Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Anthony's two minute silence

If you've read 'Anthony's always aloud' you'll know that our seven year old son with ASD is always on maximum volume. His whole being is set up to move about and make noise. He is constantly balancing his sensory system and moves about so much he's currently also being assessed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  This is also in recognition that he has difficulty focussing, listening to instructions and remaining on task. But on Remembrance Sunday he stunned his whole family by coming back from his club with a reward for being the quietest and most respectful during the two minute silence.

Anthony attends an extra learning club two times a week.  It's a mainstream club but the staff there are very aware of his additional needs.  We send Anthony here to give him a chance to repeat some of the learning at school.  As routine works well with Anthony, we usually go at the same times each week, Thursday directly after school and when the club opens at 10 o'clock each Sunday. These tend to be quieter time of the week and give him the best opportunity to be focussed and get extra help if he needs it.  The sessions last an hour with a 15 minute break.  It's more school work so as you can imagine it's not always a very popular activity.  He has struggled a few times recently and we have been encouraging him to 'do his best' with a reward regime.  A good week (including the time at his learning club) gets a reward. This includes his three areas to focus on; doing good listening, good sitting and good working. Last Sunday was Remembrance Sunday which falls on the second Sunday in November.  A two minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars.  And so it was that at 11am on Remembrance Sunday Anthony was at his club.

At just after 11am, my husband went to collect Anthony and at 11.30am he walked in with a big grin.  "Mum, I was very good today," he said. He told me that he had been given an extra reward at the club for being the quietest during the two minute silence. I could barely talk myself. I was stunned. How? Wow! Well done, I thought.

Unfortunately it's also a bit difficult to understand from Anthony exactly what happened and how he managed to stay quiet and still. Communicating difficulties is just one of the traits of his ASD. His father explained the significance of the two minute silence to him using simple language to help him understand.  However, it's difficult for Anthony to understand some concepts via just talking.  This is why we do things like take Anthony to the Imperial War Museum in half term and look at pictures in books.  We also explained about our family members who serve/d in the forces. Whilst he was possibly more motivated by his potential weekly reward and remembering his areas of focus, I'm still amazed that he managed to follow instructions to be, and then actually follow through to being still and quiet. I'm even more thrilled that he's gaining a greater understanding of Remembrance Day and how to act in situations.

Remembrance Day or Armistice Day, marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, back in 1918. It's just after 11am, and I'm full of hope that Anthony will have been able to show his respect again at school today as he did on Sunday. And hope that in the future he will be able to grasp the true meaning of the day.

Our Blog - Issues when Anthony's always aloud

External Links
Additions: Explaining the pain in Paris to your autistic child
Autism Speaks - Explaining a tragedy to a child with autism

Guide: What is Remembrance Day (CBBC)
NAS - Sensory system
Ambitious About Autism - routine

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