Friday, 2 October 2009

My autistic son - Back in the saddle again

Colm has had many riding lessons, but few as important as yesterday's.

And this is why...

Our local branch of the Riding for the Disabled Association provides riding lessons during school term time. This means that during the summer, it is closed for lessons for 5 weeks.

Five weeks is an eternity to Colm, if it means 5 weeks without riding. So we looked around for somewhere else to go during the summer - somewhere that would be sympathetic to Colm's peculiar needs. We found such a place - or so we thought - near Ilminster, thus not far from where Colm lives.

Colm was well pleased with his new riding school and, despite all the staff and all the horses being new to him, adjusted extremely well. The first weeks were very enjoyable, but then there came a point where the inexperience of trainer and horse of having pupils like Colm began to show. The owner of the school was taking a lesson with Colm and moving things a bit too fast... She tried to get Colm to do a small jump while cantering. Colm looked uneasy and tried to object, but she ordered him to continue. His lack of confidence caused him to let the reigns go loose. The lack of direction caused the horse to refuse the jump. Colm went sailing over the horse's head, landing heavily on his side.

Colm got to his feet quickly, but looked shaken and very distressed.

"My arm," he said to the trainer.

"It's only a bad bump," said the trainer. "Come up here and we'll get you on the horse again."

I knew from Colm's demeanour that it was more than a bad bump, and went over to the trainer to tell her so. She argued with me and wanted Colm to continue with his lesson, but I wasn't having any of it. I took Colm to the car and then speedily to the hospital.

An x-ray proved that my suspicion had been well founded. Colm had broken his wrist. An hour or so later he was wearing a rather large plaster. Throughout the 3 hours we had been at the hospital, Colm had been the model patient. He was compliant in every respect.

His first plaster was rather heavy, made him very itchy and became quite tight, which affected Colm's disposition. He became a more than a little tetchy, so it was a relief when, after x-rays showed that all was as well as could be hoped for, this was replaced by a smaller, lighter one. The healing process continued and last week the plaster was declared redundant and removed. Colm's wrist is as good as new.

This week Colm went back to the RDA centre. His delight at returning there - the moment he had been anticipating for all those weeks - was obvious for all to see.

Apart from some issues arising from his broken wrist, Colm's life continues to improve. He has been 2 years at his current address, and he is now in his most settled period since leaving home 7 years ago. The 3 sisters who live in Taunton take him out regularly and he visits Marie and me from time to time. He seems very satisfied with this arrangement, and now when he comes to our house for dinner, is ready to leave after a couple of hours. Progress indeed.

Oh yes - the other riding school - Colm won't be going back there!


Gary said...

Don't you just hate the "Oh, it's nothing. Tis but a scratch!" brigade of carers who seem to know better than parents?
Good to hear Colm's not been too damaged by her attitude.

Robert said...

Gary - Over the years I've learned to be assertive. Although always polite, I won't take cr@p from anyone! I'm very relieved that this episode didn't put Colm off his equestrian pursuits.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert.

How bloody irresponsible. Aside from the confidence knock which could have set Colm backwards he could have sustained a much worse physical injury. It makes the blood boil to think of the arrogance of some of these people.

I'm glad its had no lasting effect on your son and that he is back enjoying himself in the familiar surrounds. It is great that he has a pursuit that brings him such joy as we all need that in life.

All the best


rosiero said...

That's awful. That school should have anticipated it might be break rather than dismiss it as a bump. Poor lad must have been in a lot of pain too. He looks a real professional on that horse.

maz said...

Aw how awful!
Schools are quick to say they are disability aware but often just don't hold up in practice.
I'm glad the wee tumble has not put Colm off as the last set of photo's showed he really does enjot it so much!

maz x

Nota Bene said...

Glad he's back on a horse again...always good to read good news!

Robert said...

Nechtan, rosiero, maz & NB - I wondered if the school's attitude was anything to do with liability issues. If the fracture is not diagnosed until later, it would be hard to claim for certain that it happened at the school - hence more difficult to claim compensation. Colm's tumble was wholly due to the trainer trying to get him to do too much too soon. Anyhow, I won't be claiming for anything - it's not my style, and I abhor the current "claim for everything" culture.

maz said...

I hate all these ads telling folk to sue, it's so tacky! Last time Coo was at A&E there was a big ad on the notice board!!!

maz x

Anonymous said...

That's just disgraceful, I think you should name and shame.

I also think Colm was extremely brave for going back to the RDA and getting back on horseback. For anyone this is a very difficult thing to do (it happened to me about 7 years ago and I've never ridden since and never will).

Well done Colm.

CJ xx

Robert said...

maz - I hate those ads too. All this extra litigation costs our public services £millions.

CJ - I can't tell you how proud I am of the way Colm reacted to his fall. Riding is a very big part of his life, so I'm glad that this incident didn't scare him off it.