Living The Dream

Day 16
Today we left the coast & headed up to the mountains to Cradle mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Before we left, I had to take a photo of the whale vertebrae which was in the hall at the old farm house. It’s an amazing thing to see.

It was a long day in the car for the kids. We finally made it in at 6pm and they were well & truly over it by then.
We played lots of ‘living/non-living’ and thanks to my dear friend Duxey my boy, who has turned into a language sponge these holidays, learned a new phrase – ‘living the dream’. This was repeated frequently throughout the day. It’s something many people say to be ironic. But today, and throughout our holiday, we certainly have been living the dream. We are having a wonderful time & L is growing & changing & learning in so many ways. It’s something I have dreamt of on his behalf but he is the one living it.

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Walking & Talking

Day 15
Another great day at narawntapu. A big morning walk out onto the flatland that stretches out in front of the farm house we are staying in helped L to start the day off happy & calm. Then we went off to explore the inlet which opens out onto the Bass Straight. Calm water & a few more clouds but lovely and warm in the sun. The kids had a wonderful time. The sand was soft & boggy but the pebbles were just amazing!
L was repeating a few key phrases today ‘It’s nice. Yes, it IS nice’ said over and over. Then later, when we had been looking through the newspaper and my friend had pointed out a map of Australia to him, it was ‘Australia, it’s Australia!’
We set out at about 4.30 for a walk to see the wombats & kangaroos & wallabies who all come out onto the flatland to feed. At school L has been learning about ‘living/non-living’ so we talked about this, asking him to identify what was living or non-living. He surprised me by being remarkably accurate. We ended up staying out to see if we could watch the blood moon rise. We did see it but only for a minute before it went behind the clouds. Almost two hours later we made it back home for a quick dinner, a cup of tea, a hot shower and a warm bed.

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Nature Boy

Day 14
Such a great day today!
L loves to be out in the natural world. It seems that every sensory need is met in the open spaces. All the noise making, stimming & leaping about calms & he absorbs the energy of the enormous skies & wide horizons.
Plus (a big plus) his appetite explodes & he sleeps deeply.
All this makes me extremely happy.
It’s so beautiful here! Here’s our day in photos. Amazing to get so close to the wombats.

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Road Trip

Day 13
We hit the road today, heading north to the Narawntapu National Park.
It makes me realise what an amazing distance we have travelled in our autism adventure.
The first road trip I did with L was the most hellish 4 hours of my life! Non-stop screaming and distress – it was awful for him, for me, for everyone. Nothing could help him to feel safe and secure.
Today was a dream by comparison. He was able to conceptualise that we would be going for a drive and be happy not knowing the destination. Instead, he wore his Bluetooth headphones and played with the iPad, listening to music, playing games and enjoying himself.
We stopped for lunch at a cafe that had an outdoor garden. So he was able to have run & leap about.
More & more driving until we finally reached our destination at dusk. We are staying in an old farm house in the park. It’s used by the rangers who stay & work up here. It’s full of cast off furniture & horrible old carpet but we are having a lovely time!

We’ve got the fire going

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Oh Mona!

Day 12
Today we found the best sensory room I have yet to experience. L loved it! We all did.
It was at MONA the museum of old & new art.
We called it the ‘pink & blue room’. Here’s why:

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We had so much fun there. We saw things we’d never seen, we were amazed, delighted and at times confused.
I love seeing kids experiencing art. They are so fresh & honest in their response. I felt like a kid too as we went from room to room seeing the unexpected & the unbelievable.
For an autistic kid there were many wonderful experiences – everything from jumping on a sky high trampoline overlooking the Derwent River to watching jungle book surrounded by some of the original character drawings to a large dark room full of old lounge chairs & old tv’s (screen heaven) to the fabulous pink & blue room.
Oh Mona!

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Sibs day

Day 11
I missed the fact that it was international siblings day (or whatever it’s called) yesterday. I’ve got 4 of ‘em plus the outlaws and they’ve always played an important role in my life.
L has had quite a lot of siblings. Foster siblings, but siblings in every sense of the word. They have all grown up loving and adoring their older brother. Do they care if he’s noisy? Nope. Do they care if he pushes them out of his personal space? Nope. Do they care if he has autism? Not in the least.
So this one is for all the beautiful kids who have been siblings to L. I love your willingness, your ability to see his beautiful, playful soul, your persistence in getting his attention. Most of all I love the love you share.

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Flying

We have been jumping on planes since L was a baby. That’s how it is when most of your family and friends live ‘somewhere else’. When you live in Australia, it’s a long way to anywhere.
We think nothing of driving a couple of hours.
When I was a kid it was pretty much guaranteed that we would be spending several days squished into our car, screaming through the countryside, eating up 1300 k’s or so to get down to see our grandparents for a week or so. It was a favourite form of family torture.
These days, road trips are a bit more rare. It’s cheaper to fly.
We were in the air for 3 hours today. L coped reasonably well but had a few minutes of abject terror as we took off & landed. The noise, the speed, the ground falling away beneath us, the clouds – had him clinging on for dear life. We made it though and so did all the other passengers.
Phew!

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School Hols

Day 7

It’s school holidays here in Australia. It’s a bit confusing for L. He keeps checking on whether the bus is coming in the morning. I tell him ‘No darling, we’re on holidays! No school!’

I think he’d rather go to school.

It’s nice to hang out with him though. We are very unstructured in the holidays, so it takes him a little while to ease into the holiday schedule.

Soon though, we’ll be going way out of the comfort zone.

We’ll be getting onto a plane and heading south, to the cold (for us) weather of our little apple isle, Tasmania.

Time to break out the social story – We are going on a Plane.

For those of you who don’t know…Tasmania is here

Tasmania

quite close to Antartica!

We’ll be staying here

Narawntapu

 and here

Lake St Clair

 

and seeing lots of these

Wallaby

and these

Wombats

 

I’ve always found that going on a holiday is far more rewarding than challenging for my little guy. He loves to be out in the natural world, taking the air and letting his senses reign.

I hope I’m right!!

I’ll let you know.

 

Ben and Holly

For the longest time my boy had no interest whatsoever in the tv or any screen activity. We had an iPad for 3 years before he was even willing to touch it. I believe it was because he was unable to make any sense of the images.
L has a vision impairment which has gradually improved over the years but it meant that he had very little visual motivation. Until recently any images we used to help him learn or understand needed to be photos. A drawn or animated image did not make any sense to him at all.
Not any more!
L now has very strong opinions about what should be screening on our tv. Given a choice it would 24/7 Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom.

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Now there’s watching &enjoying a show and then there’s enjoying it so much that you can’t even hear the dialogue. Squeals of delight, leaping and bounding around the furniture like a high tension spring. L is deliriously ecstatic.

It’s hard to deny him this sweet joy. So I am sharing it with you instead!

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