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Talking with teens

Kevin-and-PerryTeenager can be notoriously difficult, the hormones surging through their veins can result in temper tantrums, grunting responses, and generally poor communication. However the teenage years are proving a source of development for Dylan. Due the dissatisfaction with decisions being made and general lack of patience around the whole family is resulting in making great strides with his communication.

Quite often when I haven’t understood Dylans verbal approximations (or I am simply stupid and not able to mind read when he is thinking about something) I may  gently suggest to him that he get his iPad so I can understand. ‘No!’ is often the response I receive. This is not because Dylan objects to using the iPad but more of the fact that it has been left in a different room and he simply can’t be arsed to go and get it. ‘Shall I get it Dylan?’ ‘Yah bea’ he will grumble and happily use it once it is brought to him. If the Ipad is more accessible he will try to vocalise to us a couple of times as we guess his statement until he rolls his eyes, ‘Ipad’ he says he says before punching the words onto the device so that we can finally understand what he’s saying. We are all relieved to finally understand as he seems to be getting more and more exasperated with us as time goes on.

Increasingly so Dylan has discovered the function of the word ‘No’. I hear it a lot, over and over again. If he doesn’t agree with us or doesn’t wish to follow a request then the answer will often be a loud ‘No’ over and over again. Simple examples of our unreasonable requests which would warren this type of response would be ‘

Dylan its time for you to have a bath,’ ‘NO NO NO NO….’

‘Dylan go brush your teeth’, ‘NO NO NO NO….’

‘Dylan we are at the shops, shall we get out of the car now?’ ‘NO NO NO NO NO….’

You get the gist of it

This communication has been developing more and more over the last few months which as a family we find secretly delightful (we daren’t show our joy at his communication Dylan incase we anger him more).

The most public display of this behaviour occurred last weekend whilst visiting grandparent. When we visit other people’s houses Dylan often spends time in the kitchen raiding the cupboards and whilst this is an activity that amuses Dylan it’s not always appropriate. So this time when he verbally whispered ‘cracker’ to suggest that he would like to go to the kitchen and eat all of Nannys savoury items in her cupboards the answer from us was a delicate whisper back, ‘Not today, you could have some next time maybe?’

With eyes filled with fury he pulls his iPad out without making a sound and punches onto the screen, turns the volume up as loud as he can and with a long glare at us he presses the speech bar.

‘No. No. No. No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!’

The family chatter within the room dies down and all eyes are on Dylan. He’s so consumed with his irritation at the result of the cracker conversation so that he simply doesn’t care, he breaks our eye contact, glances around the room at everyone and presses the speech bar again.

‘No. No. No. No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!’

Absolutely shameless, I love it. Part of me expected him to strop out in a huff but I realised that only he didn’t as he probably couldn’t be bothered to.

Excellent. We have a teenager! 🙂

 

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April is Autism Awareness Month: Day 1 – Queues

Autism Awareness from 2017

With a hop, skip and a jump

April is Autism awareness month. For anyone who doesn’t have their head in the clouds and is already AWARE of autism let’s spread that gesture to ACCEPTANCE and UNDERSTANDING.

I can’t speak for all people with autism just because I know one and I’m not going to claim to be able to. Just like I can’t speak for all women or parents just because I am one.

But I *do* know Dylan and if I can increase the worlds understanding of Dylan and his autism using everyday examples then hopefully we can all create a society that has insight and understanding for him and others like him.

Day 1: Queues.

Dylan can appear rude because he often doesn’t understand or adhere to social rules such as queuing. To Dylan if he wants to buy something in a shop and sees a cashier at the till then he wants to…

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Efforts to include

It’s Easter Sunday and Dylan’s had a good day with a family lunch and after dinner games. Everyone enjoyed the spelling, maths and celebrity guessing games whilst Dylan requested sitting away and watching his favourite programme on the telly. After a while he came and sat back at the table with us so we showed him how to select the correct amount of cards to be placed on the board for each of us to take our turn on the game.

Now I know that Dylan couldn’t give a hoot about how many constanants or vowels we need to play but with support he enjoyed sharing the game with us and seemed happy to have a role within it.

Little efforts were made to promote inclusion; it doesn’t take much.

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A win for Dylan!

An overall funny week culminating in a win for Dylan!

He’s been playing badminton for the last 6 months. He started off not even knowing how to hold the racket or able to coordinate hitting the shuttlecock as a serve let alone hitting back a return. But surely over time he has got into the swing of the warm up (which must seem pointlessly running around the perimeter of the courts until he is asked to stop and handed a racket.) He has learnt how to handle the racket and the shuttlecock. He loves the return of the passes and sees it a a pleasant return the shittlecock game rather than a game that he should be striving to win.

Ultimately the sessions end with a light game of which scores are recorded on an app on a phone to try and demonstrate to Dylan when a pass concludes with a point and who ultimately gets the point. Winning is a difficult concept to understand and the scoring or scrutinising elements of the game resulting in the point simple delays Dylan from getting back into the game.

Until this week he’s always lost, happy just to play the game but there no hiding from it; every week, he gets his butt kicked.

Then there was this.

Following a week of ‘No!’ and of disagreements, Dylan plainly telling me ‘No’ when I suggest he uses his IPad so I can understand. He bellowed ‘nuts’ at me throughout a 40 minute car journey to speech therapy as he wanted to divert to the shops before his session. He has well and truly skidded into his teens this week with grunts, disagreements and good old ignoring of us.

It’s been tough but reassuringly typical and I like to think that it’s this fire in his belly that’s got him a win at his beloved badminton.

Go Dylan!

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Deep breathing.

It’s social worker day.

She’s half hour late so I’ve just rung to check I haven’t got the wrong date or it’s been cancelled.

She answered her phone.

‘Youre not in’ she barked into the phone as I introduced myself.

‘I am’ I say.

I’ve just been to your address and there’s no answer’ and reels off our old address, that we moved from over a year ago and have had social visits at since moving.

‘No, we’ve moved’ I calmly reply and give her our address.

She’s coming back.

I literally cannot wait.

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Inclusion is more than just being present

Sitting in a restaurant with Dylan in the midst of the half term rush and bustle.

There’s crying babies, noisy excitable children and the usual hubbub of people enjoying their lunch. Sitting here with Dylan is a marvel. Not do long ago, we used to hide away in holiday time. It was too busy to go out, it was too much for Dylan to cope and we achieved nothing. Dylan became distressed and self injurious, Dad and I felt self conscious and out of control in the glare of stranger’s stares and Josh and Grace well, they were just there being brought up within what felt like isolating chaos.

So to sit here today with Dylan calmly managing the situation (I wouldn’t say he’s enjoying it) is nothing short of amazing.

To be able to go out and eat in public is integration, something that we as a family have strived for for many years. For Dylan to order a refill of his drink, be heard, listened to, acknowledged and addressed, now thats inculsion.

Strike my previous observation; now Dylan’s enjoying it 🙂

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Every Little Helps

Adapting to change is a concept which can be difficult to us all, notoriously to those with autism. This weekend Dylan has made fabulous adaptations and taken it all in his stride.

Saturday we went to Dylan’s usual supermarket. He knows the layout here. He knows where he’s going and we often go there late on a Saturday afternoon so it’s part of our routine. As usual he had a small list of 2-3 items he wanted to buy. He got his own basket and we wander around so he could pick up the bits he wanted to buy. It’s only when he got to pay that he realised he didn’t have his wallet and looked to us to pay for his basket of goods.

Now maybe a few months ago when Dylan was begining to piece together the elements of holding a basket as it got weighed down with purchases or if he was still at the stage of practicing queueing up or navigating the store we would step in and pay, but we’re not, Dylan knows the routine and most importantly he knows that if he wants to buy something then he needs his money.
So I toughened up, we left the queue and went back around the shop returning the items to the shelves. Dylan’s not happy. He held it together and I just keep reminding him; he needs his money if he wants to buy anything.

We get out the shop and back in the car. It’s late and we don’t have time to go back to the shop once he finds his wallet at home. Again he’s not happy but with a clear explanation we manage.

Now tommorrow is a tricky concept so naming the day as Sunday helps Dylan correlate the time frame of how long he has to wait with his daily schedule. After a few minutes of support and reassurance Dylan comfortably understands ‘Sunday is battery and Pringles’.

Fast forward to today and I decide that we will pop round to the small super market around the corner, Dylan’s happy with this and we walk in the rain instead of driving. This is another compromise for Dylan who would always rather take the car for journeys, especially when the weather is bad. But he happily walked.
He adapted to a different shop, grabs a basket and navigates the shop to find his chosen items, paying with his card and we then walk home together. So many changes handled so well.

So easy. Finally.