Under Scrutiny

Sometimes I feel really sorry for my son as every move he makes, every thing he does is always observed, noted and reported back to us - the parents.  Take a few months ago for example.  He had not been concentrating in class and had not been particularly well behaved.  When this happens I know what comes next...and I am sure that any ASD  parent reading this now has a knowing smile on their face.  This is because we all know that when our child is acting a little different or a little less concentrated, that we - the parents -  will be put on the spot to explain why they are behaving in this way.

The routine questions/interrogation that I seem to get time and time again are:
Have they been eating a lot of sugar ? 
 My answer: Of course not, I have nothing in the house - they only eat these things at birthday parties or for a special treat.

Any changes at home? Problems?
No, (racking my brains trying to find any explanation for them!)  What I really want to do is shout at them - I am a responsible parent! and a teacher! If anything had been going on, I would have informed you!

So now I have learnt to turn it back on them. 
Saying to them, well, he had no PE yesterday which means that YOU (meaning the school) changed his routine so maybe that's why!
Or that YOU (or the classroom assisstant) were ill and so away for a few days so he had a  different classroom teacher/assistant  which means a change in routine so maybe that's why!  
Turning the interrogation back on to them may not solve any problems but at least it means they have to sometimes consider their own actions and not blame his home life.

But my question is : Why do I have to struggle to find an explanation to appease them?  
Can't he just have a bad day or week?  Do other children never have bad days? 
And when they do, are THEIR parents asked the same questions as me or is it just mention in passing.  As a mother, I want to hear how he is excelling in maths, how we can nurture this or that he is doing well in Greek despite his difficulty in language and linguistic.  I understand that I need to hear his negatives but I don't want that to be the main focus of most conversations.

So to all teachers out there who have any kind of special needs child in their classroom, PLEASE, get rid of the scrutiny and understand that they have bad days too!  
Observe them subtly, encourage them fully, and don't forget to tell us how well they are doing too. 

Dr. Cat and AutiZmo

​My friend Dr. Cat is at it again!  Her kaleidoscopic mind has been whirling and whirling....  Her new project - the result of her extensive study on autistic children - is astonishing.  Mind - blowing in fact.  She and a Robotic Engineer from Egypt, are in the process of designing and creating a robot called AutiZmo, who will be able to scan an autistic child and detect what he or she is feeling and thinking. He (AutiZmo) will then be able to translate these feelings to the child's parents and anyone who wishes to communicate with them.  I know, it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.  
While she was explaining her ideas to me, scenes from 'A.I.' and 'Biocentennial Man' were flashing in my mind.  But this is actually happening...

As the mother of an ASD child that was non-verbal for so many years, I can truly appreciate how this will change our lives.  I am lucky that my son is now verbal, but the years of trying to guess what he wanted or to justify to others or to myself even, why he was having a meltdown or was less concentrated than usual, or was out of sorts, even for him - were both tough and heartbreaking.  For some days I would openly weep in front of him...begging him to tell me what was wrong, what could I do to help him/fix it/take the pain away.  And it is on those days that as a mother (or father) you feel like a complete failure.

So I welcome AutiZmo with open arms.  If his existence not only helps children like my son communicate, but also allows parents like me to understand what they are thinking and going through even before they are verbal... well Dr. Cat will have created a truly remarkable gift for autistic children worldwide. 

Dr. Cat and Mr. Robotic Engineer told me that they have decided that this will be the beginning of revolutionising the world of Autism, and I am 100% behind them all the way!

*If you wish to learn more about AutiZmo firsthand, then Dr. Cat will be talking about it live on SIGMA this Tuesday night (15th December) at 9pm.*

Christmas 2015 Shoe Box Appeal

Would you like to help bring a smile to a needy child this Christmas? Then how about taking part in the Shoebox Christmas Appeal where we hope to provide for needy and Refugee Children in our community.

This is being organized by some local Churches and LPN will be helping out again this year.

How it Works

Chose a child to buy for – Boy/Girl age!

Find a shoebox (adult size) and cover the lid and box separately in wrapping paper.

Fill the box with your wrapped gifts. Here’s some ideas:

Something to love e.g. a doll, a teddy

Something for school e.g a pencil case, an eraser

Something to wear e.g. a scarf, a hat, socks, hair bands

Something to play with e.g. a toy, a game

Something yummy e.g. sweets (that won’t melt)

Something special e.g. a ‘wow’ item

All gifts should be new, safe and suitable e.g. no sharp items, nothing breakable, no guns or soldiers

If you wish, add a Christmas card with a personal greeting and blessings for your child. Close the box (preferably with elastic bands) and add a label with the gender and age.

Drop off points for the boxes will be as follows :

Greek Evangelical Church hall opposite the old hospital on Tuesdays between 8 – 11am Fridays between 6 – 8:30pm - Larnaca Thrift shop 1st April Street. 

The closing date will be the 1st of December.


My son probably has about 1001 idiosyncracies which I am sure are there to drive me absolutely around the bend!  As he has grown up some have continued and some have stopped.  His most noticeable one (quite a common one in ASD children) is the hand flapping and jumping up and down on the spot.  It used to be accompanied by weird funny sounds but they seem to have subsided.  One therapist told us that it would be a good idea to stop this little habit of his (the therapist was afraid how the other children would react to it and therefore him) but I decided not to.  After all it was part of who he was, and he only does it when he is happy or excited.  As a mother it really touches my heart to see this child-like joy he has, expressed in such an innocent and jubilant way.  I wouldn't change it for the world. But saying that, I do control it - just by saying his name, he stops (it prevents him getting too overexcited and too over stimulated which could lead to a meltdown).

The problem with his idiosyncrasies is timing.  If I am calm and relaxed (as a working mother of three this is as rare as a blue moon), I can deal with them.  The thing is that they seem to rear their ugly head when I am tired/grumpy/feeling overwhelmed or sick.  For example, for the last 3 or 4 years he has certain ideas of where specific pieces of furniture should be placed (maybe he is a budding Feng Shui Interior Designer).  In my sitting room I change the furniture around for summer and winter - as soon as summer begins coming to an end, he wants to set up the winter arrangement complete with thick, warm carpets! I have tried to explain to him how Cyprus has no autumn and winter doesn't kick in til the end of November - but to no avail.  This is usually how our conversations go:
My son: (standing next to the couch, trying to move it) I want.
Me: No.
My son: (pushing it out of place a little) I want.
Me: No.
My son: (pushing it out of place a little more) I want.
Me: NO.
(this can go on for as long as an hour)
Then when he finally gets it, he stands by the basement door:
My son: Downstairs (where the carpets are)
Me: No.
My son: Downstairs 
Me: No.
My son: Downstairs 
Me: (at cracking point) NOOOOO. 
Half an hour later he stops, an hour may pass and then he remembers and it starts all over again.  I am sure my son was sent to me to teach me patience - sometimes I take deep breaths and try to stay calm... but this is real life and not a film so most of the time I lose it - i am human after all and my son can test the patience of a saint (my husband).

At least that one is at home, when we go out to a restaurant/mall/play area - basically anywhere that has a toilet area - as soon as we arrive, he has an incessant need to go to the the restroom to check it out.  If the toilets have any kind of gadget in there -  an automatic soap/paper towel dispenser or hand dryer, then we can expect to be pulled in there 4/5 times.  I don't know how he does it but he will pee every time he goes in there even if it is to squeeze out just one or two drops (maybe to excuse to us the need to go in there).  Which is extremely annoying because we are usually in the middle of eating when he "has to go".  How do we cope? We take him every time because if we don't then he just stands there and repeats "toilet" until we do.

And these are just 3 of the million little peculiar habits he has.  Over time we have learnt when to give in and when to stand our ground, but I can tell you now that it can be exhausting!  What can we do? Deep breaths, keep each other sane and on bad days pray for bedtime to come as soon as possible!

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