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We’re back! Had a fantastic holiday and Henry was a little star.

He coped so well with the journeys and getting woken up and transported at ridiculous hours! He was really excited about the boat and the little game we played in the playroom the day before we went really seemed to help him understand what to expect and ultimately he knew that we would end up at the caravan. In fact he seemed to have enjoyed it so much that this morning, the first morning he woke up at home, he’s first words were ‘Caravan’ and he told Warwick ‘Go Boat, Go Caravan’!!

When we arrived at the site he was really excited and although it took him a few days to settle down to eat something substantial this seemed to be the only side effect. We had made a pact to be as flexible as we could and whenever Henry told us that he wanted to go or leave somewhere we made sure we did it immediately and I think giving him this control really made a difference. In fact our most difficult day was in a small town which I think threw Henry as he is not used to going to places like that at home and he seemed to get more confused as the day went on which upset him and stressed him out (although there was a massive difference in how he dealt with these feelings. He didn’t lash out once and actually came to you for hugs instead where we just patiently waited for him to think things through in his own head so that he was ready to carry on). But these moments were really few and far between and now, through Son-Rise, we are just able to relax and join him and really respect that at that moment he really needs to do what he is doing. We never force him anywhere any more or battle with him, we just give him the space he needs and Henry always seems to find his own way through.

I have felt it for a while but I really do feel that he is right on the edge of our world now. He really can see that it is fun and that people are fun, but it is still a foreign land which can confuse and overwhelm him so easily. On holiday we saw this so much, he was with us so much and so engaged and interactive and social (playing with children in the park and seeking out children on the beach that were playing games he liked the look of) and then sometimes it would all become just a bit too much and the need to retreat took over. Which is in itself amazing – Henry has come such a long way and to be on a 2 week holiday and such a relaxing one was somewhere we didn’t think we could have been even 12 months ago.

Henry loved the rock pools on the beach and nearly every day of the second week me and Henry walked along the rocks while Warwick was in the sea with the girls and I was struck by how far we had come. It really was beautiful being with him, holding his hand looking in all the rock pools for ‘crabbys’ and ‘star fish’. Just to be holding his hand was so lovely, and something that he never use to allow. We were really walking together and talking about the water and the sea and the crabs and the fish and the shells. It wasn’t me running alongside him incase he decided to leap into the sea or jump off the highest rock or just running in once direction for as long as he wanted without even glancing back. And it wasn’t about staring at something or doing the same thing over and over and over and over. He actually wanted to be with me too and was listening and telling me things and we were looking together. It sounds a bit soppy but it really was so wonderful to be with him like that. This isn’t to say of course that Henry doesn’t have his challenges, of course he does and many of them, but this holiday just showed us how different and how much of a happier little boy he is.

Another amazing example of his development were the starfish hunts! Henry and Issy and Maddy had a great time collecting starfish (19 the first day and 36 the second!) and this obviously went on for hours! But Henry was totally absorbed the whole time, he followed instructions, took turns with his sisters, physically and verbally participated and gave great eye contact as the photo’s will show! Everything we are trying to do on Son-Rise was epitomised by this activity. But not only this, he showed respect and gentleness of some other living thing. He was careful and cooed over the ‘baby starfish’. He showed his feelings. It really was amazing. To say we are proud of him is an understatement, and his sisters. The girls were just perfect with him (shame they don’t always extend that to each other!!! But we can’t have everything!!).

Henry also went to the supermarket three times and again coped really well although we did have to leave him in the trolley with isabelle watching the live crabs while we quickly nipped around on the second visit! He is also developing his spending power! After nearly five years of him not wanting anything he has now developed the knack of taking a fancy to something and not putting it back for anything!! We can’t afford to keep taking him to the supermarket, they even had Ben 10 figures in France!!!

He wasn’t overly keen on the pool and did go in at the beginning of the second week but then had a couple of unfortunte events which didn’t help the situation so the pool wasn’t a raving success. Although he did learn to love the beach and the sea and went from not wanting to walk on the sand to digging in it, playing in the stream, and paddling in the water!

We also were able to negotiate with him on a level we havn’t been able to before. He seemed to understand when we told him that there wouldn’t be any more food than what he had cooked him and that unless he ate that he wouldn’t be able to have anything else. He actually complied with that really quickly and even responded to ‘one more’ which he has never done before. His understanding just seems to be perfect now. There was a time when i don’t think he did understand what we said to him but that really isn’t the case any more.

So sorry to bore you but it really was amazing – Henry was brilliant and we had the best holiday we’ve ever had. The girls had a fantastic time too and they so deserved a special holiday. They were so happy to be swimming in the sea. Maddy said they were living the dream!! Bless! So thank you so much to you all for your support, it really has made a difference to us all.

O and before I forget, we also want to welcome a newest volunteer, Helena. Helena works with another son-rise family and started to play with Henry before we went away and they seemed to get on really well. We are very excited about Helena joining the team and think she will be a great asset. Good luck Helena (and thank you to Sue for recommending us!!) xx

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