Saturday, 28 December 2013

And A Happy New Year To You Too.....

It's that time of year again where we all sit back and reflect on the years successes's and failures, those moments of personal reflection, the if onlys and what ifs, and the rush of steely determination not to let it happen again next year.  The added pressure we put upon ourselves to set some resolutions, just because we feel we ought to! And the prospect of struggling to achieve them because January is probably one of the nastiest of all months in the year for everything; weather, lack of money and the deprivation of all things warming and comforting because you're on a diet!  It's one of those times that I feel the encapsulation of our 'Bob's autistic world would be a much better place!

His only concern is to ensure the creation of another virtual airline, and the offering of sustenance because he can't possibly leave the hub of all activity i.e. The PC!  Mr Autynary is very much the same mindset, no looking back (because it's already happened), no self reflection (because we just don't do that inward looking thing) and certainly no resolutions we couldn't possibly make a decision which one!

This one I know for sure, I'm on my own!  That oh so familiar saying "If you told me that this time last year I wouldn't have believed you...." is very firmly in my mind at the moment because this last year has been filled with extraordinary events and life changing decisions.  I've shoved myself over 'that invisible line', internally kicked and screamed out of my comfort zone and cried my way out of uncertainty.  I have rekindled my relationship with tenacity and have enjoyed inviting in self esteem along for the ride.

Christmas has been and gone, and we have survived! Just!  Nothing changes for us at Christmas the routine stays the same year in year out, albeit we were a little late this year getting stuff organised due to the renovations.  Our 'Bob' managed to eat his soup at the dinner table Christmas day but the plate of food had to be eaten in another room!  Our 'Bob's presents were as instructed and if I had diverted from the list I certainly would have expected an almighty meltdown, it saves anxiety all round if we just play by his rules during the festive season.

We have entered 'no man's land', y'know the time between Christmas and New Year which gets lost in overindulgence, some rather ancient clips of  a Morecombe and Wise Christmas special and re-runs of all the Christmas films ever made!  Throw in Kirstie's vintage Christmas crafts and everything grinds to a halt.  There is a moment in time where I think is this my 'Black Dog' returning or is this just Christmas anti-climax.  It's been such a long time since I have experienced 'ordinary' or 'normal' I couldn't possibly work it out.  I know that bloody 'dog' is loitering somewhere in the background and if I'm not careful will push its way through the back door.  Anybody who has suffered or is suffering from depression will know that there is always a possibility of it sneaking in when you least expect it; Like an uninvited guest who just doesn't pick up the clues to leave!  Well it's not invited to this party!

Where are we going to go next? Who the hell knows!  2014 is holding surprises and a lot of hard work but I say 'Bring It On!'  What I have learnt from last year is to go with it, hold on, it might be a white knuckle ride in parts, but just hold on!  There is a plan loosely lodged somewhere in the grey matter because we have to have a routine but personally I haven't set anything in stone.  What I will say is that I am not going to close any door until I have fully investigated the opportunities.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's OK to have a look, you are not committing yourself to anything.  I have choices and I am the one who will have the final say!!

And my message for the New Year; Acknowledge 2013 and respect all that happened, and then bloomin' hold on tight for 2014! Don't ignore possibilities or opportunities no matter how scary they feel! And in time of doubt or upset remember there are people out there who will support and comfort just know it's OK to reach out.

To you all a very, very sincere Happy New Year and a wish that 2014 will be a year of prosperity, happiness, hope and loads of laughs XXX

Monday, 9 December 2013

It Wasn't Me! The Reality of living with Invisible Vulnerability.

It's taken me two weeks to write this.  Honestly I have been incredibly busy working in my Parents Forum/Sportism capacity, spending time trying to make sense of the SEN Code of Practice Children and Families Bill and organising a children's Xmas party. Though the thought of writing this particular blog would mean I would have to face the stomach churning fear I have for my son's future again. The realisation that no amount of prior preparation and planning, reassurance and creating a shed load of life rules can prevent the overwhelming urge he gets to do some downright stupid, unpredictable, damaging, dangerous, illegal (Oh yes you heard me correctly and I will say it again), ILLEGAL things.  This is Invisible Vulnerability at its best and I have had the corker of all corkers.  Find me a hill top because I really want to scream!!!

It's difficult to explain to most people about the invisible vulnerability of children on the spectrum, and in particular for those children on the higher end who outwardly look like ordinary children in ordinary houses on an ordinary street anywhere in the world!  I will try to explain about our 'Bob' and his latest all mighty 'this is the best one yet' stunt!!!

Two weeks ago  I got the most unpleasant surprise I have had for a while.  The sheer shock made me feel incredibly sick and for a split second lost the ability to make sound judgement or rationale.  The Postman usually arrives around 10.30am, we don't get a lot of mail because everything is usually fired off electronically these days so it's quite a novelty to get some.  The usual 'Occupier' 'Homeowner' mail on the doormat along with a letter from Tesco Banking.  Now normally I would throw something like this in the paper bin because it's usually junk.  Thank goodness I didn't!!!  There before me was a letter asking me for more information for my credit card application.  WHAT credit card application???? I'm a stay at home mum/carer, what the.... You can imagine it can't you I'm pacing the kitchen, reading this letter again just to make sure I've got it correctly.  I am so mad and the who, what, where, when is going through my head.  Instant reaction and I'm on the phone dialling the 0845 number, cursing that one too because it will cost me a fortune!  

Blooming annoying! I get through to a Customer Service Operator, take a deep breath and go through the story.  I'm put on hold, waiting to be put through to the Fraud Department.  No joy there, nobody is answering so I leave a message.  I'm told someone will get back to me the same day.  So I wait. Nothing. I try again before going for our 'Bob' but by this time I've had several cups of tea and thought about it.  I remember two weeks earlier having one of those dismissive conversations with 'Bob' about the Sainsburys credit card which gives you Nectar points.  'Bob' was doing a good job putting his case forward for Mr Autynary and myself to get one, which obviously we swiftly declined.  I didn't think any more of it, that was until that day.  

'BOB'! What had he done now? Wait till I get him in the car! I'm thinking all this on the drive to school, and for one shocking moment I can't remember how I drove a quarter of a mile down the road because I'm head chunnering.  Amongst a sea of mauve I see 'Bob' making his way to the car, now I  know I have to be careful because one slight whiff he's been rumbled I will not get any ownership from him at all.  So there I am diplomatically interrogating 'Bob'.

"Is there anything you need to tell me about Tesco Banking?"

"Noooo" "What you talking about?" a rather shifty answer and a rather puce looking teenager.

And with slight exaggeration

"I have spoken to the Fraud Department of Tesco Banking about an online application for a credit card which I have no idea about or who's applied in my name, do know anything about it?"

"Well it wasn't me!" quick sheepish answer!

"Well the thing is they have the computer IP address and if I haven't applied for one they are going to pursue the person who the address belongs too, so if I was you  I would tell me what you have been filling in on the Tesco's website because they are calling me back?"

So I then get an embellished story about how he thought he was registering on the Tesco's Direct website, and that he knows not to sign up for things in my name, etc, etc, blah, blah.  And quite frankly that's what it sounded like to me.  I knew he had done it so my mind was now shifted in trying to resolve the issue, and I had better check with a credit reference agency to double check that I'd not had my identity cloned or that the little tinker hadn't signed me for HP on a 737 aircraft!

You can imagine, can't you?  I ask him again if he has done anything I need to be aware of and the answer came back reassuringly "No!" So why then was I surprised to go through a similar situation on the following Monday morning with an OPENED Tesco Banking Savers Account in my name and in a separate envelope a 'Thank you for arranging a direct debit into your new Savers Account' letter.

By this time I'm furious!  Then I had to stop. The wave of emotion slowly makes its way up through my body and I find I am staring out of the window in tears.  I know deep down that a mist of Autism and a wave of ADHD have created a difficult situation, a dangerous situation, a vulnerable situation..... VULNERABLE.  I want to scream and scream and scream.  I have to phone up Tesco's Customer Service yet again with a story which sounds like I've made it up, tricky decisions to make about having my details be put on a credit fraud list so if it happens again I have a little red flag over my name.  Hoping that they don't want to prosecute for fraud, or any other law he's broken in the process.  OMG! I would have to tell Mr Autynary, well that would go down in history as the worse thing possible and it would be ALL my fault.  Never mind 'Stop the World!' I just want to disappear into the ether and I don't want to come out.  

I manage to compose myself when I pick 'Bob' up from school and I am quite frank with him.  By this point he really does know the games up and has to admit to everything.  I don't get an apology, lots of explanation as to how it happened and another reassurance it won't happen again!  Somehow I don't think this will be the case and with all the will in the world and lots of hoping, I don't think 'Bob' can make that promise either, which is so, so, so sad.  I don't think I can ever get complacent or allow myself the time off from pre-epting those predictable or unpredictable events which are yet to bestow their troubles on our doorstep!