The Boy, The Playground and Me

I’ve never been one for playgrounds..

Too crowded. Too noisy. A sensory nightmare.

The squeak of bare legs being forced down a hot metal slide on a summer’s day still makes me shudder as if there’s a hairy-arsed tarantula about to pounce on my face..

When The Boy was younger he hated playgrounds with passion. The first time we put him on a swing he like TOTALLY screamed the place down. Sure, children having tantrums are common place in parks but I’m talking TOTALLY LOSING HIS SHIT meltdowns where people stare at you because it MUST be down to bad parenting, no?

Er, no.

Playgrounds are a danger area for us because of the stimulus. Even now (aged seven) ten minutes is all he can handle before he starts to go into meltdown. Although the stimulus affects him, he likes the playground now. He is a sociable child but the problem is that he is too sociable and doesn’t understand the rules as is the case with autism. It doesn’t matter how young or old the other children are because they are all equal in his eyes and this causes problems..

For instance, on one occasion The Boy ran up to five teenage boys who were hogging the roundabout. He jumped on there with them as if he’d known them all his life. I hesitated to see how they would react to this little interloper but The Boy’s idea of play involves lots of incoherent shouting so it wasn’t long before the teens started nudging each other and laughing, the twats, though to be fair, they were just acting the way that most teenage boys act, it’s just that I’d have given anything for just one of them to show my son some compassion..

The Boy laughed back but had no idea that they were laughing at him. This took place in a matter of seconds but I’d seen enough but as I made my way to him the teens got up and just left him spinning on his own, not that it bothered him. As usual, he was oblivious as to what had taken place..

The thing is that he stands out.

His autism is IN YOUR FACE, autism.

We let him go into playgrounds whenever possible as long as he’s not showing signs of overwhelm before he goes in. We know that he’ll get over-excited pretty quickly so he’s given a ten minute countdown and those minutes seem like hours, believe me. All this on top of my own sensory issues makes it a stressful experience..

The last time he went into a playground was a few months ago. It was the adventure type playground and he homed in on a big rope type roundabout that could take about ten children at a time. My heart sank because I knew what was coming. I have a fluffy sensory toy which I keep in my pocket to calm myself and I stroked it so fast, I practically rendered it bald!

The Boy scrambled on with no qualms whatsoever. Aside my anxiety, I had to marvel at his inability to be apprehensive in certain situations. So, there was a little girl stood next to him and he shouted away to her. He was totally animated but she just stared at him open-mouthed and then asked to be let off. Once again, my son had been rejected only it was me who felt the pain, not him.

OH and I exchanged ‘the look’.

When we’d entered the playground, it was noisy with children screaming and parents chatting. It literally took five minutes for the atmosphere to change. One by one the kids on the roundabout fell silent as they stared at the little boy who excitedly screamed out incoherent babble to nobody in particular..

Then the parents stared at him and started looking around to see who he belonged to.

Er, that’ll be us, folks.

We knew he wasn’t going to make ten minutes as he was seconds away from meltdown and I wasn’t far behind having one of my own, so we grabbed him and left.

I didn’t look behind me because I didn’t want to see the judgmental looks on the faces of people who haven’t got a clue about our lives or his. I’ve seen those looks too many times and each time it hurts. I physically and emotionally hurt for my son..

So, I slammed the gate shut and pulled him close, mentally effing at the lot of them for not seeing my beautiful boy as I see him.

The blessing is that he is unaware of the way people stare. I was aware from the age of five so I’m glad he’s been spared for as long as he has but the day will come when he does notice and being different and knowing you’re different is hard. You’re forever having to work at appearing ‘normal’ and I pray that my son remains oblivious of people’s intolerance and ignorance for as long as is possible.

Those five minutes in the playground are still bothering me, obviously because I’m writing about it months later. It’s in my head now, logged with all the other ‘incidents’ and it makes me sad that some people show more compassion for their cars than they do human beings, especially vulnerable ones who could really do with their support..

Here’s a thought..

How about people stop staring and start supporting these kids?

Why shouldn’t my son express himself in the way that is natural to him? He’s not hurting anybody. It’s not an aggressive reaction. What people see is happiness minus the filters. To me, it’s beautiful. He is beautiful. It isn’t him that needs to change, it’s society.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”~ Steve Maraboli ~ Life, the Truth and Being Free

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

 

Spectrum Sunday

 

My A to Z of Teenage Boys

It’s midnight. A new day has begun. Only this isn’t any ordinary day. This is the day your son turns into a TEENAGER and so the metamorphosis begins..

Within the next few hours he will lose the power of speech and most likely the use of his arms and legs. However, he will retain the ability to eat, sleep and game. The next few years will test your sanity to its LIMIT so strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride but take comfort in the thought that one day he may have teenagers of his own..

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Ablutophobia

The fear of washing and bathing. Note, this fear miraculously disappears when girls are no longer considered repulsive.

Brains

The teenage brain isn’t developed fully – especially the part that deals with consequence which is why they act like morons occasionally. It’s biological.

Crazy

Is what you’ll be by the time they’re 18.

Tip: Alcohol helps.

Deodorant

Often used in lieu of a bath.

Embarrassment

Once you were the center of his world then puberty called and now you are an utter embarrassment to him. Isn’t it time you were in a home, you geriatric old sod?

Food

Teenage boys are bottomless pits when it comes to food consumption. They will eat you out of house and home and still complain you’re starving them to death. Good news! When they invite you to their house (Christmas 2053) to sit on a crappy old deckchair with more cobwebs on it than your reproductive bits, you can get your revenge by wolfing down their Quality Street, drinking all their booze and anesthetizing them with your sprout-fueled farts. Karma, no?

Grunt

The power of speech is temporarily lost at the onset of puberty and replaced with grunts. Texting by way of communication is an option but expect to receive one word answers to your 5000 word epic. Forget ‘kisses’. Those days are gone for the foreseeable, if not forever. However, you are guaranteed one on your embalmed forehead when you’re laid out in the deceased depot after choking to death on one of your false teeth.

Hormones

The reason your little prince turns into an argumentative sod.

I

I want. I need. I can’t.

The teenager’s world revolves around themselves. It’s biological.

Jurassic

The period they presume you to be from because you are in your thirties or forties.

‘OMG you’re THIRTY? That’s like SO OLD! YOU REPULSE ME! SOMEBODY ADOPT ME?’

Knowledge

Teenagers know EVERYTHING. You can die now.

Life

You give them life and you ruin their life by asking the impossible of them, like putting the bin out.

McDonalds

Popular food of choice and possible first job (not counting paper round) which may or may not lead to a managerial position within the first week.

Nintendo

Or other gaming console. Your teen must be plugged into this machine for at least eight hours a day to maintain their vital signs.

Onesies

An oversized babygro which some teenage boys like to lounge around in while watching programmes about big-breasted vampires.

Pit

Bedroom. Derived from cesspit, as in, an underground hole that stinks. Enter at your own risk, preferably wearing full bio-hazard suit.

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Quiff

A 1950s hairdo that’s seen a bit of a revival. The teenage boy either can’t be arsed faffing around with his barnet OR or he has the entire range of products in Superdrug’s hair section at his disposal and goes out looking like Justin Bieber.

Elvis, Morrissey and my Dad all rocked the quiff, though not necessarily at the same time.

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Mozzer, not AS quiff as it was in the 80s but still a quiff.

Rude

Teenagers tend to go through a manners malfunction stage and like to mutter expletives under their breath which bat-eared mothers NEVER fail to hear. I once told mine to sod off. I was upstairs, she was in the next town. She heard me.

Speed

Even the laziest of teenagers can shift faster than a greyhound out of a trap when threatened with the confiscation of their games console.

Tired

Teenagers can rack up more hours asleep than a sloth if given the chance. It’s biological.

Underwear

The young teenage male will happily wear the same pair of pants for a week month. Parental intervention (nagging) is essential during this phase to maintain their hygiene and your sanity.

Vomit

Teenagers + alcohol = projectile vomit + stolen traffic cones

Why

‘WHY WAS I EVEN BORN!!!!’

A phrase often used by teens when asked to wash up when they are trying to rid the world of zombies.

You: ‘Do the dishes please’

Them: ‘UH?

You: ‘The dishes?’

An hour later….

You: ‘DISHES, NOW!’

Them: ‘OH MY GOD. IN A MIN. OK?’

This goes on until you finally lose it and yank the cable out of the wall. You threaten to throw the games console in the bin. NOW you have their full attention. They scream ‘I HATE YOU! WHY WAS I EVEN BORN?!’ They stamp off upstairs, you go full Basil Fawlty and wrestle the console away from the TV. You launch it into the wheelie bin and then flounce round the shop for some alcohol. You’re that pissed off you haven’t even noticed that you’re still in your slippers! Two pints of wine later, you wash the wretched dishes yourself. Then you retrieve the console out of the bin and as you stand there wiping yesterday’s spag-bog off it, you silently will your ovaries/testicles to expire so you NEVER have to go through this shit again.

X Rated

Starts off with the undies section in your catalogue. Before you know it they’re going blind staring at heaving bosoms on the internet. Once the bed-sheets begin self-starching you know your little prince is gone forever. Weep for innocence lost then dry your eyes and get them to strip their own beds. *shudders*

Yob

Boy spelt backwards. Uncultured arse-biscuit who hangs around outside Co-ops laughing at pensioners and trying to impress girls with weird eyebrows. This is the type of teen who goes on Jeremy Kyle for a paternity test and a free bargain bucket meal. If your son ever turns up with one of these creatures in tow (or, worse, becomes one) write him out of the will and rent out his room.

Zits

Sods Law (or Karma) says that teenage lads will suffer an outbreak of pus-ridden zits when they least want them, like on a date with Courtney (who drops the u and the y and adds an e) from up the road and that’s not all she drops if you get my drift? One word, people.

Sabotage.

‘What’s that sweetie? You’ve run out of Clearasil and Lynx?’

‘Oh my God! How did that happen?’

Gale_Henry

You know it makes sense.

This ‘ere A to Z is based on my own experiences as a mother, sister and observer with poetic license thrown in. Obviously, not all teenage boys are into girls, gaming or vampires but that’s another post, eh Bro?

Free Image via Creative Commons

Image Via Creative Commons By H. J. Hickman

Image Via Creative Commons by Caligvla at English Wikipedia

Public Domain Image


Misfits and Meetings

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When it comes to school – I do the necessary. I drop The Boy off in the morning and pick him up at home time. Sometimes I go in to calm him down if he’s having a particularly difficult day, though I should add that it’s at my request that they phone me.

Some parents do other stuff like going in to read with the children and going on school trips etc., I don’t. Not because I’m a lazy cow who’d rather be sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle point at chavs – no- it’s because I have social, sensory and anxiety problems.

In every playground you will see the ‘perimeter ‘hoggers’. These are the lone wolf parents who lean against walls and railings looking at their phones trying to be invisible. I am one of those people.

My coats have pockets which disguise the fact that I am constantly fiddling with my keys. If I’m not fiddling with my keys I am looking at my phone – sometimes I am doing both. I look at the parents who socialise with ease and know it will never be me, not unless I have lobotomy anyway.

The thought of being jammed on a school bus with noisy kids is my idea of hell and when I was asked if I could help out I had no choice but to tell the truth.

‘I’m having a panic attack just imagining it. I’m not great with crowds and I have anxiety problems, you see. Sorry!

The school are understanding of this now and don’t ask anymore. I feel sad but accept that I have limitations and to push beyond those would do more harm than good as they would have a hyperventilating lunatic to look after as well as the children.

Thankfully The Boy has his SSA and he probably copes better without me in those situations as he could pick up on my anxieties no matter how much I tried to mask them – especially if a full blown panic attack was to occur.

However, when I heard that our SENCo was setting up a group with the parents of children with special needs, I knew I had to be part of it. I was apprehensive but knew the group would be small and that my friend would be there. She’s very lovely and reassuring, bless ‘er.

Having missed the first two meetings due to being elsewhere and, er, mixing the date up – I finally made the third.

Even something as trivial as this causes me anxiety especially when it’s something I haven’t done before, (fear of the unknown), but my mind was made up. I was going to do it because the school has given us so much support and I wanted to give something back.

So the day came and I ran through my notes.

Have something to eat so tummy doesn’t growl like a bastard.

Take reading specs.

Pen and paper because you know you’ll totally forget everything that’s said.

Wear hearing-aid to avoid saying ‘Eh?’ all the time.

Have massive wee before you go.

Drawing on my years of coping skills I went in earlier than the others. I find it hard to walk into a room with people in it I aim to be first in whenever possible. There were six of us in total – so a nice small group which I can cope with.

Heart clanging away I waited for the others to arrive.

I recognised one of the other mothers as a lady who used to work at The Boy’s nursery, (where he was first suspected of being autistic), so there was only one parent there who I didn’t know, at least by sight.

First job – tea and cake.

After years of practice I can now drink in front of strangers but food is still iffy. So the flapjacks were a no-go area for me. Better safe than choking to death having breathed in whilst trying to swallow, eh?

I may not have felt entirely comfortable but I was there.

Most people will consider this an insignificant thing. ‘It’s only a little meeting yer silly mare!’ but I know there will be others who will nod like mad. ‘Oh yes! That’s me too!’

It felt good to be in the presence of people who understand what it’s like to have a child with conditions like autism. They understand the daily challenges and judgement by ignorant gits. I’m used to the feeling of not belonging because I’ve never fitted in anywhere, (hence the misfit reference), but for the hour and a half I was there I didn’t feel quite the “misfit missy”as I usually do.

The school supports our son but they also support me. If I go into school to comfort him and the hall is full of kids catapulting themselves over the vaulting equipment the receptionist takes me around another way to avoid my anxiety levels going orbital. It’s a small thing but means that I am better mentally equipped to deal with my son’s meltdown.

I’m passionate about autism awareness so I really need to be as proactive as I can. My next goal is to attend the autism show. Don’t get me wrong I have been to crowded venues in my time – sometimes it’s required a nip of the hard stuff and sometimes I’ve gone in cold but it’s always been a struggle which is why I tend not to bother now.

It will be crowded and my anxiety will be off the scale both before, during and after but I figure that even if I was to lose the plot – it wouldn’t really matter because most people there will have seen much worse.

My drive comes from years of being ignored or misunderstood at school. Without doubt I have a learning disability and struggled every day of the ten years I was there. Nobody saw my distress and as a result I left school with nothing to show for it. Going through the SEN process makes me realise that, with support, I’d have been capable of much more. As it is all I have are a bunch of ‘if onlys’.

If only I’d have been allowed to stay in at play-times my anxiety might have lessened to a degree where I could take in information in order to learn.

If only I could have entered the class early and left after everybody else then I would have been spared the anxiety of being pushed and shoved in crowded corridors.

If only I could have worked in small groups – I might have learned something except fear.

If only I’d have had somewhere to escape to when it became too much instead of having to endure the stress, the stimulus and the bullying.

If only somebody would have seen beyond ‘shyness’ and recognised that I needed help.

How different my life might have been..

I point blank refuse for my son to go through that.

But thanks to an amazing school with teachers who care.. he hasn’t.

Image Credit Public Domain CC

Sons, Sand & Sauvignon