30 September 2014

A 'BIG' step for Murray ....

Murray has achieved a huge amount this month.  He's only been back in school four weeks but they have been four very special weeks because now he is walking to and from school himself every day.  Up to last June Murray was getting the special needs bus transport service that is provided to his special needs school but he had asked us all summer if he could start walking to and from school from September.

Although Murray was 16 at the end of August, for lots of reasons, we were a little concerned, a little anxious, a little worried about this big STEP.

But we practised and Murray knew the route well, it's a long walk - nearly 3kms each way but Murray really wanted to do this.

For the first few days in September, his sister walked with him in the morning to make sure he was confident of the route and to make sure he kept remembering what roads to cross.  That ensured a very long walk for her before she got the 46A into school but sisters are good like that!

It helps that there are three lollypop ladies along the route at all the major road crossings, Murray's getting to know them well.  It helps also that there is a shop on route that Murray calls into every afternoon on his way home to get an ice-cream!  His special treat!  Learning to take some money into school, not lose it, go into the shop, order his ice-cream and pay for it - have all been extra responsibilities for him but it's all be working out fine.  Huge thanks to Rachel in Patterson's shop for the big warm welcome she gives to Murray each day and the special 'chat' she has with him.

Murray knew when he started walking there was no 'way-out' of doing the walk every day - his Mom is still on crutches and not meant to the driving so she wouldn't be taking him to school any morning or collecting him after a long day.  If it rained he was still walking!  Lucky for Murray, there has been only one wet walk - a Friday afternoon!  Clever Murray realised there was no point in buying an ice-cream that day either!!  He did come home wet but he was still happy!  That's our Murray!

We have held our breaths collectively this past month, wondering if this next BIG step for Murray would work out okay and keep on working.  But yes, it most certainly has and as the month draws to a close we can celebrate another 'milestone for Murray'.

Mom, Dad, Sorcha and Clive think you're great Murray!  Well done for achieving your next 'step' and it certainly is a lot of steps you're doing every day!

We couldn't be prouder of you!

Clive racing towards Murray as he walks home from school!







You couldn't find too happier boys every afternoon at 3.30pm as Murray walks down our road!

- Clive & Co

19 September 2014

'The world became their oyster' .....


The boys on the High Line in New York in 2010! 

They love travelling together and just today applied for a new passport for Clive as his Pet Passport is full - no pages left for the vet to stamp! 

One of the great successes of their relationship is how the world has been opened up to Murray because of Clive - they have flown numerous times over the past eight years and yet before Clive arrived in Murray's world - a simple trip to the airport, never mind a flight was a nightmare! 

The world became their oyster the day the boys were matched ....

- Clive & Co

15 September 2014

A great day at the Service Dogs of Ireland Seminar ....



The boys were at the Service Dogs of Ireland Seminar in Fermoy on Saturday.  It was a fantastic event with all the main dog charities in Ireland represented - Irish Therapy Dogs, Irish Dogs for the Disabled, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, My Canine Companion - Autism Services and AADI - Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland.

Huge thanks to the organiser Andrew Geary who obviously put a huge amount of work and time into organising this seminar which was the first of its kind in Ireland.

The presentations / demos and guest speakers from each of the charities were really informative and absolutely inspirational.

First up the boys listened to Irish Therapy Dogs.  They explained really well about the work they do in hospices, nursing homes and schools.


Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind was represented by their new acting Operations Manager Caoilfhionn Lee who gave a very interesting talk about the importance of collaboration between the different canine charities and how well it can work referencing her experience working with Guide Dogs in the UK.  It is something we would very much like to see happen here in Ireland.


Irish Dogs for the Disabled also gave a great presentation highlighting the work that their charity does ...


AADI - Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland spoke about services and Edel Shaw with her son's assistance dog Thorpe gave a wonderful speech entitled 'The Thorpe Effect' ...


My Canine Companion - Autism Services also gave a great presentation and had one of their service users Sinead Brook Dutton speak about the impact of their assistance dog on their family's life.  Murray & Clive even got a mention in that speech which thrilled Murray!  He was really good sitting listening to all the speeches.

My Canine Companion had a huget representation at the Seminar - it was fantastic to see such support amongst it's puppy walkers, families and volunteers.  The number of wonderful doodles they have as well was amazing and Murray loved meeting so many other doodles!


Murray took plenty of photos during the day - here's just a few of the fabulous dogs we met!





A huge highlight of the day for us was getting to meet fellow blogger Jennifer and her guide dog OJ. We have been following each other's blogs for years so it was really lovely to get to meet Jennifer and OJ in person.


Finally as the boys left a little early they stopped outside to say a final goodbye to another lovely doodle in training from My Canine Companion.  Duke was an amazing colour and Murray loved him.  He gets very excited when he meets other dogs with Clive but particularly other doodle dogs!


Finally we would just like to say a huge big thank you again to Andrew Geary for organising this Service Dogs of Ireland Seminar.  We took a huge amount away from the day and it was fantastic to meet all the other canine charities and to meet lots of our friends there as well.

- Clive & Co









10 September 2014

Murray's latest passion ....




Murray has had a lot of things that he has been passionate about over the past 16 years.  He will get fixated on something and that thing becomes all consuming for a considerable length of time and then suddenly he will move on ....

We've had lots of things over the years - some easier than others to adapt to, some things you wished he would quickly move away from, some things that were very funny and some things that were very touching.

Over the summer months, making jigsaws became Murray's latest passion - he was doing 1,000 piece jigsaws and completing them every 2nd day of the summer.  That's a lot of jigsaws!!

But with Mom at home for the summer and not much opportunity to get out and about, doing jigsaws was not the worst activity you could think of.  In fact, the whole family rather enjoyed Murray's passion for jigsaws.  He did quite a lot!!!

He's still doing quite a lot - even with school starting again last week.  But time spent at a jigsaw is time away from television and computers so it's all good.  We are very much actively encouraging him to keep making his jigsaws!

Of course, they have to be of wild animals, or Disney characters, or The Muppets or New York or World tourist spots - but that's quite a lot of different types of jigsaws!

The other day the boys were thrilled when Murray finished his new Muppets jigsaws!  It was high 5's all round!

- Clive & Co


06 September 2014

The boys cooking dinner ....





Murray & Clive helping to get the dinner ready last night ...

Every Friday evening Murray is in charge of dinner - we are trying to make him as independent as possible and learn as many 'life' skills as he can.  Learning to be able to cook and serve dinner is one of his favourite pastimes.

He is very lucky to have weekly cookery lessons in school and he brings home a new recipe every week.  Then on a Friday evening, it's his time to cook 'dinner' for the family.  Last night was pretty easy - roast lamb with roast potatoes and roast vegetables.

The lamb was easy to prepare to buy into the oven to roast and the potatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, courgettes might have taken a while to prepare but they are great 'fine motor skill' exercises.  After a little while Murray added them to the roast lamb and later all the family sat down to a delicious 'roast' dinner!

It's very handy having another 'chef' in the house who really enjoys cooking and most importantly is very good at it too!

Well done Murray!

- Clive & Co

02 September 2014

and the boys are back blogging .....


The boys are finally back blogging after what seems like a very long summer ...

Mom wasn't well ...

Clive wasn't well ....

Murray wasn't happy ....

But finally the weeks of rest worked for anyone and Mom is nearly fully better again, Clive has recovered from another nasty lump on his back and Murray is happy again.

Well, he wasn't mad about going back to school today but he did have a lovely summer despite everything and the boys are just back from a few weeks in Spain. They really enjoyed that ....

Here's Clive last month looking a bit miserable with his cone on him!  He kept going at the cyst on his back and making it much worse so there was nothing for it but to wear the cone for a week and it did the trick!

Clive is nine and half years old now and getting more prone to lumps and cysts - he's getting them every few months and Murray gets very upset when Clive is unwell.  Hopefully it will be a while again before we have to visit the vet!


When the boys got to Spain - they took it very easy this year - Mom is still on crutches but they still got to visit all their favourite places and do all the fun things they like to do - Mom was just a bit slower hopping around behind them with Dad!


Murray was 16 while we were all in Spain and that was a very special celebration for all the family!  Our 'not-so-little-man' as he once was here on the blog is now very much a 'man' with a beard and a deep voice to match!  He's also taller than Mom now too!  Murray was SO happy to be 16 and with a few small presents (it doesn't take much to make him happy) and a trip to his favourite pizzeria in Puerto Banus - Picasso's - he had a great birthday!


Murray had also asked us to swim with a sealion again, something he had done in Spain two years ago and has talked about over and over ever since so Sorcha & himself went swimming with Sandra - a lovely sealion at Selwo Marina.  We want to say a huge thank you to the lovely staff at Selwo who were so kind and considerate with Murray and really helped him to make the most out of his day there.


The boys had to leave Spain though and come home to Ireland.  They love being out there in the heat so much that it is always really hard for them to come back home.


However, school beckons ....

The weather was a little bit different in Dublin on their return ...

 Clive wasn't happy that Murray would be leaving him this morning and heading off to school for six hours.  The boys had got used to their long summer together.  However, there is always the fun of being reunited after a few hours and the boys always behave like its been weeks since they saw each other.


So the boy are very happy to be back blogging on a regular basis - Murray loves to tell everyone he meets about Clive's facebook page and blog and for the past few months it was all a bit quiet but now they're fully back in action again.

Many thanks to everyone for the support, kind comments and good wishes over the summer.  We very much appreciated it and now we are looking forward to settling down to a healthy and happy autumn!

- Clive & Co


29 June 2014

A summer 'hiatus' ......




A message from Murray's Dad - the boys are taking a break (regretfully ....)

As you know, Murray & Clive rely on Mom (Fiona) for the Facebook updates and blog posts. Fiona had a big operation last Tuesday but it wasn't a simple one so its going to take some time for her to recover.

So, unfortunately, we're going to have to put Clive's page and blog on a bit of summer 'hiatus' - we hope to get back to all our friends with more stories of Clive & Murray's adventures in the autumn.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported Clive & Murray (and the rest of the family) over many years through your interest in their blog and facebook page. We have been truly humbled that so many people have taken an interest in our 'boys'.

We wish the very best to all our friends, particularly to all those who are also on an autism journey like ourselves and especially to all the wonderful 'doggies' out there!

In the meantime, please excuse us while we try to keep Murray smiling and Mom well. 


Slán, Dad

23 June 2014

The boys loving the sunshine - Powerscourt Waterfall .....


The boys went to visit Powerscourt Waterfall yesterday ....


One of their favourite places ....


 It was very busy with lots of families having picnics and enjoying the glorious sunshine that we've been so lucky to have here at the moment ....


But the boys are always good at finding a quiet spot ...


Someone in the house is going into hospital for a big operation tomorrow so they'll be no more blogging for a little while.  Don't worry it's not Clive or Murray but things will be a little bit hectic around here for the next few weeks so we may be a little slow in putting up some blog posts.

Meanwhile keep enjoying that lovely weather if you're lucky enough to be having some!

We will be back!

- Clive & Co

20 June 2014

This week 8 years ago .....


This week eight years ago Murray's Mom went down to Cork for a week's training at the Irish Guide Dog centre so she could take Clive home at the end of the week ...

It was one of the most memorable weeks of her life and best of all she came home with a wonderful dog who has impacted so much on the whole family ever since but most importantly has been so instrumental in the great progress that Murray has made over those last eight years.

We spent hours during that week in Cork out walking with our Assistance Dogs ....


We stood and listened to plenty of advice from the trainers ....


We learnt all about crossing roads ....


We got plenty of experience with public access ...

Visiting lots of coffee shops and restaurants ....



On that week's training course were Olga & Quiva, Laura & Veda, Veronica & Sydney and Sonia & Vespa. We know Sydney passed over to the Rainbow Bridge several years ago and Vespa retired only a few months ago. All the dogs & Moms were incredibly special and it was a huge honour to share that week with them. We hope that all the families involved with us on that week are doing well and huge thanks again to IGD and our wonderful trainers that week, Cliona O'Rourke and Martin Falvey.


It's hard to remember sometimes our life here in the house before Clive came and those eight years have certainly flown by.  But when we look back at old photos or videos of Murray before Clive arrived, we see a very different kid to the one we have today and a huge amount of that is because of the wonderful Clive!

Have a great weekend everyone!

- Clive & Co

16 June 2014

Dads are pretty special, Special Needs Dads even more special .....

Yesterday was Father's Day and although we think that our 'Dad' here is pretty special every day of the year, yesterday we made sure he knew just how 'special' he is ....

Being a Dad is never an easy job and it's a job for life, even more so when you have a special needs child. You know that there is always going to be a certain 'extra' responsibility that comes with that job!  Chances are you'll not be waving goodbye to them at the airport some day seeing them flying off to conquer the world on their own.

But what's wonderful about being a Special Needs father is that you get a whole new insight into parenting that you might not otherwise have known. Life-long commitment to the job takes on a whole new meaning.  It makes you a stronger parent though and a parent willing to do 'anything' for your Special Needs child.

It makes you appreciate the 'smallest' achievements, the most minor of successes and it makes you very proud of little things that happen that might not ordinarily register on the scale.

Being a Special Needs parent, a Special Needs Dad is not an easy job but it's a great job - it brings a certain joy and fulfillment that only people with special needs kids will appreciate ...

You may still have to supervise showering, help with the shaving, help with the dressing, help with the constant lack of confidence, help with the decision-making because they can't decide or don't know how to, help with lots of things that most 15 year old kids no longer need help with but you do it, because you're their Dad!

There's a lot of helping involved with being a Special Needs Dad!

You also go places, do things and make exceptions that you wouldn't ordinarily do ....

You have your hair cut just the same as your son just because it makes him happy and if you have your cut, so will he .....


You also have to remember the importance of being 'Dad' to the other kid in the house too and play that role just as significantly as well - which you do with bells on!

So, to the very 'Special' Dad in this house - you rock!!!!  We hope you had a great 'Father's Day' ....

ps - Clive needs a walk!!!  Murray needs help in the bathroom!  Sorcha needs some financial advice/assistance!!

- Clive & Co