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Its all been a bit a of a whirlwind! The charity nights were amazing and we were so touched by everyone’s generosity and kindness and there are more about them on the fundraising pages!

After the partying it was back to business on Monday with our first out-reach (which is where the first part of the money raised was spent). Beth Burton, who trained at the institute in the states, came and worked with Henry for 2 days and the whole team got the chance to see her in action. For the volunteers this was great as they don’t obviously see Henry from this perspective. Beth also did a Q&A session with the team on Tuesday which everyone found useful and there were a lot of points that everyone was able to take away with them.

Henry’s time with Beth really highlighted that Henry is still isming in ways that none of us had recognised as isms. For example when he reads books he can, not all the time, be isming despite the fact that he is so verbal pointing out all the animals, because on these occasions the book is more important to him than we are and he has to do it in a certain way and won’t let us interact with him at this point. But at other times he does read a book really interactively, doing impressions of the animals and letting you lead on to other games from the book, but it highlighted how important it is for us to recognise when he is, and when he isn’t, in an ism.

Henry did great with Beth, with only a few blips, which of course we now see positively as it gives Henry the chance to learn again that these behaviours do not get him what he wants. With Beth Henry also said ‘I want…’ instead of saying just the item or ‘want…’ which has given us all the confidence to ask more of him, and he is really taking to this well, and although he still needs prompting most of the time to say ‘I want..’ he has said it spontaneously which is fantastic.

‘Team HK’ (as Jo calls us!) has now all met at the team meeting on November 13th and again with Beth on Tuesday so I think we do all feel that we are not working on our own any more and we have started completing evaluation forms on each of our sessions which will be really useful and we can start using them at all our team meetings from now on. Beth did an assessment of Henry and she felt that his eye contact when interacting was nearly neuro-typical, which is so encouraging and amazing, and that on the other areas of development he is currently at stage 2. This is on a par with how me and warwick assessed him which was really good.

We also asked Beth to start us off introducing new foods to Henry and now we have a little bowls of fruit or vegetables in the room which we try to incorporate into his game, for example the dinosaurs love their dinosaur food (aka as carrot!). Beth did get Henry to pass her some of the food and the first steps are really to get Henry familiar with the new foods, eating them will probably be a long way off but just letting them in the room is a start!

We have been struck by illness again this week, myself included, but hopefully next week ‘Team HK’ will be fighting fit! Henry is doing so well and Beth said that Henry is flying with his program which is fantastic news and worth everything x

Monday 3rd November 2008

Henry has still been making great progress. He had a skeleton week during half term but it was good to keep him used to going into the playroom even for shorter sessions and he had a good holiday – going swimming and to Funky Monkeys and Crash bang Wallop. I think he enjoyed going out for a change!!

Since I last wrote he’s imaginative play has really taken off in the last couple of weeks. Henry has started to make his animal noises again and has even pretended to be a horse and a chicken! He loves playing with the farm animal masks and he will even wear the masks and join in Old McDonald with all the sounds. We enlist all his animal friends to wear the other masks!!

He has started to count up to 15 after Warwick went further than 10 and it really didn’t take long although he seems to get really embarrassed when he counts past 10 and says the numbers especially quiet! Another important step is that he seems to understand the concept of counting things and he really watches and counts as you point not just speaking as fast as he can to say the sequence and now he stops when we get to the last item instead of carrying on which is great.

Henry has been doing some great drawing too and his faces now have hair and also ears! He has done some fantastic stencilling and concentrated on colouring them in (although he colours the page!) when normally he isn’t interested in colouring. He holds the pencil too far up so his control isn’t as great as it could be because he does hold the pencil really well (think we need to use shorter pencils!). He also still swaps the pencil between his left and right hand like he has always done. We think he favours his left but he hasn’t decided yet!

As the sessions were shorter last week with half-term Henry didn’t really ism and when he did it was for very short periods. He still does his repetitive games but now he really seems to want you to join in with him and will also follow instruction and answer questions and let us change the focus, for example bringing other animals in and using them to pick up the little animals so you don’t feel he is being exclusive.

He is also really keen to tell you what he has been doing and refers to things that you did earlier with him and things he did with the other volunteers. He is still enjoying the songs and now asks to do ‘This little piggy’ with nearly all of us when he first did it with Caz. He also likes to initiate new games and tells you what he wants. He has not been any where near as agressive and although he does scream sometimes if you do something he doesn’t like he doesn’t tend to hit out at the moment which is fantastic.

He is making good progress with all the volunteers too and learning their names and even giving them kisses goodbye! It has been a good few weeks. We have a team meeting coming up soon and we are all looking forward to sharing our ideas about we move forward with Henry and work as a team towards more specific goals and targets. The rapport building time has worked really well and he has already made great progress so when we start aiming more specifically the results will hopefully be amazing!!

Thanks again to everyone – the fund raising is really taking off, Elvis is sold out with people still asking for tickets. When we have confirmed the table plan we will know how many spaces we have left but there won’t be many if any!

Becky, my friend from work, has organised a raffle at Pizza Express with fantastic prizes very kindly donated by Ralph Barlow Gardens, The Boathouse and Pizza Express. The draw will be held at the Jazz night on 19th November 2008 at the restuarant. Tickets are a £1 a strip if you interested!

We’re so touched by all the support, thank you x

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