Saturday, 6 November 2021

O's turn to shine

 

Both of the little superheroes make us proud every single day, but last month it was O's turn to shine.

This year marked O's first year of high school. We were all a little nervous about high school, O included, but she hit the ground running an has not looked back. In the first few days of the new school year, O came home raving about the new group of friends that she had made - they all shared a love of Anime. There were no nerves at all from O.

Last year, O applied (with the encouragement from us and the teachers at the Primary School) for both of the academies that the high school run alongside their regular classes. One is focused on STEM units and the other is the Academic Academy. O was offered a spot in the STEM academy. And it is exactly where O needs to be.

Every other student in the STEM Academy is like minded, they all love STEM and they want to be at school. O is loving every minute of it.

O's anxiety has tried to get the better of her throughout this year, but O has been determined to not to let her anxiety take over.

Towards the end of last month, we received the news from the school that O was to receive an Academic Excellence Award for her efforts in class. We've always told both little superheroes that grades really don't matter to us, we just want them to put in the most effort that they can into school. And O has done just that.

O, you have put in the effort at school all year and very mush deserve this award. The world is your oyster, we are so very proud of you and can't wait to see what your future holds ❤❤

Monday, 1 November 2021

Assistance Dogs 101: School drop off time

 

School drop off's have always been difficult for L. The transition from the car to his classroom can be very rough for him. Henry makes it just that little bit easier for L. 

Twice in the last week and a half, L has had very rough mornings that we could see were building to a meltdown about going into school. Twice Henry has gone through his paces in helping L to calm. Twice Henry has worked his Assistance Dog magic.

Loads of Henry cuddles, lap lays and overs, quite a few nuzzles to disrupt L's self harming behaviours and just being close by so that L knows Henry is there when L was ready. Henry is the calming influence that L needs.

It was also wonderful watching the other school students reactions to seeing Henry in action. Henry is a wee bit popular at school, every one loves saying hello to Henry in the morning. But as soon as they see that Henry is helping his boy, they hold back from saying hi. 

They were so very respectful and gave us the space that L needed. And afterwards, when the students that saw myself and Henry leaving school, they told Henry what a good boy he was for helping L.

This is an Assistance Dog at work, not only helping his boy but also raising awareness and acceptance of Autism and Assistance Dogs.

Friday, 29 October 2021

Little Stars

This photo of L came up in my memories last month. It is of O waiting patiently at the gate at his Tara School, aka Little Stars. Little Stars is one of the early intervention therapy centres run by the Western Australian Autism Association. After we received L's Autism diagnosis, we applied for L to attend the centre.

Going to Little Stars really was one of the best decisions that we made for L. He was accepted for who he was, he made so many friends, he loved all of his therapists and therapy assistants, especially his Tara. L further developed his strengths and learnt new skills.

L attended the centre once a week for three hours and he participated in his speech and  occupational therapy while at the centre. And L loved going to his Tara's School. His very first therapy assistant was a lovely lady by the name of Thara, but all of the children and staff called her Tara. From the very first session with Tara, the centre became known by L as Tara's School. L and Tara had a mutual love of Batman!!

Most importantly we learnt how to view the world from L's eyes and how to support him in the way that he needed. We learnt how to help him navigate the world around him.

Little Stars was one of the first, and big, steps in L's Autism journey that L needed.

Funnily enough it was also at Tara's School that we accidentally met one of L's former educators from his previous child care centre. This educator was so very surprised to spot L at the centre, they were there to observe another child who had recently been diagnosed with Autism. This educator dismissed our concerns about L, by saying "oh he's just a naughty boy."

Mmm, actually no he wasn't. He is Autistic! This educator looked very taken back when I informed her why L was at the centre.

It is photos like the above, that remind me just how far both of my little superheroes have come and all that they have achieved so far on their Autism journey.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Cooking with Henry

A few weekends ago, L wanted to do some cooking with Henry - he saw a clip on YouTube of someone who made dog biscuits with their dog helping, 

So L and I sat at the computer and researched how to make simple dog biscuits. We found a few different recipes and L chose which recipe to use. We decided to change the recipe just a little, so the dog biscuits would be even yummier.

L then helped to write out a shopping list of the ingredients that we would need to make the biscuits. After checking the fridge and pantry, we went shopping and purchased the ingredients that we didn't already have.

Once we had gathered all of the ingredients and the kitchen utensils that we needed, L sat down with Henry (and myself, I was the camera operator!) and started recording.

I'm not sure who had more fun, Henry or L. Cooking is a great skill to learn how to do and one that we encourage both little superheroes to have a go at. L has a food aversion to peanut butter, so it was great that he had a go at mixing the ingredients together, for him peanut butter is a big food smell to deal with.

He needed some assistance towards the end with forming the balls, so I stepped in. Henry took this as his opportunity to sneak a few uncooked biscuits off of the tray!!






And the verdict from Henry about how they tasted, delicious! He gobbled one down before I could get a photo of him with the biscuit.

L is currently looking for another recipe that he can make with Henry, but preferably one that doesn't have peanut butter in it!

Henry's Simple Dog Biscuits

Ingredients:

3 cups of wholemeal or plain flour.

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons of peanut butter (make sure that it doesn't contain xylotol)

Half a cup of chicken stock.

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until they form a stiff dough.

3. Use your hands to form small balls of dough, about the size of a large marble. Flatten each ball onto the lined tray.

4. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

5. Cool on a wire rack and once cooled store in an air tight onta8ner in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Assistance Dog 101


This is what post meltdown now looks like in our household. 

Before Henry was placed with us, meltdowns could last for hours. Now, Henry picks up on L's change in emotional state before a meltdown begins and he can usually calm L very quickly.

One evening last month, L was having a rough afternoon. He wasn't in meltdown but was very close to it. This confused Henry, he really wasn't sure what L needed. Henry was on alert, it was as if he sensed something was wrong. He would not take his eyes off of L. But once L entered meltdown mode, Henry stepped in and took over. 

Henry was nuzzling L's face to try to stop L from hurting his head. Henry was laying over L, providing deep pressure to L's legs which calms L. Henry was nudging L's arms every time L moved them back towards his face, reminding L "I'm here, pat me." And Henry lay on L until L was ready to interact with Henry and myself. All this without being prompted by myself. 

Watching just how quickly Henry can calm L when he begins to enter meltdown mode, is truly amazing. Henry's training kicks in and he takes over. 

And once L was calm and able to verbalise to me, he said "Henry amazing, he really helps me." 

When an individual tells you that their service dog is life changing, please believe them. 

Henry has truly been life changing for L and for our family.

This is a service dog in action.

#teamhenry #labradorsofinstagram #servicedog #assistancedogs #autismassistancedogs #littlesuperheroes #smartpups

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Thoughts from my children Part 3


Have I told you that I love my children?? I have, oh well I'm going to tell you again!! They've both been doing lots of reflections on things that they do and don't like, as well as how they view, see and feel the world around them. They blow me away every time that they articulate to us how their brains work. So here are a few more thoughts from my children.


[I not like wearing shoes and socks. They too tight on my feet. They don't let me feel where I walk. I like feeling the ground. The ground makes me feel good.
L, 8 years.]


[I am Autistic. I am a good friend. I like to run and jump and bounce. I like being Barr feet. I don't like loud noise but I like being loud. I like superheroes. I can talk now. I a good listener. I am me.
L, 8 years.]


[Bouncing, jumping, tumbling. This is a very happy place.]


[I'm Autistic. I'm creative and I'm a visual thinker. I love learning and making new friends. I'm logical and I think literally. I tune in to fine details that others miss. I'm a sensory avoider and a sensory seeker. I'm empathetic and accepting of others. I'm unique.
O, 11 years.]


[Autism. Some days are hard. Some days are easy. Every day you will learn something new about your children and yourself. Every moment is worthit. Breathe and remember that your children need you. Autism is an adventure.]


[When I talk and when I listen, sometimes I need to move around. I need to wiggle and move cos that help me to concentrate.


[You see a child cooking.
I see a child crossing his midline, tasting new foods, learning life skills.]


[Please remember... You are your child's safe place. When your child is having a rough time, please don't show them judgement. They need you to be understanding. They need you to love them unconditionally. They need you to be there for them.
O, 11 years.]


[A little bit of vitamim sea soothes the soul.]


[Sometimes when people ask me questions, I can't answer. My brain got to think of the answer so I needs time to think.
L, 8 years.]


[Autistic people are human beings. We might be neurologically different from those around us, but we're still human beings. We have feelings and thoughts, strengths and challenges just like everyone else.
O, 11years.]


[Hyperfocus. This is the ability to zero in intensely on a subject or topic.
Autistic children, and adults, may hyperfocus on a topic that they become extremely knowledgeable on the topic. Being able to hyperfocus on a topic or special interest my bring calm for an individual if they feel overwhelmed.]


[My brothers and my knowledge about our Autism isvery positive. Mummy and Daddy only ever talk positive about Autism. All parents need to do that.
O, 11 years.]


[Some people prefer "I am Autistic," other people prefer "I have Autism."
I prefer to be known by my name and not by my diagnosis.
O, 11 years.]


[Why do people tell you to "just beyourself," but then they judge you for being yourself?
O, 11 years.]


[When I was little and I didn't know how to talk, I had stuff to say but my brain not (know) how to make the words come out loud.
L  8 years.]


[Everyone that has been diagnosed as Autistic has their own set of strengths. They also have their set of difficulties that they need to overcome. Every individual is just that, an individual. 
O, 11 years.]


[Sometimes I think my brain wants to be a butterfly cos when I have an idea, it flys away. My brain can't catch the idea, it just flies away like a butterfly.
L, 8 years.]


[Society needs to accept that being neurodiverse is perfectly okay.
Being neurodiverse is pur normal. We can't be anything other than neurodiverse. Our Autism is not going to disappear.
O, 11 years.]


[I can't sit still for long cos my brain want to keep moving. When I move, I listen better.
L, 8 years.]


[Sensory overload due to loud noises, doesn't feel like "this is a little bit too loud."
It's more like the sound is bouncing around my brain making it incredibly difficult to concentrate.
O, 11 years.]