Grace’s 10th birthday party was this week and she opted for a climbing theme. We arranged for seven giggling 9-10 year old girls with Josh and Dylan to all have 90 minutes on a climbing wall with an instructor.
Dylan appeared keen from the get go. He quickly grabbed himself a helmet when instructed but then the whole concept got a bit real and from that point on Dylan was a bit more apprehensive.
When Dylan starts to get anxious he will whine and winge and usually sit out. He get frustrated and bored and will then require direct attention from a parent to ensure he is kept focused and behaviours don’t spiral for him. This isn’t bad behaviour but Dylan’s anxiety coupled with frustration at himself for being unable to complete the task. To most people they see “Dylan can’t do it; he needs to sit out.”
The party leader was relatively new so she was being supported by a more experienced instructor, lets call him Bill. On the registration form it requested any medical details for the children and for Dylan I added ‘autism -non verbal’.
Bill instinctively saw Dylans anxiety but also his wish to be involved. He showed Dylan the equipment and let him hold it before asking if he would like to wear it. He spoke directly to Dylan and copied the way I gave Dylan simple language and clear choices so Dylan could repeat his option back to me.
Dylan will link onto my arm when we’re out and gradually through the party when he was ready to try a bit more equipment or to feel the wall a bit more, Dylan started to unlink my arm and go and link arms with Bill.
Well. He only got on the flipping wall!! And more than once!!
Bill was so supportive and reassuring for Dylan. Once off the floor Dylan would panic, it looked like his correctly fitting groin harness was sending him into sensory overload and he wanted to get down now. Dylan would grab onto Bill’s hands and hold them tight but Bill took it fine. Some people recoil when Dylan tries to touch them. I suppose being an adolescent boy Dylan has some tactile needs that are closer to a boy younger in age; like the arm linking or hand holding and not everyone understands why Dylan does this. Bill didn’t care.
Bill was cool.
It’s been a wonderful day on so many levels. We have been a family. We have looked after one another, focused on one another and been there to support and enjoy one another. A real family Christmas, it’s been great.
But it’s also been a time for reflection. Now this is not a sad post but one to remind of how fragile we all are, how every moment should be relished and enjoyed and how we should focus on what’s really important and not get lost in the smaller issues.
I’m holding my little ones close tonight when thinking of the international terror that’s been occurring in recent months. Feeling lucky that I am born where I am rather than a war-torn climate. I’m feeling thankful that I am loved and that both myself and my loved ones are healthy.
I am thankful for my steely determined views and that I am surrounded by people who believe in me, take a chance and allow me to act on my beliefs and hopes.
I am reminded that this time last year things were so different. For Dylan theres been so much progress made, developments, friendships blossoming. But also in wider circles unexpected deaths, changes in health and some relationships shattered. We don’t know what’s around the corner; none of us do. That’s why it’s so important to live in the moment. Take a chance, right here and now and make it matter.
Wishing everyone a merry and peaceful Christmas xxx
A time of reflection. Showing respect. An emotional for many remembering those loved and lost.
Grace took part in a local parade. The town was bustling with people young and old and with recent terror fears, police were out in droves to control the crowds and keep us safe.
Dylan came along, pacified with a quick cup of hot chocolate at a local cafe before we headed out into the chilly November air.
We stood, we waited and we paid our respects. Dylan needed physical reminders to remain silent for the 2 minutes but we did it!
Not one of Dylans favourite celebrations probably due to the lack of preparation. The decorations go up that day and come down the same day. The costumes are uncomfortable and with it being a school/work day its usually all a bit rushed.
The golden rules are broken and suddenly everyones out knocking on doors and taking sweets from strangers.
I can see that it must appear bizarre and very unsettling.
So this year we did things a bit low key. Dylan wanted to dress up like the other two but instead of going out we drove them round to my mums for a hot chocolate and a handful of mini chocolates each.
And for the last day in October, and the final day of AAC awareness month, we set it up so that Dylan could treat us to some Halloween jokes.
Happy Halloween all 🙂