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by Julie Brooks

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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Progress of the very best kind

Hello everyone

Sorry it's been so long since I posted - there's a lot going on but not of a crafty nature!

So, we still don't have our new kitchen in, in fact there's been little to no progress since my last post due to the fact that hubby (who is chief kitchen fitter) is currently working away more than he's at home! Good news on the earnings, yay we'll be able to pay the bills next month without eating into what little savings we have left, kind of front but not so good on the cooking a proper dinner front! Hey ho, such is life. Give us another six weeks and I'm hoping it will be a very different story - watch this space!

In other news, we took our gorgeous son Alex to Legoland, Windsor last Bank Holiday weekend. We have annual passes and in our case it really would be a crime if we didn't, because Alex absolutely LOVES Legoland. They had a Star Wars themed weekend and Alex, just getting into Star Wars and having watched the first three films (films 4, 5 and 6!) was quite keen to go along and check it out. Well, we had such a brilliant day, but that shouldn't surprise me as we always do at Legoland. Alex got to have his photo take with all kinds of characters, including Darth Vader and the most feared character of them all in my opinion, Darth Maul - man is he ever scary! Now, Alex would not have wanted to go near people dressed up as film characters not so long ago - I'm talking only a few months ago - so for him to be so keen to get as many photos with the characters as possible was massive progress for him. (Just going back to my comment about Darth Maul briefly, we watched Phantom Menace yesterday afternoon and I was petrified every time Darth Maul appeared and in my opinion he is far more intimidating than Darth Vader!) Anyway, back to Legoland, and Alex helped to build a 6-ft high Lego model of Yoda and a giant Lego mosaic of R2D2, and even though that meant he was sharing a table with lots of other children, he didn't even flinch and there was no hesitation or hanging back whatsoever - a far cry from even six months ago, I can tell you. (Asperger's, for those of you who don't know anything about it, is a condition on the autistic spectrum and it creates a whole set of challenges for people with the condition in situations that anyone without the condition wouldn't even think twice about going into.) He's doing so well and he's come a long way in the last year - well done Alex! Anyway, a good day was had by all but man did our feet ache by the end of the day, having spent nigh on 7 hours queuing, standing still looking at things or walking around! Oh, and what really topped it off for me was spying two Red Kites flying around over the car park and surrounding fields - they are gorgeous birds and I could have happily sat there watching them for hours.

We're here!
Finally from me for today, we had our annual home schooling consultation on Friday and it went brilliantly. The chap who comes to see us is an ex-head teacher of a school for children with special needs, so he fully understands Asperger's and everything that goes with it, and I can tell you that makes a HUGE difference when discussing progress, difficulties, etc. Talk to anyone who hasn't specialised in that area and spent a considerable amount of time with children with special needs of this kind - no offence intended here - but they really don't understand how Asperger's affects a child, not only in terms of socially but also in terms of their self esteem, self confidence, how they learn, and how "normal" day-to-day activities can be massively challenging to them. For example, in Maths, Alex has been working on graphs, charts and co-ordinates which are several years above his age for some time now, but he has struggled massively with the concept of times tables and division, and learns better when using more visual formats than lots of wordy stuff or long strings of numbers. It's just how he is, it's just one of the ways that Asperger's affects his ability to learn. And so he wasn't at the level he should be for his age if you choose to compare with other kids his age, but because of his experience with children with Asperger's, our home ed consultant wasn't concerned, fully understood why that was the case, and knew himself, as did I, that eventually Alex would "get it". It's so good to have someone who isn't purely focused on the age of the child and where they "should be" academically compared with everyone else their age. AND, as I knew would happen eventually, we have turned a great big corner in the last couple of months, to the point where he is now flying - he is doing more complicated divisions, not just the simple stuff, and is almost there on his times tables, right up to the 12 times table - even though in schools they only teach up to the 10 times table these days, I don't think learning the 11s and 12s should be excluded because they're slightly bigger numbers and can massively speed up your mental maths if you know them. And socially, as mentioned in my previous paragraph, only 3 months ago he would have hesitated and hung back on the big Lego construction projects, even though he loves Lego, simply because being with other children crowded into a small area was hugely challenging for him to cope with, and there's no way that he would have stood and posed for photographs with people dressed up as characters from a film!

What a difference a day makes - or in Alex's case, a few months! So, so proud of him every day.

Anyway, I could go on endlessly on the subject of my wonderful son and his brilliant achievements, the battles he wins every day and the small steps he takes towards massive positive progress over time, but I won't. Needless to say I'm probably his biggest fan, Dad coming close behind, and the home ed consultant made a point of congratulating Alex on all the progress he's made in the last 12 months, not just academically, but emotionally too, and had a thoroughly lovely time talking to Alex who was very keen to show him his artwork, etc. - again, a year ago he would not do that when the home ed chap was here and he hasn't seen him since the last visit 12 months ago - see what I mean about progress? Mind blowing or what?!

Here's to the next 12 months of our journey and here's to a wonderful 11 year old boy for whom the sky's the limit - not his Asperger's.

Thanks for sticking with me during these barren crafty months, and I'll be back soon.

Take care everyone.

Love from me xxxx