Christmas is over

Posted by Sarah on Dec 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

Wow what a busy few days we’ve had. Today is the first day that we’ve been able to just veg out since last Wednesday, and today’s Tuesday! Last time we spoke it was Christmas Eve. Beth’s behaviour has certainly improved since then! (thank goodness)

Christmas morning was lovely, santa got exactly what the kids wanted so Bill got to play his Playstation 2, Beth listened to music on her new dvd player and Bridie zoomed around the house on her Dora rollerblades. The bins had conveniently been emptied the day before so I brought them inside to chuck out all the paper and other packaging that make all the presents look much bigger than they actually are. All the wire ties were put straight in the bin, they are the most frustratingly stupid things aren’t they? They do hold the toys in well but there are so many of them!

One of the things Beth loved was an aqua doodle. She’s always liked the magna doodles and has been asking for an aqua one for ages but I think they normally have the water in the mat and I was worried that it would spring a leak and that’d be the end of it. This one has a pen that you fill up with water so there’s no mess and Beth loves it. I try to buy her age appropriate things and some of these she loves but sometimes she just wants a good old toy and even if they’re designed for 4 or 5 year olds in mind who cares if she wants to play with it. We’ve had a lot of use out of this one already. She got her Mr Men Annual which we read this morning. (Always hard to find the time for things like that when there are 2 other kids in the house.) Santa gave all the kids Mr Men undies and jocks, he tried to find some for mum and dad but they didn’t have any apparently!

We spent the afternoon at Paul’s nephews house in East Burwood. David and Margaret offered to have it this year which was lovely. Quite a crowd as Margaret’s family were all there too but that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it, huge crowds, massive meals and exhaustion after it all! Beth behaved well, we watched the repeat of the carols from the night before and she played with her aqua doodle. I took the kids DSi’s too but we didn’t get them out in the end.

Boxing Day was spent at old family friends as it is every year. Pat and David have been around as long as I can remember. Pat and my mum worked together and were best friends and my Dad and David have been best friends ever since. Mum died when I was 13 and since then we’ve spent every Christmas with Pat and David. They’re as close as you can get to an Aunt and Uncle without actually being related and their daughters Jacqui and Louise are like cousins. In fact Louise was a bridesmaid at our wedding and both Jacqui and Louise are godparents to Bill and Bridie. We used to go there on Christmas night but since having Beth it got too hard staying over so we’ve made it Boxing Day. David cooks up a huge brunch with bacon, eggs, sausages, beans and mushrooms. As they’re Scottish he also cooks up a traditional scottish sausage as well as some potato scones, or ‘tottie scones’ as they’re known. It was so nice this year as the weather was beautiful and the kids just ran around playing outside or watching dvds inside. As they get older it gets much easier. Beth either spent her time on the big swing chair on the deck reading magazines or in front of the telly. We probably let her watch too many dvds in these circumstances but it was such a nice relaxing afternoon that it did help with my sanity. Anything that can do that I welcome with open arms!

Sunday was spent at Bev and John’s. Paul’s brother Tony and his partner Robyn came down from Canberra with their kids Siobhan and John. My kids love to see their big cousins and we ended up going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks – the Squeakwell. Beth was really chatty with the kids which was so nice to see. She’s really trying to have conversations and not jump from one subject to the other. She was asking Siobhan what her favourite movies were, then her favourite characters from these movies. Problem was, she knows so many movies that she just kept firing names at Siobhan! Siobhan took it with good humour. Bridie was most taken with Siobhan also, and happily went away with her to be taught dance steps (for their eyes only of course).

Yesterday we went down to Jacqui and Richard’s house. They have a boy Michael a little bit younger than Bill and a daughter Lauren who is 13 that Bridie is quite taken with. They’re living in a house on the beach while their house gets renovated so it was lovely, we wandered down to the beach after lunch. Louise came too with her daughter Audrey. All the kids played so nicely together. Beth does her own thing but that’s cool. I’ve heard some pretty sad stories about people losing their friends after getting their childs diagnosis so we’ve been very lucky in that sense. We’ve got a good group of friends who have been nothing but supportive. I guess there are some people that we don’t see anymore but I figure that something like autism sorts the good friends from the bad. If they can’t be supportive or understanding of your situation then good riddance, they can’t have been very good friends to begin with. And I’ve made some fabulous friends because of Beth being autistic so it all sorts itself out in the end.


Christmas Eve over

Posted by Sarah on Dec 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

I’m waiting for Beth to go to sleep so that I can let Santa know. It’s 10.20pm and I’m buggered! It’s such a huge time of year isn’t it?

We have Christmas Eve with my family so today we took the trip down to Rye to my dad and his wife Helen’s house. We got down there just before 3 and then my sister Deb, her husband Neil and their kids Ali and Rick arrived about 4. By the time we got there I was over my kids already. We have a fairly small sedan and have been talking about getting a people mover for some time, now’s the time I think! Imagine three kids in the back (one with a booster seat) and me in the front with a labrador at my feet. As soon as we took off it started. Bridie wanted to play eye spy and Bill kept changing the rules or asking people to vote on what game they’d play. As a rule my kids play really well together and they were playing well for the most of the trip but they NEVER shut up! Bill just gets louder and louder and they all escalate, then I yell really loudly, then silence for a few minutes and then it starts all over again! It’s like this on most journeys, it’s just too cramped. And of course Bridie says every 2 minutes “when are we going to get to Gransha and Helens?” Beth kept putting things in her mouth like an old tissue that she found on the floor or she’d find an old bottle of something and nearly drink it. I almost leapt out of the car in relief to be out of that confined space with THEM!

Beth had obviously decided that she really didn’t care about the naughty or nice threat anymore, she was just going to be a real shit today. The spa was fixed after about a year so we thought that that would keep the kids entertained for a while cos they love going in there. Beth started off sucking the water out of the sponge used to clean the spa, then she kept drinking the water. She was doing jumps from the side and calling people names or telling them to shut up. It was horrible, she hasn’t been like that for ages.

We decided that we’d do the presents as we were leaving after dinner. Beth cracked it because there weren’t enough presents for her. She got a High School Musical 3 dvd from Deb and Neil and I was hoping that she’d watch it but no, she got a bee in her bonnett and refused to watch it. She wasn’t too bad when we were having dinner but was very demanding saying things like “I want more water” or “I want ice cream”. Then she kept wanting to go home. When I finally said we’d go after my cup of tea she jumped up as soon as I’d finished and said “bye” very loudly and went to walk out the door. When I called her back she stated that I’d finished my cup of tea and it was time to go home! On the plus side she was lovely on the way home, singing Christmas songs with the other kids and looking out for the decorations on all the houses. Hopefully tomorrow she’ll be a bit more cooperative!

I hope all of you have a safe and sane Christmas. Thanks so much for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my disfunctional life as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it! xxxxx


A quiet start

Posted by Sarah on Dec 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

We’ve had a fairly quiet start to the holidays so far. All I seem to be doing is tidying the house up for bloody inspections so the kids have been excellent, no problems in leaving the house while they’ve been happening. The agent has told me that she’ll give me 24 hours notice but of course when she calls and says she’s got somebody who wants to see it today I feel like we might miss out on a sale if I say no. She had somebody today and luckily I thought that if I just tidied up big time this morning then I would be ready if it happened. It was pyjama day so Beth and Bridie got in the car with their jammies still on. (Bill’s a bit more reserved and felt that he couldn’t do that, he had to get dressed.) They were so good, we weren’t meant to be doing anything today, but off we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house again. They weren’t even home so we sat in their back yard for half an hour until they got back from shopping! If we didn’t have the dog with us I could take them to the movies or something but the whole lot has to be out of the house. Oh well, the end result will be good so it’ll be worth it in the end.

Paul took all the kids Christmas shopping yesterday for my Christmas presents. He’s brave, I always buy his myself and let them choose which one they’ll give him. For mine, I usually take one of the kids with me and show them what I like, then they take Paul along and tell him. Bill is a good one to take, he even chooses my clothes for me and bought me a lovely handbag for my birthday. Don’t worry, I picked it out beforehand with him! Paul said he ended up getting a trolley just so that they could all hold onto it because it was so busy he was scared of losing somebody. He tells me that Beth picked my present out herself and that she wouldn’t waver and insisted on getting it. He said he doesn’t know if it’s more for her or me so I’m tipping it’s probably something Mr Men or even High School Musical! I love it when the kids pick from their hearts, they get so excited watching me open my presents.

While they were gone I finished wrapping their presents. They are all under the tree and, fingers crossed, they’ll stay wrapped. Beth has been so good this year with the presents, I’m so proud of her as it’s always been such a challenge. I remember even getting her to help me to wrap presents for others so that she would know what was inside. She still couldn’t help herself, just in case it had changed into what she wanted it to be! There’s something special about wrapped presents. I remember the rustling of paper at the end of my bed, signalling that mum had put my presents there. Such excitement! I still get a little shiver if I have a paper on the bed or something that I don’t realise is there, it takes me way back to childhood, to the excitement of Christmas mornings. It’s a bit sad really that the bags have overtaken the wrapping of presents. I must admit I am guilty of using them myself, but try with kids to always wrap presents in paper.

I’m trying to get away from too many toys this year. We’ve got so many sets of things in cupboards, they make such a mess, then if a piece is missing then it’s useless. Of course it may not be played with for a year but as soon as you chuck it out it gets asked for. We had a HAGS fundraising afternoon and I donated a couple of Bill’s old toys as he hadn’t played with them for so long. At the end of the day they still hadn’t sold and the kids came with Paul to pick me up. Bill was so excited when he saw a Superman like his, he wanted to go home right away and find it! We ended up taking both toys home again, now he has a fear that I’ll get rid of his toys, he’s not letting anything out of his sight!

Beth has asked Santa for a cd player this year so I got her a compilation cd. I also got her the dvd of the Pink concert that we went to see. I found a Mr Men annual online which I was most excited about. I got annuals every year for Christmas, usually a Rupert the Bear one and I have lovely memories of pouring over them. I also got her an aqua doodle. She’s been asking for one for ages and, rather than the mat being full of water which worried me, it’s the pen that has water in it. At least if the mat gets ripped, it’ll still work.

I’m off to dinner with the HAGS tomorrow night, last one for the year so I’m looking forward to it. We’re going Indian as Clare can’t be there and she doesn’t like Indian that much! Not sure if it’s because she’s married to one, maybe she’s just indian fooded out! Will keep you posted. Stay sane! (easier said than done in the holidays)


Last day of school

Posted by Sarah on Dec 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

We’ve had a couple of good days this week. Yesterday we had a busy one. Beth had her Secret Santa in the morning at school so, although it was a Sensational Kids day, I dropped her at school then dropped Bridie at kinder and went and picked Beth up after her Christmas present draw. She was very pleased with her booty, a cute little unicorn and a giant pen. We then went for the obligatory hot chocolate at Green Bean (what have I started!) We came home for a short while and then set off for Sensational Kids in Ormond.

I spoke to Melinda (OT) about the How does your Engine Run program. I feel bad now that I had said I was a bit peeved with her because she said that she has in fact been trying this method with Beth but she doesn’t ‘get’ the concept behind it. When Melinda asks Beth if her engine is running too fast or too slow, Beth doesn’t understand. Mind you, if I’d known that she was trying these strategies then I could have modelled them at home, therefore teaching Beth what it actually means. It is a confusing phrase if you don’t understand. I can now say to her “your engine is running slow Beth, maybe you need an apple” or perhaps it would be an activity like bouncing to rev her up. I can say of myself that perhaps I need a cuppa because I’m feeling a bit sluggish so my engine must be running slow. The whole point of the program is for the kids to recognise when they need stimulation or calming down so if she can’t get past that one step, she can’t continue with it. I came in on the tail end of the session and Beth wasn’t being terribly cooperative.

Speech is the one that always gets to me as Beth responds so well to Rod. Yesterday’s session they decided to play charades. Beth couldn’t get past when she played charades at camp and kept trying to make all the answers into either a movie, book, tv show or song. Or she’d just make something up. The picture above stemmed from her doing up her shoelaces. It turned into hair ribbons, then how Rod could have hair ribbons as he is bald. Beth suggested that his hair was blue and put the foamy cube on his head. She used a balloon for a scrunchy and they pretended to draw glasses on him so that he looked like his wife Lorette. He works with what Beth wants to do but always makes her work for everything. As last time, Beth’s reward was to be carried into the big gym. She had no problems this week with telling Rod exactly what he needed to do. She learnt that lesson last time, it’s there in her brain now, let’s move on.

It’s funny how Beth has the most difficulty with the easiest concepts. Rod was modelling injecting himself with insulin. Now the whole thing was probably a bit advanced but the needle going in was quite obvious. Beth knows what a needle is but she kept saying things like “you’re pinning yourself” or “you’re sewing your arm.” I’m not sure if she was getting a needle confused with sewing in her mind. Even when we brought the scenario of going to the doctors into the mix she said that was so that the doctor could take the pin out of the arm. When she just doesn’t know she tries to change the subject to avoid it being too hard but Rod always pushes her gently with hints and she gets there in the end.

Today was the last day of school for the year so the kids had to be picked up at 1.30pm. Last night was meant to be the Christmas Carols but it was bucketing down so the carols were sung at school during the assembly at 12.45. They were lovely carols as usual and the assembly was very emotional because not only were a couple of the teachers going on leave for a year (both being my kids ones – should I be paranoid?!), but it was the last assembly for the grade sixes. All the years did their songs and then the choir had a Christmas song to sing. Well Bethie decided that she was going to sing this time. AND she had a little bit of a solo with a few la la la la la’s! It seems that Joyce, the piano teacher, usually accompanies them and does a little tinkle on the keys at this stage of the song. (Musically of course.) Liz who is the choirmaster I guess you’d call her was improvising and making the tune herself when Beth started doing it too. Liz kindly gave this duty to Beth and she ran with it. I’m not sure whether that’s what made her sing the rest of the song but it was so lovely to hear. She’s actually got a very nice voice when she chooses to use it. Tanya was so lovely after all the singing. She thanked all the children for doing such a good job and made a special mention to Beth for such a fabulous effort she made. It certainly brought a tear to my eye and as I looked down at my friend Bec I saw that she had a wee tear too. It’s all worth it at times like those.


What a busy week it’s been

Posted by Sarah on Dec 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

This last week of school is flat out isn’t it?! Monday was Beth’s last swimming lesson so I took her, along with the other kids, to the Monbulk Pool. Usually Bill goes into after school care but after a particularly revolting attitude a couple of weeks ago I told him for the rest of the year that he had to come swimming with us. We normally have a private session at 3.30 which is lovely and quiet for about 15 minutes til the school kids all start piling in for their 4pm sessions. This week, being the last week, they decided that they would combine the classes and let Beth join in the fun with the other kids. The only problem with that was that her teacher isn’t in the water for the 4pm session so Beth seemed to be oblivious to all going on and either was way behind the other kids or doing handstands!

Yesterday (Tuesday) was Beth’s Christmas Party day and they went bowling and then to the park at Ferntree Gully. I dropped off her Secret Santa quietly (so I thought) onto Helma’s desk so that nobody would see that Beth had Jessica. Unfortunately Beth had either seen it or had decided that it didn’t matter if Jessica knew that she was buying or her. When I left in the morning Beth was in tears wanting to give Jessica the magazine that we had bought her. As the Kris Kringle isn’t til Thursday she of course couldn’t give it to her then. All was well and she enjoyed and won bowling with the aide of one of those ramp thingys. Bridie and I met them at the park for a play and lunch which was nice. Beth was so tired and wanted to come home with us. I was tempted but as I had to pick Bill up from school anyway decided to give myself the extra 2 hours.

Last night the choir was singing at the grade 6 graduation dinner and speeches. I checked with Beth to see if she wanted to do it and she assured me that yes, she wanted to do her choir duties and sing. All the kids were excited and were mucking around a bit. It’s hard in that situation because you can’t tell all the kids off all the time for just being kids. Most kids know when they can do things like that and stop at the appropriate time. Not my Bethie! If she thinks something will get a laugh she’ll do it. As Tanya was proudly introducing the choir to the grade six parents Beth let out a great “ha ha”, a quote from her favourite naughty Simpsons character Nelson! Those who watch the Simpsons would know it well, it’s one of their catchphrases. Tanya, bless her, didn’t miss a beat and said something like “you get the true spirit of Menzies Creek, warts and all.” I nearly died of embarassment. Finn’s mum Melissa was sitting with me and I commented that it was Beth had Simpsons Tourettes as she does it quite often. She commented that I should be glad that that was the type she had, it could be much worse. As my friend Laurine put it, at least it wasn’t South Park Tourettes! (Her other favourite is saying “Smell you later” when she says goodbye.

Today it was all about Bridie. Kinder practice for the concert wasn’t on due to total fire ban (where our kinder closes) so she had her last swimming lesson for the year. After a play we popped in to Safeways to buy a cake for the kinder concert tonight. After a mad tidy up again due to another inspection on the house this afternoon we were off to Bev and John’s with Minka in hand. Back to pick up the kids from school, home again home again jiggedy jig. We had an early dinner then off to Bridie’s concert. As Bridie doesn’t talk at kinder I was pleased to still see her get up and, with Kates help, join in the dances. I was so proud when Kerrie called her up to get her diploma, she went up and got it and shyly took it to her tub and sat down. I got Paul a digital movie camera for fathers day so we have filmed Bridie doing all her Christmas songs at home, actions and all, with a little Merry Christmas message on the end to give to Kerrie and Kate. I think I might have to add a box of tissues. Unlike lots of kids with selective mutism, she has no problem in other people hearing her voice, she just wont speak directly to them.

Beth was a real trouper throughout. I moved to the front so that Bridie could come to me if she needed to. I had to have Beth with me as Paul was filming the concert. Mel, who is due to give birth tomorrow had the big couch which she kindly offered to share with me and Beth sat on my knee. There was actually a man sitting next to us but he ended up on the floor, probably pushed out by the ever elegant and fidgety Beth! Anybody who knows her knows that it’s like having a not so small woman sitting on me! She did want to go and play but sat through the whole concert in my arms being such a good girl.

Tomorrow is Sensational Kids day, appointment at doctors, Bridie’s and Bill’s party days at kinder and school, last Karate for the year, and then the school Christmas Carols night. Which means we will have been out 3 nights in a row. And I’m already buggered!


School report time

Posted by Sarah on Dec 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

We got Beth and Bill’s school reports today. The way it’s done these days is back to the a, b, c reports. A ‘c’ is where your child should be if he or she is keeping up with the class. A ‘c’ is also what I remember to be the mark that I got when I was being really lazy or not that bright! It’s either changed or I was smarter than I thought! Bill got pretty much all ‘c’s with the exception of a ‘b’ for reading which I was very pleased with. Beth got all ‘d’s and ‘e’s which I expected but it’s still not that nice to see written in black and white.

There’s not any subject that she’s up to her peers in. Some things such as Civics and Citizenship (what the?), The Arts and Reading are at the beginning of year 4. There are a few that are half way through year 3 and a good handful that are at the end of year 2. Her effort and class behaviour however are very good! Tanya’s comments (the principal) included the very positive “you have enjoyed your friends and laughed lots whilst playing with them.”

There were some positives which hopefully we can attribute to our flaxseed treatments. Helma comments that Beth has had an excellent second semester. Where going home time was a nightmare for probably a good year, staff have been able to distract Beth of late with card games with her peers which settles her down. She used to make lots of noises with her fingers in her ears at the anticipation of home time, not sure why, but it was very distracting to the class by all accounts. Her output of work has improved and has been of a better standard. Most of her work has to be done with support as she doesn’t stay on task particularly well but I was well aware of this. Spelling test results show an improvement. Punctuation has been experimented with more also.

Maths again seems to be her weakest subject. I truly believe that she must have missed a cue somewhere along the way and, as with speech rules, if she ‘got’ what was missing then a lot of it would fall into place.

Her enthusiasm and energy seem to be mentioned throughout the report. Her ‘passion project’ was on Pink who we went to see in concert earlier in the year. Tanya comments how much she must have enjoyed the concert and her enthusiasm for stories. Her PE Teacher Mr Card comments that Beth told him that PE was ‘fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun!”

Her Visual Arts teacher comments that ‘Beth likes to explore the materials in her own way which is often very different to the set task.” That doesn’t sound like my Bethie! Mind you, sometimes I wonder if she had the chance to really explore something artistic, to do it her way how it would turn out. I bought some blank canvases last summer for the kids to do some paintings. Beth’s one was lovely but in the end she smeared it all together and it turned into a horrid poo brown blob! Maybe I just need to take a photo and then let her do what she wants, she doesn’t seems to care if she’s ruining what I consider to be her masterpiece. She may turn it into something even better.

As always the report ends on a positive with accolates for her winning the Red Faces competition at Camp (don’t know where she got that idea from) and also getting a prize in the schools “You’ve got Talent” show.

Beth puts her all into almost everything she does, she’s got heaps of enthusiasm and truly a childlike glee about her that I’m actually quite proud of. I myself am a person of highs and lows. My husband tells me that I’m setting myself up for a fall when I get so excited about something happening (or something that may not end up happening) but I say it’s worth it. That high is fantastic, such a buzz. The lows are crap but there’s always something else to look forward to. How boring would life be if we didn’t have that. I reckon aim for the stars and I hope Beth does too. We might just get lucky.


Nearly finished flaxseed treatment

Posted by Sarah on Dec 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

We went back to see Richard Malter this morning, or, as I call him, Flaxseed Guy. No offence to Richard, just easier when I’m speaking to people to identify who he is! He informed me that the virus in the liver is now all gone. Yippee! She still has a little bit in the brain so we’re going to keep on with the flaxseed oil with the magnet on the finger for another month, then he said that’s about as far as he can take us. I asked him about diet and allergies and he said he’s glad to test a range of foods that she eats if I take in samples for him next time. He’ll ask Alan who is the naturopath what his opinion is and if we need further help in that area I’ll check out somebody a bit closer to home. It’s good to know that he’s happy to say that it’s as far as he can go as I was a bit worried that we’d have to keep going to him to try various things. It puts an end to what we’ve done and we can move on to the next treatment.

I personally have noticed a big improvement in Beth since the liver virus has been going. As I mentioned before, behaviourally she’s been a right bugger, but communication wise she’s been terrific. Rod at Sensational Kids is the only other person who has commented on it and, as he’s a trained professional, I’ll take that as a positive. His job is communicating with her so his opinion means a lot. She behaved really well at the appointment this morning too, talking to Richard and Alan about things that were in pictures on the wall. She also read a girl’s name badge in Rivers and said hello to her. All small things but significant none the less.

I have a few new things on the agenda for next year. Rod at Sensational Kids was telling me about a program called How Does Your Engine Run which is a self regulating course designed to help the kids recognise when they need revving up and calming down. He said it is run by an Occupational Therapist and after our speech session last time when he was carrying Beth around to get her ‘up’ and communicating he suggested that we do it with her. I’ve been reading a bit about it and it does sounds like a great program. I remember years ago after Beth had been a clown in our school play, she seemed so high on adrenaline that she was pumped and couldn’t stop chatting. I had said to Paul at the time that when she’s like that she’s terrific, really ‘there.” I never realised that this was a common thing in autistic children and that there was something that could be done about it. I am excited in the prospect of her being able to recognise when she needs stimulation and doing it for herself. Things like chew toys help which we already use. I’m a bit annoyed though that Beth has been doing Occupational Therapy for over a year and it had never been suggested. Sensational Kids itself run these programs and Rod seemed surprised that Melinda hadn’t discussed this with me.

A new friend Lou has also sent me information on a course she is going to regarding homoeopathy, run by somebody who specialises in autism. We tried homoeopathy with Beth several years ago to help with her Selective Mutism with disasterous consequences. She did get reactions but it seemed to be the opposite ones! I would still be looking at trying it again in the future. Similarly we tried cranio sacral therapy with the lovely Robin Hosford, a local Osteopath that I still go to. This did seem to work well for Beth but when we started Speech at Sensational Kids we decided that we couldn’t afford to do both. We decided to drop the cranio sacral for a while to see if in fact there was any difference, not really knowing if it had benefitted that much or if improvement had been because of Beth growing older. As she showed much improvement with the speech therapy it was hard to tell. I still believe it was a benefit so hopefully we can go back to that and try again, starting from a different point.

I have also heard that Iridology is of benefit to children with autism so will put that on the list of ‘to do’s!’ Lots of room still to move! Upwards and Onwards!


A bit of a bugger

Posted by Sarah on Dec 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

Beth has been a bugger the last few days as you’ve probably gathered by the title! It’s such fun that when ‘normal’ kids are overtired due to end of school year and excitement over Christmas, our kids get that times 10. My Bridie is a challenging kid at the best of times, very headstrong and yells at the slightest thing. I see her as she comes to the dinner table for each meal trying to find something that she can pick on. Hopefully some of this is due to the fact that she doesn’t talk at kinder, the people in ‘the know’ tell me that that could mean that because she can’t exert any authority at kinder that she lets it all out at home. Yeah, thanks for that! Even my Bill has been a bugger lately and he’s usually not too bad. He did have his 2 year old tantrums for much longer than most and still has a doozy at times but you can reason with him and talk (and bribe) so usually he’s pretty cruisy. Pretty much when he stopped having his tantrums constantly Bridie took over!

And then there’s Beth. She’s pretty good tantrum wise but hates not getting her own way. Paul gave her the punishment of not playing on the computer for the day, really early in the morning on Sunday so that went down well. I try to give punishments that wont hamper my day too much so generally would never give that one because basically it makes your life hell! But, you do the crime, you pay the time hey. Beth had gotten a texta and drawn over one of the loungeroom walls. Now those of you who read me regularly will know that we are in the process of trying to sell our house. And Beth is ten for goodness sakes, she does know that it’s wrong. Of course when does that make any difference.

I had made a decision to chill out over some of Beth’s behaviours about a week ago. I think I told you about the chew toy. I decided that I’m not going to stress out about behaviours that are just part and parcel of Beth’s autism. She jumps around a lot making noises but unless she’s about to hurt herself or somebody else I leave her to it. Some things she just can’t help and it doesn’t do me or her any good to just keep yelling at something that is just how she is. Some things however are so bloody frustrating that I just can’t help myself. And they seem to be bigger and more frequent at this present moment. I know it’s Christmas, I know it’s the end of the school year but it still doesn’t make it any easier.

Beth has always had the habit of standing in front of the tv but lately it’s ALL the time. I’ll be in the kitchen trying to get the kids lunches and the kids’ll be watching ABC kids (thankyou electronic babysitters, thank goodness my kids weren’t born in the 50’s!) and all I can hear is “get out of the way Beth, sit down Beth.” There she is, jumping up and down because something she is watching is so good that she has to get up really close and watch. On one hand I hate to spoil her fun but on the other hand she’s spoiling everybody elses. I know she can’t help it but I’m over telling her to sit down a million times a day. I also found her climbing out of her bedroom window the other night. Good old Minka was barking to let me know. (Of course I was just telling Minka to shut up, there’s nothing there.) I only knew because Beth came out with the cat Henry’s food bowl. I had noticed that her window had been open a couple of mornings but thought that because it was hot that Paul may have opened it in the night. I guess the good thing is that she doesn’t wander off any more, and she’s so blatantly obvious as to bring the bowl to me to show me what she’s done. It’s like she wants to get into trouble and if I don’t see it she has to show me.

Last night she had Bridie’s DSi and was making tapes of herself while on the computer. Now Beth has her own DSi that she can do this on but it wasn’t next to her at the time so she grabbed Bridie’s. The problem is that she erased Bridie’s sounds that she had taped. She just doesn’t care that it’s not hers, she has no respect for other’s property at all. She did a similar thing at school, I got there to pick her up on Friday and Helma, her teacher, had told me that she had deleted all of the class pictures for the year from the computer! Now she knows not to do that. I could ask her point blank and she could tell me what she can and can’t do but it’s like when it comes into practice that all that learning just goes out the window. She’s like Cyclone Beth! She goes from one thing to another, wreaking her destruction, then when the job is done just whirling on to the next thing!


Different strokes ……

Posted by Sarah on Dec 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

The thing I like about Rod at Sensational Kids is the fact that he tunes into Beth’s mood and runs with it. An outsider looking in would have thought that Beth and Rod did a lot of playing around and not much work but in fact that’s how Rod gets the best out of Beth so that’s the approach he takes.

Sensational Kids use what is called the floortime approach. In laymans terms (or at least in my understanding and explanation) this means that they get down to the level of the child that they are working with and work with them there, rather than expecting the child to come up to theirs. I’ll use an example as my explanation which is the only way I can explain my take on it, please don’t take this as the way it would be explained as a professional because it is just the way that I understand it myself. Say for example that as Beth is 10 she should be on level 10. The assessments may show that she is at level 10 in some things but that on one level she is seems to still be at level 3. This means that the whatever is learned from that time for that particular thing is stifled and has stopped at level 3 because she doesn’t know how to get past this level. Beth would then be worked at at that level for the, for want of a better word, blockage. Once this is cleared it leaves the way for levels 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 to fall into place and she is doing the particular thing now at level 10.

We have found this has worked so well with Beth. Once Rod realised that Beth needed rules for sentences set up she just seemed to ‘get’ how to say sentences. At times though she seems to have difficulties with what seem to be the easiest concepts to get. One day we were playing her favourite game hullabaloo. It has a voice that tells you where to move to. There are coloured pads, musical instruments, shapes, and it says “sit on a yellow pad” or “put your left foot on a food.” At the end there is a victory dance which Beth generally does while yelling “I win, yay” even if she doesn’t. I don’t know where she gets that from! This particular day Rod decided that we would play it in the dark and Beth would have to tell him where to put the pads. It took ages for her to get past pointing at me and saying “over there, next to mum”. Rod plays dumb well (sorry Rod, not an insult!) and would be saying how he didn’t know where I was, she had to give him directions. By the end she was saying “between the chair and slide, or on top of the table, or to your left.” It sometimes gets frustrating and I think that she’s doing really well, give her a break, but then when she does it properly I am the one to ‘get’ it.

Today’s session was meant to be a game about feelings again but Beth just wasn’t in the mood. I thought I’d jinxed myself by saying that she wasn’t going to have a good session but Rod turned it around. I can’t remember how but they started wrestling. Somehow it ended with Beth sitting on one of Rod’s shoulders! Now Beth isn’t small, she’s like a fully grown woman though skinny, but about 45-50 kg. He hoisted her up in the air, walked her through the door to the gym and tossed her onto the cushions. Well of course Beth thought this was fantastic. She was talking and trying to get Rod to do things but she just couldn’t get out what she needed him to do. She wanted to do that again. Rod was standing and saying that yes, Beth could have a ride but how was she going to get onto his shoulders. She tried climbing him, moving his arms to lift her, anything but telling him that he had to get down on his knees. He gave her the cue, “I am so high up, what do you think we need to do to fix me being so high up?” Ding Ding Ding! “You need to be low down Rod.” How to get there “down on your knees Rod.” Score one for Beth. Go again, dump onto cushions. Round two.

Rod lay down on the ground. “no no no, you’re not meant to be there.” Rod acted confused, Beth had told him to get down low. Finally he got up on his knees but with his head bowed down. Told to lift his head he lifts it just a bit. Like a puppet he was making Beth instruct him on what to do. With a couple of cues she is riding again! This went on for most of the session. They didn’t get to play the game that was planned but by the end of the session Beth could say she was picking his left shoulder this time, that he should get down onto his knees but be upright, to duck his head at the appropriate times. It was fabulous to see. Rod said I should bring my camera next time so that I can show Speech Therapy Rod style! I think I will, then I can share what fun they have.


3 weeks ’til Christmas

Posted by Sarah on Dec 2, 2009 in Uncategorized

We’re off to Sensational Kids again this afternoon, hopefully for another successful session. Beth has been really good communication wise the last few days so I’m hoping that Rod will see some changes. Of course when I wish for these things she generally ends up being a right bugger!

3 Weeks to go until Christmas! I’ve done hardly any shopping yet. One reason is that we’ve spent so much on doing the house up to sell that I don’t have any money! The other is that I’m loath to buy presents and then have to store them somewhere, all our storage areas are filled with the crap that we have to put away for house inspections! The tree is up and the decorations are around the house. The problem is that Beth just can’t help touching everything, whether it be the ornaments on the tree to the paper mache reindeer that she keeps grabbing by the antlers. When she was little I would put the tree inside a wooden playpen so she’d have to reach through the bars. Usually we’d have to try to tie the tree to something too so that she couldn’t pull it over. Of course she’s now far too big for me to do that so the constant call from me is to “put that down, leave the tree alone” or, the one that I shouldn’t bother with as I wont follow through “do I have to take all the decorations down!” Sometimes she just can’t help it. It feels like she’s being naughty all the time but really, she’s a very tactile child and likes to touch things.

It’s like when she’s on the computer. We have the computer chair that Bev and John threw out because it had a rip in it. It had masking tape on it but that didn’t last and Beth keeps picking the stuffing out of it and putting it in her mouth. Or she picks up a pen that I was using on the computer or an earring that I have taken out and puts these in her mouth. That’s the frustrating thing about it is that if I just put these things away then she wouldn’t do it! She has a T shaped chew toy, I’ll have to get some elastic and put it around her neck. When I remember, I do give her this and she just chews on it, problem solved. (Maybe I just prefer to yell!)

Because in some ways Beth’s easy going I think that she doesn’t need some of the things that other kids with autism need. But, as I have to keep reminding myself, there are different levels of different issues in autism. Just because Beth can communicate well and can read and write doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need a chew toy. They are two different things. I guess because I associate the chew toys with the younger children I figure that she should have grown out of it, a bit like a dummy. But really, whatever gets you through the night. It it stops her chewing up other things then why not.

I saw a documentary on a man who had aspergers. He was a brilliant mathematician and was talking about how he had been called a genius. He said that he found this amazing as he thought that people who could drive a car were geniuses. It all depends on your perception of what a genius is. My point is that when our kids are able to do things the same or better than their peers, there are generally other things that are well below these same kids. Socially and emotionally in some ways Beth can be like a 4 or 5 year old, she doesn’t get the ‘cues’ that other kids her age do and is as excitable as a toddler (something that I find incredibly endearing by the way.) In other areas though her insight is amazing and her memory really is like the proverbial elephant. I am constantly amazed by Beth’s ‘take’ on things and, in the rare moments that we have one on one time, I love to ‘pick her brains’ on why she says certain things or why she thinks in certain ways.

Something I’d just like to add to this is that I just heard that there is now a new 24 hour Australia wide hotline available for parents of autistic kids, run by parents. How wonderful, Australia is really starting to recognise this ‘epidemic’ of autistic kids that we have now. The number is 1300 222 777. Please pass on to anybody you think would benefit from this. Good on these parents for trying to make life easier for those who need a bit of extra help.

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