29 May 2006

Pool, but NO shower!

We went swimming today for the first time in almost a year. All Duncan was worried about was the showers; he hates showers. I promised him that he wouldn’t have a shower.

‘No shower?’ he asks.
I answer, ‘no shower’.
He confirms, ‘no wash hair?’
‘No wash hair,’ I respond.
No hair wash?’
‘No hair wash.’
No shampoo?’
‘No shampoo.’
No wet hair?’
‘No wet hair.’ I say.

He’s happy that he’s covered all the possible permutations now and decides he does want to go swimming. We have the same conversation every bath time.

We had a great time. Duncan had a huge grin on his face the whole time. He jumped and splashed and asked us to chase him and had me sing the ‘Tots TV’ song and was so happy. Thomas is so much more cautious than the other 2 children in the water. He moved slowly and carefully, taking little, tiny jumps. Lady has always been a dare-devil and is so keen to go swimming more often. This will definitely have to be a new family tradition.

Happy Birthday Little Sister!!

I couldn’t ask for a better sister. She’s smart, funny, kind, thoughtful and everyone who knows her thinks she has the best laugh ever!

The day she was born, I ran down the country road from the school bus stop to my Granny’s house to find out if the baby was born and yesss, she told me I had a sister! It was marvellous, especially after having 3 (now 4) brothers.

I hope you have a nice easy day today C!

28 May 2006

Deep discussions and mouse tails.

On Saturday morning Thomas joined us in bed for his morning cuddle and chat. He started talking again about how he was going to get older and then he would die. Then he surprised us with by discussing his own theory of re-incarnation; ‘when I am dead, I will be a baby again and then I start to grow all over again and get old again.’ It’s funny to think about what’s going on in that wee head of his.

Duncan decided to dress up as Mickey Mouse. He went up to his room and returned a few minutes later having removed all his clothes and replaced them with a nifty pair of red underpants and a navy blue t-shirt. I was not even aware at first that he was in costume, but he explained matters to me soon enough and he sought my assistance with the finishing touches; a strip was cut from a black bin liner and stuck to his pants, voila, a tail! Then I had to stick 2 white buttons to the front of his pants in just the right place. He then added a pair of white gloves and he was looking good, or so he thought as he preened in front of the mirror.

Duncan informed me this morning that he wanted some soup. ‘What kind of soup’, I asked, ‘brown soup, Snow White soup’. Now I get it! He’s been watching the Disney Snow White video a lot recently, and obviously the 7 dwarves make the brown soup Snow White prepares look so appetising! He had his wish granted at lunch time today. His Grandma joined us for lunch. All 3 children ran up to great her and kiss her when she arrived, which was a much nicer incident than when she last came round for Sunday lunch. Gordon cooked a beef stew with chocho. There’s a woman selling Caribbean food in St George’s market now, isn’t that amazing. Bless multiculturalism, making this place better. The food was delicious and Duncan wanted to try the ‘brown soup’, so he did. He didn’t have much but I do love to see him trying more foods.

26 May 2006

Starting over, again

I’ve moved to a new blog as I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted with the old one and I don’t have time just now to learn.

So…I’ve been filling in the Disability Living Allowance form for Duncan and it’s bloody depressing. I have to write down all things he has difficulty with, has problems with or is delayed in and then to make it clear to the decision makers, I have to compare him to typically developing children who don’t need all this extra help. The whole document is a concentration of all the negatives. I can’t put anything positive or hopeful in or he’ll not be considered eligible for financial support. It’s nearly as bad as watching the infamous ‘Autism Speaks’ video, but unlike that, I won’t be writing about suicide/homicide thoughts (erm, to clarify, that would be because I don't have them). Writing my last post about how great Duncan is was such a pleasurable respite.

Lady made her Brownie promise on Wednesday. I went into the hall to watch her with both boys. If I was a bit more organised, I would have made sure Gordon was home in time to look after them, but no. She did great and the boys were loud and I couldn’t stop them running around the hall. I mean, what 4 or 5 year old runs into a church hall without wanting to clatter up and down the wooden floor. I was a bit embarrassed though and we went out as soon as Lady was finished. The Brownie promise still has the bit about ‘serving my god and the queen and my country’; blah. I can’t help the hackles rising slightly at that queen bit. But, I’m trying to raise a new breed of northern irish child who isn’t bothered by all that symbolism, so I keep quiet.

We continue to live in a Harry Potter world. Lady has been listening to the audio books and has almost finished the lot. She just came to the really emotional bit in ‘The Half Blood Prince’, so we had a big talk about that.

Thomas was having his morning cuddle when he said ‘dieing is bad isn’t it?’ I replied that it usually is, then he said that it wasn’t so bad if you die at home and not outside because carpets are softer and you wouldn’t hurt yourself. He’s not quite got it yet.

I’ve been reading all these wonderful and moving posts on the Autism Hub marking the death of a 3 year old child. It's too sad.

24 May 2006

A 3 year old autistic child

This post is part of Katherine McCarron Memorial Day, by the Autism Hub. On Wednesday, May 24, Hub members will post memorial messages about Katherine McCarron. The next day, the hub will be closed in her memory.

My son will be 6 in 17 days. He is beautiful, sweet, inquisitive, interesting, messy, gentle, troublesome, funny, very active and loving. He loves trains, playing chase, watching videos and rewinding them to see the best bits over and over, bouncing on his trampoline, baking and making a mess. He is a whiz on the computer and can always tell us what he wants and how he feels.

When Duncan was 3 he was much the same, except he couldn’t communicate his wishes so well and was frequently frustrated. But much more than that he was happy and learning and developing every day, like all other 3 year olds.

This is Duncan aged 3. He was enjoying a tickle game with his Dad when this was taken.

We went to Legoland on the day of his 3rd birthday when this photo was taken. Duncan was taking a break from the splash pool to chill in the buggy, eat some candyfloss and look at the Peter Pan book he carried round all day.

Here's another Peter Pan themed photo taken last Christmas. He has since started to really enjoy dressing up and always customises the outfits to suit his own vision.

This picture was taken on a family day out on a steam train. All the children, but Duncan especially, really enjoyed the train. They are such good friends and Duncan plays with his siblings more than anyone else.

I am so lucky to have them all. I am lucky to have a son like Duncan who has opened my eyes to so much. It has been a voyage of discovery for me.

I am lucky that I realised myself that he is autistic when he was 2. I am lucky that the UK autism charity, the NAS, promotes reasonable, realistic information about autism and not scaremongering. I am lucky that I was able to take part in an NAS EarlyBird course for parents of autistic children and gain a better understanding of how to connect with Duncan. I am lucky that my husband is intelligent, level headed and promptly put me right when I was briefly seduced by the dark side- the autism biomedical quackery. I am lucky that I didn't spend too long investiagating ABA before realising it was a totally unsuitable way for my son to learn. I am lucky that I didn't spend too long reading 'autism is hell' sites like CAN before coming across heart lifting, joyous places like Oops...wrong planet. I'm lucky because I read Jim Sinclair's essay 'Don't mourn for us' and found web sites by people like Amanda Baggs and Michelle Dawson.
I'm lucky that Duncan went to a wonderful nursery 4 mornings a week which he loved and whose staff were kind and helpful and I'm lucky that he is now learning at home with his family, living, loving and growing every day.

My heart goes out to Katie, 3 years old, murdered by her mother who placed a plastic bag over her head, the little girl who didn't make it, the little bud who never had a chance to blossom.

15 May 2006

Respect me!

Duncan’s latest quote;
‘I’m not a figure o’ fun, I waa respec’ an’ I waa it now!’
I had to record that one!
(Taken from the film, Matilda).

Catching up

Long time, no post.
I’m trying to remember the significant events of the past week.

The best thing is that we have Gordon’s Jamaican cousin staying with us for a long weekend. It’s great having more family around. Lady and Thomas love her and she’s so good and sits chatting with them for ages and playing snakes and ladders with Thomas. Duncan merely tolerates other people staying here.

We’ve split up to take her out to various tourist attractions. Duncan has stayed at home with either Gordon or me except when they all went for a long walk to the local beach. Yesterday everyone had a nice time; I went with the boys to a friend’s birthday party while the others went to Carrickfergus Castle. They were well impressed with the castle and joined us at the party later for some good food and company, our kind of party!
Today, I’m staying at home with the boys while Gordon drives with the girls to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s a wet, miserable kind of day so they’ll be seeing it in its natural state!

I took Thomas to see the GP on Friday. We had a long wait around due to a mix-up by the receptionist, but Thomas was busy playing with a little boy then a little girl. He chatted away to her and to her mother and found out all he could about them. They were so cute together, especially when she took him by the hands and started dancing around and singing with him. He was happy to play along; after all, she was only 3! I managed to let her Mum know about home-ed too, she was interested especially as her daughter has Down Syndrome and it’s good to know there’s an alternative to fighting the system to get an appropriate education for your special child.

So we saw the GP and Thomas had 2 vaccinations; 2nd MMR and a Meningitis one. Just before this the GP checked his testes and Thomas giggled and said (oh so clearly) ‘Oh, I like that part’. He was most unhappy about the jabs though and called the GP a stupid doctor and said he was completely fed-up. Poor wee man. We had a quick visit with the health visitor next. They do a 4 year check here so we played along. Thomas started building the blocks into a tower and counting them before the HV finished saying hello to me. She asked him if he knew any letters and he proceeded to spell his name phonetically. She asked about school and nursery and wondered how I would cope with more than one at home. She was even more surprised when I told her Duncan wasn’t at school anymore. She asked if he was seeing any professionals and what they thought of this. I told her how the clinical psychologist though it was great! HA!

The other BIG news is that we had an important delivery on Monday- Zeebad has arrived, praise all that’s good!
Duncan immediately latched onto a new requirement – Henrietta the coach. It is never ending. Ah well, he’s been very happy with Zeebad and has carried him everywhere.
I had a nice present too, I asked him for a kiss one day, so he kissed me then turned away murmuring, as if it was an afterthought, ‘love you Mummy’. I think it’s the first time he’s said that without hearing me say it to him first. It’s nice anyway and made me smile :-).

7 May 2006

Lady makes the grade

Lady graded in Ju-Jitsu yesterday. She’s now a white belt. We’re very proud of her and she’s very happy herself and tells me it’s the 1st step to getting her black belt! It’s the first time she’s had any kid of outside formal assessment.

It’s been a lovely day and we’ve just played about in the garden. The trampoline was a great purchase. They spend hours on it (and I like having a bounce every so often too!). I would love to grow some vegetables this year. I went food shopping last night with Lady and spent too much money, but at least we have loads of nice fresh food to keep us going. (I made our 1st Greek salad of 2006 for lunch; sunny days make me crave salad.) It was hard last week when Gordon was away for 4 days at a conference. Duncan was going on and on (and on…) about that toy he wants and I knew it would be a disaster to take him to the shop when he had it on his mind so much. I considered asking my Dad to come over to look after them for a while so I could dash out and get what we needed, but Duncan would have been so cross if I’d not come home with what he wanted. He asked me to draw a series of pictures, identical to those I drew when we went to Italy to explain what would be happening. He is using this method now to describe what he wants to happen!

Anyway. I managed to buy a Zeebad on ebay so I hope it comes soon. I’ve really heard enough about that now!

As I was writing, Duncan opened the big window in our dining area which is at the front of our house. He then stood half-way out on the window sill and when I turned to call him inside, I saw that he was peeing out the window. I wonder if any of the neighbours noticed that one?! (He broke a TV once by climbing on its back; he liked to watch the screen by hanging over it and looking at it upside-down, and while in this position, he peed and it broke with a fizzle and a pop. It was fun telling the home-insurance people what had happened, ‘ah, my 3 year old son urinated on the back of the TV’, hmmm. They paid up though!)

4 May 2006

A standardised measurement of one's Irishness

All uncertainties have been calculated with a 95% confidence limit.

My blog buddy Elderfairy had a Irishness quizz on her blog. I did it and then left her a comment saying I could write a better daft quiz than that. She suggested I stick it on here so here it is. I'm too lazy to do anything other than cut and paste what I wrote already! Oh, and feel free to leave your own questions too.

    Why does that picture have a 4 leaf clover on it? Is it supposed to be a shamrock? Ah well. I took that test and am pleased to say that I only scored 50% Irish!
    There’s a bit of an American slant to the questions. I gained a few marks for knowing a bit about Gaelic games and I lost points by not liking beer!

    Now, what would I set as the questions in such a test?!

    Do you know the words of 2 verses of Danny Boy?
    Do you know any rebel/loyal songs at all?
    Do you know more about the history of this island than would be reasonable?
    Do you know who Dinny Byrne was?
    What’s the most embarrassing thing Dana has done in the past 30 years?
    What is the biggest lake in the UK and Ireland?
    What’s the story of Cuchulainn?
    Why do loads of northerners flock to Donegal in July?
    Why do nightclubs now smell of farts?
    Why paint the curb stones?
    What’s wrong with Kevin Myers?

    Jeez I’d better stop. I really should be doing something more useful with my time ;-)
    But at least I’d score well with that test!

    Anyway, nationality should be a fluid thing. When we moved here from England my dad asked Lady if she was now Irish or English. She said she was a bit Irish, a bit English and a bit Jamaican. So no worries about knowing where she fits in there!

Gathering of the clan

I should be tidying my house instead of sitting here blogging, but blogging is more fun. When I’m looking back on this on 5 years time, will I be glad I’ve written a bit about my children and what they’re getting up to, or will I regret the time I didn’t tidy up my room after Duncan trashed it looking for a toy Zeebad that he has convinced himself I’m hiding there? You see, I can justify this!

So, we went to Sligo on Saturday. The journey was fine. Lady listened to Harry Potter on an MP3 player while Thomas watched a Barney DVD on a player we had in the car. My brother and L have a beautiful house in a nice little town. I’m so pleased for them. Their daughter was 4 two days before Thomas so they had a joint party. The bouncy castle they’d hired wasn’t used much since it was raining heavily, but the children all had a great time. 3 out of 4 of my brothers were there with their families and my sister had flown over from London for the weekend (hiya Mavis ;-)), so it was a great gathering of the clan too! We stayed the night at my older brother’s house. Lady and Thomas enjoyed playing with his daughters (aged 4 and 2 and oh so cute). It was just a nice, happy way to spend the weekend.

When I got home, Duncan was so pleased to see us. Gordon had been busy sorting out the house; putting pictures up and cooking and he’d even washed the carpet on the stairs. It had been horribly dirty. They’d gone to Belfast on the train and Duncan even had a new wooden Percy. You can never have too many Percys you know!

While I’ve been doing what I do best (procrastinating) the children have been busy learning in their own way. Lady has been listening to her Harry Potter and has read some of the book too. She was also reading a book we had about English kings and queens. But mostly she’s been drawing pictures and practicing her handwriting. We keep getting little love notes as she’s so happy about her new, fancy, joined-up writing.

Duncan is absolutely obsessed with having a Zeebad toy. I’m going to get one on ebay; where else could you find a toy that was given away in Rice Crispies boxes a year ago. He was Googling for it and wrote it from memory himself! He also wrote ‘trnpercy’ yesterday on Google, meaning ‘train Percy’. He knew that he’d get too many false hits if he wrote ‘Percy’ only. I’ve been trying to encourage him to type more on the computer. I think he will learn to write and read together.

Thomas has been learning more letter sounds. The phonics approach works well for him. We read the 1st story on Starfall yesterday together; Zac the Rat.

Right, Duncan is just making me a cup of tea (pouring cold water from the kettle into the teapot) and admiring his reflection in the curved surface of the steel teapot. Must go help him!