Friday, 23 May 2014

Excitement of a Train Ride

Who knew going on a train could be such an exciting experience. Our 5 year old son has been on Thomas the Tank Engine for a train ride but it dawned on me recently that he hadn't been on a normal train. The main reason being that as he doesn't like crowds and people looking at him it has been something we have avoided. 

Yesterday his school was shut for polling and so I took the opportunity to go for a short ride at a quiet time of day. His face was a picture as he was so excited. On the platform he jumped up and down in anticipation until a fast train went past and he hid behind me with his hands over his ears. The noise was too much for him. When our train arrived he eagerly got on and sat on my lap. He was unsure about having his own seat. As the train started to move he liked the rolling motion and asked to stand up. He spent the next 15 minutes moving with the train, which gave him great sensory input to help with his sensory processing difficulties.  When we got off the train, he didn't want to explore our destination, instead we went over to the platform for our return journey and a train arrived within 5 minutes.  Our son stood up for the whole way back, beaming from one side of his face to the other.  

He now wants to go further on a train, so I'm contemplating a trip to London in the summer holidays.  It will need lots of preparation, but unless we try these experiences we have no way of knowing how he will cope, so I will be brave and take the three kids to London.  We may only get to Kings Cross Station and then return home again, as it may be overwhelming for our son with so many people around, but it will be a start.  

Sunday, 18 May 2014

School Residential Trip

Tomorrow our daughter embarks on a geography field trip. From the tantrums we've experienced this weekend the stress of the unknown is showing. The school has provided a detailed itinerary of the activities that will be carried out each day and we have seen the place they are staying in on the internet. However, not knowing what the food will be when you are a picky eater, who you will be sharing a room with or who you will sit next to on the coach are big worries for a child who insists on routine and knowing what is going to happen in advance of it occurring. 

Fortunately it is only a 3 day trip and the days look so full with activities that fingers crossed it will be a successful trip and our daughter will come home excited to tell us about her adventures and the fun that she has experienced away with the school.

To prepare our ASD son for our daughter going away, we have a countdown chart to show how many sleeps until she goes away and from tomorrow, I will make another one for how many sleeps until she comes home.  Otherwise, he will not be very accepting of her coming back into the house on Wednesday.  We had a similar problem last year when she went on her first school residential trip and our son wouldn't speak to her for a couple of days, as he found it hard to accept that she had come home again.  He couldn't cope with the change to his normal routine. The added difficulty this week is that my husband is also away on a business trip, so it's a week full of changes.  Here's hoping it goes smoothly, otherwise I'll have a week of no sleep and lots of meltdowns!!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

How a small change can unsettle an ASD child

Most of us take it for granted that a deviation to our normal routine is part of life and we adapt with ease. Unfortunately anyone who has ASD does not necessarily react in the same way.

This week my husband had an early morning dentist appointment and thought he would surprise the kids and take them to school before he caught his train to work. Our daughter spotted him walking up the road as we approached her school and she said a hurried goodbye and dashed into school. When I asked her later what was wrong, she replied 'You take me to school, I don't see Daddy on the way to school'.  He had upset her normal morning routine. 

When we took our sons to their school. our youngest son who has ASD tugged at my sleeve as soon as we entered the playground and pulled me towards the spot where we stand each morning to wait for his 1:1 to come out and collect him. My husband wandered over after talking to someone and our son just looked at the ground and ignored any conversation. He was in his 'zone' and noone was going to interrupt him. He has to stand in the same place each day to prepare himself for school and to help him cope with all the sensory distractions in the playground.  Like our daughter, he was not going to let his normal morning routine be upset.

Our other son who's nine ignored both of us, but that's down to it not being cool to be in the top year group at lower school and chat to your parents!!

It is upsetting to see our two ASD children struggle to cope with what may seem a minor change and luckily as parents we have both developed thick skins so that we don't take everything personally.   In time, hopefully they will learn to accept that things can change without warning.  It's not going to happen overnight but we will get there with patience. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Weekend Fun!

I love our weekends in the summer months, as we have more time to go out and do things as a family, as there are no rugby games on a Sunday for our eldest son. Although I don't watch many of the matches, as our two ASD children find it a difficult environment to be in each week with the volume of people and length of time that it lasts, now that there is no more rugby until September, we can all go out and enjoy an activity that suits everyone's needs.  

Today has been our first rugby free Sunday and from the tantrums that occurred this morning in our house, it is clearly going to take our daughter a few weeks to get used to having her brother and Dad around.  She is used to the routine of them going out at 8am and not returning much before 1.30pm and likes the time to do things for her.  This morning that all went out the window and to keep the situation calm, we ended up doing separate activities.  My husband took our two sons to the cinema to watch an Autism Friendly screening of Tarzan and I went to Hobbycraft with our daughter.  The couple of hours apart seemed to pacify the situation and the rest of the day passed as smoothly as it can with 2 ASD children in the house who want things their own way all the time!!