Forgive the horrendous pun 🙏🏻 but I couldn’t resist.
What can I say about Christmas 2020? What can I say about 2020 in general that hasn’t already been said be everyone? I think this year I had more understanding of what William could and couldn’t handle at Christmas which made it easier for me to make sure he wasn’t overwhelmed.
Each christmas eve I have alway reads William ‘Santa comes to Hull’ I’m not sure why I made it a tradition as it wasn’t one I had as a child but I felt it made it a little special knowing he was on his way. This year William grabbed the book from me and and decided to show me it before I read it… Maybe one day he can read it to me 🥰
I’ve been poorly recently with a mega cold 😷 (100% NOTcovid as I had a test) and an injured scapula so the preparations for christmas have been hard physically on top of the usual picking up and carrying William and then the emotional toll of it being my first Christmas alone as a single mom which… If I do say so myself I totally bossed it 💪🏼
Every year without fail we all have always had christmas dinner at my mom and dads house. Christmas isn’t christmas without my mom yelling at my dad to get out of the kitchen or telling us there isn’t room for all of us in the small room, my niece eating more than her share of after eights and my dad hovering round with a bin bag asking if anyone can take it home 🤣 and even more so… it isn’t christmas without big nan. The first lockdown kept us apart for 113 days… so far on this teir 3 we are at 66 days and counting. Thats almost half a year! 😲 I know the rules for christmas day were relaxed but it wasn’t fair to potentially put anyone at risk with William going to nursery, his dad visiting him but working, my sister working and my niece at school… we all felt we would rather we were all here next year to celebrate properly (I’ve also told my mom she has to cook christmas dinner for us all once its safe to do so even if it is summer 🦃 BBQ turkey will not be accepted)
William came down christmas morning and started playing with some of his toys and opening some gifts at his own pace. When this got too overwhelming for him, he retreated upstairs and laid on his bed floor for a little bit until it was time to leave the house. My sister thankfully allowed William and I to go for dinner (the covid test probably helped in that decision😂)
Before I had William I hated Christmas and as William doesn’t usually cope with the festivities I was getting this way again but this year I realised I love it, I love the opportunity to see all our family whilst we aren’t working, to eat good food and just be happy. I think Christmas 2021 will be appreciated so much more than any before it by everyone.
William really enjoyed his christmas dinner and when I say that what I actually mean is he actually ate it this year and pudding too 🍰… I hope his nanna doesn’t take this personally against hers especially after my dads comments last year #dry 😂 We took some of his sensory toys and his tablet so that he could freely do what keeps him happy such as watching ‘Little Baby Bum’ on netflix and biting things 😁 The reason his does this is for oral stimulation… If i’m not careful he tries to eat the fluff on my dressing gown, paper, dog food or his own poop 🤮. I do think William may have an eating disorder called Pica which is relatively common in those with autism or developmental conditions.
When we got home he was ready for round two of presents 🎁 and to spend some time with his dad, which was nice as he got to see him open some gifts too. We ate left over buffet from christmas eve (yes we had room and no I didn’t cook it; it was a cheeky morrisons order) and relaxed in our new PJ’s until bed time.
Williams weighted blanket from big nan was a smash hit but he wouldn’t share it with me, in fact when I tried to cover myself with my own blanket he decided I wasn’t allowed that either😲
Overall this Christmas (year even) wasn’t the one anyone imagined we would be having but to me its given me a whole new appreciation for the festive season and how important it is to spend time with your family. I’m not saying that this time next year I wont be writing a ‘Jingle Hell… Pt.2’ based on last years post but I think I am more prepared now, I can see what triggers William’s meltdowns and can try to prevent them in advance.
I really hope you all had a wonderful christmas or at least got very drunk to block it out🍾 We will all have a re-do for 2021 and it will be the most magical christmas any of us have known, wouldn’t it be amazing if it was a white christmas too ⛄
Its approximately 28 hours until we can say goodbye to this terrible year, I am still working hard on my Understanding Autism level 2 so I may not get the chance to wish you all a happy new year after today but remember, it can not be any worse than this year. Much Love M. x 😘
So let me just take a moment to acknowledge how difficult things have been recently, William is sleeping less than usual and seems to be having more issues with his bowels than ever before… this means a grumpy, exhausted and sometimes hangry mummy at the best of times. Why did I chose before christmas to go on a diet. I’m missing out on soooooo many boxes of celebrations 😭
As someone who is not afraid to state that I am a pessimist, very neurotic and an overthink you can imagine how I feel going into any meetings and today I was filled with the same amount of dread, not because they’re awful but because no matter how prepared I think I am it never feels enough, at least emotionally. There we go… self pity over with. 🙃
The meeting was attended by one of the wonderful ladies who work in the special needs room at William’s nursery, the early years senco and myself… a smaller audience than last time but that isn’t always a bad thing.
Williams EHCP has been agreed to be assessed!!! 🎉🎉🎉 a huge relief that we havce gotten over the first hurdle and I don’t have to take it to appeal. It is now with the moderators and I am awaiting the educational psychologist to reach out and conduct their own assesments on William, after that has been done it will go back to the moderators who will band his assesment as either intensive, severe, high or support plan only and some time after that we will be sent the draft to approve. It feels like it has taken a long time to get to this point and even though we aren’t quite there yet it is a step in the right direction.
I love a good table so here is one showing Williams improvement over the last 6 months… Just look at all that green!!!! 🤭
Area of Development
Previous age range
New age range
Self Confidence & Self Awareness
Managing Feelings & Behaviours
Listening & Attention
Moving & Handling
Health & Self Care
The nursery has advised there has been a little bit of a regression recently and I had to explain about all the changes at home which they understood and will put a plan in place going forward which is amazing, they are brilliant with him and I would recommend them to anyone.
I didn’t want to send William to a mainstream school, I felt it was admitting that a mainstream school can accommodate his needs and I don’t believe they can however today a little bit of reality hit me… I had discussed with William’s dad about keeping him out of school until he gets a place within a special school, it would mean we would have to rely on each other for child care in order for us both to work but we said we would do it however when I mentioned this at the meeting, the senco told me he may not get a place this year, next year or the one after and because their allocations are needs based there is no guessing the outcome. I knew… deep down I did know that it was a possibility but hearing it outloud was hard, I cried (thank god my webcam wasn’t on 🎥) I was very vocal at admitting that I don’t think myself or William are ready for this next big step. It took me two years to send him to nursery! However putting that aside, I have chosen three schools based on recommendations on their SEN facilities and Ofsted reports and when I am ready I will submit his application, its not due until 15th Jan so I may not be ready until Jan 14th but… I will do it because it is what is right. I think deciding to keep him out of school for a year was a big step but if there is no definitive end date then it is simply impractical and unfair on William. They have told me that they will continue to ensure William is thoroughly supported no matter the setting which based on the senco’s promises previous I 100% believe. We have a meeting penciled in for March to discuss his transition from nursery to school as I ideally want to increase his days at nursery after easter so that it isn’t too much of a shock for him going to 5 full days.
Special school allocations are announced the end of January/February and mainstream are announced mid April so I will have time to prepare no matter the outcome but it is going to be a long couple of months.
I want to end on a laugh so let me tell you about William’s girlfriends at nursery… William doesn’t really interact with other children however there is a girl in his class at nursery and she has has taken a liking to him and hugs him really tight every time she sees him to the point his key workers have to pry her off either so she doesn’t strangle him or after William gives them the ‘help me’ look.🤗 So girl 2 doesn’t like William but she does like the sofa he has claimed in the reading nook, William doesn’t want to share his sofa so what the ladies do is seat them at separate ends of it. The girl is fine and quite happy but not for long… William lays all over her until she gets upset and then he laughs! and my mom tells me off for calling him a psychopath! 😂
One of my biggest fears is about William and getting into the right school for him and applications are getting closer and closer so it is a big source of stress during an already stressful time for us.
I read an article recently about a little local boy who was deemed ‘not special needs enough’ for a specialised school and ‘too special needs’ for a mainstream schools who can not accommodate his SEN requirements, leaving him without a place.
The little boy in question in question has a mental age not much older than Williams, is non verbal, is still in nappies and is currently awaiting his autism assessment. On paper a very similar situation to Williams, so as you can imagine this read was my equivalent of reading a Stephen King or Dean Koontz book before bed. 😱
I was advised to reach out to mainstream schools in our area to see what SEN provisions they have should William not be allocated a place within a special school, I have made no secret about the fact there is a specific special school I feel will suit his needs but if that is not possible I would happily begrudgingly accept an alternative but I know that a mainstream school would not be able to meet his needs in the long run, I have reached out to eight different schools in my area, only one which would be easy to get to but I reached out to them all. * One have said they can not accommodate him despite having a responsibility to adjust their settings to do so. * One have stated they need his EHCP before commenting, unfortunately due to covid the process of this was delayed and we may not have this in time for applications although I am aware that it is 90 pages long 📜 * One wanted to invite me in for a look around and a conversation but did state after early years they aren’t big enough to accommodate his needs. * One said they would call me and haven’t * The remaining four have yet to respond despite a secondary email.
Before I was a single parent, myself and William’s dad had discussed how we don’t think a mainstream school would be a good fit for William and the possibility of keeping him at home until we could secure a place which would meet all his needs however now I am not sure how I would be able to try and home school him and work all whilst fighting for his right to education in a safe and secure environment. It never crossed my mind that I would need a place at a mainstream school and now I am worried that I may not get one which is terrifying.
All signs and indications point to the fact William has an exceptionally good chance at obtaining a place at his school of choice or at least an suitable alternative but what if he doesn’t? The schools I am reaching out to aren’t exactly helping me make a decision but what if that decision is taken out of my hands? What if no school can help him?
Its a difficult thought to process especially after reading the article (Click here to read it), as with anything about special needs it is a waiting game, waiting for EHCP, waiting for an assessment but as each day passes mainstream allocations get closer and it feels so overwhelming. I guess waiting is the only thing I can do until our next meeting in December with the councils SEN team.
Hulls SEND strategy is dated from 2016 to 2020 and it starts with their vision Our vision for children with special educational needs and disabilities is the same as for all children and young people – that they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college, and lead happy and fulfilled lives. They talk about their responsibility to commission and provide services for children but there are so many cases where this hasn’t happened that I feel like I am reading a piece of fiction but again only time will tell…
Did you know there are around 1.8 million single parents in the UK – they make up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children. 1.62 million of these are women. I never really thought about this until it happened to us.
I could lie to you all and say we have had an easy ride of things recently but I think you probably know that’s not the case. This is a big adjustment period for me and more importantly for William.
My main focus is to continue to ensure William has a good solid routine in place which is pivotal to him. He is keeping me extremely busy as he seems to be struggling with this huge change in his life, bed times and mornings are now only ever with me and I don’t think he enjoys them very much. He fights and kicks me when I try to change his clothes, runs away from me and screams but we get it done.
We take the dog for nice little walks (well he walks us🐕🦺) which William seems to really enjoy even though he is in the comfort of his stroller and flat of refuses to do any walking. I’m tempted to stay at home and just tie the dog to the stroller and let him pull it arpund the street like a sled 🛷 but I think that would constitute as child cruelty or animal cruelty. Maybe neglect? So I best continue to go with them 🤣
We are eating healthier (as healthy as a boy thats half chicken nugget will eat anyway🍗) and trying to turn this into a positive thing for our lives and look to our future.
We’ve had meltdowns and shutdowns (from both of us😭) but we’ve come through it and these are getting less and less frequent on both parts. He is slowly adjusting to his new routine and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel but its hard. Harder than it ever was before but we are doing ok. In fact we are more than ok, we aren’t just surviving like I thought we would. We are actually living thanks to our amazing support network of family and friends.
We can not thank everyone enough for reaching out to us, the doorstep visits, dropping off shopping and just being there for us. It means more than you all could ever know 😘 Much love M x
I want to talk about why we now own these two DVDs
I used to love DVDs, movies are a big passion of mine and had over two thousand DVDs not including TV box sets or Christmas films. About two years ago we realised like many other people that they were just gathering dust because we had become more reliant on streaming services which made me a little sad as I had been collecting them since I was about thirteen and finally decided to get rid of my VHS. When I met Dave he too shared my passion for movies and our collection just grew. I remember the last DVD I bought was for Dave for Christmas 2014 and it was The Guardians of The Galaxy. We gave almost every single DVD away, Big Nan got first dibs of the chick flicks, I kept the Disney classic in a DVD folder and the rest went to our close friends.
We don’t even own a DVD player but yet yesterday Dave bought these two DVDs 😕
Yesterday was Williams 6 month eye check at the Eye Hospital and as I was working and only one parent is allowed to attend due to Covid-19 restrictions Dave went on his own… I’m getting better at trusting anyone other than myself to ask the right questions now… sometimes. They always struggle to do his eye check as he isn’t fully cooperative, They have told us at the last two checks that everything seems fine but they can’t be 100% sure because he won’t let them check as thoroughly as they would like. Because of this we keep going back, waiting for the day they will discharge us as a patient. William didn’t get to see his Auntie H either as she was super busy.
As a treat afterwards for being a good boy Dave took William into the town centre to get him a treat for his dinner. This usually results in copious amounts of cheese straws and sausage rolls from Cooplands. The boy is an absolute savory fiend.
Anyone that knows Dave knows that he loves his Playstation. Not as much as he love William or Rusty but I think it’s on par with me 😂😂😂 so he popped into CEX in Prospect Centre to look at some games. This is somewhere that when at the height of my DVD addiction I used to frequent on my lunch break when I worked in the offices above. 💿 The staff have always been pleasant, helpful and friendly. William is a sneaky bugger when he wants to be, we’ve been in shops when he has grabbed something random off the shelves because it caught his eye and I’ve nearly left with it or when he has started trying to eat a wrapped chocolate bar and ‘ve had to pay for it knowing full well he doesn’t like turkish delight (It’s a good job I do… keep up the bright wrappers Frys 😉)
Dave got shouted at by a woman in CEX. I will repeat that… shouted at by a woman in CEX. That’s CEX the most relaxed shop in the world. ‘You’re not allowed to touch!’ ‘He can’t touch that!’ ‘Covid!’ Now I’m not sure if I am overreacting here but William sits in what is in my opinion clearly a disability stroller. There is a hidden disability lanyard hanging from one handle and a large disc on the other. I’m really angry that they chose to address this by shouting and for anyone but Dave, this could have caused upset or major embarrassment, I speak from experience when I say that on some days life as a special needs parent is one comment, look or cough away from a breakdown. She at this point had no idea if he was planning on purchasing the items or not. I understand that in the current climate you have to be so careful but these DVDs are wrapped in plastic and could easily be wiped down, We carry antibacterial wipes in our change bag and could have wiped them down ourselves. I’m also not saying that because William has additional needs that he doesn’t need to follow the rules but there should be at least some modicum of understanding. or a better way of going about it. Dave bought the DVDs and basically told the woman that was his intention all along despite not knowing William had hold of them as a way of saying fuck you. Mr however I think I would have shamed her, told her loudly all about Williams needs and difficulties and made her feel like an idiot, offered to wipe them down or to buy them if that wasn’t feasible. She could have gone about it in a much better way; she could have walked over and explained to Dave who would have apologised and explained but she didn’t… she chose to berate Dave across the shop floor. I’m not sure if i’m being oversensitive but I do feel in the year 2020 people should be more understanding before jumping to conclusions. William wasn’t running amok in the store he was confined to his stroller clearly displaying he had additional needs. If you aren’t allowed to touch the DVDs or Games how are you supposed to read the back to ensure they are suitable? They’ve all been wrapped in the clear plastic, for what reason?
On a positive note… Last night William had just had a bum change (not the positive bit 🤮) and he reached his arms out to me like he wanted to be carried and when I reached down he placed his arm around my neck and put his head on my shoulder. He wanted to give me a cuddle 🥰 He has never actively cuddled before. He will climb up next to you and snuggle in but he initiated a cuddle for the first time. I cried and ruined the moment because he then pinched my glasses and ran away laughing but it was so worth it!
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 🚗
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?
Its nights like these I really wish autism was a physical being so I could kick the shit out of it. I fucking hate you autism you son of a bitch!!!
Its 11:30pm and William is still awake. He is calm and comfortable watching TV in his room. Before anyone jumps on the too young to have a tv in his room please remember that the only thing that can soothe William is the wonderful invention that is BabyTV and even then that’s only works some of the time. Could you imagine my neighbours during his frequent 4am screaming fits without it?
A little while ago it was a completely different story. William had spent the last half an hour or more hitting himself. Believe me it felt like a fucking lifetime. He doesn’t have a massive amount of strength in his arms so one little slap wouldn’t necessarily hurt anyone but he continuously slaps his stomach or legs with both hands until they are red. It’s really difficult to watch and if I try to restrain him he will lash out and bite me or become even more upset. And believe me when I say this he has the strength of a pitbull in those jaws.
Its these moments in which I feel like a huge failure as a mother.
I have tried everything to pull him out of these self harming states but nothing works so I tend hover in the hall or in his room and try to distract him but often just watch him and cry.
It makes me feel like an absolute failure as a mother. I’m supposed to protect him when someone hurts him… what am I supposed to do when he hurts himself?
The worst thing about this evenings episode was the reason he was hurting himself, it was something as simple as needing a poo and then the discomfort of needing changing afterwards. This has never been a cause before tonight and he is on medication to help him go but for some reason tonight it was an issue for him.
I need someone to blame. Someone to shout at. I write often about accepting that we are not to blame for William having autism but it was easier when we did think it was us because it was easy to direct hate at ourselves.
Who do I hate now? The diagnosis we still don’t officially have? The genetics that he may have inherited? The fluke that may have caused it? God? I just need something or someone to be mad at! I just need a reason… Why?
Its not a word you would usually come across in day to day life. When I think of it I used to be reminded of the scene in Pearl Harbour in which the nurses have to mark the wounded men with lipstick.
For us triage is part one of a much bigger process, a process that has consumed our lives and will continue to do so until William receives a diagnosis. William’s triage appointment was today… As you can understand due to the current pandemic this appointment is not face to face but instead was done over the phone.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I slept well (or even at all) last night waiting for this call, the crazy irrational thoughts kept me awake… ‘what if they decide he doesn’t need to be on the waiting list and we have to start afresh in a different sector’ ‘what if they say he is the way he is because we are shit parents’ ‘What if I don’t say the right things?’
I know it’s irrational and crazy and so does Dave or at least that’s what he told me at daft o’clock this morning when I was still awake trying to ask Dr Google what they will be asking us. Not that it helped any way as we couldn’t find a list of questions anywhere ❓❓❓Not very helpful for ridiculously anxious people like me who like to be prepared for everything. This notebook (which I just had to find and get ready at for 4am to be prepared for a 10am call) has been with me to every appointment. The writing is messy and blurred from tears. Anybody but me would find it indecipherable but I take great comfort in knowing I have it and can refer to it when needed. It is like a comfort blanket and knowing I look over it to see what meetings we have had, what questions we have asked and what answers we have and have not received makes me feel like I am a better parent than I am.
The call came in literally as the clock ticked over to 10am, I was mid wee 😳 Appointments are never on time so I was sure this one would be the same. The woman was called Emma Gibson and she gave off good vibes if that makes sense. Pleasant to speak to, not too clinical and had a friendly tone to her voice.
So I made notes (shocking) in my little book about each question asked so that anyone reading this waiting for their triage appointment can have a rough guideline to take the anxiety off a little. Each lead to other questions so this will not be a comprehensive list.
When did you first notice something was wrong? Holy shit she went straight in there with the bullet to the head! 😔🔫 As many of you will know already it took a long time for us to openly admit something was wrong with our child and it wasn’t until William was after 2 that we started writing about him publicly on Facebook to share our journey. It wasn’t that we were ashamed, we were frightened, not only thing things William would struggle with but of the stigma that comes with having a learning disability.
Who is in your household?
Is Dave Williams dad? I had to kick Dave to make sure he didn’t pull his usual not funny trick of saying ‘as far as I’m aware’ or ‘Yes or the milkman’s’ Honestly these jokes are almost as old as the one were he says he’s shagging my sister 🙄
Do you both work? Who’s the main breadwinner? What does he do for a living? Insert idle chit chat here about how the current pandemic is effecting him at work.
Has there been any history of trauma or domestic violence that may have impacted William? I had just kick Dave but that doesn’t count… No of course not 😇
Is there a history of autism in our family?
Is there a history of mental health issues? I explained about my lengthy battle with postnatal depression and anxiety and the medication I had been on and for how long. I’m not ashamed of it, in fact i’m proud. Although it took me a long time to seek help, I eventually did and came out the other side. Some people don’t.
What other agencies are involved with William? We then discussed things his paediatrician had put forward; blood testing and genetics testing and our next appointment. We discussed Lisa who liaises with the nursery in regards to his education.
Are social services involved? Eh? No!
What was my pregnancy like? We discussed how high risk it was, the lengthy induction, having an assisted labour, gestational diabetes, being in hospital longer than expected.
Is William on any medication?
Did you bond with William? Yes. No. Maybe? He didn’t really bond with me? He’s indifferent.
What was he like in meeting his milestones? Insert big head joke here and not sitting up until 10 months.
What were his first words? 🤐
What does him playing look like?
Does he make eye contact? If he does can he maintain it or is it fleeting?
Does he respond to his own name?
Does he indicate hisemotions or pain with facial expressions? Let me tell you something… Justin Bonomo and Erik Seidel are amateurs compared to William when it comes to having a good poker face. I’ve let me nerd slip out again there. Justin and Erik are two of the most famous poker players in the world.
How does he behave with other kids at nursery?
Are there any children outside of nursery that he engages with?
What kind of support does he receive at nursery?
Am I OK to contact the nursery?
Does William recognise other peoples emotions?
What are Williams meltdowns like? Like a tornado ripping through my living room. Like stepping into the ring with Conor Mcgregor. Like trying to hold onto an oiled up contortionist.
What sensory issues does William suffer with?
What are the main indicators he is about to have a meltdown?
What are his eating habits like other than during meltdowns?
Does he show any signs of anxiety?
What is his sleep pattern like?
Are there any things he cant do in regards to his motor skills? Jump. Hop. Point. Wave. Clap.
What is he like with danger? or strangers? No sense of danger or recognition between familiar adults and strangers. That was it! Interrogation over.
She was happy that William had been referred to the right place and he will remain on the waiting list 🎉🎉🎉 Relief swept over me. Tears ran down my face.
What happens next?
A letter confirming this will be sent to all parties involved. A team of specialised autism nurses will be on hand during our wait to answer any questions we may have.
The wait is currently between 2 and 2 and a half years. We will not be contacted until William is at the top of the list. To put things into number which you know I enjoy, there are over 900 people in front of him in Hull alone. In order to them to bring their waiting time down they must assess a minimum of 8 people per week and I know a company called Healios have stepped in to alleviate some of the pressure but they can’t carry out all the assessments as they conduct theirs via video link and not all of those waiting would benefit from such an assessment. The actual assessment is called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and it is currently the standardised diagnostic tool for diagnosing ASD. The ADOS process involves observations under controlled circumstances that other professionals are able to replicate. Only trained professionals can administer the ADOS diagnostic screening, but it eliminates some of the differences of opinion otherwise possible when two different experts provide a diagnosis without following the same consensus in regards to what they should be looking for. Using the one set of clear guideline minimises the margin for misdiagnosis and errors.
When it is Williams turn for his assessment he will already be finishing his first term of his second year at school 📚 That is if they continue seeing people at their current rate.
November/December 2022 – What a brilliant Christmas gift that will be for us that year 🎄🎁