On the plus side I’ve joined a research group on the down side…

On the down side I have lost all confidence in myself, my ability to work with animals and my animals.

What is going wrong?

I took the girls in for a training session. I started with Ida but she was difficult to catch. Trying the assertive method I probably caught her in a compromising position. She was annoyed about it and wouldn’t leave the shelter without me giving her some gentle encouragement from my hips. I did also try to take her towards the house whereas previously we always walk down our track. So it was a short session with Ida and not so fulfilling although once she is on the halter she is super sweet. I am also aware that leading one alpaca by itself isn’t going to work. More on the solution to that in a minute.

Then I took Susie out. She was fantastic at first. I caught her easily. She left the shelter easily. Then just as we stepped onto the track she just lay down. I gave her lots of Ttouch and even tried Ttouching her legs only to discover that got her up. Useful trick to know. It worked again when she lay down ‘dead’ two minutes later. So Susie isn’t keen on this trekking with alpacas thing.

Then I thought, why not? Let’s try Dolores. As you can see in the photos she was very good at standing still. But she wouldn’t really go anywhere.

I need a refresher course or some more compliant animals. Hard not to feel like this was another  crazy idea and I am not capable of pulling it off. But I don’t feel like that for long. Did I ever think it was going to be easy>? Nope I did not. Am I longing for the satisfaction of  getting them to be trained and super duper easy? Yes that is all I dream of.

They say never blame your tools. Can I blame my set up?

It is terrible and I need to get my midway finances for the SSE grant in so I can buy new hurdles so I can do the handling in a proper setting. Phew. I will get there.

And if it is me that needs to change my techniques (almost definately is) then good thing I am going on Marty’s advance in two days!

The research group is a project Cornwall Council are setting up about asking organisation if they feel they have enough autism training. We get to write the questions, chose who to ask, go ask people and write the report. Or course we aren’t paid but it is useful avenue to networking with others.


How to spit it out and Susie is a tricksy one

Ok so yesterday I said I’d bought a book about being a woman with Aspegers but I wasn’t comfortable with that classification. I just wanted to say why because I don’t want to upset anyone who is happy being an Aspie woman.

I’ll get on to tricksy Susie at the end. Bear with me.

Or skip this self indulgent blah explanation ang get straight to the fun bit about alpacas.

To get diagnosed with autism as an adult in the UK there seem to be only one way and that is as an adult with Aspergers.

When I was trying to find out if my beautiful (capable and amazing) son was on the spectrum I read lots online and took out books in the library. One of the books which really spoke to me directly was Thom Hartmann’s ‘Attention Deficit Disorder. A different Perception’. So while I was unsure about my son I was sure I had ADD.

I went to my GP twice. The first time I was sent away with ‘you have probably been reading too much into your sons condition and now self identify. Come back again if you feel nothing has changed.’  I saw a different GP the second time. He told me I had anxiety (new to me but turned out to be true) and probably had Bipolar not autism. Anyway he did send me to a counsellor (she was fantastic and weirdly Colombian!). And she referred me to the Asperger psychologist. In my first session I was quite sure I did not have Aspergers but probably ADD or possibly High Functioning Autism. You see I was quite particular about the differences especially at this point of being new to reading about each different strand on the spectrum. But they only offer the Asperger diagnosis. So after four or five sessions (and talking to my Mum) the psychologist said I had a working diagnosis of Aspergers. But I have never been comfortable with this ‘label’ and I’ll explain more below.

I did ask for a ‘test’ for ADD and went along to an intial meeting. It was horrible experience. I cried. Basically if I wanted drugs she would refer me to the specialist. But I didn’t and don’t so I left. Humiliated and wondering why I had wanted to put myself through all this.

It was a good experience in many ways because I really felt utterly crap afterwards and realised I was capable in many ways and what I wanted to do was stop myself falling in big holes and messing up my life as I had done before. So I picked myself up and am slowly starting from the basics.

These are a few of the reasons I know I have ADD.

Disorganisation and indecision followed by snap decisions (not always good ones).

(Very very) Easily distracted from things I am not interested in but can not bear/hear/notice others when I am loving what I am doing.

Distortions of time sense… I am a total daydreamer or obsessive about a task I want to complete. More commonly known to everyone around me as not paying attention to them.

As a child I also used to sit outside my mums friends houses and collect stones (often just gravel 😦 ). I would not go in.

I could go on (obsessively) but anyway I don’t believe I am an Aspbie because I don’t classify things (I don’t like labels really), I don’t remember facts (although I do remember telephone numbers long ones), so that’s why…

If anyone wants to keep talking about this or themselves or the differences between ADD, Aspegers, High Functioning Autism… I’ll happily do that…

So Susie…

I went and took Ida out for a fifth time and noticed that the others were being mean to her as I haltered her. I thought, ‘huh they are making it personal’ so after I took Ida out on the lead rope I haltered Susie.

Oh she does like contortions and using her body to not do things. It could have been considered painful. Each movement her head was low and she took steps in groups of two or three then stopped. But I was patient. Even when she lay down I just went over and gave her some Ttouch. And waited then encouraged her to get up. And she did it. She doesn’t like going round the old branches and she didn’t like going back into the shelter, as it had small space with me infront, so I went behind her and gave her a little push (oh and more Ttouch) and in she went.

It was slow. And she was stumbly and tricksy. But she did do it. Next stop Dolores, Mrs spitty pants herself. We can do it girls!

A new book to change my life?

A book came in the post today. I’m hoping it will positively change my life. It’s called ‘Safety Skills for Asperger Women’ and it’s by Liane Holliday Willey. That’s quite a big title to admit to buying. Especially as I don’t feel comfortable classifying myself as an Asperger Woman. It is a very personal process admitting flaws and blind spots. I hope I will become more capable and determined to succeed. I want to understand myself better. Especially to keep myself on track and not fall down any, which I shall change to many more, dark holes. And most relevant to the title of this book I want to live safely. I don’t mean I go around being dangerous (not so much any more) but I have done and do some pretty silly things because I don’t have a ‘STOP, WAIT’ function. It’s a process this life and mostly I am learning to enjoy it.

2 weeks til Marty’s Clinic am I ready??

It’s only two weeks til Marty’s clinic!


The course is going to be great!

I’ll be videoed to see how I am at handling on the first day! Eek. That is scary.

Marty will be teaching us how to teach leading. Very useful for showing people new to alpacas once the trekking starts (there will be trekking, there will!).

We will cover Ttouch (yeah love this) and body positioning (essential with alpacas), herding, foot and leg work (ha watch out Millie) and I am very much looking forward to learning ‘the magic and power of balance’. Since coming back from Julie’s course at Carthvean I have been much more aware of keeping my own balance but it is such a learning curve.

I have however had a major breakthrough recently in that I have switched to handling the girls because of Millies injury and our current (bad!) set up. I have managed to take Ida out into the main field and walked her down and up. She isn’t sure yet but slowly she is learning my signals and she appears to enjoy some of it, at least sometimes. I will ask someone to take photos this week or maybe even a video. I’d better get used to being filmed.

I am feeling almost ready. But I need more practise before I go!!