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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Social Story – We Are Going On A Plane

A photo (or perhaps a social story with photos?) a day for autism acceptance in April.

Map of Australia

Here is the social story I created for our recent trip to Darwin. It is a powerpoint presentation, but I used the Slide Shark app to upload it to the ipad. I tried to keep the details as real as possible as this is what best suits my little 6yo.

For those of you who do not know what a social story is, please have a look at this site. Social Stories were a concept developed by Carol Gray to assist people with autism to prepare for and better understand the details and social cues of any number of scenarios. Such a brilliant idea.

It’s taken a while for my boy to be interested in social stories, so they don’t suit everyone and they need to be adjusted to suit each individual they are being written for. There are many examples of social stories on the internet. A simple google search will unearth a huge number of options. However there are a number of basic rules about social stories that make them work best and I think it’s worth getting the lowdown from the creator, if you are interested in pursuing this for your child. The New Social Story Book by Carol Gray is my source book.

Still, I think this one is pretty good (if I say so myself) … so feel free to use it, adapt it and link back.

I also have to credit the Everyday Adventures blog, as I used their social story as a starting point.

Happy plane trips peoples!

We Are Going On A Plane – A Social Story

 

 

Summer…you’re standing in it!

It’s summer! Oh boy is it summer!

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A snapshot of the weekend. (conversion for our fahrenheit friends is 45 = 113, 32 = 89). Lucky we don’t live in Birdsville!!

There’s two more weeks of school and then…holidays for 6 weeks. So I’m trying to plan, to make sure we all stay relatively sane (especially me). I’m booking L in for some vacation care, mostly as a way of easing him out of the school routine and then easing him back into it prior to school starting. So I get a week of grace in between school finishing and Christmas and a week of space before he heads back to school.

It’s a specialised vacation care for kids with special needs and best of all – they run it at L’s school. So there will be many aspects of the day will be familiar to him. I’ve only used this service for a couple of days in the middle of the year but I was impressed with their carer to child ratio, the relationships these carers were able to build with my little boy in that short time and his happiness levels in going along to this program. Fingers crossed that will continue.

I’ve got a couple of goals for the holidays. One is to get some good down time for me. The other well…

I’ve been really inspired my a UK blogger whose autistic son Alfie participates in a surfing program. Firstly, kudos for going surfing in the cold old waters off the English shores – brrrrrr! Secondly, amazing!!! Thirdly, this is a great blog so click through and have a look at this great kid who is doing amazing things.

Coincidentally, I happened to see this great poster. I was initially pulled up by the fantastic wood cut style graphic and then I saw what they were promoting…

wish we lived closer...

wish we lived closer…

Then, another blogging friend at It’s a Wunderful Life sent through this link for the Surfers Healing non-profit who provide surfing therapy for kids with autism.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Rainbow Beach....ahhh! (credit: Paul Thomas)

Rainbow Beach….ahhh! (credit: Paul Thomas)

So, I’m going to try to see if I can make some connections for our trip up to the beautiful Rainbow Beach after Christmas. Hopefully, I’ll see if my darling boy L can get his grommit on and hit the waves.

Removing Children

 

This week in Australia, a television program called Insight was screened on one of our free to air channels. Insight has a forum style format where a moderator/journalist directs the discussion of the invited live audience of about 50 people representing a diverse range of opinions and experience. It really is a great program that has been successful now for many years.

The format works well and each week topics relevant to what is happening in our world, our country and our communities are explored in what is usually a compelling and deftly handled conversation.

This week the topic was ‘Removing Children’ The format was changed slightly so that the four special guests were sitting on the podium with the presenter. They were two young adults who had been removed from their families during their childhood, a foster carer and a father (appearing anonymously) whose children had been removed and who had worked successfully to be reunited with them.

Of course this topic is one very close to my heart. So, along with my many foster carer colleagues, child protection workers and the many people who work in support of children and families, we were all glued to the screen. Finally the issue that dominates our personal or working life (or both), our hearts and our homes was being given some air time.

I came away from watching the program feeling quite disappointed. I realise that one hour is simply not enough time to explore such a complex issue in great depth. However there were gaping holes in the discussion that left the television audience no wiser as to the decision making process that leads to removal of children or even the key issues we face as a community when it comes to child protection.

There were no representatives from the ‘Dept’, not a single politician and though there may have been people who work to support families & children in care in the audience, they did not get the opportunity to speak.

The main discussion centered around the young people and their experiences of trauma and abuse from both their birth families and from the system that was supposed to be protecting them. It was painful to see the young woman being questioned when she was not comfortable or equipped. The young man was more worldly and at 30, was older and better able to discuss his experiences.

The dad was brave and honest. His acknowledgement that it was the right thing for the department to remove his kids at that time was telling. The foster carer did not get a chance to say anything of much value, though I’m certain he would have had a lot to say given the appropriate questioning.

I do believe there was enormous value in the discussion that took place. Most people are lucky enough to never need to darken the doorstep of the child protection system. For them, it’s mysterious, dangerous and unspoken. This program did shed some light for those people.

As a foster carer though, this is the world I inhabit. The department may be the ones during urine tests and going to court, but I’m the one (of many) working to help children live through and heal from their trauma, to build positive relationships with their bio families and the important people in their lives, to help mums & dads and extended family learn about good parenting and supporting them in their efforts to reunify.

When that is not an option we are the people in your communities who step up to raise your children, whether it’s for a week end or  a lifetime. Foster carers play a pivotal role in helping our communities. We’re volunteers who live our values out in real time. Kids are the product of our community values, not just of a mother and father. So what is that saying about us as Australians right now? What is that saying about you?

Insight: Removing Kids