Monday, 2 March 2015

Changing the Windows

This week our upstairs windows are being replaced which to most families is a slight inconvenience with the disruption it causes, but everyone can cope.  We have had to put a lot of preparation in place to ensure our two ASD children know what to expect and will not be alarmed when they come home from school today and find a mess in the house.  

As the style of window is changing slightly, I have prepared them with a picture of how it will look, so that they don’t get upset as it will look different.  We have had a similar problem before when we had our curtains replaced with blinds.  By the end of the first day of blinds being up, our youngest son had pulled down half of the vertical panels as it didn’t look the same as it had that morning.

Both of their bedroom windows are being replaced first so that after today, no one else needs to go in their bedrooms and we can get everything back to normal again in their rooms tonight.  I carefully moved all of our youngest son’s soft toys this morning from his room under his watchful eye as he didn’t want any of them to get dirty.  Our daughter spent most of yesterday tidying her bedroom so that there is a clear walkway from the door to the window and with any luck she will now decide to keep it that way.  Although this could be wishful thinking on my part!!

Thankfully, most of the drilling and banging should be finished before they get home from school, as from a sensory point of view, they would have both struggled with the level of noise and would not have enjoyed being confined indoors for the day.


Monday, 23 February 2015

Stage Performance

Our daughter performed in another show at the weekend with the drama group and dance school she attends. I was amazed by how much her confidence has grown in the past few months and was so proud watching her perform on stage. This is her passion and she spends every waking moment singing, acting out lines from films she's watched or practising her dance moves. I think she knows most lines from the Harry Potter movies as they are watched over and over again. She is now teaching our youngest son all the spells from the movies and I keep finding him appearing with a wand shouting out 'reparo, lumos, accio'.  

As is common with ASD children once they find a passion their life revolves around it until they find a new one to obsess about. This is a good one for our daughter to have as she can struggle with social interaction, but she can use her knowledge of dance, songs and films as a great conversation opener with her peer group. It gives her confidence in social situations and helps her to feel that she fits in. 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

What a difference the sunshine makes

I’ve been quiet on the blog front for the past couple of week as I’m still recovering from a virus that I’ve had since Christmas and has totally wiped me out.  From talking to other people, I think half the population has succumbed to a virus of some description this winter.  Our youngest son came home from school last Wednesday screaming with earache and six days later, he is only just starting to be himself again.  Yesterday he slept for 14 hours, which is unheard of in our house, as he rarely needs more than 8 hours a night.  A sure sign that he is not 100%. 

Seeing the sunshine today though has lifted the pair of us.  It’s amazing how the weather affects everyone’s mood and hopefully now as it gradually stays lighter for longer each night, the gloom of winter will lift and we can enjoy spending more time outdoors.  Our son is certainly happiest when he’s outside burning off his ‘Duracell bunny’ energy.  I enjoy walking Ludo, our puppy far more when I don’t have to wrap up in lots of layers and can feel my fingers!!  Here's hoping today is the start of things to come and spring is on its way.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A happy morning for one son and a hard one for the other

Today has been a day where I have made our eldest son very happy, but at the same time our youngest son ended up sobbing his heart out.  

This is the first Sunday during this rugby season that I have watched our eldest son play.  I only went for the last half hour, but it was all I could manage as our youngest son attached himself to the staircase so that we couldn’t go out.  He may be little, but he is strong and very stubborn and if he doesn’t want to do something, he will dig his heels in.  We had agreed this week that we would go for the last part of the session and our youngest son had seemed ok with this arrangement.  Once it dawned on him today that we were really going, he started to cry and said he couldn’t cope with being around lots of people.  Then he clung onto the staircase screaming.  I ended up resorting to promising him a trip to Poundland after rugby for a treat and carried him to the car.

Our eldest son was looking out for me as I parked the car and had a huge smile on his face and gave me a hug.  With his Dad being one of the coaches, I know our son would like us to be on the side of the pitch more often, as his Dad can't always watch him, if he's coaching the other team.  It was wonderful to watch our son play the game he loves and I wish I could do it more often.   

Rugby lasts two hours each Sunday and so we only saw a small portion of today’s play, but this was too much for our youngest son.  He was wrapped up in lots of layers, but was crying from the cold and wanted me to pick him up a lot of the time as he doesn’t like standing on the mud.  He wouldn’t let me venture near to any of the other parents, as he doesn’t like being around large groups of people.  After half an hour, tears were streaming down his face and we made our way to the car and my promised trip to Poundland.  

Although I wasn’t able to please both of them, it is important for our eldest son that I share his passion of rugby, even if it is only for short periods of time at the moment. He has already told me today how much it meant to him for me to watch him play.  Our youngest son needs to get used to being around people, as this is something he will often face in life as he gets older and so by doing short trips like this, he will hopefully find it easier in time.  It's not easy for either of our sons or our ASD daughter, as they all have their own individual needs, but by compromising as a family, we will hopefully manage to find a way to please all three of them.




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Decluttering our lives

Decluttering is something I love to do and with the beginning of a new year there are articles everywhere about decluttering our lives.  My husband hates it, as he is a hoarder, whereas I will throw something out if we don’t need it or haven’t used it in awhile.  What’s the point of things sitting in a box if you haven’t got room to display them, it’s broken or if it no longer fits you? 

When windowsills are full of clutter, you don’t get as much sunlight into a room, which will affect your mood.  I’ve read lots of posts on facebook this month about living as a minimalist as it helps to make you happier.  We don’t need all the possessions we surround ourselves with – don’t get me wrong I love photos up of our kids, have various things I’ve collected from places I have visited and I keep some of our children’s artwork and prized possessions but do we need to keep everything?  I often recycle artwork into birthday cards for people and will keep a select few pieces of artwork each year.  In the loft I keep a plastic box for each child with their school work and my intention is that they will all have just one box for their whole school life.  If I kept everything there would be no room in the loft for everything else!

I heard an idea on television this week about how everyone should keep a suitcase full of their favourite things and once this is full, if you have something else to add, then you need to remove something else first that you no longer need.  It’s a good idea to adopt especially when we live in an age where space can be premium.  Some of the favourite things I have are memories of places I went as a child or family trips we have done with our children and so don’t take up a physical space.  Children do not always need toys – a treat to visit a zoo, the seaside etc can offer so many good memories.

Most children I know, including our own have a wealth of toys – many are rarely played with, as there is too much choice.  They also find it hard to keep their rooms tidy, as there are too many things to find a home for.  When you have a tidy bedroom, you tend to sleep better, as the room is clear, which will help to keep your mind clear, rather than focusing on the things that need to be put away.  This works for children and adults and is something I try to encourage our children to do, especially our ASD children who can struggle to sleep. 

Our youngest son has an Ikea storage system and everything is put away in a drawer each night, so that he can’t see it.  Apart from his soft toys at the end of his bed, which he likes for comfort and his lego models that he has out on display, he can’t see much when he’s in bed to distract him.  Unfortunately, our daughter is not the same and would live in a pigsty if I let her.  She likes to leave clothes where they fall and scatter the floor with every book and craft item she owns.  She also seems to collect everything going, whether it is snow shakers from places we visit, keyrings or a sweet wrapper that has a special memory attached to it.  A typical child you could say, but to help her to go to sleep and wake up in a calmer environment, I am encouraging her to take responsibility for her bedroom and tidy it up as she goes, rather than reaching Friday and wondering why there is no clear floor space in her bedroom.  It is a work in progress and I do not expect miracles overnight, but by breaking the job into smaller pieces, she is gradually tidying up each area of her room.  Clothes, books and craft items are the easy things to deal with, it is the scraps of paper, sweet wrappers, ornaments from places we have visited that are proving harder to do.  We have bought some pretty boxes to store things in, so at least the room is tidy and then in a few months time she can go back to them and see if she still has the same attachment to them.

Our neurotypical son is the easiest of the lot, as he knows he won’t get his pocket money each week if he doesn’t keep his room tidy, so he is motivated each week to put his clothes away and keep his room in a reasonable state.  Unfortunately, our daughter is not motivated in this way.  With her Oppositional Defiant Disorder, she would rather forgo the pocket money then clean her room.  

Obviously at the ages of 6, 10 and 11, we don’t expect our children to keep spotless rooms, but it is a good habit to get into, to keep their rooms in some sort of order.

I’m far from perfect either as our dining room table can be used as my craft table or desk for my volunteer work, but I’m trying hard to get into the habit of putting things away as I use them.  I can't imagine having no mess, as I think that is impossible with three children and a puppy, who seems to have accumulated a basketful of toys already in the 3 months he has been with us.  However, we can reduce the amount of things we have and by working together as a team, we are decluttering our home and making it a happier place to live in.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Goals for 2015

Since I turned 30 (many years ago!!), I have always written myself a set of goals for each forthcoming year.  I’m a list person and love the satisfaction of being able to tick off something I have achieved.

I have lifetime goals of places I want to visit, which now we have three children are not going to be accomplished in the near future, but I hope when they are older, I will have the opportunity to visit the beaches of Hawaii, see wildlife up close on a safari trip and enjoy a cruise to the Antarctic.

Now I have to be more realistic, especially with two children that have additional needs.  Some weeks it can be an achievement just to deal with the tantrums and meltdowns that occur in our house.   However, it is still important to me to have my list of annual goals, so that I can feel as if I have personally accomplished something. 

I have the ‘normal’ goals of losing weight and getting fit, which I may actually do this year, now I walk Ludo, our puppy each day.  I will have to remember to cut down on my chocolate intake as well though!! 

I want to take the children to London each month as there are so many places they want to visit.  Now our youngest son is comfortable travelling on the train and he went on the underground in the Christmas holidays, which he thoroughly enjoyed, it will be easier to do days out.  For some families, this may be something that is taken for granted as they can go out whenever they want, without having to plan in advance, but if I can manage one trip a month for the year, it will be a huge feat.

At home, I have a list of decorating jobs to do – not exciting I know, but I have already painted the kitchen this year and am feeling happy that I can tick off a goal from my list.  This will also motivate me to reach my other goals.  Small targets are good to have as they inspire you to go onto bigger things.  This is particularly important for children on the spectrum, as they often give up if they can’t do something straightaway.  By breaking their goal up into smaller projects, they will reach the first one quickly and be more motivated to reach the end goal.

I have craft projects that I want to finish, but my biggest goal is to turn my blog into a self published book.  I haven’t got the faintest idea how to do it at the moment, but I will find a way and although I don’t expect to sell thousands of copies, I will have achieved a lifetime dream of writing a book.  Last year I wrote a 30 page booklet on Sensory Processing Disorder from a parent’s perspective, which is sold at the support group I volunteer at, so I know I can do it on a smaller scale.

I always teach my children to believe in themselves and fulfil their dreams (fortunately our daughter has now changed her aspirations from wanting to be a toilet cleaner at the age of 6 to performing on the stage at the age of 11!!) and it is important that we remember this as parents.  We maybe further down the road of the journey of life, but we haven’t finished it yet, so we should still aim high and at the same time we are being role models for our children to show them that they can achieve their dreams, no matter what their age or how long it takes to reach our goals.  Nothing is impossible.

Things aren't normal!!

This has been our youngest son's favourite phrase during the school holidays. The Christmas tree came down after five days to try and reduce stress as each night we were greeted with hours of screaming that 'things aren't normal'. 

New toys quickly found homes in bedrooms as it wasn't 'normal' to have them out - it takes awhile for our ASD children to get used to their new possessions and it maybe months before they are used properly.

My husband has been off since Christmas Eve with just one day back to work on New Year's Eve which has caused our ASD children anxiety as it's not the normal weekly routine. Daddy should be at work Monday - Friday and at home on weekends. 

Plus rugby will have had its' third Sunday off this week for the Christmas break which means my husband and eldest son have been at home on Sunday mornings. I appreciate the break, as our daughter has not had drama during this time either, so it has been the first three weekends since the beginning of September where we have had the whole time to ourselves.  Unfortunately though, this isn't 'normal' either in the world of our ASD children and has upset their routine.

Lets hope going back to school on Tuesday will seem 'normal'!!