Never leave a 5 year old alone for even a few minutes when they have a “thing” for water and running taps!
This weekend I have a new found appreciation of my son. I don’t know why exactly, perhaps it’s the ASD course I am attending run by the National Autistic Society, but I see him with a new view.
Instead of the grey tinted glasses (opposite to rose tinted – see what I did there!!!) I am seeing him clearly for the first time in along time. He’s a gorgeous, generally happy little 5 year old. He’s making progress, he’s hitting the milestones (albeit a bit late) but he’s doing great.
His speech is really developing. Hurray! He’s stopping talking about himself in the third person and now referring to himself as “I”. Yesterday as I was getting ready he stood behind me and looked into the mirror I was using to put on my makeup and said “I am happy mummy”. I smiled at him in the mirror and said “I am happy too” and I really meant it.
His behaviour is better. I am not saying he doesn’t have his meltdowns, but I am understanding them better and hopefully dealing with them better. I mean I have bruises to show for it but we have certainly turned a corner. The use of “first and next” has been miraculous – just as the timer was last summer. So we’ve been using it to keep T sat at the table or to sit and read a book with me, with him knowing he will get to do something he really wants to do after this activity.
We are learning and reading letter sounds. this weekend we read a phonics book together and he correctly pronounced the letters s,a,t,p. he recognised some of the letters the following day when we re-read the book.
He using what he learnt in context . So we use the 5 minute countdown to things happening, whether it be getting ready for school, ready for bed, going to bed, going out etc. if he’s prepared then he’s happy, and will generally go along with it all. We used to use the timer for this, but now we are using the finger count down for many activities. We will keep reminding him what happening every minute showing that there is a finger less in the countdown and he has to tell us what is happening – so I will say ” T, five minutes then …” And he will say “Bed” or whatever activity we’ve discussed is going to happen next. Works like a dream. He is reinforcing what is happening next. While I have been typing this, I’ve just got up and told him “four minutes and then….” And he just told me “bed”.
Because he can count and recognise the number of fingers he’s putting into context more and more. One morning last week, he was lying in our bed after getting up very early (as he does in the summer) and wanted to go downstairs, and my husband didn’t want to – it was mega early (before 4am) and so T gave him a 5 minute count down – although his 5 minutes lasted around 1 minute and he didn’t ask daddy to tell him what was happening -when the 1 minute was up, he says “no more minutes, time to go downstairs”. It made me giggle. He’s using our tactics on us! Clever kid my son!
I just think back last year to the bad behaviour – and can’t believe the change. It’s certainly easier now his speech has improved. Thinking back 2 years and he wasn’t talking at all really. Signing but one or two words. Real progress. I was always doubtful whether he would ever talk in a meaningful way, but given his progress in the last 6 months, I am definitely hopeful – because of the massive change recently.
Is been a sunny day here in Newcastle, and we’ve all had a sunny disposition too.
A good weekend.
Photos from this weekend… Making pancakes for breakfast, doing cutting and sticking homework from school, hiding in the wardrobe!
Yesterday we took T for his first trip to the dentist. He has seen the dentist at school but this was first time we had visited the dental surgery with him. I was nervous. My husband was nervous. We had visions of a refusal and potential anxiety attack on the league of the X-ray experience.
We didn’t prepare as much as we normally would have, but managed to get a visual for his timetable from the school yesterday and also bought a book called Topsy and Tim go to the dentist. Yesterday I explained to T we would be going after school and reinforced it this morning before he left for school. We spent a little time practicing opening our mouths to the count of 10 saying ‘ahhh’.
I met my husband and T at the dentist and I reinforced what we were doing with the visual. He was fine. No anxiety at all. Once in there we sat in the waiting room and T played with the toys there until the dentist came to collect us and take us down to his treatment room.
There was a lot of things for T to look at and mess about with. Taps, switches, lights etc.
Both myself and my husband had to take turns before T – but with a little persuasion we got him sat on the seat with his mouth open. He wouldn’t let the dentist put the little mirror in his mouth, but the dentist did manage to get a reasonable look at his teeth.
It turns out his teeth look ok. He has a baby tooth that has some decay but as it not appearing to hurt him, they are not going to do anything about it. His new adult teeth are coming in nicely and look great.
Phew! That’s a relief. I know some sotos children have problems with their teeth and so was worried we would have quite a lot of issues to deal with. We are going back to the dentist in 3 months in order to keep up the momentum of the visits. We will prepare him better this time by practicing with a tea spoon so the dentist can use his mirror next time!
Well done T. A very happy mummy and daddy.
I am half way through a term of a course run by the National Autistic Society called early bird plus. It’s a course specifically designed for parents with children recently diagnosed with ASD who are aged 4 to 8.
My mum and I have attended the 2.5 hours sessions to help us both understand ASD as well as develop techniques to support Ts learning. It’s been a really interesting course so far, starting with the concept of ASD, to understanding how those with ASD think and understand the world. The biggest thing I’ve got from it is that T does not experience the world in the same way as I do, so therefore my attempts to mold his behaviour through what I was considering normal parenting was never going to work. Using language, and visual cues, I can make Ts life much easier and therefore mine too.
Today I watched and heard about techniques that other parents have used to support their children for a variety of scenarios and it got me thinking about what I could do for T.
So…. In order for me to actually progress this, I am documenting it here on my blog as an aide memoire – and you readers can remind me if I don’t get it done!
1. A timetable for the 6 week summer break.
In previous years the summer holidays have been difficult and T has struggled with the lack of routine. So this year I plan to do 2 things. The first is to enrol him for a play scheme for special needs children for a couple of days per week – to allow him to make new friends and also have some sort of routine on those days. (I’ve already done this and he will be attending 3 sessions per week for 3 weeks of the holidays). The second thing is to develop the timetable, it will have everyday of every week of the holiday on it, it will allow us to cross off days until school, which is always an anxious time after so long out of school. It will also allow us to timetable each day ahead, prepare him for the days that he isn’t at play scheme and also when his grandparents are looking after him.
2. Use the visual timetable more consistently
Got to keep anxiety at bay at all time.
3. Create a visual for crossing the road
We are constantly going on and on about stopping at the road and looking for cars, but it’s not going in. A visual reminder might be the way to go.
4. Create a visual about what to do when children cry – to prevent T was getting upset too.
It’s something we need to work on in order to overcome some serious anxiety in such situations. We think that a visual about what to do when someone cries. So something along the lines of asking for help, putting on headphones / earmuffs and not to cry.
I’ll post each one as I create them. Any suggestions of other things we could do for the crying baby issue would be most appreciated.
Someone posted this poem on Facebook. I think it’s lovely. It’s by Sally Meyer.
I Am Going On A Journey
I am going on a journey,
Won't you come along?
I need someone to help me.
A person big and strong.
I'm walking on my journey
But my feet are very small.
Can you stand beside me,
And catch me if I fall?
At times when I can't keep up
With life and all its fears,
Can you put me on your shoulders
And wipe away the tears?
When the steps I take are not big enough
And it's hard for me to grow
I know I can depend on you
To let me take it slow.
I'm going on a journey,
Please, won't you walk with me?
I need someone who understands
The place where I should be.
I promise when the road is tough
And you want to turn back home.
I will hold your hand real tight,
So you won't feel so alone.
I'm going on a journey
I don't know where it ends,
But if we walk together,
We can always be best friends.
And when the journey's over
And we find where we should be.
I know that you will be so glad,
You took this path with me.
I'm going on a journey,
Please, won't you come along?
I need someone to guide me
A parent—big & strong.