Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Come on in, 2017...

Phew! What a crazy year!
I can see myself in years to come, looking over my shoulder back at 2016 as the year that ran away from me and left me struggling to keep up with it! It's certainly been a crazy one!

This year DS has shot up and I mean really shot up! I always know when he is going through a growth spurt as he cannot stop eating!
I've lost count of the number of growth spurts he has had this year but it's definitely the most we've had in a 12 month period! :)

DS has also extended his vocab this year too :) He is saying and requesting things using new words and sentences beautifully :) I absolutely love it and he is pleased as punch with his little self when he is understood :)

In 2016 we also discovered and checked out an Autism Holiday Centre.
The Thomas Centre was a huge hit with DS and we've also booked to go back in 2017! (Can't wait!)

In terms of last year's resolutions then I don't think I did too bad.

They were to take time out and relax more and to grow at least one vegetable.

The time out one, I think I did okay. Admittedly, I probably could of done better but I have had a few afternoons when DS has been in school and I've curled up in my favourite chair with a magazine and a cup of tea :) So for that reason, I am giving myself an extra glass of wine with a capital 'A' for 'Achieved' ;)

The grow at least one vegetable resolution was a bit more trickier but I somehow managed it :)
I successfully grew green beans and a gorgeous looking yellow pepper :) In fact my yellow pepper must have looked delicious as a slug beat me to it! Caught him red handed having a good feast on it...ggrrrr...
My tomatoes on the other hand didn't make it :( but nevermind, I will try again in the new year.

2016 has also been a great year for getting together my with my special Mums.
We don't need much of a excuse to congregate and when we do, we have such a giggle.
They are such a great bunch of ladies and a great strength <3

I already know of some big changes that will be happening throughout 2017.
I am really excited about that and am already planning my adventures as a result of these changes.
I am not going to spill right now but will explain as and when they happen! *exciting*! :)

My new year resolutions for the new year are both kinda based around maintaining my emotional well being.

Choose Happiness - I am in a really good place right now and feel really happy :) I feel really lucky to be surrounded by who/what I am. I have a fantastic son who makes me smile - like all the time! I have the best Mum in the world and lovely lovely friends! <3
My resolution to stay in this mindset and to sometimes sit down and think just how lucky and fortunate I am. Especially on them crappy days when you stub your toe whilst rushing around and coming out of the hair salon to pouring rain on the ONE day you left your umbrella at home! (true story - the ONE day! Why?!)

Release Endorphins - Following on from the above and being a bit of a hippy, I have always been interested in amazing human body stuff.
I like to hone in on the more natural and Mother Nature stuff that our bodies can do and the fact that we release amazing endorphins is just something I am keen on :)
So to keep them little happy hormones coming, I am going to exercise more regularly than I do.
I love the little 'exercise high' you get after a good sweaty workout so that's what I am aiming for :)
I have no idea how I am going to squeeze it in but I will find a way......somehow :)

So there they are.
I am quite a determined character so hopefully I will achieve them :)

All is left to say is thank you for supporting and reading my ramblings, I really do appreciate it and I wish you and your families and happy and healthy 2017 :)

Speak soon,

Love Amanda xx

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Celebrating Christmas...

Last week, I was sat with one of my all time favourite Special Mums slurping frothy coffee

(Can I say that? Can I divulge to the world that she is one of my favourites or can I not show favouritism amongst my Mum friends? But I've said it now so I will leave it in)

Anyway, so it was a freezing, icy cold day and we were sat in a nice warm coffee shop with our hands wrapped around our mugs warming our hands.

We were talking about Christmas and of course our children.
My friend suggested that I write a post about how we celebrate Christmas as she knows we do some things differently than most families.
I agreed that it was a great idea so here it is :)

First of all, I have to say how I love Christmas! :)
As a woman in her mid-thirties, I am still very much a child when it comes to Christmas! :)

Now DS likes Christmas but only of it's done the right way for him.
It took me a few years to get the balance just right for him, with a few slightly mis-judged errors along the way but now we have it spot on :) *yay*!

My feeling on Christmas is that it can be such a magical time of the year.
I believe it can still be magical for DS (and me!) with just a few little tweaks here and there.

When DS is happy, calm and relaxed then I am happy, calm and relaxed so it's great investment to get these tweaks in :) *High fives all round*

Okay folks so this is what Christmas looks like in our house.
Here we go...

* Less is More....I think we've all seen the pictures on our Instagram feeds of the giddy parents posting pictures of their cherubs waiting Christmas presents. It resembles a  medium sized mountain in their living room and will take the kid to around the 5th January to open if they start opening very early on Christmas morning!

This would just be far too overwhelming for DS for a start!

DS recieves just a handful of gifts. And no, this isn't because I am a Scrooge!
DS needs to process each present individually, the least amount of presents, the less he needs to process. This means less stress for him and he only needs a short amount of time to do it as opposed to a whopper of a pile which will take him much longer to process and stress him out.
Santa tends to bring DS  a main present and a couple of smaller ones that he knows he will just love and get lots of sensory stimulation from! Oh yes Santa knows what he's doing here ;)

*Take a Picture...This is what I noticed. On Christmas mornings when a sleepy DS would stir and wake, I would whisper to him that Father Christmas has been and left him presents.
DS would seem a bit alarmed. He would slowly get out of bed, creep to he living room doorway, have a quick peek at his presents and then run back to bed.

Only after about 10 minuites would he then again get out of bed, make his way to the living room and start opening his gifts.

I realised that what DS must be doing is processing the 'scene' before he opened his presents.
Christmas Day is certainly a day from the norm so he just needed some time and space to process and work through it all in his mind.

I thought of what I could do to help him with this and decided on taking a picture of his presents in the room exactly how he would find them in the morning. I knew the picture would need to be exact.
I would then print it out and leave it next to him in bed.

So in the morning, DS would wake up to the picture of what the living room looks like allowing him to process the image in his own time before getting out of bed to open them.
This has been in place for a few years now and works well.

I find that having the picture takes away that anxiety of what to expect.
I also do exactly the same thing for his birthdays too :)

*Christmas Tree...For a long time now, I always put up the Christmas tree and decorations whilst DS is present.
This means he sees the tree and decorations going up in stages and again allows him that time to process each stage.

I decorate the tree slowly on purpose for DS which I have found helps.
He even lends a hand too :)
Decorations are kept to a minimum and I always keep the bedrooms decoration/Christmas free so he has a calm room to escape to if needs be.

I knew one family that use to put the Christmas tree up in stages. One day they would just put the tree in the corner and leave it. Then a few days later they would put lights on it followed by baubles a few days later again. They kept to this pattern until it was complete.
It worked for their young man, he was happy and they were happy :)

*Batteries...To save lots of time and lots of frustration (I am referring to the parent/carer just as much as the person with autism here!) I check what batteries toys need.
Before I wrap presents, I always ensure two things are ticked off each item.
They are

1) That the correct batteries are in and checked that the toys works wether it lights up, moves, spins or makes a noise - that bad boy is not wrapped until I've seen it do it's thing with my own eyes! :)

2) I untie the million cable ties and unscrew those mega annoying mini screws that hold stuff into the box.
They always take an age to do and I know DS would get pretty frustrated if he was mega excited to play with a toy but had to wait for what felt like an eternity until I had got the thing free!

*Playing it Cool & Calm...Christmas at one time was a great huge family reunion!
We would all get together on Christmas Day to eat, drink, sing and be merry - it was ace! :)

I lived in a small terraced town house then and how we would all cram in and actually fit in it I don't know but we did and we had a great laugh.
My Mum would cook the dinner for something like 15/16 of us in my then teeny tiny kitchen, it was superb!

DS would seriously struggle with that set-up today. He loves his family members dearly but would struggle to cope with that amount of people at one time.

So we keep it cool and calm for him being careful not to overwhelm.
DS does see and visit family but only a few at a time.
Just recently, I have been challenging him a little bit more socially with careful calculations of course.

I would never throw DS into a situation that I thought he couldn't handle but ones that I think he would be okay with then I've tried them.
Most of the time my little risk assessment has paid off and it's gone well, other times it hasn't so I've kicked started my Back-up plan (I always have a Plan B to everything!)

So as we do Christmas a little bit differently now that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable or magical at all!
I still love it and what's more important to me is that DS enjoys it too.

I think Christmas is definitely not a 'one size fits all'.

It should be celebrated in anyway you like or see fit for you and your family as I am a huge believer in happy children means happy parents and happy parents means happy children :)

So that note, I am going to end it there and just in case I don't manage to pull up another post before Christmas, I wish you and your family and Merry Christmas! :) :)

Love Amanda xx