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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When I feel like a failure

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Sonny sometimes has meltdowns when we are out and about on our adventures. He had one a few weeks ago on Hampstead Heath when I told him he wasn’t allowed to get naked. He had one when we went to the mini village with my mum because it was too busy and crowded. He sometimes has one for what seems to be no reason at all.

I don’t like the word meltdown because it sounds like he is made of wax. But I can’t think of a better word to use so it will have to do. For Son, a meltdown refers to a combination of the following behaviours: crying uncontrollably, falling to the ground, kicking off his shoes (he hasn’t hit anyone with them yet but I feel it is only imminent), biting, head butting, hitting, running away etc.

The other day Sonny had one of the biggest meltdowns I have ever seen. Thankfully we were at his house when it happened (it started just when we were walking back to his house and continued for what felt like 3 hours but was probs only about 15 mins). His parents came back home and his Dad heroically stepped in and calmed him down. His meltdown then triggered my own kind of meltdown (I didn’t throw myself on the floor screaming but I did have a bit of a cry).

It has been four years since I have known Sonny, and yet it is still hard for me not to take it personally. I felt sad because I thought he hated me and that he never wanted to see me again. And in that moment I felt angry at the fact he has autism and was experiencing so much pain (autism acceptance is sometimes harder in those situations!). It felt so unjust that he has to go through that, and I couldn’t do anything to take it away. The helplessness of it is unbearable. Failure felt pants. But then I pulled myself together because this whole thing is way bigger than me, and how I feel.

I have always wanted Sonny to live a big life, or at least provide him with the opportunity to. But what comes with that is a hell of a lot of risk. He might like where we go or he might not. His eyes might light up when he sees a new animal, he might say a new word or try and make friends with another child, and he might hurl himself on the floor in tears and refuse to get up. Unpredictability is kind of his thing. Perseverance is kind of mine.

If I want him to experience all the good times, of course there are going to be some bad. Bite marks and hair loss come with the territory. If I want him to live a big life and try new things and go on adventures then by definition there is risk. To feel the peaks you got to feel the troughs. In my opinion it is worth it.

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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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Double Trouble.

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Have I ever mentioned that Sonny has a twin?

Danny is on the left, and he also has autism. Yep. When they hold hands it’s like my brain can’t handle the cuteness level and I need to look away because otherwise my head will explode.

Their Dad and I took them both swimming on Sunday.

 Sonny spent most of the time underwater, but they both absolutely loved playing with their Dad (he is much better at throwing them in the water. I need to get to the gym!)

It is so lovely to see how happy they are when they are with their Dad in the pool, and it is so lovely to see parents who are so involved and accepting of their children.

Sonny and Danny’s parents always seem positive and happy and loving with their sons. Having two obviously means there can be a lot of challenging behaviour at home, but they take it in their stride. I haven’t once heard them complain about Sonny or Danny’s autism, and how it effects their lives. I know it must be difficult for them, but their love for their sons means they don’t dwell on the hard times, they just focus on the positives. They love them both unconditionally for who they are and try to understand and help as much as they can, without trying to ‘fix’ them or change them.

I look up to them both, and I admire their strength to be so accepting and loving, despite the struggles they face.

Basically they are both ace.

 

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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He Didn’t Do That On Purpose…!

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Last week, Sonny fell asleep on the way to the funfair. This did not bode well. However, when we got there it was pretty clear it was going to be a good day. I mean, I was pretty excited. Nothing gets me going more than a good bouncy castle and some candy floss. (Bouncy castle was hard to manage. I completely face-planted and consequently emptied the entire contents of my bag onto the floor. Serves me right though, I was trying to show off.)

I also got the pleasure of watching Sonny get put inside a life size inflatable ball that was floating on water. Effectively a massive hamster wheel. Twice. It was great. (Click here to see).

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I had a minor incident involving a parent on the huge inflatable slide. Sonny was climbing up the side ladder, but was struggling, and kept falling down. He thought this was hilarious. But then, other children came up behind him, so he was accidently barged one child as he fell. The child got upset at this and so I said, ‘Sonny come down now, it’s a bit too busy there.’ And was just about to explain to him what had happened and speak to the upset child.

Then the child’s mother came next to me and said, to her child, but very loudly, ‘Get down from there away from that mean boy, the one in the white hoodie, he’s doing it on purpose, he’s laughing so come away from him now.’

INSTANT RAGE descended upon me. I turned around and said as politely as I could manage, ‘he has autism and ADHD, he is NOT doing it on purpose.’ She flummoxed and said, ‘oh I didn’t know…’ and then Sonny had come down so I took him off to get his shoes on, while I tried to control myself

Afterwards I felt bad, because it must have looked like Sonny did barge the other child on purpose because he was laughing. But he didn’t understand what he had done wrong. And she genuinely didn’t know he has autism, and how could she have? He doesn’t wear a sign saying, I have autism so excuse any anti-social behaviour. I would never use his autism as an excuse anyway, and I feel like situations such as this one is a good way of learning about empathy and how to engage with other children in an appropriate way.

So if I hadn’t of been so angry, and if she hadn’t of said the word, ‘mean’ I would have explained to Sonny and gone over to the other child and asked Sonny to say, ‘sorry’ but meanwhile talking about it being an accident etc. And Sonny would have learned something and I could have spoken to the mother about autism and it would have been a good experience for all. But because I was so enraged by the whole saga I had to leave, to avoid getting upset and saying something offensive!

So I was both annoyed at the lady for making me angry and annoyed at myself for getting angry. Grr.

The thought of someone saying Sonny (or any child in fact, with or without autism) was ‘mean’ really got to me. All the different ways in which Sonny shows his kindness and affection is unconventional but is no less than any child without autism. I know she wasn’t aware he had autism, but that just really upset me!

Lesson learned- people will misunderstand. It’s my job not to take it personally when they do, but to use those moments as ways of engaging others in conversations about autism. So I’ll take a leaf out of Sonny’s book. I’ll be stronger.

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He fell asleep on the way back too. He didn’t even wake up for my duet of a Spice Girls Medley with this guy on the tube.

Don’t Touch The Pigeons!

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‘Don’t touch the pigeons Sonny, just say hello!’ That is what I spent most of yesterday saying.

He has a very strong desire to scare pigeons. Running through a crowd of pigeons and reaching out to touch them. Meanwhile I am trying not to scream, holding on to his hand with my vice-like grip with one hand, and with the other shielding my face from the birds that are now airborne trying to get away from Sonny (click here). However, bird dodging aside, we had a lovely day in Hyde park yesterday!

We did a lot of walking and talking. We talked about what colours we could see, how many birds there were, etc. I also did a lot of singing, which Sonny wasn’t too impressed by. I also got a bit carried away with the camera phone, and did a slow mo video. I think there may be many more of those to come!

Lovely Sunny Day with my Lovely Sonny Boy.

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