Its a Monday and when I was office based it used to be my favourite day of the week but not anymore, today feel like the most Monday-ist Monday ever! In the words of that Geldof prick and school shooter Brenda Spencer… ‘I don’t like Mondays.’
Today me got to meet our new health visitor; Louise. we all know how much we rated Sarah so she does have a lot to live up to. Louise has been the health visitor for our area for 15 years which is a long time for a health visitor to remain in the profession.
She turned up in full PPE as you would expect in todays current climate, Mask, goggles, gloves and full length plastic apron. Brilliant first impression… the neighbours must think we either stink or are getting fumigated 🦨🤣
She introduced herself and immediately jumped into questions about William, I must say the sceptic in me immediately though she hadn’t read his notes but she was also referring to him and wanted a thorough picture for herself of his capabilities and behaviours.
She confirmed she will be attending next Mondays meeting about his EHCP just like Sarah used to despite not receiving the official invitation.
Before I could even ask her about the Nappy Service she told me she had looked into our request and there was no leeway with him being under four, again this impressed me that she had looked into things that we had hit brick walls with without having to be asked. This one was on my little things I had written down during the months I was unable to speak with Sarah.
She has decided to put us through to a sleep specialist to help us hopefully get William to sleep easier and keep him asleep, this will involve lots of assessments and advice before potentially leading to medication such as melatonin. Melatonin will help most kids fall to sleep but not all… The problem is some parents believe it will help a child who is procrastinating going to bed, stop a child waking up early or having nightmares but that isn’t the case. Melatonin is usually a natural hormone that our brains release in order to help us fall to sleep. Melatonin supplements are available easily online but they are NOT regulated and may do more harm than good. If you are considering Melatonin please ensure you speak to a professional before buying something that you cant be 100% sure of what’s in it. There are concerns that because melatonin is a hormone that it may effect your child’s development when they hit puberty and it is something we will need to consider deeply if we reach that stage.
I asked her to refer us to Wheelchair services so we can get a specialised buggy but she wasn’t sure if she was able to do so. she said she would be in touch about it and… within 2 hours of her leaving our house she was on the phone advising us of who we need to speak to as only two organisations can make that referral, Occupational health and Physiotherapy but William doesn’t need any of these 😕 Its not that he can’t walk. Far from it. Its when he does walk he will drop to the floor in a floppy state no matter where he is including roads, its the fact he has no danger awareness and a buggy at times he goes floppy or has a meltdown would prevent him from getting hurt. I’ve lost count of the amount of time Dave has had to stop cars because or child is laid in the street. 🚗 we have spoken to our G.P surgery and have a telephone consultation booked next week for the doctor to decide if its appropriate for him to refer us 🙄
I’m not sure if we mentioned the questionnaires that are sent out prior to a child’s development check up but they have always been brutal to us. They focus on what children should be doing for their age group and as we are all aware William isn’t at his age group so it was a lot of negatives for us. These are called the Ages & stages questionnaires and unless I am mistaken are to identify children who may have developmental disabilities. He will now be assessed based on the Nelson scale which focuses on the age he is at for each area rather than where he should be for his actual age. I think this will be much easier to help us understand the next steps in his development. We see little improvements and new achievements but we find that the standard ages and stages just doesn’t celebrate or include those and will continue to score zeros despite developing slowly at his own pace.
On the plus she has weighed and measured him and he is in the 25th percentile which is where he has been all along. This made me feel so much better about his eating habits as I do worry he may be underweight but apparently he is perfectly healthy… which is always good to hear.
I think because Sarah was all we had know for 4 years we held her on a pedestal and it was unfair to presume Louise would be inferior to her. She has already made a brilliant first impression but I guess I’m just skeptical due to the amount of agencies who have failed to uphold their promises but Louise seems really promising and honest and I guess that’s all we can ask for. She will only be with us until William starts school in a years time in which the school support will take over… if we get in but thats a whole other worry for another day.
I wanted to share with you some details from two articles published by The Independent and Hull Live about Ryan Addison.
Being from Hull myself the story automatically caught my attention for some pretty disturbing reasons. Firstly the article on Hull Live hold the title ‘Innocent Hull man locked up with criminals for years because of his autism’ When Ryan was 17 years old, verging on adulthood he showed signs of concerning behaviour which cumulated in him trying to take his own life. He was then voluntarily detained in hospital for help with his behaviour. With him being 17 at the time he would not have been able to give permission for this himself so the mental health professionals must have asked him mother and father for consent on his behalf.
Ryan’s mom was pleased and thought after some treatment she would get her boy back home, a few weeks maximum she thought… That was 14 years ago.
Sadly Ryan was wrong diagnosed as suffering with Schizophrenia which was only re-evaluated 12 years after the initial diagnosis. He did not have Schizophrenia but was actually autistic. For those 12 years with an incorrect diagnosis Ryan was treated with drugs for something he did not have. Ryan has been so heavily medicated he lost 14 teeth and had to be fitted with denture which has since been misplaced.
After 10 years Ryan was moved to the Humber Centre for Forensic Psychiatry which according to the NHS UK site provides medium and low security for patients suffering from mental disorders, learning disabilities and personality disorders; offering assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.
Within 4 months of arriving at The Humber Centre Ryan was put into long-term segregation and between October 2017 and February 2018 he was not permitted to have any contact with the outside world after showing aggressive behaviour and violence. The department of health state in their section of the right to have visitors when detained under the mental health act the below…
You can have visitors but different wards have different rules about times etc.
Your visitors can be very important in giving you support.
The Code of Practice also states
All patients have the right to maintain contact with, and be visited by, anyone they wish to see, subject to carefully limited exceptions. The value of visits in maintaining links with family and community networks is recognised as a key element in a patient’s care, treatment and recovery. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to a family life. In particular, every effort should be made to support parents to support their children. Patients should be able to see all their visitors in private, including in their own bedroom if the patient wishes.
Visits should be encouraged and made as comfortable and easy as possible for the visitor and the patient. Reasonable and flexible visiting times, access to refreshments and pleasant surroundings will all contribute to a sense of respect for the patient’s entitlement to be visited
In addition to visits, every effort should be made to assist the patient, where appropriate, to maintain contact with relatives, friends and advocates in other ways. It is good practice for patients to be placed in a hospital as close as reasonably practicable to their families, and patients should have readily accessible and appropriate daytime telephone and internet facilities (see chapter 8). Where a patient is placed out of area it is good practice to consider the needs of family and carers who have to travel in order to visit
There are circumstances where hospital managers may restrict visitors, refuse them entry or require them to leave. Managers should have a policy on the circumstances in which visits to patients may be restricted, to which both clinical staff and patients may refer, which should be clearly displayed on the ward.
There are two principal grounds which could justify the restriction or exclusion of a visitor: clinical grounds and security grounds.
The decision to prohibit a visit by any person whom the patient has requested to visit or has agreed to see should be regarded as a serious interference with the rights of the patient and a blanket restriction may be considered a breach of their article 8 rights. There may be circumstances when a visitor has to be excluded, but these instances should be exceptional and any decision should be taken only after other means to deal with the problem have been considered and (where appropriate) tried. Any such decision should be fully documented and include the reasons for the exclusion, and it should be made available for independent scrutiny by the CQC or service commissioner, and explained to the patient. Hospital managers should review the effect on the patient of any decision to restrict visits. These policies should be risk-based and not impose blanket restrictions, eg no visitors for the first four weeks after admission
From time to time, the patient’s responsible clinician may decide, after assessment and discussion with the multi-disciplinary team, that some visits could be detrimental to the safety or wellbeing of the patient, the visitor, other patients or staff on the ward. In these circumstances, the responsible clinician may make special arrangements for the visit, impose reasonable conditions or if necessary exclude the visitor. In any of these cases, the reasons for the restriction should be recorded and explained to the patient and the visitor, both orally and in writing (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality). Wherever possible, 24-hour notice should be given of this decision.
The behaviour of a particular visitor may be disruptive, or may have been disruptive in the past, to the degree that exclusion from the hospital is necessary as a last resort. Examples of such behaviour include: • incitement to abscond • smuggling of illicit drugs or alcohol into the hospital or unit • transfer of potential weapons • unacceptable aggression, and • attempts by members of the media to gain unauthorised access.
A decision to exclude a visitor on the grounds of their behaviour should be fully documented and explained to the patient orally and in writing. Where possible and appropriate, the reason for the decision should be communicated to the person being excluded (subject to the normal considerations of patient confidentiality and any overriding security concerns).
The hospital manager has a responsibility to regularly monitor the excluded visitors list and keep all parties informed which was according the articles was not adhered to so he or she should be facing severe disciplinary action and potentially dismissal.
I want to add here that it wasn’t until 2018 that Ryan’s mom said it was clear he should not be locked up. Now I am not sure if the article is paraphrasing but misdiagnosis or not, Ryan’s behaviour was still very challenging; It took 9 staff to restrain him when he became aggressive which did result in Ryan suffering some injuries which shouldn’t have happened however if he was aggressive then there would be the need to restrain him from hurting himself or others in the facility.
It is officially stated that detaining those with autism diagnosis is not effective however figures do show that the number of those detained in facilities has more than doubled within 5 years which is a terrifying jump in numbers.
Sharon claims that she was not able to physically touch her son, take up to date photos of him or even see his room. she states she called the centre twice a day; once in a morning and once at night to see how her son was doing but in October 2019 she was unable to reach the ward despite multiple attempts. A member of staff at the facility had blocked Sharon’s number and when she dialled from her husbands phone that was blocked too. It was only then that she made an official complaint but no one would admit to blocking their calls and apparently it was untraceable due to the number of staff on duty but senior managers at the facility have given a stern warning to all staff that such behaviour is not acceptable! (apparently that needs spelling out) Thus meant that no one could be held accountable for such a heinous act and most probably still work there with vulnerable people and their families.
In a statement Humber Teaching Foundation Trust said: “We are in complete agreement with Mrs Clarke that Ryan’s current hospital placement is an inappropriate environment to meet Ryan’s needs. We are pleased that, following positive meetings with commissioners last week, together we are now taking the steps required to discharge Ryan into a community placement that will be better placed meet his needs. We understand that Ryan and his family feel that this process has taken a longer than expected, however, it is important that we find the right placement that meets Ryan’s complex needs and enables him to progress further with his recovery”
I’m a glass half empty kind of person and I do find it odd that it has taken so long for the failures around Ryan’s care to be addressed not only by his family but also the Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS. Did Ryan just slip through the gaps? or was he forgotten about because it was more convenient for all parties?
The Government has now agreed a new 62 million pound fund to help local councils tailor bespoke packages to suit the needs of adults like Ryan however Covid-19 is more than likely to have an impact on this due to the amount council have spent during this pandemic.
His mom thinks that when he is released he will become more like the young boy she remembers and will truly blossom however that was a long time ago but I sincerely hope that is true for him. He has had a huge portion of his life taken away and although he can not get back the years he has lost I really hope he can have many fulfilled ones in the future. I will update about his release when possible.
Check out the original article from The Independent here And the Hull live article here
As many of you will be aware we have recently been on a big family holiday for the first time in 2 years and as you can imagine things with William have changed greatly since our last vacation. I love getting together with our family but as anyone will be aware it can be stressful; throw an autistic child in the mix and it can be nuclear which meant my stress levels peaked before we had even left the house. ‘What can he cope without?’ ‘What if he smears whilst we are there?’ ‘What if he cant handle it being around so many people?’
I know it sounds a little crazy as my mum and dad were there and he loves them both so much and my dad will babysit when I was office based, my sister and niece were there and he loves his Auntie Nellen (or H to everyone else, the letter H doesn’t exist in Kingston upon Ull. ⚙Yes the cog used to be our logo 🙄) Big nanna came for the first time and we all know what an amazing bond they have and finally his Uncle Jim and lets face it unless he has to change a nappy he is amazing with him (if we ignore the fact he’s banged Williams head more times than Rick Allen has banged his drums🥁)
Here are some of my favourite pictures from the week 🥰🥰🥰
Picture 1 – We were delighted to be able to borrow a freeloader carrier which personally is amazing for parents of children with special needs to be able to safely carry them to areas you would not be able to get to with a stroller or wheelchair. Unlike a baby carrier it has a seat on an reinforced hinge which means that when your child sits on it the straps are not brutally cutting into your flesh due to the weight of your lump child. Its a big expense as they are imported from America but I would honestly say they are definitely worth it and we will eventually be looking at getting one of our own 💸💸💸 Click here to check them out
Picture 2 – We’ve discussed on previous posts about Williams refusal to walk and lack of awareness when it comes to roads. Here is a prime example. We had walked for less than 2 minutes and William collapsed in the road. He makes himself go floppy so he is impossible to grab onto and will just lay wherever he has fallen an believe me he is more slippery than a bar of soap and his limbs just slide through your hands. 🧼
Picture 3 – William love bubbles but hates bath time 🛁 so after a traumatic bath which was much needed as he decided to sit in the stream we left all the bubbles in the tub for him to lay and play in. Dave took so many photos and Big Nanna sat in a chair watching him have the time of his life and I’m so glad she got to see that as she had witnessed a meltdown at the beginning of the week which I will talk about later.
Picture 4 – Dave loves the walks up in the dales and has climbed the peaks and everything… Me; no so much. My version of exercise is walking to fridge or picking up my phone to order on just eat. 🍕 We decided to spend one of our days in our little 3 person bubble and went to explore the village. Whilst sat with his dad on the bank of a deep stream William lost a one of his Wellies over the edge and Dave had to go in and fetch it… as you can see no shits were given by William at all and he is actually calmly sat on grass which is a big improvement.
Picture 5 – Dave referred to this table as a 70’s party table due to its mirrored surface. William had his first little holiday romance… with himself. It’s like he discovered his reflection for the first time and spent a good amount of his time kissing his reflection 😘 William doesn’t quite understand what a kiss is and his version is coming at your mouth with his mouth open and there is always a risk you will get bitten but its worth it, I would take a million bites for one kiss.
Picture 6 – He loved the streams that ran though the village and we went in for splashes at every opportunity. We learnt a few things on these mini adventures. My wellies had holes in (they were about 10 years old), William loves the running water and decided to wade as far as we would let him, to the point the water was over his wellies so I wasn’t the only one with wet feet and finally that he will literally just sit anywhere including in said stream 😂 It made the short walk back to cottage much longer, wetter and colder.
William had one meltdown whilst we were away and unfortunately it was the worst we have experienced so far. He went red and started screaming and repeatedly hitting himself in the face with both his hands clenched together 😢 It hurts me to see him so distressed however I now know not to try and restrain him as it makes it much worse. Big nanna has never experienced a full meltdown and it really frightened her. I could see it in her eyes and asking me to stop him hitting himself and asking me what was wrong and to be honest I couldn’t work it out. He has been to toilet, he had eaten well and nothing he hadn’t eaten before, he had his favourite toys and Hey Duggee was on the TV. I don’t know if it was the new environment or he just wasn’t feeling himself but it really frightened her which upset me alot.
I think being told about the way someone reacts due to their additional needs is very different from seeing it first hand. Autism in a spectrum which is so vast and complicated it is difficult for people to understand, even those who are close to someone with ASD don’t fully understand the possibilities or the limitiations and it can make explaining them exhausting 🥱
The journey home was uneventful as you can see from the above picture the journey home was uneventful, either that or they just didn’t think much to mine and H’s music choices 🎶
William missed his friends back home and Rusty which was evident because as soon as he saw each of them he was so happy. He practically ran straight to our next door neighbours for cuddles, my pets and child are all starting to think they live there 😂 but in all seriousness I actually love it. He has an amazing bond with the full family and I trust the girls to take him to park and be safe with him and it takes alot for me let anyone do that. He was sat on the roundabout in park and quietly ate his packed lunch as it went round when some older kids (secondary school) asked one of the girls to make him move and she told them no, he has problems and he’s happy where he is and they just left. She has more balls than I think I would have done.
One of our other neighbours got back from their holidays today and as you can see William missed them that much he sat in their car and made himself comfortable. GTA eat your heart out 🚗
In the words of Akon ‘I am so Lonely’ or in words of puppet Kim Jong Il ‘I’m So RonerySo ronery. So ronery and sadry arone’
Having a baby is very misleading; when the baby is born everyone wants to know you. they visit, bring gifts and make promises they don’t intend to keep. As your baby gets older people start to fade away and are only occasionally spotted at birthdays or christmas time. People stop asking you if you want to meet up for a coffee or lunch because you would have to bring the baby or because you have said no a few times due to breastfeeding or lack of childcare.
Your circle continuously gets smaller as your child gets bigger.
If your child has special needs this circle practically becomes a dot, a little bit like a reversed ripple.
I’m not sure why this happens but slowly even the people who had previously part of your lives now even fail to ask about your child on the rare occasions they speak to you. I’m not sure if its because they don’t know how to react when you say ‘Not good…’ or because they are scared the will say the wrong thing like referring to a meltdown as a tantrum or saying things like how all children do that and will grow out of it etc. I would accept things like that as I would happily share Williams story and experiences with everyone and educate people about ASD, GDD & SPD so that those parents that come after me have a slightly larger dot.
It’s a very lonely life as a parent of a special needs child. It becomes harder to spend time with your partner and you begin to realise why separation rates are higher for parents in our situation. Its hard to maintain that spark especially when you both work opposite shifts for childcare reasons and it can be near on impossible to get a sitter (not even mentioning COVID) due to William’s behavior which can be challenging to say the least.
Exhibit A. That isn’t chocolate! 🤮
I think its sad. Actually no, that’s isn’t right. I think it’s disappointing. I know it’s disappointing that we lose what we thought would be our forever circle. People who were strangers a year or two ago became those we confide in not because we upgraded or chose to leave people behind but because they understand that aching pit of despair we often feel.
I know when William goes to school we will meet parent in situations similar to ourselves and extend our circle. I’m not saying that we will bond with all his classmates parents but even one or two would be a bonus.
As always I’m not sure what my motivation was for this post but wanted other parents to know that it’s not just them and we are here for you to be part of your circles if you need us 😘
Males inherit the X chromosome from their mothers, the Y from their fathers.
Williams results from the genetics testing came today and its a bit of a mouthful but… there was a variation from the normal pattern wirh interstitial hemixygous copy number gain Xp22.33. The test states there is additional genetic material.
Chromosome 22 is the second smallest human chromosome (21 is the smallest) including more than 51 million DNA sectors (they’re in pairs) and represent between 1.5 and 2% of the total DNA in cells.
There is no defined link between this and autism but there are a few case studies referring to it and those with learning difficulties but not enough research has been carried out. Its is classed medically as having uncertain clinical significance.
If it has come back as nothing detected that would have been shit but manageable.
If something would have been detected on his Y chromosome I wouldn’t have blamed Dave but I am sat here now blaming myself. After all the X chromosome came from me.
Have I done this to him? To us? The paediatrician will be booking in a consultation to discuss the results in more detail and establish if further investigations are needed but now I’m terrified of what they will say… will further investigation point the finger at me even more?
I just feel like I’m back at the beginning of our journey, like all the progress we’ve made in our acceptance and grieving over a child we thought we would have hasn’t mattered and I’m back to looking at him and crying because this could all be down to me.
I think I have been pretty vocal about how all appointments and referral seem to go round for us but I held out hope (in vain) for our most recent one, to the nappy service 🚼
Let me put a little context to this. William is 3 years old but developmentally under a year. Due to his physical age he is the highest available size of nappies. He is not currently able to be potty trained as he isn’t aware of when he needs to go toilet or if he is he is unable to communicate this as of yet.
William also suffers from a lazy bowel and it doesn’t always function and it should so mild laxatives are often needed to relieve him of discomfort as he can go over a week before naturally being able to pass a stool. As you can imagine the build up of waiting to go natural or the explosion of laxatives puts any nappy to the test but imagine this happening when there isn’t any that will fit him 🤢
William also displays sensory seeking behaviors and unfortunately this involves a fascination with his own faeces. The will result in him smearing the contents of his nappy over himself and his surroundings and on occasion he has put it in his mouth.
On a night we have had to put him in a onesie to stop him taking his clothes off and removing his nappy. Unfortunately for us the little Houdini has now learnt to remove a onesie as you can see below… thankfully he was busted in time and put back into his clothing jail.
We were worried as he gets bigger what will do and we were told that there is a nappy service in our area which provides children with special needs nappies in bigger sizes which is amazing. However nothing is ever that simple.
Let me start from the beginning…
Our GP sent a referral to the community nursing team
The community nursing team rejected this as he is under 4
NO ONE NOTIFIED US UNTIL WE CHASED THE REFERRAL
Our GP sent a referral to paediatric medicine
The sent it back to the GP with advice to refer to community nurses or the learning disability team
NO ONE NOTIFIED US AND OUR GP CLOSED THE REFERRAL
I chase the paediatric medicine team who told us what they had done
I call the GP and they tell me to call the community nursing team
I call them and they only know about the original referral and won’t accept another one as he is still under 4
I call the GP and have to tell them exactly what the paediatric medicine team have told me
SUDDENLY NOW I HAVE TOLD THEM WHAT HAS BEEN SAID THEY CAN SEE IT ON THEIR SYSTEM
They can not help as the person who deals with referral is off (I don’t think they’ve ever been in the office when I have called) but a manager of the surgery will call me back
Kerry calls me and has no idea why she is calling me. She thinks it’s regarding his autism assessment.
I HAVE TO REPEAT THE FULL CYCLE AGAIN WHILST SHE REPEATEDLY TELLS ME SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHATS HAPPENED
She is going to call our health visitor and William’s own paediatrician for help and call me back
She calls back, she has left word for the health visitor but doesn’t know if she can help. She has called CAMHS (children and adult mental health services) and they can not help. She has called learning disabilities team and they can not help and she doesn’t know what to do.
WELL KAREN (SHE IS NOW A KAREN, I HAVE DECIDED) NEITHER DO I AND IT’S NOT MY JOB TO KNOW!
She will send me some links to places that can help.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SENT ME… A LINK TO A CHARITY SHOP AND A SITE TO SUPPORT ADULTS WITH AUTISM. SO FUCKING HELPFUL!
I found it hard not to cry or be angry whilst on the phone with Kerry/Karen and I’m sure she could hear the break in my voice when I asked her ‘what are we supposed to do now?’
And that is the question, what do we do now?
We can’t be the first parents who have come across this, we can’t be the first to be in this situation. What happens when you fall into the gap? Do we just stay there for 8 months and have a bare bottomed child or tie a carrier bag to his waist?
If I failed to change and clean his bum for him when he was physically under a year old then I would have been classed as neglectful but what about now? He isnt physically under year but developmentally he is still in the same place. Am I being neglectful? Or are the services in place being neglectful by allowing this?
People often struggle to differentiate between a child with autism and a child who is being naughty.
As a parent who suffers with anxiety it is very difficult to go to certain places and deal with other people who don’t know William like we do.
Something as simple as a journey on a bus can set me into a tailspin, a small journey can lead to an argument due to the fact other passengers look at William as see what they deem as an ablebodied 3 year old in stroller taking up a space they feel someone else needs more. Not all disabilities are visible and what give you the right to assume!
A trip to a supermarket can lead to a full meltdown due to the hustle and bustle of different people, a different environment, bright lights and loud noises. One the rare occasions he will walk, he will often end up laid on floor and go floppy because he can’t handle the stimulation and lack of familiar surroundings and comfort. This is not a toddler having a tantrum because he can’t get sweets or doesn’t want to walk, its because he is in pain.
When we go to a restaurant, cafe or bar he will beeline for any food he can see, we will stop him before he takes it but it can lead to awkward conversations, dirty looks and whispered remarks. This isn’t because he isn’t fed at home or because he is rude. This is because food is such a high motivator for him and that the fact it doesn’t belong to him doesn’t even register.
I shouldn’t have to apologise for my son for being himself but I find it becomes a more frequent occurrence as time goes on. I shouldn’t have to explain why he is the way he is, there should be a wider understanding of the autism spectrum leading to acceptance.
I truly believe that autism awareness and understanding should be educated in schools so that future generations don’t make the same mistakes and assumptions. There are no definitive figures of those with autism as no record or register is kept but based on recent surveys 1 out of 100 has autism.
Think of the children in your child’s year at school, think of the children who you went to school with. I wish I had been more aware, more educated and a better person.
I want that for the future, for children like William and for parents like us who often feel we should apologise on behalf of our son when maybe, just maybe they should be apologising to us for their small mindedness.
After telling the whole village about Joe being autistic I would have thought his parents would have spoken to him about it. I understand he was 5 when he went missing but to not even address it is a little peculiar. It’s really sad that he had to hear he was autistic from someone else.
Telling William that he is autistic has never been a question for us. When he is old enough to understand we will explain it to him. Our main issue is how we tell him, how we will explain it to him. It’s not as if we can answer the why’s he may have. ‘Why me?’ I don’t know son. We asked ourselves the same question for years. It’s a hard thing to plan because we don’t know at what age he will be ready for this kind of conversation.
When things like this happen, it’s always Joe it happens to.
Sarah Hibbs. The A Word
The speech with the other parents at the school was interesting. It’s a lack of understanding. It’s like the other parents expected them to be able to just come up with a way he can stop these behaviours but it’s not that simple. The reasons behind not sending him to special school were very similar to the ones we had before we decided where to send William. It’s a hard decision to make. Do you want them to have a ‘normal’ school life? But then who is it normal for? Or do you send them to somewhere who can speak and educate them on their own level?
I’m not the same.
Joe Hughes. The A Word.
Episode 2 starts with the change to Joe’s morning routine. Not only is the school itself different but due to how far away it is there isn’t time for his morning routine meaning Joe is struggling even more with the change. I really love the look book they created for him. Pictures of his old school, teacher and friends and the pictures of what the new school is like. I’ve seen parents in my support group who’ve made very similar things to address changes or events. To go step by step through what will happen on a holiday, in an airport etc. They’re brilliant and if it’s something we will need in the future I look forward to naming them for William. I love a bit of crafting ☺
He’s our family’s north star, we follow him. It’s how it has to be.
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Paul’s face when Mark is having his meltdown is so full of fear and I understand that. Is this kind of meltdown what he has to look forward to? Autism isn’t something children can grow out of and it looks as if Paul has just realised that and it is hard. That realisation that this is with you for life and it’s hard. That moment if first dawns on you. It hits you like a brick to the first but hurts twice a much. 🤕
Episode 3 had more Ralph ❤ I love Ralph so much and his relationship with Maurice is so innocent and really good to watch. I’m so glad he hired him at the brewery.
Well to be honest I did feel a bit of a stirring in the glove compartment 🤣
Maurice Hughes. The A Word
Episode 4, the night away without the kids. Without Joe. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be the centre of their universe but they have massively lost touch with themselves as a couple. I worry about Dave and I, before I was on furlough we rarely saw each other and just touch base every now and again but it was always William centred. I think we need to make a conscious effort to spend time as ourself when lockdown is over. Dinner and a movie as Marie and Dave instead of as William’s parents.
Episode 5 starts with a video of Joe. A video his auntie has compiled of his behaviours. She wants to use the video to help parents who have ‘Joe type’ autism. She clearly explains that when people think of autism they either think of a non verbal child in meltdown or a rain man type. Autism is such a big spectrum it’s difficult not to picture one type of person. I suppose autism has a stereotype just like anything else. I will forever picture William when I think about autism but that’s not what I pictured before. I suppose its difficult to be educated in something so vast. I can honestly say that until it became part of our lives I hadn’t bothered to learn anything about it.
The arguments between Paul and Alison are so hard to watch. Paul seemed so accepting in season one but as time has gone on he seems to regress and swap places with where Alison was in the beginning.
I love Joe but I hate his autism!
Paul Hughes. The A Word.
I’m really struggling to sympathise with Paul. It feels like his character has done a complete 180° he was accepting and understanding and now he is just a bit of a pathetic dick. Especially with his views on the video. I can’t understand why he doesn’t want it used if the footage of their son can help local GPs diagnose autism sooner by giving them a better understanding.
It’s a different way of being human
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Mark ❤ he reads his hope’s and aspirations that I believe are for his EHCP. His just wants things everyone else takes for granted, the be happy, to have an education and to be accepted by friends. Its heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.
Every bit of progress that has ever been made to peoples attitude towards autism has been made because people talked about it, were open about it, explained it.
Nicola Daniels. The A Word.
Episode 6, season finale. Paul just wants to run away, he wants to pretend nothing is happening. He wants to end his relationship because he can’t cope with how well Alison is coping. Its upsetting because they should be pulling together but statistically parents raising a child with autism are 10% more likely to get divorced compared to those with neuro typical children. This is much more prevalent for those who’s children are 8 or over. So 5 years left of married bliss before I have to give Dave the old heave-ho 🤣 but on a serious note it is difficult to pull together when you each have your own ways of dealing with a diagnosis. We do worry about it, me more than Dave as I’m often a neurotic mess but the thoughts are always there. Will we make it through this? Can we make it through because there isn’t an end really? There is just the journey.
Overall season 2 was brilliant but in a completely different way to its predecessor. It seemed to focus more on the fractured relationships of the family rather than on Joe. It was a greta watch but again not in the same way the first was.
I would still highly recomend it and personally look forward to season 3. 💙
So the first episode throws you straight in to everyday life for the Hughes family, Joe’s behaviours, the ways in which his parents compensate for him and explain away any problematic issues (He just likes music…) and the way others have already started discussing him behind their backs.
When season 3 premiered I received deluge of texts and calls saying it was back on, I had to watch it, It’s about autism! Although I am really glad otherwise I wouldn’t have known to check it out. It did make my laugh at the time because Big Nan called as her friend called her to tell her to call me 🥴
I think i must be about 10 mins in and the confrontation between Alison and her family who think there is something wrong with Joe is so familiar that it has me sobbing 😭 The blinds are open so anyone passing may think I’m having a breakdown. Its not in any way easy to admit your child is different and its most definitely not easy to listen to someone else say it.
The cast is brilliant especially the 3 main family members; Mum, Alison. Dad, Paul and Joe. I’m slightly concerned that Christopher Eccleston is the Grandad and not the leading man… when the Hell did that happen? How old am I?🤔
Alison is doing exactly what I did, she is researching and dealing with Joe’s issues in secret like there is something to be ashamed of. Almost as if its dirty. Not the fact there is something wrong but the fact you believe it.
During Joe’s assessment with Dr. Waites Paul keeps jumping in and she threatens to make him wait outside. Dave was always so quick to jump in a explain away William’s issues and sugarcoat things. To be honest I think we both were but it took Dave longer to be honest about it.
The whole thing about birthday parties and invites is something that I worry about massively as William gets older. Will William want to be invited to parties or will it be us wanting him to be invited? It seems like the lack of invite for Joe is affecting Paul and Alison but Joe himself is oblivious.
Someone shared something on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to have people stare and judge when your little one is having a meltdown. It really does hurt when people do this. I totally understand that some people may not grasp what our child is doing and why but that doesn’t give them the right to pass judgement. It is hard to keep your chin up when your little one is trying to take other peoples food in a restaurant but then throws their own food behind their back or decides to lay on the floor or crawl instead of walking. We have actively avoided certain places. It sound ridiculous but planning to take William anywhere takes more preparation than a bloody wedding. 👰
It’s not going to go away if we call it something different.
Dr Waites. The A Word
Episode 2 jumps straight in showing Joe isolated at school, he seems perfectly happy but it hits Alison hard. William is really happy alone and we have had to learn how to play with him rather than teaching him how to play with us. However more times than not he chooses to be alone and will walk away from us to do his own thing. It took us a long time to get used to this as following him will upset him.
They push Joe into doing things he doesn’t want to do. To play in different ways, to play in a way in which is deemed ‘normal’ but this isn’t Joe’s normal and its uncomfortable to see.
Alison worries about him becoming labelled in school and how it will effect him. Paul argues that he already has a label with his autism diagnosis but she is having none of it. I guess this brings us back to one of our older posts about the benefits and pitfalls of having a diagnosis. Check it out here…
Its interesting to see how Joe’s diagnosis effects the rest of his family and to watch the conversations had behind closed doors, especially from Maurice as he doesn’t hold anything back and says it as it is. It does make me wonder what our families have said about William before we were so open about it. Did they say things like ‘he isn’t normal’? Did they grieve for the grandchild, nephew or cousin that they thought they would get? It is eye opening as in the beginning you are very much in a bubble, its just you and your child fighting for diagnosis and help but you forget the rest of family are still there with the same worries and feeling you have.
I really feel for Rebecca as the older child. She seems to be going through a pivotal part of her adolescence and no one seems to be noticing or caring. She is just left to her own devices and frankly a little neglected. She obviously cares for her brother a lot which is brilliant and they have an amazing bond, she just ‘gets him’ but it also beautifully highlights both the disadvantages and advantages of having other children. Check out our post about it here…
Watching Joe have a meltdown because he can’t get what he wants is an all too familiar situation. Joe is very vocal about wanting his music and shouts and breaks things. Whereas William will lash out at me or himself to vent his frustration. Before we could admit anything was wrong I used to think it was a way of him manipulating us into getting what he wants, although we now understand that it’s more like what William needs rather than wants. Needs to feel safe and comfortable. Whether it is a biscuit or BabyTV or even for us to press Duggee’s musical arm 5 million times in a row 🤯
Shame (insert naked Cersei Lannister here)… its something we all feel no matter how old our child is when autism is first addressed or even whispered about. Paul hit the nail on the head when he is telling Alison she is ashamed of him for having it, ashamed of them for not picking it up sooner and ashamed for feeling ashamed in the first place.
Episode 3 starts with the first meeting with a speech and language therapist… It feels a little unrealistic as it happened so quickly. There are no wait lists in the lake district? She came from Manchester so there must be no wait lists there either… Think we need to relocate 🤔
Maggie, their SALT is nothing like ours. Its was a frightening experience but that was all in our heads. I’m not a massive fan of people I don’t know coming into our house. I tend to get really anxious and end up snapping at Dave every time. our SALT was lovely, her name is Sally and she really put me at ease and William enjoyed interacting with her. Maggie is very straight talking and blunt and although it makes me like her from a viewing point of view, I can not imagine she would have gone down so well had she been the one to turn up at our house. I suppose all professionals have their own approach and use it to determine how to help their patients.
Alison is desperately trying to communicate with Joe and even tries to engage him in play. She is desperately trying to bribe him to do things with her, it feels like she wants to show Maggie that this isn’t her fault. In a look at me sort of way. I feel her pain. I would love William to sit with me and read books without eating them or play with cars on the floor in the conventional way but that’s not how he plays. He takes comfort in lining his toys up and moving them from place to place which is a solitary activity and if I get involved he gets upset.
Another thing I find super unrealistic is the fact Maggie spends so much time at their house on first visit and the fact she is coming back the following day. Is she privately paid? If that is the case why didn’t Alison recognise Maggie’s name? We waited Months and months for a SALT visit and months after that we have still only had the one which lasted about an hour.
More prime examples of Rebecca being brushed aside and forgotten. She is trying to get her parents to show an interest in her school play and they immediately turn it into another conversation about her brother. Every time she tries to talk they ignore her.
It is something we are very aware that we already do, our world revolves around William, making sure William is getting the adequate support is our main focus and it is one of biggest talking points. Why shouldn’t we tell people what’s going on, his achievements or even how hard it is? But this shouldn’t been done at the detriment of other siblings. This is why having another child worries us so much. The unfairness of it all. How could we go from giving William 100% of our time and energy to splitting it? could it be split equally? Should it be split equally?
Alison missed Rebecca’s play, she missed it and it was so important to her. All because she wanted to bully Maggie into seeing Joe. To top things off they end up arguing about Joe and don’t even realise that Rebecca has gone 😢 I can almost smell the teen pregnancy story line in the works.
I must say the soundtrack is absolutely belting 🎧
Episode 4 starts by showing how much strain Paul is under and how Alison is pushing all her energy into Joe and getting him help. She has actively volunteered for the school in order to gain more insight into Joe’s behaviour with other kids and it’s difficult to watch. It made me feel uncomfortable, she is there to supposedly help the other children read but is focusing on spying on her own child the entire time. However I don’t think I should be surprised she is neglecting other peoples kids when she ignores her own daughter all the time.
The Fever Effect, A fever usually makes you less alert, tired, and ratty however in some children with autism, a fever makes them ‘better’, more social, alert, even talkative. It has been described as providing a glimpse into what your child might be like without autism.The hope in Alison’s voice as she tell Paul that Joe is ‘turning a corner’ after he has been poorly is absolutely heartbreaking. You can see it in Paul’s face as they embrace that he knows it’s not true. And then the next day Alison describes him as being ‘back to abnormal’ 😢
She said she felt like she could see the real Joe underneath all his autism. 🤔 Joe is Joe. Having autism is part of who Joe is, it’s a pivotal part of Joe’s make up the same way it is William’s. Those moments in which he looks at me and I mean really looks are so special and I wouldn’t trade those for the world. even the times he can stare into space and be in his own world and then just giggle at whatever is in his head…. granted late at night this creeps me out and I often refer to him as a psychopath 🤪
Oh god Rebecca hit the nail on the head suggesting Alison’s manifesto for school governor. ‘All children matter but not as much as Joe’ ouch! Shots fired! 🔫🔫🔫
Episode 5 shows how the loss of a person can massively effect not only someone with autism but their family too. It beautifully displays the slow build up of Joe’s emotions and how he struggles to release them. He loves Maya in his own way and the fact that she has been taken away from him takes it’s time to sink in fully and its heartbreaking to see. He begins by withdrawing slightly and then slowly goes into full blown meltdown. Its beautifully handled by actor Max Vento.
William’s main worker at nursery was originally a woman called Linda, he loved Linda so much and couldn’t wait to be with her. He didn’t bother with other children but could happily spend all his time with her. Linda was lovely and motherly not only to William but to us too, she just had a way about her that immediately put you at ease. I knew our little boy was safe with her. BUT William couldn’t stay with Linda as he needed someone who was trained in children with SEN to help him develop. In came Val… she specialised in SEN. She was going to be William’s key worker meaning he couldn’t spend his time with Linda. It was OK at first but then William started actively trying to find Linda at nursery, giving Val the slip. When this didn’t work he stopped wanting to go to nursery at all. 😢 Do you know how we fixed it? We didn’t. It was hard and difficult but he needed Val. He needed her to support him properly in his education but he needed Linda for comfort and we had to chose which was most important and that had to be his education.
Paul’s and Alison’s discussion about having another child perfectly represent in equal measures our own thoughts on the subject. They argue about it as two sides of the fence but with us we just sit in the middle both agreeing with the reason for and against but commit either way. One day it’s a 100% not a chance in Hell and the next we are a little broody. 🤷♀️
Episode 6, the series finale. It kicks off at the launch of their family pub and Joe is struggling. It’s hard for him to be around so many people in a new environment. It’s bloody hard for me to be around so many people in a new environment and I don’t have autism. Alison is desperate for Joe to stay as he is part of their family but Paul is quite happy for him to be left out and removed from the situation which feels as if it’s done to save embarrassment.
Joe goes missing whilst with his grandad. Paul and Alison are speaking to a search party and they’ve just admitted to everyone that Joe is autistic for the first time. Alison describing the fact he may not know he is lost or in even in danger has really struck a chord. One of my biggest worries about William’s future is because he has no perception of danger. I’m sure I have said it before but he would walk off a cliff if it was to get to biscuit.
The suspicion that falls to Ralph is awful. Alison immediate pegs it for what it is and that it’s because he has Down syndrome. Just this small conversation shows how much Alison is growing in her acceptance of disabilities but then she goes round to their house and confronts Louise and Ralph anyway 😕. She shows these signs of growth but then disappoints as usual. The theme of prejudice runs strong in this series finale especially how bad it can be within such a small community.
Overall season one was brilliant. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy watch and some parts have been like re-watching conversations and feelings Dave and I have had over the past two years. The stress placed upon Alison and Paul’s relationship. The lack of communication. Its things we have all gone through as we come to terms with as Paul puts it; our grief over the children we could have had.
Its is definitely a series I would recommend to anyone who has an autistic child within their lives as it gives an accurate insight into not only what the child goes through but their families too.
I look forward to starting season two and hope it is as good as the first 😊