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Lack of safety awareness = stress!

For most families it must feel such a simple thing, heading out a few blocks walk to the local shops to run an errand. In fact in such beautiful sunny weather like today it should be a pleasure…,

2 children with learning disability, no safety awareness and sensory issues it’s not that simple!

As there was only me (mum) today one child must go in a buggy as two become uncontrollable and not being dramatic that could mean one or both ending up on the road and that really doesn’t bear thinking about! Soldier can’t walk far especially if disabled by sensory noises like busy traffic but he wants to try and getting him in a buggy can be a real challenge now.  He’s getting big and strong and it is a battle of strength, how will this pan out when he’s bigger? I pray that the sensory issues lesson and he understands enough that he has to hold your hand and walk with you.. Otherwise he’ll be restrained when he is a big angry boy wanting to walk and that feels so cruel and incredibly stressful, he doesn’t get it is for safety….

Angel decided she was bringing baby Annabel in her pram and after major meltdown when mummy said no I did what you should never do and negotiate that she could bring the pram as long as she walked next to me (i.e. I gave in!) 

So off we set for a short walk to the local shops to collect something and within seconds Angel with her ADHD is not looking where she is going, bashing into Guy’s buggy, walls, lamp posts and even passers by! Stopping at kerbs involves me grabbing her and on the way back she thought it mighty funny to run off.. Mummy certainly didn’t find that funny next to a busy road! 

Getting back home was a relief with sore shoulders from the stress… I have no idea what it must be like to be able to have your children walk safely beside you, no idea but I can only imagine it would be bliss!! Xx

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Rainbows week 3…

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Was a trip to the local Pizza Hut.

Angel has been very excited about going to eat pizza with rainbows! Mummy was more nervous about leaving her… Will she sit still? Will she make a bolt for the door? Will she cope with the noise?

Well 15 little girls and all the noise and she coped so well, ate her dinner and enjoyed it! I am so proud. And so thankful for the 3 leaders who have accepted her so well into their Rainbows group. 🙂 🙂

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A step into mainstream

What a lovely phone call to receive this evening. Angel has a place at one of our local rainbow packs! Max 15 girls in a local school 10 minutes walk from our home, I couldn’t be more delighted!

Our first experience of a local pack wasn’t great – a ‘closed shop’ so Angel wasn’t welcome, tonight’s call though so much more inclusive, assistant brown owl is a teacher and has special needs experience.

Her first session is in 2 weeks time after the May holiday. 6pm which is late for Angel but on a Monday when she shouldn’t be so tired. Now to start reading social stories to prepare her for what Rainbows is…

A new experience coming up..

X

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No blue badge for a learning disabled child is like taking away their freedom….

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I have to admit to shedding a tear in front of Angel today.. Mummy’s upset she says….why?

We were sitting in the SMART (SouthEast mobility and rehabilitation technology centre) in Edinburgh having been referred there for Angel’s blue badge assessment.

She has had a blue badge for 3 years and it has transformed our ability to do things. Angel finds crowds incredibly difficult, has NO safety awareness, is frightened in new environments, frightened of loud noises, has no concept of waiting, having ADHD she is very flighty and thinks it’s funny to dash off even in front of a car and her learning disability means she would run off and just keep going..,… The ability to park close by makes essential things like doctors visits and dentist visits so much less stressful before the actual appointment by limiting the sensory issues. Even accessing outings is made possible by avoiding busy crowds and queue’s. We are able to let Angel experience so much more of life.

Children like Angel use to be awarded blue badges on the grounds of safety awareness. Not any more… The badge criteria is now solely physically based, can you walk 50 metres along a quiet hospital corridor with no distraction, noise, traffic etc? How can this be a fair assessment criteria? You don’t apply for a blue badge to park at the top of a quiet, safe, enclosed internal corridor… Even the assessor said today she felt sorry for us (especially as we have Soldier as well) but that Angel doesn’t tick the boxes so Angel isn’t eligible! ‘Don’t give up hope she says trying to soften the blow, the autism charities are lobbying parliament so you never know… But at the moment safety is not a criteria’. So as a mum I hear ‘we no longer care about children who are unsafe, either you restrict what you do with them or you put your child’s life in danger’ what a choice??

Come on government, this can’t be right, we get that you want to reduce blue badge abuse and personally I totally agree with that but this reform with no ability for the assessor to use subjectiveness in individual cases is seriously restricting the life opportunities of these kids, is this really what you want??

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Soldier’s voice #2

Soldier certainly made me laugh today, he may be non-verbal but he knows what he wants!

I was recently updating his clothes for the summer, I thought lets be bold and get something a bit different from his navy, denim and beige trousers. Well if going to be bold lets not do it by half, so bright green (yes snooker table green) trousers were added.

Today being a beautifully sunny day in Edinburgh I thought it was time for them to have their first outing, Soldier looking colourful and bold in his green jeans and stripy top….

As we were about to leave for a walk to the park, Soldier takes me by the hand back to his bedroom, opens his wardrobe door, takes out a pair of navy cargo pants and pulls the green jeans down! Angel makes an appearance and comments on the situation ‘He not like them’..

The moral of the story, my learning disabled nonverbal son has better fashion taste than me! X

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A diagnosis, so why so confused??

Yesterday our world was turned upside down again! We turned up for a routine appointment for Angel to find out we had results for our Soldier from a leading edge genetics study of developmental disorders that Soldier has been part of for 3 years. 

This study is called DDD (deciphering developmental disorders) and holds the hope for many families who have children with undiagnosed disorders (SWANS) that one day they will find the answer to that much asked question ‘why?’.

Our geneticist who is a lovely and an incredibly well respected geneticist Prof Ftzpatrick was hugely professional but we could tell he was excited about the uniqueness of what they have found in Soldier.

In essence they have found two genes that don’t function properly. They are not duplications or deletions as is normally found in genetics they just are not quite right. Both are incredibly rare and one of the genes they don’t wholly understood what purpose it actually serves in the body. One gene has 5 reported cases of children with disorders and the other 4 globally. And these reported cases are either duplication or deletion so not the same as Soldier.  Please believe me I am trying not to use any medial jargon! 

So tons to take in…..

 

So how do we feel? 

– oddly a bit confused, a bit numb, we have a cause for one of our SWANS but it doesn’t tell us an awful lot more.

What now?

– Angel needs tested to see if she has the same..

Is there a cure?

– no. At the moment there is no understanding of the impact never mind a cure…

Are there any adults that might give a clue to the future?

– no, unfortunately not, these genes were only discovered in 2009.. In time though maybe more cases will be identified and give future kids an indication of what the future may hold…

What will change?

Probably nothing, as we don’t know what it means therapy, support, education, oxygen etc will all stay the same…

Why has it happened?

Hubby and I have both passed a different faulty part of the same Gene to Soldier. As we have 2 copies we are fine but his doesn’t function properly….

What about other kids that we may have?

There is a 25% chance they could have the same… Who knows if Angel is the same yet….

Have I been on google?

Of course, who wouldn’t. There’s not much to read as so rare, no social media groups to join, no English speaking families to contact…

It’s a bit strange, I expected an emotional roller coaster but instead it’s all a bit numb.. All a bit nothing.. It’s early days right enough , the news is only 24 hours old, let’s see what the next wee while brings…. Xx

 

 

 

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Soldier’s voice #1

As many of us with kids on the autistic spectrum know there are so many different views of autism especially non-verbal autism. Some schools of thought are that children who present with autism, are non-verbal and appear to have severe learning disability are  just that severely mentally impaired. Other schools of thought are that the communication challenges presented with autism are masking the child’s intellect. Who knows? We can only make a judgement on our individual child….

I am reading a fabulous book just now called Carly’s voice. Some of you may have seen the video I’ve shared a couple of times about a severely autistic girl who learned to type on a computer to communicate and revealed that she actually had far greater intellect than anyone ever imagined…. The book I am over half way through has inspired me to start sharing some of the little things I observe in my Soldier that make me really think that his current ‘tag’ of severe learning disability is actually wrong – we just don’t know how to access him yet!

Soldier’s voice #1

Both Angel and Soldier love our iPads. It doesn’t matter if both have the same apps one will always be ‘the attractive one’. We have different coloured protective frames but I can’t imagine that’s the driver. Expect it’s just good old fashioned sibling jealousy!

Angel was happily playing away on the black iPad when Soldier decided that was the one for him! A tussle ensued with Angel protecting her hold of the much saught after device! Soldier tries various different angles to get it and eventually backs off…. Or so I thought! I then observed him go and find the bluE iPad and take it Angel and hand it to her in the hope that she’d take it then he could get what he wanted – the coveted black one! She didn’t fall for his little trick but it certainly made me smile! He’d thought it through and worked out a little tactic! Go soldier can’t wait to see your next attempt!

 

Www.carlysvoice.com  – well worth a read!

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Not a budding children’s author with my nightime writing!

For nearly 2 weeks over Christmas we had to stay up at night and watch Angel sleeping in case her tonsils blocked her breathing until she had her tonsils removed on 3 Jan – that’s a whole different blog!

How do you stay awake?? Well I decided to enter a mumsnet competition to write a short story about animals, the prize to be published in a McMillan book and have your story illustrated. Perhaps writing when half asleep having been up night after night was not very sensible but it gave me focus for a couple of nights.

Over 600 entries and I didn’t make the short list but I did manage to stay up and ensure my Angel could breath so success in one field.

Anyway I thought I would share, enjoy me little rhyme/short story – the theme had to be an animal!

 

Sam searches for food
Sam Sea Lion was finished work
After his safari park beat Catching balls and other tricks
So hungry he needs to eat

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the meerkats eat their food
And fill their tummy so….
                                                               
The meerkats they were guzzling
on insects, dirt and worms
Sam said yuk, I can’t eat that
Your food it makes me squirm

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the pandas eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

                                                               

The pandas they were chomping
on bamboo leaves and shoots
Sam said no, I can’t eat that
Your food tastes just like old boots

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the hippo eat her food
And fill her tummy so….

                                                               

Hippo wallowed in the lake
Gobbling up water plants
I would like to swim with you
But as for eating that I can’t

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the tiger eat his food
And fill his tummy so….

                                                               

The tiger he was biting
Antelope for his tea
That’s my friend, I can’t eat him
Tiger food is so not for me

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the bats eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

                                                               

Bats flying in their dark cave
Swooping down to catch some flies
No way could I do that

I just cannot jump up that high
Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the bison eat his food
And fill his tummy so…

                                                               

Bison he was chewing on
Lush green grass straight from the ground
How boring that must be
Even though there is lots around

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the rhino eat his food
And fill his tummy so….

                                                               

Rhino he was foraging
Every single but of a bush
He will run after me

So please do not disturb him Shoosh

 

Sam got up, and headed off

as quiet as he could go

To see the monkeys eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

                                                               

 

 
The monkeys they were peeling

Lots of fruit and nuts yummy

Fruit is good for me but

It does not agree with my tummy
Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the giraffes eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

 

                                                               

Giraffes they are stretching up

Easting leaves from up on high

Chomp chomp from the branches

How would I get up there? oh sigh

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the snake eat his food
And fill his tummy so….

 

                                                               

Slippery snake slides along

And with forked tongue eats a rat

Eeee Eeee your food still squeaks

Oh snake, how can you eat that

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the Ostrich eat her food
And fill her tummy so….

                                                               

Wow you are very big for a bird
Walking through and eating grass
Gracefully pecking through it
Not for me, I think I will pass
Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the zebra eat her food
And fill her tummy so….

                                                               

 

 
The beautiful stripy zebra
Daintily eats flowery plants
Why would you eat such pretty things
Flowers are on dresses and pants

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the chimps eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

                                                               

Hoo hoo call out chimpanzee
Tucking into lots of figs
That is a lot of food
You eat even more than the pigs

Sam got up, and headed off
As fast as he could go
To see the lion eat his food
And fill his tummy so….

                                                               

He is king of safari

Sam watches safely from far

Lion rips up his meat

Same moves fast when lion roars Rharrrr
Sam is up and heads straight off
As fast as he can go

To see the penguins eat their food
And fill their tummy so….

                                                               

At last they eat the same as me
Munching on fish yum yum yum
Can I please share your grub
I’d love it in my empty tum

Sam got up and headed in
To join the penguins meal
Lots of different types of fish
So happy Sam could squeal….

sammy seal

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Heartbreaking loneliness

I have to admit to feeling like a bad parent at the moment…..

Our Soldier has started to show some interest in interacting with our Angel but in true autistic style he much prefers his own company and in fact really struggles in normal noisy children’s company and takes himself off to a quiet spot. He certainly appears happy with his own company although I do always have a slight niggle that underneath the autism there is a little boy who wishes things were different….

Where I feel very guilty is that Angel really wants a wee pal to play with! I know most people reading this will ask themselves, what’s the problem? Doesn’t she have friends from nursery, school, locally? Parents of other children with learning disability will most likely be reading with a knot in their stomach.

In the early days when Angel’s difficulties were becoming obvious I was googletastic and read many times about how lonely life can be for special needs children. I’m not sure I really believed it as at that time we were part of a fabulous local mum’s group and another group of friends we made through NCT.  Angel was Angel, she was part of the group, never short of a play date. Her difficulties grew as the group grew up and whilst the other kids and parents didn’t really understand what it was like for us they were immensely supportive and inclusive.

We moved city before Angel was 3 and left behind those groups of friends.  Thank goodness for Facebook many of them remain my friends today but Angel and her wee pals have taken their separate routes in life…….

She often asks for someone to play with and clings to my hubby and I to interact with her, play with her dolls, pretend cook, do art, all the things that a normal little girl should be doing with her little pals…. It’s absolutely heartbreaking sometimes!

We have moved to an Area with quite a few young kids locally. It’s city centre though and a couple of streets away from one of Edinburgh’s large private schools so a lot of local kids attend there, a very different world!

When we moved here Angel attended a supported nursery place on the other side of the city and a private mainstream nursery near our house on a Friday. In the 2 years of nursery she was not once asked on a playdate or to a birthday party, already the gulf between mainstream and special needs was obvious.  Angel was well known and seemed to be well liked but she was different….. It broke my heart for her to be so lonely when she was still being asked to birthday parties back in Bearsden where we are from (although through time thatunderstandably stops as the kiddies move onto nursery and school, build their own sets of friends and we are no longer local). I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been in tears regretting the move away from our understanding and accepting network,

She has moved on to special school. Here I wished for another little girl like Angel that she could form a bond with. My eyes were opened quickly that the majority of children with additional support needs are actually boys. Angel joined a primary 1 class of 10, 8 boys and 2 girls. There are some lovely little boys in her class and she has had a few play dates which is good and one little boy in particular but unfortunately they are in different classes this year and see less of each other. In a special school the children are bused in from all over the City so even meeting the little boys is not straightforward.  The little girl in her class she has struck up a wee friendship with at achool and they greet each other with little hug. I have sent notes to the mum/carer, invited her on playmates/ to parties but she’s never responded. Another thing I have learnt along the way that sometimes the parent/carer of a special needs child has their own challenges and that you may never strike a relationship.

I continue to host birthday parties, Christmas parties and ask along friend’s kids, school class mates and Soldier’s nursery pals and it is lovely that there are some little friendships there in these settings.

What I long for though is for Angel to have a proper little pal or two that she so seeks….

I will keep searching for another little girl like Angel and hope they form a bond! My latest venture is to find an inclusive rainbow’s pack. Even that’s not as easy as if she was a mainstream kid, our local rainbow pack has said as she doesn’t attend the school she can’t attend,……

It’s my dream to see my Angel playing happily and growing up with a little pal. Something most people don’t have to think about, it just happens…….

Xx

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The truth about tiredness…

How many times have I heard friends moan they are tired as their little one has been up during the night sick or is having a phase of being up during the night… Regularly I take a deep breath whilst thinking ‘if only…’  I hope one day that never actually slips out! After all, relative to their normal life they will be tired and to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t wish our lack of sleep on any of my friends!

Angel is now 6 and soldier 5. For the first 3years after angel was born I lived with a constant headache through lack if sleep. For those parent’s reading this think back to the first 3months of parenthood and how tired you were waking up constantly through the night and even up all night quite frequently and imagine it never actualy stops… This is what we and many other special needs parents have to learn to live with.

A combination of both children requiring oxygen at night time and pulling off their cannula’s regularly, angel having ADHD and both having sensory processing issues including hyper sensitive to noise. What does that really mean though? It means

  • having to wait until the kids are asleep to put on their oxygen cannula then waiting again to turn the oxygen concentrators on so the air blowing up their nose doesn’t wake them up then up, down, up, down to reapply using the same elongated routine when they sense the air and pull it off!
  • Angel going through periods where the oxygen routine would be a welcome rest. At the height of Hyperactivity Angel can go 2 full nights up buzzing… As she doesn’t stay still for 10 seconds it’s like a hurricane has swept through our house. As she has learning disability and no safety awareness constant supervision is essential.. After 2 full nights of no sleep it’s like flying to Oz and back again the next day, jetlag city!! How Angel keeps going I will never know, she’s like the Duracell bunny!
  • Sensitivty to noise means – no kettles, tv on silent, no crisps, whispering… I’m sure you are getting the picture, if not they are up and the routine begins again…

I can only describe the permanent tiredness as like living with a hangover…

We can trully understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture…a good night is 4-5 hours sleep and not necessarily all at once. Not something we would wish anyone else to have to experience but know many other families out there quietly cope with the same challenges too….

Sleep well tonight folks x