Tuesday, 2 August 2016

What I found in my autistic son's bag

Another term over, another term of the oddest looking artwork and shortest stories arrive at our house. I'm sure for many parents and guardians looking through the plethora of items sent home at the end of the school term is an absolute delight.

The early works of future artists, writers, engineers, scientists etc are celebrated and catalogued for future generations. The best pieces make their way to the fridge or are framed for all to see.  But it's not quite the same in our house.

I'm not sure but I can't be the only mum that gets a few weeks into the holiday before she starts ploughing through, what in our case is more like, a menagerie of work and projects.   It's bittersweet.  Each year we see some sparks of improvement in Anthony's work.  He is going into Year 4 in September but his writing in some projects looks like it did in reception - terrible. He's obviously followed instructions to do the artwork (and we are really proud of this) but it's often unrecognisable. 

As Anthony has difficulty in school, he has a teaching assistant help him all day, everyday.  Sometimes they help him complete work - and it's pretty obvious when it happens. There is the 'example' and then what Anthony has managed to produce. We are always extremely proud of his efforts and in the same way we send out the worst set of Christmas cards designed by our kids every year, we'll have Anthony's pride and joy on the fridge.

Sometimes there is an accidental item in there.  We've got a piece of Romany's work or Jacob's work.  And that's what I thought had happened when I picked out the image above. The writing is too small, too neat and too close to the line.  There some capital letters in the rights places and is that an exclamation mark?

For those that don't know, although our eldest son Anthony goes to a regular (mainstream) school, he has had a diagnosis of autism since he was four years old.  Though the terminology of the 'triad of impairments' that make up an autism diagnosis has changed a little in the years since, it still fits that Anthony, now eight years old, has difficulty with his language and his social interaction.

He can talk obsessively about topics such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, whether you are interested or not with no idea that you aren't interested.

He can have difficulty with language and understanding how to use it.

He'll tell the truth even if it's not something you want to hear.

He scripts, reeling of lists.  

He really doesn't register that he talks very loudly.

He has very little understanding of personal space.

This is a small sample, the list could go on and on.  Anthony hasn't been invited to many birthday parties since his first year at school, and we often still make our excuses as the events are a bit stressful for him.  I can count the number of playdates we've had on a single hand and as I said he has been as school for approaching five years. Part of it is the difficulty in organising it when there are other kids involved and you can't just leave him somewhere without support.

When we pick him up from school he is excited to say goodbye to his 'friends' but he still declares his best friend to be his dad (which I secretly love but hope one day he is not.. before maybe being again).  Lately he has asked if he could have other friends to play... and I have approached this possibility with the same slightly excited logical outlook for most things with the kids.  What would work for us, which of the parents and kids we know it might it work for too.  It's a very small list to be honest, but my latest find makes me wonder if I've been underestimating my son.

In amongst the cave paintings and rainforest collages this year I found this absolute gem that brought a tear to my eye.  My find is an outline of a person.  'Anthony' is written in plain fine letters across it's torso and multi-coloured writing surrounds it's body.

The multi-coloured writing is from his classmates and is a loving list of things Anthony is good at, (replicated exactly as written):

you are a good football player.
a good learner (thank you teacher)
a good runner

Then it gets better:

always very happy
Friendly and funny
a nice person to play with
very kind and friendly
Fun and really friendly! :-)
you will let other people play
very friendly
A nice person to play whith

Then the joy:

is very kind friend - best frind
a great friend
A fab friend
A good friend *
A lovely friend
The best friend ever!!*

And my absolute favourite:

When I ask to play with him he says yes :-)

It's not all about writing, maths, arts etc and we may understand this more than some other parents. Look at what he finds difficult and then look at what his classmates his friends, say about him. In the last week we went to a playground where he also found some friends to play with. It's so lovely to see.  So this year on the fridge we have the beautiful painted...

"Anthony this is beautiful, can you describe it to me?"
"I've forgotten what it is supposed to be"
"It's lovely, I really like it, shall we put it up."
"Oh yes,"

...and I'm jumped on as he shows his excitement but 'I still don't know what it is' picture.  And next to it along with some others, is this rather plain outline drawing that reminds my son of his friends and reminds me of how far he really has come.


  1. Fantastic. A great indicator of how well he's doing with social interaction, it must have made you very proud. #anythinggoes

  2. Lovely. I think we all have a tendency to underestimate our children at times. I have also found 'surprises' in the book bag sometime after the end of term :)

    1. They spend so much time at school it's hardly surprising we don't see all they do!

  3. Aw this is so lovely to have found and I bet made you feel so proud and a little relieved too. Like Steph said above, I bet sometimes you underestimate your little ones. Actually they are doing ok and it sounds like Anthony is doing very well. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  4. I love when you find out kindness done to your kids by others. It really does make you happier than anything else could.

    1. You hope people are kind to your kids and vice versa, it's nice to know he's a good lad

  5. The most beautiful story I have read in along time.How Proud you must be.What an Amazing job you are doing for an Amazing child..take care

  6. How wonderful to get a glimpse of how your son is very much part of his group of peers...a valued friend! #ablogginggoodtime

  7. Ah this is lovely - it brought a tear to my eye. Kindness and being nice is so often overlooked as kids get older and exams take over but they are two of the most important things you can be so well done Anthony and well done you. #bloggersclubuk

  8. Ah this is lovely - it brought a tear to my eye. Kindness and being nice is so often overlooked as kids get older and exams take over but they are two of the most important things you can be so well done Anthony and well done you. #bloggersclubuk

  9. It's amazing how our children can come out with lovely things. Their perspective on life or their own drawings (!) is priceless. we can learn so much from them. Thanks for sharing this. It's lovely seeing your Son's creativity. #brillblogposts

    1. And what's lovely about this is that even though it's not something he did it's taught me about what he's like at school. Like you say, so precious!

  10. Oh god this made me cry! What an amazing idea and a brilliant find. Sounds like a fabulous school/teacher. Things like this really show us that we shouldn't be limiting our children's experiences but exposing them to more! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  11. This is brilliant! That means so much more than spellings and sums, and its a great thing. The qualities described in your son are the ones that make this world a better place :)
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes :)

  12. That is so lovely! He clearly has made an impression on his classmates #thelist

  13. Oh, this is wonderful. I'd have definitely cried. These are the most important things for any kids, I think, and the fact that Anthony doesn't find social interactions easy makes this all the more special. Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  14. Thanks for shedding some light, my son is 3 has hypo sensory & he is starting assessments for autism the end of this month, my son also doesn't know about personal space & A lot of people have no understanding of autism. To the extent that people say well he looks at you so there for he mustn't have it. They don't look at the danger that he wants to touch everyone & would happily walk off with a stranger & say bye to me.

    1. Hi Laura, there is no doubt that our sons vulnerability scares us. They often don't see real danger and often feel threatened when there is no threat at all. But I know they need help and as long as this lose that need to help them know that too it's not worth worrying about what others say if it's not meant to be helpful. Ultimately every person on the autism spectrum is different, just as everyone else is. Some may have good eye contact and some may not, what important is we treat them as the wonderful individuals that they are and shower them in love as any parent would xxx

  15. Beautiful. You must be very proud. #AnythingGoes

  16. Awww the words that they have written is really sweet! Like you I find joy in seeing my son's work too. I might have framed some (would get updated every year). This one is a really nice project. Something that lifts up and really deserved to be on the fridge! #wotw

  17. This is the sweetest story ever. What a great friend. I cried a little bit too reading this. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  18. Oh how lovely! What a special thing to find, I would've been so emotional reading all those lovely things written by his friends. x #KCACOLS

  19. This gave me shivers. The joy your son must have felt to hear his classmates write those things about him just makes my heart melt. It seems to me there is hope for this mixed up world after all.
    Tori @ The Mama Nurse

  20. Any mom would hold this close to her heart forever. What a gift this is! Enjoy it. #happynowlinkup

  21. Aww this is just lovely. There are so many emotions and worries we go through, just hoping that our children are doing okay at school. Something to treasure. Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

  22. Love that list - you must be so proud!! #KCACOLS

  23. This is really really special and heart warming. I can imagine how important this is #KCACOLS

  24. This is really lovely - school is so much more than progressing with maths and english. You must be so very proud! Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS hope you come back again next Sunday! x

  25. So special, your heart must of burst! #KCACOLS

  26. This is so lovely - I think children have the best ability to be honest, and often their honesty can be cruel but in this instance it is just the best example of what is brilliant about it....you know this all true, and how brilliant is it to have it all written down like this! x Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

  27. So good, you must gave been very happy when you saw it. kids all have a potential! #MMBC

  28. I have already commented here - but I wanted to let you know that your find in his school bag joogged my memory of finding a piece of paper in my sons bedroom years ago which then inspired me to write a post. It's amazing what you can learn about your children from semi scrumpled up bits of paper! Thanks for co hosting #spectrumsunday

  29. Loved reading this and again see so many similarities. When invited into school to be shown work, I can always spot Joseph's a mile off as the pictures and writing is underdeveloped compared to his peers and it brings a lump to my throat.

    I also know what you mean about the friendships and parties and now wish I had shared this one on #SpectrumSunday !!!


  30. Beautiful, beautiful find! I hope you can make the playdate dreams happen so he can spend time being a fab friend x

  31. how lovely that they all wrote about the things he is good at. Hope you find more gems in his school bag in the term to come #spectrumsunday

  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  33. I think there's something in my eye...Ahem. Really, really lovely and a great reflection on you!

    #SpectrumSunday (Sorry for the delay.)

  34. Always having something to keep them occupied going away especially the journey is hard


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