Doesn’t count if you’re already left

BW leaving

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For Fellow Helicopter Parents

The debate ranges on about high functioning and other points along the spectrum, but some issues remain the same, regardless of which point you pick.  We know who we are even without everyone telling us, but we carry on.   We hover ever ready.   One day, perhaps, we can ditch the prompts, in the future, but for now we know our job is to intervene, preempt, reinforce those neural pathways and forge a firmer footing until they become second nature.












To be fair, I feel pretty much the same when it comes to anything labelled ‘easy open.’

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Autocue – spoonfeeding

Sometimes it seems as if we have been going to occupational therapy forever, certainly more than five years. Together, the boys had 13 hours of different therapies a week up until the time that I had jaw surgery.

At that time we dropped everything except for the two double therapy sessions on a Wednesday afternoon, double occupational therapy and double speech therapy because Wednesdays are a half day at school. Their “father” took them during my period of recouperation. It gave him a far deeper “understanding” and greater “involvement” such that when I had recovered and was ready to take up the reins again, he decided that he’d prefer to keep taking them himself.

These days I take them occasionally when his schedule doesn’t allow him to go, like when he is abroad on business. Hence when Wednesday looms, I am secretly dying to see how their session will pan out with their father away. I’m uncertain what kind of routine they have developed, independent of my input.

In the past it was a great struggle because it was a transition and because therapy was hard work for them. On arrival, they used to enter the waiting room and then I would prompt them to tell their therapists that they’d arrived using the intercom. This meant pressing the button and speaking clearly into the audio box simultaneously. They used to have to use the step to reach the box on the wall, but they are considerably taller now. Each step took a great deal of prompting. On completion I would prompt them to remove their shoes and socks and stack them on the shelf. This also took a great deal of prompting, times two.

These days, they have had many years of practice, many years of prompting. I am keen to see how they will fare.

On arrival at the waiting room, one runs to the window to take a peek into the studio and the other flops onto the sofa. I wait. I observe. There is no further movement from either of them, nor any words. I wait. I observe. I sit on my hands and then put my elbows on my knees with my hands over my mouth. I wait. I observe. It soon occurs to me that I will wait for ever and that there is nothing to see. No action is likely to be forthcoming. I feel suddenly quite saddened for no apparent reason. There are lots of reasons that could cause sadness, but none of them are present, but still, the inertia drags me down. Just like other children they dawdle and are easily distracted. Just like some other children we have the ever present hurdles of inertia, ideation, sequencing and a serious lack of executive function regardless of the label.

I feel a tiny tickle at the back of my brain, deep in the depths from my years of speed reading to track down useful clues and tips. I became a butterfly reader immediately following their diagnoses, hopping from topic to topic, the brief overview and the summaries, gleaning the finer points but missing the big picture in crisis management. There are many tomes just on this one topic:- introduce the new behaviour, positively reinforce the new behaviour and then ever so gradually fade the supportive reward system. It is the fading of both the reward and the prompt that engenders independence. Without that final step they become reliant upon the prompt.

There again, there’s always the possibility that it’s nothing to do with autism, merely tired kids.

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Another crabby old day [England is Evil 12}

The trouble with holidays is that they are just so exhausting.

Without the bribery of ‘electronics’ time, we fail miserably in the ‘discipline’ and ‘routine’ departments. Even when we ignore the issue of jet lag, they’re still up and buzzing about until gone 11 every night.

“Go to sleep and tomorrow we shall have a treat!” just doesn’t cut the mustard.

“Go to sleep and then tomorrow you can rot your teeth on candy,” is no sweetner.

“Go to sleep and we’ll go to the beach tomorrow / have a day trip / insert any other enticement you can think of!” fails to meet the mark.

Sadly they need no electronic assistance to ping them out of bed just before six every morning.

I drag them to the beach for an educational extravaganza. I’ve given up saying ‘it will be FUN,’ as I appear to be in the minority. My daughter was quite keen initially until the weather took a turn for the worse. The boys are both aghast and horrified.

We pass the Life Guards setting up their site on the edge of the beach as we pick our way over the rocks.
“Whatawe gonna do if we catch one?” she asks with a hint of caution.
“We’ll look at it for a while and then we’ll pop them back in the rockpool.”
“Can we take em home?” she pleads.
“Well…..maybe for a few hours but then we’ll have to bring them back to the beach.”
“It’s just I heard you talkin to Dad about crab sandwiches. You’re not really gonna eat em are you?”
“Eat crabs! Dat is insanity!” he bellows. “England is evil!”
“Put a sock innit why dontcha!” she announces in her best American accent.

It appears that everyone is picking up the vernacular. It sets him off in a vortex,
“Sock? Wot sock? I am not be have dah sock. Wot sock!”
“Oh dear. Nevermind socks dear. Lets concentrate on crabs for the moment.”
“Crabs not socks?”
“You are eat dah socks?’
“No, not socks nor crabs, anyway these, will be too small.”
“Good!” sighs my daughter, grateful for the pause. “Come on guys it’ll be fun,” she calls encouragingly. She looks at me. I look at her. She grins, “well maybe for us huh!” she adds conspiratorially.

So wise yet so young.

They boys generally lack enthusiasm for “new” experiences and this time is no different. “We used to do this when we were little too, but we used hooks,” I offer forgetting the trigger of anything that could remotely be described as a deadly weapon.
“Hooks!” he shrieks in anguish, “England is evil!”
“But not these ones. These ones don’t have hooks. They won’t hurt the crabs.”

I stuff luncheon meat into one of the tiny net bags and demonstrate my dangling skills amongst the crashing waves. “That’s never gonna work mom, you shoulda got the ones with the hooks.”
“Of course it will work, we just need a little patience.” My sons hold a bucket in one hand and a reel of cord in the other with expressions of those condemned on death row.

I pull up the string gingerly. I am flabbergasted to see a crab on the other end. “Quick pass me the bucket!” To my utter amazement two buckets are hurled at my personage. A lightening speed reaction. Horray! My daughter passes her across too.

We all peer in the bucket. Joint attention! Horray!
“Ooo he is a little gorgeous one,” squeaks my youngest.
“He ain’t little,” commands the middle one.
“He’s a girl,” demands my daughter. “Mom, how dya know if they’re girls or boys?”
“He no crab! Wot is it wiv five legs?”
“I am luv my new friend. We can take him America?”
“Probably not.”
“England is evil!”

I demonstrate, rather ineptly, how to pick up a crab without being pinched. I exist in a vortex of squeals of delight as the crab demonstrates waggling.
“He is dah cutest guy!”
“He is more gorgeouser dan my rock. I think.”
“What do you think dear?”
“Maybe I am liking England a lil bit.”
“Oh good! At last! About time Sunny Jim!”
“I am like free pet crabs and free rocks.”
His big brother looks across at him. Do I detect mischief? A tease or a prompt or both, I’ll never know as he mutters, “America! Land of dah Free!” But it works, “ENGLAND IS EVIL!” he bellows to the surprise of Life Guards, up wind 50 yards away.

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Extraction by fair means or foul

I decide that I no longer care for Amazon's packaging system.

It has degenerated from 'open with a pair of scissors and collapse the box with a cleaver,' to 'open box with a chain saw.'

I have struggled to extract the contents for some minutes but avoided drawing blood.

My youngest son presents himself before me, amid the carnage of the semi opened packages. He pauses to gain composure and then makes his announcement.
“Look mummy! I am choosed my own cloves.”
“Indeed! And you put them on your body too!”

I cheer, as wonder how he has managed to squeeze himself into clothes put aside for the rag bag. Not only has he physically grown three of four inches since he last wore that ensemble, but it would appear that he also branches out into other pastures new. It is a rare moment to witness, when your child does something willingly, independently and successfully. Not even a prompt. I remind myself, again, that this is what independence looks like. It may not be my version but it's still undeniable. I admire my corseted son and his cheesy grin for a job well done.

The sleeves are tight enough to restrict blood flow. The hem of his T-shirt gradually creeps up. The waistband on his trousers, slowly creeps down. The bikini effect. I wonder if I should suggest a change of attire but don't want to dampen his enthusiasm. It occurs to me, that this may be a gift in disguise. Nudity will be a thing of the past, since he will be unable to remove his skin tight clothing. Now that's what I call a fringe benefit! I'll need a can opener to extract him myself, or maybe a chainsaw?

He sucks in his cheeks and puckers his lips, goldfish style to ask, “why I am not dah puffer fish?”
“Er well, you certainly swim like a fish.”
Or rather a crab! He groans as he exhales and his tummy pops out.
“No! I am meaning that I need to be small, er smaller……fin as dah puffer fish when he is not puffed.”

It would seem that he’s not the only one with clothing “issues.”

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