few; yet he also loves, computers, lego, model buses and trains, bikes, scooters, board games and magic tricks. 

 Recently I saw a worrying statement 

“As easy as child’s play don’t apply to children with autism”

 That is bum fluff!”

 “Just because it isn’t typical doesn’t mean it isn’t magical!” 

I learnt that the hard way, I hope you don’t!

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