Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time Warp/School Holidays

I'm writing this completely out of order. But life can be like that (not to mention my mind!!!).


Anyway, back oh a year ago (or so it seems) in the middle of July we had midyear school holidays. My Little Tree was perfect - even with a cold for the first week (wow) and I didn't want to send him back to school.

We have a holiday planned for later this year. Our first holiday for eight years. Our little autistic son would, in the past, have been far too anxious and distressed for us to consider it. Whenever we want to do something or go somewhere different or if we have people coming to visit, quite a lot of preparation has to be done or we face a meltdown. We have a laminated A3 page that is a weekly calendar and each week I write up the major events such as school, gym, OT, excursions, visits from family or friends etc. For events that I think are guaranteed to send him off the planet I go a bit further e.g. recently we started seeing a new occupational therapist, J. Little Tree is familiar with the hospital but not J or the rooms where she works so I requested that she email her photo and of the rooms. Using these tools I was able to get Little Tree to happily enter the rooms and work with J. Without these I would expect him to refuse to go through the door and any insistence would lead to panic and his withdrawal to a place I can't reach. To any observer unaware of his condition this would appear just like a tantrum of a spoilt child.

(This is Little Tree's calendar for this week. Yes, he has another cold - courtesy of his Dad. Where a change of schedule is required we cross it out and write the new one. When he was younger all this would have been pictures.)

With all this is in mind and to introduce him to sleeping away from home, something he hasn't done since he was a tiny baby, I decided to spend a couple of nights at Grandmama's (my Mum). So for a week beforehand I went through the plan on the calendar. Little Tree is very familiar with her place so we automatically overcame one obstacle. Once it was dark outside he asked to go home - my heart sank, my stomach clenched and with crossed fingers and girded loins I reminded him that we were sleeping there. He was a little nervy but we managed bath, teeth cleaning and bedtime story with no problems. He fell asleep pretty quickly and would have stayed asleep until morning if one of Mum's bloody dogs (Dalmatians) hadn't decided to give one of the local swamp wallabies a good barking to. I should explain that we live close enough to town to have noise from neighbours and traffic whereas Mum's place is in the middle of 10 acres, a little less than half of which is bush and her land is surrounded by other like properties. So it's quiet, really quiet. Any noise bounces around the valley like it's being played through an amplifier. Little Tree naturally woke up to this canine outburst and called for me. Damn. It took less than an hour to get him back to sleep - a huge improvement on the 2 hours it would have taken a couple of years ago. The second night was almost a carbon copy of the first so by the time we left to return home I was beginning to reacquaint myself with sleep deprivation.

He loved the days up there though. We spent a lot of time kicking a "soccer" ball around between us - what is it with boys and balls (and let's keep it clean)!!!! He also had to follow Grandmama to the veggie patch whenever she went out there, he wanted to help feed the goats but their horns frightened him too much. His favourite thing to do, by far, was to feed the chooks and collect the eggs.

Our next step is to have him sleep over at Grandma and Grandad's (Mr I's parents).

My hope is that with enough preparation we will manage a relatively relaxing resort holiday. I am so-o-o-o-o looking forward to my three hours at the day spa while the boys go fishing.


Maggie May said...

My 13 yr old grandson is autistic. Daughter is having great trouble trying to get him a Statement at school. They have turned him down but daughter is appealing.

Thanks for the telling me about the small parrots that fly about all over the place in Australia.. That must be so lovely to see.

Syren said...

Hi Maggie. What do you mean by a Statement? I'm so sorry that your daughter is having problems with the authorities - seems to be a problem everywhere until one learns how to work the system.