Moving soon (I hope)

Posted by Sarah on Nov 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

We had the real estate agent around today to let us know how much our house should sell for and what to do to get that price. It was a pleasant surprise on both accounts. As our house is in the “Renovators Delight” category it’s in the lower end of the market so there’s no point in putting a lot of money into things that people will probably want to rip out anyway. Di gave us a few tips that wouldn’t cost much at all and even said not to bother with some things that we suggested so we were happy with that.

For those of you who don’t know we’re going to be building next door to Bev and John’s house next year. (That’s Paul’s parents.) We’ll just be round the corner from here in Upwey where we have lived before. It’s a perfect location as it’s opposite the train station and shops and just near the high school so Bill and Bridie can walk. Bev and John have been wonderful to us over the years, moving up here after we got Beth’s diagnosis and looking after the kids whenever we need them to. They pick Bridie up from kinder on either a Thursday or Friday for me depending on what appointments I have (and sometimes even better, when I don’t have any), and did the same for Bill and Beth before that. I’m more than happy to help out in kind if needed. And I think Bev and I have one of those rare mother/daughter in law relationships in that we’re really good friends!

We were originally going to stay where we are while we built. We had a bad experience with renting a few years ago when we had to rent for a little while. We moved up to Emerald as we figured as we were renting it would be a good way to suss out the area as lots of people from school lived there. We made the mistake of being a bit too far out of Emerald and didn’t enjoy it at all. Also it was a nightmare with Beth as you can’t modify a home that isn’t yours. There wasn’t much available so we ended up with a house that didn’t have a good view of the backyard and not great fences. Beth broke all the flyscreens because she could open the windows and pushed the flyscreens out to get out. The rooms were up the other end of the house so I’d have to keep checking on her to make sure she hadn’t escaped and run off up the road. It was a horrible time. Mind you that was 4 years ago. She’s a lot better now and I’m planning on checking out houses a lot earlier so we can find something suitable.

During the fire season last summer we realised how bad our house was location wise. It’s on a steep block and the road is narrow so you have to pull over if somebody is coming in the other direction. Coming home from swimming I saw a mushroom cloud of smoke so headed straight to Bev and John’s with the kids. It was horrible trying to think whether to come back and get the pets but in the end I did. It was so scary coming back because I could hardly breathe and all the roads were blocked off. We all ended up at my sister in law Kathryn’s, Me, Paul, Beth, Bill, Bridie, Bev and John. Along with Minka the dog, Henry the cat, Sasha the rabbit and Tweetie Pie the budgie! We’ve decided to hire a storage box (thanks for the idea Bec) to put all the stuff in that we wont need ’til our proper house is built. At least then even if we are still here over summer we can put our valuables like photos etc in there anyway. We’ll be much more prepared this time if necessary.

It’ll actually be nice to be in a rental house while we’re building because I find it quite depressing coming home and constantly thinking of all the things that we should be doing. I’ll be able to relax, especially as I’ll have my Bridie at school. And the good thing is that this time we know what the end result will be and that’s something that we’re all looking forward to.


Another good Speech session

Posted by Sarah on Nov 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

We had Sensational Kids yesterday which went well. I don’t stay for Beth’s Occupational Therapy session with Melinda but she tells me that Beth is starting to use both hands more consistently which she tends not to do so I’m pleased with that. Melinda had her threading jewellery and cutting with one hand, holding the paper with the other. All things that I should be doing at home with her but often don’t have the time. It’s hard also when you have more than one child because a lot of the games and activities that Beth should have are best one on one for concentration levels and of course the other kids want your undivided attention also. Especially Bridie as she loves all the crafty things. I try to include her and do it as a family activity but she cracks a wobbly half the time if it’s not done the way she wants it and by the time I’ve finished dealing with that Beth’s either lost interest or gone in another direction.

Speech was a successful session. Beth and Rod have been using funny voices and accents which is amusing. Sometimes this means that things are done in a very roundabout way but Rod knows what he’s doing so I just take his lead. Last session, which was a month ago, Rod wrote out sentences and asked Beth to say what emotion was being used in these sentences. He started off very basic and the choices were just happy or sad. Even that she found confusing at times. This time there was a variety of emotions to pick from such as angry, confused, excited etc and she pretty much picked them easily. Behavior wise she was a bit all over the shop as she has been lately but her understanding and comprehension has been fantastic lately. I was also interested to get Rods opinion on this as I had told him several weeks ago about us doing the mercury detox and he’d basically said that there was no proof that this worked and no scientific evidence.  Yesterday he said flippantly to me “what pills are you giving Beth cos keep doing it.” I happily replied “chelation therapy actually!”  He didn’t show much but seemed surprised and expressed a sort of “oh well there you go” comment, can’t quite remember the wording but along those lines.

Eli came in early again and as Paul was picking the other kids up we were able to stay for a bit longer too. They played a card game called Slamwich which was simplified by Rod. Beth had to ask Eli if he wanted for example tomato for his sandwich to which Eli had to respond. Beth would then give him a card with the picture of tomatoes. Eli then had to ask Rod and Rod had to ask Beth. They had to say if they already had that particular food. Beth is getting really good at picking up where Rod has tried to trick her. He had asked her if she wanted apple in her sandwich but there was no apple card as she indignantly pointed out! By the end Beth was starting to take it too far and the game didn’t make much sense anymore but she saved the day by asking Eli if he wanted Grandma’s underpants in his sandwich. Everyone thought that was hilarious and Beth was a happy girl!

I went to a 25 year school reunion last night which was great fun. I just wanted to mention on of my school mates by the name of Paul. He suggested that I start this blog and not only set it up for me but also has put up with my questions on how to do this and that since the beginning. I was a typist/receptionist in my previous life (before kids) but don’t really know much about computers other than emails and facebook so it’s been really great to have someone with computer knowledge and the belief that I could make a go of this. Thanks Paul, I really appreciate everything you’re doing for me. (Note this is in the present tense as I’m sure I’ll still need lots of assistance in the future too!)



Posted by Sarah on Nov 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

Last night Beth had her weekly swimming lesson at the Monbulk Pool. She loves her swimming lessons and because she needs to have a one on one session I pick her up early from school and she starts her lesson at 3.30pm.

Last night’s lesson was a complete disaster! Usually Bill goes into after school care on a Monday but as it was meant to be 33 degrees yesterday we agreed in the morning that I’d pick him up early too and he could come for a swim. I picked them up earlier than usual so there was about 10 – 15 minutes before Beth’s lesson started, enough time for her to have a quick play with the others. Wrong! She got into competitions with Bridie as to who could do the best handstands. And worse still her usual teacher Debbie wasn’t there so we had Bridie’s teacher Rebecca instead. Now I’d worded Rebecca up that Beth likes to stuff around. She really needs that bitchy mother attitude of “if you don’t do what I tell you you’re out of the pool.” Rebecca had told me that yes indeed she had worked with autistic kids before so I was confident that she’d be ok.

I should have known that it wouldn’t be a good lesson before hand. Not only was the handstands a dead giveaway but Beth had informed me that she wouldn’t actually be calling Rebecca by her full name but that she was going to call her Becky. I told her that she’d better check first because some people don’t like their names being abbreviated. Tough! That’s what she was going to call her!

I must tell you that we had the same problem with her original Occupational Therapist at Sensational Kids. Her name was Gwenda and she was of the old school and quite serious. Goodness knows what she was doing working with kids. Beth decided to call her Gwenny and got great pleasure out of Gwenda correcting her every time, getting more and more frustrated each time Beth did it. It’s like waving a red flag to a bull with Beth. Find something that pisses somebody off and she’ll run with it! She’s a bugger my girl but also very amusing!

Anyway, back to last night. Poor Rebecca. Every time she told Beth to do anything she did a handstand. Well it started out being quite funny with Rebecca saying – well done Beth, now let’s do this – but by the end (and 50 handstands laster) she wasn’t so bright. I hate times like that. When she wants to she can really apply herself and do  well but it’s always on her terms. Last night she obviously decided that she wanted to be a shit (excuse the french) and that’s exactly what she was. I was so embarassed, even though I know that Rebecca would have understood. One of the only positive things (if you can call it positive) about times like that is that the person that it’s happening to gets a bit of a glimpse as to what life can be like for you. As parents we live with these behaviours. Some of them they mostly grow out of and we get the gut wrench when it happens occasionally, remembering when it was like that ALL the time.

The other positive is that in my case it does make me realise how much better Beth is now than she was a few years ago. It makes me appreciate how far she’s come. So for those of you who are reading this, relating to this behaviour in the present time, let me reassure you it DOES get better. Please don’t confuse this with me saying that your child will get better though of course I hope for that too. What I’m saying is that with age they do improve. They do manage their tantrums better, they become fewer and less severe. It’s still horrible to watch, probably even more so because they’re so big, harder to handle and harder to watch what seems like baby behaviour but nevertheless it does get easier. Of course I’ve only got Beth to 10, I might change my tune when adolescence kicks in!


Speaking with Donna Williams

Posted by Sarah on Nov 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

I’ve not long got off the phone with Donna Williams which was very inspiring. She very kindly told me that she admires anybody who tells their story so openly which for me was very high praise indeed. I’ve done an email of 6 questions to which Donna will answer me, then I will respond to her answers. She will then post this on her blog with a link to my site and I will do the same thing from this end. Her husband Chris is off to the UK next week and as he is the one who is computer savvy in their house (lucky cos we have nobody here!) we will wait until he is back and then do a podcast chat which will also be posted on both blogs. Very excited I am!

Donna has also agreed to come along to our HAGS in the Hills Christmas party on November 22nd to do a bit of music therapy and entertaining. We have spoken about doing a music therapy program with herself and a couple of others who are very autie friendly so we agreed that the Christmas Party would be a good introduction to this.


On a lighter note

Posted by Sarah on Nov 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

I had a little bit of good news on Friday. For those of you who don’t know, Donna Williams is something of a celebrity in the field of autism. She is a world known author, having written several books about her life, one of which has been made into a movie. She is also a wonderful artist and musician and sings in a band called Donna Williams and the Aspinauts. The inspiring thing about Donna is that she is autistic herself.

I am on Donna’s mailing list. As I am trying to get some exposure for my blog I thought that I would be a bit cheeky and ask if she could possibly send a link to it to her vast mailing list recipients. I was very excited to get an email back from Donna saying that she would go one better, why didn’t we do an interview together and she would do audio of it on Skype and put it on her blog! I’m not terribly up on technology and don’t really understand what Skype is but Donna seems to be up with it all so I’ll leave that side of it to her! I’ll let you all know when it’s happening. And please, if you know others who you think may be interested, send a link to my blog out. The more traffic I get the more likely that I might actually make something out of this writing caper!

We’re had a lovely weekend. It was 30 degrees yesterday if not hotter, a bit of a stinker actually, we’re just not used to it yet. I took Bill and Bridie swimming while Paul took Beth horse riding. I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be doing it for because she always objects to going though she does seem to enjoy it while she’s there. We’re still to find what her passion is so we basically try anything! She did piano in grade 1 which she quite enjoyed but didn’t really get into, we may try that again now that she’s a bit older.

For a while earlier this year we tried karate. Bill does karate with a wonderful teacher called Terry. We started him doing it because he lacks a lot of self confidence. I thought it would be good for him to do a sport that wasn’t terribly competitive and that individual participation is what is needed. He has thrived and is the top of his class, he’s the only one who is being graded for his blue belt/yellow stripe so far so I’m very proud of him. His teacher is one of those who praises each child by name so that they know that he’s noticing all that they are doing and Bill just loves that. Terry is tough but also a very nice man. I liken him to the teacher in the Karate Kid but when he played Arnold on Happy Days!

After Bill had been doing it for a while I approached Terry about teaching some of the kids from our HAGS group. He was very keen so the next week there was about 4 or 5 kids along with parents. We did this straight after Bill’s class and the lovely thing was that Terry got Bill to help him teach the autistic kids with him which he loved. If somebody was to walk into the class without knowing what was going on I’m sure they would have wondered what the hell they had walked into! Paul would be there by then so either him or myself would pretty much be behind Beth trying to get her punches and kicks working the way Terry was telling them to. Most of the kids at one time or another would be pacing at various times, I couldn’t get Beth to stop looking at herself in the mirror and the whole time there’s Terry trying to teach them the art of karate! All of them had something sink in. Some did really well but the group got smaller and smaller and finally I had to concede that Beth really didn’t want to be there. Terry tried everything, keeping each move to 2 or 3 minutes, he even had everybody seeing how loud they could make the grunting noise because he knew how much Beth loved making the noise. Of course mum and dad had to make the noises too much to the amusement of kids and parents alike! Even the pizza that we get Thursdays really wasn’t enough of an enticement, Beth just really didn’t enjoy it.

The good thing that came out of it was that Richard and Liam who were both regulars have joined in the earlier class with Bill. They seem to be really enjoying it which is great. I had been feeling guilty about pulling Beth out because it was me that had organised the group in the first place, so the only other 2 regular members still being able to do karate was a terrific end result. And we are still on the elusive search for the thing that will be Beth’s passion, her calling if you like. I hope we find it soon!

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