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Hi, sorry its been so long (erica, i will try and do better from now on!). Can’t believe the school holidays have been and gone. Henry was fantastic during all the trips we made in the holidays. This time when we met up with friends there was a significant improvement in the way he interacted with the other children – he was constantly in the middle of the activity, joining in and following the lead and taking turns really well. At his birthday party he was amazing. He just played all the time and i don’t think there was any time during the 3 hours we were at the farm park that he was on his own or anxious or upset. He even moved over when he was sat in the tractor to let his friend dylan (Bridget’s son) sit with him as he could see that Dyl wanted to come up too. He then sat with each of his friends. He even peddled the little tractors a tiny bit which was the first time that he has peddled on his own, which was fantastic. Not done it since but at least we know that he can do it and that he knows that you do have to peddle. His bike has a push handle so he’s probably thinking ‘why bother!’.

Henry did have a really controlling spell in the middle of the holidays which lasted for about a week. I like Bridget’s phrase for this – “its like being in Guantamano Bay” (if I’ve spelt that right it will be a miracle!). It does certainly feel like this and all we could all do was be as user-friendly as possible and give him time to deal with whatever he was going through. I think that he was being exposed to so many more outside influences and stimulus and he had to call on all of his energies to deal with this and cope with this and interact so well that he was just exhausted. So by being controlling at home was his way of re-charging himself?? That said it is pretty difficult to cook dinner when you are ordered to sit down on the settee or being unable to speak to each other without being told to ‘stop it’ so we did try and slow the activities down although it is hard to strike a balance as you want the girls to do nice things too.

However, as quickly as he became controlling he came out of it and we had a very calm couple of weeks. This weekend though he has become increasingly controlling again and has been shouting alot to stop us doing things or when he doesn’t like something. Although as our volunteer Bridget has commented, he really seems to be trying his hardest not to shout and has turned into a game where his animals shout too and although this isn’t the case in all instances, it is like he is trying to channel his anger/frustrations in a different way. Henry does seem to be much more aware of his needs now and has started to take himself off when he gets anxious or come to you for support even if he is not sure what he actually wants. At these times his command of language does dip as he obviously is unable to concentrate on processing his words as much but his aggression is virtually non-existent at the moment. This is such a different story to 9/12 months ago. Amazing really.

Despite the controlling bursts we are encountering at the moment he has still acheived so much. His socialisation in the holidays has been beyond our wildest dreams. In one play area, we stayed for 2 hours, and in that time Henry made 4 friends and played with them one after another. At first he was tapping the boys on their arms but after Warwick explained you need to say hello and call them this is exactly what he did. At the safari park on Sunday, Henry was on the bouncy castle and he started playing with another little boy and he called to Warwick, “Look Daddy a friend!”.

His spontaneous language is just relentless – so much it is hard to recall it and so natural. The sentence length is gradually increasing as is the clarity of his words. Henry will now say sentences like ‘I got the red one’ or ‘you get the ball’ so the complexity of his sentences is also increasing. We are particularly pleased with how much he is using ‘me’, ‘I’ and ‘you’ in spontaneous language as it is such a hard concept and not something we’ve really concentrated on at the moment as it is so confusing to teach!

Henry’s empathy is also developing so fast. He gets really concerned when he sees anybody crying and made me go upstairs to see Maddy this morning as she was crying because she had broken something. He is particularly cute around babies and little things, although I can hear quite alot of myself in that which probably isn’t such a good thing!

In his sessions, which we have carried on as much as we can during the holidays (a big thank you to Bridget who still gave up her time during the summer holidays to work with Henry), he has had some great activities and themes. He has been exploring the fairy tales with Bridget and hot and cold with Helena as well as various games with me and Warwick. Mine have been driven by the birthday party/present theme as well as safari’s and animals inspired again by his love of the safari and farm park.

Henry has demonstrated that he can classify groups/subjects with ease and has started to count again off his own back, although this week he has shot any suggestion of counting straight down. Really not in the mood! He has been drawing a bit more this week. Maddy made a card with him for Issy and he drew over all of her writing and even did his own smiley face – the first one for about 9 months!!!! So Maddy deserves a medal bless her! We have all had to say as well, that even taking the controlling tendancies into account, his flexibility in the playroom is still so much better and although he may not be as easy with new ideas/games he has still participated in some fantastic activities that he certainly wouldn’t have allowed in the room let alone played two months ago! He’s just keeping us on our toes! We don’t want to get complacent!

There’s still loads to tell you but I’m sure you have heard enough at the moment! There’s still lots of challenges but each day we see new and amazing changes that we didn’t think we’d see, maybe ever, but definitely not as soon as we are.

PS As I’m sure you all know (broken-record!!), we totally believe in the Son-Rise Program. It has changed our little boy but also made our family life a possibility again (and saved our sanity along the way!!), if anyone is interested or knows anyone that is affected by Autism, the orginal Son-Rise boy, Raun Kaufman, is lecturing again to raise awareness and is in Birmingham on October 4th at the Conference Aston Lakeside Centre, University of Aston at 2.00pm. It is the lecture that I went to see which led me to the Son-Rise program in September 2007 and we couldn’t reccomend it enough. To register for places please visit, it could really make a difference to someone else’s life.

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