Posted in Brief updates, Dads Journey

Co-Parenting

Today’s topic of conversation is co-parenting. I wanted to do some research into the types of co-parenting, purely to make sure William’s dad and I are doing it right and hopefully improve upon it if necessary or make sure we are at least heading in the right direction.

There are 3 types of coparenting.

High conflict co-parenting

High conflict parenting is exactly as it sounds, it’s difficult for some to put personal reasons aside and focus on what’s best for the child. This is often the style used in the aftermath of a separation. This style of parenting can be detrimental to the child and makes it almost impossible for both parents to have equal say in the way in which a child is raised. Usually in high conflict parenting relationships one parents tries to maintain control of the child and their Ex, often being unable to make a courteous, decent, or even ethical choice for their child.
I read an article recently about the signs of High conflict parents and it is usually because one or both parents are narcissists, but this article was very informative on spotting the traits of the high conflict parent.

  • The blame is always on the other person, they themselves can do no wrong and often portray themselves as the victim.
  • They lie, they often don’t think of any repercussions or simply don’t care.
  • They seem to enjoy the conflict, relishing in the attention it brings them. Their behaviour can be classed as gaslighting, using your natural emotions against you to cause a reaction. It often means its their way or no way.
  • They use your child against you, refusing or restricting access. This may also include speaking poorly of the other parent in front of the child.

Parallel co-parenting

The most common type of coparenting is Parallel Co-parenting, this is usually when two parents are unable to communicate with each other but have learned to tolerate one and other but lead two separate parenting strategies with little to no discussion. It is possible to transition from high conflict to parallel co-parenting but can take lots of work from both parties and may result in legal mediation or court ordered access rules restricting the need for the parents to communicate.

Cooperative and collaborative co-parenting

Finally, we have the category that William’s dad and I seem to fall into. Learning how to co-parent is difficult but I don’t think we really had a choice, because of Williams additional needs, we had to make sure we were on the ball with it and singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. This is the pinnacle of co-parenting and what all parents that are separated such be aiming towards. It’s kind of weird how when we were married, we couldn’t communicate but now we do it easily and without thinking. I would even say we have a sort of friendship (we won’t be having movie nights and braiding each others hair though 🤣) Our conversations are mainly about William but we can also ask how one and other are. He even went out of the way to have William so that I could recover from my shoulder injury and the flu. Don’t get me wrong both David and I would probably agree that it wasn’t easy to begin with but just short of a year on we have it running like clockwork. 🕒

I think with the way our marriage crashed and burned that it would have been easier to slip into high conflict and then just coast through parallel co-parenting, but we persevered, and it’s paid off because it was the right thing to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that despite the past and any hurt, that we both consistently put William first, as any parent should, and I am grateful that we are able to do that. I remember my post announcing our split and how I wrote that we would be co-parenting, and that Williams dad would be involved in all decisions etc, but I don’t think I believed it at the time. Maybe writing it was a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Needless to say, I believe and always have done that both parents should have an equal say, rights and access to a child they helped produce and I am very proud of both myself and David for putting everything aside and working together to ensure Williams best interests are upheld and I hope we can continue to do so no matter what the future holds.

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Posted in Emotions

Overcast

There is no manual for being a parent, there are help books and forums that can point you in the right direction, but what if your child has autism? Every single day is different and thing which have been successful in the past may not work out in the future.
If there was a manual for William, then I would give up everything I have for just an indication that I was doing something right.

Days like today are tough, I don’t know if it’s because I was already feeling a bit low, but the most insignificant thing tipped me over the edge… Orbeez. They are these tiny little beads that grow much bigger when in water and anyone who has used the will probably think it was the disposal that I found traumatising, but it wasn’t. We have used these on a fair few occasions and William has loved them with no incident, so much so that I had 50 thousand of the little fuckers to fill the bath with. He didn’t want to get in and lashed out at me, then he grabbed handfuls of them and threw them all over the bathroom but decided he did in fact want to get in and proceeded to fight me as I tried to remove his nappy. Once in the tub it went even further downhill as he started eating them… FUCK YOU PICA! I kept stopping him putting them in his mouth but, his other hand was ready with a fistful to shovel in and holding onto both was near on impossible. Getting him out the bath felt the same as he didn’t want to so flopped himself down and flopping about when I tried to grab a hold of him.
It felt like hours, just stopping him eating them (and failing) and trying to coax him out of the bath.

I wrapped him in a towel, and he snuggled into me, I sat there telling my four year old that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I would try to do better, that he deserves a better mom than me. It was all very dramatic even for my standards over a few non-toxic water beads. 🙄

I’m just having one of those days in which I feel like I am not good enough, these kind of days just creep up on you like a small grey cloud in the sky but before you even notice you are suddenly in a thunderstorm. That’s how my head feels today.  A little overcast and very dark ☁ but I am sure it will pass… just like the Orbeez.

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Posted in Brief updates

Last night they heard the screaming

Then a silence that chilled my soul.
The type of silence that comes when the tears dont stop but you can’t breathe enough to make noise… I know this song is about domestic violence but I felt it was an accurate (even though edited) lyric to describe my emotions yesterday.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this previous but I had invoked my right of access in accordance with the GDPR act 2018, requesting the local authority send me all information in relation to educational matters for William… if anyone reading this is going through something similar; I have an amazing template that another mom sent me 🙂

Lets just throw out there that I have had an amazing week in relation to William, he was at his dads so I had chance to plan my next venture into decorating but I received Williams blue badge which give us the right to park in a disabled bay (I don’t drive but will come in very handy when we are in someone else’s car) and I spoke to the nursery who have advised I no longer have to pay for William to attend and only pay for his meals, well I am in credit so I won’t have to pay anything right up until he leaves next Easter.

The right of access is also known as a subject access request was received today, and it’s made me so angry and upset that I needed to lock myself in the bathroom (The MR was here and he isn’t ready to see this side of me yet or maybe I’m just not ready to show him🤨) but I angry cried, you know the type; loud and messy. Smacking my fists on the floor feeling like my rage would destroy the concrete and not my hands. My neighbours must have heard me and I’m pretty sure I made noises only dogs could hear but I needed to let it out but I was so worked up that I couldn’t breathe and the angry tears became silent ones that I had even less control over.
The reason I had done a S.A.R was to catch them out in lies to back up the potential tribunal but I didn’t realise that it would reopen old wounds 🤕

I remember special school allocations like it was yesterday, it was another couldn’t breathe moment. It was February 15th. check out the post School allocations, if you cant remember.
July 2020 we were told he was going to considered for place… There isn’t a single document in the full S.A.R relating to any conversations in regard to this! not one! meaning that when I said the whole thing was all fucking lies, I was in fact correct. It was all fucking lies!

There are lots of missing sections, specifically relating to meetings, discussions and referrals in which I took our senco’s word for and apparently haven’t happened. I believe there is another child’s information in there too (How many times is the L.A going to breech GDPR? actually don’t answer that since they are still referring to the 1998 DPA act in their emails)

I’m angry at myself for being so upset, especially when its just confirming what I already knew, I only wanted the documentation to back up my claims with the solicitor and hadn’t even considered how it would make me feel 🙄

There was something else in there that I have great concern with but am awaiting clarification on its meaning before I comment on it but if what I think I am reading is correct then the whole fucking authority is morally wrong and incapable of putting children above themselves.

Stay tuned in by subscribing so you don’t miss out on the instalment of ‘how the local authority fuck us over’

Much love, M.x

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Posted in EHCP Process

Moderating in time

Today was the day in which I should have had an update about Williams EHCP, I should have been able to figure out what the next steps are going to be for Williams education and find out if that slim chance of a special school allocation was within our grasp.

However today was not that day. No days are the days they should be and I an beginning to learn this… I need to prepare myself for these things as they happen all the time and yet continue to knock me for six. As parents we shouldn’t be continuously let down by those who are supposed to support our children and adhere to timescales laid out by themselves.

The EHCP has not gone to the moderators… Still! This is because the medical report needed and the Speech and language report have still not been received. These should have been submitted by 15th of February and its now 4th March 🙄😡

So now we are back in the waiting game… Next week or the one after. Who even knows?!

Posted in Events & Holidays

Yule never guess what 🎄

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% NOT covid 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 😘

Posted in Appointments, Autism Assessment

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 🎄🎁