Cheap Fun Is Good Fun

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Sonny is a man of simple pleasures.

I have noticed he finds happiness in the smallest or strangest of things.

Recently, he has been asking to go into supermarkets. (Click here to see) When we go in he makes a bee line for the DVD section. We can spend a good 20 minutes in there. He walks up and down the aisles reallllyyyy slowly. Maybe one will take his fancy. He will pick it up, look at it for about a minute and then put it on the floor. And carry on in the same manner. Eventually he chooses something fairly inappropriate (he loves a film rated 15 apparently) and gives it to me. I usually have to employ some distraction tactics to move him on without getting upset he hasn’t managed to take Prometheus home. We then mince on over to the fruit and veg section, where we talk about the colour of grapes, bananas, apples etc.

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Last Sunday we ended up spending about half an hour sitting in a park getting very involved with a pack of balloons (click here) I had in my bag, along with various toys from Macdonald’s happy meals, bubble wrap, hand sanitizer, random bits of fluff, you know, the usual stuff a girl in her mid twenties carries with her. He said all the colours (confused between pink and red, but whatevs) and then tried to blow up all 4 balloons at the same time.

Every time I see Sonny I have some activity or outing planned, like a city farm/soft play etc, but sometimes he likes staring at DVDs. Sometimes he likes watching the taps run in the toilets. Sometimes he likes lying on the floor with his head in his hands.

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If At First You Don’t Succeed…

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It took about a year and half to get Sonny to say, ‘I want help please,’ using hand signs and words. He has become good at it now, but often uses it as a get clause when he can’t be bothered. Clever.

So you can imagine my surprise in a soft play centre the other day, when I was at the top of the slide and Sonny was trying really hard to climb up it (he had socks on). He tried and tried for about 10 minutes. He wasn’t really getting angry when he failed, just kept trying different ways until he eventually made it to the top. I felt a little bit mean videoing him from the top and not helping him out (Here’s the vid.)

Anything he does independently is a massive deal (he opened a crisp packet on his own the other day and I nearly passed out with excitement.) We have devised a sort of victory dance (it involves a sequence of very enthusiastic high fives, jumping, and shrill screaming) to celebrate anything he does on his own, which he seems to like!

I don’t want him to grow up thinking he can’t do something, just because he didn’t try, or because someone else did it for him.

I learnt how to ride a bike at the ripe old age of 19. I made a vague attempt when I was younger but couldn’t commit to the process. I gave up fairly quickly (never have been good with failure) and ever since just accepted the fact that I simply couldn’t do it. The only reason I can ride a bike now (only just, corners are an issue) is because I had some strong-willed friends at University.

Sonny needs more support than neuro-typical children obviously, but I want him to be able to ask for help in some situations, where he needs it, but I also want him to learn that when he puts his mind to something he can achieve it.

Who doesn’t love a trier, anyway?

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Sonny Is Strong

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I didn’t get to see my Sonny this weekend, but have been thinking about this for a while so thought I would write it down.

Sonny and I get a lot of attention when we are out and about (and not just because we make ridiculously good fashion choices. Well that’s mainly Sonny. Or Sonny’s parents on behalf of Sonny.) It doesn’t happen often, but Sonny can sometimes have meltdowns when we are out (which consist of flapping his hands, screaming LOUDLY, throwing anything in the vicinity and trying to run away.)

I am only aware of others though after he has calmed down. When I see Sonny getting stressed, I am so focused on him and helping him to calm down that I am totally unaware of anything other than Sonny in that moment. It is only when he has started to relax (usually after a long cuddle and some deep breathing!) that I look up and I see a fifty strong audience gawping at what a scene we have caused. At first he may just look like a naughty child, but I think it usually becomes apparent quite quickly that he has autism, as when he gets upset we sign to each other as well as talking.

Luckily, I have an impressively high embarrassment threshold. In the time I have spent with Sonny taking him out, there has only been one incident that involved other people’s reactions to him that really affected me. It didn’t embarrass me though, just made me really sad.

We were at a soft play centre, where there happened to be a big birthday party going on for a child. There was a huge mountain of presents. Sonny and I were messing around in the ball pit and he upped and bolted (he is surprisingly fast considering his legs are half the length of mine.) I ran after but I wasn’t quick enough so was looking for him for I would say MAX two minutes. Apparently that was enough time for him to cause carnage. I saw some commotion with the mums over where the party was. They were pointing to the top of the climbing frame, where Sonny was sitting. He was unwrapping three presents. Casually.

One of the irate mothers looked at my horrified face and said, ‘is he yours? You need to take better care of your child, these are his birthday presents, oh god how awful he is so naughty’ etc. I then explained that he didn’t understand because he has autism, and he didn’t do it intentionally. So I got Sonny down from the climbing frame and tried my very best to explain to him that the presents were not his to unwrap. I took him over to the angry mums (who had calmed down after they realised he has autism) to apologise.

Then something happened that I could not  have predicted. I started crying. I started saying, ‘he honestly wasn’t being naughty, he just didn’t know they weren’t for him, he just doesn’t understand.’ I wasn’t crying out of embarrassment though. I think it made me more aware that through his life he will be misunderstood by so many people; His behaviour misinterpreted as naughtiness or selfishness, his communication of his anger and distress seen as ‘spoilt’ or ‘silliness’ when those feelings are genuine, feelings that need to be expressed and then respected by those around him.

I just suddenly felt really sad for all the challenges that Sonny will inevitably face in his life. This was the first time it had become so brutally apparent. I usually just think of what a wonderful adorable loveable child Sonny is, but in this situation I was confronted with the fact that other people may not see him in the same way I do. They do not understand him like I do.

Sonny was only vaguely affected by the whole affair. He seemed sad to see that I was sad. He gave me a kiss on the hand and a huge smile (showing his caring side!) Sonny is 7 years old and shows a strength of character and courage that I do not see in most adults. He will face challenges in his life. There will be barriers for him, that for those of us without autism have no idea about. But there is no doubt in my mind, not even a shadow, that he will overcome them.

He is strong.

He is stronger than he may seem.

He is stronger than I think he knows.

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He’s Growing Up So Fast!

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Sonny is saying words now that I had no idea he could say.

I decided to take my boy to Regent’s Park as it was such a lovely day outside.

We were having a blast on the climbing frame when something monumentally awesome happened.

He turned to me and started saying something, it took me about 5 minutes to work out what it was, I asked him to sign it, to repeat it like a hundred times. Until the penny dropped and I realised he was saying, ‘animals’. I don’t know whether it was because we had seen animals at Battersea Park last week, or he remembered somehow that Regent’s Park has a zoo in it, but it was then that I realised I had a little GENIUS on my hands.

It took me a while to stop freaking out (just to make sure we were on the same page I got my phone out and showed him some pictures of the zoo and said, is this where you want to go? Are you sure? The zoo? With the animals?) He started getting annoyed after saying yes for the fifth time.

And so an impromptu trip to the zoo was had.

Sonny took control of the map (probably because he now used to my shocking sense of direction!)

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Sonny has developed an unexplainable but fierce interest in penguins. We set up camp by them and watched them swimming for ages. When I eventually got him to come with me to look somewhere else he kept saying, ‘penguins’ paired with a little jig (click here to see!)

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Off we trotted back to the penguins! We went and played on the climbing frame for a while and also saw the butterfly enclosure bit (which I hate. I was petrified of them getting in my mouth, Sonny was intent on trying to grab them by the wings. Stressful.) But he seemed to really enjoy his sunny day (on my Sonny day!)

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I am so proud of how far Sonny has come in the last few months, I can’t believe his progress! I will cherish all these moments while he is young, they won’t last long I am sure! As much as I am thrilled that he is doing so well in his development, I am also a little tiny bit sad he is growing up so fast…

His feet are nearly as big as mine!

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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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