Tuesday, 29 March 2011

School...get ready for a fight!

I have already done a blog post today but right now I am livid, with steam nearly coming out my ears, and figured writing it down might just help me to calm down a little bit.

C is 14 and has High Functioning Autism and is coping really well with mainstream high school. He is doing great in the science's, maths etc and got to choose his options (the subjects he will take for exams) a year early as he is doing so well. He has already sat some of his biology and got an A and A* earlier this year.

Well today he comes bursting in the door from school, talking constantly about how the school are "arseholes", "idiots" etc etc (all words he uses when he is stressed) and took me a good 10 minutes to calm him down so I could get any sense out of him...bearing in mind he normally comes in door and when asked how school has been just says "fine", we never get told anything!

He hands me a letter informing me that they are now changing his options (after studying them for a year!). This year the government, in their usual wisdom , decided that schools would be ranked in their league tables, not just by how well the children did in their final exams, but only using the children who did well AND took history or geography. My daughter last year got 6 A's and 4 B's but as she didnt do either of these subjects she didnt count, so their place in the league table went right down.

So now, the school have told me that C must drop one of the subjects he is doing well in, and take either History or Geography. C struggles a great deal with handwriting and essay type questions, he has no interest in either subject..is just managing in English and we are hoping he manages to struggle through that and get a half decent grade to go along with his others. He wants to go into game development at university (he is very serious about that) and at the moment is doing Graphics and Media, both subjects that are very relevant to his aims and ambitions...now the letter says he has to drop one of them!

Now my question is this, are the school doing this for my son's benefit, or to make their place in the league tables look better?? I think you can guess what my answer is.

Have just rang the school asking to get an appointment to go in and see them but have been told I will have to ring in the morning. Apart from the difficulties C has with his hand writing, he like most children on the autistic spectrum, struggles with change..esp one that is just thrust upon him with no warning. He is now constantly going in and out of the room, saying he is leaving the school and if I dont let him he is leaving the country if we dont move house.

Ok, rant over for the moment, thanks for listening, just when you think things are going well something else comes along and slaps you in the face. I am not going to take this lying down, they have a fight on their hands!! xx

Oh, and by the way, he has till Thursday to decide which one he is dropping!

My Grandfather, could he have been Autistic too?

One of my great passions, when I get the time, is researching my family tree. So this post is a tribute to my Grandfather, or Grandad as I called him. He died when I was 7, so dont have many memories of him and had to rely on what other people told me, including my amazing Gran who I spoke about here Memories of a Special Lady.

My Grandfather, Thomas Flucker (Tommy to his friends), was born in 1904 in a fishing village called Newhaven, which is now part of Edinburgh. This was a very close knit community and they rarely married outside of their own. I have traced the Flucker's (yes , it is a real name :))back to the 1600's and they were mainly fishermen. My grandfather left this trade and worked as a joiner in the shipyards right up till his death in 1971. 

I remember him as a very quiet man and can still picture him sitting in his chair, wearing one of the many jumpers my gran used to knit for him. My gran loved him dearly and said he was the first and last love of her life, I know she missed him terribly after his death.

While doing my research a man got in contact with me, asking if I was Tommy's grandaughter, turns out he worked in the shipyards with him and he sent me a lovely email with his memories of him..it brought him to life for me. He describes him as eccentric and now wonder if he could possibly have had the same form of autism as my son, I guess in those days it wasn't recognised like it is today. Here is part of the email he sent me, let me know what you think.

Thanks for your prompt reply, I'm delighted to hear that you are indeed
the grandaughter of Tommy, and you've confirmed and awakened many
youthful memories.
As I said, I worked as an apprentice joiner in Robb's from 1948 to 1955,
then, like everyone else was called up for National Service in the
army.  I returned to Robb's for a short while after serving three years
with the Royal Engineers, then my life took a different turn, and I
moved on.
I was a rather " Favoured" apprentice, and worked on the top floor of
the joiner's shop, I was on the bench next to Tommy.  His job at that
time was to "Break out" all the wooden mouldings for the ships under
construction, and prepare them for the French polishers.  Tommy was very
precise in everything he did, and was always on top of his job.  He was
much respected as a tradesman in a shop of over 200 joiners, who, in my
opinion, were the best tradesmen in the country.  He was known as a man
of great general knowledge, and I suspect, thought of as slightly
eccentric.  He had a very fiery temper, and could be "Wound up," if
people voiced opinions contrary to his firmly held views on everything,
particularly on the subject of his beloved Hearts.  I was on of the
"Infidels," being a Hibs supporter, but Tommy obviously made allowances
for this aberration, and took me under his wing.  At lunch times, having
our "pieces" together, and our drum (old jam tins) of Tea, Tommy would
teach me many things beyond the everyday world of a daft young laddie.
As I've said he taught me Chess, which I've enjoyed ever since.  He
could, you know, "Talk" a game of Chess, and did so with his brother in
law, (I think) without a board or pieces,, and they'd both continue the
game entirely in their heads !  He knew all about steam locomotives,
politics, and a wide range of subjects, that filled out my then empty
head.  Cycling was of course one of his great loves, touring mainly, not
racing, and it was very popular at that time, everyone had bikes and
enjoyed it.  He was so kind to me, that once he offered to cycle with me
to Ibrox in Glasgow to see Hibs play Rangers in a League decider, we
went on his Tandem, I had to bring my own saddle he said, otherwise I'd
have a sore bum ! I can remember that day vividly, Hibs won !

As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Tommy would work mainly
on time transits of the stars, at the old Royal Observatory on the
Calton hill.  I remember him making a "Black box" to measure these
transits, and claiming that the time accuracy was six hundredths of a
Tommy was very proud of his "Bow Tow," heritage, claiming that the
Fluckers came over with the Huguenots to escape persecution, and was
very well versed in history generally.  He was a good man, very handsome
in a clean cut way, and proud and protective of his daughters.  I lived
then in Newhaven Road, but my cousins the Jeffrey's, lived in 10
Hawthornvale, my uncle Peter Jeffrey was a riveter in Robbs, so as a lad
I was down the Vale regularly.
In those days (the 50's) the workers in the Yard were very highly
politicised, rationing was still in force, but we'd made advancements in
obtaining a free health service, we then got a weeks holiday in the
Summer, with pay, the working week was to be reduced from 48 hours, and
it looked to Socialists as if the workers were going to influence
politics for the good.  We were all Socialists (at least) many of us
Communists, and we sympathised with the experiments in Socialism started
in Russia and China. Tommy actually taught me the words of "The Red
Flag," the old Old Independent Labour Party anthem, including the bawdy
parody ! Relations with the shipyard management were never good, indeed
constantly fraught with tension, and fear of losing jobs, they all
remembered the Depression years vividly.  We weren't even allowed
teabreaks, (but we had them illegally!) you could be dismissed for
drinking tea, other than at dinner time, the tea urns were kept
padlocked until the hooter sounded.  Even going to the toilet was under
surveillance, you had to drop your works check at a turnstile at the
entrance to a very smelly and basic lavatory, and if you were over 7
minutes there, you were docked a quarter of an hour of pay. As an
apprentice, your time record was kept for the five years, and any late
time or absences were made up at the end of the five years, at
apprentice's pay, not Tradesman's pay.
Something else has just come to mind, I think Tommy was one of the First
of the Fluckers NOT to have gone to sea and the fishing, that must have
been a big decision in Newhaven in those days.

I still remember the "log" books of my grandfather's cycle rides that my gran had kept, he wrote down EVERY cycle ride he ever did, and when I sent this email to my aunty, she told me she still had them and sent me the page of the cycle ride mentioned above!

Page out my grandfather book logging his cycle ride
Am still in awe of how he could play a game of chess in his head!!

Thank you for taking the time to read, and still miss and love you lots grandad xx

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Proud member of "The Moaning Bitch Club"

On Wednesday I posted about how I had given myself a kick up the backside and asked you all to remind me of that if I was starting to feel sorry for myself again.I have been doing well, at looking on the positives..I admit this has been through gritted teeth at times, but those little things in life that niggle me have still been in the background.

Yesterday I came across this brilliant blog post at Little Fella and Us. She has joined The Moaning Bitch Club, and by the time I had finished reading her post, the tears of laughter were running down my face. It was then that it hit me, moaning is not always a bad thing, its therapy, a way to vent our frustrations so we don't resort to strangling the nearest person! Its not a negative..its a positive! I am so happy, I can moan AND stay positive!

So now, I am becoming an official member of The Moaning Bitch Club, and I'm not ashamed to tell the world. So sit back, relax and get ready for some moaning therapy.

Moan 1
Asda, when you revamp the store and move all the aisles closer together so you can fit more stock in your shop, it does NOT qualify you to tell us all " Come to your new larger store". It is NOT larger, it is just cramped! Playing dodge the trolley on a Saturday is hard enough without you making the aisles that narrow that only 2 trolleys will fit. My ankles are turning a strange shade of purple, thanks to your "New Larger Store"  

Moan 2
Still on the subject of Asda. Now that we have less room in the aisles of our "New Larger" store, could  you please refrain from stopping in the middle of these narrower said aisles to have your latest social meeting. The store has a lovely McDonalds with seating, where you can sit and chat all day if you would like. I find shopping stressful enough without having to say "Excuse me" several times over before you give me a filthy look as if I am the one that is in the wrong for wanting to shop.

Moan 3
Teenage daughter, when we moved into this house, I am sure that your bedroom had a floor, I may be mistaken as it's that long since I actually saw it. I bought you wardrobes, chest of drawers and a desk for all those accessories a teenage girl requires. So WHY do I feel like I am taking my life in my hands when I am unfortunate enough to have to enter your domain, stepping over clothes, make up, college books, hair straightners etc, always wondering what lurks beneath. If there is not enough room in your cupboards etc for all your things, please do tell me, because it means that you have too much and I will not have to buy you anything for at least the next 10 years..saving me lots of money!

Moan 4
Mobile phones do not have to be PERMANENTLY attached to your hand. They will not fly away or evaporate into thin air if you put it down for a few minutes while doing something I have asked you to do repeatedly over the last few hours. And just for the record " Stop nagging, I am just going to do it", does not wash when it's the 10th time I have asked.
On the subject of mobile phones, why is it that when I ring or text you, you never hear it..how can this be when the thing is glued to your hand and people start to think you are ill if you haven't looked at it for 5 minutes. I may be your mother, and I may be "old" but that does not make me stupid, I KNOW you ignore it!
Moan 5
Would the people who keep putting pizza take away leaflets through my letterbox please STOP! I may not be the best cook and I may have lazy days where I order a take away, but I do NOT need a constant supply of menus. I could have wallpapered the whole house with the amount you have posted in this last few months..have you not heard about how we should all be doing our bit for saving the planet?? I must have had a whole tree's worth of leaflets this last year!
If it is too much to ask you to stop, could you at least give me some variety, like the odd Chinese, Indian or Italian menu..as when I do decide to get a take away, believe it or not, it is not always pizza I want!!

Phewww, I feel way better after writing all that! Could have gone on and on, but think from now on I will do a Sunday Moaning Bitch Club post. Not because I'm a depressive person, but because the therapy of writing it makes me much less likely to strangle the nearest person or child the next time they really piss me off!

So kids, think yourselves lucky I have discovered the club, your chances of making it to adulthood have just greatly improved.

If after reading this and you would like to join The Moaning Bitch Club, please go say hi to Misslexywoo whose idea started all this xx

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Special Saturday

My son, C, was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at the age of 3. We have been through many difficult times and had many struggles while helping him to understand the world where "everyone else does strange things" (his words). However along with all these "downs", there have been plenty of "ups", and we are all so proud of him and love him just the way he is.

A friend I met on Twitter, @savvymumforautism, has started a blog to raise awareness of children with special needs, and through the tag #specialsaturday on Twitter. On Saturdays she publishes posts from parents of special needs children, that celebrate the accomplishments and happiness these children give us all.

So please go and check it out, CLICK  below and go give her your support, Thank You xx

Friday, 25 March 2011

Something to look forward to

Well its coming to the end of another week, and we all like something to look forward to for the week to come. A nice shopping trip, a day out to the country perhaps, a visit from friends, you get my drift..well mine arrived in the form of a letter from C's school, informing me it's his review day next Friday and asking me to attend.

Review day is where we meet his learning mentor to discuss how he is getting on in his subjects, if his grades are what they expected and if he has any problems with school life in general. So what's the big deal? you may ask. Well you have never been to a review day with C.

Review day in first year at high school went something like this.
"How are you finding things at school C?"
answer "Fine, what do you expect?"
"Are you enjoying your lessons?"
answer " Who enjoys school?"
The rest of the questions got similar answers,with the mentor sitting scratching her head. I said my thank you's and we got up to leave with C shouting back at her " I think you should check your hair, when my sister was scratching her head she had nits"
Exit one red faced mum and one 12 year old who was oblivious to anyone else's reactions.

Second year at high school's review day went slightly better, well at least he gave answers that consisted of more than "Fine",and this mentor didn't scratch her head. His grades were great and he told her what his favourite subjects were, so I started to relax...too soon! 
The mentor asked " Do you know why you are doing better at French than in Spanish? Is there a problem in Spanish?" 
Answer " Well its your fault, you gave me the weirdest teacher" After an awkward pause she asked in what way was the teacher weird.
Answer" Well she is deaf or stupid, people all talk and she doesn't even notice or doesn't know we aren't meant to talk in class, maybe you should tell her" After my face started to look less like a fried tomato I explained to the mentor that C finds it very hard to concentrate with noise going on around him and when you tell him rules like "don't talk in class" he will follow them to the T and that this is all related to his autism. He was shortly afterwards moved to a different group and things settled down.

So now the letter has dropped through the letterbox for his third year review and for some strange reason I am a bit nervous about what to expect. I told him today we have to go for the review next Friday. Answer " I do know that, not like its any big deal"..well I may beg to differ on that one.

Look out for updates next Friday , from the mum with even more grey hair and the wine bottle in her hand.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

My kick up the backside!

There has been a lot happened this last week in the life of my clan. Some of it good, some of it not quite so good. Been feeling a bit down lately, just a combination of everyday worries and of feeling bored at home. The kids are all getting older and C is doing really well, so doesn't need as much help and support as he used to when he was younger, L is either at college or having a social life (what's one of them again?), N is out job hunting and of course E lives a few hours away, so think I am starting to get the empty nest syndrome kicking in.

I gave up work when C was diagnosed as he needed a lot of help and support, and working nights just didn't go with that...for one thing I was starting to look and act like a walking zombie. Was what I needed to do at the time, but of course now I want to go back to work I am finding it really hard to find anyone interested in hiring someone who hasn't worked for 10 years and who can't get references etc as the places no longer seem to long exist or people have moved on.

So this week decided things are going to change..gave myself a kick up the proverbial backside so to speak. Here is a list of my achievements , not much to some...but I am proud of them :)

  1. Am trying to stop smoking. Using an inhalator and doing not too bad. Still having about 3 a day but way better than the 20 I was on.
  2. Have been going for long walks with N now the weather is better, and out in the sun does wonders for my mood, I am even smiling a bit :))
  3. Decided to try for voluntary work, will give me a sense of purpose along with hopefully being able to gain the experience, references etc that will lead to a job. Got in touch with the Red Cross and I have an interview in a couple of weeks for visiting elderly people in their homes.
  4. Last but not least, I won a competition for a DVD, ok not one I really wanted, but hey, I won didn't I? lol..and even got a T shirt, a memory stick and a glow in the dark necklace thrown in.
My winnings
So watch this space,things are on the up..and if anyone sees any signs of me feeling sorry for myself, just give me that kick up the backside!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Devastation and Beauty of Nature

These last few days, like a lot of people, I have been saddened by the news and images coming to us from Japan. The devastation that nature can bring to parts of the world is unimaginable to those of us who live in parts of the world that are not at big risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes etc, and we can only try to imagine the heartbreak and feelings of shock and loss that these people must be going through.

On Sunday we went out for a walk to a country park just a few minutes walk from the house and their could not have been a bigger contrast to the images that are coming to us to through our TV screens. The sun was shining, the birds singing, the buds appearing on the trees as nature comes to life at the start of Spring. Families out enjoying the weather, children laughing and playing and dogs running along beside their owners.

This just made me realise that along with all the struggles and problems of our every day life, we should be grateful and appreciate more the things that we do have.

My thoughts are with those in the world who are not as lucky x


Yachts sailing on the Flash

View of Pennington Flash

Thursday, 10 March 2011

It's days like these that make it all worthwhile :)

Quotes I have just had one of those days where I am grinning from ear to ear and thinking I have the best kids in the world :)

It started this morning, when my 16 year old, L, came downstairs and said she had to log onto her college's intranet to check her exam results. She is doing the first year of her A levels, with the ambition of doing Midwifery when college is over. She was really nervous, saying she was scared to look and when she plucked up the courage she found out they weren't going to be there for another hour...was a LONG hour! Finally the time came and I sat with a big beam on my face...she got A's and B's...she sat miserable about the one she didnt do so well on (this is only the first part, she has more in June then another year) with me telling her how proud I was of her and that she still had plenty of time to build up her mark for her Maths.

Now picture a totally different situation, C, my 14 year old who has high functioning autism/asperger's, came in from school with the usual "fine", "stop being nosey" etc etc when I asked how his day had gone. He proceeded to talk about something totally disconnected with school and then at the end of it all just threw in " by the way I got an A and A* for my tests". He had sat some biology GCSE's a year early at the beginning of the year and these were the ones he meant. He hadnt told me the results were due , infact when he sat the exams he could not understand why I was saying good luck, as " I know it so why do I need good luck"...well guess he was right about the knowing it part.

So one child who can't sleep , stresses and gets worried about sitting the exams and always does well...and another who acts like it is nothing special and cannot understand why I am so interested and feeling so proud...anyway, all I know is I am one proud Mum!! :)))

Monday, 7 March 2011

A special post for a special little boy...PLEASE READ #forDeeds

I have not been writing this blog for very long and have just started to use twitter again...and its through these two mediums I have recently met some very special people...people who do extraordinary jobs as parents and others who are constantly trying to raise awareness and/or funds in various ways to help those with special needs.

One of these is a special lady called Caryn who is trying to help  a little boy called Deeds, whose story can you read about at Dog 4 Deeds . He has autism and has been through a very hard time lately, his parents are trying to raise enough money to get him an Autism Service Dog. This would make a great difference to his life, giving him the independence he needs while keeping him safe.

There are various ways we can all help this to happen and to spread awareness, which you can read about here at Caryn's site livingwithlogan. A lady called JC Little, has given her time to design a special logo for Deeds , you can find her here at The Animated Woman.

So please everyone, just take a minute of your day to support this worthwhile cause, either by blogging (there are PRIZES) , sharing on facebook, tweeting #forDeeds on twitter and various other ways....



Sunday, 6 March 2011

The haircut can wait!

This weekend I was meant to be taking C for his haircut, sounds simple, but it is one of those trips out that I dread the most. From since I can remember, getting his haircut has left him, and us, traumatised. It is a sensory issue that is related to his autism..unlike most of us, he says it "hurts" and " feels horrible" and " why can't you just let it grow, I don't mind"
Until the age of about 10, we used to have to cut it at home, one of us holding him while the other one cut..but as he got older this became more difficult and after a lot of discussion and some bribery , we made his first visit to a hairdresser's. The visit went well , I heaved a sigh of relief and thought "sorted". The next few years went well, going back to the same shop and the same person and even though he still complained about going , there were no meltdowns or tears...till one day , the shop was closed and I tried to get him into another one. " the shop is too red", "the person looks weird", "the shop smells funny" and that day we ended up back home , hair still intact.
We have found another shop that he will tolerate but the days of just making an appointment and going are gone...he will argue constantly about what day we should go, give reasons why that day is a bad day etc etc and by the time we get there and back we are both mentally drained.
Well yesterday was meant to be one of those days and I am now sitting feeling guilty for chickening out. We had already had a stressful week, as he was at the opticians for his yearly eye test and had to choose some new glasses...you guessed it, not straightforward. He is fine with the test but is terrible at choosing ( not just glasses, he takes a very long time to choose between anything). After looking at all the frames he could have, he finally made his mind up after about 45 mins ...the frames were "too brown", "too black", "too thin", "too wide", "too weird" etc etc.
So now I have the hairdressers to look forward to next week...and now wish we had gone yesterday!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Spring is in the air.

Today the sun is shining and even though there is still a nip in the air, you can feel spring on it's way for the first time this year. We have had a lot of grey, wet and miserable weather lately so decided to take the chance to go out for a walk. 

A branch of the Liverpool and Leeds Canal, and Pennington Country Park are just 5 minutes walk from the house, across some fields at the bottom of our street. Its one of our favourite places to go and during the better weather we go there frequently. So off me and my daughter went, looking forward to that feeling of being in the countryside and away from traffic and the general noise of everyday life.

It didn't go to plan, the route we take from the house was virtually a no go area, unless you had wellington boots on, the ground was saturated and boggy. We did eventually make it to the canal path from another way but found the canal path was just as bad...so we couldn't make it to the park :(. We made the most of it though and walked along the canal going the opposite direction  into town instead (this part has a proper path)...ok, we didn't get that feeling of isolation and being away from it all but the sun was shining , the buds are starting to appear on the trees and signs of Spring are definitely in the air.

Looking towards Pennington Flash from the Canal

The Canal in town

Spring is in the air and ducks seem to be making most of it too