The weekend.

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I don’t know about you, but we like to do something special for the kids the first weekend after the schools have gone back.       Never anything major, but something that makes them realise their efforts are appreciated.

This past weekend though was slightly different because of the stress M is living with.      We therefore didn’t make too many plans, and instead decided to play it by ear as to how much or how little he wanted to do.

I am very conscious that M has needed a lot more of my attention than D has this week.      I am really proud of the way D has seen M struggling and held back on his usual joys of winding up his brother.        D has gone out of his way to help him, both at home, and from what I hear, at breaks at school, having him play with him and his mates.       They are  like your typical siblings who speak a good case for why they don’t like each other, but really the love is deep and they are always there when needed.        When I tried to say to D that his patients with what M is going through was much appreciated, he just shrugged it off with a “whatever” – yes, he is a trainee teenager already!      I do however think it is important for him to realise we have seen the effort he has been putting in, at a time that isn’t always the best for him, he has allowed his brother to front and centre.       He is a good boy.

M has been quiet all weekend, wanting to spend a great deal of time in his own little world.       He has so much to process from the past week that it must be totally exhausting for him.      We have therefore given him the space he needs.     But having said that, he was very much part of the family group which was good to see.

Friday night the boys got to choose takeaway – Friday is my no cooking night when we either have takeaway or something like frozen pizza which just needs throwing in the oven.         They were in agreement with what they fancied – miracles do sometimes happen, and D happily asked everyone what they wanted, and put it on the order, only handing me back my laptop when the time came to pay for it!!!!          It was a really chilled evening with everyone sitting together watching a movie – although it is really difficult to eat when M is snuggled up so tight to me I can hardly breath!

Saturday morning started brilliantly, with M deciding he wanted to make bread.    He just had a craving for some fresh bread.      He found the recipe, and with me just checking what he was putting in, he filled the bread maker pan, and switched it on.       A few hours later, we had lovely fresh bread for a later breakfast.     In fact it was so good, the whole loaf disappeared very quickly.      I thought his ingenuity was amazing from start to finish.    I am really proud at how confident both boys find themselves in the kitchen.

Saturday afternoon, Hubby and D went off to the footie.   They are season ticket holders, and have been for some years.    Initially I thought D just went to please his Dad or for the pies, but Hubby says D can get quite animated at the games!!      It’s good for them to have some quality time together, and I think Hubby wouldn’t have been too happy if both his sons weren’t into football – M doesn’t understand it and finds it quite boring!

M didn’t want to do much when they were out.     He played video games for a while, and then put YouTube on the main telly.      I must say that while I am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, I do quite enjoy some of the people they watch as they are quite funny.       Watching M while he is viewing the videos is interesting, as he is actively communicating with the hosts.    I think another sign of the bubble he finds himself in.

Sunday morning, Hubby was doing a skip run – my oven died, the new one is due any minute.    The boys went with him, so they could go Pokémon hunting afterwards.     Like I think many parents, I find this whole Pokémon Go craze quite odd.    If the kids want to go for a walk, why can’t they do it without having their noses glued to their phones?      My boys are very good with it.    After the initial arguments of why they can’t go off and hunt for these creatures, they know the areas they are allowed to go in the immediate area to home.      They watched a video on YouTube about bad things that had happened to people while playing the game, and some of them were horrific.       D did say to me that he realises that we aren’t just mean parents but we were trying to keep them safe.    I suppose a back-handed compliment is better than no compliment!!

During the afternoon we just chilled in the garden.    It was a lovely warm day, as was nice just to sit and enjoy it.      M was fretful for his hairy babies – the kittens, that were out, as he worries for them – not that he really needs anything else to worry about, and so he was up and down, unable to sit still.

In all, it was a weekend where very little was done, and that was good.        Hopefully it gave both boys the chance to recharge themselves ready to really get their heads into school work this week.        I know it was good for me just to see everyone making the most of their downtime.

 

Week one down!

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The first week of the school year is now done and dusted.      It has been a very long week.

D wasn’t happy until Thursday when his class finally did some maths work.    While he is quite able with his reading and comprehension, it his maths that he loves.      It almost made me laugh when he came home from school and announced it had been the best day so far.     I asked why, expecting they had done something really fun and exciting, which I suppose for D it had been!     He is a happy wee man to be back to a place he likes.       He is a little concerned by the mix of people at his table, but I think that is because they are all boys and he has been used to sitting with a table of girls before.     I am sure he will soon settle into routine as it is now.

M of course is a different story totally.      I have said what happened on the first day of term.    It was heart breaking, but I was so proud of him that he had broken the mental barrier of going to school.        I was even more proud on the second day when he was up and dressed without being forced.       I had a little fist pump inside my head as I thought he had achieved a lot by getting himself organised.         It was of course a false sense of achievement.    Thursday morning was even worse than it had been on Tuesday.        It seemed to start well,  as he had his breakfast no bother.     He then needed to get dressed.    The screaming and crying started.         He begged and pleaded with me to not make him go.     He refused to get dressed, curling himself into the smallest ball he could manage in the corner of the room, making it difficult for me to try to dress him.          It is really difficult to keep yourself on an even keel in these circumstances.   It would be so much easier to wrap your arms around him and promise to keep him safe from the outside world.       Instead, you feel the worst parent in the world as your child is unable to control their breathing and incapable of doing the simplest of tasks.         With his still begging me not to make him go to school, I finally got him dressed, and into shoes.       All the while the tears were streaming down his face and he was shouting about how he couldn’t go “there”.       I had to literally push him out of the front door.       He continued screaming, not care or even notice who was seeing him.      When he got towards the school he told me he would do anything rather than go any closer.      I told him the only thing I needed him to do was get to school.       Right outside the school gates is a lamp-post, and he wrapped his arms around it and continued his screaming.     By this time he was in full view of many of his class – including some who have been known to bully him in the past, he just had no understanding that there were other people around.       The first bell had not gone, so I just stood and waited, and when he seemed to loosen his grip, I coaxed him a few more steps.       In the playground there are a few wood benches.     One of these is behind the building his classroom is in, so I told him to sit there, as he was a little more isolated from peoples stares, but close enough I could see his line waiting to go in.        The second bell went but his mood didn’t calm.    One girl at the back of the line shouted over they were going in, which just sent M into full flap.        I didn’t rush him, but managed to manoeuver towards the door.       The teacher stuck her head out, but went back in – I think she decided to leave it to me as someone else offering him attention might make him worse.        He stood on the outside of the door for what seemed an age, still crying and shouting.         Eventually I got him over the threshold which goes straight into the cloakroom.      I took his water bottle and pencil-case out of his bag, and literally pushed him into the classroom.         I didn’t hang around to speak to his teacher, she had seen what was going on, so knew he wasn’t happy, and I didn’t want to extend his anxiety of seeing me still there.        My eyes just sprang a leak walking home, as I felt so bad.     I knew I had done the right thing getting him to school, but I am sure any parent would feel upset at seeing how broken-hearted their child is having the beg you not to make them do something.        It really made me feel terrible.       When he got home from school, he was much calmer, but needing alone time.    D told me that M had played with him and his friends at lunchtime.     It is so good to know that Ds friends aren’t just supportive to him, but also there for M too.          At bedtime, M informed me he didn’t think he needed to go to school on Friday.        I didn’t take the conversation too far as I didn’t want him to have a bad nights sleep on top of everything else.          Surprisingly, Friday morning, he had to be told to get dressed, but he managed it without being forced.         He packed his bag, and said he would walk with D and his friends.         On Fridays at school, they have what is called Golden time, where they get to take something in to play with – those that misbehave during the week lose some of this time so it is pretty much a bribery tool for good behaviour.      M decided he was taking his large cuddly Picacho, from Pokémon.       I have always felt a little uneasy with M taking cuddly buds as it is another  thing for the bullies to use against him, but as Pokémon is so huge again at the moment, I didn’t think it would be a problem.       It was almost comforting to think M would have a friend to be with even if he was a bright yellow cushion.             M came home from school, looking exhausted and saying he was pleased it was over.       Picacho was filthy where he had apparently enjoyed playing outside!

For the weekend, we wont mention the “S-Word”, instead we will let him chill and unwind.      He must be mentally exhaust after the emotional rollercoaster he been on this week.      I know I feel emotionally washed out.       It has been a horrible week seeing my young man hurting so much and not being able to take the pain away for him.    For now we are not going to think about that and instead enjoy some family time.

It is really difficult to know how to best help him.      We are still waiting for an appointment with Child and Family Mental health at the hospital.     Hopefully that may have some advice we can take on board to guide him out of this tunnel of fear he is presently living in.

Return to school

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Yesterday was the start of the new school term for the boys.       It has been a long 6 weeks holiday this year, mostly because we didn’t get away because of Hubbys Mum having a stroke which left my Mum with nowhere to stay – Hubbys Mum was kind enough to offer to take her for us.

It is during holidays that D’s autism seems to be more evident.    He becomes withdrawn.      He goes out to play with his chums, but it has to be on his terms, and if he doesn’t want to go, he gets quite panicked that he has been asked and said no.       He also becomes rather confused by the lack of routine.     As most people know, D loves his electronics, and spends far too much time with them – although I see this as an investment in his future as he wants to get into games development.      He also enjoys being out-of-doors, spending ridiculous hours on his trampoline.         He does however find the lack of routine slightly disturbing with a need every morning to go through the plans for the day.         It is a fine line with him to enjoy the freedom but to want the routine.           Like probably every other child, he says he doesn’t like school and didn’t want to go back, but he knows that we know that it just isn’t true.      He loves to learn.      He enjoys knowing things to the point that it can be quite frustrating when he keeps questioning and I don’t know the answers.     D also has a great group of friends around .      He likes to be with them, but sadly, all but 2 of them belong at school in his understanding of friendship and he wont play with them at home.      His words therefore said he didn’t want to go back, but his attitude said something else.

M is another story totally.       As you maybe aware, he had problems going to school at the end of the last school year – https://jas2jar.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/stress-anxiety-and-asd/         He got himself so worked up, it was impossible to get him into clothes, let alone out of the house.      He was able to offer no reason why he felt this way, so we just had to work with it.       His mood did not seem to lighten as the holidays progressed.      He had some really good days where it was my happy son who laughs at the most inappropriate things, and we relished those times.    However, we had a lot of bad days.     The lack of routine during the holidays has always been a problem for him so he was not just in a bad place with the stress he was feeling but this was increased just because it was the holidays.       He spent a lot of time by himself.    He would take himself upstairs, and we wouldn’t see him for hours – although I did regularly check on him, trying not  to disturb him.       We would often hear shouting matches coming from his room, as he rowed with himself in a uncoherant manner.      It was as if he had to process so much information he was having problems doing it inside his head.      During a regular time, when M wants a lone time, it is usually because he needs to get something straight inside his head before he can face the world with the information.      We have always respected his space in these times, not wanting to delay his thought processes and have him need to begin them all over again.      However when it was almost turning into days with him spending little or no time in the company of others, it was hard to not want to tell him to snap out of it!          We of course did things as a family over the break, and would make him come out.      Leaving the house was difficult for him, and he would flap for extended periods of time.     I also received a ridiculous amount of cuddles when we were out and about.     He would suddenly fling his arms around me, or come and sit on my lap.     He was obviously needing comfort and reassurance, and as any mother would do, I was only too happy to give it to him.

The word “SCHOOL” was banned in our house over the holidays, as neither boy wanted to think about it.        However as the weeks passed, it had to be talked about and thought about.       Going to buy new school supplies has always been an event day – my theory being make it fun rather than remind them that it’s a means to an ends!       We therefore go to the large supermarket in the city which has a McDonalds in it, so they get a treat.     M seemed very calm when we said we were going.      I was expecting a row, but none came, maybe the thought of a burger and fries was motivating him.       When we got to the shop, D picked up so many bags, and changed his mind, then the same with pencil cases, and lunch bags.   He had to get the right ones, and of course ended up with everything Star Wars, and I think everything I would have picked for him.     M was far more efficient in his choosing.   He took the first bag he saw, grabbed a generic pencil-case, and only thought for a few seconds about lunch bag.      It was as if he didn’t want to think too hard about it so the idea of what it was for didn’t sink too deep into his head.     Same with trying on shoes and trainers.    He waited for D to choose ones he wanted – he is now in a size 4 shoe, and then picked the same ones but in his size.

The whole preparation for return to school ran ridiculously smoothly.    There was an uneasy calm about things.

Then Monday came.    Last day of the holidays.       I took the boys to the cinema to see The Angry Bird Movie.       Next door to the cinema is a leisure complex with rides and arcade.    I agreed to the boys having some  time in there, and they happily played the machines they enjoy, and then took ages deciding what to exchange their tickets for.       We then got some take-away and headed to Hubbys Mums for a quick visit.       It was a lovely day.         When we got home, I had to of course start the preparations for the following morning.    It was at this point things started to become unravelled.

It was as if the walls M had spent the summer building to not think about school came crashing down around him.     We had tears at the prospect.     Eventually we managed to get him to bed, and I think he had exhausted himself getting worked up, that surprisingly he slept until about 4am – this isn’t too bad for him.        He was however in a total state when he came through.      He said that if I let him stay home, he would go back to school when he went to the academy – a year away.      He can’t say why he doesn’t want to go to school.    We have tried asking him directly and subtly but he has no proper answer.      He does say it feels like he is in the middle of a nightmare when he is there, like he can’t breath properly.       I didn’t particularly enjoy school, but I really can’t begin to get my head into his to try to understand what he is going through.

Hubby was working from home yesterday, so it gave me some support as I started to deal with M’s mood as it spiralled out of control and full panic kicked in.        I think Hubby was a little shocked to witness how bad the panic attack was, having only seen minor ones previously.        Luckily D got himself organised and Old Person kept out-of-the-way so I could give M my full attention.        He was hysterical, and as calm as I tried to talk to him, I did find the need to shout a couple of times, just to grab his attention.      We did some breathing exercises we have practised but he was too wound up for them to help.       He had to get back to school, it was important he didn’t miss any more of his education.      I had to help him dress as he fought not to put on his uniform.       All the while he was pleading with me not to make him go.      It is heartbreaking to see and it would have been so easy to give in.        I packed his bag for him, and even helped him put on his shoes!        D went off with his chums, in a fairly happy mood.        I then had to get M out the house.    He grabbed door frames and anything else he could lay his hands on in the hopes to stop me making him reach the outside world.         He screamed and cried and flapped continually for the walk.       He stopped at almost every junction demanding to return home.        He had not calmed by the time we got to school.          I took him straight to his classroom, where his teacher welcomed him in.    I explained to her what had happened, and wished her luck!      I saw D in the playground and asked him if he saw his brother at break or lunchtime just to check in with him.

Luckily there were no calls from the school and I was able to repair some of the bomb site that the holidays had created in our home.

As home time approached, I was actually feeling nervous for his return.

He came in the front door, and slammed it shut.     I asked him how it went, and he screamed at me that he could now breathe.       He then shouted that he couldn’t talk about it.       He then disappeared to his room.       I found the use of the word “couldn’t” interesting.

D came in with a huge smile on his face.     He had enjoyed seeing his mates and it had been a good day.    He did however look exhausted, and admitted he was tired.     He asked if M was alright as he was angry when he had seen him at lunchtime.        He said his brother was by himself being angry – I knew what he meant.

M asked if he could take his tea upstairs.   It is something I don’t usually allow as I think meal times are a great family time, but it was obvious he had so much to process so I allowed it.

A good friend whose daughter is in Ms class said she had asked how M had been during the day, and was told he was alright.     It is good to know there are spies, I mean people keeping an eye on him.

At bed time he asked if he had to go back, and wasn’t happy to be told yes.      We had to make a deal with him that if he tried really hard he would earn a treat.

It is so hard to see him like this.     If there was an obvious reason as to why he felt the way he does, we could address it.    However, when he says he doesn’t know why he feels like he does, we are clasping at straws trying to help him get through this difficult time.

Any way, day one has been completed.       Each day will be a goal reached for him.        I am sure once he is at school he is alright, and we have to help him to overcome the gripping fear that is consuming him.

How many days until the October holidays?