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.

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How Well Can You Know Someone With Limited Speech?

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Sonny can’t tell me why he gets upset. He confuses me when he bursts into laughter for no apparent reason, or is adamant that we go left instead of right. I don’t know his favourite colour or what he dreams about. I don’t really know how much he understands. However I feel I know him better than a lot of people in my life who are very much able to talk to me. And I kind of think he knows me better than most too.

Sonny and I, we experience a lot together. We experience a lot of feelings together. He can experience the extremes of anger or fear when he is confused or anxious. Not only his- but my emotions too- when he does something dangerous or turns an inanimate object into a weapon when we are out I show him I am angry so he doesn’t do it again. But I hardly ever shout. I just say how I am feeling in a calm way, which works a lot better for Sonny. He usually says sorry and kisses my hand. (What a charmer.)

In the last month or so he has started to use his words to tell me how he feels (on Sunday he said ‘Sonny is sad’ when we had to queue for ages at the swimming pool, and, ‘Sonny is happy’ when we were eating Mcdonalds. He has also been saying, ‘calm’ when he starts to gets stressed and takes some deep breaths (click here to see) and that actually works to calm him down.

Anyway what I am trying to get at is that we have a lot of feelings to deal with.

It is emotional work for both of us. And in a few relationships I have in my life we can talk and talk and talk but without really saying or expressing that much to the other. Sonny and I use a lot less words but say and express masses. And we listen and respond to those feelings.

Everything we feel, we express.

Everything that is expressed, is heard.

That is how we know each other.

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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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