It was a relief to get up this morning, the four poster was definitely not all it cracked up to be and I had thoughts of the tale of the princess and the pea! Ah I thought a spot of breakfast before I go so availed myself of the self-catering facilities and made toast promptly setting of the fire alarm. They are so loud it scrambles your brain, it was minutes before I had assembled a fork, my glasses and a chair and managed to switch it off. That was everyone in the entire building wide awake then, I left very swiftly!
I waited patiently at the bus stop thinking about how quickly unexpected stress wipes your brain of the ability to plan even though I had experience to call on and flexible thinking skills. This must be so hard for children on the spectrum.
I waited in the morning sun for the bus that would make this morning’s travel arrangements viable. I was still shaky after the alarm and realised I was now nervous about whether I could read a bus time table. I was supposed to be standing opposite the library, but it no longer existed! Was a bus stop with a label saying this stop is opposite the ‘library’ good enough? Oh how anxiety transfers and sticks to anything once it has you in its grip!
The bus rolled up on time, the driver was chatty, intrigued by timetables, and keen to tell me how he had been a bus driver in south London for years before chucking it all in and landing in Norfolk. He applied to the bus company on a Thursday and started his new job on the following Monday and was delighted with his career and new home.
6 miles in I stepped off the bus having had all the seats to myself and was waved off with ceremony. I walked along the river admiring how people convert riverside sheds into personal statements and how varied small boats can be. It was a fabulous walk.
I walked on to the coast and then along the dunes 4 hours later arriving in Caister on Sea where I was met by Jill and her husband. I was introduced to the staff and children on the play scheme at John Grant School. The atmosphere was easy-going, the staff interaction with the children was cheerful and well informed.
The care these young people took was obvious in every interaction. The children were being offered a good experience and the families have some support in the long summer holiday. I wonder why more play schemes are not available?
We played some ‘Lycra games’ with the group led by Jill and these engaging games pulled in even the tricky children in her group. I loved the one called popcorn where we stretched the Lycra sitting round in a circle them bounced a dozen coloured bath scrubs up and down as we sang finally bouncing them right off as we shouted popcorn!
I was lucky enough to meet 5 parents and we had an hour for questions. The head of the school welcomed the parents and ensured a young sibling was happily occupied. The questions ranged from how we could redirect pushing when frustrated into communication that was less physical, typing messages playfully to encourage spontaneous expression for a child that was interested in words and how to put together a collection of things a child can chew rather than leaves. It is fascinating to work with parents in this way, tweaking professional advice to try and find practical solutions that are doable for families at home. I am not sure we succeeded but we gave it a good shot and in real life strategies need trying out with the child and these parents are determined.
Jill and I walked in to Great Yarmouth talking of course but the route was simple which helped. The B and B was in a row of small hotels. I was instructed to press the 2 doorbells at once and wait. I complied and was given entry and introduced to each free sample in the single room and access to a bath robe. Odd social skills and detail in curious quantity!
Jill and her family welcomed me to share a meal with them. Conversation flowed fast and free as we ate delicious food in the garden.
Thank you for making me feel a part of the family, such generosity and friendship made me feel very special. I couldn’t have hoped for a better ‘last evening’ before the final walk in to Norwich tomorrow.