Messing around

Last year’s annual review opened with the headteacher asking each of us to write a word or phrase which described Archie onto a large sheet of paper. School and respite had a mini-scrap over who got to use ‘good sense of humour’. It has to be said that Archie loves a joke. Aged two he was perfectly capable of pretending to do something he wasn’t allowed to do. So I’d say ‘don’t touch’ and turn around to find him nearly, almost, but not quite touching the forbidden object.

In the video below he recounts how he amused himself removing his headteacher’s glasses at school that day. I’m sure the head was delighted. To quote Archie: NOT

PS We don’t usually have two TV’s, one is waiting for a trip to the dump.

Intersubjectivity in conversation

I apologise, the title of this blogpost is pretty academic. It could have been worse, any Conversation Analysts reading this may be able to guess what I was tempted to use as a title. Anyhow the post is about Archie indicating when I have misunderstood something he is trying to communicate

For many years now Archie has used us (me in particular) to interpret what he says. So he would vocalise – e.g. ‘neehee’ and I would provide a translation e.g. ‘biscuits’. If my translation was incorrect the vocalisation would be repeated until I hit on the correct interpretation. This could take some time, and it could get noisy and frustrating, although Archie has been known to clarify using photos, pictures, or dragging me off somewhere to make his point clearer.

To some extend this still goes on with the talker, although we’ve moved on from single words and it’s much easier for Archie to correct misunderstandings. For example on Sunday we had the following conversation. The background is that Granny and Granddad were visiting from Ireland, and were staying in a different hotel that usual.

Archie: hotel bridge not
Me: That’s right Granny and Granddad Ireland took you to the hotel, you didn’t go over the bridge
Archie: different hotel
Me:  Oh you mean Granny and Granddad are staying in a different hotel, you’re right the new one isn’t near the bridge.

Archie accepted my new interpretation and the conversation moved on. It’s definite progression from the days before the talker where he might be correcting my misunderstanding of ‘nee hee’ meaning ‘biscuits’ to ‘Joseph’.

Archie had a good day on Sunday, as we also had a fabulous surf. You know the surf is going to be good when you find yourself following a line of cars to the beach early on an October Sunday morning. I really needed a camera as he was beaming from ear to ear but  unfortunately I managed to lose my waterproof camera on Dartmoor a few months ago, so instead I’ll pinch a photo from the previous session. We can pretend it was from Sunday as Archie was surfing with Harry on both occasions, although the surf this week was bigger. I’ve noticed that when Archie catches a wave he now lifts his arms up at exactly the  right moment to be lifted to standing by the surf coach. And it was captured on camera below with Harry obliging.  Lazy lump.


Archie’s leisure activities are still fairly limited, although slowly expanding. There’s surfing of course, and dog walking, but he has struggled a little to fill his time at home. Usually he watches YouTube or engages in a bit of googlemapping. Otherwise he tends to watch passing cars out of windows.

It therefore didn’t go down that well yesterday  when the computer crashed and couldn’t be restarted. It needs a trip to the Apple shop. Luckily our ancient iPad is filling in the gap. YouTube with breakfast. Don’t mind if I do.

Autumn Surf

The very lovely Discovery Surf School gave the Downham House surfer kids a free session today. The surf was perfect – clean waves, just the right size with the occasional humungous set coming through. I was given lots of tips on how to turn – enough to keep me busy for the next 6 months or so (thanks Rosy).

Annika from Discovery took a bunch of photographs which sum up the morning. As always, really great stuff. Moments like these make a difference.


It has been a successful couple of days here. Particularly for middle son, he found out today that he’s passed his eleven plus and that he was successful in an audition that he thought he’d messed up. Not wanting to miss an opportunity I quickly asked him to pick some lottery numbers. We had a celebratory take away pizza and watched Strictly followed by the new series of Merlin. We know how to party on in this house.

It was a good day for Archie yesterday as well. He arrived home from school with the Star of the Week certificate. These were introduced last year and are given out weekly (the clue’s in the name I guess) – one for each class – the certificates celebrate a wide range of achievements. Sometimes the list of successes in the newsletter can bring me close to tears as they  can capture the very real challenges faced by the children at his school. Archie’s was for ‘excellent helping/doing jobs’.

Archie has been Star of the Week a few times now but has never really shown that much interest. Yesterday was different, I did my usual congratulations and cheers and he became really embarrassed, hiding his face but looking quietly pleased with himself. Later, when Richard arrived home, he used the talker to tell Richard; weak star weak week! Notice how he’s been exploring different ways of producing the word week/weak.

I’m sorry my phone camera is really rubbish.

We surf tomorrow.  The forecast is looking great! The luck continues….

Surf Relief Movie

This is such a fabulous short movie, filmed during one of the Downham House surf sessions with Discovery Surf School. The star of the show has to be Izaac and it’s just lovely to hear the surf coaches  talk so warmly about taking our kids surfing.

I was interviewed, but look like I’ve been electrocuted. I have a new handy tip  for life – never stand in front of a camera when you have been dunked in the sea and left your hairbrush at home. I also appear to be talking about an empty seat; I had a plan to get Archie to say I like big waves using his talker, but he spotted Jon eating a pasty and ran off to try and steal it. Archie is to be seen skulking around in the background of the film, looking a bit fed up with the lack of swell. He’ll be happier this weekend – Downham House have another session booked with Discovery, with decent waves forecast.

As always massive thanks to everyone at Discovery.


This is perhaps a bit of a geek post – one for those who are really interested in the data collecting down to business nitty gritty statistics of LAMP in Archie’s life. Communication is about far more than utterance length, but an increase in expressive vocabulary and ability to combine words has greatly improved Archie’s opportunities to communicate. So sometimes I like to count the number of words he’s coming out with.

Last night we had Joseph swimming Monday Archie not (talking about his brother’s after school swimming lessons), followed by Louis car tomorrow Archie not (talking about his other brother’s violin lessons). Five words in each utterance. The not is still at the end, but this is just becoming a quirk of Archie’s communication (and I’ve grown rather fond of it to be honest).

As an aside extra curricular activities aren’t easy to find for Archie (with the exception of surfing of course), but last week at the beach a friendly stranger stopped me to tell me about a trampoline class for children with autism starting in Saltash on Thursday evening. It sounded really good, there was mention of foam pits as well as trampolines. I was given the contact details which I managed to lose while wrestling with Archie over some handbrake related incident.  I’m not sure that we could make it anyway as Thursday is a regular respite night, but if anyone knows anything about it please let me know, and if interested in the class for your child it might be worth asking around. Sorry to be so vague.

I finish with a picture of Archie with his brothers, it’s only recently that he’s really posed for photos so it’s still a bit of a novelty to get the three of them in the same photo. Louis appears to be eating a sweet and Joseph’s t-shirt seems to be covered in dinner. Hey ho.