Tuesday 22 November 2022

What does brave look like?


What does brave look like? This.

Two little superheroes who are putting one foot in front of the other and getting back to their usual routines.

These two little superheroes have had a couple of huge weeks where they have experienced every emotion from extreme sadness to extreme happiness and every emotion in between.

The first week that Daddy Superhero was in hospital having his life saving (literally) heart surgery, being in ICU, then being transferred onto the cardiac ward was like a very bad dream and none of us really knew what we were feeling. It was a very surreal feeling.

Last week was as difficult as the first week, the reality of just how severe and life threatening the diagnosis was, hit home in a huge way. As did knowing that if Daddy Superhero didn't have surgery, our lives could be very different.

Last week was a "school can't" week. Neither little superheroes or myself wanted to face the world. We didn't want to people, other than going to visit our superhero in hospital. They physically couldn't go to school last week, their anxiety was too high to function outside of our home.

This week is a "school try" week. Both little superheroes are still coming to terms with what has happened over the past two weeks. They're both still talking through their emotions and thoughts. And they're both trying to go back to school - both schools have been just amazing in providing support to them and us.

It may be some time before we get back to our new normal, but we won't give up.

#autismheroes #littlesuperheroes #cardiacsurvivor

Saturday 12 November 2022

Team Henry: Expectation versus Reality - So much more than just an Assistance Dog!

As well as being L's Autism Assistance Dog, Henry assists L in many other ways!

Shopping trips used to be a nightmare for L – the sensory overload from shopping centres is enormous. Now, they are a breeze with Henry by L’s side. Anytime during a shopping trip that L, and at times O, begins to feel overwhelmed, he and Henry find a spot to have lap lays and cuddles. Prior to Henry, shopping trips usually ended in a meltdown. We haven’t had one meltdown while out shopping. Even Christmas shopping was an easy outing.

Haircuts. L has naturally curly, think ringlets, hair but due to his sensory processing difficulties, he dislikes his hair being brushed so regular hair cuts are a must. As L doesn’t like people touching his hair or head, hair cuts are a sensory nightmare for him and can take up to a few hours for a simple trim. Now with Henry, a haircut takes less then 20 minutes. Henry is a bit of a hit at the barbers too and no longer munches on the hair treats on the floor!

Hospital and medical appointments. Even though we are on a first name basis with the medical staff at four emergency departments, L struggles with hospital visits and medical appointments in general. Henry has been a godsend and each time we’ve had an appointment or a visit to the emergency department, L has been able to stay calm. He still reverted to being non-verbal, but he was calm.

Lockdowns, isolation and flooding! Well, what can I say. The last few years have been a challenge for everyone. The first few lockdowns prior to Henry were a real struggle. But having Henry to help L, and O, to self regulate has been awesome. So far, because goodness knows what is going to happen in the future, we have been through one covid lockdown, three covid isolation periods and the February flooding, with no meltdowns. Henry is so super calm, that he causes both little superheroes to remain calm.

Family outings have always been tricky for both little superheroes. Prior to Henry being placed, our family outings wouldn’t last more then a few hours and they were usually to the same places so that both kids wouldn’t become too overwhelmed. If we were even thinking of going to a new place, we would have to give both kids at least a weeks notice so that we could prepare them for the outing.

Since Henry, our family outings have become much easier, more frequent and have become longer. We’ve become more adventurous and have visited places that we haven’t been to previously. We’ve done a few surprise outings, which we could not have done prior to Henry being placed.

Australia Zoo was our first successful outing. We lasted roughly five hours and the only reason we left is due to both kids complaining of sore feet. Neither entered into sensory or emotional overload. I may have become teary later that evening because of how amazing Henry was. 

We've visited two of the theme parks on the Gold Coast in one day - this is something that we couldn't have done before Henry.

Now when we are on outings, if either of the kids begin to feel overwhelmed, Henry steps in with lap lays, overs and nuzzles. And not once have we had to end an family outing early due to one of both kids becoming overwhelmed. Sealife on the Sunshine Coast, a full day school excursion for L, a full day at the Gold Coast Supernova convention to name a few, all have gone exceptionally well.

Even a simple outing such as Santa photos was near impossible prior to Henry being placed. Our 2021 Surfing Santa photos were a breeze for L and we had to constantly remind him that we had to leave!

L is responsible for looking after Henry on a daily basis, under our supervision of course. He feeds Henry, brushes him, picks up Henry’s poops, plays with him, helps to wash Henry and everything else in between. This is developing L's skills a whole range of areas.

Henry is L's furry sidekick and as long as L always needs him, Henry will be by his side.

Thursday 10 November 2022

Team Henry: My Rock


While my rock has been battling and kicking goals in ICU this week, this boi has been my rock.

Henry has been showing just how amazing he really is by supporting both little superheroes and myself.

And he's been showing his intelligent disobedience skills!! Henry has deliberately pushed me to our couch at home so that I'd sit down and then would lay his head on my lap giving me some much needed deep pressure therapy ❤️❤️

Henry is L's Autism Assistance Dog, but he knows when I need help too.

Oh, and he is a hit at the hospital. First making friends with all the staff in ICU and today, making friends on his Daddy's ward ❤️❤️

#teamhenry #smartpuphenry #smartpups #autismassistancedogs

Friday 4 November 2022

Team Henry: Expectations versus Reality - Companionship.

 Our expectations

Just the pure companionship for L is another aspect that we were looking forward to with having Henry placed with our family. Having a pup that he could say was his, as a conversation starter with our family and friends and other people that we come into contact with on a regular basis.

The reality

L has always struggled with communication. When he is overwhelmed or when he meets new people, he reverts to being non-verbal and will use key word signing or sounds to communicate his needs.

Henry has been amazing in calming L to the point that he is able to communicate using speech.

When are out and about, if L is calm, Henry is a conversation starting point for him with new people. This is a huge first for L, and it is all thanks to Henry. The focus is taken off of Lachlan and onto what Henry does and the tricks that he can do!

Both little superheroes have complex needs, and as a result regular medical appointments are a must.

Before Henry, L would shut-down and hide under chairs, tables, cupboards, anything that has a space underneath.

Now, with Henry by his side, L is able to self regulate enough to communicate via sounds or key word signing with the medical professionals. And with some, like our pediatrician who has built an amazing rapport with L, he will communicate verbally with them.