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Seventeen Candles – Normal

 This is the second present Christos will be getting tomorrow.

It’s black and white because Not everything is Black and White.

Because ‘normal’ is not black and white.

Because you, me we are not black and white.

Because Christos is not black and white.

‘Normal’ cannot and will not be defined – ever. ‘Normal’ changes as often as you change your shirt….That’s ‘normal’ now but in a few years who knows what ‘normal’ will be?

I wrote that July 30th 2013. What has changed?

‘Normal’ is hashtagging, ‘normal’ is that Suarez will bite someone every couple of years, ‘normal’ is that Australia will compete in Eurovision 2015, ‘normal’ is hearing about the growing number of refugees from Syria, ‘normal’ is talking about the number of transgender suicides, ‘normal’ is the risk of Ebola, ‘normal’ is a woman running for President of the United States.

Today he is still sixteen.

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Seventeen candles – “S”uperhero

It’s Chris’ seventeenth birthday in five days.

Seventeen years of struggle, pain, tears, breakthroughs, accomplishments and progress.

“S” is for superhero,

“S” because our kids Struggle.

“S” because they rescue us every day with their love and their Smile.

“S” because they give us Strength.

“S” because they Succeed; there are no small victories.

This series is going to be about Christos’ birthday, the countdown, the presents, the love.

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Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto #3

Chris was asking for the sun then last two days and he finally got it on Sunday; thank you Easter bunny!

We went to the Walt Disney Studios today. It confused Chris a bit since he wanted to go to Disneyland again. So we had to set out times of when we were going to do everything, which we had to confirm with him every 5 mins. A change in plan had to be well in advance, otherwise there would be problems.

First, we went to see a stunt show with Lightning McQueen, as Chris loves Cars. He liked it, but it was too cold, and too loud at times.

Next, he had his Roast Chicken chips which he remembered from 3 years ago and his coca cola. They don’t have them in Cyprus apparently so this is his treat when we go to Disneyland. We rushed over to ANIMAGIQUE which he also remembered. He had his ice cream, that I had to wait in line for 30 mins for but the sun was out and he devoured it in 3 minutes. We also went to CINEMAGIQUE which is a film created to show the evolution of cinema since it began. When we went in and sat down Chris kept pointing at the screen and saying “Pinocchio”, so we brushed it off and thought he was just talking about the ride. Instead, he was talking about a scene in the film – he remembered it from 3 years ago. We didn’t even remember what we had for lunch.

Mum and Chris went on a magic carpet ride, that he loved! But the entire time he wanted to go to Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto. So the time set for that was 5pm. We went on the ratatouille ride, which was basically a ride where you are the size of a rat and run around a kitchen with a whole bunch of them. Of all the animals in the world, why have a rat pretend to be a chef?! Needless to say, those who know me, it was my worst nightmare come true. But, it was in 3D and not the worst ride we had been on. All three of us were impressed. 

Toyland was a bit of a nightmare – I thought it would be funny to ask him if he wanted to go to one of the more adult rides and he kept telling us he didn’t want to go. We went on a kids rollercoaster and he loved it; he laughed and “woo’ed”. 

When we finally went over to the Disney Park, we went on Pinocchio, Snow White, Peter Pan, It’s a small world and Buzz Lightyear rides again. We caught the end of the parade, had a little fight because the parade was blocking our way so we couldn’t get to Buzz Lightyear and he thought we might try and ditch. By the end of it, we were knackered. He had his spaghetti, fanta, and ice cream and we went home. He was very happy.

The next day we had breakfast, we discussed exact times of travel and I left. We rearranged a trip on the 5th May 2020 and he’s got it in his calendar.

 

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Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto #2

Today, we went on all the rides we went on yesterday; Snow White, Pinnocchio, Peter Pan, It’s a small world and Buzz Lightyear – how about that for a routine? Disney give you a disability pass which allows Chris to wait less time in queues, it’s a blessing on green paper.

Next, we went to Adventureland, and looked around Robinson Crousoes treehouse. The weather is miserable, but he was just walking around, being himself when suddenly, we lost him.

It was 20seconds of pure, utter panic; 20seconds of losing sight of your kid in a park the size of Canterbury with millions of people, in the rain, is like 20hours. He’s bigger now, more aggressive. 20 seconds of thinking, what if we are going in the wrong direction, what if he ran, why are there so many people walking around in the rain? And then mum turned around and said she saw him. He was just casually on the bridge, in front of the pirate skull, chillin. Unaware of losing us, blissfully unaware. We just looked at eachother and breathed.

Moving on swiftly, we went to the Pirates of the Carribean ride. It’s in caves, pitch black, damp, little boats that ride around the caves. Christos didn’t want to go in that ‘pool’ (as he calls it) he wanted to go to Small World. The exact opposite, by the way, with loud music, bright lights and smiles all over. After a lot of repeating that we were going to the other pool 5pm, a lot, we got in the boat. It had a couple of moments where the boat drops but Chris didn’t bat an eye – fearless. We got splashed with water, but he didn’t complain – adaptable.

Our day consisted of a lot of repeating of the rides we were going to, that we were going on Small World at 5pm, that we are going to Sri Lanka in December, that he wanted chips, that he wanted dinner at 6pm, a shower at 7pm and tea at 8pm. We had no other conversation than the repetition of the above – can you even begin to imagine that?

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He met Cinderella and charmed her pants off, as usual. He was a bit scared at first, but the characters and staff are, so far, so good. We also caught Goofy’s Tea Party Parade. He waved at Donald and Daisy as they went past and Minnie blew him a kiss. He enjoyed all the rides, and is looking forward to tomorrow’s agenda, which includes all the rides we went on Friday and Saturday, food and shopping.

 

 

 Bring on the magic….over and over and over and over (x1000) again.

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Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto #1

Christos remembered all the rides we went on 3 years ago. After the Snow White ride, he asked for Pinnocchio, and then Peter Pan. He kept asking for the one with the pool (for about 45 mins); he remembered he liked “It’s a Small World”.

We met Mickey Mouse. Chris was a bit freaked out, so Mickey had Chris touch his hand, his sleeve, his ears and his nose to make him more comfortable. Chris still refused to stand near him for the picture but he stood by him.

He remembered which stand he got iced tea from, which places had ice cream and what sort of Lays chips he had. 

We saw a Princess walk by and were debating if it was Ariel (she was in her wedding dress) and so we just told Chris to look. Chris pointed at her, and said “Gorgona”, In Greek, that means mermaid. Not only did we get told, but he also knew the word mermaid.

 

He never ceases to amaze.

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Autism Awareness Day 2015

This isn’t going to be one of those long posts about how we need your help to raise awareness. It’s not about the daily struggles we go through as an Autism family, and not about how much we love Christos. 

This is about a boy, just a 16year old boy. He is at the airport, travelling to Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto aka Disneyland Paris; and in the middle of his Airport Routine, he posed for a picture. 

Not to remind you all that Autism has a face, a million faces, but to remind you that Autism smiles.

 

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The Happiest Place on Earth

421101_10150751639300030_2092475639_nSince he was little he’s always loved Disney cartoons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him watch a movie; except for George of the Jungle and Friends because I loved them and watched them relentlessly.

In 2013 we took him to Disneyland Paris. His face was ridiculous. 417768_10150751639380030_1418916295_n

The word ‘Disneyland’ means nothing to him, although he knows the word ‘Disney’ he wouldn’t put the pieces together. How do you explain it? Without relying on the word ‘land’ and that all the characters will be there? So, the way we did it was that Mamma, Theodora and Christos were getting on a plane and going to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Pluto. Over and over again, we repeated those words until he merged them all into one and created his own Disneyland which is called “Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto”; I’ve been there, it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

I thought it would have been more difficult than it actually was; I was worried he’d get scared, he wouldn’t go on any rides, we would lose him. And if we did lose him – then what? Who’s going to find him? If he yells, will we hear? Who will he tell who he is? How would they know to get in touch with us? He barely wore his jacket and never holds any bags, so it’s not like we can write him a ‘lost & found’ note – he’d hate seeing his name on his things. How do you explain it? By the end of the holiday, he only ran away once and the panic was short. The staff at the parks and the hotels were very good – well trained, very accommodating, just what you want to see at such a resort. He went on some of the rides and, even though he was reluctant at first, he loved it and wanted to go again. I think his favourite one was It’s a Wonderful World; he loves the water, and the different stimuli in the ride were really pleasing to him.

He kept pointing at things and saying “Wow”.

431116_10150745638910030_1427569860_nWe ran after all the characters and even took pictures with some – some he was scared of, like Chip and Dale. The first day, he went straight for the castle. I tried to tell him that at 5pm there would be a parade, and all his favourite characters would prance and dance around. How do you explain that? Mum and I had to stand our ground, we knew he would love it and didn’t want him to miss it. Also, we needed a good place to see everything. So, we gave him a time-limit – stand here until 5pm.

Then the parade was late – it was chaos.550198_10150766510975030_102265414_n

Finally, after a couple of minutes, it started – and he was mesmerised. Then, of course, he thought it was only one carriage so he wanted to follow it, which meant he would miss all the other characters. How do you explain that? We had to yell and run after him, until there were so many people he physically couldn’t move – we couldn’t even hear him over all the music. Then, just like the movies, the crowd cleared, a light shone on him and angels sang – he was pointing at the parade, having spotted the rest of the carriages, and was gesturing for us to go watch it with him. He smiled, he jumped, he sang, he  cuddled us and kissed us the entire time. We went to that parade every day.

Taking him to Mickeyminniegoofydonaldydaisypluto really showed me how much he has grown, how much easier it is to be with him in crowded places, outside our comfort zone. We are going again in April and we can’t wait for that parade – he is my happiest place on earth.