Proud

Until yesterday, it had been years since Dom and I have been the cinema. I think the last time we went, Dom must have only been about 10 or 11. He found it so challenging and it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for him. 

Since finding out about Finding Dory coming out during the summer holiday, Dom has expressed interest in seeing it. A few weeks ago, he asked if we could go and see it and of course I said yes! 

Dom has been so excited about Finding Dory. When I arrived to pick him up yesterday, he couldn’t wait to go the cinema! Dom has an iPod touch which he absolutely loves. He said that he wanted to leave this in the car. This was a big step. Dom has ADHD and Autism and his iPod helps in a number of ways. It allows him something to do when he is bored and a way of coping with his anxiety. 

Dom moaned during the adverts and trailers (can’t say I blame him!) But I used humour to help distract him. I wish I could have filmed Dom’s reactions when watching the film. It was lovely to see. He had a big grin on his face and laughed countless times. He sat through the entire film and commented on how much he enjoyed it. 

One of my biggest concerns about Dom was his lack of intrinsic motivation. Since baking a cake for my birthday, Dom has asked if we can start cooking tea at my house. So next week, we are going to make our own pizza and chocolate flapjacks. This is the young man who was an extremely fussy little boy who went through a phase of only eating in McDonalds when out with me. 

Being able to see firsthand how much progress Dom has made is one of the most rewarding things for me. It seems I am guilty of underestimating Dom. I hope he continues to prove me wrong 🙂

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In the summer time

During the school holidays, I work more. As a result, I have been slacking in regards to my blog. Thankfully, I have been feeling a lot better since I posted last. But if I feel like it again I will be going to see my GP. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Dom and Faith more than usual. The days fly by and we have been up to lots of things. I have shared a number of photos on my Instagram account (@originalgemskibob) if you would like to see them. 

Dom has enjoyed spending time with Walter. We have taken him for walks and all enjoyed some lovely ice cream. Dom, Walter and I visited my sister at work. Walter was fussed over and Dom made sure everyone was working! Tomorrow he wants to bake a cake for my birthday at the weekend. This is the first time Dom has asked to do anything like this for my birthday. 

Faith and I have done loads this summer; colouring in, played board games, dog walks in the park, watched DVDs, been the cinema, shopped, workshops at Pets At Home and started a reading challenge at the library. 

As I mentioned earlier, this weekend it will be my 31st birthday. Dave and I are having time off work and having some much needed time together. We are seeing a mortgage broker on as we are desperate to have our own house. We are also spending time with our friend and her two little girls and having a meal with family. 

In terms of my mental health, I am doing well. I still experience a dip in my mood and anxiety but I am able to deal with it. It helps that I have a really good support network around me. 

One way I know that I am in a good place is that I am really broody. Dave and I have talked about having children. Once we are settled in our own home, we are going to start trying for a baby. As excited as I am, I am also terrified about having a baby. A huge concern I have is my medication. I would not be able to take the anti depressant I am currently taking. I have had a long struggle to find the right medication for me so the thought of having to talk to my GP about this fills me with dread. 

The Future for our Disabled Children

For those that don’t know, I am a carer for two very different teenagers. For five years I have been working with Dom, a 13 year old with Autism and ADHD. Since September I have been working with Faith, a 13 year old with Down’s Syndrome and suspected Autism.

My jobs are rewarding and challenging. I care a lot about Dom and Faith. As they get older, it is hard not to think about their future. 

The reason I decided to write this post came about as a result of going to the park with Faith and my dog Walter and her dog Bella last week. It is obvious to people that Faith is disabled. The vast majority of the people that come into contact with Faith are understanding of this. 

When walking the dogs, Faith and I came across a group of girls who looked around the same age as Faith. They were sat talking on a bench. As we walked past, Faith said, “hi girls!” All the girls said hi back and smiled at Faith. 

It got me thinking; would the same happen to Dom? Like Faith, Dom loves talking to people when we are out. But would a group of teenage boys of a similar age be as friendly with him? What would they make of him jumping up and down, flapping his hands and asking the most random and bizarre questions?

Faith wants to do things herself. She loves nothing more than being given a job to do. She really wants to develop her independence. The same cannot be said for Dom. He is not as intrinsically motivated as Faith. Dom operates on the mindset of ‘what’s in it for me?’ 

Dom’s autism has changed as he has grown up. It seems to his parents and I that each week there is a new challenge. Dom can display challenging behaviour at home. I am talking full on, violent outbursts. In the five years I have worked with Dom, he has never been violent towards me or in my company. It has taken him years to actually talk openly with me about these outbursts. 

At 13, Dom currently stands at 5’8″. He is going to easily clear 6ft. For the most part, Dom contains his upset and anger when in school. There have been the odd incidents where he has muttered under his breath but there has been no aggression towards himself or others. He is like a coke bottle; there’s only so much pressure and stress he can withstand until it becomes too much. The lid of the bottle flies off. 

Will there come a time when Dom will struggle to deal with his annoyance and frustration in public? I hope not. Dom would be mortified. 

Another difference between Dom and Faith; Faith isn’t aggressive. Instead, Faith goes on a ‘go slow’ as a way of showing her displeasure. She never has a sense of urgency but everything takes ten times longer to do. 

Members of the public react so differently when I am telling Dom or Faith off. With Faith, I get looks of disapproval when I tell her off. It’s as if she should have a get out of jail free card so to speak regarding her behaviour. Like it’s ok for her to be cheeky or ignore me because she has Down’s Syndrome. Yet with Dom I will hear people tut, see them roll their eyes or look happy when I am asking him to use his indoor voice or remain in a queue. 

So my biggest worries for Dom and Faith’s futures are very different. 

If you are not firm with Faith from the get go she will know that she can get away with sarcastic comments, ignoring requests and getting others to do things she is capable of. My biggest worry is that she will not reach her full potential. 

Dom needs to be around people who get him and that he responds well to. There are no grey areas with Dom; he either likes you or he doesn’t. My biggest worry is that he will be completely misunderstood and so he will end up just being contained rather than being an active member of society. 

Let’s hope my worries for Dom and Faith never come to fruition. If I don’t continue working with them as adults, I really hope that they have the opportunities to live fulfilling and happy lives.

 

Fighting Anxiety

This week has flown by. Dom and Faith are on their school holidays. So my week has consisted of playing board games, dog walks, icecream, watching tv and arts. 

This week has seen anxiety rear its ugly head. There has been no trigger for this. I have felt really uncomfortable around people. Up until the end of this week, the gym was contributing to my high anxiety levels. Classes were unenjoyable and I was clock watching. Part of me wanted to stop going the gym as my anxiety was so unbearable. But another part of me had concerns that I would stop going entirely. I am glad that I continued to go. Last night I had a personal training session. It was really enjoyable. We did boxing and focused on wrist strengthening exercises. My wrists hurt when doing exercises when I am putting pressure on them. I managed to deadlift 45kg which I was pleased with. If you would like to see a video of me doing clean and press with a strong man log then click here.

I went the gym this morning. Although I am sore from last night, I noticed an improvement in my stamina and strength. I increased my weights during bodypump and I was proud of myself.
Tomorrow we are taking Walter on a dachshund walk. I am so excited! We have wanted to meet up with the group for months. But we have been unable to go because of other commitments or the weather. I will make sure to take lots of photos. 

I was going to do a post about autism awareness. April is autism awareness month. But, I had already done a post for Defying Shadows on this topic. It has been uploaded today so if you want to have a read of it the link to it is here.

Snow in Spring

Today we woke up to heavy snowfall. It has stuck and continues to fall. So it’s another lazy day in. This gives me another day to try and get better. I’m still not 100% better. I really wanted to keep working but on Tuesday night I was so unwell. I was exhausted and had managed to sleep for only a few hours. I haven’t worked since Tuesday night. I feel so bad on Dom and Faith. But just getting a shower leaves me so drained My cough is still just as annoying but my voice is coming back. My entire face and head constantly hurt. I am full of cold and it is so painful when I blow my nose. I am not getting enough sleep. My cough wakes me up at about 7.30am and then I end up getting up. 

I am the worst when I am ill. But Dave has been looking after me. He has been doing jobs around the house and refusing to let me help as he wants me to rest. Walter has been super cuddly too and comes over when I have a coughing fit. 

I was notified earlier that I now have 500 followers to this blog. This is incredible. Thank you so much to each and every one of you. I appreciate you all reading, liking and commenting on my posts. I am fortunate enough to have made friends as a result of this blog too 🙂

  

Another Happy 13th Birthday!!!

Happy 13th Birthday to Faith!!! 

Although I have only been working with Faith for four months, she has made huge progress with me. When I first met her, Faith would instantly say, “I can’t do it” when faced with something she found difficult. Now, Faith’s confidence is growing. She wants to do things herself and is incredibly proud when she masters a new skill. 

Because Faith has Down’s Syndrome (and suspected autism) her muscle tone is low and she struggles with coordination. This makes tasks that you and I may take for granted a challenge. Faith is now able to put socks on without any help. She is able to use a knife and fork much more effectively when eating too. 

So a huge Happy Birthday to Faith; a cheeky, funny and loving young lady who continues to help me with my anxiety and depression as much as I strive to help her reach her full potential x

End of Year Musings

The end of the year normally results in people making resolutions for the year ahead. I’ve never been one to do this. If you want to achieve something, I don’t think you need to resolve to do it at the beginning of the year. 

I do think the end of the year is a good opportunity to reflect on the previous year. As much as I experienced some pretty extreme lows, I want to focus on things I have achieved and the good experiences from 2015.  

So in no particular order:

  • Honeymoon in Australia – being able to spend time in a place I have always wanted to visit was incredible. It was made even more special by Dave’s auntie, uncle and cousins. From taking us to Steve Irwin’s zoo, treating us to a 3 day trip to Sydney and the countless meals out we have some unforgettable memories. 
  • Getting Walter – our amazing little dachshund!!! He has brought so much to my life. My little therapy dog has been a constant companion at  my side since we got him in May. Nothing beats cuddles, walks and playing with Walter. 
  • My 30th birthday/surprise visitor – turning 30 was made extra special by a surprise three week visit from Dave’s cousin from Brisbane. It made me realise that I have some truly amazing people in my life. 
  • Work – Dom has made loads of progress this year. Getting work with Little Miss helped to rebuild my confidence as well as being incredibly rewarding. 
  • Family/Friends – 2015 helped reaffirm to me how I have an amazing family. Dave, my parents and siblings have been so supportive. I have also had quite a few days/evenings filled with laughter with them. I am also lucky to have some fantastic friends who have been understanding and caring when I have told them about my anxiety and depression. 
  • This blog – I started this blog as a way with dealing with my anxiety and depression. I never thought I would be part of such a wonderful and supportive community that has over 400 followers. So thank you to all those who have read, liked and commented on my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you. I talk with some people from here on a regular basis who I consider friends (Vicky and Matt). I’m hoping that this year that Dave, Walter and I get to meet up with Vicky and her partner John. 

Happy New Year!!! I hope 2016 is a great year for you all. I have some potentially exciting blogging news to share with you soon. 

Gemma x