Today we hear from Clive the Autism Assistance dog and my good friend Fiona.
Fiona's son Murray went to the same state autism school as Grace and Liam from 2004 -2008, when we left to go to Saplings.
Fiona and I have kept in touch sharing lunches and yes, a few boozy dinners with the group of Mums that I met at that little school in South Dublin which did our best to improve.
So it was with my heart in my mouth as I first read this post on Clive's blog and tears in my eyes when I finished reading it. You will see why...
Murray and Clive
" This has been a very special week in the House of Clive. We have had a really 'magical Murray moment'.
Murray is 12 and Clive has worked with him for the past five years as his Assistance Dog.
In that time there have been many wonderful moments between the two of them - lots of new adventures, lots of places travelled and most importantly lots of progress with Murray. He communicates so much better, is far more independent and more responsible now that he has Clive . He is much more willing to try new things, attempt new situations and is trying hard to learn more skills all the time.
Each one of these achievements we have noted, particularly those that have involved Clive, and we have delighted in all that Murray is achieving.
But this week, something truly special has been happening ....
Murray has really stepped up and has thrilled us with new found independence and confidence. He is, for the first time ever, capable of and happy to take Clive out for a walk on his own.
It began a few days ago when his Mom asked him to take Clive for a walk! She has asked a lot of times believe me and Murray has never been able to do it. His Mom or Sorcha has always had to go with him. He knows the route we walk like the back of his hand - we do the same walk every day twice a day with Clive! We have neighbours along the way that would watch out for Murray but still we could never get him to try and walk on his own with Clive.
Probably we still would have worried about him doing it up until the last few months when we have seen such progress in Murray's communication skills and independence that we felt we really had to push him this further step and get him to go on a 'short' walk with Clive on his own.
This might seem nothing to a lot of people, anyone with a 'normal' 12 nearly 13 year old might wonder why we have got so excited at this. But this has been huge for us all!
It began on Monday when Murray's Mom asked yet again "will you take Clive down to the green for a little walk, just a little walk Murray?"
Murray got Clive's lead and took a 'poo' bag out of Clive's jacket that was hanging up in the utility room and smiled a real 'Murray' smile and said "Okay, Clive - walkies". Murray's Mom nearly collapsed in shock!! After months of working on this, asking and cajoling Murray but him never having the confidence to agree and actually looking terrified of the prospect of going out on his own with Clive, he suddenly agreed.
Murray put Clive on the leash and off they went. Murray's Mom thought she would never be able to stay back in the house and not rush down the road to check if everything was okay. But she knew she had to stay behind and let Murray get on with this - his first walk on his own ever with Clive. Sorcha had to calm her Mom down and keep talking to her and telling her if would be okay.
We rang a friend and then another friend - neighbours along the route to make sure they saw Murray and Clive passing by their houses and to ask them was everything okay??? Murray and Clive went to the green, Murray let Clive off the lead. Clive ran around for five minutes, did a poo, Murray picked it up in his black poo bag, put it in the bin, put Clive back on the lead and walked home. They were only gone for 10 minutes but it was the longest 10 minutes in his Mom's life.
But when they got home, after the relief had subsided - it was then pure delight and excitement that Murray had achieved this. An independent walk with Clive. Never has a simple walk been celebrated with such joy!
It was a very magical Murray moment that was been repeated each afternoon this week. Murray has taken Clive out on his own again on Tuesday and Wednesday and Murray's Mom is learning to relax and Murray is so proud of himself. He really knows that he achieved something BIG this week and you can see the delight in him. He keeps smiling that special Murray smile at his Mom and his Mom keeps smiling, big happy smiles back"
- Clive & Co
For more, please go and visit Clive at Assistance Dog for Autism. I am going to keep sharing other people's personal stories here, so please, if you have one to share email me.