Category Archives: school

S.A.L.T.

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Things are on the change for M just now.      He is preparing to move from primary school to secondary after the summer break.    It is a scary time for him and all the other kids that are going through this at the moment.      For M though, it is a much bigger deal.

M has suffered with anxiety issues for such a long time.    Therefore the added pressure of a period of transition can be difficult for him, and that is putting it very mildly.

A while back, we took him to the GP because his anxiety issues were becoming unbearable for him and he was loosing a ridiculous amount of his education.     The doctor was brilliant with him, and referred him to the child mental health unit at the hospital.

He  had an assessment and was referred on to a psychologist.

The psychologist has met with him a few times, and Hubby and me, both with and without M.     It was quite a harrowing experience for us to go over the negatives in my son’s life.    I hate to focus on the things that are not going well, and prefer to build up the positives.        As usual at these type of things, I cried a lot, but was pleased we had decided to get M the help that has been unavailable to him for too long.       The psychologist decided they were several people it would be useful to refer him on to, these include occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, school doctor, as well as looking into dyslexia, and fragile x syndrome.

We received a letter about the  appointment for speech and language therapy (S.A.L.T.), quite quickly.      I took M to the appointment.      He was, as can only be expected, very wound up about the whole process.      Not knowing why he was going confused him, as he doesn’t see what the rest of us do, in that his speech is often babbled and totally non-understandable.     I tried to explain to him what it was all about, but it was difficult, as I too was nervous.    I was worried that there would be another label being stuck on my gorgeous boy.

When we got there, we actually went to the wrong place in the hospital, but were redirected, and were still very early!    While we waited he sat on my lap and cuddled, doing his cat noises that he does when he is trying to make himself invisible.

The therapist asked us to go through.   She had a student with her, so M was doubly nervous about strangers.      Both of them were of course lovely.     They let M play with some Lego, while I gave them the background information of why we were there.     It is quite difficult to give enough information when for us, it is just part of who M is.     Lots of questions were answered and many notes were taken.     It was then M’s turn to answer some questions.    He was asked about school, and what he liked to do.      He muttered and mumbled his way through the questions.    He then had to do a little task of explaining why sentences he was given didn’t make sense.     He was nervous while doing it and kept looking at me for help and reassurance.     He did fine though.      He then played a game of Guess Who with the therapist.    To him it was a game, but it was a way to get him using descriptive language.      When the game was finished, M packed it away, while the therapist and I had another wee chat.     She said on first impression, she believes his poor speech is a nervous thing, as when he was talking about something he knew about he was very articulate.     She wanted to meet with him again to do some more detailed testing.    The appointment was made for this week just gone.

He was less nervous going for the second appointment.     He had met the people before and he knew where he would be going.     It was far calmer for him.    Well, it was until we got to the waiting room, and then, he again sat on my lap for reassurances.       The therapist still had her student with her, and the student was given the lead of the session.

The first task was for M to say what was on the pictures he was shown.     The idea of this task was to hear him   pronounce various sounds, while notes were made of how he says things.    He whizzed threw them, with a rather bored attitude after a while.      The next task was to interpret the sentence said to him and point to the picture it represented.    It started easily but got more and more complicated, with plenty of double negatives and sentences given in a way that nobody actually speaks.     The final task was that he was shown images and asked questions about them.     It was all very interesting listening to his responses, as he was spot on with the majority of them.     He did spend a lot of time, looking at me for reassurance and grabbing at my hand.     He was nervous and it showed, but he did brilliantly.     He was then allowed to play with the Lego, while the therapist spoke with me.      She said he has an amazing vocabulary, as well as knowledge of use of it.     She said that she saw no need for her to have continued input with him as it was obvious that the times when his speech became confused was when he was frustrated or confused by the task he was being given.    She says she will report her findings back to the psychologist but will say that she believes his speech problems are directly relating to his stress level.

While it is great that there is no underlining reason for his often confused communication, it is also frustrating that there is nothing we can do to directly help him with this.    We again have to look at ways to help him manage his anxiety.

We continue to help him prepare for the transition to the secondary school, and try to get procedures in place that may help him to manage his anxiety.

 

 

Lego Obsession.

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M is Lego mad.     He loves building with the kits.    He loves using his imagination to free build things – a true master builder.     His favourite wii-u gams are all Lego based – I must say of all the game genre the boys play, anything Lego based is far more fun to watch as a bystander.       He hates reading, but will pour over any book he comes across with a Lego theme.   The highlight of his month is when his Lego Club magazine gets delivered.      He is addicted to the stuff!

Recently he began talking about Denmark, and if it would be a good place for a holiday.     I have friends who are Danish and although I haven’t been for many years, think it is a beautiful country.      It then dawned on us, why he was suddenly so interested in going there.    He had discovered this was the home of Lego.    While he says he wouldn’t mind going to any of the other Legolands around the world, he thinks it would be best to go to the “proper one” in Denmark.     He also tells me there are some exclusive sets that you can only buy in Denmark!!     It would be an amazing experience for him to go there.

Recently he saw a competition where you had to design and build a new model for the Lego Friends range.      He was so enthralled by the idea of the prize, which was to go to Lego HQ and spend a week with their designers to turn your model into a real kit, including yourself as a Lego figure.      What an amazing opportunity for any child, and wouldn’t it be really cool to say you are a Lego figure?     Any way after much planning and fretting about what he should build, he decided on  a haunted house.    He got it about half built, and saw some pictures of models already entered, and decided his wasn’t of the same standard so gave up.     I tried all I could to encourage him to continue, even offering to help him, but he said that there was no point as the first prize was the only one worth having and he wasn’t going to get that.     His mind was made up and there was nothing I could do to change it.

We went to the cinema to see The Lego Batman movie a couple of weeks back.        He was so excited about this film coming out from the first time he heard the concept being mentioned.     The Lego movie is one of his all time favourite films.       Luckily, the reality lived up to his high expectations of it.     I really enjoyed it too, as it was very much scripted on multiple levels, with many references to the 1960’s series, which I imagine we have all loved every time it has been repeated over the years.      When M loves a movie, he becomes obsessed, and will watch a DVD back to back to back, but he has never before asked to go and see a film a second time at the cinema, as he has with this.     He is thinking him and me could have our date day with this at the weekend.

One of M’s support workers, who visits him from the academy, had suggested over a year ago that he might like to join an after school Lego club that she runs for children with additional needs.       He wasn’t interested.      It was at a time when he was in such a low dark place that there was no point forcing the issue.       The question of it came up a few more times, and while he tried to make the right noises about the idea of it, he would make excuses as to why actually attending it wasn’t for him.       He then made a friends with a boy in his class but a year below him – it is a composite class, who also has additional needs.   This other boy goes to the Lego club, and suddenly M wanted to go.     I spoke to the teacher and she was all for him going along.     The first week, he wasn’t too well, so didn’t go.    I did wonder if we were getting the excuses again for not doing any extra curricular activities, but thought I’d try again the next week.     That was when Old Person was ill, and so he was thrown off balance with her in hospital, that he wanted to be with her when she got home.     He therefore didn’t go that week either.         On Monday, when he came home for lunch, I asked him if he wanted to go to the club after school.    I was bracing myself to counter his objections, but instead he said he would.   Not a single argument.     I did think he still had a couple of hours to change his mind!      He arrived home from school and Hubby took him up to the Library where the session is held – it is quicker for him to walk home and then go out rather than try to park at the school at home time!       Hubby stayed with him as it was his first time there.     There were a couple of people M knew from SafeSpace – our local additional needs group, as well as the child from his class.       He was introduced to another boy his age who goes to the other primary school in the town, as the teacher thinks it may be good for them both to have a face they know other than those going with them when they change schools in the summer.       Hubby said that M just got in and started creating, totally oblivious to the surroundings and the people around him.        Give a child something he is confident with and he can achieve!      It was good to know what that it was a good place for him, but a pity it has taken him so long to have his head in the right place to be there.       The next day, the teacher rang me to tell me that she was so pleased to see M there.     I thought that was nice of her to do that.

In the summer, M and I are going to abandon the rest of the household and head to Glasgow for the BrickLive event.    It looks amazing with not just display models to look at, but pits full of bricks for free building.      I think it will be a day he will love as he will be surrounded by something he feels connected to – and no I don’t mean he has little dots on his head to clip things on!

Lego has been great for M as a means to express himself.    It is something he always wants me to do with him, possibly because I’m more patient than his father!!     He sees it as our thing, and that’s lovely.     It is great to have an interest to communicate with him, and I must say my love of Lego has been reignited when we sit for hours trying to find the correct piece, that of course hides when you’re looking for it.

I am looking forward to BrickLive, but think the trip to Denmark might have to be on hold for some time, while we save!

Community Café.

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The boys school does quite a few things that make it part of the wider community, and not just limited to parents and carers, although they do make up the larger part of those targeted by the activities encouraged.      The type of things, include at Christmas time, classes go out and about to care homes, and sheltered housing to entertain the residents with carols.   There are afternoons at the school where usually the elderly residents of the community are invited in to have tea and cakes, being served by the children.

I think any activity that removes the blinkers from the children is good.   By blinkers, I mean, interacting with older people, teaches them something they might not otherwise get the chance to encounter, when they live in such a fast pasted electronic era.     I think they learn a form of respect to people who aren’t family and friends.

Another thing that they do is a community café.     It is hosted by the children of P7, working in small teams with support workers from the academy.       It is a way of the children learning the relationship between produce and money as well as making contact with adults they will be encountering when they move schools in the summer.

Last week was M’s turn.      He was in a group with 3 other children, one of them being his longest known peer, so someone who really understands him.    He was so excited to be doing this, to the point we have heard nothing but what they have been doing towards preparing, and planning for a week before.

The café is held at the old library, now a youth centre, opposite the school.        I was therefore surprised that M was so excited about it, pleasantly so I add, but to be going to an environment that is alien to him, to be with adults he doesn’t know, to potentially encounter people who would be strangers to him.        It wasn’t until he started talking to me in more depth about it, that I realised his excitement was about not having to be in the classroom, somewhere he still doesn’t feel relaxed, and that he was doing something practical that he could relate to a start, middle and end of .      It’s not a negative comment about the school, but more about the education system as a whole, that sometimes the work being done doesn’t show a natural progression for a child, and therefore they can feel rather disjointed by the learning.    I know M has said on several occasions that he doesn’t understand the relevance of a piece of work they are doing, and without that, he finds relating to the work difficult.

Wednesday morning, I received a message from the Mum of M’s friend, asking me what I was baking for the café as she didn’t want to make the same thing.     I was honestly confused as M had made no mention of needing to donate cakes.    He had though told his group that I would be baking .    Amazing in all his excitement he had forgotten to mention something so important.    It was of course the day before shopping day so after a quick look what I had in the kitchen, I decided to make a peppermint slice and some cola cupcakes.      I had not made the cola cupcakes before, but a friend had given me the recipe and said how lovely they were.     I went with a peanut butter frosting as the boys don’t like peanuts and I know they would have insisted on trying them, and not leaving any to go to school.     Peppermint slice is quite a long winded process, with needing time to set the peppermint layer.     It didn’t have the time to leave it long enough, and so was trying to cover with chocolate while it was still a little soft.       I left it over night before trying to cut it, and it didn’t ooze too much, so I deemed it good enough to go.

I can honestly say, that Thursday morning was the easiest day of the academic year for getting him out of the house in the morning.    There was a real air of enthusiasm about him that I wish we saw more often, as it is magical.      He made sure his Dad and I would be going, and almost skipped out of the door with his boxes of cakes.

By the time we left the house to wander up there, it was tipping with raining, and sleet.    It was horrible!         When we arrived, it was lovely to get in the warm.    M’s face just lit up to see us.      He was told to tell us where the money was going – the chosen charities are Cancer research and The Archie foundation which does the extras at the kids hospital, like parent rooms etc.      He then asked us what we would like.     While he was making my tea, his friend served us cakes – Hubby had a peppermint slice, complaining I hadn’t let him have any at home, while I went for a fairy cake his friend said she had made.      There was a class from the school in having their snack – each class goes over at some point during the year, so it was quite busy, but we plonked ourselves on the comfy sofas.       There were a few other Mums I knew there.     One of them told me she was the classroom helper on the Tuesday when they had been preparing and baking cookies, and she wanted to take M home as he was such a help, and brilliant at washing up!      I did say she was welcome to have him, but feel she thought I was joking!     Then one of the adults came over and told me M had burned his finger but it was ok, other than he didn’t want to run it under the tap.     I said he spends so much time helping in the kitchen, he has learned cuts and burns are just park of it so rarely takes much notice.      She then told me how enthusiastic he was.      It was so lovely to hear positive feedback about him, as usually the communication with the school is negative because he struggles so much.     The teachers then appeared for their morning coffee.       The head teacher, who used to be M’s teacher sat with us, and commented how much he looked like he was enjoying himself.       I told her that his delight was genuine, and I was worried he would hit a low afterwards because of it.    She said she’d see his teacher and make sure he was given something engaging to do.      I also had a chat with his support worker who has arranged an extra visit for him to the academy to have a look around without the large crowds who will be going up en mass after Easter.     It is good to see the plans being made for his transition.

When it was time to go, M became very clingy saying he wanted me to stay.      I told him it was just an hour until lunch so I would see him them.      When he got home at lunch time he looked exhausted.   I think he had really given it everything he had, and it showed.     When time came to head back, he sobbed that he didn’t want to go, and held tight to me.     I told him he had to go, as one of the teachers had asked me for the cupcake recipe as so he needed to take it to her.       He reluctantly returned.

I am so proud of M.    It is so special to see when he does engage with something so fully.     It is a pity it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, he shows what he is capable of with the correct motivation.

I hope over the course of the year they make some good donations to their chosen charities.     I am sure all the kids work equally as hard when it is their turn, but I do wonder how many are so upset that they only get to do it once as they would love to do it every week.