Yesterday saw the release of the brand new Thomas and Friends movie 'Journey Beyond Sodor' and of course we had to be there. My son still loves Thomas and all his friends even at 17, so I think we may have been the eldest there at the cinema but who cares. I absolutely loved this and that's a revelation really because after years and years of watching episodes, movies and the. being repeated a hundred times I thought I would have been a bit tired of it by now.
It really is a lovely little film and as always it contains a special message regarding friendship and conquering problems to get through, regardless of what ever may hold us back. I know deep eh? I do think there are a lot more adults that could learn a lot from these films. It contains a bit of drama, quite a few laughs and new characters. Yes more to collect!! Beresford is the funniest crane I've seen and you don't come across many slightly clumsy, needy cranes with a Jamaican accent, my favourite in the film.
Journey Beyond Sodor introduces new characters called 'experimental engines' which include engines to give children with autism a character they may be able to identify with. This cast of engines all have extra parts, cogs, funnels and run slightly different to the other engines. They lack a bit of confidence and are unaware of their capabilities and don't quite realise what they can achieve until Thomas shows them. James initially starts the story by being very self absorbed and thinking he is the best until realising that maybe he's not and everyone is just as important as each other. This is strong stuff. I was feeling the love by the end.
Thomas and Friends has been a massive success for children with Autism with the engines being given easy to read facial expressions, colourful paintwork and also the stories being short, concise and so easy to understand. On numerous occasions over the years we have used these characters to enable my son to achieve goals and help him cope with life. When he started creating these stories, I don't think the Rev W. Awdry ever thought that his work would create such a powerful set of tools to use as therapy in the way his stories are used today. Everyone of all ages has enjoyed these stories at some point in their life. Personally I don't know what we would have done without them.
So we can certainly recommend this film if you have some Thomas fans yourself. We actually watched this without paying a penny. Thomas has a CEA card so as his carer I get free admission and we had some Odeon points saved which covered his ticket. Bargain!
The CEA card is provided by the Cinema Exhibitors Association and it gives the chance for any carer who cares for someone with a disability to receive free admission when purchasing a ticket for the person being cared for. It costs £6 for the year to cover administration costs and is available to you if you are receipt of certain benefits including DLA/PIP. It is worth applying for so to check criteria and apply online go to:
I hope you enjoy it, tell me what you think of it. The songs are just brilliant and I think we may be singing them for a while yet. They seem to create such happy catchy tunes that just stick in your head. I too admit to singing along with Thomas, its addictive and most of all FUN!!!
Thanks for reading today, join me tomorrow for Pass the Remote.
Take care for now.........
Atypical is the new series on Netflix which features Sam an 18 year old young man on the Autism Spectrum. It takes a look at how he sees life, how he copes with some of the barriers he comes across such as coping with relationships, sex and also how Autism affects not just him but the family as a whole.
It has had mixed reviews and I do feel for anyone who tries to produce a programme which highlights Autism as you are never going to please everyone. Autism is given the name 'spectrum' because it is so diverse and completely different from person to person so this is just one view of a teenager with Autism. Yes it is a male again which alot of people are concerned about as there are very view programmes which feature girls with Autism. It was originally thought that Autism was more common in boys until we started to realise that it is just as common in the female population but girls seem to mask their symptoms quite well.
There has been a bit of criticism about the family itself and that the mother played by Jennifer Jason Leigh is over the top and that the programme seems to feature her too much and her affair. The series as been deemed as inaccurate and poorly written, but what do I think?
Well I have to say I enjoyed it, it was a tough watch in some parts mainly watching the behaviour towards Sam from his peers at school. That's always hard to watch as a parent, no one wants to see their child teased, bullied or hurt in anyway with or without Autism so yes I did get upset. I grew to like Sam's character, I thought Keir Gilchrist's acting was good, although some say Sam should have been played by an actor who is actually on the spectrum themselves, maybe so, maybe that is something to consider for the future. I thought Elsa, Sam's mum wasn't at all 'over the top', I could relate a lot with her story.
As the mother of a young man with Autism I have over protected my boy (still do at times). I felt I needed to make his decisions, not coped, wanted to escape to a different life, wanted to be an advocate and make the world a better place for those with Autism, all things Elsa seems to do. Sam's Dad, Doug played by Michael Rapaport was also criticised by some for his break from the relationship with Elsa and the family. He left for a while to go away and come to terms with his son's condition. You ask any dad and I bet a lot of them have felt like that. So there is a lot of real characteristics about the series which we probably don't realise ourselves until we stand back and think 'well yeah we did that or yes that happened to us'.
To be blunt and honest it's bloody hard sometimes. Autism doesn't just affect the person actually on the spectrum, it affects everyone around them too. My relationship broke down with my husband, I felt claustrophobic and trapped emotionally and mentally. I've come along way and learnt a lot and I'm sorry for the people I may have hurt along the way but I needed to be able to cope and be the person I am today for my son to give, not just him but both my boys the support and love they need. I consider myself on the spectrum to a certain extent, I think there are a lot more of us that are too, so we see it from all sides.
My son is 17 years old now and very different to Sam but I know this isn't a documentary about how life is with Autism, it's just one story, a story which is like an article of clothing, it may be a different size and doesn't fit all but we can admire it from it's hanger. I was entertained and when I finished my binge watch of Atypical I missed it and wanted more so that tells me I liked it a lot. Yes I'd like to see another series, would I like it changing? Not really as I like to see what someone else sees when they write about and produce a programme about Autism. It isn't perfect but then neither is life itself, take away the Autism and it is just another Netflix box set, some we like some we don't.
So that's my view, personally when I kept watching Elsa (Sam's mum) I hadn't looked at the credits a lot and it started to dawn on me that she was played by the very talented Jennifer Jason Leigh. I can never get her performance in Single White Female out of my head, she slightly scared me in that so it's nice to see her in something else. Those of you that have seen it will know but if you haven't go watch it but have a cushion handy to hide behind as it does give you a fright although more of a psychological fright.
Thanks for reading, please go and have a watch of this series if you have Netflix and make your own mind up. Tell me what you think. leave a comment below as I'd love to know how everyone else perceives it.
For now though I must go, I'll be back tomorrow for more tv chat with 'Pass the Remote'
Take care for now.........
Brain in Hand is a really good resource for helping people with autism, mental health issues or those with brain injuries by managing their anxieties and giving them the opportunity to live their lives as independently as possible.
We know as parents, carers and professionals that autism involves being in control a lot of the time. The need for organisation is great and even more important is a solution to help these people when things don't turn out the way they had planned. This service really does seem to work, it can be tailored to each persons needs and acts as a buffer for times when needed the most. There are a lot of students using this to support them through college, university and also for those in the workplace too.
It isn't something I have used personally so I can't vouch for it but have read a lot into it and love the idea. Does it help those with more high functioning autism? Maybe, but it is something to try. I am constantly thinking whether these kind of things would work for my son, and I'm not sure but in some cases it's a matter of 'give it a go or you'll never know'.
Basically this is a software which contains a diary and within this diary the user may enter all the details for their typical timetable, this includes from the moment of waking to the time they go to bed. You can include all timed activities and also those unplanned scenarios that may crop up. The software also provides solutions or coping strategies that may arise. To support this there is a traffic light system where green is fine, amber indicates a little more anxiety and when the time comes to press red this refers you to call your support assistance for more help. Your assistance may come from the National Autistic Society who fully support this programme, an organisation such as college or work or a family member. This will be someone you will speak to on the phone to help you immediately.
Brain in Hand works from an app on your phone and then you can also access all the information from a portal on a pc/laptop too. This comes in handy to go over you day and see where you can improve certain situations and this information can also be used at a EHCP review meeting. I think that is brilliant as the evidence of every day life, strengths and weaknesses are all there logged and it would make the process so much easier.
This all does come at a cost and I'll be honest I had to take a deep breath in, tossed it to one side and thought now way! Just like you may do now when I tell you but stick with me a moment longer.
The app is FREE to download, it contains a good example of how it can be used too, that's the good news.......
The initial cost for the licence is £540 and this includes the users own personal website, the cost of the traffic light alerts and technical support.
There is a set up fee of £280 but I'm sure this may be possible to set up by yourself.
There is an added fee if you use a support mentoring service such as the NAS or another organisation but having a family member to mentor may keep the cost down.
So yes arggggggghhhhh it's expensive BUT there are ways you can try and fund it. If your young person has a EHCP you can apply for the personal budget for this as it is classed as an aid to support their needs.
There is also the Disability Students Allowance and other bursaries that are available at colleges so contact your local provider for more information. ALWAYS ask for funding support as there just maybe something available which you don't know about and sometimes it is a case of asking rather than waiting to be told. Be pushy and demand it, for one you are entitled and two this kind of service can cut down the services from local councils massively so they should be glad to help (in theory).
Here are a few links to help you find some more information:
Brain in Hand Website www.braininhand.co.uk
The Government website is good for information on finance for students with disabilities. Here is the link to information regarding allowances and bursaries:
This isn't a service that is going to suit everyone but I thought I would highlight it just in case it may be of any help. The reviews of those people using it are very positive and it has made a big difference to people's lives so it does look positive. The other thing this service does provide is reassurance for a parent or carer because as much as we would love to wrap our children up in some cocoon preventing them from ever having enter the big world out there, we can't, so we have to rely on finding something to help.
If you are using Brain in Hand please let me know by leaving a comment below as I would love to know how it is working out.
Thank you for reading today and please join me again tomorrow for Pass the Remote Sunday.
Take care for now.......
I am rubbish at remembering things at the moment, think I've got worse as I've got older as I have to write a list for everything. I do however retain enough 80's music knowledge to get me through a good pub quiz, that never seems to leave me so I'm happy that if all fails I will be able to recite a Duran Duran lyric or tell you what the Christmas number one in the hit parade was in 1982. Useful eh? I know it's no longer around but if it was the million pound answer on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire I'd be laughing.
I am amazed at the amount of information that my son stores in his memory, it's like a massive film, animation, Disney library. He knows who does the voices for all the Disney Pixar characters in the UK and US versions. Of course he knows all the Thomas and Friends voices from all the tv series and the movies. Never did I think the credits at the end of every tv programme and movie would be so important but I think he absorbs Google as well on these subjects.
When it came to watching the tv quiz show Pointless the other day which to our surprise had the final showdown of 'voices from the Cars movies' well he could have won nearly £10.000 about 50 times over. The contestants gave three wrong answers to which my son look disgusted, I mean how could they not know? Junior Mastermind would be interesting but he would have trouble with answering one question without elaborating and taking up the whole of the half hour programme explaining one answer. I would watch that.
We were out walking the other day on our local park and he suddenly said how he remembered when we used to go and see the little wild animals on the park, they have since gone from this location and have been for a while. I think the last time I took him to see these animals was when he was very small so he does have a good recollection of memories. This isn't always a good thing as he can become quite upset about something that stressed him or made him feel unhappy from years ago. We have to revisit why this happened and settle him again but thats ok as long as it is something I can remember too and I've made one of my very rare mental notes. I can't keep up some of the time.
It's a great thing the human mind, more complex than any computer and like any computer it does need a reboot and defragmentation. Blimey that's a big word, I do that a lot. People with Autism do need a reboot, and that doesn't mean repeatedly kick people up the backside but when the brain becomes too overloaded with information it can lead to what we know as 'meltdown'.
The brain needs a rest, it needs to calm down. In my case I need to go somewhere quiet and have a cup of tea or pop my headphones on and chill out with some music. My son goes and watches his favourite programme and repeats a line or a scene over and over again. This may be frustrating to listen to but I know he's getting himself back to his zone, it's calming for him, familiar sound, or a familiar voice. Didn't we all like the sound of a familiar voice, maybe a family member when we were very young? Didn't that voice give you some sort of reassurance to know you felt safe. I know it did for me.
It will continue to amaze me and I will always be in awe of how the Autism Brain works. We are all amazing. Share your stories of any experiences you have by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page.
Thanks for reading today, I will be back tomorrow for 'Pass the Remote Sunday'.
Take care for now........
Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.