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



10 June 2014

So disappointed with Disneyland Paris ...


So after a magical few days in Paris the boys arrived in Disneyland Paris.  It was Murray's 12th year to visit - he really does adore all things Disney! This year, no Clive as we felt that it would have been too much for even such a good service dog as Clive.  He's getting old and three days around Disneyland Paris would have been too tiring for him.

However as in Paris, Kermit was there with Murray .....

After 12 years of visiting Disneyland Paris, Murray's Mom & Dad know the drill well and the first thing they do is go to City Hall to get a 'priority card' for Murray. This card is issued once you show written confirmation supporting the medical condition of the guest who requires the card.  Murray's ID card from Irish Autism Action is invaluable and was all we needed to acquire one of the priority passes.  This card gives Murray and "his helpers priority access to certain attractions in both Parks, although access is not instant and queuing times depend on visitor numbers"

Now, our problem with Disney this year was that yet again they have changed the rules slightly.  Last year on Murray's favourite rides "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" you were given a time to come back to do the ride when you approached a cast member and showed the 'priority card'.  This was fine as the wait times were not too long.  Also, as the main queues were not busy last year, we just used the 'main' queue and were able to do the rides several times in succession thus keeping Murray very happy until his allotted time came up.

This year however, the wait time to do "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" was over two hours each time we asked (we were there three days and it was the same response each day).  Now, as the main queues were minimal we went over and tried to enter the ride via the main queue (just like we had done last year!).  However, we were pulled from the rides and refused entry.  We had been seen to try and use the 'priority card' and poor Murray was easily spotted in the queue as he scripts non-stop with excitment before he's about to board a ride plus he's 15 years old and holding a green frog!

We were in the Park from a Monday to Wednesday (very quiet days with short queues) -  we specifically took Murray out of school before end of school term as the Parks would be quieter and there would be less crowds and more chance of doing his favourite rides.  Our major problem with Disneyland Paris this year was that Murray could not understand how when there was only a 5 minute queue to these attractions, we were being told come back in two hours!  Try that with an autistic kid and see how well it works!!

Disney's new rule is that for 'health & safety" reasons under "French law" - only one guest with a learning disability, mental health disorder, behavioural disorder or autism is allowed on the ride at any one time.  So for example, when a group of four French adults with intellectual disabilities arrived with their carers at "It's a Small World" as well, they were all told to come back separately at different times with their carers two hours hence!!  Disney's Accessibility Guide states "the access restrictions based on health or safety cannot be considered as discriminatory" so they claim they are not being discriminatory towards 'intellectual disabilities' - we beg to differ!

Now, if you arrived at the ride in a wheelchair (and were able to transfer), on crutches, with a walking stick, or pregnant you got straight onto the ride.  Any number of physically impaired guests were allowed access to the rides with no time wait but any guest with an intellectual disability was been given times in excess of two hours.  It wasn't busy - none of the days were so what must it be like in peak season.

Murray is as well able to exit the ride in the case of an emergency as any of the other guests - in fact he's a lot more able than those who were in wheelchairs, using crutches, heavily pregnant or very young babies! But no exceptions to the rule - we were told "what's two hours to wait" - come back then!

On a wet morning at the" Pirates of the Caribbean" ride with only 20 people queuing - we had made the mistake of showing Murray's "priority pass" - we should never have produced the pass and just used the main queues.  But we were trying to do things "properly".  At 1.30pm we were told "we could give you a time slot at 4pm".  We tried to access via the main queue as Murray was desperate to do the ride 'once' and we were leaving the Park that day to return home.  We didn't have the time to wait until 4pm and Murray is autistic and doesn't do 'waiting' well but were stopped and refused entry.  The cast member was particularly insulting towards 'special needs'.

Never again after 12 years at Disneyland Paris will we visit - we have had enough!  Murray and us were made feel like criminals for trying to question the system.  There was no understanding of autism and intellectual disability.  Being told "what's two hours to wait" is unacceptable to a child with autism.  Disney certainly has no understanding or empathy for people with autism.  Why the system keeps changing every year with ill informed cast members who don't know or understand the rules or reasons and just keep saying "come back in two hours" is crazy.  Different rules seem to apply every year and differ for every ride!  The fact that "It's a Small World" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" are Murray's favourite but the two rides with the 'crazy' wait times meant he was constantly disappointed!


Kermit & Murray managed two rides on "It's a Small World" in three days!!


Next year, Murray & Kermit will be going elsewhere .....


- Clive & Co


07 June 2014

What Murray did in Paris ......


Murray has been in Paris for the past week with Kermit! (well his Mom & Dad were with them too!) - No Clive, but at 9 years old Clive is starting to get tired working and a week of sightseeing, shopping and then Disneyland Paris would have been too much for him.  So Clive stayed at home and was very well looked after there ....

He sulked mind you and couldn't wait for Murray to return.  He really missed Murray and likewise Murray really missed having Clive with him.  But Kermit did help!  In fact, Kermit the frog helped a lot - Murray was able to talk to him all the time, just like he talks to Clive.  He was able to hug him for re-assurance and he was able to show 'Kermit' the sights.  It wasn't quite as good as having Clive but it certainly helped that Murray had Kermit with him.

Paris is like a giant film-set for Murray - just like in New York, Murray associated everywhere he visited with some of his favourite films!  He just loved going from one famous place to the next ....

So Murray and Kermit walked Paris .....


They checked out all those famous places - like Notre-Dame (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame 1 and 2 plus The Muppets Movie and Mr Bean's Holiday)


There were lots of tourists everywhere! June in Paris was very busy but it was okay! Murray and Kermit managed the crowds ....


Murray particularly loved the Arc de Triomphe - so Kermit was happy to oblige and go there too! (Mr Bean's Holiday and the original Muppet's Movie)


Crossing the Champs Elysées can be a bit dangerous so Kermie sat up on Dad's shoulder!


Murray explained all about the tomb of the Unknown Soldier to Kermit ....


Kermit was very impressed!


Kermit found travelling around on the Big Bus was a great way to see as many of those sights that Murray had on his list in the quickest possible time ....


Murray was thrilled with the Tour Eiffel - he particularly adores the Tour Eiffel (almost as much as the Statue of Liberty) - (well, it did feature in the Muppets movie, the original one!! and Mr Bean's Holiday, Ratatouille, The Smurfs 2, A Monster in Paris)


After the Eiffel Tower the boys went to the Louvre - Murray wanted to see the Mona Lisa! (Looney Tunes back in action)



Murray & Kermit loved the Louvre ....


But Paris is a big city with a lot to see and after a few days the boys were worn out ....


It was time to move on to Disneyland Paris and see if Kermit could find any more of the Muppets there ....

- Clive & Murray

*Murray did mention whilst leaving Paris, that Kermit and himself needed to also see Berlin, Madrid and London (just like in the Muppet's Most Wanted movie) but that's for another day!!