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

To Underestimate is to Alienate

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Much to Sonny’s annoyance, I rarely underestimate his abilities.

I talk to him a lot about pretty much everything…some things he picks up (he can now cross a road and say, ‘rech ma says stoch and gree ma says GO.’

And other things I chat about probably go over his head.

I make him talk and sign as much as I can and I never do anything that he can do for himself. I feel very strongly about it because I think if I underestimated Sonny, and didn’t talk to him because he ‘wouldn’t understand’ or I never prompted him to sign or speak, then not only would I not know what he is capable of, but neither would he. Children with autism face a lot of barriers to their development and growth, and I don’t want my attitude to be another barrier for him in his learning.

This means I often challenge him, which sometimes ends in a stand-off situation, where Iwant him to do something independently, and he refuses. This weekend, it happened in the swimming pool changing rooms. I know Sonny can get dressed independently, I have seen him do it before, but today he didn’t want to. To be fair to him he was asking really nicely for help, so I helped him a little bit, but I didn’t want to do it for him because I knew that he could do it on his own. He did do it on his own, but it took literally 45 minutes.

Of course a balance needs to be made, I wouldn’t want to ask Sonny to do something on his own that he was incapable of doing, as it would reduce his confidence and could make him really frustrated.

Apart from the changing room saga, we had a lovely day, Sonny was doing LOADS of talking. He also was trying to shut me up a lot of the time!

Bikini Gate

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I didn’t get to see my man this weekend, because he has a cold (sad). So I thought I would write about a terrible but hilarious event that happened last summer while working with Sonny.  Having to relive the mortifying experience by blogging about it is going to be traumatic to say the least, but I feel compelled to share.

So Sonny absolutely loves swimming.(Here he is saying swimming pool!) He could stay in the pool for hours and hours, and only comes out of the pool if I coax him out with the promise of a Macdonalds after.  Quite simply he cannot get enough of it. I on the other hand am less of a fan, but we go often because he gets so much out of it.

We have been to this one pool a lot, it has a wave machine and some water fountains. Anyway, I usually swim in a bikini with a t-shirt over it, and that has been absolutely fine, however today the lifeguard blew his whistle and told me that I couldn’t wear the t-shirt, as it messes with the chlorine levels in the pool. I said I have worn a t-shirt in the pool before but he wasn’t having it. I was annoyed but took it off anyway, unaware of the DIAR consequences which were about to follow.

The bikini I was wearing happened to be one that ties up at the back. I had not double knotted.

Sonny and I were having a great time, he was on my back and I was pretending to nearly drop him, so we were laughing and playing and generally loving life. I then looked back at him over my shoulder (bear in mind I had no use of my hands as they were holding him up) he was looking at the knots on the bikini. In that moment I realised my fatal error. ‘SONNY NO, DON’T TOUCH THOSE….NOOO AHHHHHHH’ It was too late. In one swift movement he had not only undone the top knot of the bikini but also the bottom one. At the same time. The bikini top fell into the pool and Sonny bolted, leaving me topless and hopeless. The water came up to my thighs. There were a LOT of people there to witness this horrific event. It didn’t help that I shrieked in horror, thus attracting more attention to ourselves. I obviously ducked down as quickly as I could into the water and retrieved said bikini top.

Sonny was practically doubled over laughing. I was still topless trying to regain some sort of dignity as he was cracking up. I then had the struggle and embarrassment of trying to do up the bikini on my own, whilst making sure Sonny didn’t swim away and cause more carnage in his wake!

Note to self: buy appropriate swimwear.

 

 

A Fab Day To End A Great Year.

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Sonny and I went to an arcade place near the London Eye today.

Obviously before we got there we joined the hundreds of tourists and loved up couples in taking lots of selfies with Big Ben in the background.Big Ben

Not going to lie, it turned into a little photoshoot, Sonny is almost as good as me when it comes to posing for the camera!

So we went into the arcade and for a good 10 minutes we were on the 2p machines (those ones where you put the 2p in and it moves them all a tiny bit off the shelf). It was only when I ran out of 2ps that I realised how long we were standing there for and had basically become hypnotised by it. Dangerously addictive.

We went on the dodgems four times, once on our own, which was weird because I ended up just driving around in a circle, but I let Sonny steer for a bit, which he loved, but resulted in us both coming out of the car with mild whiplash.

Then we played some bowling for a little while. By which, I mean Sonny showed me his interesting technique of violently launching the bowling balls two at a time. It was surprisingly unsuccessful. He kept on trying to run down the alley after the balls, so due to the health and safety risks involved we made a swift exit!

Sonny was so happy all day today! Talking and pointing and dancing and generally just being really good and happy. It can get quite frustrating because sometimes I don’t know what he is saying but I try my best to work it out!

On the tube on the way back Sonny made a friend, a man who noticed his arsenal hoody! He looked confused when Sonny was ignoring him so I told him that Sonny has autism. Although when the man got off the tube he said bye to Sonny and Sonny waved and said, ‘bye! See you soon!’ CUTE.

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2013 has been such a good year for Sonny. There have been countless moments when he has done something/said something new, and I am so proud of him I could cry/faint. I am sure there will be many more, and I looking forward to sharing these moments with you in 2014! Happy New Year!

He Loves Me!

Yesterday was boxing day and Sonny and I spent it at his house, as his parents were very brave and hit the sales!

His parents came back home with a MacDonalds and a fruit shoot for him, and we were just sitting on the sofa, and randomly he leant over and put the fruit shoot in my mouth to drink.  I know it doesn’t sound ground breaking or anything, but it shows he can help others, without any personal gain. Sharing can be difficult for any child,  so for him to share his drink (and he LOVES fruit shoots) was fan-bloody-tastic.

And also the other day Sonny and I were on the way home from somewhere, and he did something else that showed me he could express love and kindness for another. He often covers his ears up with his hands as he is quite sensitive to noise (this is quite common in children with autism) and we were waiting for a tube. As the tube came into the platform, he got my hands with his and put them over my ears and said ‘eaassh’ So in a small way he was trying to look after me by telling me to cover my ears when the tube came past. Sonny was showing empathy and love, but not for any personal gain, not in return for anything, but just because.

He does understand the whole ‘You scratch my back I scratch yours’ concept. He often will swap you a toy in order to get the one he wants from you, or he will kiss me when he wants something, but these two random acts of kindness were different. They were totally unprompted and had no personal gain for him and that is massive progress for Sonny. I understand that sharing his drink and covering my ears doesn’t sound like a big deal to some, but it made me SO HAPPY to see him care for someone else (future husband, take note.)

So basically what I am trying to say is that the most important thing is the relationship and bond we have with a child. Taking him out to lots of different places is great for his education and speech development etc, but by showing him unconditional love he has started to show compassion and selflessness for other people, which can sometimes be difficult even for us non autistic adult folk.

In the spirit of love, here is a video of me singing to Sonny, (you may want to turn the volume down for this one.)

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My favourite Christmas present this year was my new t-shirt from Sonny’s parents, they bought it for me so I could wear it when I run the marathon for the National Autistic Society. Click here to see my JustGiving page!

 

Soft Play on a Rainy Day

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Sonny was in such a good mood when I told him we were going to soft play (which is basically an indoor climbing/play area). Despite the rain and gale force winds, we set off to the bus stop in high spirits. Until I took us on the wrong bus. Going in the wrong direction.

Good start.

When we finally got back on track, we had to change buses. It just so happened we walked past a Macdonalds. Sonny tugged at my arm and pointed and said ‘Macdodods!’ I said, ‘yes Sonny lets get a macdonalds then before we go to soft play.’ We get to the front door, him excited about some fish fingers and me about getting a coffee. And just our luck it was closed because of a power cut.

WOW.

It was traumatic. Shoes were off. A fruit shoot bottle was thrown (thankfully not injuring anyone). Did I mention it was raining?  Oh and a random passer by thought that it was an appropriate time to approach me and ask where my bag was from.

When he has a meltdown like this I try to explain as much as I can, and tell him what is going to happen next ‘Sonny I know its really confusing because I said we could have a Macdonalds and now we can’t, and that must be difficult for you and you seem very cross, and I am sorry! Let’s put your shoes back on and get on another bus to the soft play centre.’ And then, luckily, my distraction tactics worked a treat: I made him laugh by pretending to hit my head on a lamppost.

After our minor blip we had an absolute blast in soft play. I sometimes think I enjoy it more than him! It basically involves a lot of me chasing after him and then catching him, tickling him until he is blue in the face, and then letting him run off again. I was pretending to be a hungry monster wanting to eat him for dinner. Which he finds absolutely hilarious.Making him laugh is honestly one of my greatest pleasures in life!

He did some really good talking and signing too! Click here to see! He has only really started to talk in the last six months or so, I’m so proud!

Even though Sonny got upset about the Macdonalds saga, we still managed to have a really fun day. It just goes to show that no matter how prepared you are, there are some things out of our control: sometimes Macdonalds will be shut and sometimes it will be raining. But we were able to recover from that moment, and adapt to the situation. Being resilient in the face of a set back isn’t always easy, but we managed to put it behind us and enjoy the rest of the day together.

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Sonny and I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!