Mum's Net


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

made in Gambia

This Christmas we decided to run away from London, and after a long time researching holidays in places like Scotland we ended up travelling to Gambia.!  It was a spontaneous decision - in my experience those tend to be the best decisions! The whole family fell in love with Africa straight away. We are all dying to come back and see more of it.

Everything was so beautiful; the landscape, the colours and the people - and plenty of monkeys - especially the ones living in our hotel grounds. And cats! It was just a perfect place for my little girl. She swam every morning in an almost empty pool, fed the monkeys and read books in the sunshine.

We also explored the local monkey forest, went to a nature reserve, hired a guide and travelled on the back of a truck through Gambian towns and villages. We celebrated Christmas outside, with random people from our hotel listening to a live Gambian band. They were so good! Odessa actually joined them on a few occasions and played drums.

This time we were also much more aware of Odessa's condition - due to her sensory processing issues Odessa found it very difficult to deal with loud or busy environments (it can be overwhelming for her). We did try to take her to a local market but she made sure we knew she didn't like it - she had a big meltdown and her mood changed completely. We learnt our lesson and avoided busy places.
It was all about nature and being together. And the monkeys! Monkeys completely conquered Odessa's heart and I think the highlight of holiday was when they surrounded Tim in the jungle and stole his banana (NOT an euphemism!). They can be quite intimidating you know....

On the last parent evening at Odessa's school I had opportunity to see some of her class artwork including the things she worked on at Christmas time. It was really great to see, among all the pictures of Santa, Christmas trees and presents, to see Odessa's drawings of baboons! And by the way did know what they call baboons in Gambia? Jungle gangsters! They are very naughty!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

out of sync

Hello again...

It has been a long break for this blog's existence mainly due to changes around Odessa's life. I needed to have a long think what direction this blog - which is in the end Odessa's story - needs to go to .

I think roughly year ago we were finally given a clear diagnosis of Odessa being on the Autistic Spectrum (high functioning)  and the new unknown journey has began. Everything has changed and, well nothing changed too. I was told my child is autistic and it sounds big. Still Odessa was exactly the same kid she was before the day of her diagnosis. She was still the same amazing, quirky little girl with very strong opinions. She was still crazy about cats and asked 1000 questions a day. 

Of course not everything was all sweetness and light. Odessa also struggled with many things for a while now. She was often withdrawn and unresponsive at school, she found it difficult to cope with busy/loud environments and it was  impossible for her to play in a larger group of children.  For many reasons we decided to seek help and finally after a long and emotional time seeing all sort of professionals we finally got to the stage of getting a diagnosis. 
People often ask me was it difficult to hear it. The honest answer is it wasn't. It was a relief - it gave me a direction of approach I towards my daughter''s issues. I have never felt closer to her than I feel now.  

Naturally I couldn't write this blog and anything else around Odessa without mentioning her condition as it is very strong factor influencing our every day life. I have to say after doing research, I became fascinated with the subject and it dominates my life at the moment.

It was never in my nature just to just rely on information passed to me, I needed to learn more to able to support Odessa. 

So yes the blog is going to change. I was thinking for a long time whether to open a new blog, perhaps to make it more clear, but I decided it would be shame to leave abracadabra behind and as I mentioned before Odessa is still Odessa and I am still me, we are still in love with London, have big weakness for a beautiful design and regularly visit charity shops. 

Now little updates: Odessa is six now and in year one of the mainstream primary schools. Despite her issues she is doing very well. The girl is very clever, makes me proud every day. She is currently in highest levels in her reading groups, she can read fluently, every single time I see her on a bed reading quietly to herself it melts my heart. It's such a big step to be able to read. More importantly, just like Tim and I, she absolutely loves it. Her greatest pleasure in life at the moment is  Mr Men books. She knows everything about them, it's her main topic and all sort of games and conversations refer to the books. Her favourite characters are Mr Clever and Little Miss Wise. The concept of being clever is very appealing to her. 

She also can swim now (again I am super proud) - she absolutely loves being under water.

Lelia is unbeatably  number one and nothing matches a visit to Peckham and it's never enough when it comes to playing with her.

She is still crazy about cats and is constantly trying to convince us we should have three cats not two. 

She can be very difficult to reason with at times (due to her condition and stubbornness, inherited from her dad). She often lacks flexibility in her thinking - the older she gets the more it becomes an issue, creating regular dramas which we generally learn to laugh about!

I think the most fantastic thing about Odessa being autistic is how she is trying understand the world around her and question pretty much everything. She takes nothing for granted and needs abstract concepts to be logically explained to her. She has amazed us on a few occasions. 

How would you answer these:

'Why there is 5 after 4 not 4 after 5 ?'

'Why are babies born naked?'

'Why there are no bones in our hair?"

She also questions the sources of my knowledge regularly by asking - "How do you know it mummy?" She even suggested on a few occasions when she was not fully satisfied with my answers that I should come back to school. Her disbelief in many of Tim's attempts educate her result in her calling him Mr.Nonsense.

Could I love her more? No!

We are treating Odessa to occupational therapy - which is giving us brilliant results - but I will have to create a separate post dedicated to this subject as it's quiet complex. 

We went to Africa for Christmas which must be one of the most amazing experiences ever! (pictures to follow!).

Anyway that's it for the moment, I can't really go into details as I would never finish this post. Next time I will not only continue this little diary of Odessa's but will also attempt to touch the subject of autism in children. I hope I will manage to post something on regular basis.

We are having a lazy and very slow Saturday today. Odessa is sick - another lovely virus from school (the reason she might look a bit sad and tired in the these few pictures). I have to admit despite feeling sorry for Odessa -  it's kind of nice to just stay at home all together and don't hurry anywhere. We have been reading a Mr Men book in bed, watching a documentary about penguins and playing a memory game. One of those simply 'nothing special happening' days I am going treasure for long time.