So proud!

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We are all so proud of Simon and all he has achieved in the last three years at Arrowsmith. I simply can’t believe that it has come to animage end, that graduation has happened and we are spending our last few days here, on the lake at Upper Chemong, a few days of chilling and relaxing!

Graduation Day was so very special.  The wonderful Arrowsmith teachers making it a day of celebration, celebrating each students unique journey. Tears, laughter and joy!

And the Talent Show showed new sides of the students. More tears, gasps of admiration and lots and lots of laughter!

A last photo in The West Classroom, the sign says it all as does Simon’s face! Photo bombing!

24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

I know this has nothing whatsoever to do with Simon but I love this so am re-blogging anyway! I will write an update soon. Suffice to say his favourite day of the week is when he works at the very day care Centre he went to 20 years ago! Magic!

Warning:Curves Ahead

This morning, as I was perusing my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, and it triggered Maximum Eye-Rolling from everyone who took the time out to read it.

Written by Kallie Provencher for RantChic.com, this “article” (I use the term loosely) highlighted things such as “leopard print”, “graphic tees”, and “short dresses” (because “By this age, women should know it’s always better to leave something to the imagination”). Kallie, it seems, has a number of opinions on what women over 30 should and shouldn’t be doing, having also penned “30 Things Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Own” and “20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting Online”. (What is this magical post-30 land where women are suddenly not allowed to do or own so many things?!)

Motivated by Kallie’s “article”, I decided to…

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The next phase

imageAnd now the holidays are over! It is the beginning of the next phase of Simon’s life. Orientation day today and class begins tomorrow, no tie to waste!

He has mastered the computer system and the iPad that the students use to access their course work and do their assignments. I am impressed!

On my way to Peterborough!

Tomorrow morning I leave for Peterborough for what will be the last time with Simon as a student at Arrowsmith, living in the Argyle student residence. I feel quite teary about that because Peterborough will always have a special place in my heart, and I think I can speak for Simon and say in his heart too, for the wonderful supportive Arrowsmith community, the teachers, the students and the parents, and all the other beautiful people we have met who have befriended Simon, and me, during his, and my, time there. For the beauty of the lakes, rivers and canals everywhere  you walk, the walking trails, the unexpectedly delicious cafes, restaurants, the fresh and wholesome produce from the Farmers Market and the changing of the seasons. These last three years have been an extraordinary journey for Simon, as well as for the all of us who already cared for him and for those who have come to care for him in Peterborough. They will miss him, we will miss them but we will be happy to have him home. This has been a life-changing experience, his life will much different from that which it would have been had he not been to Arrowsmith. I shall leave you with the words Matt wrote to Simon at the end of his last report:

Simon: You are now a very different person than we met three long years ago. Looking back through your accomplishments it is very evident how far you have come. When you first arrived you were only able to do 1 or 2 pages of Word in a regular period and your Broca’s goal was to master just one set of 2-sylalble blends in a week! In your first year, your journal normally consisted of only a line or two each day and it was often about what you ate that day. Now your writing often consists of pages of legible thoughts, feelings, and well-articulated emotion.  The final leg of your time at Arrowsmith has been difficult, but you have been able to push through and perform very well, and you should feel proud of yourself. You are now entering the final days of a long and extraordinary journey.  It is a time where you can pause and enjoy how far you have come and not have to worry about the next Arrowsmith challenge or the next Arrowsmith year. You made it!  As you move into the next stages of your life it will be important to remember what you have learned at Arrowsmith. Your brain will continue to grow and change for the rest of your life, but is up to you to ensure that it develops in positive ways. Continue to practice having positive reactions even in difficult situations. This will make you feel better about taking on challenges, and make the hard times feel less difficult. In the future, if things are not going well, think about where you need to focus your efforts in order to make things better.  It is okay to look to others for inspiration; however, in the end it is up to you, and the energy must come from you. Don’t fall into old habits. Returning home to an old familiar environment may make it easy to slip into old ways, but it is up to you to ensure things are different. Positive actions will result in positive steps forward. Doing things how you always have will result in things staying how they always have been. You are capable of rebuilding things how you would like them to be, and it is also your responsibility—now is your time to shine.  We have always had faith in you. It has been months since we have heard you say: “I can’t”, and we hope that is because you now believe you are as capable as we know you are.

 

It was worth being woken at 5.30am!

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The phone rang and it was Simon with the news we had been waiting for! Yeah! He had mastered the 6 handed clocks exercise! He has been doing this cognitive improvement exercise day after day after day for over a year. He has really struggled and didn’t really believe he would ever master it, especially as his time at Arrowsmoth is nearing the end. BUt he did it and as the saying goes, thanks to Nelson Mandela, it is impossible until it is done! No longer impossible Simon and we are so proud of you! Congratulations!

Happy Easter!

Simon is in London, having a lovely time with Jean, Lara, Vicky and Richard amongst others! He has been to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, London Zoo, Kew Gardens, Southwark Cathedral and The London Wetlands and seen the production of “The Railway children” and I have most likely forgotten something! He has been up to Northumberland with Jean, visiting his favourite places and people, a walk back in time! He has got lost on London buses but found his way again. He has enjoyed organising to meet up with friends and family. All these things are a testament to his hard work at Arrowsmith and his new cognitive abilities. I hope that this holiday has shown Simon how much he has gained and that will give him the faith in himself to master the next level of clocks. He has been working on doing so for a year now. In the last period befor march break last year we heard a scream “What?” From the West classroom, He ran into Jill’s office to tell us he had mastered 4 hands and that it must be a sign that he should stay another year! Closely followed by his gang of friends who looked like pirates with their eye patches! They swallowed him up in a big “Simon” sandwich, hugging him!

I will leave you with some words from Matt Coppins which he wrote last week in reply to my email asking how close Simon was to mastering the six handed clock and would he manage before the holidays.
“Simon has been doing very well in clocks. He has put in a big effort and as a result has made excellent progress toward a master. As of yesterday (Thursday) he is about 10 seconds from reaching his mastery time, and needs to increase his accuracy by about 10%. He said that he was going to do Keypad Kaos last night so he could try to master today. I’m not sure he will master, but I’m glad that he is very willing to try. It has been a good demonstration that his progress is a direct result of the effort he puts in. The work that he has done in the last 2 weeks will benefit him for the rest of his life both in a cognitive and philosophical capacity. He should be very happy about his progress.
He and I have been working on his 3 goals that we discussed in the meeting. He has been struggling with having positive reactions in difficult situations, but he is improving. This will likely be something that will be challenging when he is home to a familiar environment where it is easy to fall back into old habits. Since our meeting I have had a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to any complaining, moaning, or tantrums. Simon has struggled with this, but he has responded with a HUGE change. He has seen that it has positively affected his work and how people relate to him. He has also started making an effort to make his appearance more ‘professional’, this has also sparked a dramatic change in his confidence and has put a noticeable pep-in-his-step. I know he is ready for a break, but the last two weeks has been one of his best runs yet. I am looking forward to his positive attitude becoming a habit and allowing it to rewire his thinking.”

Exciting times! Hopefully I will be reporting on a mastery before too long! In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the Easter weekend!

 

It’s been a while!

but since I am currently in Peterborough with Simon an update is apt!

We have had a fine time together, going to Ottawa last weekend for the long weekend. We did not see the best of Ottawa as it was so very cold, -29! We spent an interesting day at the Museum of Canadian History, previously known as the Museum of Civilisation. We arrived early and made our way slowly through the Viking exhibition which was fascinating, onto Canadian history and the First Peoples, then into the Children’s Museum to see the Thomas the Tank exhibition. I have to say that Simon’s train set rivals that which was in the exhibition! The following day we braved the cold to go to Parliament Hill, booked a tour for later in the day, and headed for the Byford Markets. There was no market that we could find, a hot chocolate to warm us up as we walked back for our tour, which was really interesting, the Parliament building is a small version, inside, of the Houses of Parliament. Our favourite part was the library, a beautiful circular building with a double layer of wooden balconies running around the outside, smelling of wood and old books. We admired the 360 degree views of Ottawa from the Peace Tower, and paid our respects to the fallen in the Memorial Chapel. Onto the park with the ice sculptures, unfortunately mostly melted away by the warm temperatures of the previous weekends! a quick peek at the Rideau Canal, the longest skating rink in the world, some 5 miles long, along which people skate to school and work throughout the winter!  By now we were seriously cold, back tour hotel for a swim and room service! We couldn’t face the cold again!

We went to the Canadian War Museum the following morning before heading back to Peterborough in the afternoon. This was another fascinating museum, with a special exhibition about the role of women in the First and Second World Wars. The story of war in Canadian history was shocking, I had had no idea how violent and bloody a history Canada has. Then onto Canada’s role in the First World War, in which 60,000 men were lost and on into the Second World War, I saw Hitler’s car but I had had enough of war by then. The waste of lives and sad stories of returning soldiers was too terrible and, for me, unlike the Museum of Human Rights, there didn’t seem to be much that was positive that came out of all the horror.

Back to Peterborough, back to Arrowsmith. We had a meeting with Matt and Mrs Gunning, Simon’s academic teacher, about what the future holds for Simon and how they will work to get him ready for it. He is keen to do a course in Child Care and they both have exciting ways to work with Simon so he will be prepared for life after Arrowsmith.

On Saturday Simon meets with his tutor, Nell, and they cover a lot of ground in the two hours they have together! Simon is reading the Hatchet series and has to do regular book reports. They have also studied all sorts of things that Simon never had the opportunity to study whilst at school, so now he knows how fireworks work, what is found in the deep sea and quite a bit about space amongst other things!

He showed me his folder of all the work he has done with Nell – it was massive and very impressive! One of the questions that Nell had asked him, after reading Hatchet and talking about how the main character, Brian, had changed after his experience, was this:

If you could give advice to a new student moving to Peterborough and coming to Arrowsmith, what would you tell them?

Simon’s reply was:

Keep in contact with your family and friends, especially when you miss them.

School is murder, but it works. Your brain will hurt a lot – you should let it hurt and rest. Let it do its own thing.

Put a lot of pictures up to make you feel more at home. Explore Peterborough.

If you need help at first, get someone from home to come with you.

 

Not bad advice, eh?image

 

 

 

 

Late as usual! Happy New Year!

 

We have a wonderful time with the house filled with family and friends, tables filled with laughter, chatter and beautiful food, the kitchen filled with everyone contributing to  long lunches followed by nightly feasts, card games and other games keeping us up late, the occasional  evening watching DVDs, days of long walks and sailing on our beautiful harbour, floating in the pool, walking on the beach at Pearl Beach, wondering at the wonder of the star-filled skies. It has, as ever, gone all too quickly and the first to leave will be Simon tomorrow, heading back to Peterborough and Arrowsmith. Not really rested with all the mayhem going on, as he puts it, but certainly refreshed! I think he is looking forward to more routine and his quieter life for a a while but he is also looking forward to being home later in the year and putting down roots and moving into a new phase of his life. It has been so good to hear from many people of the changes/progress they see in him (I have to remind some people that improvements is not a good way to describe his changes, at least I don’t think so, the negative connotation being that he was less before).

I am heading out to an Art gallery shortly and just quickly want to wish each and everyone of you the happiest of New Years, and may 2016 be filled with joy, laughter and much love.

I leave you with the words of Neil Gaiman:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.
...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.
And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.
And it’s this.
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

– See more at: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/12/my-new-year-wish.html#sthash.a7vl1Z39.dpufIMG_0867