Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Hello everyone

I said last week that Callum had been energised by his little weekend away and had worked really well! It seems to have continued into this week too (or last week, by the time I blog this and you read it).

We have concentrated on our 'Castles' project and the 'sh' sound in literacy and this is where the extreme conflict in education really notices. One of the activities we are doing for our project is to compare different types of castle; look at different defences and discuss pros and cons, etc. This is actually Key Stage 3 work (11-14yrs old), but the literacy work is infant school. Callum is perfectly capable of doing the Key Stage 3 work and he's even produced a short Powerpoint presentation on it, picking out main points, importing pictures, researching on Google, etc and he has done it all by himself after an initial 'how to' instruction from me. He's also doing Key Stage 3 work in Science and coping really well with only a few stumbles on the scientific names (but most kids would do that at first). However, when it comes to getting this information down he is, as already mentioned, doing infant literacy so can't write things up without a great deal of help. Doing the Powerpoint was easy as he could copy and paste the bits he wanted and then had to do a slight edit to make the information fit the page. As his reading is fine and his general keyboard skills are good(ish) he's capable of doing that. But writing from scratch is impossible and he would tire mentally far too quickly and then get so stressed that nothing would get done.

I've talked about these issues on here many times, so I'm not going to go into it any further, but it's here that the true advantage of home education compared to school education shows because in home education it doesn't matter! At school he would just be finishing Key Stage 2 and he would be struggling desperately! Not because intellectually he couldn't do the work, but because he couldn't 'prove' that he could! This would lead him to have bad grades, probably be treated as if he was stupid and his self esteem would plummet. He would also be bored silly and, therefore, disruptive as they would probably keep him down at Key Stage 1 until he could write fluently!

Because we can work at the pace that suits our children, our children can be on lots of different levels in lots of different subjects and it doesn't matter if they are advanced in some and behind in others. I truly believe that at the end of the day it will all even out! What I think is more important is that Callum has fun and enjoys his education. That way he is more likely to learn, want to learn in the first place and to retain the information. Anyway, that's my little soap box bit done - hehe.

With regard to our project we visited Dover Castle this week. It was a straightforward train journey to Dover Priory (although our train was cancelled so the journey down didn't turn out as straightforward as we'd hoped, but at least Callum got to see a train of two halves become a complete one) and then we took a taxi to the castle itself. I knew it was on the top of a hill and didn't fancy my leg killing me before I'd even got through the gates. The castle was fab and I managed 3 flights of spiral stairs before giving up. Callum, on the other hand, made it all the way to the top!! We also went down into the medieval tunnels which were a bit dark, steep and creepy, but good! Actually we did a lot of walking up and down hills, stairs and over walls and I was quite impressed by myself as well as Callum - go us!!

The weather was lovely and we had a picnic lunch on the grass. This was our first encounter of the french pupils and we kept bumping into them off and on for the rest of the afternoon. It was while outside the shop that Callum made his profound observation. There was an English school group on the grass to the right of us who weren't really doing a lot and were more interested in chasing the pidgeons (they were about Callum's age, 10-11, so not little) and a French group to our left who were either playing games with their goodies that they had bought from the gift shop or waiting patiently on the grass for their turn to go in. Callum looked from one group to the other and then turned to me and said "Mum, the French children are much better behaved than the English ones aren't they? They seem really interested in what they are doing. Our lot are just being naughty!!" Wow!!! How's that for an observation and what does that tell us about our country? Hopefully, our school lot would be better behaved if in France, but something tells me that they probably wouldn't be.

Actually, talking about France, one of the highlights of Callum's day was when we were up on the look out point. As the weather was sunny and pretty clear, you could actually see France on the horizon! I pointed the hills in the distance out to Callum and asked him what he thought they were, he said he thought it was England, but a different bit (like we can see Grain from the Strand or Southend from Allhallows). When I told him it was actually France he was well impressed!! He could actually see a completely different and unconnected land mass and he thought that was pretty cool!!

After visiting the castle we walked down to the beach and we spent some time letting him watch the waves and see the ferries going in and out of the harbour. Then it was a quick walk back to the station and home. Needless to say he was pretty shattered and he collapsed on the sofa for the rest of the evening, even going to bed 1/2hr earlier as he was knackered, bless him.

We are downloading photos next week and finishing off our project.

We didn't go to the Fuse Festival in Rochester, but went to the SOS day at Hillyfields instead. Had a great afternoon, we met up with his mate Callum and his family, spoke to the SOS bus staff and the policemen; had icecream; a bounce on the bouncy castle and then a trip to the play area for a play. Weather was lovely and we had the advantage that it was a 5min walk home rather than a 20 min walk and train journey.

Well, that's it for now. See you all later!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Hi all

I know it's been another couple of weeks since posting, sorry all, but it's been busy!

Firstly, Callum has had a birthday, he's now 11 - wow!! And instead of having a party to celebrate we took his best friend off to my Callum's favourite place, Great Yarmouth Haven Site. He loves it there for several reasons, but mainly because of the wind farm out at sea which is clearly seen from the beach!

This little weekend away was a big thing for Callum as he has never had/been to a sleepover before (he's never wanted one or to go to one), so I wasn't entirely sure how things would go and the fact that we only booked a two bedroomed caravan could have proved a bit difficult if the boys hadn't got on! I did a bit of investigating when got there and found the double bed in the sofa, so if the worst came to the worst myself and Phil would have to sleep there, but then there would have been an issue with bedding. We always take our own as Callum prefers his own things.

Anyway, the weekend went fine. Callum and Callum got on fabulously and didn't argue once! They spent the whole weekend either on the beach or in the arcades with a kart hire and crazy golf as extras. They did get up ridiculously early mind you! 5.30am on Saturday, 6.30am on Sunday and my C was up 7.30am Monday with CD up around 8am. I'm surprised that they didn't completely crash, but they didn't. Actually my C did on Saturday as we wanted to watch the England match and he wasn't particularly interested so curled up with the dog on the floor and fell asleep. The other Callum kept nodding off, but was determined to stay up 'til the end of the match, but as soon as his head hit the pillow afterwards he was gone, bless him. The Monday after we signed out we spend the morning and afternoon in The Model Village which Callum had remembered from last time and wanted to go again!

On our return we spent most of the week uploading photos and making a display folder for all our holiday stuff, photos, brochures, etc. We also finished off the display folder from our holiday in Cornwall earlier this year. Callum seemed very energised after the break and worked really well.

Thursday was trampolining as normal and his sister came along to watch. Callum was on top form and worked really well, smiling and being very affectionate to our coach James! I'd invited everyone back to the house afterwards for an impromptu tea and play, doing a emergency shop online the day before to get things delivered. I even managed to get a birthday cake, which he didn't have while we were away. Callum had a great time and didn't get stressed once!

Friday, Callum D came round as my Callum wanted to play his new Wii Mario game with him. This meant I could catch up on emails and finances.

Saturday was Fuse Festival in the High Street. Fuse is an arts festival with music, fun stuff, puppets, etc. I wanted to go last year as in my youth I worked for Arts in Medway and we helped to organise stuff like this, so it was a reminder of days gone by. However, Callum doesn't like the High Street on Saturdays or Mondays as it is also market day. But I managed to persuade him to go (for an hour said I) to see what was there. Ended up being up there the whole afternoon (12.30pm - 4pm) with us coming home for a quick cuppa (we are only 5mins away) before returning. Callum loved it all, although the music group Bang On was a bit noisy for him. They use household items to make drumming music and Callum really liked it, but couldn't stand and listen for too long as it hurt his ears. He loved, however, the moving Bollards from Bureau of Silly Ideas and the completely crazy nun called Musical Ruth who was a guy dressed up as a nun riding on a mobility scooter that had been converted into a church organ (see photo). He was hilarious and completely bonkers, but Callum adored him. Am hoping to go to Rochester this weekend as they are having their turn then.

Anyway, I'm going to stop there and try and blog this week at the end of the week as there is just too much to write and my fingers hurt - hehe.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Well I was hoping for a better week this week and I got it! Yay!! Well, kind of as we did have an unpleasant event to go to near the beginning of the week.

But let's start at the beginning - Monday. Monday was bank holiday and the start of the school 1/2 term. We don't really have a holiday as such, but as it's the only time we can catch up properly with people who still go to school, it normally turns out to be a holiday, albeit a very sociable one. Monday was also the day after my birthday, so as I was still in birthday mode the morning was spent with me reading one of my two Jeremy Clarkson books that Callum had given me, Phil pottering about and Callum was happy on the Wii. The afternoon we each had our own visitors which was kind of weird, but kind of neat too. Callum had Callum and they switched between playing upstairs with the train set and playing on the Wii with the occasionally venture into the garden for a bounce on the trampoline. Phil had an old friend Tony and so they were happily drinking beer and cooking dinner. And I had my beloved daughter pop in after her weekend away and got more pressies (a cuddly owl - I love owls - and an EtchASketch - cool)!!

Tuesday was a damp day in both respects as it was raining heavily and we had a funeral to go to! Never sure about Callum and funerals as it's a pretty intense event for any child, but especially one on ASD spectrum. They don't always feel or understand empathy, so the fact that everyone is sad must seem a bit strange to them and also having to sit quietly for any length of time is always very hard. But I have to say that Callum did superbly!! I explained that there would be people very upset and that he was to be respectful of them and not be noisy or fidgety and try really hard not to have a hissy fit just because he was getting bored! And he didn't!! He sat beautifully through the service; he even sang the hymns and he spoke to those who spoke to him politely and shook their hands. There were a few people who he'd never seen before and strangers are always looked upon with a little distrust by Callum as he is not an Aspi who will speak to everyone and anyone; he is one that won't speak at all until he feels completely comfortable with them (this can take anything up to a year in some cases!). The fact that he not only spoke, but had physical contact made me very proud of him. He was happier once back at the house (his uncle's) as they have a Basset Hound called Floyd who he adores.

Wednesday we went to Riverside with my friend Lesley who has an autistic child who is a year and a half older than Callum called Louis. When they were both younger it was quite difficult when they met up as Louis is a physical boy and Callum isn't, but as they have got older they seem to be able to sort this out to a happy medium that suits them both and they get on pretty well. We had a nice walk along by the river where the boys went off exploring the beach and the rocks and any puddles they could find which culminated in a rabbit poo fight which was generally frowned on by us mums, but which the boys found highly hilarious!!! Hmmmm!! Then afterwards we went back to the play area so that we could have a cuppa and the boys an ice cream (ensuring that they'd washed their hands first of course!). All in all the afternoon was lovely and we ended it before anything got too out of control or hyper, so pretty perfect!!

Thursday was the usual trampolining class and Callum had a good lesson. He was a bit hyper this week though and rekindled his liking for Lauren by launching himself at her every 5 mins and pinning her to the ground (which puts the 'Callum isn't physical' bit out of the window, but he has known Lauren for nearly 2 years, so it actually doesn't if you think about it). I did try to tell him that boys shouldn't do that to girls and he should be treating her a bit more gentle, but Lauren informed me that it was ok and that she got worse from one of the other boys she knew!! Hmmmm, not sure what to make of that, but as long as they were both happy who was I to intervene. Just kept an eye out in case it got out of hand, bless them!!

Friday he had his Speech and Language Assessment in Chatham. He did really well considering and it proved what I already knew. Callum has trouble with combination sounds and breaking down words and needs to step right back with literacy to Infant level to gain verbal understanding of letter sounds, combination sounds and word formation before attempting writing. It's weird; I already knew this, but I feel a lot better now that I've been told that it's ok to do that and that it is exactly what Callum needs. She is sending me a letter to confirm the assessment and give me some ideas. She says that his understanding of language itself is brilliant and that he is intelligent and a quick learner, but that to successfully learn to write, he needs to go back to basics. This is partly due to his Aspergers and partly due to lack of confidence and the fear that he has instilled in himself about the subject, but that he should be able to grasp it quickly if taught in the correct way that suits him. It seemed that musical rhythm was helpful so I think I will go down that route as well as introducing a lot more craft things to help with his hand coordination and strength and have a look at poetry to help with word endings and beginnings.

This weekend he has enjoyed his dad's company a bit more as I was out for the day on Saturday and they have been to Riverside again with the dog, spent lots of time in the garden and he's been in computer phase instead of Wii.

As I said at the beginning, a much better week and no meltdowns! Fabulous!