Daily Archives: July 22, 2015

Waterproofs and getting ready for school

Day 6

Today started with fresh fruit for breakfast and the first of today’s interesting facts, cows in this area in the intensive system sleep on water beds!  I went to bed last night thinking about curiosity and how learning new things can be fascinating but it does rather depend on how the information is presented…

Yesterday evening I visited Lewis’s Mum and Dad, Gran and Grandpa. Lewis is a child who lives life at “full steam ahead”, he has an active mind and body and says his words can’t keep up with his thoughts. His favourite publication is about how things work and his choice of reading material is highly imaginative.

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At the same time he makes frequent social errors, in particular rigid adherence to rules and their interpretation and a readiness to tell people when they are wrong and to police errors. He is unaware how his behaviour aggravates or upsets others and will argue fluently and logically. It is such a confusing mix and with a shift to Year 2 coming up his Mum and Dad are worried about how he will cope.

We discussed running away and venting and how an escape card system might help if the school could be persuaded to take it on board, how running as a form of stress busting would work and provide an outlet with high success rates as he is both fast and determined.  We talked about the difficulty applying rules consistently when there are 4 family members involved in the average day and we agreed that it is really tough but that rules can be different for differing adults providing it is clear and explicit when it’s just not possible for everyone to agree.  Persistence is possible and this family is determined to both fight Lewis’ corner and rub the corners off so that he doesn’t pay such a high price for mistakes made at school. He has a two night stay away with a club and we thought through how the basic rules could be explained and how we could give Lewis an understanding about how his decisions would drive events. Mum is brilliant at using visual timetables and the way forward whilst not simple is totally doable when there are communities who want to try around the child both in and out of school.

Yesterday evening finished with me discovering the failure to unplug my iPhone charger from the socket at the last overnight stop. No problem when Suzie simply drove me to buy a new one.  Such kindness is absolutely beyond the call of duty for a B and B. Help given without hesitation is still astonishing and restores ones faith in human nature.

As the day’s walk wore on slight drizzle turned to heavy rainfall and I got very wet.
I entertained myself writing a SMART target:

  • Gina will put on wet weather clothing when it rains in a real life context.
  • Evaluation: waterproof put on and zipped up in 3 minutes no prompting.
  • Gina soaked to the skin and moaning about wet socks.
  • Next steps. Gina will be supported in effectively evaluating the properties of waterproofs for use in heavy rain.
  • Gina will be asked to name the positive and negative aspects of clothing purchased.
  • My waterproof is …
  1. Red
  2. Light
  3. Dries fast
  • My waterproof:
  1. Lets the rain in
  2. Sticks to your skin in clammy swathes
  3. Allows water to run down the front then fill the pockets with pools of water that flood shorts and pants
  4. Flaps in the wind and flies up
  5. Has a utterly useless hood that makes you look a complete twit when you use a safety pin under the chin to keep it on.

Perhaps garment not fit for purpose!!!

I finished the 23 miles with the last mile at a steady trot as I was keeping Hattie and the boys waiting at our allocatedmeeting place so arrived chest heaving, red in the face and sweaty. However Hattie didn’t turn a hair welcomed me into the car introduced the boys and we drove home.

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I spent a happy couple of hours striking up an acquaintance with Sam who had been withdrawn from playgroup after a miserable time. He was apparently ‘fine’ but came home extremely distressed, volatile and having frequent accidents. He coped by being extremely and wholly compliant when there so things looked good but simply could not sustain the effort and began to stop talking and show extreme anxiety levels.  Mum is running an incredibly high quality EYFS based curriculum at home and is teaching herself and Sam how to use visually supported communication.

We thought through how to practice the largely unspoken rules that are expected in school such as tolerating holding hands with a peer, changing for PE, asking to leave the room to use the toilet, coping with not being first or the winner and how to line up.

These things practiced over and over again within the safe environment of home will mean such things don’t come out of the blue at the start of term. Other children will of course be learning these things too but when you have difficulty seeing and understanding social contexts its helps to get them established first. Lewis has so much to offer, he is enthusiastic about super heroes yes, but he finds lots of things interesting when he is not anxious and learns fast.

Hattie forgave me for getting her name wrong more than once and for being late. Sam’s younger brother Ben joined in everything contributing heaps of helpless giggling. The chance to talk to both parents, hear the battles and triumphs and tweak advice to fit makes a huge difference.This family laughs a lot and worries about making school a success are real but with the whole summer to practice things are looking good.

Visually supported communication

… and shared laughter

Day 5

I set off earlier than usual from the hotel so that I could be sure of getting to a village called Long Bennington to meet up with Charlotte and a friend. The time and exact place was flexible as Harry, Charlotte’s son was agitated about her being on the phone so final arrangements were to be agreed after school drop off. It all came together though and we discovered a brilliant cafe called The cafe at 63. We were given a warm welcome, tea and scrambled eggs and left to our conversations. Both Charlotte and Zoe have a child on the spectrum but both children are in schools they like and that makes a massive difference. There are problems but feeling a school place is appropriate and secure is such a huge plus.

The conversation started yet again with problems accessing speech and language therapy. Harry no longer sees the speech and language therapist even though it is identified on his statement. The reason given was that there were 2 teaching assistants in the school who were skilled enough to work on their own.  In truth this has worked well but as both are now leaving a huge gap has opened up and Harry is loosing ground. It is interesting to think that speech and language therapy can be removed in this way – do therapists have nothing to offer on an ongoing basis interns of new ideas, encouragement etc – alarming for the profession if this is true.  Perhaps it is disguised way of saying resources are not available. Thank goodness the profession has an open referral system so parents can restart the process. We have so much we can add to a child’s communication development and working in schools alongside our education colleagues and the curriculum can be very effective as well as great fun.

We discussed how Charlotte could make short films on her phone on family outings such as swimming and trips to Supermarkets as well as the more significant ones, adding a simple commentary that labelled events. Harry loves watching himself on film and this could actively build vocabulary from the current 50 words he has to include words that could help him recall shared events.

Harry does get very stressed at times particularly when his drive to touch a surface is inhibited, when overbought he bites and this causes real hurt. At the time Harry is out of control and though he does try to rub it better when the moment has past he can’t seem to stop himself from doing it in the first place. We thought about warning signs, Harry makes a growling noise, and how an alternative thing to bite could be offered at this point. Mum felt small balloons filled with sand might work — thinking about it now I reckon the balloons might puncture so maybe couscous or rice would work? I must remember to email her today. It is so hard for a child that has a limited bank of solutions to change their responses at times of stress and teaching an alternative takes a lot of effort. Harry is lucky to have his Mum fighting his corner.

Harry also has a very involved Granny who commented recently that she was a lot more fit and active than many of her friends in retirement with hobbies such as leaping about on beds with her grandson to wear him out keeping her flexible. She credits Harry with her longevity!  I wish I had met her!

Zoe’s daughter Amelia finds it hard to go out in the holidays even though she enjoys it once she is out. We talked about counting down the computer/TV in advance of the time to go out. Zoe felt this would work well if she used a timer so Amelia could see the time passing.

day1505aRather than our usual chatty format that appears to offer a choice such as ‘would you like to go to Sainsbury’  we thought through using a a simple script that has one chore followed by one more appealing item spoken confidently and cheerfully such as,  ‘its time for Sainsbury, then pick and mix’. In coming up with the more appealing items we thought through times when the invitation to go out worked best and this led to a healthily long list all of which had something in them that Amelia really liked!

These amazing Mums. have also set up a community cafe in their village that raises money for local charity. The readiness of both Mums to share stories, laugh at things that had gone wrong in the past

I walked on past a very assertive sign out side the school and added it to my list of visually supported communications photos that give a clear message. I loved the one I saw earlier today about fishing–I didn’t see anyone running off with a fish under their arm so it must work!

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The rest of the day passed in peaceful walking to Woolthorpe by Beauvoir (pronounced beaver though I have no idea why) where I dropped my ruck sack off at the bed and breakfast and was given a fantastic cup of tea by Suzie who runs her floristry business from home–fresh flowers in the ensuite is a first!  I walked in to Greatham along the canal bank passing tethered barges amidst thick weed that seemed to cover the entire water surface.

I arrived in the town sat in the cafe in Morrisons waiting till the last appointment of the day. I didn’t realise cafes with that sort of 1970’s decor still existed. There is something faintly Colin about a supermarket cafe and sandwiches that were made much earlier in the day served by someone who announces 15 minutes left as they hand you your change.  Ah well it had probably been a long day.

More of young Lewis and his family tomorrow …