I helped my friend Jen do a talk on autism at our local swimming pool today. We’ve been going to the Monbulk Pool for over six years now so I know the majority of the staff as does Jen as all of our kids have been having lessons there. Jen’s doing a teaching degree so as part of her curriculum she needed to do a talk. The staff at the pool also need to do a certain number of hours of training so Jen put her hand up (and mine!)
I was quite nervous as I’ve never talked in front of a group of people before, except for when I’ve done party plan and I was always extremely nervous then. I was surprised at how well it went. Jen did most of the talking and I felt like I played the slapstick sidekick in a way, butting in when I thought was necessary. I had a little bit of a turn on my own and remained seated, reading a lot of it. I adlibbed most of it but got the points across. I spoke about the wide spectrum, about all the kids being assessed and taught differently and about the frustrations as a parent of a high functioning autistic child and the lack of schooling available. We were both really pleased with the outcome, lots of the staff came up and said thanks to us and how much they enjoyed it. It meant a lot, I respect and like so many of the staff that I’ve got to know. One of my favourites is a gorgeous girl called Lucy who is always so friendly to myself and my kids, she said she got a true understanding of what autism is really about. We both got a lovely bunch of flowers at the end and agreed that it indeed had been successful.
On the home front we’ve had a pretty good week. Sensational Kids resumed on Thursday. I’m not sure what to do there regarding Occupational Therapy. Whilst Beth seems to like Melinda she doesn’t seem to be getting as much out of it as I would hope. Melinda doesn’t see the extremes in Beth’s temperament. When I discussed doing the ‘How Does Your Engine Run’ program with her Melinda was happy to try it but didn’t think that Beth could grasp the concept of regulating herself and the terminology. I asked her if she had explained to Beth what it meant. As I pointed out, if I had never heard of the program, I wouldn’t know what she meant by “is your engine running a bit slow today?” I would be more likely to say “You’re looking a bit tired today Beth, your engine must be running slowly.” This way it explains exactly what it means. Melinda was happy to try this. When I explained how I would put it toÂ calm BethÂ down Melinda seemed surprised that she needed this. She didn’t realise that Beth has her frenzies that can be uncontrollable. She said she will check out what things are needed. I asked her to do this in a visual aide form with pictures of what Beth could use and to give me some copies for home and school also. When I discussed this with Rod he disagreed with Melinda’s thoughts in the fact that he believes that Beth could easily grasp the concept if it was presented to her in the right manner. We also discussed perhaps changing therapists to a male one seeing as she has such a good rapport with Rod. A change may be all that is needed. I have to get past the idea that I don’t want to hurt Melinda’s feelings on this. It’s not a personal thing, it’s just not doing anything for Beth.
Our speech session was good as always. Beth and Rod played a barrier game where they both had the same pictures which were magnetic. It was a picture of a supermarket and Beth put all of her foods on hers, then had to tell Rod where to put them. With the help of a list of words to choose from Beth did this quite easily. In fact she was so strict on this that she told Rod that he had missed a word when a food was between two men. She told him that between wasn’t on the list and as it was the perfect choice he had to add it. I’m so pleased with how her speech is going, I really couldn’t expect any better progress.
At school yesterday there was a prep/buddy picnic which the prep mums were invited to. As both of my girls are buddies, one at each end, I went along and sat with Bridie while Beth sat with her buddy. Beth was a bit unsettled with me there but not sitting with her and as I discovered that she had eaten her lunch at playtime (2 sandwiches, fruit, cheese and chips) I had to watch as she helped herself to everybody elses food near where she sat! I apologized to the other mums but they were pretty cool about it. Beth decided that she wanted to come home with me but I had to explain that she still had another 2 hours of Fabulous Friday left. As our kids played outside and the prep teacher gave us all the prep mum talk I had to keep myself from looking at the window as Beth stood there with her hands on each side of my face looking in at me.Â I stayed for a while longer watching Bridie in the playground. I was a little worried when I went to get in the car and saw Beth sitting there, I’m not sure if she had been noticed missing as it was still playtime but I marched her back to her room and handed her to her teacher. I’m sure she wouldn’t have left the yard if my car hadn’t been there but it was still a bit disconcerting.