Giggles – Mon 1st Sept 2014 #MusicMonday

The first of September today, D full of smiles because “it’s Daddy’s birthday month”, she’s anticipating events more and more which is fantastic. We had years of birthdays and Christmas meaning absolutely nothing, apart from the shiny wrapping paper.

Both T and D have been on good form today, no doubt the shops were absolutely heaving with last minute school shopping but they were happy, at home, in the dry.

T is so calm about the onset of secondary school, this may change tomorrow (with one day to go) but – knowing him – he just wants to get there, find his way around and get on with it. I think his little walk around the site yesterday really helped.

He’s also been giggling away at the video to this song – True Faith by New Order.

It’s not really a video we can analyse or decipher any obvious meaning behind it (although the comments on YouTube suggest a few things) but he absolutely loved the dancers in clown suits dancing and bouncing around and the two who just keep slapping each other.

And he’s just back from football training, having expelled some energy and got back into that routine, *fingers crossed* that tomorrow will be a good one too.

I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

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Reassurance – Sun 31st Aug 2014

I can’t quite believe it’s the last day of August, September and Autumn are looming.

With this, brings a return to SN school for D and a commencement at secondary school for T, the latter is going to impact us all in terms of routine change but obviously T the most.

We took a trip out to his new school today, to familiarise him again with the layout and where the school bus will drop him off and collect him.

He was very much against the trip to start with, deeming it unnecessary but, once he was at there, we were really relieved to see how at ease he was within the ground and how he remembered where key buildings where. He turned it into a tour for us – T being the Attenborough-type guide – which made it quite fun, another indicator of how relaxed he was.

I also wanted to point out some little landmarks on the route, so that he can look at those from the bus and know that he’s nearly at school/his bus stop closest to home. There were plenty to choose from too – cows, horses, chickens (which made him smile because we used to have chickens), farms and a garden centre – much better than the 1.5 hour trudge through suburbia which would have been the journey to school where he was first allocated.

Not much else we can do now, apart from try and ensure he has a relaxing Monday and Tuesday – not always easy with D and their very differing intellectual and emotional levels – but we’ll see.

I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

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My Sunday Photo

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These are WW1 relics that we saw in a museum after our river boat trip this week. In the middle (ish) of the picture is a used shell, to the left are war medals and a hankie to commemorate the end of the war, isn’t it amazing that these items are nearly 100 years old?

Lest we forget.

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Giving his all – Sat 30th Aug 2014

I dwelled a bit yesterday on the negative traits of autism, tonight is all about the positives.

You can never say about T that he doesn’t give his all, in whatever he’s doing. Be it football, school work or Minecraft with D, he is always determined to do his absolute best.

This can sometimes cause frustration for him but it’s something that I really admire about T.

I remember when he started swimming lessons at school, he really struggled at first and hated it. He didn’t like the class layout, or the instructor or the fact he was in with the beginners. As his teacher at the time said: “he’s finally found something he’s not good at straightaway and he’s finding that tough to deal with”, which was very true.

But he persevered, he got better and now he’s confident in a pool, which is great.

This same focus has been in evidence today, at football training. He plays as a team member, getting into position and anticipating. Quite a lot of that is probably due to the fact that he lives and breathes football, has done ever since he could pull himself up, but he listens to the coaches and wants to do his best. It’s also a welcome return to training after the manager decided that a total break from football for the summer was in order for the team (which has kind of backfired). T never takes a break from football btw, I don’t think he could if he tried (same as his dad!).

It’s that same focus that we hope will see him through those tricky first few weeks at secondary school. Once he’s done the boarding and getting off the school bus, finding his tutor group and familiarising himself with the layout, I’m sure he’ll be fine. We’re going to the grounds tomorrow – as it’s open at the weekends because there’s a fantastic gym there – so that he can walk around a bit whilst it’s not busy, find his bearings a bit.

In the meantime we’re just so glad that the appeal for a place went our way (and probably won’t ever stop being).

D is looking ahead to school too, she goes back the day after T, another thankful moment is that we know she’s going to have her secondary school life in her SN school, a massive relief as she just could not cope in a mainstream environment.

Thankful for so many aspects but it is tiring, these “battles”, I hope everyone’s day has gone well Jx

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The pain of being an autism parent – Fri 29th Aug 2014

There are two distinct types of “pain” associated with loving an individual with autism (or in our case, two).

There is the emotional pain. The realisation that whatever traditional hopes and dreams you may have had for your child won’t be happening, dreams that perhaps you hadn’t thought about at all until a doctor mentions autism and hands over leaflets.

This pain takes some time to dispel and it replaced by a desire to do the absolute best you can for that individual. Whether it be by battling to ensure they are in the most appropriate educational setting for them, medical assistance etc, I don’t use the word “battle” lightly because the help isn’t automatically a given, you have to seek it out and then there are cuts and budget constraints. Constraints that shouldn’t really effect a four year old child, but they do.

And then there’s the physical pain.

Pain that can come during or post meltdown. Pain that isn’t necessarily meant at the time but it’s the only way that the individual can express and release their emotions. It hurts but you have to move on quickly.

Sometimes pain can come unexpectedly. Fortunately D seems to have grown out of this now but, if she’d had a distressing dream and she was waking up, still wondering whether it had been real or not, I’d be punched as soon as she saw me. Once in the face. Again, a case of moving on.

Yesterday was another such incidence, we were all set to head off for our afternoon on the river, when T accidentally shut my fingers in the car door. I knew instantly they weren’t broken but extremely painful and I have to admit I screamed. There was lots of reassurance for T that it wasn’t his fault but there was no concern or empathy shown by T, merely annoyance that it had happened. I can’t pretend that this lack of concern didn’t hurt (on top of horrendously painful fingers) but, again, we had to get past this quickly and onto our trip. Obviously if they had been broken, our afternoon would have taken a totally different course, phew.

It didn’t stop us from having a good time and fortunately (very fortunately) I’m just bruised.

Today, when we did our “best and worst bits”, I mentioned very quickly my fingers and T immediately got defensive but there was still no “how are they, how are you?”. More reassurance that it wasn’t his fault, just an accident but it just goes to show that however far you perceive your child may have come, certain situations will always indicate where social skills or other aspects can be lacking.

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River – Thurs 28th Aug 2014

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We saw a lot of this today, the River Thames, thanks to a local charity and couple of boat crew.

It was a 2 hour meander up and down the river, past some absolutely amazing houses:

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And this boathouse shows just how high the river got in January, half way up!

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Which made me quite glad we could never afford a house in that location because the insurance (if you could get some) would be astronomical.

We went through locks:

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We passed the most amazing little wedding venue in the middle of an island:

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And we saw ducks, geese, swans, herons..lots of wildlife and some fab trees:

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The boat had two lovely skippers, who were very familiar with disabilities and SN children, the children were all free to roam about the boat, with parental supervision and a life jacket.

T loved being at the back, watching the water swell and feeling the wind in his hair.

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There was also a game to play too – Bird or Boat Bingo – completed sheets were rewarded with a book, written by the charity and featuring each boat that they have.

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Prior to our setting out, there was the obligatory ice cream looking out over the river and a chance to run about and make use of some tree trunk seats.

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It was a really nice way to spend a few hours, out in the open air, enjoying the river and its surroundings.

If you haven’t guessed, my word for this week is:

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The Reading Residence
Ojo's World

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An Awww moment – Weds 27th Aug 2014

After the highs and lows of yesterday (A Tie and Tears), it was time to focus on another aspect of T’s starting at secondary school. His uniform.

He’s been flatly refusing to try the shirts or trousers on ever since I bought them in mid July, saying that his old ones were “fine”, saying that these were all “too big and ridiculous”. He doesn’t like change.

Today, finally, with positive reinforcement, we got there.

Scoffs of disgust from T as the trousers were about two inches too long but better that than the “just too short black trousers and white socks combo” he was rocking towards the end of the summer term.

They’ll be fine, he’ll be fine, over use of the word “fine” I know, it can encompass a manner of feelings can’t it. “How are you? Fine. When really you might feel anything but.” It’s polite, I guess.

I’m trying not to think that this time next week he’ll have had his first day at secondary school. So much change, starting right from a walk to the school bus stop, he’ll no longer be just 15 minutes walk away if there’s a problem, but a half hour bus ride away.

It will be “fine”….but between now and then, we’ll have fun, starting with a boat trip tomorrow – something that D is very excited about, in conjunction with a local charity – fingers crossed it doesn’t rain!!

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Small Steps Amazing Achievements – Weds 27th Aug 2014 #SSAmazingAchievements

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

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:

It’s been a tough year for Star but she has finally had the halo removed over at @okesanne.

@lifewithasd has heard ‘I Love You’ for the very first time

@kiwimumdi has experienced some very cheerful achievements

@92three30 has taken part in a world record scarecrow attempt

and lastly @OoSerzoO are having fun learning to fly kites

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.



Tears and a Tie #SSAmazingAchievements

I guess it was overdue, after all the waiting with regard to T’s secondary school appeal and the allocation of a place, we’re a week away from him starting at his new school and there have been tears today.

Silent ones at first from T, which turned to louder sobs, tears rolling down his cheeks. Thank goodness D was in her room because he would have been angry that his sister would have seen him like that.

Like anyone else due to start school (be it secondary, primary or college) he’s anxious, worried that he won’t be able to find his way around, that he’ll get lost. It’s one big, massive, huge next step for him and he’s a child who thrives on knowing exactly where and when he’ll be somewhere.

T doesn’t like cuddles, they have to be strictly on his terms so, much as I wanted to envelop him in a huge bear hug (which always works for D), I settled for running his back, which seemed to help.

Reassurance, lots of reassurance that every other year 7 pupil – no matter how they may seem externally – will be feeling just as anxious and that as long as he goes to Reception on that first morning, they’ll point him in the right direction (I hope).

Already he’s decided how he wants to play that first morning, the offer of a lift from Hubbie was rejected, he wants to start as he means to go on, on that school bus.

And an achievement today, after sporadic practising of tying his school tie, T did it. Hesitant tying will become more polished as time goes on, but the determination in his face to get this right in advance was very evident.

We are so proud of him, we tell him but I wonder if he knows just how much.

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Baked Doughnuts #KidsInTheKitchen

This week’s recipe is one that I’ve seen in variation on so many blogs, but wanted to try it for ourselves.

It took a while to track down the book I got the recipe from, but it was worth the wait, it’s packed full of speedy, but tasty looking recipes.

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I didn’t take any pictures during cooking as I wanted to see if we could prepare and bake them in 30 minutes, as the book title suggests. And we did!

This is the finished product:

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Here’s how we made them:

Baked Doughnuts:

Equipment needed:
Either 6-hole doughnut or muffin tin
Mixing bowl
Smaller bowl for egg/milk etc
Whisk
Wooden spoon
Sieve
Piping bag and nozzle) optional but it definitely makes it easier

Ingredients:
4oz self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2.5oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
2.5 fl oz milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1oz melted butter (plus extra for greasing the tin)

Sugar coating:
2 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
(We used sprinkles)

And here’s how we did it:

Grease your doughnut/muffin tin and preheat oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir in the sugar and mixed spice.

In another bowl, combine the milk, egg, vanilla extract and melted butter. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add in the milk mixture. Mix (or whisk) until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag – fitted with a plain nozzle – and then pipe the mixture into the holes in the greased tin. Each hole should be 2/3 full (I didn’t use a piping bag and should have. It got messy!)

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch. Leave them to cool for 2-3 minutes in tin before easing them out.

On a large plate, combine the sugar and spice mixture (or the sprinkles) and then coat the doughnuts by gently pressing down.

Lovely when they’re warm and equally nice as cold.

They had the doughnut taste without the fried taste and went down very well.

Linking this up with Kids In The Kitchen with @okesanne, we tried out her carrot cake recipe last week and it was fab!
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