Why Are We So Adultish?

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Last Sunday was potentially the best day ever on record.

I mean, if we ignore the fact that he told me to ‘go away’ when he first saw me. After that he was all hugs and kisses.

On the way to the swimming pool we played a real fun game: I pretend to put my hand in a holly bush and hurt myself and he grabs my hand and kisses it better. He thinks it is hilarious when I hurt myself. I try not to be offended.  And then we bowled into the swimming pool and pranced around and played chase and I pretended to be a shark and Sonny kept dunking my head under the water which was fun and also kind of dangerous because he had no concept of how long I could hold me breath for. I nearly drowned.

But it was worth it for the LOLs. We had all the LOLs.

When we were getting changed in the cubicles I could hear someone telling off a child for being silly, and they said, “Stop being so childish!” Meanwhile, in a changing room a few doors down, myself and Sonny were, instead of getting changed, emptied out a whole bottle of talcum powder with great force onto our heads and bodies. It got me thinking, why are we so quick to tell a child to stop being a child, yet we rarely tell another adult to stop being so adulty? As a society we respect adulthood far more than childhood.

  What I have grown to realise, is that adults are just children in disguise.

I feel conned by adulthood. Genuinely I feel like it is a hoax. When I was younger I used to think, “wow I can’t wait to be an adult! Look at them all, knowing about everything and being so wise and clever!”  And then you grow up and suddenly you are expected to be an adult. And you wish you were a kid again, putting mud in your hair or pretending to be a dog, instead of trying to get your head around interest rates and how best to remove a wine stain from the carpet.

So when did we all stop playing? And why? It is so fun. And so important, and the most efficient way to learn. And generally makes all involved very happy.

Sonny taught me that. He is really quite a good teacher, though I doubt he knows it.

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Son and Mum have a thing going on…

I took him to see my Ma last weekend.

We took a bus and then a train to Beaconsfield (it was a long journey but Sonny was so good the whole way.) I showed him a picture of my mum on my phone to show him who we were going to see.

Mum picked us up from the station, and Sonny clambered into the car and gave her a kiss.

We went to Beaconsfield Miniature Village. Pretty much the coolest place I have been too ever. Houses, churches, trains, little people, a fun fair, rivers, everything. Sonny walked around holding my mum’s hand. He absolutely LOVED the trains (they moved around on the tracks). He would say, ‘look! A train!’ and then flap his hands on his leg while he watched it drive along.

I tried to tell him it was lunch time, and we walked away, but he said, ‘no.’ and ran back to the village part to watch the trains again. It is unheard of for him to turn down food.

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Last year Sonny met my mum and when we said goodbye he burst into tears, and found it really hard to calm down. Mum and I had planned not to say bye so he wouldn’t get upset this time.

This plan did not work. Total failure.

We got out the car and mum drove away and Sonny could not stop crying. He was saying, ‘Mel’s mum, bye’ and then sobbing. I don’t know if he was sad because he thought I would be sad, or if he was sad because he loves seeing her. No idea. He eventually calmed down, and I thought not much more of it.

Yesterday I saw Son again. I took him to soft play (he even asked for the right bus. Genius. He said, ‘326 to soft play please’ so off we went. On the way back though He started crying and really upset again. I couldn’t work out why. Then he said, ‘I want train please’ and kept asking for it. I was very confused. I kept telling him it was home time, but that just made him cry even more. THEN HE SAID, ‘I want Mel’s mum’ and I welled up because that is SO CLEVER and also because I was a little bit jealous that he loves my mum so much. But mostly because I was proud.

The fact he remembered it, and the fact that he could tell me what he wanted and the fact that he effectively shows that he cares about someone else.

Some might say it’s a fairly minor victory in the grand scheme of things, but to me, for Sonny, it is ground breaking.

Sonny Blew a Kiss!

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Despite the weather, I wanted to take Sonny to South Bank, as there was some sort of children’s festival going on. Unfortunately, Sonny took zero interest in the festival. Literally none. There was a stage and someone doing some sort of show. Loads of kids all sitting down listening and laughing. Sonny took one look at all this organised fun and tried to drag me out. There were a few areas for children, and I took Sonny into one, where there was drawing and painting and making things. This is basically his worst nightmare, but also my idea of a dream. As soon as he saw children sitting down quietly he said, ‘no. I want this way’ and pointed to the door.

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So I was feeling kind of upset that my plan hadn’t worked. (This happens a lot, so I always have a plan B. I sometimes have to make use of plan C and plan D too. Not today though.) My plan B was not much of a plan at all, but just to cut about on South Bank and watch the street entertainment. We made friends with a woman in gold. Sonny stared at her for ages. Every time someone put money in her hat she moved. I gave him some money and he went up and she shook his hand. I ended up giving the woman about a fiver because he liked her so much. When we walked away he said ‘ok, bye’ and HE BLEW HER A KISS and I nearly nearly cried. Obvs because it was cute and I was proud but also because I was little bit jel.

We watched a band, and we went on the merry go round. We also spent a lot of time talking about boats and bridges. I say talking, I mean I spoke to him about boats and bridges. And he would nod every so often.

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Also I stole one of his crisps and he said, ‘hey! Spit it out!’ Which was MAD because I had never heard him say that.

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Flap Away My Son!

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‘Stimming’ is a term used to describe self-stimulatory behaviours.

Basically it is a repetitive behaviour that feels good.

Children with autism stim in a variety of different ways. It may be rocking, spinning, shaking their head, flapping their hands, repeating a sound or word etc.

For Sonny, he flaps his hands on his head, his leg, my head, my leg, a random chair, a pineapple, anything that is in reach. He loves it. Can’t get enough of it. Click here to see it (quite bad quality though!)

He sometimes stims when he really likes something (watching something on his iPad) but mostly when he is distressed (when I ask him to put his shoes on his own). So I kind of see it as him expressing emotions he can’t articulate through words- loads of happiness and excitement or loads of frustration and anger. It helps him when he is trying to manage his feelings of anxiety, fear or when there is too much sensory input (too hot, too light etc).

Some people think that stimming should be eliminated or modified. I am not those people. I believe that if it doesn’t hurt anyone else or himself he should flap, flap and keep on flapping. If it makes him feel good then I say crack on. Why should he adapt and change who he is just because it might seem a bit odd or different? When we are mincing around London and he flaps he does gets some funny looks (which we both completely ignore) but I never tell him to stop. I did once try and do it with him when he was half way through an intense flapping session just to see what he did. He stopped and looked at me quite disapprovingly, walked away from the crazy lady who looks after him and continued.

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We all have different ways of calming ourselves down to some degree, sometimes without realising we are doing it. People who bite their nails, pace up and down, shake their leg, tap a pencil etc, they are all repetitive behaviours that in some way are calming or soothing. Most of us stim, autistic or not, it is just that some are more accepted by society I guess.

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My stim? I play with my hair all the time. Well, not when I play ping pong. But a lot of the time.

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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Following The Minion

 

 

 

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When I was about 11 I randomly decided I wanted to stop holding my Mum’s hand. I was, of course, a sassy independent woman of the world. There was no way my Ma was going to cramp my style. I remember her being absolutely devastated.

Well karma has slapped me in the face. Sonny apparently found his independence far earlier than I ever managed to. He didn’t want to hold my hand. If I am totally honest its been happening for a while but I’ve basically been in denial about it. But he made sure it wasn’t going to happen. We went to Regent’s Park and he kept shaking my hand off (oh the rejection) so while we were there and it was safe I decided I would just trust him to walk on his own, ‘Sonny you can walk on your own if you are sensible’ etc. He has the tendency to run away. Totally without warning. Just bolts it. He’s rapid.

So obviously I was ready to sprint after him at any given moment. But he was SO GOOD. He stayed walking by my side the whole time, never ran off (ok once, but to be fair there was a pigeon that was very tempting, and as soon as I told him to come back he did.)

And on the way to Regent’s Park he said, ‘I want animals please’ (Here’s the video of me finally understanding what he was trying to say!) He recognised the bus route and remembered that there was a zoo there. As he asked so nicely we went to the zoo after. Obviously went to see the penguins first.

He also said, ‘Finding Nemo’ when we were in the aquarium and there was a fish that looked like Dory. SO CLEVER!

And then on the way home on the bus he asked to sit on my lap and gave me lots of cuddles. Even though he is growing up so fast and getting really independent (which is SO GREAT) I cant help but feel a little bit sad that he wont be a little boy forever!

LOVE HIM

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Sonny Knows The Alphabet!

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Sonny had one of his best days ever today! I think because we hadn’t seen each other for two weeks he was looking forward to going out more than usual!

He gave me loads of hugs and kisses all day, and even when I said, ‘Sonny we are just going to pop into the shop to get some water before we get on the train’ which usually would stress him out, he was so casual and calm about it, and helped me give the money to the man at the till.

Sonny played a game in the soft play centre, getting the balls from the ball pit up to the top of the slide, then watching the balls go down the slide and then repeating this process about 20 times. (A woman who worked there told him off for moving all the balls, but I spoke to her and said as he isn’t bothering anyone, and getting a huge amount of joy from his game, would it be ok if he carried on?! She was fine about it once she found out he has autism.) It was really funny watching him trying to climb up ladders with his hands full!

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Then he surprised me by showing me he could say the alphabet! (Click here to see.) Well, he needs a bit more practice, but it is a good start! My favourite bit is when he says ‘W’. He just bowled over to the alphabet puzzle and said it without being prompted or asked to…I was so chuffed that I had my phone on me to video it because I asked him to do it again afterwards and he straight up refused.

Anyway, I was really proud of him today. he played really nicely with the other children in the soft play centre too,  and considering it was really noisy and busy he did well not to get stressed.

YES SONNY.

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Miss You Son!

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I didn’t get to see Sonny last weekend, as he was ill! (But according to his mum, he was asking for me on Sunday, which pretty much broke my heart.)

But not seeing him has made me realise just how much he means to me. I miss him so much!

Whenever I tell people what I do, one of the things they say is, ‘oh that must be really hard, what a selfless job!’ It is hard, as most jobs are, but it is definitely not selfless.

I get so much out of seeing Sonny, and when I don’t see him (like this last weekend) I really feel like I have missed out. If anything, I have a selfish need to see him. He makes me laugh like no other, he teaches me like no other, and we get to do cool stuff and mince around London together.

I think its fair to say I am attached to that small little man of little words, and I think its fair to say he is attached to me. To have a trusting relationship with another is so important to growth and development for children, especially those with developmental difficulties, like Sonny. But I suppose in terms of working with children, it can be bad for the child to get too attached, because they can come to depend too much on the adult. And what if that adult doesn’t work with them anymore? In a school setting I agree with this, as it can really affect a child’s development if that attachment is disrupted or broken. But with Sonny, I kind of feel like he is a younger brother I get to see every weekend.

And I imagine I will be in his life forever now (If his parents allow it!) Well, or until he’s had enough of me, (which I hope will never happen!)

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Clever Little Man!

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He reminded me today not to underestimate him.

It was proven today that he is in fact a genius.

We were on the bus (number 82, standard) on our way to the London Aquarium. When the bus got to a stop near Regent’s Park he said, ‘animals!’ and put his bag on and went to get off the bus, and said, ‘we did it!’

It took me a while to clock on, because if I am honest I only had the vaguest of ideas where we were (which unfortunately is the state I spend most of my time in.) I got out my trusty City Mapper App on my phone and then it became apparent. We got off at the same bus stop a few weeks ago when we last went to the zoo.

This is ridiculously clever. Firstly to remember that we were there before is something in itself, and he remembered just from looking out of the window. But also to make the association between that bus stop and the zoo was NEXT LEVEL.

Anyway, we then engaged in a very confusing conversation about how we were going to see animals today but not at the zoo. (The concept of ‘same but different’ is the hardest thing to explain!) So he got a bit upset but managed to calm himself down with his breathing and saying, ‘caaaalm,’ and that seemed to do the trick!

I am pretty much constantly in a state of mild confusion as to where I am in relation to everything else in the world. But Sonny is insanely good at remembering places that he has been to before. He also has a very good sense of direction. This is especially impressive to me, as memory/direction/general geography are definitely my weaknesses. Clever Sonny!

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Sonny loved the aquarium and watching the fish. He kept on flapping on the glass though which scared them all away! (Click here to see) I had to drag him away at the end because otherwise we would have stayed there all day!

He passed out again on the tube. Sign of a good day!

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