End of Season

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I do not really understand football.   My Dad was a rugby man, so it was a different shaped ball I grew up being forced to watched!    Hubby on the other hand is a football nut.   He will watch any game that is going but he worships the Mighty Red Machine, otherwise known as Aberdeen Football Club.

When he was growing up, he used to go to games with his Granda, and has been a season ticket holder since he was quite young.    It is his passion, and his main love – when I met him, I knew I would have to take 2nd place to the team, and have learned to accept not to see him on a Saturday afternoon.    He did give up going to away games when the boys came along, but home games are a sacred thing not to be messed with.

D has always been the type of child who like to suck up when possible!    He went to a game with Hubby a couple of years back, and I am sure it was more to do with bonding with his Dad rather than an interest in the game.     He went to a few more games and has learned to understand more of what is going on on the pitch.    He has now had his own season ticket for two seasons.      It is lovely to see them have something they have in common.    M however has shown no interest in football.    Instead, M and I spend time together when they are off to the games.

This season, the footballs community trust, has had a family group which meets once a month.     We have been part of this, and it has been great.       Obviously, D has been more into it than M, but they have both taken part with the activities that have been on offer.     During the sessions, the kids have got to go on the team bus, have been bowling, had football training at the sports village, and even been able to hold the Scottish cup.    They have had experiences they would never have had if it were not for this opportunity.    We were able to attend the Community Trust Christmas party, and D was over the moon to meet some of the players.

This weekend was the last game of this football season.   Aberdeen have had their best showing for many years, and finished second in the Scottish premiership, meaning European football next season – I’m told this is a good thing!!!!!   It was also the farewell game to the clubs captain as he retired – although he is staying with the club in a behind the scenes role.

For the last game, we were given tickets because the kids would be allowed onto the pitch at the end of it.    M wasn’t so keen, until D told him that he would get a pie or hotdog while he was there.    While he wasn’t that interested in going for  game, he seemed interesting in the idea of learning what his Dad and brother get up to when they go out!      He agreed to go, which meant I went too.

We parked at Hubbys Mums as she lives just a mile from the stadium, and much to D’s dislike, we walked down.     We weren’t all sitting together, but were in the same stand – with D and Hubby having season tickets they had their usual seats and M and I sat in the seats we were given!

M was bored.   That is putting it politely.    He was very well-behaved but every few minutes he was asking me how much longer until it was over.     He got his hotdog, which he really enjoyed, and was his highlight of the afternoon.

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After the game was the highlight for both D and Hubby, as we were able to go onto the pitch.       M did dive into the goal, and was very proud of his Pittodrie grass stains on his knees!!!

D on the other hand was all over the place with excitement.     His biggest thing was finding the goalie water bottle still in the net.     He bought it home with him as a souvenir!

It was a lovely afternoon, but I don’t think M will want to be repeating the experience again any time soon!

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Recipes

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I’ve been messing about with my blog!

I know, don’t do it Jane!

I just decided that with my life having two distinct areas that seem to be mixing here in a sometimes strange way, it would be easier to separate them. I have therefore decided to keep here as my therapy page! Where I come to rant, about life and all it throws at me. To talk about the good times and the not so good times with the boys. I have therefore set up a separate blog for my recipes and food related nonsense. I have called it ASD Mummy with Recipes, and you can find it here – https://asdmummywithrecipes.wordpress.com/

For me it just makes sense to be able to ramble separately about the two passions in my life, the family, and food. Don’t worry though, I will still be venting my feelings here so as to keep my sanity – what little bit I have left, after all, that was why I set up this page, to stop myself falling deeper into my inner darkness, and I must say thank you for keeping me pretty much on the straight and narrow.

Evolving behaviour

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D has always been a complicated young man. Now I don’t mean that as a put down, merely as an observation. I have said on more than one occasion that he was born middle-aged, and that isn’t saying he isn’t and has never been child like, it is just saying the way his brain is programmed means he has always come across as being beyond his years.

D was a beautiful baby, with a mass of hair, and has grown into a beautiful young boy, still with a mass of curly hair, although these days it is more ginger than the black he began with. He fell very easily into the second child role. Everything his older brother could do, he believed he should be able to do, and therefore his development seemed much quicker than it had been with M – having spoken to other parents, it seems it is not uncommon that the second child has the motivation of the older sibling being their role model.      It also meant he became quite frustrated at finding something’s he wasn’t yet able to do.

When M was 4 he was going through assessment for autism, something no parent wants to put their child through, but when you know there is something different that may need help, you have to do it. D is just 18 months younger than his brother, so they are close enough in age to mirror each other. When D started behaving “badly” we believed it was attention seeking, as his brother was getting a great deal of our time as we came to terms with his diagnosis. His behaviour continued to be trying – that’s putting it politely, so we spoke to the health visitor – D was still pre-school, so she was our first port of call. She suggested the Triple P programme. It is a really informative programme about positive parenting, to try to calm situations before they grow arms and legs. As we tried to implement the things learned, his behaviour did not improve. I think as a parent, you just feel a failure when you have a child who is constantly defying you, to the point of rudeness, The health visitor was really supportive, and did some one on one sessions with him, but he was so well-behaved during these, it wasn’t achieving much. He was at nursery by this time, and doing well, although he often complained about being bored when he was there. We spoke to the teachers and they reassured us he was doing fine. He started not wanting to go to nursery because he felt playing wasn’t the best use of his time! One of the teachers agreed to give him more task driven structure to the time, while the other teacher felt we were just pushing him. While he seemed happier at nursery, his behaviour at home wasn’t improving, and so we decided we had to go to the GP. Asking for help should be the easiest thing in the world when our children need it, but it isn’t. You know by putting them into the system, you are subjecting them to all sorts of pressures that they probably don’t need, or want. You are however doing it for the right reasons, and it is to help your child, and that is what you need to hold onto.

The GP referred us to child mental health at the children’s hospital. Waiting for the first appointment, you go through so many things in your head, questioning your decisions, and your parenting, wondering if you have done the right thing. Then during the first meeting, you feel even worse, as you are interrogated – that is how it feels, about the life of your child, from pregnancy to the decision to seek help. It is horrible. It was easier with D, having already been through the system with M, but at the same time I think that made it harder also because of thinking where we imagining things. I think the hardest question was why had we chosen that point to get additional help. The obvious answer is you don’t want to believe your child isn’t “normal” – I hate that word but I hope you understand my use of it here, then you explain you think his behaviour may be learned from his brother. You tie yourself in knots trying to talk through your thought processes to a total stranger. The psychologist D was under was lovely, she listened without judging, and then talked to D. She wanted to see him again. Your mind races at this point, because you want to be told that you just have a naughty child, and there is nothing else but, no, more assessment is required. Meanwhile, a huge questionnaire is sent to us to fill in, and also to the nursery – I felt lucky that it went to the teacher who had seen his needs more. The second appointment at the hospital, was one we thought was going to be just D doing things to be observed, so I went with him, no Hubby. It took just 45 minutes to be given a diagnosis for him. It was shocking, as you feel your world collapsing around your child. He was given a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome on the Autistic spectrum. I was numb.

When I asked D if he understood what had been said, he admitted he wasn’t really listening, so I told him that she had said he had a special brain, like his brother. His response to this was so calm and measured that I just wanted to hold him tightly, as he shrugged his shoulders and said, ” Oh I have autism then!”

That was then end of intervention from child mental health. Here is your diagnosis, go away and have a nice life. There is no help or support given, and it is difficult. I know we went through this when M was diagnosed, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult when your second child faces the same. The one positive was, and still is, that D achieves well at school. He is a sponge for information with an inability to accept things at face value, and always needing and wanting to delve as deep as possible.

At home though it is a different story, with wild outbursts. He is a big lad, and his strength is becoming quite challenging as he openingly defy you. He can be both verbally and physically aggressive, to the point that I often have to hide in the kitchen so as not to let him see me cry! We have tried calm, we have tried shouting, we have read so many books about managing behaviour that I feel quite well-informed, but nothing seems to work. There are obvious triggers that we try to minimize. He has very high expectations of himself, and not reaching them can be devastating to him – you or I would get annoyed, but learn from failure, but for him, failure means he is rubbish, and useless and as many negative things you can think of to call yourself.   It is sad to see him put himself down like this.

For ages Hubby and I have been saying we should thinking about talking to someone. It is however something you put off and put off. Do you really want to subject your child to once again having to judged by societies bench marks of normality? We have probably ummed and arhed about this for coming on 6 months. Eventually after quite an upsetting episode I picked up the phone and made an appointment with the GP.

The end of last week saw us heading to this appointment. I reassured D that he wasn’t in trouble, we just needed some help to try to keep him from being so upset all of the time. The GP listened to my concerns. He asked D if he knew why we were there, and he matter of factly stated it was because he gets angry. When asked if he knew why this happened,  he said that sometimes it just came from his brain and he couldn’t stop it. I wanted to cry. The GP asked what we wanted him to do. I asked if there was someone we could talk to for help with managing D’s behaviour. He has therefore referred us to the psychiatrist department at the children’s hospital. It is a scary though, but I think it is the right thing. He needs help to learn to deal with his emotions before they spill out in an environment other than the home. We need help to be able to support him.

Asking for help the first time was hard, but to ask again, was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a parent. I am scared about the path we are walking, but I am also realistic that the first step to finding solutions is to admit there is a problem, and while this will take time, and maybe not have success, if we rule things out we will hopefully find a few things to help.

D can be the most loving, most charming wee man you could ever wish to meet, and I am proud of the fact that this is the side of him that most people know. I just want to support him to find strategies to make the rest of the time less stressful for him.

Party at the Glen

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On Saturday D was off to one of his friend’s birthday party.   It was a Minion themed event, so D had to not just sort out his Minion t-shirt, but also socks and pants – I’m not sure who he would have thought would be seeing them, but there you have it!!!

D loves going to parties, but it is very interesting to observe him in these situations. He finds himself someone to latch onto and that tends to be him for the session. He is a friendly lad, and seems to know everyone at school, or they know him – once seen never forgotten I think it is with him! He does however choose his friends carefully. He has one really close friend, who means everything to him – I am sure when they are old enough to date, only a girl could possibly come between them. He also has a small group of close chums that mean a lot to him. It was one of this group who was having the party.

The party was at a softplay area a couple of miles out-of-town. When we arrived, D disappeared with his chum, while I sat and gossiped with the Mums in the café – they served a lovely cuppa there! The kids only reappeared when they were so hot they needed to rehydrate. After over an hour of playing the children were rounded up and taken to the birthday room for lunch. Again another interesting time to watch D. He sat in the middle of the long table, and next to the chum he had latched to. Although most of the children at the party were from him class, he barely interacted with any of the others at the table. It is like the people are in the wrong situation and that is why he focuses on the one child, it makes it much easier for him to cope with an unusual situation.   I am not saying he was rude to anyone or goes out of his way to ignore them, if they choose to speak to him, he will respond, but he wouldn’t instigate an interaction with any other child.

After the meal, there were party games before it was wrapped up. The party bags were handed out, and it was lovely to see D’s manner kick in as he didn’t just thank the child whose party it was, but he went over to his mother to say thank you for inviting him – I can only imagine how difficult speaking to an adult he doesn’t know would be for him, but his sense of doing the right thing makes him do it – I am proud of him for doing this, and putting himself in such an uncomfortable situation and I know after other parties he has been to that Mothers have told me he has been the only one that has thanked them and they think he’s lovely for doing so!

After the party broke up, D asked if we could wander around the Glen before we left. The Glen, is an outdoor children’s play area, with fairy tale and popular culture characters. It is a beautiful area, but many of the models are quite freaky in my opinion – Hubby has said that they look close enough that you know who they are but they are different enough that they are not breaking any form of copyright!!! As it was a nice day, we wandered down for a look about. Being in a Glen, it is a steep walk down, and even steeper walk back up again afterwards!

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Sports Day

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Today is school sports day. It is much earlier this year than it has been previously. This is because the weather has been so bad the past few years, that there have been various postponements, and even totally scraped two years ago.

Last year the whole formant of the event changed. It became proper competitive races, where it had always been every child took part before in relay teams within their class. It was total pandemonium, but it worked, and all the children returned to the school afterwards totally exhausted!   I think it was the ultimate organise chaos.    However the different format was bought in.

D didn’t take part last year, because he was unwell. I am convinced the sickness was as a result of the stress surrounding it. The previous year, he had been bullied by so-called friends that didn’t want him on their team because he was too slow. He was so upset by this, because what he lacks in ability, he more than makes up for in effort. During the practises for last year, he was name called, and laughed at. We had a lot of tears and upset, and he ended up being sick. I can not say for sure that him being unwell was a direct result of the stress, but it seems quite a coincidence if the two events are not related.

M competed last year, and was very distressed by it. He did his best in all the races he took part, but saw great injustice in the results. He could not help but feel cheated, as he abided by the rules when other children were blatantly cheating without being chastised. He had real problems getting his head around the idea that anyone who had not followed the rules was being rewarded. It stressed him so much that from that day, he started telling me that he didn’t want to take part the following year. Every time anything about it was mentioned, he kept asking not to take part.

As soon as the date was announced for this year, both boys began to panic, and insist they wanted to take the day off. They were told that wasn’t going to happen, and talk began about what if they were sick – M has previously made himself sick to get out of doing things that he really didn’t want to, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if either child went down this route.

D told his teacher he didn’t want to take part – it is so good that he has a teacher he can communicate with. She spoke to me about it, and I explained that the bullying in previous years has given him a mental block towards it, I think she had assumed it was actually something to do with his knees. She suggested he was a helper, so that he was part of the event but not having the stress of having to compete. Based on this conversation, I took the same suggestion for M to the school. It was agreed he also didn’t have to take part in the races if it was going to cause him even more stress than he is already feeling.

Both boys went to school this morning, quite proud that they were helpers – I just hope they find them something interesting to do or it will be freezing standing around on the playing fields.

Sports day has really bad memories for me, and that is why I don’t want my boys to look back on their time at primary school and the main memory be of those difficult afternoons. As the fat kid at school, I was constantly bullied, and sports day seemed to be the day when the main event was humiliating those that couldn’t do as well. In those days, bullying wasn’t take seriously, and the attitude was name calling wasn’t a bad thing – the saying “Sticks and Stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you”, was quoted at me more times than I care to mention when I would get upset by it. We all know verbal bullying can be devastating, and words can stick with you long after bruises have faded.

This is probably why I don’t see the priority of making kids compete. Mental ability isn’t tested in the same way – if I had been put head to head with my counterparts for a mental arithmetic competition, then I am sure I would have done very well!

I hope all children involved have had a great time, and the stress that mine have felt in previous years is not felt by too many today. For those that have found the whole experience difficult, the one piece of advice I offer is that for all my many years, I have never needed to bounce in a sack, or balance an egg on a spoon while walking around, and should I ever be kidnapped and have to escape with one leg tied to another person, then I am sure the skill of the three-legged race will quickly return to me!

Hubbys Birthday

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Monday was Hubbys birthday. He took the day off from work to enjoy his passage of age!

The boys were of course up early to open his presents for him, sorry I mean help him open his presents! He is an Archers fan, so had a nice pile of merchandise, including signed books, and a jigsaw puzzle. He also had a Seattle Seahawks shirt, and I believe his favourite of all presents was a “I love Princess Leia” mug – he said that it was stating the obvious!

The boys were packed off to school, despite M’s insistence that he needed the day off to help him celebrate!

I gave Hubby various options of what he wanted to do with the day, from going for a nice walk down to the beach or along the cliffs, but he decided he didn’t want to be that energetic, and just fancied a trip to the city for lunch.

We did a little shopping, and then it was lunch time. One thing Hubby has never been good at is making a decision, so getting him to choose where to go was hard work! He settle on the Spur Bar and Grill. I think the worst part of going for lunch on a Monday, is that there are so few other people in the restaurant! We pretty much had the place to ourselves, which can be pretty intimidating but this didn’t stop the service being brilliant, and the food rather delicious!
Hubby opt to go for something he had never tried before and went for a zebra burger!

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He let me try it, and it was very gamey, so I wasn’t keen. He however happily munched it up and enjoyed it, which is what mattered!    I stayed rather more traditional and had chicken and ribs!     The best bit of the menu at Spur is the onion rings – if you go to a Spur, you really should try them!

The boys were all over him in the evening. The only down time being when D had a wobbly and kept blowing out the candles on the cake!    He eventually let his Dad make his wish.

Birthdays are something we can’t stop marking the passage of time, but they don’t have to mark getting old! Hubby can be a real OLD fart some of the time, but on the whole, he is still young at heart. Let’s hope that continues!

School Spring Fayre.

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The second Saturday in May is a date always in the diary of parents and pupils of my boys school. It is the day of the Spring Fayre. It is the main fund-raising event of the Parent Staff Association during the year, and therefore something everyone in encouraged to support.

In the weeks running up to the main event, the kids get a dress down day, for the cost of some chocolate or a bottle for the tombolo stall – the kids are happy for any excuse to not wear uniform, but I think they would be just as happy to be given the chocolate! There is also raffle tickets sent home to be sold for the main draw, which happens at the end of the event. With each household being given 5 books at £1 a book, you stay hopeful of winning something – as yet I haven’t received a call to say I have won anything this year! They also ask for home bakes, and D is always keen to help me make something for this stall – this year we made carrot cake muffins, and smartie cookies – I hope whoever bought them enjoyed them.

I am not sure why but Hubby really doesn’t like going to the fayre. It’s just not his thing, and so he is quite happy to stay away given half the chance. When asked if they wanted to go, D was extremely enthusiastic – he is totally brainwashed to believe it is something everyone goes to, and I am sure pretty much they do. M on the other hand, isn’t so keen. The crowds of people in the wrong place, and doing the wrong things in these places, totally confuses him. He therefore decided on Friday evening that he didn’t want to go. Hubby was happy to agree to stay home with him, while I went with D.

Saturday morning arrives, and D wants to be the first person there, but I managed to persuade him that it would be better to wait a while and let it get going before heading over. During this time, he managed to annoy both his Dad and brother with constant nagging as to why they didn’t want to go. He then hit on something close to both of their heart, the burger stall. Suddenly he had them both agreeing to come with us!

We wandered up to the school – it was a lovely morning after some early heavy rain. We managed to lose Hubby before we even got there, as he found a chum to chat with. The boys had a plan, and that was basically go into every room, so they didn’t miss anything important – D’s only insistence on this was that his classroom was the first we went into, but luckily it was at the end of the main corridor so a sensible starting point.

I had a bag full of booty, including bubble wand, blow up guitar and lollipops. From the bottle tombola, D won a bottle of mango cocktail – which the teacher happily handed to me, and M won 2 bottles of bubble bath – one was Disney Fairies, and I have had to remove the label as he was adamant he wouldn’t us it with a fairy picture, even though he agreed it smelled lovely. Hubby was the only lucky one at the chocolate tombola, winning a bag of Kinder Choco Bons – I wish I could say I am sad that I’m the only person in the house that likes these! We then went to the area of the toy sale. I don’t think I have ever spent so much money in one area of the fayre! Firstly D saw a Star Wars jigsaw puzzle – it was sold to him by the deputy head, and he said to me that if all the piece weren’t there, he would be in her office Monday morning wanting a word with her – lucky for her, it is complete, not that I believe he would have actually said anything to her.  Then M went to the cuddly bud stall – M is very connected with his cuddly chums at the moment. Firstly he saw some Eeyores – I have collected Eeyores for many years and have a huge collection, but you can never have too many, and both the boys have several that are part of their buddy families, even Hubby has a Tatty balding donkey which was one of the first presents I gave him, – the Mums on the stall said they knew there were others, and turned over the masses of toys they had to find them all. As they did this, M could hardly breathe as he was so excited to saw a Skylanders toy, that he just had to have, and then he saw a Yoda bird – from Angry Birds Star Wars, and knew D would love it. M was totally ecstatic at his finds. They ladies were short of change, and I said it didn’t matter for 30p, so she let M choose another little friend – he choose a small Minion. Then Hubbys eyes lit up as he saw a deluxe Scrabble set, and he actually put his hand in his pocket for the fiver to buy it – when he got home, he was very happy to find it wasn’t just complete, but seems brand new! It was then the main event of the morning, and a trip to the burger stand. The boys and Hubby tucked in saying it was a really good burger – I love barbecue but not about 11.30am! It was then time for the bouncy castle – the boys that is, not me and Hubby! It was an assault course type of bouncy castle, which D took rather gingerly, trying to pull himself up, as other pushed him out-of-the-way for being too slow – I was rather disappointed that some of those being unkind to him were class mates, who I would have hoped would have been a little more understanding to him and his mobility problems.

Tom and Jerry
It was a lovely family morning out.     On the way home, Hubby and M thanked D for persuading them to go as they had enjoyed themselves.   The boys both said it was the best Spring Fayre ever! I think it was because, going a little bit later than we have been before, it was not quite such a hustle and bustle as it often is, and therefore wasn’t so stressful for either of them. Both boys saw friends/classmates they knew to talk to, and  hit each other with their blow up hammers/guitars etc – every child seemed to be wandering about with one of them. I saw several Mums I hadn’t seen for a while to gossip with, and even Hubby saw many people to pass the time of day with – I’m told men don’t gossip!!!!

Hopefully the hard work of the PSA has boosted funds. The work they put in is amazing. The money raised helps with the extras within the school. They subsidize the kids going on various class trips, as well as the whole school going to the pantomime at Christmas. It is often forgotten how important these extras are, when we as parents complain when asked for contributions every other week, but they make a more rounded experience of their time at school, and it would cost so much more without the hard work the fund-raisers do.    I for one am grateful for all their efforts.