Posted in Reference

BBC – The A word – Season three review

I have been putting off watching season three for quite some time now as one of the main themes for this season is Alison and Paul’s separation and subsequent divorce. As you can imagine this was hitting a little too close to home, so I had to turn it off until I was emotionally ready, but I think that time is now. So, I dug it out of my Sky planner and started again since things are no longer as raw for me although I am fully aware my review may villainise Paul, but I will do my best not to call him a c**t throughout.
I remember writing during my season two review that William’s dad and I needed to make a conscious effort to spend more time together so we didn’t end up like Paul and Alison, which is laughable now I read it back as he was already spending his time with someone else 🤣


Episode one… Oh dear god, I forgot just how much I love Christopher Eccleston as Maurice! I am sure I have said this before and will say it again many times, but when did he become the Grandad and not the leading man? Because I totally would 😍

Why is Alison blonde? It’s very off-putting… maybe it’s just that thing all of us girls do when we go through a breakup and try to have a glow-up. I’m mean I’m now a bloody red head 😂

The season kicks off in true A word tradition with Joe having a meltdown, he is seeing his dads new house for the first time, this isn’t the safe place Joe once called home. We like to think that wherever we are, is our safe place for our children but in some cases bricks and mortar mean just as much. This is hitting a little close to home. I hope I am ready to watch this 🤔 Especially as I have all this to come when William’s dad finds his own place. We do have a plan to slowly introduce William to the new environment and make it as familiar as possible which is why my spare bedroom has a mass amount of duplicated toys and furniture etc.
Joe has ran away from the new house to seek comfort in the old house, he has no boundaries or sense of ownership and doesn’t grasp the concept that it now belongs to someone else.
I chose to stay in my house after William’s dad left, some of the memories and lies that went on here hurt but this is my home, William’s home. This is his safe place. my safe place. our safe place.

Paul is angry at Maurice about the fact Joe has started to reject his headphones and music in which he usually takes comfort in, he’s saying Maurice taking Joe to the new house has caused this… obviously it’s not Paul’s fault for not being able to keep his dick in his pants 🙄
I’m grateful in a strange way that William is still very young and may not remember us as a family unit, hopefully he will just remember the way it is now. If he doesn’t remember, then he can’t be upset by it.

I think I have said this for each season’s review but I fucking love Maurice and Ralphs relationship.

Holy shitballs! Ralph has just announced he is getting married and moving out, Maurice looks like he’s about to keel over and after his collapse in a previous season, his high cholesterol and high blood pressure, this may finish him off. I do hope they don’t kill Maurice off as it would lead to such major heartbreak for Joe. Death is inevitable for all of us but the hole someone leaves when they die has a much greater impact for someone with autism.
Rusty is now 7 and I am already freaking out about if something happens to him or he passes away. How would William cope without him? He sleeps on the landing outside William’s bedroom and in a morning, William lays on his side of the baby gate next to him just stroking his fur. How do you replace that kind of love, that comfort? You can’t!

“when you’ve got a kid that’s like Joe, you get used to feeling like you’re failing’

Alison Hughes – The A Word

Amen to that 🙌🏻 Amen to those tiny moments in which you don’t feel like a failure because I can tell you this in all truthfulness; they are so rare. It makes me happy that this has been vocalised. Honestly sometimes I feel like I have a VIP membership to the shit moms club and take responsibility for loads of bad things that are outside of my control.
Some days, it’s my fault, it’s all my fault, it’s always all been my fault… but I know that’s it’s not but it doesn’t stop that guilty feeling which is why I often seek validation in my parenting from the professionals I deal with. Jane from the incontinence service telling me I was doing amazing boosted me more than she could ever have known.

“I am so ready to fight people all the time”

Alison Hughes – The A Word

I can wholeheartedly get onboard with this feeling, as a parent of a child with special needs you become so conditioned in have to fight due to flaws in the massively fucked up system, fighting for support, education, facilities, services, we have to fight for everything, and it ever gets any easier and it is hard to get out of that fighter mindset.

  • Stare at my kid – I’ll fight you!
  • Comment on why my child is in a stroller – I’ll fight you!
  • Let my child down – I’ll fight you!
  • Mess up his routine – I’ll fight you!

The list goes on and on and in soe instances a fight isn’t necessary and in some you have to fight harder than ever before. How do you learn to differentiate between the those that require a fight and those that do not?


Episode two and Rebecca is having a baby! It will be interesting to see how Joe reacts to someone taking his sisters attention from him, he is asking a lot of questions about where the baby is now? Where will it sit? Will it cry? Its almost as if he is preparing himself.

There is a beautiful montage showing Joe going to school and his relationship with his teacher, Heather. I don’t think I will ever see Julie Hesmondhalgh as anyone other than Hayley from Corrie, I half expected her to be wearing that red anorak.

I have just nicely received Williams draft EHCP (but we will discuss that in more detail soon) and it talks about describing transitions to William and its great to see it in action between Joe and Heather.

Mark had decided he isn’t autistic anymore because he has stopped banging his head and smashing up his mom’s furniture. Paul rightly explains that, that isn’t all autism is.

‘I know what autism is and it isn’t me’

Mark Berwick – The A Word


I am not ashamed to say I was crying at this point. Messy crying. Loud messy crying, well it started out silent but didn’t end that way.

They are using social stories as a communication method which again is something mentioned in Williams EHCP, so I enjoyed seeing it in practise. The story used to explain Rebecca’s pregnancy and what the baby means to Joe is really well suited to the situation, I’m guess that’s the point, but it makes me eager to start looking into these for when William reaches that level of understanding.

❤Ralph & Katie❤
Aren’t they just couple goals?

Joes’ attachment to Heather is apparently a problem, I don’t quite understand this, so I hope they elaborate more. I know first-hand about the disappointment that comes with attachments to professionals. We have seen it so many times when William forms attachments and then someone leaves or moves on in their careers that it can be catastrophic, also known as blowing William’s routine apart… Linda, Val, Sarah and even his dad. These people coming and going from his life have had massive impacts upon William routine and often cause a regression in his behaviours.


Episode three and there is a Ben? Who is Ben? Is it wise to introduce a new person to Joe? Is he new? I mean he will have seen him in the playground. I have spoken about introducing new foods but if your child doesn’t like a different brand of chicken nugget how can you knowing introduce new people? Especially if you don’t know they will stick around because after all people do always leave in one way or another.
How can we as parents know if someone has the best intentions towards us? William can’t tell me if someone is mean to him or has hurt him. How would I know? How could I trust someone? Not only with William but with myself? After everything how do you even consider letting someone into your life again? It’s a hard thought to process so I think I will put that aside for now and revisit at a much later date.

Paul is upset that Joe has done things with Ben… He needs to go and fuck himself! Their separation was his doing! He had an affair! He can’t expect Joe not to have life experiences when he isn’t there, he made his choice and he need to accept the consequences of that choice.

This episode isn’t very Joe focused, its more about how the family is handling their other relationships. You kind of forget that these needs maintaining too. Joe wants his dad late at night and Alison simply drives all those miles to take him, I don’t have that option nor that kind of relationship with William’s dad but maybe one day things will be easier.


Episode four, Paul and Bill’s worried mom Sarah just makes me feel a little queasy. Their relationship is soo forced and the lack of chemistry is laughable.

Rebecca is in an antenatal class and her sheer discomfort takes me back to when I was pregnant with William, she looks utterly lost and frightened. I remember it very well, that feeling of wondering if you are ready, will you ever be ready and then the realisation that its too late to prepare and 9 months definitely isn’t long enough. 😂

Oh no Maurice isn’t Ralphs best man! How could he pick someone else? Who is this, Josh?
Ralph has just told Maurice off for being pushy ‘You’re not my dad’ I like to say I’m good at foreshadowing so I’m presuming that his dad may make an appearance or there will be a revelation of some sort 🤷🏻‍♂️

‘It’s guilt you know; I never know where his autism ends, and my bad parenting begins.’

Alison Hughes – The A word


I feel you Alison, I really feel you. You plan everything like I do and for the same reasons. This season my heart is truly with you and I don’t think it was before, it was easy to hate you as I saw a lot of myself in you and it was a projection on how I felt as a mother and sometimes still do.

Joe is overwhelmed at the prospect of the walk his mom has organised, he’s withdrawn and trashed his room… It’s a familiar scenario for me.

Ooh I don’t like the fact Ben has jumped in to back up Alison in a disagreement with Paul about how to handle Joe. Its not really any of his business and how can he presume he knows Joe well enough to comment! Strike one Ben, Strike one! ❌

‘Why do you have to be different? Why do you always have to be different?’

Joe Hughes – The A Word

More tears… not ashamed in the slightest! How can that not make you sad? My heart breaks for Joe 💔
Rebecca has convinced him to go on the walk, he turns up in true style with a hat, his headphones and a bubble gun 🔫 he seems happy even though he was struggling with the thought of the walk, he seems truly happy and its beautiful. There are even more tears #sorrynotsorry

Rebecca is scared that her baby may be like Joe, she feels bad for it as if it means she doesn’t want Joe. I think despite the fact there are many reasons I never wanted more children, the main focus is because I am scared, what if I had another child like William? I think it solidified it for me.  What if William couldn’t cope with a sibling? I think I struggle with William sometimes so how could I handle two children let alone the possibility of two children with additional needs. I know people that do it and make it look so easy and I’m envious of them, but I guess I’m also scared for me, can I do that to my mental health? What if I have another breakdown? It was so hard coming back from that dark place; I don’t think I could make it out again? But then there is a new reasoning to my decision… do I really want two kids to two different dads? What if it didn’t work out? I never imagined my marriage would breakdown… forever doesn’t always mean forever, apparently forever means until someone else turns my head, the grass looks greener or life would be easier 🤷🏻‍♀️
Maybe I should become a spinster and then I can stop worrying about this stuff, I could collect Cats stuffed animals and refer to them as my babies, wouldn’t have to worry about introducing new people into Williams life then… a stuffed bunny never hurt anyone 🐇

I sense tension between Ben and Alison already… He wasn’t happy with the fact she said she would be coming up to bed in a minute and not straight away. Strike two Ben, Strike F***ing two!


Episode five…

‘Now I walk’ – Joe Hughes.
They just let him walk? Is this normal? Should I let William do as he pleases, when he pleases?

I called it! Ralph’s dad has just arrived and its Owen from Corrie! Poor Ralph didn’t know he was coming, and he looks confused and unimpressed. It’s been 10 years, what did Owen Doug expect?

I love Louise, she is a warrior, the true embodiment of the phrase ‘tiger mom’. If I am half as good of a mom as she is, then I am happy 🥰

🤮 Sarah and Paul… I just can’t handle it, she is so awkward and his is a c**t so slimy.

Mark has offered to take Joe to the Zoo Park? I’m guessing this is like a petting zoo. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Paul has agreed to let him, but he is freaking out, I’m not sure if he is freaking out because Mark is autistic or because he hasn’t looked after Joe before. He’s responsible enough to have a job in Pauls pub but I do understand the worry, as I’m not sure how I would feel about it if it was William he was taking out but then again I don’t really trust anyone with him. I can count on one hand the people who have looked after him away from me, not including his dad…
* Mom & Dad
* Helen
* Julie & Dave
* Leanne and family
* Danielle & Shannon

It’s a small list for a four-year-old but it took me a long time to trust anyone with him and that has nothing to do him having additional needs but more about how I felt as a mom.

Ralph’s dad is opening up to Maurice about how he felt so disconnected from his family due to Louise’s closeness with Ralph, I sort of understand this as I don’t make it easy for people to understand William the way I do. Although that being said it doesn’t justify the fact he abandoned Ralph!
It does upset me that Ralph feels like he should apologise for liking his dad. Her obviously senses the tension his dad’s presence causes and it’s really painful that he feels that it means he shouldn’t like him. I do hope Louise hasn’t badmouthed him in front of him as parents should never do that to their kids no matter how much they are hurting or the circumstances.

It’s the wedding day! Louise and Katie both look stunning 😍
Maurice has gone to collect Doug for Ralph, that’s love. That’s pure and selfless. I really do hope he gets a last minute promotion to best man #MauriceForBestMan

Ralph is so happy his dad is there; I have genuine tears in my eyes. He truly deserves happiness after everything he has been through.
Ralphs entire face lit up as he sees Katie walking down the aisle. Their vows are amazing, so lovely and very them 😊
Josh’s speech is good but I stand by my hashtag!

Paul keeps getting cockblocked by Bill which is the highlight of their relationship for me although if I have to watch Paul roll his eyes one more time, I swear to god I will jump into the TV and punch him in his throat 🤬

‘You’re not my dad. You’re better.’

Ralph Wilson – The A Word

More tears, happy tears… Team Maurice!


Episode Six is the last in this series and there are no more to watch, no more have been made but season four is expected to be released in 2022 however this is yet to be officially confirmed by the BBC.

The episode starts off with Rebecca walking instead of Joe… Is the baby about to make an appearance?
I love Maurice! He’s following her with a wheelbarrow haha 🤣 he has my dad sense of humour so if I was Louise (or even my mom for that matter) I would have murdered them.

Oh dear god, I hate Paul so much!!!
and Ben, I hate Ben too!!!

Its Ralph and Katie’s moving day, their little house is lovely. Maurice sitting down with a drink and the TV remote after all the heavy lifting is basically channelling everyone’s dad ever! And yes Mr H, that is you too 🤣

And…… he’s out of here! Strike three for Ben! ⚾ Bye-bye dick head! He’s just railroaded Alison into a corner and forced her to end thing because she isn’t in love with him yet. He been on the scene like 2 minutes!

Louise silently breaking down in Ralphs old room is devastating, it feels so real and raw that it breaks my heart 💔 she is a superb actress.

Shitting hell Ben is back, well he’s not back but he’s still in the café with Alison. He’s pushing Alison and she has been hurt too much to open herself up like that and he should have been patient with her but its too late now. He redeems himself a little bit by doing Joe’s signature goodbye… ‘Hug or Handshake’ and Alison chose handshake, good lass!

Sarah and Paul 🤢 the slow cooker analogy is quite cute but that’s probably because it was Sarah’s way of ending things. Serves you right Paul, you c**t!

‘Change can be good’

Mark Berwick – The A Word


Can it be good? And I don’t just mean for our autistic kids but for us as their parents? Change never initially proves to be good for William but he does slowly adapt, I think if I had my way, I would make sure nothing changes in our lives, but I know that’s a naïve was to expect life to be. There are changes you cannot predict that you just have to react to and hope you are doing the right thing. There are changes we bring about ourselves that can be planned and brought about with a strategy. My inner control freak needs at least three months’ notice for changes 🤣

Rebecca has gone into labour and she is on her own in the car with Joe, he isn’t handling it well and just put his headphones on and walked off! I would love to know what that kids step count is.

‘Its private, I don’t want to see her vagina’ – Joe Hughes

Not the best way to tell strangers that your sister is about to pop out a sprog 🤣

Its very unrealistic to see the full bloody family in the waiting room, I know this isn’t set during the pandemic since I put it off for so long but it just feels even more unbelievable because of the current situation.
Rebecca also has a ward to herself which is utter bullshit! 💩 I had a twin room and must have had at least 4 different cellmates roommates by the time I was discharged.

Aww Louise has finally told Maurice she loves him, even though we all knew it already. They are soo brilliant together 💑 They are engaged by the end of the episode which makes me very happy, its like watching your mom and dad get a happily ever after.


OK, so I am not sure how I feel about series three, the ending seems so final as everyone has their happiness, I do hope we get a series four. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed it as much as I did the previous two series, I am not sure if its because the primary focus was the aftermath of the divorce or because I didn’t learn as much as I had whilst watching its predecessors. Who knows? 🤷🏻‍♀️
I am looking forward to another series but it’s a long way off if ever.

If you have any recommendations of what I can review next let me know in the comments or drop me a message on the let’s talk page, I’m thinking Atypical but open to ideas 😊

Much love M xx

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Posted in Appointments

Triage

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 his emotions 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 🎄🎁