Don’t Panic! Sat 20th Dec 2014

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I imagine the shopping centres were horrendously busy, with a capital “H” today. Not a place that anyone of us would want to be, D has got considerably better at tolerating shopping trips, holding firmly into my hand, but no, we’ve had a nice day at home.

We haven’t sent out any postal Christmas cards this year, partly because I didn’t want to scribble and rush them, partly because it’s been quite an eventual year and I wanted to reflect that in any notes and partly because we ran out of time, it’s been a busy few weeks. We’ll send out New Year ones instead.

That kind of sets the tone for the next few days, to relax, to enjoy the family time together and to remember those who are no longer around. Reflection for us, hopefully enjoyment for the children.

D has been a lovely help today, arranging wrapped presents under the tree and generally quietly bubbling with excitement about it all…5 sleeps to go!

I did wonder if it would spoil the excitement for her, seeing presents under the tree, as opposed to them appearing on Christmas morning but we don’t have anywhere to “hide” them and she seems happy with seeing them already, but being aware she has to wait. Albeit grinning away, bless her.

T’s match was postponed (again) today but he’s had a good few hours of running about with a ball in the fresh air, he does need his football/trampolining for self-regulation.

Glitter time. Yesterday she ended up in a bowl of satsumas:

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D wasn’t too keen on today’s, she thought Glitter might be uncomfortable, in a cracker, hopefully she’ll be somewhere more pleasing tomorrow (nice bit of empathy showed there by D, I thought):

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I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

The Pack – Fri 19th Dec 2014

Our pack, our T and D.

We christened you this as, being only 18 months apart, you’ve always been my little shadows, from when D was mobile.

I used to carry you both around the house, one on each hip, I certainly couldn’t do that now, the occasional single piggyback is enough!

The end of term today, a long term, in which you’ve both had your challenges, tonight we are so unbelievably proud of you both.

Want to know why?

Mr Pick aka T:
You’ve had the biggest changes with starting at secondary school. Not the nearest school to us (or the second or third nearest) but the best one for you.

You set off every morning, come rain or shine, on time to catch that coach, grumbling about the fact it’s never there on time but off you go. I get a wave as you turn the corner and then another just as you go out of sight, it’s part of your morning routine now, has been from that first day.

Today you received two certificates in the end of term assembly; one for 100% attendance (yay, the coach does get there on time) and one for achievement in a particular subject, a subject you openly admit is your least favourite lesson, so to have this recognised is great for your morale.

We’ve had our “hairy” moments, getting to grips with the sheer volume of homework has been a challenge, it hasn’t always been *ahem* terribly good-natured but you’ve knuckled down and got it done.

And the planner, week 1 or week 2? There’s only been one morning when week 2′s books got put in on a week 1 day, luckily we rectified it but it was an “aaaargh” moment.

With all this change and when your football fixtures get mucked around with, you have been back-chatting a bit, it will pass, it’s a “I’m
growing up and finding my boundaries” phase.

It was really nice to have some time with you today as your school finished a couple of hours before D.

We are so mega proud of you.

Our D:
To hear you singing this week in the school concert was amazing. Something we will never forget. Ever.

We didn’t see it, but you repeated your singing in today’s assembly.

You’ve had your ups and downs.

We received your lovely pink trike and then only a week or so later, you came off it in the road. We are slowly getting your confidence back and, come the Spring weather, I hope it’s a regularity and not a rarity that it’s used again.

And those injections, every time you twist and turn and squirm. I hate seeing it happen, hate having to hold you down and it feels all the more awful because we talk about it beforehand, I say it’s better if it just happens quickly, you agree and then those anxieties take over once we’re there.

You enjoy being at school, apart from when you don’t have the confidence to say when something’s wrong at the time, you have said you’ll miss school in the holidays but that you can’t wait for Christmas.

Both of you:
Enjoy the next two weeks, let’s make it fun. Catch up on some sleep and some down time. Routines are key in our house but a little bit of change would be good.

Thank you T for not letting on to D about our Elf and Father Christmas.

Thank you both for when you’re tolerant of each other, thank you for the cuddles, your dad and I both appreciate them.

No “worst bits” from either of you during our “best, worst and funniest bits of the week” tonight, let’s hope it stays that way during the next couple of weeks.

We’re looking forward to Christmas with our Pack.

Mumma and Dad

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My Word Of The Week and R2BC

This last week, with all the changes to routine that a very fast approaching Christmas brings, has definitely had its ups and downs.

But, we’re thinking extremely positively and my one word to sum up this week would be:

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And here’s why (the R2BC bit):

1. Singing
We attended D’s school carol concert on Monday and our girl sang “White Christmas” as a trio. It was amazing.

The frightened child who was too overwhelmed in mainstream to take part in anything, has been replaced by a “lovely young lady”, as someone told her. There was anxieties beforehand and she dashed back to me afterwards but, for those 2-3 minutes, it was wonderful to watch.

2. Elsa et all
I was saving this for Christmas but then, after a couple of fragile school days for D, decided to pop it on as an early present yesterday. She squealed with delight when she saw it and immediately rushed back downstairs to nearly bowl me over.
Blankie and Bunny like it too.

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3. Ho Ho Ho
Today has brought yet more change at school, but it’s been particularly grin-inducing for D, a visit from Father Christmas.
He’s a clever chappie when he goes to her school, always choosing their individual gifts to perfection.
D’s was a 5000 (yes, 5000!) bead set and she couldn’t wait to show me it this afternoon.

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4. Assembly
Tomorrow (Friday) will see an end of term assembly and (hopefully) more singing from D as a trio. They have been asked to repeat their performance.
She does like to receive certificates (or bertificates as she used to call them) and this one was fantastic:

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It has been carried around and coveted by D, as you can probably see from the crinkles, I think the laminator will be coming out just to protect it a bit more, but how fab to be “Music Star of the Term”.

D is so looking forward to Christmas (fragility aside) and she is an absolute joy to be around when she’s super-de-duper excited about it all.

T is looking forward to the rest that two weeks off school brings and a break from wearing ties, he has enjoyed the fact that this last week has brought change (meaning fewer lessons) but he has been a tad exasperated by some of the activities that he should be enjoying.

And Glitter choose a challenging place to look over everyone today, inside our candle holder, can you see her?

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Music – Weds 17th Dec 2014

D, until she had a growth spurt, used to have a t-shirt which said “music makes me happy” on it, that’s certainly been the case today.

This morning was a slow walk to school, perpetuated by endless cuddles, craved and needed by D to get her through the walk, past strangers and other noise-making potential anxieties. We were probably late today but my priority was getting her there in one piece and not risking a bolting or meltdown scenario (never a good thing when you have to pass a mainstream primary school).

But get there we did and she is still receiving praise for her singing on Monday, it’s so positive that it is recognised just how much it took for her to stand in front of a busy room and do so well. One staff member who used to give D a sticker each morning when she’d managed to curb anxieties and walk into school said that D “was growing into a lovely young lady”. She is, we are so proud of her. She was so weary though.

And music has done its trick today, for the first time this week, we received a big smile as she came down the stairs, a subsequent run up and a huuuuge cuddle. A very happy girl. Her Christmas party (which she had been anxious about) had turned out to be a rock concert (as she called it) with staff playing instruments and singing and everyone having lots of fun singing and dancing along. She is so lucky that her school lays on these events as in reality many of the children wouldn’t be able to tolerate a traditional disco setting.

Music does make our girl (and her Mumma) very happy.

T is continuing to countdown to Friday and the end of term, the next two weeks will be a chance for him to recharge and get some of that spark back.

Here’s where Glitter was today, perched behind our wind chime on our wall of happy thoughts. I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

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Small Steps Amazing Achievements – Weds 17th Dec 2014

Eight sleeps to Christmas and welcome to this week’s Small Steps Amazing Achievements, as Jane at @ethansescapades and I co-host fortnightly, this week it’s my turn.

This will be the last SSAA linky of the year, it will return with Jane on 7th January 2015, but we’ll be keeping this week’s linky open a while longer as we know that the build up to Christmas is a very busy time.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week, we enjoyed reading your posts.

If this is your first time reading this, you can find out about the Small Steps Amazing Achievements linky here, we do hope you join in. Posts can be old or new and please don’t forget to visit and comment on other posts too.

Here’s the badge code if you’d like to grab it:

Ethans Escapades
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Jane and I enjoy reading and commenting on your posts and sharing them via the #SSAmazingAchievements hashtag.

Here are Jane’s highlights from last week:

“@PinkOddy’s Little Angel was a true superstar

@HappyHomebird is building the excitement of Christmas for her superstar

There is a lovely sibling bond developing over at @BecomingaSAHM

And lastly you must watch this very cute video made by @Fiveadventurers – Do You Want To Go Skiing?”

We always find it difficult to choose a few to highlight as the posts linked up are always so wonderfully varied, but you can read them all here.

We can’t wait to read what your children have achieved this week.



Come Down – Tues 16th Dec 2014

After yesterday evening’s very proud moments, we have one tired D.

I guess there’s been so much change in the last couple of weeks in school, many many rehearsals – not just for yesterday but the class performance too – and the general rush of excitement that the build up to Christmas brings.

She did so well yesterday and afterwards so many people praised her, it continued this morning, the little singing trio were also mentioned in a letter home today, it was a massive achievement for them all.

There’s just three more days to go now and they’re busy days; a Christmas class party tomorrow, a visit from Santa on Thursday and then end of term assemblies etc on Friday.

In a very unlike D moment (which just goes to show how tired she is), she’s not particularly fussed about her party wear, normally she is a sequins, tiara, costume jewellery and all gal.

This out-of-routine is making for quite a pale, cuddly girl. We’ve obviously kept it going at home so that she (and T) gain some comfort from that.

In contrast…

T cannot wait for the end of term! This week has seen some fun activities and usually he’d suffer with the change to routine, but T is seeing them as they are, replacements for lessons = less study and (hopefully) less homework.

He is slightly (understatement) miffed that his last football game before Christmas has been postponed (opposition were demoted, which seems a bit harsh for the boys in that team tbh, especially as they’d be new year 7′s etc) but C’est la vie I guess.

We’re nearly there..three days to go, I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

(This was where Glitter ended up today, reminding me that I need to start wrapping!):

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Stomping – Mon 15th Dec 2014

The title of tonight’s blog is deceptive, yes, there’s been “stomping” but it’s been of the fun kind, singing (and stomping in the last verse) along to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. D was so enthusiastic, she stomped on Hubbie’s foot…whoops!

The carol concert at D’s school is always a lot of fun with plenty of jingle-y instruments to accompany the songs, a brass band playing and a Christmas story read by the HT.

Last year D was meant to be singing in a group on stage and nerves completely overcame her….this year she sang “White Christmas” as part of a trio and did brilliantly! Our not-so-little girl has progressed so much in the right setting for her.

We’ve all got slightly hoarse voices from singing along. Even T in the last song.

I’ve had my head held on to and turned to look at things, my hair fuzzed up when she got reckless and my necklace twisted until it was half the size, all little things that enabled D to stay right until the end – and then of course both her and T wanted to come straight home, no mince pies for Hubbie!

It’s always a highlight of the last week of term to go to the concert, made more special this evening with D’s performance.

It’s been a good (if long) day.

Glitter ended up on the Playmobil nativity yesterday, just lounging around:

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And today she landed on D’s 2014 calendar (which D found very funny):

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I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

Blog Me Better – Sun 14th Dec 2014

Life as a SN parent can be challenging and dare I say it, isolating too.

Isolating because it’s difficult to find those other parents/carers who “get” what life is like. Who “get” that outings have to be planned, that if your child is lucky enough to be invited to a birthday party, then along comes the plate that they’ll only eat off, the (see through) water bottle and the food, because of their sensory issues and aversion to trying new things.

It’s always lovely to meet up with other SN parents/carers at functions and share in the achievements and challenges. Twitter has also been a great mechanism for “meeting” people who “get” our life, even though they may be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Invariably I’ll bump into a mum from D and T’s old mainstream school, D and I walk past it twice a day. D received a SEN and left nearly 5 years ago, T 3 years ago because the school wasn’t meeting either of their (very individual) needs. The talk will turn to how D is doing and then T. When I mention that he received a diagnosis of high functioning autism last year, it goes one of two ways:
Either I get the “I’m so sorry”
Or
The eyes glaze over and you realise that they’re looking for a reason to quickly finish the conversation.

Which is understandable. Until autism was first muted around D at 3.5 years old, I have to honest and say I didn’t know much about the vast autistic spectrum either.

The truth is I’m not sorry that T received a diagnosis, we were anticipating it. It explained all the little traits we were trying to ignore, the ever growing variances between him and his peers and the knowledge that we weren’t rubbish parents, it was purely and simply genetics.

It was also important that T received this “label” before secondary school, so that, if need be, school would recognise that he may need extra help and support. This “label” was also beneficial when we had to appeal his school place refusal because we could talk through what he could bring to the school but also be very open about his OCD traits, his need for a positive, visual routine etc.

And it’s worked, on the whole. He’s settled in extremely well, in the excellent secondary school that we fought so hard to get him into.

But it’s taken its toll, the last couple of years, I’m so tired, emotionally and physically and only recognising now, that the children are settled in their schools, that I need to take care of me, rejuvenate myself a bit so that I can be the best Mumma I can be, that they deserve.

I was asked recently if I’d like to feature in a “Blog Me Better” segment of the Mail On Sunday (weekly newspaper in the UK), I was sceptical at first but then willingly agreed. Anything that helps raise a smidgen of acceptance and awareness of autism can only help, can’t it.

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The above was today. Me in the paper! Blog Me Better has taken on a new meaning for me over the next few months as I not only continue to detail how parenting my really quite individually lovely children with autism goes, but how I’m doing too.

Because as carers we matter too.

PlayMobil – Sat 13th Dec 2014

PlayMobil has always been a big part of D’s life, even if she hadn’t actually played with it.

When she was in nursery, Reception and for much of Year 1, she’d carry a little bag around with her. Sometimes 2 or 3 bags, it depended on how much she needed them for security, to deal with the confusion and considerable anxieties she faced.

The bags were always full to bursting with plastic food (her peas and asparagus were firm favourites), little pieces of ribbon and Playmobil pieces, lots of Playmobil. She didn’t “play” with them, she didn’t know how. There was never any role-playing or commentary as these little bits and pieces were carried around, made all the more obvious as I’d be childminding girls of her age. They’d be off playing together, talking princesses and the such like, D would be putting her toys on the floor and pacing around them in a circle, eyes focused, zoned out.

Her need to carry a bag around everywhere has diminished since she joined SN school, being replaced by Bunny (good old Bunny, who has been there from the beginning) and a book, usually on Minecraft. Sometimes Rainbow Fairies but that’s very occasionally.

The lack of role play is something you get used to, the fact that toys bought because an interest had been shown wouldn’t be played with. It was difficult to accept and whenever I was asked what D would like as a gift, I’d say felt tip pens and paper because otherwise I’d feel that money would be wasted.

Today we decided to construct this:

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A Playmobil nativity set, D has now started to understand the meaning behind Christmas and I felt confident that the little figures and animals wouldn’t be spirited away, like so many little figures before them.

And then this happened:

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D was playing! Role-playing with the shepherd and Joseph! Admittedly it wasn’t Nativity-based, she was role-playing a confrontation between the two, because the shepherd was trying to take the baby. But there were differing voices used and everything. Lovely to watch and hear.

It didn’t last long and there was an aftermath of animals and figures strewn about, Mary had lost her headdress in the kerfuffle and the dove of peace looked anything but, but wonderful progress for our D. At 10.5 years, we’ve had a bit of uninitiated play and role play too. Fantastic. Christmas felt like it had come a tad early.

Glitter was happy too. I like to start my Saturday mornings with a brought in massimo decaf skinny mocha (thank you Hubbie) and it looked like she did too (albeit in the (clean) cup) which I’ve kept because I like the design.

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I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

No Worst Bits – Fri 12th Dec 2014

“No Worst Bits”, that’s what both T and D said, as we all did our “best, worst and funniest bits of the week” at tea time.

As I’ve mentioned before, D is always very much in the “here and now”, her really quite fragile days at school this week seemingly forgotten. Her best bits being “now” (tea) and “seeing everyone happy”.

T’s were his school report, which arrived home with him today and it nearly being the end of term (one week to go).

Hubbie’s and I are invariably similar, every week.

D had a positive end to the week, she greeted me with a smile and a scurry around to “her corner” – which is normally where she’ll tell me what’s upset her during the day – today she told me that she’d been made a “music star” during the singing lesson. I think their singing lessons are last thing on a Friday, which is a very good way for D to end the week.

The singing has continued at home, mostly Christmas songs. For someone who didn’t recognise Christmas as being a special day for years, it’s so fantastic to see her so enthusiastic (fragile days aside) and really getting into the spirit.

Talking of spirits, this was Glitter yesterday, on the mirror frame:

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And today, it seemed she’s wishing for a White Christmas, finding an inflatable snowflake:

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I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx