T has been with us for about 6 months. He is 10 years old and is diagnosed with ASD though it seems quite mild. Some of his symptoms that are attributed to ASD could also be just down to the fact that T is a 10 year old boy. In general he is a very happy lad but one who has moments of anxiety and has some problems dealing with his emotions. Because of his condition he does get fixated on things so he has a strong passion for cars and certain movies and TV programmes and at the moment he has a sometimes unhealthy obsession with Loom Bands (tiny little elastic bands that the kids make into bracelets).
I am married with three children, one at home, one at University and one living just down the road, and I am the main carer as my wife has a full time job as an Assistant Principal at a Sixth Form College.
Friday 30th May – Thursday 05th June
I thought I would stick in another selection of choice conversations and one liners from T for this week because there have been some crackers recently.
More conversations with my foster child
1) I am going to watch the football, the FA Cup final, which my team are playing in. All day I’d been a bit tense and as the game approached I was getting a worse. I love football but it does get me very excited/ nervous. I had already arranged to have the sitting room and TV while the game was on and my wife was going to watch a film with T in another room. Just as the game started they asked for the new film that I had recently bought but I could not remember where it was. In my moment of high anxiety all my cognitive skills stopped working and I got very stressed very quickly. T saw this and slowly backed out of the room away from me and turning to my wife said,
“Is this what football does to you? Because if it is I’m staying well clear…”
2) I have over-slept and because of this no one is up. It is the day of T’s school trip so it is not the best of starts. I get downstairs and quickly realise that I will not be ready for the taxi so I contact them and let them know I will bring T to school and then start making breakfast and drinks for everyone. I calculate that we have plenty of time and attempt to wake myself up properly. Just then T arrives, standing in the hallway behind me, in his pyjamas,
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“No T, I have just over slept.”
“Well this is not good enough…”
He then storms off upstairs and precedes to get ready in super-fast time and is back in 2 minutes. Actually I think he would have made the taxi on time but how was I to know. He did forgive me later
3) T is ready for school and we are waiting for the taxi to arrive
“T, can you hand this letter into school today? It’s important.”
“NO…Can’t you just call them?”
“Sorry it needs to be a letter because it has my signature on it”
“OH blooming hell…My book bag is heavy enough already!”
4) We are going away for a few days, just T and I, and on the way to visit people we have decided to go to Stonehenge to have a look around. I have told T we will leave about 12.30, after lunch. As the time gets closer T starts getting very anxious about the situation and the time and even though I explain that we are not in a hurry and that we don’t have to worry about time he still does. Eventually it gets too much for him and he has a full blown meltdown and storms off to his room. I know from experience that I can only wait and ride this kind of thing out and so that is what I do. One hour later and T is back in the game and he is putting on his shoes. T says to me,
“Come on get ready”
“I am ready. I’ve been ready for a while now. All I have to do is pick up my keys.”
“Well pick up your keys then and be ready.”
5) Because T is autistic he has problems with transitions (see above) and empathy and often blows up for reasons he can’t explain (I now know this but it was hard at first). This short conversation is an example of T starting to develop a greater understanding of himself and others around him and is a testament to the hard work he is doing in understanding his emotions and triggers.
T has gone outside the front to play with a friend. He is in his school uniform. We don’t do this in our house but instead of stopping him I decide that I will gently remind him when he comes in (using the low arousal approach that the autism specialist taught us). So 20 minutes later he comes in and so I say,
“T, next time you go out will you change out of your school uniform please?”
“Because we don’t do that in our house. Playing is done in your general clothes.”
“But H (previous foster carer) let me.”
“Well we don’t do that here and you know that.”
“God! Why are you so strict? Why can’t you be more like H? You are the worse foster Dad in the world. I hate you!”
At this point T runs off to his room screaming but 2 minutes later he comes down and very quietly and full of remorse he says,
“Sorry B. I didn’t mean to take out my mood on you it’s just that K (the friend) got me angry with something he did. I shouldn’t have shouted at you. I’m sorry.”
He then came over and gave me a big hug and we moved on. That is brilliant. Good lad.
6) Another example of T’s developing mind. Previously this would have not ended well.
On our way back from our trip we had noticed that there was a Sports and Classic Car Rally the following week. It was a good hour away from our house but worth a day trip we thought. When I got back I checked the diary but realised that I was helping a friend move house that day so could not do it. As my wife was with him that day we asked her if she could and she said she would see but if there was too much going on then it would not happen. On the day T asked my wife and she checked everything and realised that it would not be possible.
“I’m sorry T but you have a haircut and I have to take us down to the stable to see the horse so there will not be enough time.”
“Oh OK. That’s fine because you only said maybe anyway.”
“Wow! That is a great response. Thank you.”
Later that day my wife organised for T to ride on the farm tractor where the horse was kept and he was completely made up. So smiles all round I think.