Hi-Ho, Hi-ho… it’s back to school they go!!

Hi-Ho, Hi-ho… it’s back to school they go!!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it… but we’ve had a tough six weeks summer holiday!  Oh, I have, yes.. just a few times!!

Anyway, the day has finally come that both our children have returned to school and I for one am pleased as punch! I know it sounds really cruel and I feel rotten when I read statuses saying how much mums are going to miss their little darlings now they are back to school.. but I’m not one of them.  Its been a bloody hard slog!

Quite often… I lie… very often (!) I would be asked by Ellie if I would miss her when she goes back to school, (which usually comes half an hour after she’s got very cross about not having a third packet of crisps of the day!) and of course I say “yes” (see, not entirely heartless) but I’m simply not that good an actress… I know she sees right through me!

I love the part of the holidays when you’re not having to do the lunches, wash the uniform and you can ignore the clock in the evening, it is bliss. However, six weeks of it is just too long.  Even with little angels for children, I still think I would find it too long… or just too expensive!

Anyway, I am hoping that yesterday we turned a bit of a corner… not a full 90 degrees, but a slight bend in the road! 

Last week, I emailed key special needs staff at school and gave them the lowdown on what had been happening over the holidays.   I figured it would be better to catch them before the rush of children return and I was right! 

I was relieved to get an email back last week from the school Senco who then arranged a meeting for yesterday with myself, hubby, Ellie along with the school PFSA (parent & family support assistant) to talk through what had been going on.  The senco explained the feelings Ellie had been having and how her reactions to this were not appropriate.  Along with lots of drawings and explanation, I think (I hope) the penny dropped.  Just having someone in authority sit and talk to her really helped. If I had done it, I would’ve either messed it up or would’ve biten back at any sign of attitude.

We’ve also managed to get Ellie down for some counselling at school, as we believe that the loss of my mum is only just really hitting home with her 18 months after her passing. 

So, with some strategies in place, and making some tweaks to the morning routine, today went very smoothly, though I’m certainly not getting cocky!

I suppose what all this waffle is about is being pro-active and not afraid to speak up.   If I hadn’t sent the email, we wouldn’t have had the meeting before Ellie went back to school, she wouldn’t be on a waiting list to see a counsellor and all this would’ve taken much longer… all the while, not doing any of us any good.

What I’m trying to say is… don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help… and if that doesn’t work… start shouting!

 Until next time,

Love & hugs xxx


 

 

 

 

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Run for your Life!!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!


Ok, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic!  It should maybe read ‘Run for your Health’… or ‘Run for your Mental Health’ as I truly believe the two go hand in hand.

Its no secret that this last six weeks has been the most challenging ever in terms of changing behaviour, meltdowns, anxieties and upsets of my ‘near Teen’.  It’s been a mentally draining six weeks with a whole lot of patience required, sometimes it breaks, sometimes it doesn’t. I think yesterday it finally took its toll on me.

For the past few days I’ve been getting that all too familiar feeling of anxiety brewing in my belly.  The feeling of not feeling right… the increasing deep breaths I was taking, my enthusiasm and ‘get up and go’ fading more each day.  Then yesterday, I felt… nothing.  I felt numb and knackered, not feeling like doing anything… and not in a ‘I can’t be arsed’ kind of way, just ‘I can’t’.

I simply lay all afternoon on the sofa, but not snuggling up with a movie having a pj day… that’s enjoyable.  I just felt completely zapped of energy and the only thing to keep me awake was the first half of the charity football game for the Grenfell Tower… Jamie Dornan playing football was NOT going to be missed!  I paid my text donation and enjoyed! Then I slept (most likely dreaming of Mr D in his football shorts! 😛).

I woke up still feeling rubbish.  I wanted to have a good cry, but good old Prozac kind of puts the breaks on the floodgates… a telephone call with my Dad encouraged a trickle. I felt like I seriously didn’t want to do anything.  A night out with the girls… No!  A cosy pub with the hubby… No!  I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to shake this off.  I haven’t got time to be depressed…. I have a Social Media course to start this month and two girly weekends away coming up… I really needed to shake this!

It didn’t help that daughter dear had a half hour meltdown which was (once again) triggered by food… the bigger pizza I was cooking was not quite ready, which obviously meant she wasn’t getting any… obviously!!  This in turn pissed hubby right off as he has also been feeling stressed.  Bloody hell,  I couldn’t even own my ‘pity party day’ all by myself!

Well, as they say, today is another day.  Today is also the day of our local half marathon in support of Cancer Research UK, of which hubby is an organiser – hence the stress the previous day!  There was no way I was going to dip out of this and let him down.  Thankfully, I’d made the sensible decision of doing the 10K race this year rather than the half (mainly because I’ve been rubbish with my running and I couldn’t be arsed to put in the miles of training!).   Sensible decision made I’d say, given the miserable day we woke up to this morning! 🌧🌧

So, I got myself up (after several snooze hits!) and got my shit together.  I have to be honest, I’ve never been so unprepared for a race!  No kit ready, no ‘carb loading’ the day before which I would’ve done in the past, which is a sure sign that I’ve lost my mojo for it.  I didn’t even have a watch to track my time – something which I’d been obsessed about in previous races!  I figured today, I will just run… not bust a gut… just run.

And that is what I did… and I felt all the better for it.  If nothing else, its an hour of not having anyone call my name or “MUM”!!  The race was fantastic, the rain didn’t bother me… I felt like Forest Gump and ‘just kept running’. I even managed a not too shabby time considering my pretty non-existent training programme this summer!

I know in the past when I have felt low, exercise and good diet, however much I didn’t feel like doing either, helped me to feel better and today was no exception.  Although, I’m not sure the gut-busting Chinese I’ve scoffed will count as good diet! 🍚🍜😋

Aaaaah well, Monday tomorrow… I’ll start then!

FYI, the header pic is my hubby and I proudly completing last year’s Half Marathon raising money for Ovarian Cancer Research in memory of my dear Mum. ❤

Until next time.

Love and hugs

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The curious incident of the Dog and the Caravan!

Ok, so its not really a curious incident, I just happen to be reading ‘The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime’ at the moment… which I have to say, doesn’t have me gripped as much as my usual romantic/funny/sexy ‘guilty pleasure’ reads… but I’m sticking with it!

So, back in March we started what was to be our ninth summer of having a caravan down in sunny Devon. We love escaping down there for the weekend.  Its only an hour or so down the road but it always felt like a little holiday. However, this year started to feel a little different.

 

Over the holiday weekend, I decided to take myself out for a little run, and in that 25 minutes, I had decided that things needed to change after this summer.  I wanted to enjoy one last season in Devon and then sell up.  I didn’t want to visit the same places anymore year in and year out.  I wanted to explore some of the many beautiful places in other parts of the country.  Another part of my master plan was… to get a dog!

I’d already done a fair bit of Googling about dogs and autistic children and how they can help with anxiety etc, and the kids had always wanted one.   So, I did what we women like to call… ‘planting the seed’.  Just a gentle conversation about an idea I’d had.  Usually, how this works is then you leave it for a few weeks and hubby then comes up with the same proposition believing he thought of it!

That’s exactly what happened.  A week later, ‘we’ decided that we would have one last summer and then look at getting a puppy at the end of August.   I didn’t hesitate to research dog breeds and look for a reputable breeder.  We’d decided on a Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle) and found a breeder that currently had a litter for sale and was planning on having a litter with another dog to be ready at the end of August. Perfect.

That was what was meant to happen… that was the plan.  However…

What was meant to be a lovely Bank Holiday weekend down the caravan was cut short. Ellie was having a really tough time of it with her anxiety.  Admittedly, it was her birthday on the Bank Holiday Monday – this is never a great time.  Events like birthdays and Christmas really get hyped up a lot more than with neurotypical children (and even that can be quite a lot) and then the child feels overwhelmed with the feelings causing anxiety and uncertainly of what will happen on the day.

This is what happened to Ellie.  From the moment we left the house on Friday evening, she was talking through every aspect of the weekend and worrying about what would be happening/what she would be eating/ what I would I be saying.   She got into such a state, crying and saying all sorts of silly things that we came home on the Sunday evening and had her birthday at home where she felt calmer.

We figured this was just a glitch being that it was her birthday, but the very same thing happened on our next visit, just two weeks later.  The whole journey down, Ellie was already becoming anxious about what we were doing the next day.  Once again, this built and built until we had uncontrollable crying and screaming… and all this in a little tin box of a caravan is really not great.

It got so much that Hubby needed to go for a walk as he was getting upset and needed to get some space.  I needed some too so I sat in the sun in front of the van.  Half an hour later, hubby calls me on the phone and tells me that he can’t deal with a summer like this… lets sell up now and get a puppy… lets not wait until the end of the summer.

Now, I won’t lie, I was delighted!  I really wanted a dog as much as the kids, and I too wasn’t looking forward to a summer of these meltdowns every weekend.   I also had something else up my sleeve.   I’d already contacted the breeder in the week to see if he had any of the current litter left (it was like I’d had a sixth sense or something!). When I told hubby he had four girls and two boys he unexpectedly said… “ring him and see if we can come and look tomorrow”.  Talk about a complete turnaround!

The following day, we got up, told the kids the change in events which they were partly sad about with us selling the van, but mainly happy because we were getting a puppy!   We popped to the pets store on the way to pick up some things and then ventured off to the middle of nowhere on Dartmoor Hills, to a beautiful farm to pick our new puppy!

Now, I can’t say that our beautiful little girl ‘Dusty’ (named after Dusty Springfield) has made a difference to Ellie’s autistic behaviours. In fact, if you have read some of the other blogs, you will know that things have been hard since the start of the six weeks holiday.  However, this little pup has brought so much joy to our family and is always there for cuddle when the meltdowns start… and that’s just me!! 😉❤🐶

Until next time.  Love & hugs xxx

 

D-DAY! Diagnosis Day… choices to be made and the surprising grief that followed.

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D-DAY! Diagnosis Day… choices to be made and the surprising grief that followed.

I’m heading back to our Autism journey, back to the summer of 2010.  Since ‘the dark winter’ as I call it, of 2008 we had seen many consultants, registrars, speech & language therapists, other therapists with fancy names, Autism Advisory Teachers and Child Development Practitioners.   Today, we thought was going to be just another appointment with the consultant… the one we finally found that took us seriously, who could see that there was something not right and recognised a link between diet and the brain.

We’d already seen Dr McGreggor several times where she assessed Ellie’s behaviour, how she played and interacted and took a ‘progress report’ from us.  What we weren’t expecting was for her to offer us a diagnosis.  It had been two and a half years since we started this journey and now my heart was galloping at what she was about to say.

“Ellie is certainly on the autistic spectrum and I would say she has high functioning Autism.  I would say she is borderline, and with that, you don’t have to take the diagnosis, if you’d rather not?”

I heard the words, I nodded, but it was like one of those outer body experiences.  Were we being asked whether we would like to take the diagnosis?  WTF!

The consultant went through the pros and cons (of which I just don’t remember now) but one was that with a diagnosis, we would be able to access better support.  If having a diagnosis meant a better chance of getting help, then there was no question.  Whilst I would’ve loved to stick my head in the sand and pretend this wasn’t happening, it really wasn’t an option.  Ellie was still the same little girl, with or without a label.  Plus, she had only just turned five years old.  We had no idea how things would progress and change as she got older.

Looking back, I know it was the absolute right decision to make, as things really have changed as Ellie has grown up.  For one, there seems to be an ever increasing gap between her and her peers and she continues to have a 1:1 support at secondary school. I’m sure this wouldn’t have been the case had we not made that choice.

The consultant also agreed that diet had played a huge part in Ellie’s symptoms and confirmed that if we had not changed her diet when we did, she would be in a very different place by now.  The relief to hear that was immense.  Thank god we did what we did and took those ‘poisonous’ foods out.  I won’t lie, back in 2008 it was really hard work as the mainstream supermarkets had barely anything ‘free from’.  My family, especially my mum, played such a huge part in making those dietary changes… it would’ve been so much tougher without them.  I fear, that we may have even given up if it wasn’t for their support and understanding.

So, we decided to go for the diagnosis – High Functioning Autism (or Aspergers), although on our letter it actually says ‘Allergy Induced Autism’.

What I didn’t expect was how I felt in the coming weeks.  Instead of relief… I felt grief.  I definitely went through a grieving process for a good two weeks. Grieving over the daughter we thought we had, worrying about the things she wouldn’t be able to do, fearful for how she would ‘fit in’ with her peers and unsure of where this journey would take us next.

Until next time,

Love and Hugs xxx

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To tell or not to tell? Is it best to keep plans a secret or not?

That was the big question I was asking myself at the beginning of the six weeks holiday. Do I let my ‘keen to know everything’ daughter our plans for the school holidays?

I know all too well what its like.  Once you let the cat out of the bag, you don’t hear the end of it, with the same questions circling day after day.  So first off, I went with “We have some things planned but I will tell you nearer the time (like an hour before!)”   This didn’t go down too well.  We had attitude and meltdown of how bad this holiday was going to be, how it would be the worse ever, I was a rubbish mum…. you get the picture.

So, after an hour or so, I switched tactic, thought ‘sod it, can’t be any worse than this’ and decided to tell the kids a couple of the things we were doing.  BIG mistake!

Of course, they were overjoyed to hear that our friends would be visiting from Wales in four weeks time and that we would be visiting my brother and family down in Poole.  It felt like we’d done the right thing.  Until it started.  The constant questions.

What time are they getting here?  What are we doing?  Will the boys play with me?  What will we eat? How many nights are they staying? Are the boys going to leave me out?  Will you ignore me? What are we going to eat on Saturday? What will I say when they get here? Will you be happy? What time will I be going to bed?  What time will we get up?  Are you excited? I’M EXCITED! (whilst looking stressed right out!), on Friday will we do….   on Saturday will we do …..  etc, etc, etc.

Since the holidays started, we have seen a big increase in the stress and anger Ellie is experiencing on a daily basis.  When we try and go anywhere, if she doesn’t like it in the slightest, it will result in a meltdown/getting angry and stroppy and us wondering why the F*** we bother. To be honest, its made us have a very low key holiday this year, mainly meeting up with friends and family and chilling at home.  I can’t help but feel envy, when I see lots of family snaps on social media of  families doing exciting things, thinking there is fat chance we’d be able to do that because its too busy, too loud, etc etc!

The last two weeks have been pretty horrendous.  Nightly meltdowns of crying and screaming, saying things she clearly doesn’t mean which is then followed by her writing a letter of apology.  Now, I know you’re thinking… that’s really good…she has the thought process to write her feelings down and express them.  However, when this happens every time, every day and nothing changes, you kinda lose your enthusiasm for it!

In the final days of last week, I’d adopted a new tactic. When behaviour was ‘not acceptable’ (as Supernanny would say!) Ellie was asked to go to her room for 12 minutes to calm down, have some quiet time and think about how she speaks to people (or whatever the problem was). Whether this is the right thing to do or not I don’t know, but it at least gave us all some breathing space.

So, Friday came around and our friends were due to arrive around 5pm.  To help matters a little, I told Ellie that they were arriving at 6pm, so at least that gave me an hour’s buffer to allow for traffic!

As expected, there were a few wobbles over the weekend, worrying about being included, losing her temper with her brother etc, etc but it wasn’t anything like the build up we had experienced… though I’m sure there were other hormone factors playing a part there (see previous blog!).  I didn’t let myself get too worked up… just did a lot of deep breathing and smiled!

So, we survived it.. and had a lovely weekend catching up with our friends, eating, drinking, chilling and had a couple little trips out with the kids and the dog! It really did George good as he could have some proper ‘boy time’… he has to put up with a lot as well and it was lovely to see him running around and getting all rough and tumble! But now we are back to Monday, and already the questions have started for our next trip!!

Arrrrgghhhh!!

Until next time,

Love & hugs xxxx

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What a day of DRAMA!! Monumental milestones, big decisions & the runaway dog! 

Oooooh, I had a right day of it yesterday! Talk about up and down like a rollercoaster! 🎢 

I’d gone to bed the previous night in a bit of an anxious state – huffing and puffing and all that! I’d woken up not much better! 

The kids were at their Grandads for the day and getting ready was a tad more traumatic than normal. There seemed to be more distress with the hairbrushing than usual which included Ellie throwing herself on the floor and a couple shouts of “I hate you!”.  I blocked it all out and kept calm – feeling pretty proud of myself! 

However, the commute to work gave me thinking time and by the time I got into work I was feeling a little broken. 

I could only describe how I felt to my colleagues was like a broken vase that had been stuck back together but the water was starting to seep through the cracks.

A few coffees later and a natter and I started to feel a lot better until… My dad phones… “We have a little problem”.

Turned out that today would ‘The’ day that Ellie would receive her pass into womanhood! Bloody wonderful! (excuse the pun!). The one day in the last week that I’m working at the office and it decides to happen! 

I talked through what Dad needed to get at our house and spoke with Ellie – thankfully we’d already had a little practice run. I must say, she was really very sensible about it all and held it together. 

I toyed with whether I should go home and be with her and there was a little debate for both options – but I figured that as she was dealing with it and ‘things’ didn’t seem to be too bad my decision was to stay in work. I didn’t want to set a presidence that I would come running when this happened.  I’d also started to feel a little more sane being in the company of adults and I frankly wasn’t ready to go home after just an hour!!

With my brain now a little frazzled after all of that, I then made a big decision. I’d been thinking about enrolling on a six month intensive course in Social Media Management with DigitalMums. I’d had the telephone consultation- now I just needed to apply!  In my lunch hour, that is what I did… and got accepted! Holy shit! My friends and hubby had said to go for it so I figured why not! It will help me in doing this little blog, my job as a Personal Assistant is going more in the social media direction so it will help there… and with any luck, I might be good at it! 

I felt buzzing… and scared… but mainly buzzing!  My wonderful colleague had also picked me up a bottle of wine to cheer me up… the day really was getting better!

By the time I collected the kids at teatime, my dad looked a little run-ragged as they’d been arguing all afternoon, so it was a good job I’d taken annual leave for the rest of the week! 

Usual mayhem ensued at home, with most sentences starting with “can I have”,  even though they’d probably cleared the cupboards at my dad’s house!

Finally, to finish the day we decided to meet with our friends and take our dogs for a walk over the park. Both dogs are under a year old so both are equally crazy and love to run. However, since our little dog ‘Dusty’ (named after Dusty Springfield) decided to run off and cross the main road we live on, my son has been a nervous wreck with letting her off the lead. However after a few weeks of extra ‘recall training’ and being off the lead with just me, I felt confident that she would be fine – especially with her friend Maggie to run around with! 

WRONG!! 

For five minutes or so, all was fine, but the more the dogs ran around, the more anxious George got screaming at Dusty in a high pitched voice and panicking that she wouldn’t come back.  He was right to panic! 

The dog sat at the edge of the park for what felt like minutes with the five of us all screaming her name and attempting to tempt her back. However, she decided that she’d had enough and scarpered!!  Que hysterical kids!! 

They stayed with my friend while I looked for her along with my friends daughter. Nowhere to be seen.  Shit!  Now I’m starting to panic!  After running up and down the park for what felt like forever, I hear a shout from our front garden. My friend’s daughter had found her sat at the front door!!  Thank god! I felt so relieved considering she would’ve crossed the main road again and I wondered if she sat and waited like I taught her?!

Back to the kids and they’re now both hysterical, especially George who now claims he will never go out with the dog again 😬!  To say the kids were over-tired is an understatement! George couldn’t control his emotions and couldn’t stop crying! I now couldn’t wait to get them home, into bed, and reward myself for getting through that drama with a glass of something yummy! 🍷🍸

And that is exactly what I did… and guess who popped round later to join me? My poor run-ragged Dad!! 😊

Until next time, 

Love and hugs. 

Our successful day out in the deserted forest! 

What started out as a rainy looking Monday turned out to be a beautiful sunny one, which was good as we’d been invited to a play-date in the forest. 

The kids were told just two hours before we were leaving, so that Ellie’s anxiety didn’t rise too much – though we did have worries about who was going to be there and that they would all look at us when we arrived! 

After a couple of minor wobbles on the way we arrived at our destination – The Great Wood (sounds grand doesn’t it?) and I was both delighted and surprised to see it was absolutely deserted! Nobody there, nada! For the middle of the summer holidays this is quite unusual but it was such a help for Ellie. 

After we had set up the multiple chairs, (we had more chairs than people) unpacked lots of play equipment and had a little food, all the kids went off to play ‘dens’ by the stream and had a competition of which group could make the best one. However, Ellie was still sat with us mums, not wanting to leave me. 

After my persuasion failed, it took a couple of goes from another mum and then she did it… Ellie went off with her friend to join the group… which was out of our sight. 

Whilst this isn’t a big deal to a ‘neurotypical child’ this was massive for Ellie. As she has got older, the anxiety has worsened. She will constantly check where I am at home (usually in the kitchen!) because she worries I will leave her – tempting as it is sometimes, that has never happened!!

To see our daughter feel relaxed in a group of children playing games out in the open (with no damn technology around) was joyful… and it gave me some much needed catch up time with the girls for a giggle and some inappropriate chat! 

The kids were gone for a long while playing and Ellie only checked a couple of times. All us mums felt really proud of her – this was a big deal and a real confidence boost.  

There was disappointment from the kids when it was time to leave – a sign of a good day out. 

It didn’t take long however for the switch to negativity to kick in and five minutes into the journey home I was being accused of not letting Ellie play with her friends!! WTF! 

Aaaaah, normal service resumed! It still didn’t spoil my brilliant day in the woods! 

Until next time, 

Love & hugs xxx