With Flying Colours

This image came up on my Facebook feed today. It’s the kind of list I like. As the parent of a child who gets measured against all kinds of lists of skills and then classified according to his deficits, this is my kind of list!
I’m happy to say that my little boy is doing very well in most of these areas.
That makes me very proud of him and his progress towards a life rich in experiences, relationships and wonder.

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Country Air

We shot back out of town for the weekend. It is a long weekend, so a good chance to continue our adventures before we settle into the routine of the new term.
So it was fresh air, country markets, tractor rides, bonfire building and lots of fun with our friends Karin & Chris.
Kids happy, mum happy.

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Lake St Clair

Day 17
We are definitely getting our cold weather experience here at Lake St Clair. It was freezing this morning! We set off on our morning walk about 9am and when we got down to the lake it was still completely misty.
L could not resist temptation and walked straight into the water. His shoes & socks got completely soaked so we took them off & sat in the sun warming our tropical bones. L just does not feel the heat or cold in the same way as I do. So he played in the shallows with his jeans rolled up – but ended up soaking them as well. The water temp is around 4 degrees celsius! He did not care in the least!
It’s incredibly beautiful here!

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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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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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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.

 

Surprise Package

Day 4

Parenting any child is a roller coaster ride. Parenting a child with autism is like getting a surprise package every single day. You need to be on your toes, ready for the next exciting instalment.
It doesn’t take long for you to stop predicting, stop looking too far forward and stop assuming anything. Cos just when you think you’ve worked something out, they are going to turn that on its head.
Everything you thought you knew about babies, parenting, milestones, bonding, finger food, play, bath time, sleep, friends, family, EVERYTHING will no longer apply.
You have this kid, right in front of you and they don’t fit the description you had in your head. But there they are, the most precious and amazing little person and you love them beyond all reason.
For my little surprise package, I have had to allow him to lead me. We’ve been around many blind corners, up too many dead ends to count. It has felt at times like we’ve been stuck on the roundabout, going around & around while he works out which direction he wants to go next.
I am not guiding my child through life, he is taking me on a secret discovery tour. One nobody else gets to go on. It’s the ultimate mystery tour.
As time goes on, I’m less worried about the ultimate destination. The ride is where it’s at right now, for me. And for him.

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