A mixed reaction to that question I imagine. For some the school holiday cannot come quick enough as it means a rest and a chance to re charge enabling a fresh start in September. For others it is the start of a six week nightmare.
The thing is, some our kids who have Autism are quite content with the routine and structure of a school day. It is planned, timed activities and there is a clear start and end to the day. It's going home that this all changes, unless you are a parent who is waiting with a timetable to carry on that routine at home, some of us do with a chart or visual prompts but a lot of us struggle to know what the right thing is to do.
There is no right or wrong is there? It is a case of going with the flow and it does depend on the child. I have tried the charts at home and even printed off Makaton symbols in the early days which did help to some extent but life is full of change and I know that is no help at all for someone with Autism.
So what do we do to to get over the summer period? For us it's about getting out and just walking. Both my boys are getting older now and tend to do their own thing but there is one thing about my eldest son and that he is never bored, he is always busy. He will draw or make powerpoint presentations of his favourite Disney movies, he never stops. Walking is great, it works off some energy, keeps us fit and he takes his lightsaber out with him, just in case we may meet anyone from the dark side, well you never know!
I tend not to plan too much, I used to always think we had got to go here and there and fill the holidays with mega exciting stuff. This lead to a lot of frustration, not wanting to go out when it came around to it, as anyone knows the day can take a massive turn depending on behaviour. So I chilled out, relaxed and now go with the flow. We still do exciting stuff but at our own pace. We take every day as it comes, if we want to do something we do but if we want to stay in and have a PJ day we do that as well.
I do realise that not every household can do that as there has to be more structure for some and that's fine. We have one of those whiteboard weekly planners which is great, the kids will sometimes just get a marker and write something on that they want to do. Cricket has become our new love this year and I bought a set to take out and have a game so we are looking forward to that when it stops raining!!! As long as we are all happy and we grab that nice walk now and again, the fresh air seems to make us happy.
It's easier on the pocket as well when we walk, most places are free although I did branch out on a National Trust membership this year as there was an offer on and I thought it may be nice to walk around some different places. There are many days out and activities for people with disabilities and if you are in the Derby area there is an organisation called Umbrella who have lots on over the summer. For more information check out their website at www.umbrella.uk.net
If you fancy a bit of support over the holidays the National Autistic Society Derby and District Branch have a meet up on the 22nd August from 7-9pm at The Farmhouse in Derby (60 Ashbourne Road DE22 4LY) so if you fancy a couple of hours out, have a brew (there is a bar too) and just generally chat to others in the same situation then pop along, they will make you feel very welcome.
Keep an eye out on your local council website as they will have information about what is going on in your area. There are a lot of 'What's On' Facebook pages too if you search for your local area. Whatever you do though I hope it is stress free and you have fun. Please leave a comment and let me know ideas you have and how you cope, it's good to share any information.
Thank you for reading, please come back for more tomorrow when I will be chatting about the world of TV on 'Pass the Remote'.
Take care for now........
I don't know about you but I don't always tend to know when my son is poorly. There are obvious signs sometimes like a good projectile vomit across the room or a very snotty nose but most of the time he masks his symptoms quite well.
Most of us tend to naturally announce that we have a headache or stomach ache, cold or generally know how to express how we feel but my son doesn't. There are early telltale signs I notice such as his behaviour will change, he stims a lot more and he will show a lot more repetitive behaviour. During these first signs I always ask if he feels ok, if he thinks he may have a cold especially after sneezing twenty times and sounding very congested, but I'm always reassured, quite firmly that he is ok and 'fine'.
I've noticed after a recent cold he has started bringing his duvet down and resting on the sofa. This is something we have done in the past when he has been ill so I think he now associates that with feeling poorly. Good for me as I can go into nurse mum mode. I then do all the usual things like check temperature and suggest he may feel better with bit of cold or pain relief. I do get the odd confession later on and he will say 'I think you're right mum I think I do have a cold' or that he should have told me he was ill. and can feel quite upset that he hadn't told me. It takes a lot of reassurance sometimes but then he settles and the behaviour also subsides as if he needed that moment of confession and clarification.
I suppose it is a sensory issue, his pain threshold must be very high. I always fear he could break a bone or do something severe and say he was fine. He likes a lot of pressure and tends to squeeze my hand or press his nose and forehead against mine sometimes. A stress ball has helped with that, a good squeeze on that and it tends to save my nose from taking too much pressure. I can feel it quite well you see, I'm surprised I'm not going around with a completely flat nose.
It's fascinating but also frustrating when it comes to illness. I always feel guilty if I miss something or don't spot something earlier. I'm a mum, it's my job to see these things and jump into action but caring for someone with massive sensory needs and difficulties in communicating certain feelings and emotions it's hard. All of our children with ASD are different and will react in different ways. If you are a parent, teacher, or anyone who cares for children and especially those with ASD, bear in mind that some aspects of behaviour may be a trigger for pending illness. It is another way that some children will learn to communicate, through behaviour, it may be erratic or completely the opposite and very subdued.
Honestly, we have to have eyes in the back of our heads and a extra sense don't we? A super 'Auty Sense', a bit like Spiderman but with less web spurting out of our wrists. Though come to think of it I can think of times where that feature would have been quite useful. Always feel free to leave comment below about your experiences or ask anything and I can try and help.
For now though thank you for reading and I will be back tomorrow for 'Pass the Remote'.
Take care for now.......
It was National Nude day the other day and I thought to myself, nothing to write there really but then I remembered when my son was younger how he just hated having clothes on. It was never a rare moment for a toddler to suddenly walk through room completely starkers. If anyone visited I would have to go through a warning procedure a bit like the one you get at the beginning of a flight but without the lifejacket and less emphasis on emergency evacuation.
It was probably my fault, as a baby I always believed in him having a bit of nude time, free from a nappy and as nature really intended us to be really. He didn't enter into this world with clothes on which I'm glad about. He weighed enough at delivery without clothes and I wouldn't have wanted socks left behind in my womb. I used to look at him in a nappy and think it must be uncomfortable to wear that all the time. So off it came and he just rolled around a play mat, if he had a wee it was no big deal, everything was washable. At 17 he is less likely now to streak through the house but he still doesn't like the restriction of clothes. I think we all suffer that really but he will choose to stay in pyjamas all day if we have no plans or he changes into pj's as soon as we return from an outing. He's got the right idea, pj's or pg's as he calls them, are so comfy.
It's a sensory thing I'm sure, it's the same with labels in clothes, you think I'm going to say we have to cut them out because they are annoying but quite the opposite. My son was non verbal as a little boy and he loved the texture of clothes labels, they were shiny and smooth so he would run his fingers over them and hum, it made him feel relaxed. The same thing happened with the silky edge of a baby's blanket, he just loved the soft silky texture.
We forget about these sensory issues and how they have a massive effect on daily life. We tend to take things away because we have to go somewhere or we have to start concentrating at school. What if that object is vital for comfort or to help our kids learn? I'm thinking we should leave it where it is. The Peanuts cartoon character Linus always comes to mind, he carry's his blanket everywhere and sucks his thumb doesn't he? They get trailed behind and get very tatty eventually these cellular blankets as you can see from my photo, what you can't see is that it is dropping to pieces and is more holy than the present Pope. It has been well loved and used a lot, I'm sure also like the Pope.
I am a strong believer in using these sensory issues as a positive thing and not to stop them. Obviously it depends on the issue. My son is also very 'touchy feely' so we have to curve that to a certain extent to prevent him getting into any trouble but to still allow him to use it a little. I never tell him to get dressed if he doesn't feel like it, if I do he will ask where we are going, and quite right too. Why should anyone get out of there pyjamas if not venturing outside. I tend to bother less about what other people think, you gain that skill as you go through life with Autism. The stares from certain behaviours and meltdowns, yep you know! If it works for us we stick with it because it means that we can cope. That's what it is all about, coping mechanisms and feeling happy.
I hope by chatting about some of my experiences I'm helping to make you feel ok about Autism. Obviously if you'd like to ask me anything please feel free to leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. Always ask yourself one thing when you are thinking 'my son/daughter won't do this or that?' Do they really have to? Or is it society telling you that's what needs to be done. Most of the time society dictates a little too much from us in this world of Autism so we have to just change the rules slightly. Give it a go and see what happens.
Thanks for reading and I will be back for 'Pass the Remote' tomorrow. Wow don't these weeks fly at the moment? It doesn't seem five minutes since we were talking about last weeks TV. Hey we will have the news of the new Doctor so come back for that.
Take care for now........
Well I don't know about you but when I had my children I expected them the come with instructions, everything else does and in about 7 different languages. Mine must have got lost in the post, I suppose there's an extra supplement when you have children with additional needs, boy don't we know it. Extra supplement? More like a library. My collection looks like my picture times by ten.
We all want an answer don't we? Not just SEN but all parents want to know tips to make life just that little bit easier. I remember receiving my sons diagnosis and expecting to leave the hospital with armfuls of leaflets and information but all we really received was a piece of paper with some contact numbers on including support groups but nothing with bullet points on for every scenario from toddler to teen.
Thank goodness for the internet, well sometimes as it can be a place which if you read too much you can frighten yourself just a little more then needed. The information is out there and I am going to give you a few tips on where to find it.
Apart from these tips, if you still struggle you can always ask me here, just leave a comment and I'll do my best to help, I don't aways have the answer but I can certainly point you in the right direction.
I hope this helps a little. I know how it feels to be desperate to know how to deal with a certain situation or who to contact to get the information you require. It can feel like a minefield as there is so much information out there but it's as if you need a filter to scale it all down to your own personal needs. Keep searching though as you will get the answers but I'm afraid sometimes it does take time.
There are some aspects of Autism even the clever boffins at the research centres haven't even found yet so another piece of advice is you get offered to help with a survey, try and take part as this helps other families and people with Autism not just now but in the future. We are all in this together.
Thanks for reading and I will be back tomorrow for 'Pass the Remote' to talk about the weeks TV. Take care for now.......
I love this programme and I think Alan Gardner is just brilliant. The quite aptly named Mr Gardner is an award winning garden designer and is also on the autism spectrum.
We get a window into how an autistic mind works and the feelings connected with the process of taking on such big projects such as these gardens. The clients all have a budget to spend on their gardens and Alan certainly knows how to spend the money. I just love how he uses architecture, maths and geometry to express his feelings and make these garden really personal to his clients needs. He really does have some anticipation in handing the designs to the people he wants to please. He so wants them to like what he has created and he takes time to explain where his idea has come from in the hope that they 'get it' too.
I like this gardening programme more than any other, it isn't just a makeover show it shows you when you have a gift, and yes that's what Alan sees his Autism as, you can use that to be creative and make a career. After all he's showing us that as an adult with autism, you can succeed and put all your interests, ideas and those obsessions into something you feel passionate about and make a living from it.
When he first inspects the gardens I feel so much better about mine as I realise it isn't quite as bad as I first thought but wow the end results are just fantastic. I love that he has a non autistic sidekick who keeps him from going overboard on the designs, he obviously knows him well and I like to see his face when there is a new design on the table. The format is slightly different in this second series as in the first one he had fellow gardeners also on the spectrum, helping him but I like this new series especially when you see him on his travels and putting some great research into helping us all as viewers too, understand the inspiration behind his magnificent creations.
The clients do make me giggle as they really don't know what to expect from him as a person and also how their garden is going to be transformed They have to put their trust in him and he naturally feels the pressure but it comes together in the end. The battle of trust, imagination visualisation and realisation that they have not only a fabulous new garden but one created from such an amazing mind. Alan gives all his clients a nice big hug which goes to show that people with autism can sometimes show empathy and although he can't read peoples faces and expressions he finds another way of understanding their reactions
It just great and raises awareness for autism which has to be a good thing. you can catch The Autistic Gardener on Saturday, Channel 4 at 7pm
Thanks for reading, I will be back for more tv talk tomorrow with Pass the Remote, until then take care.
Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.