My eldest has taught himself to code to a pretty high level and built his own website from scratch, hosting his Minecraft Servers at MCSquared (Currently taking his GCSEs though, check back in the summer for an impressive redevelopment!) and builds worlds as JJtCool on YouTube . He was the creator of SkyWars a few years back and SkyWars2.0 which are played, viewed, shared and hosted worldwide. He even got a mention at Minecon2013. Quite an achievement.
Son number two is almost as fanatical and the twins are catching on fast. I must admit, whilst I don't want any of them stuck in front of a screen for too long, they could do worse. Minecraft encourages social interaction, improves social skills and if you are building worlds there is some GCSE level physics involved. As for coding a website - his Dad's team at work had all come across him on YouTube independently he's getting headhunted already...
H speaks endlessly on his favourite topics, Minecraft being one of them. He will relate the different options and modes and I am beginning to feel I know far more than any parent strictly should.
Something he said yesterday early made me think though - he is incredibly perceptive.
We've had a *really* tough week here. A had surgery at Gt Ormond Street Hospital last monday (only minor, but an overnight stay was involved and the planning and preparation needed was pretty "epic". R had laser eye surgery for his glaucoma and we've had the worry hanging over us that J had a possible, but very serious heart condition. Thanks to an overly zealous GP, and the truism that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" his normal ECG was misinterpreted and we were told he needed an urgent cardiology referral. (Thankfully we have private health insurance which we sometimes use - it is invaluable at times like this since he would have had this worry hanging over him for the duration of his GCSEs and had to stop running.)
Anyway, before Godparents, Grandparents and concerned others get on the phone - he's FINE. More than fine actually, so fit and healthy his lean, tall, athletic build is causing high voltage ECG traces and a low BP. Impressive. But stressful - and very, very scary.
Then there have been an insane number of appointments and meetings, to the point that I found myself sat in the phlebotomy clinic (blood tests) the other day troughing my way through a jumbo sized bag of chocolate buttons. Which I bought. And finished. By myself.
Those of you who know me will understand why this is significant but suffice to say my stress levels have been pretty high! Now you wouldn't necessarily expect someone on the Autism Spectrum to notice emotion in others - but H does. Or maybe he isn't noticing the emotion, rather the pattern of behaviour? In any case he is usually the first to register my rising stress levels.
For someone on the Spectrum, high levels of anxiety are a norm, and it doesn't take much to trip someone in that state into "meltdown". It's the reason little things (the "final straw") can set off disproportionate responses, explained so eloquently in Alison's Blog here. What is particularly poignant is that Alison is 14, yet has an incredibly understanding of her identity.
H is like this all the time. Constantly anxious, working in parallel on several ideas/thoughts/problems at once, all piled up. Autistic people do seem single minded - but that extreme focus is actually often to drown out the overloading below it they find unbearable. it's a coping mechanism.
And that's exactly what H thinks I need. A way of fending off the stress rather than trying to cope with it. In a wonderfully idiosyncratic, acutely perceptive observation on the situation he told me
"You need to drop out of "Survival mode" and try "Combat mode" instead".Of course I do. Why didn't I think of that?
So that's just what I am doing. Back in organisational hyperdrive and tackling life head on once more. And when "Survival Mode" really is the only option it often pays to take a back seat and find some humour somewhere - anywhere in the situation.
So I'll leave you with my youngest son, who having recovered sufficiently from his surgery wanted to make his dad laugh. We made this picture together and emailed our printer - frightening the life out of R who was sitting next to it, working. "Awesome!"