#UnlockCallum: SteppingStones

Check out the latest Davis Autism newsletter to read more about the programme Callum is following:

Davis Autism: Stepping Stones

Please share this far and wide. Let’s reach as many people as possible who may be helped by this approach.

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#UnlockCallum: Settling In

A quick update to keep you all informed as to Callum’s continuing progress:

After arriving home on Saturday night, Callum spent Sunday readjusting to his old / new environment. By the afternoon, he’d settled comfortably at home and then spent Monday re-exploring school, walking around and re-finding his feet.

Tuesday was magical. Callum played chase with one of his school friends, and all his peers are noticing how much more aware he is. He has vocalised “Mum” again several times at school, so much so that one of his fellow pupils noticed and went careering over to Kim to inform her of the achievement. Such a lovely school community, that they all care so much.

Wednesday was more unsettled, but Callum has refound his teddies, becoming quite attached to one and walking around with it for comfort which is a great step. He’s also doing his release breathing independently and often which is awesome as this shows he is able to self-regulate any tension.

To continue contact with his support village, Callum had a video call with Desmond and Ray Davis (son of Ron). Whilst Callum was watching TV, Kim and Hamish were able to discuss next steps, and Desmond and Ray pointed out further progress with Callum, who was contentedly sitting on their laps.

Obviously, it’s still early days of Callum’s return to the UK, but how wonderful that he’s managing to transfer the skills he learned in Canada to his regular life. Such a great sign that there is so much more progress to come.

Thank you all for supporting and continuing to follow Callum’s story. We’ll attempt to post regular updates to keep you informed of his progress as the weeks go past between now and Callum’s next trip to Canada to continue further into the programme.

In the meantime, stay tuned for news of a daring abseil down the Northampton Lift Tower by some of Callum’s friends and family. I’m sure they won’t mind if we share pictures of their fearful faces as they go “over the top”. If you’d like to support their endeavour, please visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-callum

The Final Day in Canada

The final day in Canada!

Today was all about ‘handover day!’ I woke up incredibly anxious full of questions/concerns, some of which I have listed below:
‘What if I can’t continue this progress at home?’
‘What if I get it wrong?’
‘Who’s going to help me in my moment in need?’
‘I don’t want to be on my own again!’
‘I don’t want to deal with the ‘doubters’!’
Just generally feeling ‘AAARRRGGGHHHH!!’
I felt an overwhelming sense of fear about stepping on the plane to come home tomorrow because of the above. However, I swiftly discovered, within an hour of meeting Desmond, I really didn’t need to have any fear and in actual fact I just need to get cracking with the great team we have back in the UK – you know who you are!

I left Callum in the safe hands with his Grampy this morning watching his favourite movie in the hotel’s cinema room – he was very happy and content with this! It felt very strange leaving Callum as it was going to be the longest I’d been away from him since we arrived on the 12th June, I felt a bit like I did when I returned to work after my maternity leave! However once I arrived at Desmond’s office and ready for my handover lesson, I focused on everything Desmond was telling me – I was in the zone!

Firstly Desmond talked me through the Stepping Stones Program he has been working through with Callum and explained the finer intricacies. He taught me how to set my ‘energy dial’ which is now (and probably has always been, I just didn’t appreciate it!!) so critical for Callum to cope with everyday life but I came to the conclusion everyone could do with an ‘energy dial’ as it helps you work out what energy to enter a room/conversation with to ensure you get the right approach. This is so critical for Callum as remember he can pick up on your energy very quickly, if Callum likes being in your space you can be certain you have a positive energy about you that’s for sure! If not, then you’ll need to readjust your ‘energy dial’ – he can teach you an awful lot about yourself if you wanted to know that sort of info! Thankfully I totally understand this methodology as I use my intuition an awful lot which is all linked to picking up on the energies around me. At school I work hard on ensuring the staff know that they need to deal with any negative energy before they step through the school front doors because it impacts the individuals in their class so much if they don’t – thankfully they also understand and therefore take responsibility for their thoughts and actions.

Desmond then taught me the ‘release’ which is achieved through a particular breathing method. I have witnessed Callum’s whole being change within seconds of Desmond doing the breathing techniques as it helps Callum regulate his body and mimics the NOIT to a certain extent. Desmond talked me through the release and I fell into a bit of a meditative state during these few moments so was able to appreciate the power of this breathing method on Callum – no wonder he relaxes immediately!! Hamish is going to be brilliant at this because he’s a lot better at switching off than me so will be able to implement this far quicker than me – although I’m going to persevere and make sure I become a master at it!

Beth, director of NOIT research then arrived and she talked through the development of the NOIT and the impact it’s had on individuals to date. Beth also very kindly gave me an additional NOIT and other goodies to bring back to the Uk as well as post the latest model of the NOIT to our home address within the next few days. I could listen to Beth for hours but the one thing I was struggling with was the question ‘why on earth is the NOIT technology not well known far and wide?’ I asked Beth this question and she explained that individuals around the world have had great success once the NOIT has been introduced and those individuals have been incredibly pleased with the outcomes as a result of using the NOIT. They of course tell others but that’s where it stops. However, Beth was explaining today that not only have the NOIT website received a high volume of hits within the last week, emails and phone calls are now coming through from parents and professionals. One professional was a lady who worked in a class of 30 children who would ALL benefit from the NOIT! We know Callum’s story has provided hope to others through the sharing of the VLOG’s and BLOG’s via social media, however I was still struggling with the ‘why not sooner?’ part of my question because we can all see it works. Beth then explained how unique Callum’s journey has been in relation to the speed at which he has progressed before our very eyes. Usually clients have approximately 1 hour weekly sessions with a NOIT consultant/facilitator and although progress is always achieved it is at a slower pace – understandably.

The difference with Callum is that we’ve immersed ourselves in our Canadian bubble and 24/7 embraced every opportunity to maximise the outcome of using the NOIT. In addition Callum and Desmond are the perfect combination – we have struck magic here and has been crucial to Callum’s progress. They have such a special bond that was obvious from the very first moment they met and cemented within 20 mins of meeting! Due to the intensive therapy Desmond has been able to really pull on Callum’s interests and make rapid gains. In addition we are an ‘all or nothing kind of family’ and never do anything by half measures and that in itself has contributed to the success of our two weeks. We arrived with hope, pure intentions and then ran with every opportunity that presented itself – I am certain that gave Callum the permission to accept this invitation to give it a go and see what happens. Callum felt safe so he was prepared to take those bold and brave steps to tackle this new world! Through the VLOG’s and BLOG’s the evidence of impact speaks volumes and nobody can argue with the video evidence we have been lucky to capture – this evidence has obviously provided others to pick up the phone or send an email to Beth to enquire about the NOIT. This makes me so incredibly proud of Callum as not only his he taking bold steps to start afresh now he’s orientated, he’s inadvertently helping others! Callum is one unique little boy and I am proud to say he’s my son.

Desmond had then arranged for us all to speak to Heidi Rose who is a Davis Autism Facilitator and has a great deal of experience with working with non-verbal children and the NOIT in conjunction with the Davis Autism Approach. Heidi was a fountain of knowledge and made it very clear as to what I need to focus on when we return to the UK tomorrow. I have to remember that although Callum is 6 years old he is developmentally working through the stages of a 2.5/3 year old. This means I need to treat him as though he is 6 years old, patronising Callum is definitely not the way forward, yet I need to remember where he is developmentally so make sure certain aspects of his life are age appropriate to ensure he can master certain skills to move forward. I understand this fact far better than I can write it down. Heidi was very clear that whatever I do I need to triangulate it on a physical level, a thought level and an energy level – we do this naturally with a toddler but I really need to embrace it all of the time with Callum to support him whilst he works through his developmental milestones.

Heidi also made a really valid point that I hadn’t considered before despite knowing this is Callum’s second chance as he’s learning everything from scratch. Heidi explained when we return to the UK everything will be new to Callum as he will be seeing everything for the first time in an orientated state of being. This will begin from the moment we step into Hamish’s car, drive up to our house. walk through the front door and into his bedroom! I’ve been very aware that Callum’s been learning everything for the first time out here in Canada but it was all new so it was easier for me to appreciate I needed to explain everything to him…I hadn’t considered this for when we get home! Hamish spoke about this in great detail tonight as it’s important we both appreciate this from the moment we land. It’s such a remarkable journey for Callum yet he’s taking it all in in his stride and very comfortable with this new information.

Before we finished our phone conversation Desmond explained a mother of a child who had been on a similar journey to Callum using the NOIT and the Davis Autism Approach with her son in Italy had read our BLOG and wanted to offer her support via email when we returned back to the UK. It’s this sort of support we’ve received that has made me feel incredibly humble. The willingness and eagerness of people who totally understand and more importantly empathise with my situation has been heart warming and me saying ‘thank you’ really doesn’t do my gratitude justice! Callum’s ‘village’ of support was set up…Desmond has set up a facebook group including himself, Dr Cathy, Beth, Heidi, Hamish and I so that I can send any video’s questions or issue to them all directly. They will all then be ready to respond with words or wisdom or support at a moments notice – this is why I now feel ready to return to the UK – Callum’s village maybe world wide but they are all within seconds away via Facebook – social media truly is a lifesaving tool!! Hamish and I are truly grateful to you all!

I tried to summarise our journey here in Canada on my VLOG but it’s too emotional for me to verbally articulate properly so I’m going to try and do a better job here. Firstly, we flew out to Canada because it ‘felt right’ and thankfully Hamish has complete faith in my judgement when it comes to trusting my instinct and he supported me without any hesitation. Hamish is the one who sorts out all of the nitty gritty and makes sure everything runs like clockwork. Hamish also completely respected my feeling that I needed to be the one to bring Callum to Canada and work closely with Desmond in this first instance and threw himself into looking after Euan. He’s been on the end of the phone/email whenever I’ve needed support/words of encouragement as when he’s right with me he gives me the strength I need to continue in times of adversity. This will be no surprise to Hamish as I tell him all of the time so much so he has been known to refer to himself as ‘the rock!’

Euan, I have spoken about lots already but he really is amazing. Some people in the past have made comments such as ‘Euan must feel really left out at times due to everything you have to do with Callum?’ ‘How does Euan feel about Callum?’ ‘How does Euan cope with Callum?’ The list goes on and if truth be told these comments irritate me. If you have watched our VLOG’s you would have seen how Callum and Euan have a special bond because of Callum’s difficulties and yes, Callum’s needs have had an impact on Euan. As a consequence Euan is able to empathise with others incredibly well, he picks up on non verbal cues brilliantly, he manages his energy dial effortlessly and is a master at articulating his feelings. Callum has had nothing but a positive impact on Euan and you would have seen he has a very clear role in our family dynamics and thriving. Hopefully by sharing our journey people will stop pitying Euan because of his brother Callum and see the positive influence Callum has had on us all. You might have gathered from my words I feel very strongly about this point and I make no apologies for it.

My Mum and Dad have been so supportive and thank goodness they moved nearer to us when they did, life has been tough and the on the spot respite they have provided us has provided us with many moments of sanctuary when needed. Dad has obviously joined us on our trip to Canada and I am so grateful he has because he has looked after us so well. Thank you so very much, we are so grateful.

My brother, Adam has created the VLOG’s every night during our stay, heavens knows what time he’s been going to sleep as he’s been working on them late every evening. However, my goodness they’ve been brilliant and his email’s saying ‘your video is now ready’ has been one of the highlights of my evenings. The Friday before we left for Canada I had the idea about creating the VLOG’s for close family and friends so gave Adam a call and after a few moments of him trying to explain how I could create such video’s he picked up on my lack of understanding (and possibly got a bit exasperated!) and just said ‘do you want me to create them?’ which of course I completely agreed to! Result!

My very good friend Michelle (aka the secretary as she’s named herself) has been the mastermind behind the JustGiving Page and the BLOG. Michelle shares the same birthday as Callum and from day 1 of them meeting they have always had a special bond. Michelle is incredibly calm and Callum loves this, she has hugged me whilst I’ve sobbed on her shoulder in times of despair yet always had my back and relentlessly shared our quest via social media! Michelle, I am eternally grateful to you and thank you so very much!

Soon after I had given birth to Callum I introduced him to my good friend DawnLouise who owns the nursery both Euan and Callum attend before and after school and she told me ‘he’s going to change the world Kim’ and at the time I smiled and said ‘oh ok!’ Dawn – you were right as he’s already helping so many others who need help! Dawn has wiped many of my tears away and picked me up for a number of years because of my despair at not knowing what to do to help Callum and it was Dawn who recommended I looked further than the UK. Thank you so very much Dawn, as ever you were spot on and I cannot wait to catch up with you next week!

Then there is my friend Carmel. Carmel’s eldest son, Jonathan is 5 months older than Callum and they have grown up together but Carmel and I have known each other for over 13 years through work. Carmel has looked after Euan every morning since I’ve been away and she’s made sure he’s arrived at daycare happy with Jonathan and Connie, apparently they have been enjoying singing away to their hearts content to Ed Sheeran on their way! Whenever I’ve emailed my updates in the early hours of UK time I have eceived an immediate response from Carmel as she’s been awake (!!) and her jovial and encouraging words have supported me greatly.

Being a Principal of a school is quite possibly one of the hardest roles to have time out of work during term time, however due to the support of the Trust and Governors I was given their full blessing to get on that plane on the 12th June. This would not have been possible without the strong Senior Leadership Team at KHPA – Clair stepped up to cover me without any hesitation and took on the role of Acting Headteacher with complete conviction. I am eternally grateful to everyone at KHPA but you better brace yourselves as I will be returning with a whole host of new ideas!!!

Finally, Desmond, you are a marvel and you have saved our gorgeous boy from despair! You have showed him that life can be good and fun. Thank you for just being you, being the eternal optimist and seeing the potential in Callum even before you had met him. I cannot wait to see you again in August and introduce you to Hamish and Euan.

So all in all this trip has been life changing…#unlockCallum is happening and in full flow…I believe the keys have been found!

Lots of Love
XXX

Day 12 Continued: Callum Plays at the Zoo

As promised here is the second part of Day 2. We drove to Toronto Zoo and it was so peaceful there and it’s only just reopened; this was perfect for Callum. We immediately headed for the KidsZone and for the first time I witnessed Callum ‘playing’ on the equipment and having fun with exploring it all. I could see him working things out really clearly and then tackling some of the obstacles, he enjoyed climbing over them all, going through them or under them. He cheekily climbed back up a tube slide (he knows he’s not allowed to do this) and when he saw me up the top he grinned and slid back down. I think I managed to get a video clip of this so you can see how aware he is with his actions and the exchange of intent through his eyes and grin. We spent such a long time in the KidsZone just letting Callum explore and have fun.

Eventually we moved onto the Pandas! Now normally Callum pays no attention to the animals as he just walks on right past. Today was different! He noticed the Panda, especially the male Panda outside and watched him for a good few moments, I’m sure I saw a smile when he saw him wrestling with the bamboo sticks! I was so thrilled that Callum appeared happy to see the Panda.

It got even better when we saw the Orangutang close up – she was really close to us and did a really big stretch whilst lying down…I am certain Callum imitated her actions as his arms gently went into the air just like hers! So on a high we returned to the car and made our way home!

Unbelievably Callum slept from 7.30pm until 7.15am – I however woke up at 3am, 4am and 5am expecting my morning hug!!! Dad has just informed me that there was one mighty storm in the middle of the night – I would not be surprised if Callum slept so well because of that!

So, today is our last day (I am feeling mixed emotions!) and we have loads planned so I better get cracking.

Lots of Love

Kim
XXX

Day #12: Sensory Processing

This morning Desmond met us out our hotel as we were off to the local swimming pool as this is Callum’s favourite hobby! I had the privilege of joining Callum and Desmond this morning and I had a great time. This morning was all about seeing how Callum coped without the NOIT!

Callum started the day by wearing the NOIT and he was so attentive and focused. When we arrived at the swimming pool we explored the 4 ice rinks which Callum insisted in going into despite wearing only shorts and a t-shirt (he’s just like his Dad here as he doesn’t feel the cold either)! Callum and I got changed in the family changing room and normally I have to take Callum into a cubicle with the door locked otherwise he just runs wild around the changing room. Because of how calm and in control Callum was I decided to take a chance and we got ready in the main changing room area (it was a big space). Once again, Callum impressed me so much as he got undressed (with some help) and then picked up his bag and held it peacefully whilst he waited for me to get ready. It was incredible and so much so I caught myself thinking ‘how on earth have we coped with the previous ways when getting ready to go swimming?’ I know the answer is ‘that you just do because you have to’ but I had such a pleasurable experience just getting ready and we hadn’t even entered the pool yet.

Also, I noticed I really tensed up when I had to take the NOIT off Callum – I caught myself thinking ‘my goodness, I must have been in that tense state for so long now that I didn’t feel or notice it?!? I once again felt the relief I mentioned earlier in the week. I took a deep breath and removed the NOIT from Callum so we could go in the swimming pool. Desmond fitted Callum with a life jacket as he wanted Callum to be as independent as possible as well as enjoy the feeling of floating around. Desmond explained that when he trained to be a Davis Facilitator he wore the NOIT from 8-5pm as he wanted to gain a thorough understanding ho it felt from his client’s perspective. He explained that when Callum wears the NOIT he is never given the opportunity to ‘switch off’. Remember the NOIT’s ‘tinging’ sound repeats every 8 seconds to support natural orientation. Although Callum seems incredibly content with this constant refocus it is exhausting for him and Desmond knew this because he had first hand experience.

Once in the pool Callum had a fab time and explored the pool for approx 45 mins. Desmond and I witnessed Callum watch the fountain from the side of the pool with great intent. For the first time Callum was linking objects. For example Callum liked placing his hands at the beginning of the fountain but slowly he then noticed the opposite side where the fountain landed in the pool. He swam from one side to another whilst observing the water making the arch in between – he was linking objects together and working it out in his own mind! We have been waiting for Callum to begin to link objects together/break them down a long time and it was great to see him think ‘right, it start there, goes over my head and lands here!’ Callum loved the water jets and pumps – they must have been providing him with some sort of sensory therapy. Again, this reminded me that Callum’s sensory needs have significantly reduced during our stay in Canada, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t spotted this before now! Callum’s sensory needs have always been excruciatingly high – the NOIT has significantly reduces Callum’s need for constant sensory feedback – he’s beginning to use his other sense (smell, touch, hearing and taste) to help him figure out our world – just awesome!

We then enjoyed a warm shower and Desmond took us for an American brunch at a nearby cafe. Desmond modelled to me the importance of actively encouraging Callum to orientate himself around his new surroundings by going for a little walk around. When we arrived Callum really struggled to settle and sit in his seat, even when wearing the NOIT. As soon as Desmond explained that Callum needs to feel completely settled with this new building before we sit down and eat, I got it and it was all so simple – yet I hadn’t appreciated the importance of this strategy until that moment. I am honestly learning so much and thriving in being shown how to understand my new role in helping meet Callum’s needs. Callum demolished a real treat of a crepe with nutella, strawberries, banana’s and whipped cream!

Following our phone calls back to the UK we drove to Toronto zoo and on the way Callum enjoyed another afternoon nap. I then realised he’s had a nap in the car most afternoon’s, this is something a toddler would do, reinforcing where Callum is at the moment in terms of his developmental milestones. He hasn’t napped in the day since he was about 2 years old and it really isn’t a coincidence! Now, talking about naps, I am going to have to go to sleep as my eyes are stinging…I will continue Day 12 first thing tomorrow.

Lots of Love

Kim

#UnlockCallum: A View from Home.

It is now 12 days since that very emotional send off at Heathrow where we said goodbye to Kim, Callum and Bill as they set off on the quest to #UnlockCallum. They went with a great deal of hope and a slice of uncertainty. As we close in on their return, I thought I’d post about what it’s been like this side of the pond.

As we travelled home from Heathrow that Sunday afternoon I felt two things, sadness and an overwhelming feeling to make sure Euan is going to be okay for the next fortnight. Euan was going to miss his Mum and Brother in a big way and supporting Euan over this period was the main task. I took Euan bowling that afternoon to cheer him up and spoil him a bit, which he loved.

Over the next few days we settled back into the same routine. Carmel Dodds has been a great help as I can drop Euan off there so she can take Euan to Daycare before school, keeping the same routine.

On a daily basis we have been video calling Kim, so it has been great for Euan to chat with Mum at this time and over the course of the last week Euan has learnt that there is a -5 hour time difference and he can’t call Mum at 7am and expect her to answer, because she’s asleep!

It’s been amazing to view Callum’s progress whilst on these calls and also on Kim’s YouTube updates. I see little signs in those small snippets of Callum’s progress and it’s exciting to see the potential of the Davis Program and the NOIT and how it can benefit Callum. It’s great to see Callum starting to drive this process himself as well through what he does and how he interacts with people. It must be great for him to get a release from the fog that has clouded his mind for so long. All this will be like trying to turn round an oil tanker but from what we’ve seen Desmond is pulling on that wheel with some force!

It gives us great hope. He has looked a different child in so many ways and I can’t wait to see the difference with my own eyes.

It’s great to see Kim getting the credit and support she deserves for taking this bold step. She has been relentless in this whole process of getting Callum some help, showing tenacity, stubbornness and drive in the quest to #UnlockCallum, often in the face of adversity dealing with “the system” in the UK. Callum and Euan are lucky to have such a wonderful Mum who juggles the role of Headteacher and Supermum so well.

I’ve been able to provide support to Kim in terms of sorting out Google Drive so she can keep the VLOG going, Amazon Prime to keep Callum going and sorting out payments to keep Callum’s program going, but aside from that my role as Dad to Euan is the focus for the 2 weeks.

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Euan’s been a dream, as I expected he would be. He’s needed lots of hugs when he’s told me he’s sad but at the same time we’ve had a great deal of fun thanks to Euan’s sense of humour! The home has not been the Lad’s Pad you might have expected! It has been quiet with just the two of us and I’ve managed to finally change the dodgy lock on the front door and give it a lick of paint, get the oven and the stairs carpet cleaned. I’ve found a balance between spoiling Euan and getting him to do his bit round the house as well, he’s been cooking, washing and watering the garden.

 

On the flip side, we’ve had time to watch an awful lot of Top Gear and play on the Wii and Euan has exploited his Mum’s absence by openly trumping on the sofa much to his amusement, which will have to stop, come Saturday night!

With the amazing weather we’ve had here we’ve had the chance to get out and about with playing cricket, enjoying Kislingbury Fayre and we had an awesome Saturday at Wicksteed Park watching the soapbox derby and enjoying some of the rides. We spent the day at Wicksteed Park with our good friends Michelle, Richard, Leo and Fergus.

Michelle and Richard are behind the crowdfunding campaign which has enabled this all to happen and they’ve continued their support while Kim and Callum are away. Euan’s friendship with Leo has really shone in this time and they are following in Kim’s footsteps with their own VLOG’s on a variety of subjects! They’ve been messaging each other on a consistent basis and it has really helped Euan take his mind off missing Kim and Callum.

 

Over the next few days I’m unashamedly going to revert back to spoiling Euan as reward to his approach to this period and have some more fun, I think a small part of him has enjoyed the limelight to an extent!

As the fortnight comes to a close our focus will home in on Callum’s return and continuing the great work that has gone on while they’ve been in Canada, so Callum can continue to progress at home.

I look forward to learning the right approach and challenging myself as a parent to make sure I can help, and returning to Canada in August as a family and meeting Desmond in person, to learn more about what we can do to #UnlockCallum.

HD