Makaton Monday ~ Noise

NOISE!!! How is it that I have never shared this sign before?!!  Its one of the most used signs over the last few years and one of the first Bruiser ever used, self-taught from watching Mr Tumble no less! We all know the infamous ‘whats that noise?‘ line!

Noise is a big issue for Bruiser. It’s not a particular noise that bothers him per se, nor does it have to be particularly loud, it could be lots of quiet noises all happening at once. It all depends on his general mood, how the day is going, whats already happened. But ‘noise’ usually is the hair that broke the camels back when it comes to meltdowns.

I’m sure you’ve seen in previous posts pictures of the little man in his ear defenders doing the simplest of tasks. But just blocking out one sense when he’s concentrating or starting to show signs of distress helps make it all a little better for him.

The irony though that I have a child that hates noise yet, he’s the loudest child I know, is not lost on me!

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Noise

Noise

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Glasses

Hello! Its been a while hasn’t it 🙂

You’ve probably guessed by now from the title…. Yes, just to add to his already eccentric personality, Bruiser has glasses!!

glasses

 

He looks quite the intellect doesn’t he and soooo grown up! We are already referring to him as ‘Brains’ because of his uncanny resemblance to Brains from Thunderbirds 😀

Along with new glasses comes a new sign! and new signs don’t come along all that often anymore. Gone are the days when every interaction consisted of quick references to our Makaton books 🙂

Even though Bruiser now favours talking over signing (that’s a story for another day). We still introduce the new signs as they crop up. His talking isn’t the clearest so it’s nice having the back up of Makaton when communication breaks down and believe me it does, often! During the come down from a meltdown, he seems to respond to visual interaction more so signing is quite often the only way we can get through to him.

Bruiser is quite liking his glasses though and I think he likes the sign for glasses too. He says its ‘ike awwwing eyes on your wace’ (like drawing eyes on your face). I couldn’t have put it better myself!!

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glasses

GLASSES

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

 

 

 

Makaton Gave My Son A Voice

Talking, communication, gesturing, social interaction; all of them skills that come very easy to us and something that we all take for granted. But for Bruiser my youngest son, this has proved to be something of a challenge.

These difficulties didn’t take us completely by surprise however as Bruiser had a very difficult start in life. He was born very premature and suffered with various complications. We were advised he would encounter a lot of difficulties in his life most likely in the form of cerebral palsy and severe learning difficulties. Bruiser proved his Doctors and Consultants wrong though. Physically he hit all his milestones and although he seemed ‘odd / different’ to us at times he developed what we can only describe as normally.

Bruiser took a while but eventually started babbling when he was eleven months old. We along with his health professionals just put the delay down to his prematurity. Just after his 1st birthday, he said his first word. The words and sounds then came thick and fast and by the time he was fifteen months he could say ‘mam mam’ for mummy, ‘tsir’ for t-shirt, ‘bable’ for table and what was our favourite, ‘ibib ibi’ for iggle piggle to name just a few. In total he had a vocabulary of about 50+ words. He even knew the colours on the bottom of the sky menu which he obsessed over and would repeatedly say, boo (blue) bee (green) ded (red) eya (yellow) EVERYTIME the menu was on.

Then one day along with some of his physical abilities it all stopped… no words, no babbling, no sounds, nothing. Just nothing. It was like he suddenly just didn’t know how anymore. All he did was cry and scream. A LOT. He couldn’t communicate with us and he didn’t appear to understand us. Looking back now I know this was profound frustration with his sudden inability to communicate.

After numerous consultations with his paediatrician (thank fully because he was in the system due to his prematurity, we had someone to go to), he was referred to a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) and also to the Community paediatricians as together with other behavioural problems that were starting to become very evident, it was believed he might be autistic.

Bruiser was on the waiting list almost a year before we got an appointment with a SALT. That was the longest most frustrating period of our lives and something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Bruiser couldn’t communicate and although we soon figured out he could understand us when we used visual clues ie pictures and physically showing him; he couldn’t tell us anything. He couldn’t even gesture. Every time he wanted something it was a process of elimination that got him what he finally wanted, if indeed we figured it out at all. It was awful. They say that parents know their children and their needs instinctively, but we didn’t, we couldn’t and I will tell you now, it’s absolutely heart wrenching.

A friend suggested one day that we try Makaton to help Bruiser interact and communicate. He already watched ‘something Special’ and tried to copy the signs so, I borrowed her books for a short time. Because we didn’t really ‘get it’ or know how to sign as such, disappointingly we never got off the ground with it. It was on one of the very initial appointments with Bruisers Speech and Language Therapist at our home (he was almost two and a half now), that she noticed how involved and interactive Bruiser was with the Something Special programme and in particular Mr Tumble. She decided there and then to try using Makaton as a form of communication.

I will admit that we were very hesitant to give it a go. We wanted our son to talk and we were of the opinion that he never would if he learnt to use sign language. The speech therapist though understood our concerns and immediately put them to rest. She made us understand that Bruiser may never talk again or at least for a long time. So we had to find a way for him to communicate, even at a very basic level to ease his frustration. She showed us how to use some basic signs over the course of several weeks and explained that we use the ones that will get him his needs and wants met first and foremost and see how we get on.

It wasnt easy by any stretch of the imagination, it was bloody hard work if im completely honest. We needed patience in bucket loads. Although he tried to copy the signs he saw on TV, we struggled to get him to give us any eye contact at all or even look at our hands to sign with him. In the end, we took the approach of sitting across from each other and we did role play while he played nearby. We kept it simple, one of us would sign and say ‘chocolate’ the other gave the chocolate. Chocolate is Bruisers vice, always has been, so we knew this would grab his attention, and that it did! He started watching us, watching our hands. It didn’t take him long to grasp that our little ‘hand movements’ got us chocolate. That was it, we had his attention and he wanted to have a go again and again and again. Because he struggled with his fine motor skills and refused to look at us, we helped Bruiser initially (when he allowed it) and we slowly guided his hands and asked for things like a drink, chocolate, car, food.

I will never forget the look on his little face when he started to realise that we understood him, instead of the frustrated ‘I’m going to scream really loud now’ look that we had come accustomed to. He smiled the biggest happiest smile that lit the whole room.

A whole new world had suddenly opened up for us all and most importantly Bruiser. On a very basic level, he could now tell us he wanted a drink or something to eat, he could ask for a toy car, chocolate, eventually something on TV. He could even tell us he wanted a bath…

Bruiser signing to bath

Bruiser signing ‘To Bath’

and a rocket on bonfire night…

bruiser signing rocket

Brusier signing Rocket (age 2yr 9mths)

He would point to the colours on the bottom of the Sky menu as before but this time instead of the silence waiting for us to tell him the colour, he would sign the colours repeatedly again and again.

The earliest signs we taught him were simple ones that’s didn’t require a great deal of skill on Bruisers part; drink, eat, car, ball, bath, chocolate, cake, then as his confidence and ability grew so did his need to learn and know more and more. His SALT loved working with him and coming to visit him, she even commented once that he was one of the most proficient signing children she had worked with. Now the foundations were in place we used SALT strategies to further his communication for example Match and Stretch, all the time using Makaton while talking.

A good six to eight months into using Makaton, his verbal communication started to re-emerge. He started to make sounds again, babbling to start with. Then the same sounds with the same signs again and again. He was associating the signs with sounds. Words albeit not very clear ones then began to come again thick and fast.

(This little video captured some of Bruiser’s early signing and words. If you can see past Wriggler flexing his pecs, Bruiser is in the background watching Something Special.)

It wasnt just Bruiser that was learning Makaton. Me, Hubby and big Brother Wriggler could all now do the basic signs to communicate meaningfully and effectively with him. Life was suddenly no longer as frustrating for any of us. It was happier. We were all happier.

Over the last two years, I have been on the Makaton beginners workshop and also the Enhancement training to further increase our ‘signabulary‘. This gave us the opportunity to take our communication with Bruiser to a whole new level. I was no longer just signing singular words, but several key words in a whole sentence but even by this point, I was still playing catch up with Bruiser. He signed instinctively for everything and it had become second nature to him. It was his first language.

Bruiser’s understanding was tested one particular day. His Daddy signed to him (without speaking) ‘Daddy going shops. Bruiser come? Buy sweets‘. Bruiser shot out of the room screaming and signing yes and came back with his shoes and coat 😀

Makaton has given Bruiser confidence. Confidence to communicate, confidence interact and confidence to be himself. When he meets someone new his initial reaction is to put his head down and turn away or just completely ignore them altogether. However, when he realises they can sign he wants to interact with them and on some level he comes across as sociable. This was particularly evident one day when he met his Communication and Interaction worker for the first time at a special stay and play session. (this was before my Makaton training). She is in fact a regional Makaton tutor. She knew so many more signs than we did at the time. Bruiser was feeding off her, taking in all the new signs and using them with her in context. On a few occasions that he met her again he would get very excited and sign to tell us it was the signing lady 🙂 When she started working with Bruiser in his nursery setting, she showed him some signs to We’re going On A Bear Hunt, one of his favourite books. He loves to share a book and now he could interact with one too.

He comes home from school now and before his coat and shoes are even off he’s telling us what he wants to do.

Makaton has brought Bruiser out of his quiet, frustrating, shell of a world to an interactive communicative environment. I know he is happy now, because he smiles a lot more and he signs to tell us that he’s happy all the time.

Seeing the difference Makaton has made to all our lives has made us realise how important communication is; something that we had never fully appreciated, something we had all previously taken for granted. It actually makes me quite emotional when I talk about the change Makaton has made to our lives. Its has changed all of our lives, for the better and forever. But first and foremost, Makaton has given my son a voice.

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For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly. They are an amazing charity and always willing to help in any way they can. You can also tweet with them here too.

Makaton Monday ~ Yorkshire Pudding

Little did I know when I asked the Makaton Charity if they had a sign for ‘Yorkshire pudding’ how much it would come to mean to us.

Bruiser LOVES Yorkshire Puddings. He has a very limited diet and can be fussy with those few foods but Yorkshire Puddings, he could eat till the cows come home.

Back in January we had a difficult period with our communication with Bruiser. He was getting very upset at mealtimes. Initially, we couldn’t figure out why. He was upset with what he had on his plate and refused to eat it some of the time. We quickly realised that he wasn’t being his usual fussy self, he was asking for a certain food. But what? We went through all his foods and was met with frustration and anger from Bruiser that we didn’t understand. This obviously got very upsetting for us all.

One particular day I asked the boys what they’d like for their dinner and Bruiser attempted to tell me. After a huge meltdown about it, I offered my hand and asked him to show me. He led me to kitchen and looked bewildered around the room. I started his search off by opening the freezer and getting all the draws out and asked him to find it and show me.

That he did. After only a few minutes he lifted out the frozen Yorkshire Puddings (yes I’m ashamed to say I’m a Yorkshire lass that doesn’t cook her own!). This was what he wanted and proceeded to tell me ‘I wuv vem’. I told him they were Yorkshire Puddings. He tried to say it but couldn’t and got quite upset and frustrated with himself. (Bruiser is very much aware that he has a communication difficulty, but that’s a story for another day).

I assured him it was okay and that I would find a sign. I searched through all our books and believe me we have a lot now, but couldn’t find one. I tweeted the  and asked for their help.

Unfortunately they replied to say that after looking through all their word lists they didn’t have one. However, they said that they would send a request to the sign team to create one. Now I know they are making and creating new signs all the time but this was still a bit WOW, they were making a sign for us!!

As with all the signs Bruiser has learnt over the last two years, the words usually come when he has a sign to use. As we had neither, I needed to help ease his frustration while we waited. I made the decision to use existing Makaton signs for him to communicate Yorkshire Puddings that we (his family) would understand. I used the finger spelling for Y to represent Yorkshire with the sign for Cake. Obviously you really can’t just go making up your own signs, but these were well-practiced, existing signs that he knew very well that I knew wouldn’t confuse him.

Like I said when he uses a sign, the sound/word eventually comes and this instance wasnt any different. Bruiser has started to say Yorkshire Pudding in his own little way 🙂

A week or so ago though, I got a lovely email from the Makaton team with the sign. I told Bruiser there was a new sign for Yorkshire Pudding and he got very excited. (he loves learning new signs!) Initially he refused to try it as he said it was ‘too difficoo’ (too difficult). But after a few days of watching me demonstrate it to him, he was more willing to try. He now loves asking and signing for ‘orksa pudiiiiiin’. The sign is also getting more and more accurate every time he tries it.

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The first part of the sign represents creating the batter and the second part is showing the raised edge of the pudding.

 yorkshire pudding

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Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

A Letter To Bruiser

Dear Bruiser

Today is your first day at school. Your Reception year and full-time school. You looked so smart and grown up in your uniform this morning. You were buzzing with excitement and you couldn’t wait to leave the house. I couldn’t even get a picture of you stood still.

While you enjoy your first morning with your new teacher, im home thinking about you, wondering what you will doing, wondering what you will be learning about. Gone are our days together where we would play, cuddle, watch cartoons, have playdates, take afternoon naps. Gone are our days filled with giggles, trips to the park and baby groups.

Me and Daddy and Wriggler are soooooo incredibly proud of you and what you have achieved in your little life already. The obstacles you have over come. The battles you have fought. Because there was once a time when we never thought this day would come. You were only 5 hours old when the Doctors told us to let you go. But we weren’t ready to let you have wings and I don’t think you wanted them either. We fought for you then and we still fight for you today. Its been the fight of our lives but just look at you now….

You learnt to crawl;

crawling

You learnt to walk;

You learnt to wave;

You learnt to talk, your first word was ‘Mam mam’. It was awful when you stopped talking. Overtime though you learnt to communicate using Makaton and that gave you a voice, until you found your voice…

Ryan signing to bath

Bruiser signing to bath

then, you learnt to talk, AGAIN!! Because you really are that amazing!!

You started nursery;

started nursery

With the help from your amazing big brother Wriggler, you learnt to play and imagine;

play

You learnt to ride a bike;

As we made our journey together through the autism diagnosis process, something that we were beginning to think would never happen, you made a friend. A best friend. A partner in crime. A friend forever. Your ‘Avaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

best friends

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And here you are now on your first day at school…

I’m glad you didn’t cry this morning. You made it so much easier for me. But it broke my heart anyway. It was the start of a whole new chapter in your life. You are no longer a baby, a toddler, or even a preschooler. You’re a little boy now and you’re ready to go find your place in this world!

I’m going to miss you my baby.

Love Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxx

Makaton Monday ~ Dirty

Dirty. I must use/hear this word a hundred times day. Its mere meaning is the source of a lot of tears in our house.

Being dirty is a huge sensory issue for Bruiser. Rewind 2 years and Bruiser wouldn’t do or eat ANYTHING that got him dirty or looked dirty. This included; toast for example, it had to be dried out but not going brown. Chips or nuggets weren’t allowed to take on the golden look in the oven. Everything he ate was (and still is) a pale anaemic looking beige colour. Everytime he ate he liked to know that his food was clean and not hot (another sensory issue)!

Playing out, his bike wheels couldn’t go through puddles or mud, sand was a big no-no as it got in his shoes. Play-doh, baking anything where he had to touch was out of the question.

Those few little things are just a scratch on the surface of the full extent of his issues. Whilst nothing much has changed over the years, thanks to his therapies and our blood, sweat and tears, his tolerance levels are much better. We still have bad bad days but, we have very good days too.

This sign was one of the first ten signs we ever taught Bruiser when he was completely none verbal when he couldnt tell us what was making his life so unbearable some days. This sign means a lot to us all as a family. It was one of the first signs that made a difference.

DIRTY

DIRTY

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

 

 

 

Makaton Monday ~ Bird

BIRD

WHATS THAT NOISE BRUISER?

You are probably wondering what he is listening to! He is in fact listening to the birds that we have nesting under our bathroom floor!!

The little critters have found a little gap where the mortar has come away where the waste pipes come out of the exterior wall. We initially discovered it by chance a few weekends ago when a wasp came into the bathroom and then disappeared in a tiny gap under the bath. When we went looking for the wasp, we discovered a nest that looked relatively new.

A few days later we could hear some tiny tweets coming from under the floor.

The boys have been fascinated by it. They’ve watched the gap from outside watching the Mummy and Daddy birds come and go with food for their babies. They’ve spent countless minutes with their ears pressed to the floor just listening to the babies.

Bruiser took me by surprise though when I asked him what he could hear. He signed that he could hear birds but told me verbally they were ‘baby chicks’. Whilst I know this is the right sign to use in that context, I did wonder if Makaton had a sign for ‘chick’? I imagine that it’s not that dissimilar to ‘bird’??

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BIRD

BIRD

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

 

Makaton Monday ~ Pretend

Lets Pretend. This is big at the moment in our house. Whilst it’s always been a huge part of Wrigglers play, its something which Bruiser really struggles with.

Part of his play therapy is to get him engaging in imaginative role play. It’s not as easy you’d first think! However, Wriggler has been amazing and has really taken the lead away from us with this. He does the imagining and Bruiser just follows his lead. They play all sorts together, shops, mummy‘s and daddy‘s, pirates, doctors, teachers. Wriggler tries to get Bruiser offering his ideas but he usually stands there looking lost.

Over time though, this pretend play with Wriggler has given him the confidence to want to play without him. This is huge!! He doesn’t make up his own play, he copies word for word, action for action what Wriggler has done with him. But that’s a start and something to work on. He’s even engaged in ‘pretend teacher’ play at nursery for very short snippets of time with other children. Bruiser will now come home from nursery and sign that he wants to ‘play pretend teachers’. It usually involves me sitting crossed legged on the floor while he ‘reads’ me a book. I then get a stamp for good listening. We have snack and then we are done. Then we repeat it again, and again, and again…. We aren’t allowed to change the routine of the play though as this throws him and because he’s got to think of something to imagine, he quickly becomes very anxious and eventually tells us that ‘me don’t know’.

This sign isn’t the easiest to learn. It took Bruiser a little while to master as there are two parts to the sign. But he uses it all the time at the moment. It’s lovely to see that he wants to imagine 🙂

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PRETEND

PRETEND

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Brother

This weeks sign is a bit of a blast from the past for me. I saw Bruiser using it when interacting with his brother this weekend and it made me realise that he hardly used it anymore yet when we started using Makaton two years ago it was amongst his most used signs and one of the first that we ever showed him.

When we started using Makaton, we knew very little about it and only had a few signs for the very basic ones ie Mummy, Daddy, Chocolate, Car, basically the words that were important to Bruiser. While there was a sign for Mummy and Daddy we didn’t know how to sign people’s names so he could sign his brother’s name and interact with him. We took the decision to show this one to Bruiser to use when we was talking about his brother Wriggler.

Obviously as time went on we figured out (nobody told us) that to sign a name you finger spell the first letter of the first name. Correcting how Bruiser used the sign wasn’t too difficult as we had always said ‘Brother Wriggler’ as we signed. For a while he used both this sign and also the letter for his brother’s name, then sometimes on their own. Eventually Brother was dropped all together.

Its only occurred to me this weekend that he very rarely uses it anymore, if at all. Yet clearly he’s never forgotten it 🙂

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brother

BROTHER

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Autism Awareness Day

Today is Autism Awareness Day at the beginning of what is Autism Awareness Month.

Today is also the three-year anniversary of when I officially gave up work to be a full-time mummy to my boys and also full-time carer (to want for a better word) to Bruiser.

It’s not something that we planned on happening. I was all set to go back to work, just like I did after having Wriggler. I was currently on sabbatical as maternity leave had finished and I had a few issues about my days and hours to confirm with my employer while I awaited extra hours in our local nursery for Bruiser.

Obviously I was filled with dread about my impending return, I was also filled with a lot anxiety about whether or not this was the right decision to make. Bruiser had just started showing more signs that something wasnt right. He’d always been a different baby compared to Wriggler and other children that we knew but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. Autism had been mentioned on occasion but, we were ignorant to what Autism really was and what these odd behaviours really meant. But just before I was to make a final decision about work, Bruiser stopped talking. He stopped walking. He stopped crawling. He couldn’t do anything. Our days were filled with worry, frustration, screaming and crying amongst the various calls to his consultant and trips to A&E thinking something was wrong with his arms and legs.

I didn’t go back to work. We made the decision that Bruiser needed me at home every day. The whole family needed me to be at home. Everything was stressful enough without throwing my work into the equation too. So on Friday 2nd April 2011, I made called work and told them that I wouldn’t be returning…

So began a new era, one that would change us all, as individual people and as a family unit.

It was only on this day last year when I realised the ironic significance of the anniversary.

We don’t have a definitive diagnosis yet for Bruiser. We are getting closer. When we started this journey we were told that we might not get one if at all before he was four to five years old. Things have progressed though.

Obviously TAC meetings, Speech and Language Therapy, Messy Food play therapy and more recently Occupational Therapy and Communication and Interaction Therapy to name only a few have helped Bruiser. First and foremost though, it has been our patience and dedication as parents that has made the changes to our lives for the better to help him.

I have spent countless hours on Makaton training courses and practising at home teaching Bruiser Makaton. Together with the knowledge I have gained on Speech Therapy courses, Bruiser can now communicate (to an extent)!!

It can take Bruiser over an hour to eat two chicken nuggets and five chips, or one yorkshire pudding for a meal but we sit with him and stick it out every meal time so he eats ‘something’. That’s an improvement on one chip in an hour over a year ago!

We’ve spent countless nights sitting by Bruisers bed for hours at a time getting him to sleep, only for him to wake half hour later so we have to do it all again. I can honestly say I got more sleep when Bruiser was a new-born baby, feeding every two hours day and night than I have in the last eighteen months! I have almost perfected the art of falling asleep while walking 🙂

Our lives are governed by routine, preparation and careful planning, always being five steps ahead all of the time.

We spend time making sure his drinks have no bubbles in them, his cups aren’t wet, his toys are in their places, his bed teddys are in the right order, that he doesn’t get wrinkly in the bath. We make sure its not too noisy for him, that’s it’s never too light or too dark, too hot or too cold.

Yes, today is Autism Awareness Day, and April is Autism Awareness Month. But for us EVERYDAY is Autism Awareness in our house.

 

 

Makaton Monday ~ The Over Under ‘Adventure’

I might have mentioned previously that Bruiser is OBSESSED with the Octonauts. You may have seen my post about how I made his Octonauts birthday cake. For those not familiar with the Octonauts, it is a cartoon on cbeebies for toddlers loosely based on some sea creatures / animals that ‘search rescue and protect’ other sea creatures. Not only is it a lovely cartoon, it is also very educational. My boys have learnt a lot, myself included!

Over under adventure

This was Bruiser exploring his new ‘OctoMax Suit’ that he bought with his Christmas money. With all his Octonauts toys very neatly lined up by size type/character in the background 🙂 On this occasion we watched ‘The Gulper Eeel’ episode on repeat as its the episode that features the OctoMax Suit.

Bruiser has collected all the characters and all the gups (the sea vehicles). He watches the cartoon everyday about 20-30 times. He reads the books at bedtime. He knows each individual episode from the opening few seconds of each one and which characters are in that episode. When you read to him, he knows what the rest of each page reads from the first line alone. (he has a fantastic memory)

When he watches the cartoon he goes off and collects the gups and characters he needs and then copies the episode with his toys. When its finished he will go off somewhere and reenact what he has seen, action for action and sometimes word for word! When he watches a new episode he’s not seen before he watches it repeatedly until he knows it. This time period is quite hard going for us all as Bruiser remains zoned in and doesn’t and wont do anything else.

Living with Bruiser and this obsession means we have to be on the ball with it too. We need to know and watch each episode with the same passion. When Bruiser wants a certain episode we need to know which one it is from the characters or gup that he is playing with. This is no easy feat when we have over 50 episodes in the sky+ box. As you can imagine there are a lot of meltdowns. As well as we know them too, it is the communication barrier which lets us down in our understanding of Bruiser.

Last week, a whole new series of Octonauts started. One particular one was an extra long special called ‘The Over Under Adventure’ which was on, on friday evening. (we’ve watched this over 50 times since then already!!). This gave us an opportunity to show Bruiser a new sign to communicate the name of the episode. For ‘adventure’ we are using the sign for ‘trip/outing’. He already knows ‘over’ and ‘under’. He took to using it straight away and has used it several times today (sunday).

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DAY OUT / TRIP (ADVENTURE)

TRIP / OUTING (ADVENTURE)

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Bruiser signs this without a second hand in position. We are working on the sign and repeating it back to him correctly when he uses it. I know within the week he will have corrected the sign himself!

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Supermarket

Wriggler loves role play. I have so many memories from when he was younger especially of playing shop keepers, mummy and daddys, doctors etc. I’ve missed that interaction with Bruiser. Its only very recently that he has wanted to ‘play’.

Bruiser loves to copy Wrigglers role play and he seems to enjoy it, providing it all goes his way and everyone does what he wants!

Role play and turn taking has been a big part of Bruisers play therapy of late. It has not been easy-going at all. At times its been unbearable. However, after about ten times of turn taking Bruiser kind of grasps it and can play quite happily without any intervention but, he is easily distracted and he doesn’t like waiting for his turn all that much. When we change activity though, he doesn’t remember to turn take and so it starts all over again.

Playing shop keepers is a great fun way for Bruiser to engage in role play and turn taking as its usually very quick turns and he gets a lot of them. This is also a great opportunity to use the signs he knows ie shop, money, various food items etc and also add to his ever-expanding ‘signabulary’, supermarket being one of them! It also helps him remember that he needs to use his manners in these social situations ie please and thank you.

‘Supermarket’ is a great sign that you can tailor to your specific need. Instead of saying supermarket as you sign it, you can say the shop ie tesco, morrisons etc.

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supermarket

SUPERMARKET

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supermarket

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Beautiful / Delicious

I love this sign. I almost feel Italian when I use it 🙂

Bruiser likes this sign too. He loves to tell me that the flowers look beautiful or the tress and the clouds when we walk home from school. He even tells me that I look beautiful when I don’t tie up my hair or when I have my nails done.

Recently Bruiser has been trying to tell us he likes food. He tries to say delicious but it sounds something like ‘wewishious’. It isn’t very clear and anyone who doesn’t know the sound struggles to get what he’s saying which results in a lot of frustration for Bruiser. We have chosen this sign for ‘Beautiful’ for him use to tell us food is delicious. He’s taken to it very well. Only last week he told me his milkshake was delicious, over and over again! 🙂

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BEAUTIFUL

BEAUTIFUL

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Bruiser signing ‘Beautiful’

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Cat

Bruiser loves animals to look at in books, on TV and even behind the fences at the local farms. Being up close though is something different all together.

I’ve previously blogged about his love of dogs, puppy’s to be precise. The small, cute and cuddly ones; nothing big, in your face or overly fussy. Well, he also likes Cats. A LOT!! Prioviding of course they play by his rules; nothing in your face or overly fussy! They bring out a different side to him we very rarely see. He interacts with it, like we do with each other. He uses them to interact with other people. They seem to have a huge calming effect on him. We don’t get meltdowns, he doesn’t get anxious. He smiles a lot!!

At his Auntie’s house at the weekend he played almost non stop with their cat. Chasing it around, talking to it, stroking it and cuddling up with it by the end of the day. I know I took him a little by surprise when I plonked the cat in his lap, but before he had chance to freak out he was already liking it. He even showed the cat how to sign ‘cat’ 😉

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CAT

CAT

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Bruiser signing 'CAT'

Bruiser signing ‘CAT’

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Around the Tree, Around the Tree, Makes Number 3!

Bruiser LOVES his numbers. He is obsessed with numbers. From a very early age he could count from 1 to 10. He’s literally only just four but, he can count past 100. He knows his 10 times table. He can do simple math like 1+2, 3+2 etc. Using numbers is a sure way to get his instant attention and keep his attention. Mentioning numbers can even halt a meltdown mid-scream!!

Writing numbers however, is a whole new ball game. He has only recently started making meaningful marks with a pen and paper. A few weeks back though he took me surprise when we were playing with a chalk and attempting to write his letters which he has been learning at school. Trying to make a S, he made a mark that resembled a 3 which prompted him to want to do his numbers. Now we have practiced writing his number lots of times but he’s never really got it quite right and always got very frustrated with himself.

I’m going to let this video that I was lucky enough to capture do the rest of the talking.

ps. check out Bruisers talking too!! 😀 *does victory dance*

It just goes to show that time and patience while taking those small steps leads to amazing achievements and this is one of them.

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Ethans Escapades

Makaton Monday ~ Four

Happy 4th Birthday to my little Bruiser.

Just when we had Bruiser understanding that he was three and could sign and say it, he has another birthday.

Like Christmas, this was the first birthday where he was really aware of what was happening. He knew that he was changing age, we prepared him well in advance with signs and visual aids and I think the novelty of it made this okay for him to start with. He also knew that the birthday fairies would come and leave him some presents and balloons. Wriggler told him all about this part. Wriggler also helped him choose a cake design that he wanted. This was obvious to anyone that knew him though that it would be Octonauts themed given his obsession with the cartoon. He knew that he was going to have a party with his school friends too. All the preparation was well planned and although he struggled to deal with the excitement and the build up, we had a lot of fair few meltdowns along the way, it all went quite smoothly. (even the cake that I made him!)

He had a blast on the day and spent it playing with his new toys… Octonauts and Cars, while dressed as Captain Barnacles!!

As for his party, we deliberated for a while about whether to have a party for him. He hates social occasions and hates being the focus of attention. But, he loved the play area we booked (which was with exclusive use for just us). He was happy as his friends arrived and happy for them to join in but he kept himself to himself and played on his own, right down to party tea time where he sat on his own away from the table of 15 friends. Even cake time was spent hiding in his Daddys arms as everyone sang to him. He didn’t like the attention and wanted to hide away from it all. However, he knew the party was for him, he was aware that his friends were there for him and everyone had a great time so as far as we were concerned it was a result. He did ‘mingle’ slightly towards the end when the children played dead fishes and to include Bruiser, the hosts got him involved by handing out sweets to the children one by one as they moved.

The novelty has well and truly gone though now. He doesn’t seem to like the change from 3 to 4 and wants to be 3 again. We keep talking about how great it is to be 4 though and each day he comes home from nursery and sees his cards and banners that still deck the house, he keeps saying ‘me still bour!’ Im sure he will get there and accept the change soon.

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‘Four’ is a really easy to sign to learn. We have taught Bruiser to sign Birthday but bless him, his hands are all over. He can sign ‘day’ really well but when in corporated with ‘birth’  he gets all confused about where his hands need to be.

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FOUR

FOUR

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ New

Happy New Year!!

I know its been a while since I blogged a Makaton Monday. If you read my post ‘Im Back‘ you’ll know that the last few weeks has been quite a stressful time for us as a family. Bruiser has really struggled to deal with his emotions and all the excitement in the run up to and over Christmas. He didn’t adjust well to the change of routine when school finished for the holidays. He’s struggling to adjust to the change of routine now he’s back at school again. Not forgetting all the social occasions that he hasn’t really enjoyed if im completely truthful. However, he has had a wonderful time in between all that. He’s especially enjoyed the Christmas Cake, Yule Log and all the Turkey!! 🙂

NEW!! It isn’t a ‘new’ sign but Bruiser has used it a LOT over the last few weeks, what with all the new toys, the new year and the new school term. He’s been learning new letters at school and coming home and showing me what they look like. He’s been telling me about some new friends that have started in his class after the new year and only this afternoon he has been telling me that the trees are growing new leaves inside their arms 🙂 

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new

NEW

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Shop

I love this sign, it goes back almost 18 months. It was one of the first signs we ever taught Bruiser and one of the first that he ever used.

Bruiser loves going to the ‘adops’ (shops). He loves to look at the toys. He also likes to help me shop. He loves to help find what I need on the shelves, in turn that helps me keep him distracted on those difficult days.

It was only yesterday though, he’s started wanting to play shops! (another first!) Thank you to Mr Tumble again. During yesterdays airing of the Something Special Out & About programme, Justin was pretending to be a shop keeper. Bruiser was glued to the TV from start to finish. Immediately after it finished he asked me to get Wrigglers ‘adop’ out. For an hour we then pretended to play shop keepers taking turns to be the shopper and the keeper. I could propably count on one hand how many times Bruiser has pretend played like that in his whole life so it was really lovely to share that time with Bruiser.

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SHOP

SHOP

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Bruiser signing 'adop' (Shop)

Bruiser signing ‘adop’ (Shop)

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Wind

What a great sign for today!! Bruiser gave me the idea yesterday when we took the boys to see my Dad. We were talking about the storm that was forecast and Bruiser joined in and started signing wind.

It’s probably a good thing that it is in fact the school holidays today and Bruiser doesn’t have to go outside. He doesn’t like the wind at all. He dislikes like the feel of it on his face, he hates the sound it makes on his ears. He can’t even bare to have to the windows open when you are travelling in the car for the same reasons. He screams at you ‘tooo indee mumee, tooo indee’ (too windy mummy, too windy).

So today we’ll be watching the elements on the TV from the comfort of our room. We appear to have gotten away with the brunt of the storm. There isn’t much to see from the window. It’s quite calm here, just very wet! The boys, Wriggler especially are quite concerned about the people who live down south. I don’t think they’ve ever seen trees been ripped out of the ground, or power lines down leaving homes without electric. They are in awe of the images of the sea battering the coast with huge waves while they get their head round wind speeds going faster than cars can go on the motorway! 😀

Hope you are all warm, dry and safe!

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WIND

WIND

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Bruiser signing 'Wind'

Bruiser signing and saying ‘Indee’ (Windy)

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

Makaton Monday ~ Tree

Last week I went to watch my little Bruiser take part in his first ever Harvest Festival at pre-school.

I knew when Bruiser started pointing out the colours of the leaves on the trees and saying ‘datum’ (Autumn) that they must have been preparing for it at school. I can remember so fondly when Wriggler was at this stage only a few years ago, he was coming home singing all the songs like ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Big Red Combine Harvester’. But, I knew I wasnt going to get that with Bruiser as he doesn’t sing. He likes singing and signing his favorite nursery rhymes but only as part of a sing-song session, he doesn’t do it randomly when he’s playing or anything like what Wriggler did. Completely out of the blue though about two weeks ago he was driving his toy car up the cupboards in the kitchen and he quietly sang ‘eve fawin down eve fawin down’ (leaves falling down leaves falling down), I knew straight away what he’d said, it was a line from the song Autumn Leaves. It melted my heart, I never thought id hear him sing like that. I asked him to sing it again for me but he refused and signed that he wasnt singing.

When I spoke with his teacher about it she advised that they were indeed singing Autumn Leaves and Bruiser had been showing them the signs for the colours red, brown, yellow, orange and green. They were planning to incorporate the signs into the song. Bruiser was going to be the tree.

Although Bruiser refused to sing again at home, me and Wriggler practiced the songs with him hoping that he would, Wriggler did manage to get him singing and signing the chorus to Big Red Combine Harvester 🙂

Watching him take part in the Harvest Festival was quite emotional. He saw me and his Daddy in the audience but he refused to acknowledge us or wave and didn’t seem even slightly excited that we were there. Whilst thats not unusual, I think he was overwhelmed by all the parents watching. He did do some signing and singing during some of the performance. It was lovely to see the whole class signing away to the songs though. It was great that they had incorporated the signs and made Bruiser feel involved. I know that Bruiser enjoyed it thoroughly because he couldnt stop talking about it when we got home.

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Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

Bruiser at his Harvest Festival

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TREE

TREE

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Bruiser signing 'Tree'

Bruiser signing ‘Tree’

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Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.

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MAKATON MONDAY

  • You can download some Harvest Festival signs from the Makaton website by following this link

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Linking  up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements and #MagicMoments

Ethans Escapades