25 September 2017

Marvellous Monday Interview with Riko.

Welcome to my new series - Marvellous Monday's. I will be interviewing people who have a direct connection to someone who is autistic, or is autistic themselves. I am excited to showcase some positive experiences of carers and parents. There are many difficulties and challenges that we face when someone in the family is autistic, and those little achievements of success are often overlooked because of the extensive caring duties and severe anxiety that some families face. My aim is to publish as many interviews as i can, each week on a Monday morning so that after the busy weekend of caring and the daunting week looming ahead has a positive beginning. Something for you to read, whilst you take you first breather and have your first hot cup of tea or coffer in days. I want to share the happiness and joyful moments of many families, children and adults  with the hope that it can help you as a family hold onto that thought that 'It can only get better'
Please extend a big warm welcome to my first interviewee Riko, from Riko's PDA Page...........
Good Morning Riko and thank you so much for taking the time to take part in my regular Monday Morning series, hopefully we can help everyone start the week with some positivity and an uplift. We all know how awful and exhausting the mornings can be, especially if the children or you, are suffering with back to school anxiety.I for one, would like something joyful to read, as we struggle on a regular basis here. If you have followed our journey, you will know that Lola really doesn’t cope well in the mornings and Connie –Mai is finding it increasingly difficult to become accustomed to leaving me at the school gates, so.......

........ What a great way to start the week, by sharing all those positives, some tips for the difficult times and telling us a bit about your family and those massive milestones you’ve reached that you didn’t think possible.

So can you tell me a little about yourself and your family and the connection that you have to Autism?

I'm a single parent to 3 boys (10, 4 and nearly 2). We are all Autistic, the type we have is called Pathological Demand Avoidance. So I'm a PDAer bringing up PDA boys. It makes for interesting experiences.

Wow – It sounds like you have your hands full, I imagine it can be pretty difficult at times especially with you all having demand avoidance,  but tell me a little about how you manage this positively?

I try to keep a positive attitude, I remind myself that the kids and myself are doing the best we can with what we have. The words 'kids do well when they can' and 'can't help won't' help me a lot because it reminds me that we are trying our best, it's our disabilities that hinder us. I watch a lot of comedies and use humour as much as possible to ensure everyone has a positive attitude. It's not easy and there are times I really struggle to think positive about myself and the boys, I try to remember that no one is perfect and even when we make mistakes it's not the end of the world, it's a chance to learn and change.

It’s definitely exhausting having to remember all of the stratergies needed to help an autistic child, but an extra two and being autistic yourself must make it quite challenging to use positive communication to keep anxiety and those shutdowns at bay. Sounds like you’re doing a Marvellous job (See what I did there?)

What are your three top tips for someone struggling to deal with the morning routine and keeping everyone happy? – I for sure could do with some extra ‘Go to’s’ up my sleeve for the mornings.

1 - Reduce, delegate and be positive. If I am struggling then I see if there's anything I can remove from the routine. I keep our routine loose and make changes as needed. If we're in a rush I will skip some parts, as long as they aren't essential. I also try to prepare as much as possible the day before, so bags are ready and clothes are chosen. Our basic routine is get up, get dressed, get out the door. Everything else is optional.

2 - Where I can I delegate. If I can't get one of the boys ready I might ask one of the other kids to help, but I'm always prepared for avoidance and adapt as needed.

3 - I try to stay positive, the kids respond better if I am presenting as happy and in control, otherwise they start to get anxious and it can quickly spiral into refusal and meltdowns. Remaining positive that we can handle this and that we can work through anything life throws at us helps everyone manage.

Wow some really helpful tips there, thank you so much for sharing. So its Monday morning and hopefully the readers have grabbed a cuppa, or a coffee if that’s your thing, and are chilling out for a while, de-stressing, re-grouping and reading this wonderful interview about family life with Riko and her amazing three boys.

They are rather cute and amazing.

The boys are clearly really benefiting from your awesome parenting techniques, tell us those bits about your boys that make your heart smile, or your stomach flip with joy? The things that on a “normal” level are overlooked into everyday life, but for families like yours and mine are amazing achievements?

Well, eldest is really smart, he's always been academic. He can also be the most polite and well mannered kid. But I also enjoy his 'wicked' side, he can be so funny and quick, I enjoy spending time with him because we get along so well. He sounds amazing, its lovely to have a child with a great sense of humour, Lola loves having a bit of banter but Stanley really struggles with this side of things.

MC (middle child) is such a cheeky character, he's funny and dramatic and loves slapstick comedy. He can be so loving and say the sweetest things. He loves numbers and counting at the moment and can create brilliantly imaginative creations out of his toys. That's brilliant, Lola too loves counting, she counts everyday things, like the wooden banister and the shutter blinds.

Youngest has such a zest for life, he finds everything funny and his laughter makes everyone else laugh. He's a big stimmer and I love to just watch him being his fabulous self. He doesn't speak much but you can easily tell what he wants, he's so sharp and knows how to get what he wants without saying a thing. Wow that's great! honestly you're amazing and your boys are a credit to you and a true testament of your strength and determination.

What do you find most Joyful about your wonderful boys?

I love that all 3 of them are so independent. They will try to do things by themselves first and are quick to learn life skills because of this.

They all have their own different personalities and quirks; eldest is dependable and mature, but also witty and cleaver. MC is funny and charming and sweet and a little monkey. Youngest is adorable with a laugh that is very contagious.

What an amazing little family that you have, I feel so honored that you are sharing all of this with my readers and I.

Its really important for carers of autistic children to take some time to re charge batteries, and look after their self, the reality of this makes it quite difficult though so can you share some tips of when and how you recuperate?

I don’t get a lot of alone time so I try to find small moments throughout the day for 'me time'. I'm not against putting the TV on to distract the kids while I grab a quick coffee. I like to put music on while I do the dishes which both helps me manage the demand and also helps relax me. Sometimes I hide in various rooms of the house and pretend to be doing housework and other times I will engross myself in a book or game or online just to get a bit of freedom.

Similarly its important for the child to be able to take some time and reflect, process their day and relieve all of their pent up anxiety and sensory overloads, so do they have any successful techniques or aids that they use that you can share? Lola Loves to colour so when she is struggling we always offer her books and pens as a first distraction.

We unschool so the boys tend to get a lot of time to do their own thing. Eldest has his own room so that's his safe space to get away from his brothers. The younger two play outside a lot which I'm sure gives them some freedom and lets them burn off some energy. Play is very important so the boys are often doing what they love. If we've been busy I always make sure the kids are free to relax for several hours afterwards. Bath time is a great stress reliever for the younger boys too.

I find that its so important to share these ideas with other parents because although most of us are aware of them, some of them can be forgotten, and just that little reminder can change a period of negativity to one of positive outcomes for both parent and child, so thanks so much for sharing you wealth of knowledge with us, I am sure that many parents are going to really benefit from it.


Finally we all want to know about the biggest milestone that you or the boys have accomplished in recent months?

Recently Youngest has started waving 'bye' to people when we leave a place, he has also been eating a more varied diet, big milestones in my books. He would probably see figuring out how to open the doors in the house as a bigger milestone though, but he's not the one who has to go chasing after him lol. Oh Bless him! so some definite motor and communication milestones there. That's amazing and so great to hear. Oh no the running!!

MC has really gotten into math and has started counting by himself, I think this is a major milestone. There's nothing better than learning through play and enjoying what you're learning rather than it being forced. I hope that love of numbers will take him far. I am sure it will, numbers is always a great achievement and one that cane be used in every day life all of the time, really really valuable for those life skills.

Eldest has had so much to cope with in the last year, many changes and disruptions and he's handled it all brilliantly. I couldn't be prouder. So Eldest has been making some brilliant emotional achievements you should be very very proud!

And on that note, I hope you have a Marvellous week and that this interview has helped benefit you and your family, with techniques and ideas, or even just given your Monday morning a bit of a cheery start.

Thank you to Riko for answering my questions and thank you to those of you who have taken the time to read and share this to help many families start that all important beginning of the week in high spirits.

If you'd like to follow Riko and the boy's journey then you find them on FB HERE: Riko's PDA Page.
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