As a sit here wondering where on earth to start with this update I’m wishing I’d not left it so long since I last posted as a great deal has happened, there is much to share! Let’s hope I can remember it all…
Just over a week ago we finished school for the 6-week summer break and as a result I’ve been able to indulge in some quality 1:1 time with Callum for week 1 of the summer holidays. Euan was booked in for his Level 1 & 2 RSA Youth Sailing award with his best mate and Hamish was at work. Pre NOIT and our trip to Canada, spending a day with Callum on my own was hardwork as I couldn’t take my eyes off him for one moment, he would need the same instructions repeated time and time again and he would very rarely follow a request at the first ask. Also, when I was on maternity leave with Callum he would not leave my side, this wasn’t carried out in a way that was ‘cute’ it was carried out it a possessive way as though I was his. This was incredibly suffocating at the time and I found it difficult to contend with on a daily basis. So it’s fair to say I was intrigued (and slightly apprehensive) to see how this week would go now Callum was orientated and calmer.
Working in a school means no hour (and that’s being incredibly generous) is ever the same; I plan my days as best I can but dealing with 430 little human beings means I very rarely achieve my plans in the timeframe I set. There is always something thrown into the mix that we have to deal with because humans are often hard to predict. I felt this experience of dealing with the unpredictable would hopefully stand me in good stead with Callum. My fingers were tightly crossed I could anyway!
However, I did need one focus point for my week and I decided teaching Callum to ride his bike was going to be my goal. As for the rest of the week I had lots of ideas but I was more interested to see what would ‘hook’ Callum and then I would follow that. This is very much a new skill I have had to learn (and still learning) since our trip to Canada. I have to trust Callum as he proved in Canada he knows exactly what he needs and if us adults follow him he will thrive – this a step outside of my comfort zone and it took me until the end of the week to see his true needs with clarity.
So on day one I set our home up like a mini pre-school! We had all of Callum’s favourite activities and equipment from school and a plan to start with. I was ready! We dropped Euan off at sailing and then I began with enthusiasm – Callum was hyperactive from that minute! I couldn’t work out whether he could sense the change, was I being too enthusiastic or was it just blowing his mind that school had entered his home environment? I did not know the answer so helplessly I reverted straight to my goal and got Callum’s bike out!
Thankfully this calmed Callum right down and he really enjoyed being out on his bike. He smiled, lifted his head up to the sky and hummed his way to the park. His body was at peace and his shoulders relaxed down harmony had been achieved. Although Callum couldn’t pedal fully there was nothing wrong with his steering as he turned a sharp left at the junction that leads to the sweet shop!!! The persuasions of the going to the park soften my request that we needed to go straight on!! Once we arrived at the park I left Callum’s bike at the gate and explained to Callum that when he was ready to go he just needed to go back to his bike. After and hour of running around, climbing on every piece of equipment he was ready and ran straight over to his bike and sat on the seat – he was ready to go home. Not only was Callum communicating with me his requests he had remembered my message. Normally I am very guilty of setting tight timeframes with the boys and I know they could always do with longer on the activities they love. For once I waited for Callum and as a result he was so much calmer and just a pleasure to be around. Physically Callum needed that hour at the park, his coordination improved, the hyperactivity disappeared and he relaxed. I could instantly see the importance of following his needs.
After cycling home we enjoyed a big lunch as Callum has always eaten a great deal at breakfast and lunchtime. Callum then fell straight into the pattern we had in Canada or an hour chilling out on the bed watching the iPad. This is a similar pattern to a toddler who would have a nap at this time and although Callum didn’t sleep he did allow his body and mind to relax. After the hour he sprung into life and off we went again!
In the afternoon I tried to engage him in some of the jobs he did at school. This was a massive failure! Callum pacified me to some extent initially but after 30 minutes he would tightly shut his eyes and turn his head away from the activity! My initial thoughts were ‘you are kidding me!’ to ‘good tactic, I might try this when I don’t want to engage in something!’ I did chuckle to myself as his face (with closed eyes) was strongly telling me he was not interested in the slightest. I persevered but to no avail. I finally ditched the chalk activity when he got up and placed the chalk in the bin!!
Throughout this week our days developed a nice little pattern similar to the above although I began to embrace Callum’s needs to be more physical. We visited lots of new parks and enjoyed numerous walks. I have talked to him lots to ensure he’s in a language rich environment. Callum’s eating habits have also improved and he rarely uses his hands and will pick up his fork unprompted. As a result Callum’s coordination and balance has really improved. He can now pedal his bike consistently and his bravery at exploring new equipment at the parks has improved significantly.
On Saturday we visited the Heights of Abraham with our good friends Richard, Michelle, Leo and Fergus and due to the truly amazing day but I will write a separate blog tomorrow! It was a day when we witnessed Callum grow even further.
In a nutshell, Callum and I survived week 1! I feel as though I know him so much better and I most certainly have a deeper appreciation for him as the unique individual he is. For once I can read him much better and therefore meet his needs quicker. Callum has been a pleasure to be around and I cannot wait to see what week 2 brings. I might try more regular updates as and when there is a moment as there is so much more that I could have added!