Latest news on my wonky classic bus | Rick Jackson

It’s high time I gave you an update on my classic bus! Aren’t you lucky?

Rick Jackson's 1982 double decker Leyland Olympian bus.
Rick Jackson's 1982 double decker Leyland Olympian bus.

Some men build things, others have classic cars, I have a 1982 double decker Leyland Olympian bus which hasn’t been very far in 2021.

She lost power on Portsdown Hill in September almost bringing the M27 to a halt. Her air suspension on the left side stopped working so she leans like the Tower of Pisa! Not ideal as she buried her nearside into trees and bushes. I also overfilled the water, which spurted hot water from the overflow pipe.

New batteries fixed the power problem, a hammer sorted the suspension and a clip round the ear for me sorted the water issue. Seems the main issue with the bus is it’s owner.

Brave decision to go public on their children’s autism

We finally got round to watching the Paddy and Christine McGuinness one-off documentary on BBC1 called My Family and Autism.

All three of their children were diagnosed autistic at the age of three.

It was very brave of them to make this documentary, especially as Paddy didn’t speak much about it beforehand.

I was fascinated to watch it as our son Freddie was also diagnosed autistic at three and watching their journey was a big case of deja vu.

Paddy was very much like me. Loves his kids for who and what they are and wouldn’t want them to change, but he struggles with connecting.

I too have my struggles with Freddie. He is very bright and is high functioning. He needs lots of mental stimulation. He needs order, a plan.

He can easily get upset when things don’t go to plan or if we need to do something on the spur of the moment.

We have been lucky. At his Hopscotch pre-school we were connected with a special service called the THOMAS Outreach Programme and a wonderful lady called Naomi met with Freddie each week.

These meetings involved games to help Freddie acclimatise to the school setting. It helped us learn too.

We chose an infant school based on the impressive SEN (Special Educational Needs) teacher as Freddie has an EHCP (Education, Health & Care Plan).

They have been fantastic. Freddie is now in junior school and the special care he received means he loves school and is thriving. He is popular and tops his maths class. We can’t thank these wonderful people enough.

We parents have struggled. I get frustrated at times at Freddie. He loses attention quickly and his strimming noises can annoy!

In the documentary autism was put down to genetics. Paddy and Christine took AQ autism tests. Christine herself was later diagnosed autistic. Hearing her story, my wife Sarah said ‘that’s also you’. So I took an online AQ test. Although not an official diagnosis, I scored very highly, higher than Christine. This explains a lot. Seems I’m very good at masking!

Too much food, too many presents - when will it end?

The Gorge of Greed, as my father-in-law jokingly calls it, continues. No more food or presents please.

Our kids have been thoroughly spoilt as not only do they receive presents on Christmas Day, but also Boxing Day and the 27th when we meet our extended families. We are very fortunate.

I’m now bored with food and drink. I cut back this year and still the fridge groans with cheese, pate and cold meats. There are still chocolates left. I’m now looking forward to the new year and going on my health kick. The house is a mess and there are toys everywhere so now we’ll spring clean.

Ah, I’ve just found the Quality Street and some nuts... I’ll do it later.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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