Horseplay On Hampstead Heath!

Sonny and I went for a lovely day in the sun last Sunday, and played for a very long time! We ended up lying on the floor playing games. Had the best day!

This video is dedicated to the lovely and wonderful Elizna Krog (a VERY amazing special needs teacher and dear friend who I learned ALOT from.) She came to visit me at Victoria Station today where I was raising money for the National Autistic Society for World Autism Awareness Day.

I am running the London Marathon for the National Autistic Society in two weeks time! Working with Sonny is proving to be all the training I need at the moment! The link is below.

https://www.justgiving.com/Melanthe-Grand1/

Happy Autism Awareness Day to all. xxx

I’m Just Trying To Work Out How To Be Like Myself!

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 Sonny and I do weird stuff when we are out.

Sometimes we stand and watch water run from taps for a while after the toilet.

Sometimes we walk for 15 minutes in the wrong direction because Sonny is adamant it is the correct way, despite me showing him the map on my phone.

Sometimes we go up and down in a lift countless times.

These are all Sonny’s ideas, not mine! But when I take him out into the real world I am aware of how difficult it can be for Sonny.

Too much noise, too many people, too hot, too cold, too much space, too little space, etc. So sometimes even though it’s a bit unconventional, I allow him to do what he wants/needs to do on our days out to make him more comfortable, even if it does seem a little bit odd.

For example, we were at Battersea Park Zoo on Sunday, and it was really sunny and we saw all the animals and then went on the climbing frames outside for a while which was lovely. Then as we were on our way out, we went through the zoo’s shop. Some toy snakes caught Sonny’s attention. We sat on the floor and played with them for about half an hour. Sonny especially liked it when I made one of the snakes try to eat him. And then he got very involved with counting them (once he had asked me to put them all around his arms).

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Sometimes it is quite hard to not have an agenda of my own for the days out with Sonny, like I REALLY wanted to go outside and have a picnic, (when is there ever sun in March in England!?) instead of playing with snakes inside in the shop! But I wanted to let Sonny do what he needed to first, and then we went outside after. So I try not to interrupt these moments when he gets immersed in something that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid to. After all, he is just learning about what he likes and doesn’t like. And I am just trying to understand that and understand him.

I remember working with him at school and obviously in that context there were many times he had to adapt to what the adults wanted him to do. But on the weekends and the time I spend with him, I think it is important for him to know he can use it in whichever way HE feels appropriate (to an extent. I would not accept him running around Battersea Park butt naked and stealing people’s food for example.) Because I think a lot of his frustration/anger/fear comes from not feeling in control. And to be fair I get pretty upset when I don’t feel in control.

And if people are constantly telling him what to do and how to play and what is good and what is bad he won’t work it out for himself and won’t know what he likes and doesn’t like. So basically I just try and allow him to be as much as himself as possible.

Often in his life he is made to adapt to our world and all the norms and social etiquettes that come with it, like putting clothes on, or looking at people in the eyes, or being told when he has to eat or to hold an adult’s hand etc. So I value the times when I can step into his world, when he shows me a little bit of what is going on in his busy brain. I feel like I know him better somehow after these moments. I feel like he knows himself better too.

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Big Steps For Sonny At The Science Museum!

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Sonny and I went to the Science Museum this weekend, which was absolutely amazing! , and there was a massive place for water play too, it was quite busy, but Sonny didn’t seem to mind! We spent a long time looking at the aeroplanes, and we also watched a bubble show where they showed us loads of huge bubbles, Sonny got a bit annoyed though because there were lots of other children there, and it was too loud! He also loved all the things that lit up and flashed bright colours.

Sonny got a bit frustrated when we were queueing to watch the bubble show (his autism means he finds it difficult to wait for things that he wants.) He frequently gets cross when he has to wait for something, and if he doesn’t calm down quickly he gets more and more angry which can lead to him getting violent or running away.

I find it hard to know what to do when he gets frustrated: I don’t want him to think he shouldn’t ever get angry (because we all get angry sometimes!) but I also don’t want him to think he can get away with bad behaviour just because he is annoyed.

ANYWAY, a few weeks ago I tried something new when I could see he was on the edge…I said, ‘Sonny I know you are cross, and that’s ok, but lets do some deep breaths together and stay caaalllllm.’ The first few times I said all this he looked at me like I had totally lost the plot, and seemed really confused, but at the museum, when he started getting angry, I said, ‘Sonny I know you are cross, but…’

AND THEN he did some deep breaths and did the hand sign and said, ‘caaaallmmm.’ ALL BY HIMSELF!

I was super chuffed. It shows he has an awareness of how to change his mood, and to self soothe when he is cross (which, to be honest, lots of adults struggle to do!)

When we left the museum he started to get upset and say, ‘goodbye, see you soon’ while crying and waving. I asked him if he was happy or sad and he said sad with the Makaton sign. Then later on the bus when I was tickling him and making him laugh I asked him the same  and he said happy. A few months ago when I asked him that question he would always say happy, regardless of whether he was crying his heart out or laughing his head off.

Understanding emotions is hard for children with autism, and they often feel very intense emotions, that are difficult to control, so I am thrilled that Sonny is starting to understand his feelings and how to manage them. I suppose what we all want for our children is to be happy, but I think happiness is about being able to freely express ourselves and our feelings at any given time. I think Sonny is on his way!

If someone had told me two and half years ago that Sonny would be able to tell me how he felt and then also calm himself down when he is stressed I would of not believed them, it has taken a long time to get to where he is today, but days like this make it all worth it.

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He Struggles With Words, But He Can Roar!

A video showing some of the best bits over the last few months on our days out together around London…What fun we have had!

I am running the marathon for the National Autistic Society, which is a charity that supports children like Sonny and their families. The link is below if you would like to help me raise some money for a brilliant cause:

https://www.justgiving.com/Melanthe-Grand1/

I am so grateful to have Sonny in my life. I learn from him every day. I have had many teachers, but Sonny is by far the best.

So thank you Sonny for all the great days I have had with you…I look forward to many more.

xxx

Any Excuse To Dress Up!

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‘rech buch eighty –dooo yayyy!!!’ Sonny said as we left his house. (Translation: lets get on the red bus, number 82 yay!) We often get the number 82 from his house so now he thinks every time we go somewhere that’s the bus we will get on! This time he was actually right (again.)

We went to the zoo today! He got a bit frustrated when we got there as we had to wait quite a while, but we sat down and had lunch and he calmed down.

He loved the penguins, we were there for half an hour and he kept pointing to them and cracking up at them swimming. Unfortunetly he then pointed to the butterfly house, where there are quite literally hundreds of butterflies flying around in a small confined area. This is basically my worst nightmare, I freak out that they might fly in my mouth or get in my eyes or something, so I was screaming and trying to hide behind Sonny who was trying to CATCH them with his HANDS. We managed to stay there for about 20 seconds, by which point I was on the verge of tears because I was so petrified. And no butterflies were harmed by Sonny.

Then we got DRESSED UP in some onesies and ran around for a bit. On the bus back we had a pretty decent conversation:

Me: Son, what does a tiger say?

Sonny: Roaarr

Me: A crocodile?

Sonny: Snap snap

Me: What about a monkey?

Sonny: Oo oo ah ah

(I asked him what noise a pig and horse make but he wasn’t too sure about those)

Me: Dog?

Sonny: Woof woof

Me: Cat?

Sonny: Meooww

Me: Cow?

Sonny: Shhhh. (put his hand over my mouth. Evidently he had had enough by that point.)

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But anyway I was really surprised that he knew the noises the animals made! I obviously spoke loads to him while we were at the zoo about what animals there were and the noises they make, but its quite hard to tell how much he actually takes in.

We got quite a few odd looks when we were walking around in our costumes, but Sonny enjoyed himself which is all that matters!

Happy Friday!

xxx

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‘I’m Sorry!’ ‘No, I’m Sorry!’

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As it is half term I have been taking Sonny out during the week, so yesterday we went to a soft play centre in Kentish Town and then went for a (very long) walk up to Primrose Hill and through Camden Town.

He was being so chatty!

When we were walking up the hill (very slowly) he was saying ‘up, up, up!’ and when we were up on the top of the Hill Sonny said ‘cold’ and did the sign for it. And then when we were walking back down the hill he stopped to point and count 6 big buildings that he could see! (Click here to see a vid.)

In soft play we invented a new a game that involved me pretending to fall asleep and snore really loudly and then scare the living day lights out of him. (Click here to watch!) He then started to walk up to me (while I was fake sleeping) and shout ‘boo!’ in my ear! The game came to an abrupt end though when he took a running two-footed jump onto my tummy. I was pretty sure he cracked a rib, but I was just winded. Had to have 5 minutes break while I regained my breath and composure.

Apart from said injury and a minor fall out about which direction the bus stop was (turned out he was actually right. When I tried to apologise to him and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ he  kept on repeating it back to me saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘No Sonny I am sorry, not you, I am sorry, I was wrong!’ I said. I am not sure he understood because he replied again with, ‘I’m sorry.’ And so on. If only all men were so quick to apologise!) we had  a lovely day and it didn’t rain! Win.

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My Besties Became Besties!

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I hadn’t seen my boy in three weeks so I was SO happy to see him

I was missing him A LOT.

I took a bit of a risk today, and decided I would take him to meet my mum.

She has wanted to meet him for ages now! We went to a farm near her house, which is just outside of London. It was quite a lot of travelling but Sonny and I entertained ourselves by chatting (I kept telling him that we were going to see my mummy, and that everyone has mummies, just like Sonny does etc etc) I wasn’t sure if he was understanding what I meant though so kept repeating it and showing him a photo of her on the way there. We obviously passed the time by taking a few cheeky selfies aswell.

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I haven’t seen Sonny interact with anyone else for ages (not since I worked with him at school last year) so I was quite surprised how well he did! He held hands with my mum and kept looking at her, and EVEN gave her a massive cuddle and kiss! Obviously my mum fell in love with him instantly because he is so adorable he is almost edible. It was so lovely to see two of my favourite people get on so well!

But then when we said goodbye at the station to her, Sonny got really upset, he was crying and waving and saying, ‘goodbye, see you soon.’ This set my mum off. They were both sobbing. Once I had ripped Sonny from his new love, I managed to calm him down with lots of hugs and a fruit shoot.

We all had such a lovely day, looking at the animals and playing on the climbing frames and the soft play area.  My mum won’t stop talking about her day out with Sonny. She keeps asking how her man is! (I better let my step dad know he has some competition!)

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