18 Oct 2007


We went with my brother and his girlfriend to a Thai restaurant on Friday night and had a lovely meal and loads of crack too. On Saturday, we all accompanied the boys to a once-a-month club for children with disabilities, run by the Barnardo's charity. While I was talking to the project leader and watching Duncan settle in, one of the staff came up and asked if we had been to Fanad in Donegal during August. We had, and I remembered meeting her on the beach as she'd been out with her mum walking their dog. (Duncan had spotted their dog, and I had hastily gone to intervene if necessary. Duncan had been alternately running up to the dog, then squealing and running away. The dog was a bit spooked, she was quite a nervous animal. I had helped Duncan to calmly stoke her before he went off. I explained about Duncan's autism and the woman had said she works with autistic children, and she'd guessed he was.)

It transpires that this same woman is an occupational therapist trainee, and works in this play club. She recognised Duncan as soon as we came in. It's quite a coincidence, Fanad isn't exactly a bustling metropolis!

After the boys had settled in (Thomas was staying to play too) Gordon, Lady and me had an hour to spend together. I can't remember the last time we did this. Frequently each of the children spends time with either Gordon or myself, but not with both of us. I was reminded of the few times my mum and dad took me out for a meal on my own, when I was 14 or so, and how special I felt to have them to myself!

The boys had fun and made cakes of chocolate, marshmallow, biscuits and golden syrup. Duncan, obviously, enjoyed this activity a lot!

We didn't want to go home straight away, since we were having such a nice day. So we picked up some chips for lunch, then decided to take the train into Belfast. We dootered round the shops for a while, bought a few more sweets (have to keep the sugar levels up) and went home. Gordon and I were amazed at how well Duncan did. He held our hand, and enjoyed the trip out.

On Tuesday I took the children swimming, and like last time, it was a great success. Lady can already swim quite well, though she's never had any lessons. I will take her alone a few times to help her improve her style. Thomas was like an eel; jumping in and diving under. He managed to propel himself forward by a few metres. He has taken some big steps out into the world lately. He's definitely not the baby of the house any more.

Yesterday Gordon took a day off work and I convinced him that a family day out to the aquarium would be nice. It was too. The drive down along Strangford Lough is just so beautiful, especially on a sunny autumn day like yesterday. As expected the aquarium was very quiet, and Gordon spend a happy few hours discussing genetic diversity with Lady and a (not too interested) Thomas, while I took care of Duncan. The last time Gordon went there, the place was packed as the school were out, and it was all a bit stressful.

These trips out together are very important. Duncan is slowly becoming calmer and more manageable. He still sees things he wants to have, but we can now negotiate better about what is and isn't acceptable. He's continuing to develop, and we can really foresee how he will continue to do so as he gets older, just like all children, though on his own trajectory. It's also important to have the public get more used to seeing a non-typical child out with his family and having a good time.


Anonymous said...

um...did you *mean* "loads of crack"? As in cocaine? (scratches head)

Sharon McDaid said...

I meant crack in the Irish sense of the word. It's sometime spelled craic, but I think that's a bit poncy so I just use the old, possibly confusing with ultra-addictive hard drugs, spelling of the word.


Anonymous said...

It is spelled "craic" in Gaelige(Native Irish language) - it basically means fun. And IT IS NOT poncy!!!!
Come on Sharon, get with the programme....
Michelle xx

Anonymous said...

I am chuckling here at all the gasps and raised eyebrows of readers who won't cotton on to what "crack" means in this respect :D.
Glad you had a good time, it's lovely when days out go well :).

Sharon McDaid said...

Aye right Michelle, and if I ever write a blog post in Irish, I'll spell it 'craic'. I doubt that'll ever happen. My knowledge of Irish being limited to (warning, phonetic spelling to follow) dridge an dorris (close the door), cen tam ey anish, (what's the time) and, ta shay fliough, (it is wet). Oh, I can count to 10 and obviously know pogue mahone (kiss my a***)!
My deepest apologies to any lovers of the language.

I'll just take the lead from Brian Friel wrt spelling crack.

So pull yer neck in!

(To anyone else who might happen to read this, Michelle is my wee cousin so I can be cheeky to her as a sign of affection. Honestly!)

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Bullet, but I do love hard drugs with food from different countries; Crack with Thai, heroin with Italian, ecstasy with Chinese and crystal meth with Indian.

To be clear, every word written above is a lie. I'm a good clean living woman who's never so much as put a cigarette to my lips and I never tasted alcohol until I was 30.
Drugs are BAD, just say NO!

Casdok said...

Your last line is soo right!

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Casdok. It's something I've just had to take on board. Like, when we were at the aquarium, my husband was a bit worried that if we joined in with the touch tank talk (when the man lets everyone handle the scallops and star fish etc) that Duncan might make too much noise, and disturb the other people. I certainly don't want my child to bother others, and would never let him damage anything, but if he's just making odd noises, shrieks or angry sounding shouts, then I smile sweetly, try to encourage him to 'use a nice voice' and just deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Hey there--I'm First Anonymous who feared you were confessing some terrible habit online, LOL. It all just *CRACKS ME UP*!!! ;-) Great fun. :-)

Ed said...

I liked that last sentence too. I like how you said that it went at the aquarium in that last comment.
I see so many ways that what might just be considered odd behavior gets discouraged.
Actually I think about such things in ways other than just parents of autistic children, disabled children, or even just how parents treat children. However, when it is with how a parent is discouraging behavior in public because of what others may see as odd, how harsh the discouragment and/or even punishment is, based on to what degree it is actually bothering others, conditions everyone in how important nonthreatening (but what may just seem odd to others) behavior really is.
As important as anyone involved on either end is the person who is being discouraged or punished(often the child), but what others learn from what they see will have an effect on how they treat others and so on.(which is what I hear you saying Sharon)
The way you speak of handling it reminds me that there is still hope.

Anonymous said...

Pull me neck in????
How dare you BIG CUZ......
I'll get you a wee Irish dictionary for Christmas. May come in handy, so you don't have to spell it phonetically.
Pog mo thoin - is Kiss my a**
love you lots
your wee cuz

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Anon, glad you're reassured now! Heh!

He Ed, we just have to do our best to balance our rights and responsibilities. Duncan has the right to be out places, no matter that some might be irritated at some of his non-typical behaviour. I have the responsibility to help him to have fun and a variety of experiences, and also to raise him to be as polite and courteous as possible.

M., thanks for the lessons!

Anonymous said...

I really liked your ending line :

"It's also important to have the public get more used to seeing a non-typical child out with his family and having a good time."

Well put. I just finished catching up on your recent blog posts, and you've had some good ones lately - I too find the Katie Thorpe case appalling and extreme. I also wasn't aware of what was happening in Kenya with homeopathy, and it's absolutely unbelievable that they are promoting their methods for such deadly diseases...wow.

Hope all is well!