Friday, 30 December 2016

Problems of an Autist!

Today, Dominik saw the physiotherapist for a progress report and he has been discharged! 

This is as a direct result of his dedication and resolve. The improvement seen by us (and confirmed by Sebastian) is remarkable. He has a normal bend at his ankle already (the surgeon was worried that he would not even be able to get it to 90 degrees, let alone exceed it!). I am so thrilled for him. He is elated. Genuinely happy with a real world achievement. Properly proud of himself. For a person with PDA this is a massive accomplishment. 

He has finally dedicated himself to something and it has PAID OFF! No begging. No bribing. No threatening. Not even any nagging! 

He is finally seeing what I have known was there all along...huge potential. He told me himself that he has had a massive confidence boost. 

This operation was a catalyst for him even though I was so angry with myself for letting it happen. Ultimately it seems that it was for the best. 

It has provided the ideal test for Dominik. His well-being and quality of life were truly on the line and he rose to the challenge in a super-human way.

Keep the faith lovelies. <3

And now, on to Autist problems!

Because Dominik has now recovered (and exceeded expectations!), I need to book our rifle shooting classes! 

(I am sure I can almost hear the hysterical laughter coming from fellow PDA warriors!)

In writing the email (because I don't do phone calls) I became acutely aware of the reality of Dominik and people and ammunition all in the same place in real life. I'll be honest here, I'd have chosen pretty much any other sport/hobby/activity first. 

I intended to write a standard enquiry email but it became what I am sharing below. It includes some pertinent points and I'm proud of my advocacy...I think. 

And therein lies the Autist problem...was I too honest? 
Is writing an email like this a good idea? 
Have I prejudiced them from the outset? 
Should I have let him try? 

Urgh. This is so confusing for me and I have no idea if it would be confusing for a neurotypical parent! 

Here's the email


My names Natasha.

I would like to bring my 12 year old son along to have a taster session with a view to both of us taking beginner classes.

I think it would be £60 each (plus the £5 each for safety and taster?) is this right?

My son has special needs (ASD) so I am joining him as his carer. I do not however envisage any problems outside of over-enthusiasm and possibly over-confidence!

He has just had an operation on both of his Achilles Tendons and as a result, can now stand properly. on his flat feet for the first time since he was around 8 year old. 

His amazing management of the surgery and his recovery are the main reason we are coming. It is the only hobby he is willing to try and I’d love for this to be a success.

He is home educated so is used to being self-directed. His only other 'class' has been parkour (free-running) and he was forced to stop that due to his shortened Achilles tendons which meant he could not balance well enough to progress.

He is a massive fan of weapons in general as a result of his love for COD games and other first person shooters.

To give you an idea of his dedication to the subject, one of his last full days out was to Wrest Park for a St George’s Day event. He was able to identify pretty much every weapon he saw in each 'zone'. It was so much fun and he impressed those who bothered to actually listen to what he was saying/asking.

Please confirm that it would be ok for us to come along, or if you think there may be a different way to give him (us) a taster, I’m happy to hear any suggestions?

Finally, would you please confirm/suggest dates as soon as possible so I can plan things accordingly.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Happy New Year,


Did I over share? Did I advocate? I don't know but I'm looking forward to finding out.

In other news, Harriet is still a climber and will be visiting a local climbing centre this month, Hannon cannot decide on any new classes this term and has refused climbing, kayaking (because of the day of the week) and archery. Lily is devoted to roller skating and is improving fast. We have a bet on now that if she can beat me in a race before Easter she can have a new pair of skates of her choice. I cannot wait to see her skills develop. Lily is also learning Spanish and will continue with Beavers and Cheer-leading

As for me, I'm itching to begin a career. I just cannot decide which area I want to focus on. I am torn between gaining a TEFL qualification (so we can travel again) and following my heart towards working with families and children and young people. Such a big choice...could I manage both?!

Enough from me. There is a sleep-over here tonight and as you can imagine, there is not going to be any sleep happening!

Happy New Year. 

May 2017 being you joy, health and love.

N x

PS - 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

It's here again!

In what seems like the blink of an eye, it's Christmas time again. This is my third Christmas as a blogger! Where did that time go?

So, this year, dare I say it, it almost feels calm!

None of my children have asked for very much this year and I think this has had a large part to play in alleviating the usual stresses! We are all very excited and have even agreed that we will put up our decorations a tad earlier than usual. Cannot wait til the weekend!

Dominik, of course, has had his main present already and given that he hasn't asked for anything else, the rest will be sure to be a pleasant surprise.

I should probably fill you in on life after surgery! Dominik had his casts removed last week after what felt the longest six weeks of our lives! He hated using the commode almost as much as I hated him using it to be honest! So glad that is behind us now.

The first day he was incredibly nervous...refusing to put his feet down and insisting on using the wheelchair after a week of not using it at all! We had booked to go and see Fantastic Beasts that night and I optimistically, didn't expect to be using the chair but we had to in the end!

The second day he hobbled around with his crutches mostly using them as weapons, which was a bit trying.

But, on the third day, he put them down and began to walk unaided! He is waddling (a little like a penguin) and refusing to bend his knees but the surgeon assured us that within three months he would be much more confident and competent. I guess the irony is that he is point blank refusing to stand up on his toes! He simply will not do it. Hope that's a good sign.

We saw the neurodevelopmental therapist after the casts were off too to check on the progress of his retained reflexes and that was also great news. His pupils are showing almost no stress response now and he was able to do the exercises far more easily than ever before. His back has now loosened up which makes every single movement easier and far less stressful for his entire body. We have been advised to seek a physiotherapist (not provided by the hospital, urgh) and a cranial osteopath so the pathway to wellness continues.

Back to Christmas!

Three years ago when I first began writing this blog, I wrote a long and detailed post about all the things I put into place around this time of year to make life less stressful and anxiety inducing for Dominik but here we are, three years on, and those measures, whilst still being on stand by, are no longer essential.

I am going to copy and paste some of my tips here from the original article in case they are of use to any new readers.

"For those of you with little ones who are at school, I imagine this time of year must be particularly challenging, not least because of the following;
  • Mufti-days
  • Carol services
  • Timetable changes
  • Nativity plays
  • Decorations
  • Staff absence 
to name but a few of the school based changes. 

But what about if we include;
  • School holidays
  • Visiting relatives
  • Christmas trees and decorations
  • Furniture being relocated
  • Presents (and the accompanying anxiety)
  • All predictability vanished
  • Extra people everywhere
And perhaps even;
  • Parties
  • Father Christmas himself
  • Family events
  • Photo ops
  • Different foods
  • Different clothes
  • An abundance of chocolate/sweets and treats everywhere
  • Anxiety at its maximum surrounding the idea of being 'good/well behaved/deserving'

This is perhaps the most challenging time of year for us families with children (and adults) on the Autistic Spectrum so I thought I would share with you a few of my ideas designed to make life a little less stressful.

It is my hope that they will help things to run more smoothly (and joyously), in your home too during this Christmas Season.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

This cannot be said enough! Prepare to the nth degree!

Let your child create their own special visual timetable (in the form of an advent calendar?) so that they can anticipate all the events at school and at home. Let them talk to you about everything that they remember about the changes and how that makes them feel and what they feel they can and cannot cope with.

Enable them to choose, to as large an extent as possible, what they want to participate in and what they don't in the school calendar and respect their wishes. Be the best advocate for your child that you can be and ensure that they get the Christmas they want too. Struggling is not a nice way to live at any time but at Christmas, when everyone else is smiling and happy, it is even worse.

Bribery & Coercion

I think it is all too common that parents begin using Santa (and presents) as a 'carrot/stick' once Christmas time comes around. Children all over the western world are worrying themselves half to death about their behaviour and whether or not they have been 'good' enough to deserve presents.

It is my firm belief that children will do well if given the environment in which they can do well.

Our special children are already doing their best all the time to manage without breaking down, so at Christmas, when there is so much more at stake, perhaps we should avoid pairing their behaviour with the promise of presents?

A lady told my daughter only the other day that if she 'screamed like that' Santa would hear her and she wouldn't get any presents. Not only was this extremely distressing for my daughter but it was horrible for me too! I do not use this kind of carrot and stick system in my house as a rule (I'm not perfect) and I have to say that to hear it come from a complete stranger was horrifying.

My daughter had been having a difficult (and busy) day and she was getting to the end of her ability to cope (several different shops, in and out of the car, hungry and over-stimulated) and this lady simply made things 100% worse. Sigh.

So, yes, try your hardest to not equate their behaviour with good/bad....they are trying their best.


Please, please, please, unless you have absolutely no choice (or alternatively, they want to come along), let them stay at home! The world is a crappy place for those of us who shun noise, smells, lights, people, being touched and garishness right now! Unless your little one wants to plan a trip (and gets complete autonomy over what happens on that trip, including when to call it quits), don't make them come along. A trip such as this can take days to wind down from even if it goes well. If it goes badly the guilt and shame and self-reproach from us perfectionists is almost too much to bare.


Keep the number of visiting friends and relations to an minimum, or, at the very least, let your child hide out in their room (or in the room that is most comfortable for them) and do not force them to socialise if they don't want to.

As an Aspie adult I can tell you, being made to kiss, hug and chat to people who are basically a load of strangers, is traumatic and exhausting and certainly not 'fun'!

Please be an advocate for your child and warn any visitors, that if they are bringing presents, to expect them to be unwrapped on sight if they are seen by said children! If they do not wish for this to happen then should wait for the opportunity to 'sneak' them in unseen when they can be safely hidden and not add to the anticipation that our children are already feeling with regard to unopened presents, and the pressure to like them.

Also, tell these same visitors what treats/sweets/foods are acceptable in advance so you don't have repeated meltdowns over food.

If you can, decline any invitations that are non-essential. Visiting lots of different homes is stress-inducing due to the amount of unpredictability and frequent transitions.

If you do over-do it our little ones will soon unravel and will not have a chance to regroup and recover, and will therefore end up not enjoying the best bits that Christmas has to offer.


Allow your child/children to take whatever role they wish in decorating the house and tree (or not). If they are anxious about decorations perhaps put them up as late as you can in family areas and allow any other children to decorate their rooms so that they don't miss out."

I have added a few tips and tweaked this a little but it is basically the same as it was in 2014.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, fun and joyful Christmas.

Much Love, thanks for reading,

N x