Tag Archives: transport museum

When special interest turn deadly

29 Jul

I like blogging, you like reading!

I’m a bit obsessed with twitter, shopping and art! You really love football and Facebook!

Admittedly some of us over indulge our sense with our interest, we spend a little to much time tweeting or playing a computer game when we could actually be doing something much more practical. However, we are fully aware of this naughty bit of pleasure seeking and therefore find ourselves eventually applying some self discipline. A good example of this would be a person needing to go to work, they may want to stay home engaging in whatever it is they love doing but they understand that this won’t pay the bills (that is unless the work is their interest)!

As some may already know, little man has very intense interests and these are what one would refer to as a “Special Interest” when I write about little mans interest I struggle to find the right words, especially ones powerful enough to create a visual picture in the readers mine. For these reason I often worry that those who have such little understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and special interest, may only ever really compare this to that of the above.

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Today I’m going to try and change this by telling the story of my sons special interest! The intensity and love he holds for such a subject. The high intellectual knowledge which he has gained from self educating himself on every aspect this subject has to offer. The smiles & laughter it has created as well as the comfort and sanctuary it has given him.

Yet as great as the above may seem like everything there is a downside, and like most things associated with Aspergers Syndrome there is no in between!

The Little man happily unrolled the toilet roll around the entire house, he was making tracks for his invisible bus to drive along. Little man was that invisible bus. He could visualise this as long as he had one or two props to create a front and back to his bus. He would use a spoon held in one hand for the front, and a pencil in the other hand to create the back! Let’s not forget the sunglasses he would use to recreate the motion of the doors a long with the continuous beeping sound he would make. He would walk around and around for hours, speaking in a monotone voice as he recreated the destination announcements heard on both trains and buses.

I would feel a degree of anger when people stated a child like mine lacked imagination skills. This needed expanding on so those who had no idea began to gain a better understanding. Yes, little man played the same game over and over again. He was mimicking something based on fact not fiction, yet his creativity was seen when he used imagination to think outside the box. Rather than play with a toy bus, he was the bus! How many children would think to use a spoon, sunglasses and pencil in such a way?

From the age of around 2 Little man started to show an interest in transport. This started with Thomas the tank engine, but having quickly discovered the fiction that surrounds Thomas he turned his attention to the real deal. As he grew he would try to suppress his interest within the school setting making them much more intense once home. His great love for the subject meant it was hard to engage him in anything else. There were many sleepless nights, it’s easy to turn of your child’s computer and demand they go to bed, but I was unable to demand little man switched of his mind. He would go to bed and just lay in the darkness randomly running through bus and train timetables and destinations, often beeping and recreating the motion of the doors with his hands.

Despite the late nights, constant transport chat I embraced little mans interest! When he wasn’t allowed on school trips we had our own at the London transport museum. We took random bus rides around the city and went to toy fairs in search of old rare models. But when things become very bad at mainstream school I noticed Little man becoming completely lost in his world of transport, the only place he felt safe! When excluded from school he would sit studying the various routes of trains, tubes and buses, he would not answer when called totally ignoring request whenever I made them.

Bus trips were no longer fun, he’ll police the bus, demanding passengers picked up any rubbish they dropped or removed their feet from the seat in front of them. On trains he would jump from his seat every time the train came to a stop, pressing the button to open the doors for those passengers getting off and on.

I also noticed that he would continuously slide open and shut his wardrobe door that featured a sliding door. The banging was hard to cope with especially come 3am when siblings were sleeping.

What worried me more, was the more emotionally stressed things became, especially within school, the more he would confine himself to the bedroom where the slamming would commence.

We eventually had an appointment with his paediatrician, we were currently in the middle of a discrimination battle with school. I had now removed Little man from the mainstream setting but was still looking for a special school willing to take him. The stress upon the family was apparent. It was during this appointment that little man discovered that the windows within the paediatricians office were of the sliding type. Of course he couldn’t resist to play with them and for this reason the paediatrician was able to see just how obsessive his interest had become. She wisely informed me that this was not only due to his very intense special interest but also a stress reliever, coping mechanism. We also elstablised that to a certain degree the repetitive sliding motion of doors or hand mimicking was a sensory seeking behaviour too.

It was only on this appointment did we discover how serious this was. A practice fire drill went off, little man is very bad with the high pitched noise one makes. He panics and becomes very unpredictable so when he didnt even look up, just carried on with the window I knew Little mans special interest was now deadly!

A plan was put together and I was given the hardest task of my life, to reduce and limit the amount of time little man spends on his interest. OK, I couldn’t switch of his brain but I would need to limit the other activities, especially the sliding of the doors. It was hard to be consistent! In many ways I felt half to blame. I had encouraged his interest but this is what I was always expected to do, it was always said to be a good thing! I don’t feel guilty anymore. I now understand that it’s important to support and encourage your child’s interest, what happen to little man was not my fault.

As the stress faded, once he found his perfect school, things did start to return to a more acceptable level. Now he likes Lego too and even stranger WWE wrestling has actually become his interest of choice. Yes he still likes transport but WWE is his special interest and in my opinion it’s a welcome change after 10 years.

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Our very own “school” trip

5 Nov

So this week myself and little man had our very own school trip.
Ever since all this horrible business of little man missing out on school trips started his confidence has been at an all time low.

“Ok it may not be a “real” school trip but it’s our school trip” and I had to do something to help repair his dramatically disappearing confidence, to make him feel better about himself & more confident in who he is! I’m not saying little man isn’t sometimes a bit of a handful when out & about, his no “angel” but then again what ten-year old boy is? He does have difficult times & always will when his out on school/family outings but a great deal of his difficulties are caused by anxiety, over excitement and more recently… Pure apprehension of what’s a head. It’s like he won’t allow himself to look forward to anything as his learnt how quick it can be taken away. On a recent trip to swimming (sadly only his second time attending since the new school year) he suggested we didn’t walk with the class as a way to avoid something going wrong resulting in him missing out! How crazy is that? Sadly things didn’t go well at swimming but that’s another post for another day,and one that’s to long and upsetting to report on just now.
So the point I’m trying to make is… All the above is directly connected with his Aspergers and let’s face it he was born that way he didn’t ask to have the condition so therefore he shouldn’t be treated as if he has himself to blamed every time something goes wrong. If little man is just being a ten-year old boy then I will be the first to put my hand up in agreement and have done when needed.

Well, to be honest I was quite excited about taking little man on a trip! it was only possible due to the fact his currently on half day schooling. So as this was the perfect opportunity we went for it.

So… wondering where it was we went? “No…. for once it wasn’t buses riding on the 450!” though that’s not far off! We actually visited London’s Covent Garden where you can find the all exciting Transport Museum. Not only was this ideal given that it was full to the rim with little mans interest, *buses* followed by tubes, trams & trains, but it was also very educational. The Museum does have learning facilities within the building and after a little conversation with a helpful member of staff on the Ins & outs of little mans situation he was shown into the learning lounge where he could use the IT software or read one of the many transport reference books. What made it even more great was the fact he did these things a long side children on a more “formal” school trip. He didn’t try to interact with these children but he didn’t abuse any off them either. I was grateful to that member of staff, he didn’t judge him and regardless of my shared information on the good and the sometimes challenging behaviour associated with his condition, he responded by stating “Everyone deserves a chance, and just because his not responded well before, who’s to say he won’t this time?” I stood thinking “Wow, people like you are like gold dust”

Well, Lucky for me my friend had come along on our “school trip” I was in need of some adult non bus based conversation and while little man did his stuff on the PC me and my friend grabbed a ten minute break (that turned out to be our only break of the day) Still I’m not complaining we did have a fantastic day, especially little man and that’s what we were there for, to give him something to enjoy! Of course there were times when little man was a little over excited, hyper or even frustrated (mainly because he wanted to be on the next item of transport before he had even left the one he was currently sat on) but through a collection of strategies we were able to successfully keep him on the right track. We did encounter a small episode towards the end off the day when leaving the Museum at closing time (yes we were there that long) but it could have been a whole lot worse. It was essential to spot any potential triggers and remove them or him before they had any undesirable effects. undoubtedly there is no need to explain why this is to any parent(s) of children on the spectrum, because they are likely to be the ones that “really” get it! But for those who don’t or just think they do….. Let’s just say.. if I hadn’t approached issues in this way the outcome would have been explosive!!!


I’m so…. pleased with the way our creation of a school trip planed out. After some essential planing that took place in the weeks leading up to the trip, these included little mans ideas and views on all aspects of the trip, a social story, countdown tick chat (visual aids), and journey planing (Little mans job, of course!) things went remarkable well.

And the fun didn’t end there! After the Transport Museum we went for dinner, followed by a short walk around the city, a fun-filled visit to Trocadero where we experienced the realisation of the 4D simulator and drove the bump a cars till I felt sick, finally hitting Starbucks for an espresso followed by a large skinny latte with cinnamon sprinkled on the froth  yummy.

After waving my friend off at Charing Cross station. Myself and the little dude boarded our train. We found a spot that just had the two seats (little man hates having to sit with all these “strange commuters” his words not mind!) and as I suddenly realised I was beat and was potentially asleep I felt his arms interlock around me, very tightly. Then came the kiss that he gentle placed on my forehead. “Thanks mum, I love you” came a voice… Wow getting kisses is like getting a night on the town (rare) “I Love you”, well they normally pop along when his done something wrong or wants something. This wasn’t the case today! And it felt so great that it wasn’t. Me and my little man were happy… really…really happy, and that my friends is priceless!

 

 

 

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