Friday, April 30, 2010

The Week That Was

We are having a lovely Friday evening on Planet Outreach.  And that's not in spite of the regular lunacy that envelops us, but because of it.

Picture the scene.
The Teenager is to my left, belting out Led Zeppelin on his electric guitar.
To my right, Ellen is murdering practising the tin whistle.
Bob is running around asking for "marshmallows" with perfect pronunciation, and all the while The Teenager is sustaining an encyclopaedic monologue on XBox games.
The table is littered with music sheets, toys and crusts leftover from breakfast...basically nothing that would constitute a good dinner, but could easily be mistaken for the contents of a bin.
Pizza and chips are starting to sound good.
Bob has Transporters twittering on the DVD, In The Night Garden warbling from the sky-box and the Real Bob lamenting the lack of reliable staff from the DS.
In between mangling the tin whistle, Ellen takes enough breath to agonise over what to get for her birthday (FYI a Hello Kitty phone, or another Sylvanian house...the girl doesn't lack ambition).

Ya know what?...  It's great.
This is exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

We have had a hard, but productive week in which a token exchange system was introduced to help us get through Bob's difficulties with his homework.  Up until recently we had no homework issues at all (I picture Jazzy chortling away to herself in a corner somewhere) but a few weeks ago he decided that homework just isn't fun and I won't be doing that any more, thank you.

I talked to Bob's teacher about it and she sent home a token chart, where he chooses a reward he wants to work towards (usually the DS, or a biscuit) and is awarded one token for each piece of homework done...when he has completed the three pieces of work (and has 3 tokens stuck to his chart) he gets his reward.  It works like a dream with Bob's Dad and homework is done at warp speed.
But...when I'm on homework duty he turns into a fun-sized Elton John and it's tantrums and tiaras on the dining room floor.
I'm working on it, and it's hard at the moment but I know it will improve with patience and persistence.
Either that or I need to start testosterone injections and grow a beard.

My optimism is buoyed up by the great ABA course I am now halfway through at the ABACAS school in Drogheda, so I am qualified to bombard you with terms like "token economy" and "chaining" with wild abandon (I find if you say anything with enough authority in your voice, people will generally believe you Know Stuff...I once scored a pachillion points at scrabble using the word "vax", which I insisted was a still pains my brother and gives me wicked pleasure in equal measures ).
Seriously though, the course is   giving me a deeper understanding of the methods being used at school, and is another step at helping Bob along his road.  I would encourage any of you autie parents to do one when you feel the time is right.

It has been a week of volcanoes, outlandish political pensions and the sudden death of  Gerry Ryan.  An eye test was attended, troubles brewed in Northern Ireland and the Greek economy made ours look positively thriving.
And life goes on.
We just gotta live every precious minute of it, for the short, sweet time we walk this Earth.

I was also tagged by Jazzy with a Gratitude Award, so here is a list of things I feel most grateful for;

1. My gorgeous husband and kids.  'Nuff said.
2. My friend Lavinia telling me to get Bob assessed, when everyone else told me I was over-reacting.
3. The swallows finally making it back to Ireland.  It's Spring!
4. The first sip of tea in the morning.
5. Sleep (oblivion and beauty therapy all in one...genius)
6. My friend Lorraine who came to my rescue in Bob's early autism days as his SNA in Montessori, and continues to earn her wings and halo as my home support...oh, and she's a good drinking buddy too.
7.That my 3 kids have never stopped hugging me, even though one of them is now (yikes!) taller than me.  Their hugs are only lovely.

OK, that'll do you....hmmm...who shall I pass this onto?  I suspect it's been doing the rounds, so I propose that if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

I have suddenly found myself capable of reading books without the word AUTISM in the title...after 3 years in a literary wilderness, this is a big deal for a former voracious reader.  I have many books to catch up on, and I am starting with one of my all time favourites, Roddy Doyle.
In my imminent future I see much neglected housework,  weeping eyestrain and many cups of tea.
Happy days.


  1. You are so right Jean, we need to treasure those ordinary but fabulous everyday moments when we are surrounded by our family. Even more after hearing about the passing of Gerry Ryan, who has been part of the Irish landscape ever since I arrived here 20 years ago, or so it seemed xx

  2. Nice one Missus! I love those moments when you look around and realise that everything is exactly as it should be xx

  3. Hehehe....ok..chortle over!

    nah... I didn't chortle really!. Whilst I don't wish the Homework Cloud on anyone it's good to know I'm not alone. Token systems work brilliantly and I hope yours continue to do so. I will share our SNA's plan if it's successful...and I think it will be. I may have to re-read my last post on this and get our token system going again too! Hey Jean, guess what WiiBoy also works for..... MARSHMALLOWS!

    Sounds like a lovely, busy household and I love your Gratitude list ;-)

    So sad about Gerry Ryan...... we may cherish our hugs and time with our loved ones....

    xx Jazzy

  4. Jazzy was the first person I thought of when you mentioned homework, that'll tell you!!

    Yeah, I love the organised chaos of a good day too, I hope you have many many more of them:)

    That ABA course sounds great, I must put feelers out to see if there would be one coming up in my area anytime this year.

    Authority suits you btw:) Jen.

  5. @ Blue Sky, I wasn't even a Gerry fan but he was always in the background, and it's very hard to believe he's not there any more
    @ Taz I think we have to stop striving for happiness (in a weird sort of way) and learn how to be happy in the here and now
    @ Jazzy, I always think of you at homework time lol

  6. @ Jen Jazzy is the homework's kinda new to me to just enjoy the madness and not fret about the's good XXX

  7. fab blog again, im dreading when its my turn to watch over homework in this house, will know who to call when i need help ;-)you & jazzy

  8. haha Autimom...we're like Ghostbusters! xxx

  9. Sounds like a happy house Jean. Crusts and bits of breakfast are part of the furniture here too... I dread to look under the cushion of his 'throne'. Gonna start my token mat this weekend. Google images great for the little Thomas the tank pictures I hope will work for our lil prince.. :-) XX

  10. Excellent as usual Jean. The Doc's tutor uses the token system and it works. Also she increases the amount of work required for a token and that really challenges him and pushes him forward. I will take a pic of his token board, your Bob would love it. It's a large, of course laminated, Bob and the tokens are pics of the machines.

  11. @ Elaine...goggle images here I come
    @ Patsyperdu, I'd love to see the Doc's token of the machines would be big hit here too. Thanks for the idea xxx

  12. Picture the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park I testing the barriers on their electric cage?

    That's Bob testing your barriers and finding the weakness. For some reason Bob's Dad has the current running and no matter what Bob tries - he ain't getting out of the cage until the work is done.

    But he is picking up a weakness in the circuit around you, and pick pick picking away at it until zzzzap - he's out!

    Then the rest of the time he is thinking - I did it once, where is that weakness, zzzap zzzap....

    Just let him know that you are sitting firm and all the rewards will come with completion, not procrastination. And do not let him out to eat Samuel L Jackson's arm off.

    Or something....

    Get on to for a customized token board on any theme. Just don't let it become stimmy.

    You are doing great Grasshopper. xx

  13. @ graceApp yep, I figured that's what the little toad was the veloceraptor's not far off the mark at homework time. But I'm gonna keep that little monster in his cage and Sam's arm will be safe. XXX

  14. Love it jean, as always you hit the nail on the head, unbeknownst to you....if I may say so. I am always a firm believer of living in the moment and seizing the day. We must must must talk soon. Love Rose

  15. I have just come back from a funeral and will attend one tomorrow. Both sad cases, both someone's dad, brother, puts things in perspective...seize the day!

  16. @ Rose, always a pleasure to hear from you
    @ irishmammy a funeral will always put things into perspective
    @ James my man of few words XXX

  17. lovely post hun, you sound really happy and content, really glad for you xx