Reilly the Bouncer

I ventured out this morning with Reilly to Airbox Bounce at Cramlington.  Reilly has been here before and loves it.  This morning was different though because we went as part of the specially arranged sessions with Autism Northumberland.

I’m a softy and a bit of a home bird with Reilly in the holidays but when offered a lift and some company with my nearly cousin and her 2 boys. I decided to take it and give it a go.

I’ve mentioned many times before how difficult it is taking Reilly along to activities for many reasons- the main being understanding of members of the public, some people are incredibly rude and unlucky for them as Reilly grows older and my skin grows thicker I have no problems addressing the tutters and moaners straight on.  Tut or learn is always my mantra.

We arrived just before 10 and parked at the rear of the building.  This has been well thought out and lets the kids from the group leave without having to negotiate the groups of people arriving for regular sessions. They also countdown to the end of the session which is great for the kids to prepare. 


There were plenty of staff there to ensure the kids were safe.  Because it was just our kids and their siblings it was perfect.  No blasting music to set off any sensory issues. Lots of space to play without the rough and tumble at their own pace. 

There is a cafe upstairs that sells everything you could need or want (soya milk is good Airbox for those dairy free folks 😉). The cafe has a great view of the whole trampoline park below.  

Downstairs where the majority of parents/carers gathered is a small soft play area which Reilly enjoyed.

He had a great time and has been typing Airbox into the mac this afternoon so safe to say we’ll be back with the Autism Northumberland group check their Facebook for booking info.  Being able to have fun with Reilly without the judgements, stares and being able to relax is priceless. 

While I was there I picked up a nomination form for Autism Northumberlands Awards Ceremony which is just a lovely idea.  These children are special, we all know that but by Christ they have a struggle and this ceremony is to celebrate those achievements no matter how small.  Nominations are open to anyone if you know a superstar you would like to put forward.   Nomination link


1st meltdown of the year!

Let’s go to the park and the beach he says (Shane).  It’ll be fine it’s not that cold, Ellis can ride his segway on the promenade we’ll get some chips.  Anyone who knows me knows i’m not outdoorsy.  A walk around Plessey Woods is more of a punishment to me than an jolly outing, I decided though you know new year new me let’s do it.

Wrong decision.

We just arrived at Blyth Park when the heavens opened.  That means nothing to my children though who seem to have no thermostat and will happily play outside in sub zero temperatures wearing shorts.  Reilly was unimpressed with the fact that everything was wet and did say urgh at every swing and slide we got to.

We ventured further along to Blyth Beach to get some chips only it was shut and was just as freezing.  Ellis’s segway travelled approximately 12 metres before conking out and had to be carried back to the car, equivalent of carrying a baby elephant.  Did manage some nice photographs though so the hell was worth it.  I’ll probably attempt in again maybe in July.

Onwards home and the kids want a McDonalds, that’s ok we can do that, not me (new year new me = NO Mcdonalds).  I was unaware of the thing that Reilly does when he is with Shane.  Basically you cannot touch his food or happy meal box, not at all.  He opens the box and then arranges the fodder on napkins.  What did I do?  Christ on a bike he screamed the place down.  Ellis was crying mortified by his  behaviour while I stare at the box I just opened which has now become extremely offensive to Reilly and I was actually scared to move it, pick it up or even look at it for fears of making the situation worse.

Eventually Shane went to the counter and bought another happy meal which Reilly opened and arranged like he wanted to with the first one and all calm was restored.  So strange.  Reilly doesn’t do this when he is with me but I suppose that is a classic example of flexibility of thought which is one of the main diagnostic criteria.  He does it that way with Shane and it can’t be done any other.

Home now but not Shane.  Reilly wouldn’t come in so he’s off walking the streets with him.  Poor Bugger.  Roll on Tuesday folks get them back to school.

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Cramlingtons got talent 

Today was a strange one. This morning was normal Reilly emptied a full huge bottle of Bold 2 in 1 into the washer, emptied a tub of gravy granules and a packet of oats over Miss Rabbit, put my shoes in the paddling pool then proceeded to have THE biggest meltdown I’ve ever seen.  This one involved screaming at the top of his voice and trying to get his foot stuck in the letterbox.  The neighbours must honestly think we are crackers.  This was the type of episode where it does not matter what I do or say it’s got to run its course so all I can do is make sure he’s safe.

 

After approx 45 minutes calm was restored and I needed to get out the house. I ventured out to the softplay at Concordia in Cramlington, Shane was already there at the bowling alley with Ellis and his friend.  The lady on reception was an absolute diamond.  She gave me tons of info on  how and what was available to Reilly via Active Northumberland.  Unfortunately Reilly wasn’t interested in softplay one bit and saw the clip and climb as a much better focus for his attention, trying to get a foot on to scale the massive walls with no fear what so ever.  The staff in there again were fantastic and also gave me details of autism activities such as trampolining etc.  I love it when staff are understanding and make us feel welcome it makes such a difference.

I had no idea what Reilly would think of the bowling alley it’s quite dark and noisy but again he loved it, had to be retrieved from half way down the lanes and attempted to get his legs in the bowling ball dispenser but other than that he was happy. Result.

We nipped across to McDonalds with the boys but the play area was closing.  I had a quick chat with a lovely girl called Rachel and explained Reilly had been in with school 2 weeks previous and that he would expect to go in again because well that’s just what he does. Rachel allowed us in on our own and pulled down the shutters half way.  This equalled 1 happy Reilly which equals 2 less stressed parents.  We chatted to Rachel and Manager Michael while eating and they were incredibly inquisitive as to how they could be more helpful to families with autism. What a difference a bit of understanding makes to our little families.

      What a stark contrast to the bad experience we had when I first started this blog.  I feel like autism acceptance is growing.

Well done Cramlington keep it up. ⭐️

Tim Lamb Centre – We fit in! 


This morning we decided we would go and visit the Tim Lamb Centre at the Rising Sun Country Park in Benton, Newcastle.  Reilly has been there many times with school and always seems to enjoy it so on a rare Saturday off for Shane we decided to check it out.  As always we showed Reilly photographs of the centre and he happily got into the car, this usually only happens on being shown photos of Toys R Us, Smyth’s or kinder eggs.  Result.

Only around 10 minutes by car from my house The Tim Lamb Centre was like a little hidden gem that I should have found way earlier.  We were shown around by a lovely young lady and I was really impressed by the facilities.

  1. Baby & toddler room packed with toys, play kitchens etc
  2. Art & crafts room
  3. Teen room with gaming consoles etc
  4. Trampoline room with 3 trampolines and enough Lego to build another centre
  5. Music room
  6. Sensory room fully equipped with sensory lights, wires etc
  7. IT Suite
  8. Soft play area
  9. Cafe
  10. Special toilets & changing bed
  11. Enormous outdoor play area – swings, slides, ride ons, climbing frames
  12. Chickens, guinea pigs, goats & rabbits!

But best of all was what there wasn’t.  No judgey glares – the pressure was off.  I am always in fear of the next meltdown and where it will be but not here.  Everyone gets it.

The centre is for children with additional needs and their siblings. We signed up for a year immediately  (£15 plus £2 per session).  This also enables you to apply for a stay (for a fee) at one of their lovely caravans at Haggerston Castle or Appleby too.

 
I need somewhere like this where I can actually relax with Reilly, no tuts, no parenting advice from old codgers on how a smack would sort him out and a cup of tea in peace while he plays where he feels comfortable and is accepted. Priceless.


Pathways 4 all are a charity and a great one at that I know we will be returning frequently.

I also must say the name Tim Lamb was really familiar to me and it came to me that this was the gentleman that was spoken of very highly when we started the charity North East Hearts with Goals I believe he was a keen advocate of the placement of defibrillators as Metrocentre Manager.  So a shared passion of making lives easier for those with different abilities and for saving lives. A great combination I’m sure we all agree.  Strange how things link up.

Check it out, you might see me – I’ll be the one yawning and frazzled trying to stop Reilly having a wobbler ……. oh hang on that’s right that’s  not just me anymore 😄.

A great day apart from he didn’t want to come home and attempted an escape from his car seat for the entire journey complete with screaming of banshee proportions.  I’m pretty certain passing drivers would have noted the reg.  Most of the night spent sat in the car which is his new favourite place.

Today’s nickname Luke Cloud Walker.

 

Trolley & dolly 

As promised I said I would update on the situation with Manor Walks.  North East Autism Society (NEAS) were in the centre this week and delivered autism training to representatives from New Look, O’Briens, Management, parking and security.

I also met its Sarah from Manor Walks and listened to plans for an awareness day throughout Manor Walks to provide shoppers with valuable information about autism and how they can help.   Lesley Cole from Autism Northumberland will help them facilitate this and I think it’s a great first step for some shoppers to gain some much needed understanding.

We also discussed the autism friendly shopping times and a quiet area when things are just too much.

I put forward the idea about the shopping trollies for larger children.  I decided to test the one in Asda out tonight with Reilly.  Why I do this to myself when I’ve been up since 3.30am I’ll never know 😁


As you can see he’s thrilled to be in there 🙈. It was really difficult to push and a spot of WD40 wouldn’t go a miss.  The basket at the front is really quite small so no weekly shops with this one.  If however Reilly had an iPad or similar I think he would have sat quite nicely, the seat is huge.   He had bigger fish to fry today though with the lure of the kinder egg stand and wanted OUT ASAP.  There were a few Judge Judys who had a good stare at Reilly in the new trolley but as always I completely ignored it, 3 stares though and I’ll clip your ankles with it.


We received £100 of vouchers from the security firm by way of apology for the situation with the security guard and tonight he bagged himself a dolly with a bath, a crane, a rapunzel play dough set and a paw patrol action dog .  No gender discrimation with Reilly’s toys.  So no complaints from him tonight fingers, legs and toes crossed for an early night.

Onwards & upwards for an easier life ❤

Autism Northumberland Facebook

North East Autism Society Facebook

 

Important talks with Manor Walks

 A few weeks back my family had an unpleasant, upsetting experience at our local shopping centre. I’ll keep it short – Reilly had a meltdown in Asda and my husband took him out, he bolted through the centre to the other side. A security guard then wouldn’t allow them back through to myself and thing 2 even though my husband explained Reilly had autism and was overwhelmed. The guard was completely unsympathetic, the air turned blue and my husband had to walk right around the outside of the shopping centre carry Reilly at night with cars, lights, noises, darkness etc and it’s a fair distance to boot too so you can imagine the state of Reilly and dad by the time we were reunited.  I got home and eventually calmed Reilly’s meltdown after 45 minutes. Thing 2 left to sleep at Grandmas as he gets upset at Reilly being upset and can’t bare to watch.

I settled myself down with a cup of tea and had a Facebook rant, a huge one. I was extremely angry.  This opened a private dialogue with Sarah Turnbull at Manor Walks and I was invited along to talk to Bruno – Manor Walks Manager, Ian – Security Manager and Sarah to discuss what had happened. I attended that meeting today with my sister in law Kelly, moral support and she’s well versed on autism.

I was thrilled to find out they’d already begun staff training to recognise and understand what autism is with the North East Autism Society and were genuinely very keen to make amends, were very apologetic, absolutely mortified at the lack of humility shown and importantly they also invited me to become an ambassador to work with them to improve shopping at Manor Walks for people with autism and their parents and carers. I say people because this is not just about children. Autistic children become autistic adults at the end of the day and are still affected by sensory issues and the same judgemental glares that us parents are subjected to by other shoppers. The ultimate aim is for Manor Walks to reach the North East Autism Society’s charter standard and meet all their criteria to become autism friendly.

  
I will put 100% into working with them to make visiting Manor Walks less stressful. We decided immediately on an autism awareness day right through the centre aimed at educating shoppers and staff of the issues surrounding autism, we all know a little understanding goes a long way.   A shopping event was discussed too with lights low, music off, autism aware staff on duty etc I know this is popular at Christmas was autism families at Toys R Us stores and has been really successful.

Autism needs to be accepted it’s here to stay. I’ve been told numerous times “he needs a smack” “mine would never behave like that” insinuating I’m a bad parent, I’ve also heard “he’s too old for nappies”.  Well judgey woman and friend thanks ever so much for your autism parenting advice based on episode 1 of the A Word and Rain Man in 1985 but I think I’ll give it a miss and politely ask you to jog on.

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Please let me know of any ideas you would like to see implemented and I will make sure they are passed along at our next meeting. Leave no stone unturned – trolleys, parking, lighting, eating, seating, queueing –  if you think it can make a difference share your ideas. I am confident that this will turn out to be a really positive experience making all our lives a little bit easier.  I will be posting further updates regarding Manor Walks as and when they come up.

There is an excellent charity Autism Northumberland based upstairs in Manor Walks already providing great services and facilities to families affected by autism and well worth a visit. I know their opinions on transforming Manor Walks will be greatly valued.