Monday, 6 May 2013
Did you miss The Birthday Weekend Part 1? Tut, tut. Shame on you. You can read it HERE!
OK....you done? Great! Lets get started on Part 2 then............................
So, after our night away in a fancy pants hotel FD and I headed for our local airfield for the opportunity of a life-time. We had been offered the chance to go for a short flight in a light aircraft and it wasn't going to cost us a penny. Thanks to the The Douglas Bader Foundation pilots were offering their time and their planes to local kids who had some form of disability. Of course we jumped at the chance as I thought it would be a wonderful experience for FD, and of course for me if I'm perfectly honest. Although, on the morning of our flight some nerves started to creep in and the butterflies in my tummy had grown into giants! FD was getting understandably tense and as we were packing up to leave the hotel she asked me if she really had to go to the airfield. Autistic kids find it so difficult to try anything new and I was acutely aware of how stressed she had the potential to become. So, I sat down with her and we talked about what we would do at the airfield. I broke everything down into stages for her.
Stage 1 - We'd get in the car and just drive to the airfield. If at that stage she didn't want to go out in a plane we would leave.
Stage 2 -If she agreed to get out of the car we would just go and meet the pilot. No pressure to do anything more.
Stage 3 - If she liked the pilot then we would take a look at the plane.
Stage 4 - If she wanted to we could go for our flight.
Its amazing how breaking it down like this for her lessened her anxiety. She did agree to get out of the car and we went to meet the gentleman in charge of organising the event. He gave FD a free tee shirt which immediately won her over! She's very easily bought! Like her mother I suppose! We had a look around the airfields Flying Club and FD was very impressed as there appeared to be a plethora of good looking teenage boys. FD decided we were staying! She didn't even need to go and look at the plane before our flight! All the club members were extremely friendly and pretty soon our pilot came and introduced himself. He was an extremely friendly older gentleman and FD and I soon warmed to him.
FD and myself were the first in the group to take our flight. We were lead out to the tarmac to our plane. At this point I actually thought I was going to throw up right there and then! The plane was so tiny and fragile looking. My knees started to shake! FD on the other hand appeared totally at ease! Once I was shoved into the back of this four seater tin can with wings, FD then got in beside Mike, our pilot. He explained what he was going to do every step of the way and I held my breath as he started the engine. I thought FD would freak out at the noise. I leaned across her seat and gently patted her arm. She told me off and said she was fine! And so, we taxied down the tiny runway and left Terra firma behind us!
When the plane took off I have to admit to letting out a little squeal in the backseat! And then I started to giggle! This was amazing despite it feeling like we were in a flying Mini! We soared like a bird! FD was quite quiet throughout but that was fine. It meant she was enjoying it. I was concerned that at some point she would have a seizure, throw up over the pilot and clog up the controls. Thankfully that didn't happen and we flew for about 15 minutes. I got some great photos as you can see, and the Learning Disability group that FD belongs to are going to write a piece on her experience for their newsletter.
Coming into land was a bit of a hair raising experience but not as bad as I'd imagined. Although back on the ground, I was still on a high. Once back inside the club house FD turned to me and said, 'That was amazing! When can we do it again?' Mission accomplished! FD had overcome her fears and experienced something new and exciting! All I ever want for FD is to be given the chance to try new and challenging things. Being a special needs child doesn't mean that her life should be boring and restrictive. It means that as her mum I have to try harder to make things happen for her. I was so glad I'd done this. Hopefully we are going to get another chance to fly in September and FD is super excited.
After our flight we stayed on and watched some of the other kids go on their flights. All appeared to have such fun, apart from one young man who somehow ended up with no trousers and a jacket wrapped around his backside! Not sure what happened him but some sort of accident was had?! There was a BBQ for the kids and the Mayor came for a photo opportunity. By lunch time FD was totally exhausted so after collecting her flying certificate and thanking all involved in organising the day we headed home. We'll definitely be making a donation to this wonderful charity!
Sitting writing this blog post now, I can't help but wonder at the bravery of my wonderful girl. She has overcome so much in the past year and yet nothing has stopped her. She tries new things even though they stress her and she is fearful. Every day is a hurdle for her but every day she meets her challenges head on. She really is my very own Superwoman and this weekend she really did fly!
Posted by JB JOHNSTON at Monday, May 06, 2013
Sunday, 5 May 2013
This week has seen some low times and some highs in our home and it often makes me wonder at how complex and changeable ones life can be. The week started off really badly for FD. It was coming up to her birthday and she was getting more and more stressed as the week went on. I had booked the two of us into a hotel for the night as a special treat and to broaden her experiences. Was I adding to her stress by organising so much? Probably. FD finds every birthday difficult whether or not we are doing anything special to celebrate. We've tried low-key birthdays and she becomes equally as stressed. Such a dilemma! She got so stressed at the beginning of the week that she gouged her face with her fingernails, leaving huge marks down her cheeks. Her poor little face was actually bleeding and it broke my heart. She was horrified when she herself saw the extent of this self-injurious behaviour and this lead to further upset for her. So, you can imagine that I was facing this birthday weekend with some trepidation.
On Friday, the day of FD's 15th birthday she was actually pretty calm. I was amazed! She was a little quiet but that was OK. I could deal with that. We quietly packed our belongings for our hotel trip and all the while I explained to FD what we would be doing when we got there. She'd only ever stayed in a hotel once before and that was largely successful, although she did shout at some of the other hotel guests for smoking outside! We decided to try a new hotel closer to home and this time I had specified a room that didn't overlook the outside seating area. Upon arrival we got to our room to discover that it was a double bed! Eeeeek! We'd have to change it. FD stayed calm! Result! So, we hot-footed it back down to reception and explained that I had booked a twin room and that FD would not be happy to share a bed. No problem for the lovely lady at the hotel. She promptly got us another room, which was a twin or offered us a deluxe family room which was more spacious and more expensive. In the end I opted for the deluxe family room! Hey this poor kid has been through so much so I thought, 'Sod the finances!' I could do with a bit of luxury myself! And, if I'm honest I was actually convinced that FD would not survive her spinal surgery. So, to see her make it to her 15th birthday was like being given the best gift in the world. I still had my daughter and would never want for anything again.
We got to our room, opened the door and FD just gasped! I was almost afraid to look. Was this a good gasp or a bad gasp!? Our room was huge! FD was thrilled. We each had a super king size bed! There was a seating area in the room and a mega huge bathroom. There was also a huge flat screen TV on the wall (which pleased FD) and complimentary wine (which pleased me)! I was so glad I'd made the decision to opt for the bigger room. FD ran about it looking in every nook and cranny. She was thrilled. After exploring the room, I even managed to convince FD to go swimming in the hotel pool.
A few weeks ago FD had a major meltdown because we were due to go swimming in our local pool. Whilst understandably tense at the thought of swimming in the hotel, she handled it so well. She even complimented me when she saw me in my swimsuit..............'oh mummy you don't look too fat today.' That was a compliment! Wasn't it? Of course, I spent our entire time in the pool trying to keep FD afloat. No easy task with a 5ft 8inch teenager! Eventually she wanted me to let her go.................and......................she sunk! Right to the flippin bottom of the pool. It didn't occur to her to close her mouth or her eyes so when I eventually got her to the surface again she had swallowed half the pool! However, to her credit, she handled this situation well............ish. A few expletives were said by her (and me) and after she spat out some water back into the pool, she even tried the jacuzzi with me! She wasn't so fussed on it and did tell a few people off for splashing her, but all in all it was a huge success.
After a shower and a lie-down for FD we went for dinner. I even managed to convince FD to wear a dress. No easy task I can tell you. She hates dressing up as she doesn't like people looking at her. She's convinced that she looks so different in a dress that every single person will stare. Thankfully, after a little gentle persuasion and me telling her that I was looking so gorgeous that all eyes would be on me (!) we made it down to dinner on time. FD was thrilled that the hotel seemed to be full of airline pilots! Its close to a large airport so a lot of flight crew stay there. After a lot of winking at good looking men (FD, not me) and a lovely dinner, FD decided that the one thing she really wanted to do during our hotel break was go to bed and watch the massive TV! Who was I to argue with this wonderful plan. I'd brought a book, Doritos and there was the free wine! A perfect night!
And so, our evening was spent in a lovely companionable way. FD in her huge bed, me in mine. Occasionally she stopped watching TV to talk to me about something or just to jump from bed to bed. She spent a lot of the evening staring out the peep-hole in the hotel room to see if she could spot anyone. She flushed the toilet a lot because she didn't think it worked as well as our toilet at home, and she continued to explore the room. It was a pleasant evening and with the one glass of wine I had (yes I can restrict myself to one glass) I soon dozed off once FD had fallen asleep. Of course I woke up at 5am to check on FD and she was snoring her head off!
At breakfast time I was concerned that FD would be overwhelmed by the huge amount of food on offer or that she would just refuse to eat anything. Continuing to surprise me, FD ate bacon, sausages, egg, and beans! All in all our trip to a hotel was so successful. FD remained happy, calm and relaxed. The weeks of preparation had paid off and thanks to the kindness of the hotel staff, FD really enjoyed herself. She was sad to be leaving the hotel and said that she'd love to come and stay again. We left soon after breakfast and left on the next stage of our birthday weekend of treats....................which you can find out about tomorrow on the blog!
Posted by JB JOHNSTON at Sunday, May 05, 2013