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Looking Back at 2018

James Hunt by James Hunt Additional Needs

James Hunt

James Hunt

Dad to two amazing boys with autism, award winning blogger, podcast host, sharing stories about our lives

It’s that time of year where we look back and reflect on all that’s gone on over the last 365 days.

Often as special needs parents we don’t take the time to look back.

Our lives are so busy, so hectic, we’re always focused on the future and what lies in store for us and our family.

But I think it’s important to take stock every now and again, to look at what’s gone well, and maybe even reflect on what’s not gone so well too.

Doing so can help you plan the future more clearly, figure out what it is you really want to focus on and help your children achieve.

This year, like the last few, has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me and my boys, but luckily with more highs than lows.

They’re both autistic, non-verbal, attend a special needs school, and really struggle to be around each other.

Life can be pretty unpredictable, all going smooth one moment, and full of meltdowns and challenging behaviours the next.

Here’s some of the key moments I’ll always remember from 2018

Tommy learnt how to use the toilet.

This was the biggest milestone of the year for us. After many failed attempts over the last few years, around his 7th birthday he just nailed it over the space of two weeks and never looked back.

It’s a life skill that many take for granted, and definitely makes life a lot easier.

We have a new weekend routine

We’ve found a special needs swimming club on a Saturday afternoon, and a SEN friendly trampolining session on a Sunday morning.

Having two activities to do on a weekend where you can have fun and be around others who understand our lives has been a blessing

Jude is happy around and interacting with his classmates

Over the last year Jude is becoming more and more comfortable around his peers.

The boy who used to be so anxious around other children has started to interact, turn take, join in activities with his classmates.

When we go swimming or trampolining he smiles at the others, and rather than trying to avoid them he watches them, interested in what they’re up to.

Maybe one day he will actually have friendships

Jude and Tommy have spent some time together

For the last 3 years, most of the time my boys have lived apart. I look after one, their mum looks after the other, and we swap every couple of days.

They both need 1-1 care, but more importantly Jude finds it impossible to be around his brother.

This year school have started to integrate them a couple of times a week, doing activities they both enjoy.

We’ve managed a few trips out together, and we’ve had a couple of nights where they’ve both stayed with me.

They’ve been challenging for all of us, but there’s definitely signs that it’s getting a little easier.

We had a holiday

I took Jude away for a weekend, not once but twice, and it was a success! We managed to stay with some family and friends and all share a house near the beach.

There were other kids there, and although Jude often kept to himself, the longer we were there the more comfortable he became.

Some of my happiest memories of this summer were of me, Jude and his cousin spending hours bouncing on a large trampoline together.

More happy social interactions for Jude!

Tommy said “Daddy”

Not only that, I caught it on video! He said it clearly 3 times and laughed each time.

He’s not said it very often since, just like Tommy seems to do with most of the words he’s ever said, but he is developing.

It feels like he’s on the brink of being able to talk, he understands so much, he just struggles to connect it all up.

Maybe 2019 will be the year he breaks through

So that’s what I’ll be taking from our year.

Maybe you should take the time to do the same, reflect on what’s been and gone this year.

Just writing those moments down and playing them back through my mind has made me smile.

It’s reminded me that we have so much to look forward to as well.


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