Its a Monday and when I was office based it used to be my favourite day of the week but not anymore, today feel like the most Monday-ist Monday ever! In the words of that Geldof prick and school shooter Brenda Spencer… ‘I don’t like Mondays.’
Today me got to meet our new health visitor; Louise. we all know how much we rated Sarah so she does have a lot to live up to. Louise has been the health visitor for our area for 15 years which is a long time for a health visitor to remain in the profession.
She turned up in full PPE as you would expect in todays current climate, Mask, goggles, gloves and full length plastic apron. Brilliant first impression… the neighbours must think we either stink or are getting fumigated 🦨🤣
She introduced herself and immediately jumped into questions about William, I must say the sceptic in me immediately though she hadn’t read his notes but she was also referring to him and wanted a thorough picture for herself of his capabilities and behaviours.
She confirmed she will be attending next Mondays meeting about his EHCP just like Sarah used to despite not receiving the official invitation.
Before I could even ask her about the Nappy Service she told me she had looked into our request and there was no leeway with him being under four, again this impressed me that she had looked into things that we had hit brick walls with without having to be asked. This one was on my little things I had written down during the months I was unable to speak with Sarah.
She has decided to put us through to a sleep specialist to help us hopefully get William to sleep easier and keep him asleep, this will involve lots of assessments and advice before potentially leading to medication such as melatonin. Melatonin will help most kids fall to sleep but not all… The problem is some parents believe it will help a child who is procrastinating going to bed, stop a child waking up early or having nightmares but that isn’t the case. Melatonin is usually a natural hormone that our brains release in order to help us fall to sleep. Melatonin supplements are available easily online but they are NOT regulated and may do more harm than good. If you are considering Melatonin please ensure you speak to a professional before buying something that you cant be 100% sure of what’s in it. There are concerns that because melatonin is a hormone that it may effect your child’s development when they hit puberty and it is something we will need to consider deeply if we reach that stage.
I asked her to refer us to Wheelchair services so we can get a specialised buggy but she wasn’t sure if she was able to do so. she said she would be in touch about it and… within 2 hours of her leaving our house she was on the phone advising us of who we need to speak to as only two organisations can make that referral, Occupational health and Physiotherapy but William doesn’t need any of these 😕 Its not that he can’t walk. Far from it. Its when he does walk he will drop to the floor in a floppy state no matter where he is including roads, its the fact he has no danger awareness and a buggy at times he goes floppy or has a meltdown would prevent him from getting hurt. I’ve lost count of the amount of time Dave has had to stop cars because or child is laid in the street. 🚗 we have spoken to our G.P surgery and have a telephone consultation booked next week for the doctor to decide if its appropriate for him to refer us 🙄
I’m not sure if we mentioned the questionnaires that are sent out prior to a child’s development check up but they have always been brutal to us. They focus on what children should be doing for their age group and as we are all aware William isn’t at his age group so it was a lot of negatives for us. These are called the Ages & stages questionnaires and unless I am mistaken are to identify children who may have developmental disabilities. He will now be assessed based on the Nelson scale which focuses on the age he is at for each area rather than where he should be for his actual age. I think this will be much easier to help us understand the next steps in his development. We see little improvements and new achievements but we find that the standard ages and stages just doesn’t celebrate or include those and will continue to score zeros despite developing slowly at his own pace.
On the plus she has weighed and measured him and he is in the 25th percentile which is where he has been all along. This made me feel so much better about his eating habits as I do worry he may be underweight but apparently he is perfectly healthy… which is always good to hear.
I think because Sarah was all we had know for 4 years we held her on a pedestal and it was unfair to presume Louise would be inferior to her. She has already made a brilliant first impression but I guess I’m just skeptical due to the amount of agencies who have failed to uphold their promises but Louise seems really promising and honest and I guess that’s all we can ask for. She will only be with us until William starts school in a years time in which the school support will take over… if we get in but thats a whole other worry for another day.
Males inherit the X chromosome from their mothers, the Y from their fathers.
Williams results from the genetics testing came today and its a bit of a mouthful but… there was a variation from the normal pattern wirh interstitial hemixygous copy number gain Xp22.33. The test states there is additional genetic material.
Chromosome 22 is the second smallest human chromosome (21 is the smallest) including more than 51 million DNA sectors (they’re in pairs) and represent between 1.5 and 2% of the total DNA in cells.
There is no defined link between this and autism but there are a few case studies referring to it and those with learning difficulties but not enough research has been carried out. Its is classed medically as having uncertain clinical significance.
If it has come back as nothing detected that would have been shit but manageable.
If something would have been detected on his Y chromosome I wouldn’t have blamed Dave but I am sat here now blaming myself. After all the X chromosome came from me.
Have I done this to him? To us? The paediatrician will be booking in a consultation to discuss the results in more detail and establish if further investigations are needed but now I’m terrified of what they will say… will further investigation point the finger at me even more?
I just feel like I’m back at the beginning of our journey, like all the progress we’ve made in our acceptance and grieving over a child we thought we would have hasn’t mattered and I’m back to looking at him and crying because this could all be down to me.
I think I have been pretty vocal about how all appointments and referral seem to go round for us but I held out hope (in vain) for our most recent one, to the nappy service 🚼
Let me put a little context to this. William is 3 years old but developmentally under a year. Due to his physical age he is the highest available size of nappies. He is not currently able to be potty trained as he isn’t aware of when he needs to go toilet or if he is he is unable to communicate this as of yet.
William also suffers from a lazy bowel and it doesn’t always function and it should so mild laxatives are often needed to relieve him of discomfort as he can go over a week before naturally being able to pass a stool. As you can imagine the build up of waiting to go natural or the explosion of laxatives puts any nappy to the test but imagine this happening when there isn’t any that will fit him 🤢
William also displays sensory seeking behaviors and unfortunately this involves a fascination with his own faeces. The will result in him smearing the contents of his nappy over himself and his surroundings and on occasion he has put it in his mouth.
On a night we have had to put him in a onesie to stop him taking his clothes off and removing his nappy. Unfortunately for us the little Houdini has now learnt to remove a onesie as you can see below… thankfully he was busted in time and put back into his clothing jail.
We were worried as he gets bigger what will do and we were told that there is a nappy service in our area which provides children with special needs nappies in bigger sizes which is amazing. However nothing is ever that simple.
Let me start from the beginning…
Our GP sent a referral to the community nursing team
The community nursing team rejected this as he is under 4
NO ONE NOTIFIED US UNTIL WE CHASED THE REFERRAL
Our GP sent a referral to paediatric medicine
The sent it back to the GP with advice to refer to community nurses or the learning disability team
NO ONE NOTIFIED US AND OUR GP CLOSED THE REFERRAL
I chase the paediatric medicine team who told us what they had done
I call the GP and they tell me to call the community nursing team
I call them and they only know about the original referral and won’t accept another one as he is still under 4
I call the GP and have to tell them exactly what the paediatric medicine team have told me
SUDDENLY NOW I HAVE TOLD THEM WHAT HAS BEEN SAID THEY CAN SEE IT ON THEIR SYSTEM
They can not help as the person who deals with referral is off (I don’t think they’ve ever been in the office when I have called) but a manager of the surgery will call me back
Kerry calls me and has no idea why she is calling me. She thinks it’s regarding his autism assessment.
I HAVE TO REPEAT THE FULL CYCLE AGAIN WHILST SHE REPEATEDLY TELLS ME SHE DOESN’T KNOW WHATS HAPPENED
She is going to call our health visitor and William’s own paediatrician for help and call me back
She calls back, she has left word for the health visitor but doesn’t know if she can help. She has called CAMHS (children and adult mental health services) and they can not help. She has called learning disabilities team and they can not help and she doesn’t know what to do.
WELL KAREN (SHE IS NOW A KAREN, I HAVE DECIDED) NEITHER DO I AND IT’S NOT MY JOB TO KNOW!
She will send me some links to places that can help.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SENT ME… A LINK TO A CHARITY SHOP AND A SITE TO SUPPORT ADULTS WITH AUTISM. SO FUCKING HELPFUL!
I found it hard not to cry or be angry whilst on the phone with Kerry/Karen and I’m sure she could hear the break in my voice when I asked her ‘what are we supposed to do now?’
And that is the question, what do we do now?
We can’t be the first parents who have come across this, we can’t be the first to be in this situation. What happens when you fall into the gap? Do we just stay there for 8 months and have a bare bottomed child or tie a carrier bag to his waist?
If I failed to change and clean his bum for him when he was physically under a year old then I would have been classed as neglectful but what about now? He isnt physically under year but developmentally he is still in the same place. Am I being neglectful? Or are the services in place being neglectful by allowing this?
People often struggle to differentiate between a child with autism and a child who is being naughty.
As a parent who suffers with anxiety it is very difficult to go to certain places and deal with other people who don’t know William like we do.
Something as simple as a journey on a bus can set me into a tailspin, a small journey can lead to an argument due to the fact other passengers look at William as see what they deem as an ablebodied 3 year old in stroller taking up a space they feel someone else needs more. Not all disabilities are visible and what give you the right to assume!
A trip to a supermarket can lead to a full meltdown due to the hustle and bustle of different people, a different environment, bright lights and loud noises. One the rare occasions he will walk, he will often end up laid on floor and go floppy because he can’t handle the stimulation and lack of familiar surroundings and comfort. This is not a toddler having a tantrum because he can’t get sweets or doesn’t want to walk, its because he is in pain.
When we go to a restaurant, cafe or bar he will beeline for any food he can see, we will stop him before he takes it but it can lead to awkward conversations, dirty looks and whispered remarks. This isn’t because he isn’t fed at home or because he is rude. This is because food is such a high motivator for him and that the fact it doesn’t belong to him doesn’t even register.
I shouldn’t have to apologise for my son for being himself but I find it becomes a more frequent occurrence as time goes on. I shouldn’t have to explain why he is the way he is, there should be a wider understanding of the autism spectrum leading to acceptance.
I truly believe that autism awareness and understanding should be educated in schools so that future generations don’t make the same mistakes and assumptions. There are no definitive figures of those with autism as no record or register is kept but based on recent surveys 1 out of 100 has autism.
Think of the children in your child’s year at school, think of the children who you went to school with. I wish I had been more aware, more educated and a better person.
I want that for the future, for children like William and for parents like us who often feel we should apologise on behalf of our son when maybe, just maybe they should be apologising to us for their small mindedness.
We take the same notebook to every single meeting, it wasn’t an expensive book; in fact I think it was a freebie from a company my work engages with on twitter but this random book has become a symbol for us, a record and a reference guide. It has been to every meeting without fail and contains scribble and tears (maybe snot too🤮) We need to start looking for a replacement as its almost time to retire this one, and by retire I mean put into storage in case we need it for reference in the future. I’ve bought loads of new notebooks but non of them are quite right. I know it may sound silly as it’s just a pretty ordinary notebook but it symbolizes our journey.
I’m not sure if everyone’s experience with PCP meetings are like ours but it wasn’t what we expected. We were sent a copy of William’s support plan yesterday to prepare us for today and were asked to look through it and focus specifically on his areas of need. Both Dave and myself sat down and picked apart this plan and what other professionals had written either agreeing, amending or adding & removing and making notes in our trusty blue notebook ready to question parts we didn’t understand or needed clarification. The support plan is twenty-six pages long and that is with a small font!
The call was at 3pm and I had volunteered to work until shortly before so that I didn’t sit dwelling on it all day, luckily Dave wasn’t back at work until this evening so he was able to look after William. Meetings are very different in the current climate so instead of having to travel to the nursery we had to, usually in silence with a few passive aggressive comments we had to gather round my desk and tune in to a Microsoft teams meeting (I spend my entire working day on teams 🙄) We expected a woman from our school of choice to attend the meeting but she was busy which is understandable but disappointing. More concerning is that our nursery representative couldn’t figure out how to work Teams. We expected to go through the points raised on the support plan and be able to put our input in whilst on the call but this was not the case, Our SENCO spoke through was each section of the plan and told us that until I next meeting we were to input our thought on Williams strengths and needs focusing on his worst days because that would be when he needs the most support. There were parts that weren’t relevant to William which had confused us last night and should have been deleted but we got some clarification which was good.
I must say the SENCO Lisa is fab, she answered numerous neurotic emails from me during lockdown and told me and the nursery (who was on Lisa’s mobile on speaking in the background) what needed to be written or included.
I think the main focus of this meeting was to discuss what will happen in the run up, during and after our next meeting. This disappointed Dave as I think he expected more from the meeting in general and didn’t take as much from it as I did.
SMART Targets have been set for William and what they are aiming for him to achieve within the next four years.
To be able to use objects, images and timetables as a point of reference in order to follow a routine. (They believe this one should be achievable by the end of the year depending on how much William regresses when he goes back to nursery)
To independently engage with a wider range of activities and toys.
Communicate my wants and needs to familiar people.
Explore a range of unfamiliar environments and activities independentlyin various ways.
Its great to see they have targets and what was very impressive is the steps they already had in place to ensure he is on his way to these, no matter how slowly.
I’m not sure if we have mention previously but William has Global Developmental Delay (GDD) and currently William is classed as being in the 0 – 11 months age bracket. He has developed in almost every area barring one into the 8 – 20 months bracket. The one that he is struggling with revolves around language and communication, hopefully he will progress when he goes back to nursery so he will officially be in the higher bracket. I said to Debs tonight that’s its really daft as it is just label to put on him but it feels really important for us to have it, to know where he is on the scale and that he has moved from one to the other.
The next step is for us to add to this pan and submit it before the end of next month in time for our next meeting which is 21st September (Happy Birthday Me 🎈) This next meeting will be to finalise the support plan to submit for EHCP assessment which will take 20 weeks from submittal to be confirmed. We should get a draft back after 16 weeks to approve or edit.
Our intention to send William to a specialised school has been documented and admissions are fully aware that that is our intention. This doesn’t guarantee him a space but at least he is on their radar which can only be a good thing ready for the application process later in the year.
After telling the whole village about Joe being autistic I would have thought his parents would have spoken to him about it. I understand he was 5 when he went missing but to not even address it is a little peculiar. It’s really sad that he had to hear he was autistic from someone else.
Telling William that he is autistic has never been a question for us. When he is old enough to understand we will explain it to him. Our main issue is how we tell him, how we will explain it to him. It’s not as if we can answer the why’s he may have. ‘Why me?’ I don’t know son. We asked ourselves the same question for years. It’s a hard thing to plan because we don’t know at what age he will be ready for this kind of conversation.
When things like this happen, it’s always Joe it happens to.
Sarah Hibbs. The A Word
The speech with the other parents at the school was interesting. It’s a lack of understanding. It’s like the other parents expected them to be able to just come up with a way he can stop these behaviours but it’s not that simple. The reasons behind not sending him to special school were very similar to the ones we had before we decided where to send William. It’s a hard decision to make. Do you want them to have a ‘normal’ school life? But then who is it normal for? Or do you send them to somewhere who can speak and educate them on their own level?
I’m not the same.
Joe Hughes. The A Word.
Episode 2 starts with the change to Joe’s morning routine. Not only is the school itself different but due to how far away it is there isn’t time for his morning routine meaning Joe is struggling even more with the change. I really love the look book they created for him. Pictures of his old school, teacher and friends and the pictures of what the new school is like. I’ve seen parents in my support group who’ve made very similar things to address changes or events. To go step by step through what will happen on a holiday, in an airport etc. They’re brilliant and if it’s something we will need in the future I look forward to naming them for William. I love a bit of crafting ☺
He’s our family’s north star, we follow him. It’s how it has to be.
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Paul’s face when Mark is having his meltdown is so full of fear and I understand that. Is this kind of meltdown what he has to look forward to? Autism isn’t something children can grow out of and it looks as if Paul has just realised that and it is hard. That realisation that this is with you for life and it’s hard. That moment if first dawns on you. It hits you like a brick to the first but hurts twice a much. 🤕
Episode 3 had more Ralph ❤ I love Ralph so much and his relationship with Maurice is so innocent and really good to watch. I’m so glad he hired him at the brewery.
Well to be honest I did feel a bit of a stirring in the glove compartment 🤣
Maurice Hughes. The A Word
Episode 4, the night away without the kids. Without Joe. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be the centre of their universe but they have massively lost touch with themselves as a couple. I worry about Dave and I, before I was on furlough we rarely saw each other and just touch base every now and again but it was always William centred. I think we need to make a conscious effort to spend time as ourself when lockdown is over. Dinner and a movie as Marie and Dave instead of as William’s parents.
Episode 5 starts with a video of Joe. A video his auntie has compiled of his behaviours. She wants to use the video to help parents who have ‘Joe type’ autism. She clearly explains that when people think of autism they either think of a non verbal child in meltdown or a rain man type. Autism is such a big spectrum it’s difficult not to picture one type of person. I suppose autism has a stereotype just like anything else. I will forever picture William when I think about autism but that’s not what I pictured before. I suppose its difficult to be educated in something so vast. I can honestly say that until it became part of our lives I hadn’t bothered to learn anything about it.
The arguments between Paul and Alison are so hard to watch. Paul seemed so accepting in season one but as time has gone on he seems to regress and swap places with where Alison was in the beginning.
I love Joe but I hate his autism!
Paul Hughes. The A Word.
I’m really struggling to sympathise with Paul. It feels like his character has done a complete 180° he was accepting and understanding and now he is just a bit of a pathetic dick. Especially with his views on the video. I can’t understand why he doesn’t want it used if the footage of their son can help local GPs diagnose autism sooner by giving them a better understanding.
It’s a different way of being human
Alison Hughes. The A Word.
Mark ❤ he reads his hope’s and aspirations that I believe are for his EHCP. His just wants things everyone else takes for granted, the be happy, to have an education and to be accepted by friends. Its heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.
Every bit of progress that has ever been made to peoples attitude towards autism has been made because people talked about it, were open about it, explained it.
Nicola Daniels. The A Word.
Episode 6, season finale. Paul just wants to run away, he wants to pretend nothing is happening. He wants to end his relationship because he can’t cope with how well Alison is coping. Its upsetting because they should be pulling together but statistically parents raising a child with autism are 10% more likely to get divorced compared to those with neuro typical children. This is much more prevalent for those who’s children are 8 or over. So 5 years left of married bliss before I have to give Dave the old heave-ho 🤣 but on a serious note it is difficult to pull together when you each have your own ways of dealing with a diagnosis. We do worry about it, me more than Dave as I’m often a neurotic mess but the thoughts are always there. Will we make it through this? Can we make it through because there isn’t an end really? There is just the journey.
Overall season 2 was brilliant but in a completely different way to its predecessor. It seemed to focus more on the fractured relationships of the family rather than on Joe. It was a greta watch but again not in the same way the first was.
I would still highly recomend it and personally look forward to season 3. 💙
So the first episode throws you straight in to everyday life for the Hughes family, Joe’s behaviours, the ways in which his parents compensate for him and explain away any problematic issues (He just likes music…) and the way others have already started discussing him behind their backs.
When season 3 premiered I received deluge of texts and calls saying it was back on, I had to watch it, It’s about autism! Although I am really glad otherwise I wouldn’t have known to check it out. It did make my laugh at the time because Big Nan called as her friend called her to tell her to call me 🥴
I think i must be about 10 mins in and the confrontation between Alison and her family who think there is something wrong with Joe is so familiar that it has me sobbing 😭 The blinds are open so anyone passing may think I’m having a breakdown. Its not in any way easy to admit your child is different and its most definitely not easy to listen to someone else say it.
The cast is brilliant especially the 3 main family members; Mum, Alison. Dad, Paul and Joe. I’m slightly concerned that Christopher Eccleston is the Grandad and not the leading man… when the Hell did that happen? How old am I?🤔
Alison is doing exactly what I did, she is researching and dealing with Joe’s issues in secret like there is something to be ashamed of. Almost as if its dirty. Not the fact there is something wrong but the fact you believe it.
During Joe’s assessment with Dr. Waites Paul keeps jumping in and she threatens to make him wait outside. Dave was always so quick to jump in a explain away William’s issues and sugarcoat things. To be honest I think we both were but it took Dave longer to be honest about it.
The whole thing about birthday parties and invites is something that I worry about massively as William gets older. Will William want to be invited to parties or will it be us wanting him to be invited? It seems like the lack of invite for Joe is affecting Paul and Alison but Joe himself is oblivious.
Someone shared something on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to have people stare and judge when your little one is having a meltdown. It really does hurt when people do this. I totally understand that some people may not grasp what our child is doing and why but that doesn’t give them the right to pass judgement. It is hard to keep your chin up when your little one is trying to take other peoples food in a restaurant but then throws their own food behind their back or decides to lay on the floor or crawl instead of walking. We have actively avoided certain places. It sound ridiculous but planning to take William anywhere takes more preparation than a bloody wedding. 👰
It’s not going to go away if we call it something different.
Dr Waites. The A Word
Episode 2 jumps straight in showing Joe isolated at school, he seems perfectly happy but it hits Alison hard. William is really happy alone and we have had to learn how to play with him rather than teaching him how to play with us. However more times than not he chooses to be alone and will walk away from us to do his own thing. It took us a long time to get used to this as following him will upset him.
They push Joe into doing things he doesn’t want to do. To play in different ways, to play in a way in which is deemed ‘normal’ but this isn’t Joe’s normal and its uncomfortable to see.
Alison worries about him becoming labelled in school and how it will effect him. Paul argues that he already has a label with his autism diagnosis but she is having none of it. I guess this brings us back to one of our older posts about the benefits and pitfalls of having a diagnosis. Check it out here…
Its interesting to see how Joe’s diagnosis effects the rest of his family and to watch the conversations had behind closed doors, especially from Maurice as he doesn’t hold anything back and says it as it is. It does make me wonder what our families have said about William before we were so open about it. Did they say things like ‘he isn’t normal’? Did they grieve for the grandchild, nephew or cousin that they thought they would get? It is eye opening as in the beginning you are very much in a bubble, its just you and your child fighting for diagnosis and help but you forget the rest of family are still there with the same worries and feeling you have.
I really feel for Rebecca as the older child. She seems to be going through a pivotal part of her adolescence and no one seems to be noticing or caring. She is just left to her own devices and frankly a little neglected. She obviously cares for her brother a lot which is brilliant and they have an amazing bond, she just ‘gets him’ but it also beautifully highlights both the disadvantages and advantages of having other children. Check out our post about it here…
Watching Joe have a meltdown because he can’t get what he wants is an all too familiar situation. Joe is very vocal about wanting his music and shouts and breaks things. Whereas William will lash out at me or himself to vent his frustration. Before we could admit anything was wrong I used to think it was a way of him manipulating us into getting what he wants, although we now understand that it’s more like what William needs rather than wants. Needs to feel safe and comfortable. Whether it is a biscuit or BabyTV or even for us to press Duggee’s musical arm 5 million times in a row 🤯
Shame (insert naked Cersei Lannister here)… its something we all feel no matter how old our child is when autism is first addressed or even whispered about. Paul hit the nail on the head when he is telling Alison she is ashamed of him for having it, ashamed of them for not picking it up sooner and ashamed for feeling ashamed in the first place.
Episode 3 starts with the first meeting with a speech and language therapist… It feels a little unrealistic as it happened so quickly. There are no wait lists in the lake district? She came from Manchester so there must be no wait lists there either… Think we need to relocate 🤔
Maggie, their SALT is nothing like ours. Its was a frightening experience but that was all in our heads. I’m not a massive fan of people I don’t know coming into our house. I tend to get really anxious and end up snapping at Dave every time. our SALT was lovely, her name is Sally and she really put me at ease and William enjoyed interacting with her. Maggie is very straight talking and blunt and although it makes me like her from a viewing point of view, I can not imagine she would have gone down so well had she been the one to turn up at our house. I suppose all professionals have their own approach and use it to determine how to help their patients.
Alison is desperately trying to communicate with Joe and even tries to engage him in play. She is desperately trying to bribe him to do things with her, it feels like she wants to show Maggie that this isn’t her fault. In a look at me sort of way. I feel her pain. I would love William to sit with me and read books without eating them or play with cars on the floor in the conventional way but that’s not how he plays. He takes comfort in lining his toys up and moving them from place to place which is a solitary activity and if I get involved he gets upset.
Another thing I find super unrealistic is the fact Maggie spends so much time at their house on first visit and the fact she is coming back the following day. Is she privately paid? If that is the case why didn’t Alison recognise Maggie’s name? We waited Months and months for a SALT visit and months after that we have still only had the one which lasted about an hour.
More prime examples of Rebecca being brushed aside and forgotten. She is trying to get her parents to show an interest in her school play and they immediately turn it into another conversation about her brother. Every time she tries to talk they ignore her.
It is something we are very aware that we already do, our world revolves around William, making sure William is getting the adequate support is our main focus and it is one of biggest talking points. Why shouldn’t we tell people what’s going on, his achievements or even how hard it is? But this shouldn’t been done at the detriment of other siblings. This is why having another child worries us so much. The unfairness of it all. How could we go from giving William 100% of our time and energy to splitting it? could it be split equally? Should it be split equally?
Alison missed Rebecca’s play, she missed it and it was so important to her. All because she wanted to bully Maggie into seeing Joe. To top things off they end up arguing about Joe and don’t even realise that Rebecca has gone 😢 I can almost smell the teen pregnancy story line in the works.
I must say the soundtrack is absolutely belting 🎧
Episode 4 starts by showing how much strain Paul is under and how Alison is pushing all her energy into Joe and getting him help. She has actively volunteered for the school in order to gain more insight into Joe’s behaviour with other kids and it’s difficult to watch. It made me feel uncomfortable, she is there to supposedly help the other children read but is focusing on spying on her own child the entire time. However I don’t think I should be surprised she is neglecting other peoples kids when she ignores her own daughter all the time.
The Fever Effect, A fever usually makes you less alert, tired, and ratty however in some children with autism, a fever makes them ‘better’, more social, alert, even talkative. It has been described as providing a glimpse into what your child might be like without autism.The hope in Alison’s voice as she tell Paul that Joe is ‘turning a corner’ after he has been poorly is absolutely heartbreaking. You can see it in Paul’s face as they embrace that he knows it’s not true. And then the next day Alison describes him as being ‘back to abnormal’ 😢
She said she felt like she could see the real Joe underneath all his autism. 🤔 Joe is Joe. Having autism is part of who Joe is, it’s a pivotal part of Joe’s make up the same way it is William’s. Those moments in which he looks at me and I mean really looks are so special and I wouldn’t trade those for the world. even the times he can stare into space and be in his own world and then just giggle at whatever is in his head…. granted late at night this creeps me out and I often refer to him as a psychopath 🤪
Oh god Rebecca hit the nail on the head suggesting Alison’s manifesto for school governor. ‘All children matter but not as much as Joe’ ouch! Shots fired! 🔫🔫🔫
Episode 5 shows how the loss of a person can massively effect not only someone with autism but their family too. It beautifully displays the slow build up of Joe’s emotions and how he struggles to release them. He loves Maya in his own way and the fact that she has been taken away from him takes it’s time to sink in fully and its heartbreaking to see. He begins by withdrawing slightly and then slowly goes into full blown meltdown. Its beautifully handled by actor Max Vento.
William’s main worker at nursery was originally a woman called Linda, he loved Linda so much and couldn’t wait to be with her. He didn’t bother with other children but could happily spend all his time with her. Linda was lovely and motherly not only to William but to us too, she just had a way about her that immediately put you at ease. I knew our little boy was safe with her. BUT William couldn’t stay with Linda as he needed someone who was trained in children with SEN to help him develop. In came Val… she specialised in SEN. She was going to be William’s key worker meaning he couldn’t spend his time with Linda. It was OK at first but then William started actively trying to find Linda at nursery, giving Val the slip. When this didn’t work he stopped wanting to go to nursery at all. 😢 Do you know how we fixed it? We didn’t. It was hard and difficult but he needed Val. He needed her to support him properly in his education but he needed Linda for comfort and we had to chose which was most important and that had to be his education.
Paul’s and Alison’s discussion about having another child perfectly represent in equal measures our own thoughts on the subject. They argue about it as two sides of the fence but with us we just sit in the middle both agreeing with the reason for and against but commit either way. One day it’s a 100% not a chance in Hell and the next we are a little broody. 🤷♀️
Episode 6, the series finale. It kicks off at the launch of their family pub and Joe is struggling. It’s hard for him to be around so many people in a new environment. It’s bloody hard for me to be around so many people in a new environment and I don’t have autism. Alison is desperate for Joe to stay as he is part of their family but Paul is quite happy for him to be left out and removed from the situation which feels as if it’s done to save embarrassment.
Joe goes missing whilst with his grandad. Paul and Alison are speaking to a search party and they’ve just admitted to everyone that Joe is autistic for the first time. Alison describing the fact he may not know he is lost or in even in danger has really struck a chord. One of my biggest worries about William’s future is because he has no perception of danger. I’m sure I have said it before but he would walk off a cliff if it was to get to biscuit.
The suspicion that falls to Ralph is awful. Alison immediate pegs it for what it is and that it’s because he has Down syndrome. Just this small conversation shows how much Alison is growing in her acceptance of disabilities but then she goes round to their house and confronts Louise and Ralph anyway 😕. She shows these signs of growth but then disappoints as usual. The theme of prejudice runs strong in this series finale especially how bad it can be within such a small community.
Overall season one was brilliant. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy watch and some parts have been like re-watching conversations and feelings Dave and I have had over the past two years. The stress placed upon Alison and Paul’s relationship. The lack of communication. Its things we have all gone through as we come to terms with as Paul puts it; our grief over the children we could have had.
Its is definitely a series I would recommend to anyone who has an autistic child within their lives as it gives an accurate insight into not only what the child goes through but their families too.
I look forward to starting season two and hope it is as good as the first 😊
Nicola reached out to us on our Facebook page to share her story, she is currently organising the first free online pathological demand avoidance summit which will take place between 3rd – 6th July 2020. Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is part of the autism spectrum and is used to describe those whose main characteristic is to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. It can also be referred to as Extreme Demand Avoidance.
according to NAS (National Autistic Society) the distinctive features of DPA profile include:
resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life
uses social strategies as part of avoidance, for example, distracting, giving excuses
appears sociable, but lacks some understanding
experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
appears comfortable in role play and pretence
displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people.
People with this profile can appear excessively controlling and dominating, especially when they feel anxious. However, they can also be confident and engaging when they feel secure and in control. It’s important to acknowledge that these people have a hidden disability.
In Nicola’s words…
I’m sharing this as it would have made a huge difference to us as a family if any of the professionals we were in touch with knew about PDA, it would have made a huge difference to us as a family. I’ve started to see that the more I’m sharing on social media, there’s more people I’ve started to see the more I’m sharing about this on social media there’s more people understanding that their children aren’t naughty just have different needs.
It was a chance conversation with a friend after we had been through the most challenging time yet. During this chat she mentioned three letters to me that I’d never heard before : PDA
When my son was young getting him to do anything was a struggle. My husband and I were met with constant meltdowns and upsets. Something as simple as dressing him and taking him to nursery on time was impossible. Everyone told me it was just toddler tantrums and he would soon grow out of it. But he didn’t. In fact, things only got worse. He became extremely fussy about food. If two different items on his plate touched one another he wouldn’t eat them. He left anything that was the slightest bit burnt and he’d even refuse a chocolate bar if a piece of it was broken.
A simple description of PDA is: Anxiety need to be in control and avoid other people’s demands, this can be ordinary daily tasks such as getting dressed, eating and going out even to do their favourite activities. They will often go to extreme lengths to avoid the demands For example negotiating,distracting, creating an excuse, or saying something shocking If all this fails then a meltdown.
When my son was younger he was very set in his ways and would only play with certain toys in a regimented way. On top of all this, he barely slept. Me and my husband were permanently exhausted. We looked like the walking dead. He became extremely fussy about food. If two different items on his plate touched one another he wouldn’t eat them. He left anything that was the slightest bit burnt and he’d even refuse a chocolate bar if a piece of it was broken. There are many other examples I could give however I want to keep this short.
As time has gone on and we have an understanding we are able to support and guide him the best we can.
Click the logo to go to the Positive PDA website and find out more, or better yet register for the summit. Educate yourselves about one of the lesser known parts of the spectrum. The summit is entirely free during its duration and has over 16 key-note speakers. I for one have registered and am excited to learn more. Thanks Nicola 😘
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?
I have always judged people who get a puppy or dog and decide to take it back to the pound. I am completely aware there are 100% valid reasons in some cases but it always devastates me. You promised that little furry guy a new home, a good life and to love them forever…
So you can completely understand how I felt when I read a news article about a woman called Myka Stauffer. Well it turns out Myka is relatively famous but I had never heard of her. She is a YouTube influencer with 715k subscribers although I am guessing this has dipped substantially recently with #CancelMykaStauffer trending on Twitter.
Until very recently Myka and her husband James were parents to 5 wonderful children; 4 biological children and 1 which was adopted from China, his name is Huxley. As of yesterday they have been in the news because they have chosen to re-home their adoptive child because he has autism and behavioural difficulties.
It pained me to give her views which inadvertently lines her pockets but I wanted to understand who these people were before I threw my 2 pence in.
There are numerous videos about Huxley before he was even Huxley if that makes sense and the videos on average have 75k views. Three years ago she made a video discussing how much she earns from YouTube but I’m not going to lie I could not be bothered to listen to it… I have a good paperback on the go and didn’t want to waste any more time on her than needed so I went onto a site that details the net worth of YouTube channels. Her site is worth $167k 💰 and her family’s daily vlog site is worth $33k 💰and the videos of her journey with Huxley have definitely contributed to that in a big way. Even the video uploaded about ‘re-homing’ Huxley will be earning her money which is disgusting. It currently has almost 1m views. No doubt her highest viewed video to date. If its about the views for them maybe she could give up one of her biological children next and hit 2 mil!!! She used Huxley to get money before she even officially had him. She asked her subscribers to partake in fundraiser for him by donating $5 for a jigsaw piece. It was a 1000 piece jigsaw and was the first image she would reveal of Huxley… Well I couldn’t find the link for the fundraiser 😲 but when I looked on some forums I found out that apparently It was just a link to send money directly into Myka’s paypal account.
She did state she would the names of everyone who donates in a baby book for when he was older… Hmm wonder what happened to that! 😡
My first thought when stalking her YouTube channel was that her videos are not my kind of thing, they portray her as a perfect parent, wife and housekeeper which is unattainable and puts pressure on her subscribers to be like that. I love Mrs Hinch but in a previous post I’m pretty sure I told her to go and fuck herself on one of my bad days. Myka seems to have a very high opinion of herself and from the posts she has shared not relating to Huxley I feel like she is what I like to call a MOMsplainer (another parent that talks to you as if you are neglecting your child, whether it’s on breast feeding, milestones or a vegan diet, they will give you unsolicited bias advice on anything) and I don’t have time for that so she is most definitely someone who’s videos I usually wouldn’t give the time of day.
My second thought is that if she is telling the truth about why she is sharing her adoption journey then we are quite similar in our thought process. Very similar to my statement when we started writing about William, she claims she is sharing her journey to help others going through the same thing and to help educate people in the process. Believe me I’m not relishing in this comparison.
Either Myka is an exceptional actress or she legitimately has the right reasons on some level at wanting to adopt this child. The emotions she display often come across as extremely raw and in parts I really felt for her during the adoption process videos.
This is the first video she posted with the announcement of their intentions.
What upset me on this video was that they are talking about fostering before adoption but how it’s not for them because they wouldn’t be able to give them back… ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME! 🤬
One thing I learnt from watching what felt like a million of these videos was that they specifically went for a ‘special focus’ adoption which means you are taking in a child knowing they have medical issues from the get go… I will repeat. THEY CHOSE THIS ROUTE! This is a direct quote from one the video’s in which she talks about Huxley’s diagnosis (this isn’t shared at this point) and what it means to them. They had received 3 different diagnosis’s at this point.
This is our boy and we don’t need to consult with any more physicians until I bring this little guy home. He’s our son and that’s that. We’re not going to trade him in. we’re not going to return him. He’s our boy.
So this crap about not being made aware of his need is absolute horse shit! in a direct quote… They didn’t want to know!
Huxley’s Gotcha Day video is heart-breaking and I’m not going to lie, my little book (a purple one this time for the blog) is speckled with tears. A gotcha Day is the day in which adoptive parents can officially take their child home. This should have been his happily ever after. 😥
From what I can figure out from their multiple levels of social media is that Huxley hadn’t appeared since late March but his appearances had been dwindling since the back end of 2019.
A post has resurfaced in which she is complaining and seeking help on a forum for parents who have also adopted from china, She is upset because Huxley is obsessed with food and will watch everyone eat and it ‘drives her husband bonkers’ well William takes food of strangers plates in restaurants and will actively enter zombie mode to get to what you have if he wants it, biting included. He has also on several occasions decided it is appropriate to come sit on my knee whilst I go to toilet… Kids are kids 🚽
The video itself is very well staged, They are both wearing white, a very common symbol of innocence. She is wearing her glasses which makes it difficult to tell if her high pitched whining is actually accompanied by proper tears.
‘do I feel like a failure as a mom? yes like 500%’
I hate to break it to you tiny tears but you were never his mom in the first place if you could do this!
Coming from the woman who seems to share everything on YouTube, she is explaining why there is no proof of these behaviours which were so difficult to deal with! She explains that little Huxley has gone to a new mommy who has medical training and the adoption agency have said they are a wonderful fit… I’m pretty sure in the announcement about adopting or one of the many that followed, you said you were prepared for the potential conditions of ‘special focus’ children because you were a registered nurse?!👩⚕️
I don’t think there is much more I can say on the subject, I do wonder if he had been her biological son would she have done the same? I could never imagine our lives without William, He’s challenging and can be naughty and I’ve often joked about locking him in a cupboard but he’s my life. My son 💙
FYI – whilst writing this Myka Stauffer has lost 2000 subscribers but her video is now on 1.1 mil.