Tag Archives: teenagers

The Challenges That Come With Independence

12 Oct

So, its been a while since I blogged, all reasons beyond my control.
Well, Little man is officially a teenager now. On the 1st October he turned 13.
As a result his special school felt that he was ready to make a huge step forward into the world of independence.
Instead of of being collected by the school bus every morning he would walk to the train station through the park, take the 20 minute train ride followed by short 5 minute walk to school. Was I hesitant? Of course I was, what mother wouldn’t be? You see, little man had an intense ‘Special’ interest in trains that lasted many years. He was therefore very excited about this big new step he would be taking! Me I was worried sick that firstly we may find him over obsessing about transport once more. It may seem harmless to most but when a child with Aspergers is obsessive nothing else in the world matters.

This however was not my only concern! Little man is a child that struggles to sleep of a night time and if he had experienced one of he’s ‘All Nighters’ then how could I possibly let him ride the train to school? He could fall asleep and spend hours going back and forth to Hayes and Central London… What if he woke up in central london? At least if he was getting collected our morning battle would come to an end once I’d physically removed him from his bed and got him on the transport. But he hated everything about the new transport system, the one he had been placed on this September with little warning of any changes! Little man was used to taking a taxi with two other children and an escort which is provided for by the councils SEN team. This September no more than one day before the return to school he discovers that his escort has gone and will be replaced by another. He also discovers that there is no longer a taxi but a mini bus with a new driver and a heap more kids too. The battles to get him onto the bus were anything but easy! The last week before his independence training started someone from the SEN travel coordination team called me to say that little man was on his last warning! Apparently the new escort couldn’t handle the children, especially little man. I hear a fight broke out between my son and another boy. As a result the escort was pushed (not by little man but another child who as a result had been taken of the bus for good).

So, with this and little man’s pleas I decided that the transport plan drawn up by the school would probably be best at this current time.

To cut a long story short, since little mans been taking the train his had more days off than I care to remember! The first few days were fine. He loved the feeling of independence traveling to school gave him (he still does) however, his sleep pattern has once more gone up the wall and getting him out the door has been a fight that I’m losing. Even when he has left for school his been leaving late. With this and the constant warnings, Little man is on his very last chance and this time its with me!

I’ve made the decision to reintroduce the melatonin despite how its effects make him more drowsy during the school day. What else can I do? It gets to 4 am and I’m seriously at my wits end! Just the other night (well, I say ‘night’ but really mean early morning) I found myself screaming at him… “Why can’t you just go to sleep?” Only for him to look and me and reply “I want to but I can’t… I just cant.” its frustrating… Its frustrating for him, for me… And for the school, especially when they can see his a bright young boy with heaps of potential.

I find myself becoming so angry at life, for we go through these battles, get over them only for them to resurface months later. Its one hell of a rollercoaster, one I have no choice in riding.

Little man doesn’t tend to talk about thinks that may have upset or confused him during the school day, which sadly can lead to all sorts of difficulties, leaving me playing the private eye game. Switching of isn’t easy for most, especially when we have worries and troubles laying heavily on our minds. This for little man, a boy who has difficulties expressing them worries, a boy who already lacks precious sleeping hours, is a struggle on a level most would fail to reach. Its stuff as such as this that makes those morning and night battles that little more difficult than it currently is.

I do sometimes wonder how many other parents there are out there… Going through the same nightly and morning battles that we do. I know there are plenty but at times its a real lonely place.

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Are you making your child feel worthless?

24 Feb

Interesting figures released today, show that anger is the biggest issue driving young people into counselling.

A survey, out today, which was conducted by Relate counsellors, reveals that the most common reason why young people need counselling is because of issues with anger, followed by self esteem and not getting on with parents*.

Children from all walks of life come to Relate for counselling, and official figures show that as many as 54% of these children are there to deal with feeling’s of anger! This was closely followed by issues of low self-esteem at 44% whilst 43% felt as though they were not getting along with parents.

Sadly this research also revealed that nearly three quarters of young people said they felt stressed at least sometimes, with nearly a third saying they felt stressed often or all the time.

The research highlighted:

A massive 64% of young people are depressed or suffering with mental health conditions.

Girls are more likely to be stressed than boys 37% of girls said they often or all the time felt stressed compared to 24% of boys.

It showed the great increase in family break-ups to be as much as 41%
Whereas as many as 23% were stressed as a result of Parents having mental health conditions, where’s 21% were stressed as a result of today’s pressure’s within social media.

What is greatly upsetting, is the shocking statistics that were revealed as, counsellors warned, ‘Being criticised by parents’ is the most common thing that left as many as 82% of children and young people feeling worthless! This was followed by ‘not having anyone to talk to’ or ‘being bullied’ 45% and ‘not getting encouragement from teachers’ 40%.

As many of you already know, Little man easily falls into depressive modes, his self esteem has been moderately damaged due to the treatment and discrimination he entailed whilst in Mainstream school. The fact that Little man has Aspergers Syndrome makes it that bit harder as he has them “typical” difficulties of poor social interaction, a very black and white thinking style as well as the tendency to sometimes act on impulse and say things that others may consider to be “Inappropriate” this therefore doesn’t make him the most popular child in the playground. The fact that Little man has problems regulating his emotions, as well as being able to put what his feeling into words, he hasn’t been so lucky to be able to benefit from such a service.

As a child, I dealt with my own host of mental health problems! I was suffering greatly from OCD and spurts of Bulimia, and this of course resulted in my own depression, which as child, seemed far harder to deal with. Once My little sister was diagnosed with Cancer age 2, things did become much harder and this did result in a short course of counselling.

My point is ‘Counselling can be a great lifeline for these young people. In some cases, having someone to talk to, can really mean the difference between life and death!

Relate has over 70 years experience and are doing a fantastic job to help some 15,000 young people, highlighting their findings to bring more awareness to the rising number of young people dealing with some of the above on a daily basis.

Checkout the campaign video below

The Birds The Bees & A Boy With Aspergers

25 Jan

As a twenty-first century mum I thought I had it all planed out!

 We all know that eventually the day will come when as a mother we are required to have that little chat with our children, you know, the one about the birds and the bee’s!

Birds bees

Image via Wikipedia

 I have two son’s Little man (aka A boy with Aspergers) who is 11-years-old and 2-year-old Harley. I also have a daughter ‘Alice-Sara’ who will be 9 this Sunday.

 Yes, I guess I had assumed that daddy would speak to the boys and mummy would speak to her daughter. I would do it in a way that provide her with understanding , not embarrassment nor looks of horror, the terms “Bird” & “Bee” would be widely used, and we would live happily ever after!

 Well, this was in-till I discovered my son, “Little man” wasn’t your “typical” child! Little man sees the world differently, he sees it in “Black & White” and this means only one thing, the subject at hand, would need approaching in a very black and white way!

 There would be no “Birds” nor any “Bees” here! Instead it would be text-book, very, very text-book! Lets remember, this is a child on the autism spectrum, metaphors wouldn’t work, a literal understanding is what he has and using the birds and bees example would only result in confusion (he would be expecting bees to grow pubic hair, have a breaking voice and a use for condoms)

  Guess what? Daddy wouldn’t be doing it nether, mummy would… Fan-bloody-tastic is that!

 Not long after Little man started at his independent special school, especially for children on the autism spectrum, we received a letter home, explaining how some of the boys had fell into the conversation of “Wet Dreams” while on the school bus. Little man goes by  taxi each morning so he wasn’t involved in the conversation but with such small class numbers (no more than 6) I knew it wouldn’t have taken long for him to hear about the subject, my guess is he found out by playtime!

 The letter just raised the subject of how our boys are now growing up and we may want to consider the talk that many parents dread!

 If truth be told, little man has been known to make some pretty random, yet inappropriate comments with reference to a sexual nature for a while now. He said some things in his old mainstream school to a ASD outreach worker. I was red-faced when I read her report and on meeting her she told me he was saying such things to her without any concept on they’re meaning! OK, he knew a little but not enough, yet it certainty warranted a talk! Instead I tried to address it by telling him it was inappropriate and he shouldn’t be saying it! I know it wasn’t a great way to deal with it, yet I guess I wasn’t ready, or didn’t want to be!

 It’s not just that Little Man has Aspergers, it’s also the fact his growing up, I’m therefore getting older which isn’t great, but I’m also losing my “innocent” Little man and before I know it, his going to be this teenage boy with a changing body, hair in places he never knew possible, mood strings and a deep voice!

 Little man has already stated he likes girls and wants to marry more than one (goodness me, do I have a bigamist on my hands)! I guess like any mother, I don’t want my eldest child to grow up, and if anything have that bit of an extra reason to worry.

 So… Yes, we did have a talk, quite recently actually! Little Man, to no surprise, asked a lot of questions and patiently awaited my answers. With every answer it sparked another question and I answered as honestly and correctly as possible. One question was will my “penis grow bigger?” another was “How do you make babies” followed by “What happens once the sperm gets in there” to which I then directed him to this amazing video, which seemed to do the trick and if anything it literally amazed him, rather than grossing him out.

He now knows that once upon a time, he looked like an alien!

He also states that he has thousands of potential “Little Man” clones swimming around inside him, which his saving for his adult life.

 I guess his saving them to share with all them wife’s of his!

 Well, till the next lot of text-book questions, requiring text-book answers, comes along, I feel I’ve done my best for now!

 Now I guess I just sit and wait for those pending teenage years of mood swings and body hang-ups!

For now… I’m just going to enjoy my Little Man being just that…

 A Little Man

Just a little girl (part 2)

23 Aug

Just a little girl (part 2)

This is a follow on from the post, ‘Just a little girl (part one)’

OCD was now a big part of my life. I can only describe it as a nomality.

As a ten year old child I found it far to powerful to battle. In many ways it made me who I was a paranoid little girl.

Though the fear of fire still gripped me, I now had a far greater fear, “Death” No one told me that the cancer within my little sisters body had the power to take her life! I just kind of knew! This petrified me and practically sent my OCD into overkill!

I never took chances, I couldn’t afford to miss a nightly prayer! I forced myself to continue with the rituals, over and over again.

Looking back, I can see why my, “Odd” behaviour wasn’t picked up by my family. Life was manic which in many ways made the OCD easier for me to hide! Yes, though OCD was a big part of my life, I still knew, deep within, that my behaviour wasn’t the, “Norm”! OCD may well have been a nomality to me, but it wasn’t for everyone else, it was, “strange, weird, odd, carzy and a little bit loopy” Did I see myself as a crazy child? Yes, I guess I did!

This was nineteen years ago, I didn’t have google to turn to. As far as I was concerned, their were no others like me. This fact a lone made it far harder to even comprehend telling anyone, so at this point nobody knew, (and if they did, they never said so)!

There was no discerment, I didn’t know why I made myself carry out what I knew deep down to be pointless actions. Yet, the OCD just obscured any practical thinking this ten year old had, leaving me relentless to it’s powers.

Despite my OCD and my sisters illeness, my childhood was a happy one. I loved that I lived with both my mother and grandmother. I remain close to my father despite him not living at home with us.

The years that my sister was seriously I’ll must have been the hardest and most tiresome in my mothers life. My mother had always worked & continues to this very day. Rachel was so sick my mother was forced to take leave. She was now frightened to leave her daughters bedside. Rachel’s care was now shared between three different hospitals, ‘Lewisham’ (our local hospital) ‘Great Ormond St’ (the London based hospital for very sick children) & ‘Barts’ (another London based hospital with a specialised Cancer unit). My mother didn’t know if she was coming or going.

Only now as a mother do I fully appreciate just how difficult a time this must have been for her.

I remember all to well the effects, ‘Leukemia’ had on my sister, who was nothing but a toddler when it struck. I was visiting her at, ‘Great Ormond St’ once, when she throw up all over me, resulting in me needing to go home wearing an operating gown, (which clearly displayed my underwear at the back)! Lucky for me, we wasn’t using public transport, (as we usually would)! My uncle was with us, meaning we would be going home in the car.

Another strong memory I have is my sisters, “sudden” hair loss. I remember this baby with beautiful, thick, floppy, White blonde hair. What seemed like over night, it was all gone leaving her with nothing but a completely bald head.

Children at school would say the most nasty things, like, “Hows your little brother?” I would often fall for it, replying, “His fine, thank you” only to be laughed at and told, “Not that brother, your little bald one”

I look back now and see that, “yes, they were just silly little kids who didn’t understand, but at the time, I just wanted to hit out at each and everyone of them!”

I do remember one particular occassion, my sister was allowed home for a few days (very rare) I danced with her in my mothers rooms. She was dressed in nothing but a nappy. It was a very warm summers day and I could her the children playing outside. I had no desire to join them, I just wanted to be with my sister. As we danced I told her I loved her, in my head I was praying for her not to die! That’s one of my strongest childhood memories.

As if our family hadn’t had enough bad news, things were about to get worse. Not long after my sisters diagnosis, my first cousin on my fathers side of the family, was hit with the very same cancer! I can’t remember how old she was, older than Rachel, just a few years younger than myself I think! This means she was 7 or 8 years old at the time. Can you begin to imagine, both my father and his sister were parents of two very sick little girls, battling leukemia. I will never forget my mother shouting at my father, “But they told us it didn’t run in families!” You have to agree, this seems like more than a coincidence, it was almost as if God had it in for us.

Well, I’m pleased to report that both my sister and cousin are now healthy young women, both each with a beautiful daughter of their own. Both fought the scary C word we all fear, both came out the otherside.

By the age of 12 and fast approaching a, “Teen” things started to go a little bonkers for me. I started secondary school, took up smoking and was fast becoming a rebel. The nights remained as bad as ever, so during the day I just wanted to enjoy myself, have some fun. For the first time in my life I noticed makeup and boys. I watched when the, “popular girls” applied their makeup, tied their ties shorter, while rolling up their skirts. This was what I was becoming! The toilets become my regular hangout, where I would smoke my way through lessons.

It was during this time, that I started to pay attention to what I ate. So much talk amongst the girls involved the topic of, “Diets”

Looking back now, this scares the hell out of me. Yes, I don’t want my own daughter who is eight to worry about her weight at this crazy age. As 12 year olds, we were far to young to take on such issues! Yet here we are in a day and age where girls as young as 7 (maybe younger) have been known to have body hang ups. This is something that causes me great sadness!

Me, I was a stick, (so to speak). I was a healthy child, a girl who could eat what she wanted yet remained naturally silm. Some of the girls, who I wanted to mix with, the ones I were convinced were the, “In crowd” openly discussed how they made themsleves throw up after dinner, how it was a win, win situation, you could eat what you wanted and remain silm… For fuck sakes, we were just 12 years old! By the time I was almost 13 I was doing this regularly. This was despite the fact I knew I was thin, I didn’t even think I was fat! Yet, it was now more then a habbit, almost an addition. Worse, Bulimia now mixed in with the OCD resulted in an explosive combination. Combined, the OCD now controlled the Bulimia. Life was about to hit an all time low.

The last part of my story will follow soon. Just a little girl (part three) will be the final post which concludes my story. Please return to find out the ending.

Note the story has been written to raise awareness of some of these issues, why highlight why I have an understanding of some of Little mans difficulties. Although I don’t have Aspergers, I do relate to his OCD behaviours and is over anxiety.

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