Sunday, 21 December 2014

All I want for Christmas....

I love Christmas for its magic and the lovely generous Competitions I have come across during the festive season :)

The fabulous M&Co are running a blogger competition about my wishlist for Christ mas and I felt I had to oblige! (of course)

As a parent of a child with autism, if you're anything like me then you're probably stressing over wether 'Santa' has got your little one enough or in my case too much which could possibly overwhelm him that I forget about little old me!

For a change, I thought it would be nice for me to drop some (strong) hints for what I would like! ;)

Here are a few things that I would be simply thrilled to find wrapped under the Christmas tree. (hint number 1)


1. LBD £44.50 - Every girl needs a LBD and I love the sophisication of this one! This would be perfect for a Christmas & New Year party which I tend to go a bit 'all out for' 

2. Beautiful Underwear £16.00 -  I will admit that I am a pretty underwear addict!
Like a magpie, I'm drawn to pretty bra and knicker sets and have a drawer full! 
I absolutely love this due to the neutral colour not to mention the gorgeous pearl detail! I must have these Santa!


3. Matching briefs £7

4. Duvet Set £22 -  I didn't realise that M&Co did homeware but when I spotted this festive little beauty, I was sold!
I love clean, fresh bedding and this ticks all the boxes. The fact that it is also reverse the pattern is a added bonus!

5. Pinecone Heart Wreath £7 - I love nature and decorating my home with unusual things so it comes as no surprise that this little beauty caught my eye. I love that it glistens and I would probably pretend to my friends that I crafted it up myself during a afternoon! hahaha!

My wishlist totals £96.50

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

O' Christmas Tree, O' Christmas Tree....

So the magical time of Christmas is upon us once again.


It's this time of year that my mind is always cast back to the Christmas of 1985.


I was 5 years old and Christmases were my life! I would think about Christmas even at the height of Summer and would often say to my Mum on a hot day whilst sucking on a ice lolly what I would like for Christmas! Mum would mutter something like "okay love, you'll have to see what Father Christmas brings" whilst turning the page of her magazine without looking up from it.


Christmas was lovely as a child and  I have very fond memories of my brother and me creeping down the stairs in pitch black darkness to see if 'he had been' but the Christmas of 1985 was something pretty amazing!


That Christmas I was greeted with a huge three storey Sindy house complete with furniture, car and caravan! I couldn't believe that these wonderful toys were mine! I felt like there should of been twinkling lights behind it or that I had just won the bonus prize of a gameshow that I sometimes watch on our oak effect bulky TV set! (remember we're in the 80's here!)




I was absolutely doll mad so this was heaven to me! The house was that big that I needed to stand on a chair to play with Sindy on the roof terrace and the top floor of the house. This was by far the best toy I had ever had and  gasping to my 11 year old brother how great it was, he responded with a grunt whilst he excitedly put his new Adam Ant record on his new record player followed by some 'Puss Cat, Puss Cat' lyrics blaring out of it!



That Sindy house proved to be a great investment by 'Father Christmas' as I played with it for years and years. Of course more Sindy dolls were added to collection over time followed by Barbie too (I never did get Ken as my Dad didn't think it was ethical! hahaha) until one day whilst playing I realised that I could see the roof terrace. I wasn't standing on anything and I could actually see the top of the house! That's how many years I played with it.




I think there may have been some slight concern at how long I played with dolls but nothing was ever said to me, it's just something I sensed. I remember breaking up from primary school and was going to be starting High School in the following September. Suddenly I wasn't comfortable to continue to play with them seeing as I was nearly a 'High Schooler' and plus my friends seemed to have moved on from them so the decision was made by myself to put them away.



As a parent and as someone who loves Christmas I would love to go Christmas mad at home!
However with DS, we have to play Christmas down a little as it can be way too much of a sensory overload for him.
In the early years, I struggled a little with this. As a big Christmas fan, I use to feel like I had a load of Christmas bubbles inside me wanting to burst out but I had to continually fight to keep them inside.
Of course, now that we have low key Christmas, I find it much easier and I've actually become to prefer it. (could also be an age thing!!!!)


DS has taken a very big interest in our Christmas tree this year resulting in him reluctant to leave it to go to school or bed!
Last night, DS and I camped next to the Christmas tree and within minutes his eyes were closed.....which makes me think "Oh no! What have I started"??!
Fingers crossed that I do manage to sleep in my own bed sometime during December! :):)



Wishing all my readers and families a lovely Christmas regardless of how it's celebrated!


Merry Christmas! This post is my entry into the Tots100/Little Tikes 12 Days of Christmas competition



Friday, 5 December 2014

Happy and Safe Winter Motoring....

I would say that the family car is a crucial tool within a family with one or more children with additional needs - it certainly is within mine!


I probably use the car more now than ever with DS.
As a toddler, I would pop DS in his buggy and would walk literally miles with him. I thoroughly enjoyed this, breathing in the fresh air, getting some exercise and quite often lulling DS to sleep in his buggy.


However, now that DS is far too big for a buggy and not too much of a strong walker, we rely on the car now more than ever!




You really don't need me to tell you that car safety especially travelling with little ones is paramount but did you know that a recent Mumsnet/Michelin survey revealed that 36% are not confident that they know what the legal minimum tread depth is.
Tyres and tyre safety is an often overlooked subject, but so important when you consider how much we rely on our cars, especially when we have kids and even more so for those who have kids with disabilities.



Here are some of the comments that came from the survey...

"It drives me mad when women see this as man's work. Everyone should be responsible for their own safety"


"I was once told that the tyres are the most important part of the car as they are the only thing connecting you to the road. I have always remembered this, especially with kids in the car"


and my personal favourite.....


"I like all 4 tyres to match and be the same brand" !!





Michelin Total Performance brings together an optimum mix of performance areas such as grip, long-life and fuel saving without a trade-off. Michelin tyres are the best match for the daily driving challenges that Mumsnetters face.


Now that the temperature is dropping mean that driving conditions will be more challenging, its wise to ensure all tyres are adequate for winter driving.


Its definitely going to be one of my Winter jobs to do from now on!

http://www.youtube.com/embed/3T2SgIa6EpA

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post










Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The post with no title...

Well we're nearly at half term and I have to say that our start to the academic year has been horrendous! (hence why I have been a bit quiet on the blog front)

September has been a nightmare from start to finish to say the least! I'm not going to go into everything that has happened but I will tell you the main things...

DS started back at school during the first week of September.
As he was starting back with new staff, new children in his class, I knew this was going to be huge for him!
As per usual, I prepared him for the forthcoming changes as much as I could but knew that he would struggle to some extent.

So the first day, I picked up the little Superstar from school he came home and had a meltdown.
The next day was the same, the day after that and the day after that.

Bearing in the mind that before this, his last meltdown was months and months ago, I still had predicted this.
However, as the weeks went on, I expected his behaviour (and meltdown) to improve and decrease but unusually this didn't happen.
As the weeks went by, his behaviour became more intense which puzzled me.

Initially thinking that he was just struggling with the transition back to school, I arranged with school to try a phased return. Taking him to school in the morning, picking him up just after lunch with the idea to slowly increase.
School agreed to this and we did this for 1 week but still no difference.

Now remember, we know our children the best, better than anyone else in this land.
DS and I live together, we're together everyday. We play together, we eat together, we sleep together and we even bathe together! We have a strong bond, a connection, a trust and I know that no-one knows this child better than me!

Very soon, I learnt that something was wrong in school. DS may not be able to come home and say "Mummy, I'm struggling in school because they've painted the wall yellow and you know how I feel about yellow"! (for example) but his behaviour was telling me very clearly something was wrong so spoke to DS's teacher about my concerns.
DS's teacher is a lovely member of staff, she has a lovely way about her and DS is very fond of her, like I am - she made some suggestions such as the classroom was a little different now such as been re-decorated, new ceiling installed etc etc.....but no I felt that wasn't it...

During the next week, DS reluctance to go to school was very much increasing.
He was fighting whilst I was getting him dressed, to get in the car and to go into the school building. It was heartbreaking seeing him so upset looking at me pleading with his eyes until one morning I decided enough was enough! I was no longer going to 'force' DS into school whilst it was distressing for him and decided then and there that I was going to home school him as I was no longer prepared to put him through something that was obviously so distressing for him,

That week I bought a few quality education toys and card games, specifically with colours as I know DS has a interest in colours at the moment so I wanted to start with that which he enjoyed.
We also went on a nature walk to a nearby forest with a picture card of things we had to find and collect such as acorns, red leaf, orange leaf, squirrel.....once we had spotted each of them we gave a big tick next to their picture - it was good fun.
We collected some Autumn things like leaves, twigs etc and we made a autumn display in the kitchen as well as doing some leaf rubbings.

Another day we went swimming and took advantage of everywhere being nice and quiet with all the children in school it was perfect for DS.


A few days later, I accidently learnt that the classroom was still being worked on, new equipment was being replaced a few weeks after the academic year had started!
I instinctively knew that, that could very possibly be the cause of DS's anxiety and stress and arranged a meeting straight away!

That meeting must have been one of the worst meetings I have ever been in my life including meetings I have been in with my job!
The member of staff that represented the school was dreadfully unprofessional as well as very unsupportive!
I'm not going to quote what was discussed in the meeting but believe me it was dreadful! I said what I needed to say and challenged what I felt I had to challenge but I'm sure I got my point across!
It concerns me this particular member of staff's knowledge of autism seems to non-existent!
It was very clear that she just doesn't get it and sees alot of behaviours as 'naughty' or 'playing up'.
I can't even begin to express how furious I am about that and have very clearly communicated that I do not want her anywhere near my son!

I also put a complaint about her with the head who was very apologetic.

So now as we are nearing the end of October, DS is only just settling into school.
He isn't as fighting to go as much and will walk happily in but he isn't quite back to his usual self yet but I'm hoping that we're going in the right direction.

I would like to think that so called 'professionals' (though I'm going to lose that term loosely with this one!) have a good understanding of children on the autistic spectrum who work in a special school with a large in take of ASC students but no clearly not!

Very disappointed to put it politely :(





Saturday, 9 August 2014

Busy Busy Bees....

For the first time ever I feel that the first few weeks of the school holidays are whizzing by!
But then again, we've been extra super dupa busy...

I've just completed a 'Managing Behaviour' course that was covered over several weeks, part way through I realised that it was going to run into the school holidays #eeeek! which would have been a near impossibility!

There would be no way that DS would happily entertain himself whilst I knuckled down to it - oh no wayo!
So I called the tutor explaining this and asked if we could squeeze the rest of the modules into what we had left of term. It was tight but we managed it (just!) completing on the very last day that DS was at school before breaking for the holidays - phew!


Not to mention, starting a two week AIT (Auditory Integration Training) on the following Monday delivered by the lovely Tracy Alderman (please see my previous post about this)
I won't lie to you my friends, I find AIT exhausting! The hour drive there, the hour treatment itself then the hour drive back on repeat for ten whole days but it is so worth it! I simply wouldn't do it if I didn't think it was.
We completed the ten days yesterday - DS did brilliant and looked forward to going most days :)

#I got funding for AIT - please contact me for more info on this.

Another mad panic I had was employing a suitable carer for DS to help out during the holidays to give me some respite......knowing that this holiday was fast approaching, time wasn't on my side.
I was just about to advertise for this position when a small miracle happened! :)

Someone I know stepped forward and saved the day #as well as my sanity.....well what's left of it anyway
For me, any carer for DS must have experience of working with low functioning autism in a professional capacity, be on the same page as me, trustworthy, reliable and of course DS must like them which I can pick this up from his behaviour etc.
I'm not saying that's what all carers need to have, this is just my criteria and is personal to mine and DS's needs #just to be clear :)
DS's carer certainly ticks all the above boxes and with him preferring males this was a bonus!



I discovered DS preference to males a few years back when he went from a female teacher to a male teacher, the difference in how he interacted with the teacher was very noticeable! That much so that everyone commented on it. Ever since I've looked out for it with him and it's a definite, he prefers fellow males :) I've often wondered why this is but haven't so far found a definite answer.

I'm looking forward to the next few weeks going at a slower pace and no doubt DS will be happy about that too.

Hope your holidays are going okay too :)







Friday, 11 July 2014

The Big Move....

In one of my last posts remember when I joked how we needed a bungalow with a wet room as DS floods the bathroom and water seeps through the floor?
Well we have now moved into said bungalow.
The bungalow is new and very very fit for purpose.
We have moved from a busy housing estate in a town to a bungalow on the quiet outskirts of a village which is absolutely ideal for DS's noise sensitivity issues.

DS seems to be the only child around so there is no shouting or crying from other children for him to hear.
At the back of us are acres and acres of fields growing golden wheat that I often sit and stare at with a glass of wine...;)


Managing DS on one level is much much easier than trying to manage him on three levels! Before I was forever running up and down stairs towards the crash or smash I had just heard and whilst DS attempts to flood the wetroom (he loves tipping water out and watching it splash on the floor!) I can sit back relaxed knowing that his sensory need to chuck water about the place isn't going to blow the electrics!

The delicate matter of the move in regards to DS was a operation that I thought alot about.
A house move is a big deal to anyone but to DS a house move = big change and that had to be thought through carefully for him.
I thought about a few approaches to it but for DS i decided on the softly, softly approach :)

As the house was on its last stages of being completed, I took DS to it. For the first couple of times, he was happy just to sit on part of the plot and play with the soil and sand. That was fine, I was happy to go at his pace.
Once he went inside the house, he ran around the place in a whizz! All excited and energetic. It was at this point that I told him that it was going to be our new house and that we we're going to live in it one day.
I took him round each room telling him what each one was.

Once it was sort of ready, I took DS for the odd night there. We would only stay one night at a time, leave it maybe  4/5 nights then have another night there. He was great with this and if I'm honest, I probably could of gone at a bit of a faster pace than this for him but I didn't want to mis-judge and mess it up.


The next step was to actually move in! It went very well, DS has been settling in very well.
I'm still getting to know the area and am chuffed to bits when I discover a little short cut somewhere ;)
It's only been a few weeks so its still a novelty to him right now but I know he will be fine, he has surprised me at how well he has tolerated a huge change like this.......

Damn proud Mum right here.....


Friday, 16 May 2014

Auditory Integration Training....

I've made no secret of the fact that DS has huge noise sensitivity issues.
Due to this we've encountered some quite ugly moments in our time.

I've lost count of the sunny days out we've had as a family which have been going swimmingly well until a child or baby has screamed/cry near DS and within seconds we find that we're prising DS's fingers from the child's hair!

Whenever we go anywhere with DS, Daddy and I are both on 'noise alert'
I am highly tuned into the noises and sounds that I know DS cannot tolerate.
I'm on edge too as I need to move like a ninja if I hear a child cry, squeal. scream or shout or even a parent using a abrupt tone when telling their child off.

My family laugh at how different I dress when taking DS out, I wear my trainers and usually jogging bottoms or something loose as this boy moves fast and I need to be able to sprint after him like I am competing in the Olympics!!;)

Crying, squealing, screaming etc are DS's triggers and he will pounce on the person responsible for the noise which is why I have to move like Wonderwoman to prevent this!

How I haven't developed a nervous twitch because of this is beyond me!

Please understand, DS isn't being naughty when he pounces on a child for screaming. It's is only way of communicating and showing that person that his/her noise hurt him and that he just can't tolerate it.
It's his only way of telling him/her to stop :(

I admit it isn't a brilliant way of communicating this message but when your communication skills are very limited, what choice do you have?

A while ago I decided to look into ways or even treatment (within reason) that could possibly help with DS's severe noise sensitivity issues. I stumbled across something called Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

AIT is a music programme to help people with ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, Autism, hearing sensitivities and a variety of other special needs.

The programme provides stimulation to the hearing mechanism which produces more normal hearing after treatment.

The important factor for me that nothing 'nasty' or intrusive would be involved that would cause pain or discomfort!
The reviews I read on the results of AIT were astonishing and with its success rate being high (children were not 'cured' but were certainly more tolerant to noise) then I set about looking for a fully qualified practitioner :)

Tracy Alderman was recommended to me and after talking to her at length on the phone (and asking a billion questions about it!) I was eager to give it a go!

As a Mum to autism herself, Tracy totally got it! I can't tell you how reassuring that was! *huge big sigh of relief!*
Tracy was warm and welcoming and eager to help :)
The sessions were booked for 1 hour periods over ten days.
The treatment involved DS wearing headphone and listening to 'music' for the hour. I really didn't think he would do this but by day 2 he sat beautifully with them on most of the time!




What DS was really listening to was music with different frequencies to de-sensitize him. We knew when he had heard a frequency that he struggles with as he would take the headphones off and kick/hit out at us, but over the days this lessened which was a good sign that it was having a effect on his noise sensitivity issues! :)

Tracy was very informative and we completed daily tick sheets which monitored DS's behaviour and if there were any changes in it.



By day 2 there were already changes, DS becomes more affectionate all of sudden! Both Daddy and I noted it straight away and we love it!:)
DS also said a few new words and by day 5 he tolerated a noisy water park for a extra three hours than he normally would of done! We were gobsmacked!



Fast forward a few weeks to now DS's noise tolerance is still high up there which is brilliant as he is able to cope with play areas and such.
The first potential incident came shortly after completing the treatment.
We ere on the park when a child playing next DS screamed because she toppled over.The scream would have gone straight down his ear as he was that close to her (already I am there to re-direct him away) he just glanced at her and away again to carry on what he was doing! That would never had happened before AIT!
Several instances like this have happened since with absolutely no need to for me to intervene/do my ninja stuff! Amazing!

In my opinion AIT has worked wonders for DS and we will be returning to Tracy to work her magic for a 'top-up'

Here are her details if anyone wants to explore this wonderful treatment :)

http://www.tracyaldermanait.co.uk/

*Please note I have received no payment to influence the content of this post, the opinions are all my own :)