We’re on half term at the moment and although the Summer holidays seem a lifetime ago I don’t really know where the last eight weeks have gone! 

Holidays can be a tricky time for us as Toby often struggles to adjust or understand why he isn’t at school. In his head, school is Mon-Fri and then Sat and Sun are home based as his taxi doesn’t come. In previous holidays he’s found the Monday the most challenging and he has often stood crying at the door because he wants his taxi to pick him up and take him to school as that is what happens every other Monday. As he’s completely non-verbal it’s hard to communicate the concept of holidays with him and we’ve tried visual prompts with little success. In his head Monday is a school day and that is that. In the past his behaviour has been pretty challenging and sleep has been even more disrupted especially on that first Monday. Because of this we have try to get away for a bit most holidays to distract him from everything being ‘wrong’ and to help him transition smoothly in to some time off School.

We had a lovely week in Northumberland over Easter (thanks to the Family Fund) and so we booked a long weekend at the same caravan site for the first weekend of this half term so that we were away for the dreaded Monday. 

Joel finished at lunchtime on Friday and we packed up the car and drove to pick Toby up from school early. He was really excited to see the bikes on the back or the car, he knew that that meant we were off on an adventure! The journey was going smoothly until a pheasant flew out and crashed in to my side of the car (passenger’s side) We didn’t think too much of it at the time until we arrived and noticed what had happened to my bike on the back of the car! The pheasant must have hit the side of the car and then bounced over the roof and then hit my back wheel and it had completely damaged the back wheel of my bike! The feathers caught in the wheel spokes gave the game away…we just laughed!  
Toby got really excited when we pulled into the caravan site. He flapped and clapped and giggled away to himself. He knew exactly where we were. We collected our keys and parked up next to our caravan. Although it was a different caravan to the one we stayed in at Easter, it was just a few meters away and on the opposite side of the road. I unclicked Toby and lifted him out he ran excitedly straight over to the caravan that we stayed in last time and tried to go inside! That child has an amazing memory as they all look the same to me! Thankfully he was easily distracted and came into our new caravan. We had a lovely first evening, the boys had a trip to the park and both settled down and slept well. Toby was over the moon to be back in Northumberland.

It was raining the following morning so we decided to head in to Berwick to visit the Swimming baths and to take my poor bike to Halfords to get a new wheel. We loaded the bikes back on to the back of the car and then put the boys in the car too. As soon as Toby saw the bikes on the back of the car he cried his little eyes out – he must have thought we were going home (after just one night!) We reassured him and showed him his swimming bag which he uses as an object of reference and as soon as he realised we were off swimming he perked up again.

Driving through Northumberland it struck me why Toby loves it so much. Firstly it is really beautiful and calm and peaceful. Even though the colours of the trees and the valleys are beautiful they are not over stimulating or bright. You can drive for miles through the countryside without seeing another car or person. As well the site that we stay on isn’t a big site with lots of entertainment or people it’s quite small and enclosed. Outside there is hardly any noise as it’s set back from the main road and street lighting is limited too. Again this all seems to work for Toby as he often becomes very overwhelmed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life he’s also extremely sensitive to noise and light. The dream is to one day own somewhere Toby-friendly where we can escape to with him when life becomes a bit too much.

On Sunday morning we woke up to the sound of Toby giggling his little head off. It was sometime before 4 and we thought that was him up for the day. We went in to his room to find him completely naked and laid under the bed giggling his head off to himself – little monkey! Joel dressed him and put him back to bed and for the first time in a very long time he actually went back to sleep! Usually once he is awake he can’t switch off again and so is up for the day – at this moment I contemplated selling the house and moving in to a caravan if it meant he slept better..ha! However this morning was a different story. He woke up about half four and managed to take his dirty nappy off inside his onesie resulting in him needing a shower after which there was no chance of any of us going back to sleep so its been a bit of a long day!

We had a lovely time visiting parks and playground, going for bike rides, visiting Cragside and Wallington (National Trust) and even the beach (Toby wasn’t too impressed and lasted a whole two minutes before trying to get back to the car!) We all had time to relax and be together which after the week we’ve just had was very much appreciated! God knew when we booked this mini-break that we all needed a rest – Joel had had Ofsted in School and so it had been pretty intense for all of us. And now we’re home…couple of loads of washing done and plenty more to go but more importantly Toby’s in bed and he’s chilled – let’s see what the rest of the week brings!  

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