Wednesday, 28 January 2015

What Would You Do?

Having seen this pop up in my feed several times now on Facebook; I have not wanted to watch it as I knew it would be too upsetting for me to view because we have been that family. We have been abused for taking Ryan out in public. Many times we have given up mid meal and gone home. Sometimes we have not made it to even order. I remember one particularly disastrous evening in a lovely well known chain of American style restaurants that we arrived to meet Dadi Skilts from work for a special family meal for I think Owen's birthday and even as we sat down at our table Ryan started having a meltdown. We were trying to look at the menu to choose our orders but Ryan was becoming increasingly distressed to the point we were ready to leave, but Owen then had his turn and to be honest rightly so. He said to us "Why do we always have to leave because of him? I was really looking forward to this treat and it is for me for once, why can't he do this for me?"

Now anyone who knows the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, (see my previous blog post here on Meltdowns) it simply isn't something you can turn off. By this point Ryan was already at the top of the curve so I made the only decision I could. I took Ryan home while Duncan and Owen got to have the opportunity for a meal out and that is how it has been for most of Owen's life. Split parenting. Tag teaming that Owen gets Dadi or Mami time on a rota.  

Tonight I watched the link it and did cry but out of surprise that the ignorance they and we have experienced is in fact a minority. Surprise and hope that people do care and do understand. ♡

I can confirm from experience that it has got better with Ryan. He has learnt some coping mechanisms and is now better at beginning to verbalise when he is feeling stressed by a situation. I too am tuned into him and can tell when his is building I have learned to recognise his cues. I also pre-warn the restaurant and pre-arrange a set menu that I agree too with Ryan. I prepare Ryan for the visit before hand. 

Another globally known American fast-food restaurant had a refit of their premises in a town local to us and we went to have a nose and see what it was like. Lovely as its attempt was even I found it rather busy/fussy and really quite noisy. Ryan really didn't cope with it. I actually emailed the company once I was home to offer them some feedback and plead that they didn't make the changes standard across all the branches. They fortunately haven't made any other changes to date.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dry January

Another year has passed us by and a new year has sneakily begun without us even really noticing. I have not posted since the end of September as I have decided to take on more stress in my life and I have started a 4 year university degree course in Inclusive Studies.

Christmas in the past has been one of the most stressful times of year for Ryan. He does not cope well with all the disruption, both in school and at home. The dynamics change there is a distinct element of chaos. Excitement, different activities in school, going to stay with family or family comming to stay with you.  In previous years Ryan has been physically ill with the stress of the holiday festivities, not knowing how to react and respond to the numerous changes and differing emotions, but this year has been one of his best ever. He has been in secondary school for a year and is now in year 8, so he knows the routine of the school, has a nice small friendship group now, is was prepared for what to expect and how the school runs up to, and then winds down for the Christmas break.

We planned to go and stay with family in Devon, but chose to rent a holiday cottage so that Ryan could have his own space and quite place. I showed him pictures of the cottage on the internet and gave him a detailed plan and timetable of what we would be doing and where we would be going each day. We arranged to have a large family Christmas meal in a local pub and I arranged well in advance a separate menu for Ryan with his input.

We had a lovely few days break and some much needed family time. As is so usual with the festivities lots of chocolates eaten and for the adults lots of alcohol consumed. Now although Dadi Skilts and I never over indulge and get drunk (much too old for that) both boys nagged us about our drinking and how bad it is for us. As it happens soon after returning home we saw an advert on TV for the Cancer Research charity challenge of completing Dry January to raise money for an outstanding cause.

One thing I can say about us as a family we are quite competitive with each other and when our two boys unite together and set us a challenge there was not really any question on raising up to it. Dadi and I signed up with Just Giving there and then, created our Dry January team and became Dry Athletes in a matter of minutes.

If Ryan can continue to astound us with his ability to learn to cope with situations he finds difficult and stressful, then the very least we can do as parents is attempt a situation we may find difficult and show him we can overcome and adapt too.

Challenge accepted