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Our Happy New Year! – #Autism

Published January 9, 2013 by mandzmagee

Yup slightly late I know … I’ve been a busy bunny over the festive period however!!

The Christmas Holidays were certainly filled with surprises with our family!!  Theo especially, Christmas is normally something that goes completely over his head, he hates the mess of the decorations and just wants to clean them up … that obsession stayed … he still wants to “Tidy up”.  This Christmas however, he’s actually been quite excited about Santa coming!!  Don’t get me wrong, he is still terrified of the big cuddly jolly man, he did actually count down the days of Santa coming!!  As you can see in the following video …

Theo Counting Down Until Santa Was Coming! – Video

I genuinely can’t put into words how much it’s actually meant to all of the family how much his understanding of Christmas has meant to us, lets just say that over the moon doesn’t even cover it!!

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Theo In The Christmas Spirit

All three of the lads had a magical time on Christmas Day, Ali spent the day with us and Stu’s family then headed off up to Scotland early evening so that he could go and have another Christmas Day with his Dad’s side of the family (two Christmas dinners in two days the lucky lil thing!!).  Then Alex and Theo were engrossed in their new things, Theo hid himself away in his bedroom wanting to just obsessed over his new DVD player and new DVD’s.  Alex on the other hand had me reading all his new stories, playing with his new lego and other super hero toys.  Again to say he was happy is a massive understatement that cannot be put into words!!

Grandma Julie got Theo a Talking Tom cuddly cat, (you may have seen Talking Tom free applications on your smart phones … They’re fantastic for getting the kids to interact with!!  There’s a multitude of characters to choose from but if you look for Talking Tom you’ll be linked straight too them!!).  Theo has “Eeoo’s Om Caat” talking away to him constantly now and has started repeating more words and phrases finding it hilarious to have a talking cat.  He is now however getting rather frustrated that our cat wont talk back to him haha!!  Very cute too watch!!

Theo enjoying himself at his Grandparents on Christmas day!! – Video

I’ve had a couple of nights out with my inlaw family (an absolute luxury to me as I hardly ever go out at nights!), Christmas Eve (birthday celebration as my birthday is Christmas Day).  A meal for a cousin’s birthday which ended up in us staying out til the nightclub closed and then not leaving (Stu’s) Mam’s until silly o’clock in the morning!!  On New Years Day Mother-in-law and I went to our local for what was going to be a few drinks in the afternoon and well, we didn’t leave the local until closing time!!  It was an absolutely fantastic time because so many people I hadn’t seen since giving my job up at the bar were in and I got the chance to have a catch up with them.  (Thankfully I (think I) remember it all!!).

My Birthday Cake from Stu,

My Birthday Cake from Stu, and the boys!

Stu and I also had a chance to catch up with friends at home that we hadn’t seen or spent quality time with for such a long time.  It had been far too long and will definitely be remedied, we’re definitely not leaving it so long again!!

Yesterday Alisdair and Theo went back to school and I think it was a relief to both of them to be fair.  Deffo was Theo, he was such a happy little boy when he came in from his school Taxi.  I think it took a hell of a lot out of him though, by 6pm he took himself off to bed and we didn’t hear him for long!!  Thankfully over the holidays he found out what it was to stay in bed and just relax!!  So hopefully that’ll be him for at least another hour going by holiday routine, what’s the bet school puts him back into his previous routine lol.  So far so good however, it’s 6:15am and he’s still asleep, before the holidays it was a 4 – 5am rise!  *keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Stu and I can fall back into a routine where we’re not getting up at pre-Christmas times still for long if it does last!!*

The only thing that has let the beginning of the New Year down is the break down in the central heating and the boiler however it’s all good now so we’re back on the right tracks!!

Theo in his school play Sheppard's costume.  He certainly shined bright like a diamond on stage!

Theo in his school play Sheppard’s costume. He certainly shined bright like a diamond on stage!

I hope you’ve all had a magical Christmas, the most fabulous of New Years and I hope that 2013 brings you health, wealth and happiness!!

Thanks again for reading!!

Happy-New-Year-2013-191

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Over the past year – #Family #Life

Published December 21, 2012 by mandzmagee

I’ve been sitting thinking back across the past year and well what a year it’s been!!

Stu and I have continued to grow and develop as a couple, yeah we’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve always been there for each other and no matter how difficult things have been we’ve supported each other through everything.  He’s an amazing person, I don’t know what I’d ever do without him.

Alisdair is forever turning into the young man, which is absolutely making me feel so old but I genuinely couldn’t be any more proud of him either.  He took his options for his GCSE’s at school and has stuck in doing really well at reaching target grades, well all except PE but lets be fair, it’s not everyone’s forte!  He spent the best part of 6 weeks in Europe with his Dad’s family living experiences I can only dream of and shared all of them with us when he got back, so proud of his photo’s and treasures that he bought along the way.  He goes with them every year for the summer holidays from school and it’s a long time to be away from him but hearing his stories and seeing how happy he is and sharing all the knowledge he’s gained it genuinely makes it such an amazing experience for us also!

Theo, well what can I say about him, every day he continues to strive, develop, surprise, frustrate, however most of all, make us smile!  His speech has absolutely came on, fair enough it may only be the people that’s around him every day that understands him but the progress has been amazing.  He’s grown in confidence in different situations, our holiday to Southerness for example, we were so worried that the change to his routine would have knocked him for six but he settled absolutely fine!  He didn’t care that he was away from home, he absolutely loved seeing his family that he hadn’t seen in years having remembered all of them and called them by name (in his “language”) without being prompted too!  He’s became more acceptant to playing with others and sharing his toys, which was a massive no-no this time last year!  On the whole it’s been a fantastic year for his progress and is ending the year as a happier and more confident, loving boy.

Alex, he too has developed massively, he’s genuinely such an intelligent child!  Having started year 1 at school his reading and imagination work has been truly unbelievable!  His confidence has been a little patchy but we’re working on that and have seen it grow and develop before our eyes too.  You’d swear that the little man has been here before!  He’s forever reminiscing about things we’ve all done together and relaying absolutely EVERY little detail about what’s happened, he’s like a walking diary for his life!  His Mammy is going to be having a baby in a few months and he’s never been more proud about going to have a little brother, it’s so lovely to see the pride in him telling our friends and family that he’s going to be a big brother.  It brings a tear to my eye every time!

Unfortunately it’s not all been high’s along the way this year, we lost a dear friend Jimmy within weeks of receiving a diagnosis of cancer in the stomach.  My Uncle Sandy to natural causes, I hadn’t seen him in such a long time but it absolutely hadn’t eased the pain of saying goodbye.  Then of course my Uncle Bill a couple of months later.  Uncle Bill went through a long ongoing struggle of alzheimer’s and other medical issues it was just a matter of time, again however, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve got to prepare yourself it doesn’t hurt any less.

Death may take away the person but nothing takes away the love and memories!

Over the years we’ve all lost friends, family and loved ones.  I absolutely believe we’ll see them again, and I know that this Christmas they’ll all be celebrating together and making sure that my Ickle Bubbs is having a fantastic time until we’re all together again.

I want to thank all of my family and friends for being there for me through out the year.  I love and appreciate you’s each in your own little ways!!

Stacey P – For seeming to always have a day off for bringing me back home from Dumfries!!  Coming down and keeping the friendship and bond with the family and me even with the miles between us!!

Kenty – Just for being you in general, you’re always the sensible one to talk too.  You make time for us when we need you and well our debates are always fantastic – we’ll always be able to agree to disagree after a few hours (and drinks!)  haha!!  You were my best friend down here before I even met ya!!

Lucy and John – You’ve also both been there for me since before I moved here, it’s ridiculous that we only live around the corner and never see each other.  I was so proud to have been invited to your wedding, the kids and you’s were so beautiful, it couldn’t have meant more to have been there to celebrate the day with you all!!

Tammy and Ecky – You’s are like my sisters and I love you’s unconditionally forever more.  You’s have dragged me out of the darkest of times and are always at the other end of the phone.  We just need to see each other more often!!

Jackson and Jasmine – Always my little miracles, growing up far too quickly and it doesn’t matter what you’s are going through I’m ALWAYS here for you’s!!  Just a phone call gets me there as soon as I can be!!

Kirsty –  I know we’re not in touch as much as we should be but with what we’ve been through in our lives together I simply can’t class you as anything less than a best friend.  Your friendship has always meant the world to me and again, we just need to see each other and keep in touch more often!  I have to admit tho, when we do get together it’s as if we’ve just picked up where we left it the last time!

Marion – I spent years wondering about you and I’m so pleased that you’ve been able to step back into our lives.  I don’t need to go into detail about how much it’s actually meant but you’ve helped so much you’d not believe!

If I’ve not mentioned you – well this is a big enough essay already haha!!  Those that I love and respect know it.

I wish you’s all a fantastic Christmas, a brilliant Hogmanay (you can take the girl outta Scotland, not Scotland out of the girl however haha!!) and all the best for a fantastic and magical 2013!!  Love and hugs to you all!!

Time for change Mr President? – #Connecticut School Massacre

Published December 14, 2012 by mandzmagee

March 1996 a little town called Dunblane in Scotland, 43 year old Thomas Hamilton entered into Dunblane Primary School armed with four hand guns and went on to massacre 16 children and their teacher. The gun law in Scotland was very quickly changed to make sure that private ownership of firearms was illegal and you needed to hold a license to be able to hold a gun.

Since that time there has been numerous public massacres in The United States of America where an abundant amount of innocent and vulnerable children and young people have either been injured or worse. Why does the government of that country not learn from experiences that have been forced upon others and help make the security of their Young People tighter and more reassuring for the parents. Far too many lives have been cut short, yet no changes have been made?

Today a suspected 20 year old gunman dressed in combat gear, went into a school in Connecticut 60 miles away from New York allegedly brandishing a 2.23 bush master riffle and two hand guns  going on to shoot dead twenty children and seven adults, it’s been reported that he took his life after the shootings however I’m not sure if his body is within that count.

I put to President Obama, isn’t it about time that you stood up to the minority of the country that wish to keep their freedom to hold a weapon?  Isn’t it time that a tougher procedure was being put into place for people to legally be able to own a weapon?  Isn’t it time that these victims that have had their lives cut short make a difference to change those laws for the future generations of children growing up in the United States of America are better protected by their own country people?

If the President see’s fit to send the countries military over to another country because of terrorism, why is he allowing his own country people to easily access arms, easily train how to use the weapons, easily gain access to ammunition for the weapons?  If you’re wanting to send your armed forces over to another country to try and stamp out people being trained to fight – shouldn’t you have the same idealism for your own country first?

President Obama – You were voted to stay as President, this is the time where you need to break the ease for these home grown killers and put blocks to help prevent so much more heart ache and loss for families, help prevent even more people leaving this earth far too soon!!

Theo’s Education #Autism

Published October 18, 2012 by mandzmagee

Before we moved to Washington Theo’s schooling was an absolute nightmare.  He was stuck in a mainstream school that had a Learning Centre that was for children with additional needs.  He had a one to one support worker called Mrs Herries, she was an angel with invisible wings!  He really took to her and stopped having anxiety attacks leaving me because he loved her company, she lifted such a massive weight off my shoulders it was unreal!  The head teacher of the Learning Centre however was her absolute opposite, I call her “The Battle Axe”, (I called her it to her face so I’m not being two faced!).  This woman wouldn’t accept help from Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Sleep Therapists, no one and nothing was up to her extended knowledge of children who were needing additional support.  Her idea of a school day was for Theo and his angel to go walks as soon as he showed signs of being stressed – normally this was spending five minutes in her company!).

The Battle Axe told me nothing other than “Theo will never do this”, “Theo will never accomplish that”, negative, negative, negative! The best line she ever came out with was “Miss Magee is such an incompetent mother, it’s the lack of parenting skills that has stunted his development.”, I couldn’t speak to her at the time, I couldn’t trust myself not to bite her head off and stick it where the sun didn’t shine!

He was only there for two years, then Stuart and I decided that we were moving to Washington, it was killing him being away from his son for as long after being used to seeing him every day.  When we made our decision that we were going to move my eyes were opened up to see what a different educational life Theo was going to have.

After we’d found a house and got all the moving dates sorted out we had a meeting education for both Ali and Theo was next on the agenda.  Alisdair was going up into secondary school – massive step for him that was coming several months early with the difference in the education systems in Scotland and England.  Alisdair was a bit nervous about it – he knew he wasn’t up to the same levels of learning because he was basically missing a year out.  He coped with the move fantastically though, the support that they were giving him for his Dyslexia was amazing in comparison with Scotland!

Theo on the other hand was going to be starting a specialist school for children on the Autistic Spectrum.  I met with the Head Teacher and his Class before he started and I was absolutely amazed at the school.  The head was very proud to tell me that the school was one of the top five in the country, I completely understood her pride!  I went onto be introduced to the Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist who were based at the school.  I had to double check that I’d heard that right and it was true, they were infact based at the school!  We’d only received a letter from SALT at the beginning of the school year to say that Theo was on a waiting list for SALT in Dumfries as he wasn’t a priority.  To actually have this support on site, every day he was at school, absolutely amazed me!

Theo’s class was fantastic, there was him and seven other children in his class.  One teacher and three – yes three learning assistants!  Each one of them were amazing, not one of them questioned Theo’s Autism, they were all filling in his home to school diary with all the positive things that he’d achieved, what they were going to be trying to do with him next, I genuinely couldn’t believe there wasn’t a system put into place like this in Dumfries with the amount of ASD children there is there!

The activities that the school were involved with amazed me too, horse riding every week, swimming every other term, football coaching from the professional coaches and players at Sunderland Athletic Football Club, just to name a few!!

Over the past three years both Theo and the school has completely blew me away.  Nothing is ever negative, I never hear what he wont achieve, I never hear what he’ll never be able to do.  If there is something that is becoming an issue the school consults with me then we as a team put a strategy together for to try and help him.

Today I received his school review and it’s been very tear jerking to read!  He’s made phenomenal progress, when I sit and compare the difference between the two schools where there’s only just over 100 miles between them it astounds me the differences.  Even the differences in him, he is now a much more confident little boy, has learned self calming techniques so he’s able to participate so much in other things that before were just never possible!  He’s truly amazed me and does so every day!

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