I hope your holidays are going ok with little stress. It's always a tricky time for those with Autism, especially our school kids as they lose their structure of the good ole school day and things go, well bit 'all over the place'. We all find it a bit disorganised and I never know what day it is, it is Saturday isn't it? I'm on the wrong post otherwise.
So what are holidays like? Ours has been complete with lightsabers and Thomas and Friends books and playsets, it's been a time of Despicable Me, Toy Story and Spongebob. I've been quizzed on Thomas the Tank and we've been through the Christmas TV guide more times that I can remember.
One thing we do like to do is walk, we walk every chance we can, weather permitting. During the holidays we try and get out every day which keeps my Fitbit ticking over but also burns some energy off my son. We wrap up and go onto the local park armed with a lightsaber, that's him not me and away we go.
Now we have walked around Allestree Park in Derby so many times but not actually completed the little nature trail trail there. Well we kind of have but we always just count the posts in backwards order and have never found all of them. There are twelve numbered posts around the lake and up near Allestree Hall. My son loves this trail and we have to acknowledge them on every walk so I thought it would be a good idea to go today and complete them all in order.
As the picture shows, they are pretty easy to follow but hey we couldn't find number nine. Now this wasn't good for me, I needed to find it so leaving the park with my mission incomplete left me a bit restless but I managed to reassure us both and said we would come back and find No. 9 another time. It was very soggy underfoot so we were not adventuring too much, honestly it was like a bog in some areas, my boots made a great suction noise when I tried lifting them up. I also must have nearly fell on my arse so many times but managed not to embarrass myself in font of new year golfers and numerous dog walkers.
They all looked so professional on their feet in the mud, while I looked like I was auditioning for Dancing on Ice or about to replay that famous scene in Romancing the Stone, the one where Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas slide down that massive mud slide. We had fun though. So if your child likes a bit of structure when there isn't any and likes counting then this is really good.
I'm sure there are many nature trails at a lot of parks across the UK but if you are in the Derby area Allestree Park is a lovely park to walk around. I love our time out as we are getting fresh air, exercise and it's a break from the technology for a while. We can have a go at engaging in conversation, not always as sometimes we can walk around in silence but when we do natter it turns into one of those Autism moments, you know the ones, not big to anyone else but huge to us.
If you would like more information about Allestree park go to:
Great for the whole family too so make a day of it. We will conquer it again I'm sure and go looking for the missing number nine. If you know where it is and you have seen it please let us know, or do I really want to know? I may be enjoying the suspense.
Have fun with the rest of the holidays whatever you are doing. Thank you so much for reading my Autism Support posts and I hope it does help. I will be back in 2018 for more advice and chatty bits so please come back and join me. Please pop back tomorrow or my last ever post of 2017 on 'Pass the Remote'. Wow!!! It's gone so quick.
Take care for now.
I can't believe another series is over, it doesn't seem long since I wrote to say it had just started. The second series of The A Word has been another success with a great mix of entertainment, comedy and serious drama.
By now we must have all caught up that's if you didn't watch it intensely every week. I looked forward to my Tuesday fix as it was the one programme which told a story not of Joe's and his family's story of autism but probably a look into our own experiences too. It was so well written and very real. I laughed, cried and could relate to most of what went on.
It not only tackled issues such as choosing the right educational place for Joe but you also saw how his diagnosis was to affect the rest of the family too and it does. It's a massive change when you receive the diagnosis for your child, it sends your world into a uncertain future and you almost have this huge 'grief like' feeling where you change your outlook on your childs future to a life of uncertainty rather the one you may have had planned.
I was the one in our family who displayed behaviour that similar to Joe's dad played by the wonderful Lee Ingleby, it was me who couldn't take the diagnosis in and I wanted it to all go away. I found it hard, and it did take a toll on our marriage just as you see here with Paul and Alison. I can't blame Autism for the failure of our marriage as there were other factors that came into too and it would be almost saying that our son was the reason we didn't make it and I couldn't bear that because in fact he was the reason we stayed friends, stayed strong and although separated we united as great parents.
I hope they work through their troubles, people do. What I know now, years down the line is that Autism doesn't define any of us, it can take over our lives but I have learnt to live with it. There are still days I don't want it to be around but there are more days when I look at my son, feel proud and find Autism fascinating. I have also come to realise that Autism is more widely apparent in our family, and you can see that in Joe's grandad in The A Word played so brilliantly by Christopher Eccleston.
Every character in this programme is an individual masterpiece, from having not only a young boy with Autism but a young adult too and also Ralph with Downs Syndrome. Maybe in the future we may see a female with Autism, an idea for the next series maybe? It does seem to be male dominated at the moment and that is honestly my only criticism if I had to make one.
It's been great to have something out there on prime time tv which raises awareness about autism and basically says to those who don't know that 'this is how it is'. Try not to criticise Autism whether it's on the topic of behaviour, or how much of a disability it may be, and people do. There are still people who don't quite understand how it affects us as families, so I would say please watch this and and try and understand more. Our stories are all different and levels of Autism different but don't be quick to judge before you've walked a mile in our shoes.
I hope to see a third series as I now can't imagine being without this and we need to see Joe continue through his next stage in life. I would like to say a big thank you to all the cast and crew, writers and production for this wonderful series. Well done to Max Vento especially who plays Joe as he is amazing, I feel a load of awards coming their way surely?
So much more to come and gosh I think together as families we could probably all write the script. I can't wait..
Thank you for reading today, I know it's Christmas Eve tomorrow but please pop by when you're all ready for Santa and taking a break with your mulled wine. Till then take care.
We had our very last NAS branch meeting this week in Derby. A change of venue which turned out ok as we were lucky to have the use of a community room at the local fire station. I kind of expected more people really, only because when we mentioned where our next meeting was there were a few raised eyebrows from some of our female members, I think at the prospect of seeing a man in uniform. Me? I just felt safe.
I hear enough from Fireman Sam every day so the prospect of being at a fire station only makes me think I cannot tell my son otherwise he would have had to tag along, not a bad thing as I think he could tell the firemen more fire tips then they know already. It seemed quiet with the watch on this night and we managed to chat over mince pies and a brew without adding any fire hazards to their shift.
We did discuss some very interesting topics with regard to Autism and Christmas. Our main discussion was about presents and what to buy. I know with our past experience we tended to feel the need to buy a lot of unnecessary things that our son didn't feel the need to have. He was only interested in about half a dozen items and that was it. I felt guilty because there is almost this weird thing with Christmas that we have to have a stack load of presents to open. Its nice of course but what I found with my son and Autism was that he felt overloaded with too many presents and some things would never get used.
So now we encourage him to make a list and then we stick to it, we don't add any stocking fillers on or if we do want to add something on we do it in voucher form then he can save the voucher for when there is something else he needs. This makes complete sense to me because why would you want extra things that you haven't asked for? Yes socks and smelly soapy stuff is useful but how many of us get the odd item that we pass on or donate to a raffle. No of course that would be naughty wouldn't it? Bet you have though.
I think as far as pressies go just go with what the kids like at the moment, stick to special interests if they are apparent and don't overwhelm them with stuff they just don't want or need, after all you save a small fortune too. My son is seventeen now but will always request at least one Thomas and Friends engine, and a train set to go with it, he has some dvd's which includes a box set of Spongebob, a couple of activity books (Thomas again) and a couple more lightsabers for when we go out walk I imagine. He'll be happy and for some of the time he doesn't quite understand the fuss now. He likes an advent calendar and still insists on putting something out for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve because they are the routines we have always had but I think he just loves a break from early mornings at college.
It is a funny time of the year as there is a different atmosphere and a change of routines, some cope better than others. The TV guide becomes a little more exciting in our house, my son will have now memorised all the Disney films on over the festive period with just one look at the Christmas Special 'What's on TV'. He absorbs it at a similar rate to the way I am absorbing all the chocolates in the Celebrations box. he could also tell you when the last time the film was shown, as long as it's a Disney one.
We will all get together again in the new year as a branch of the National Autistic Society to talk about the ups and downs of this holiday, what worked, what didn't. I would like to thank everyone for their support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas. If you have any top tips of how to survive over Christmas and want to share your experiences then feel free to leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading today, please pass by again tomorrow for Pass the Remote Sunday but for now......
Social Stories™ are absolutely great for anyone with Autism and other additional needs to understand a certain situation, activity or event. It is information which is put together using text and pictures to take an individual through what is going to happen and to plan out the process enabling them to reach their goal.
You may have seen something like this if you have been watching the A Word. In the episode where Joe's parents were given a chance to get away for the weekend Joe was given a booklet of events which helped him explain what would happen while mum and dad were away. He could see visually what to expect and process that information in his own time. This booklet can then be revisited at any time for reassurance if needed.
Social Stories™ were created by Carol Gray in 1991 and the terms "social story" and "social stories" are trademarks owned by Carol Grey. What a great creation as well. We have used these stories many times and the picture above is just a series of pictures which helped my son get into his morning routine when he first started his college. I made them from Makaton symbols which I then laminated and stuck a piece of magnetic tape on the back hence they now stick on our freezer. He doesn't need them now but they were handy at the time.
You can do a similar thing if you want to tackle a task such as brushing teeth, just make a chart with pictures on and a short description and hang it in the bathroom in view so that it acts as a reminder every day and night. It really can be adapted to any situation and you can make them as personalised as you like by either using basic pictures or taking photos which may include the individual themselves in each stage. You can get very creative.
If you'd like more information about Social Stories™ you can go to the NAS website here at:
You can also find many books on Amazon and I'll include a link below (affiliated) for you to take a look at for now though I hope this helps and please give it a go as it can really work.
Please join me again tomorrow for Pass the Remote - till tomorrow take care.
You can find a selection of books following this link: carol grays social story
I've touched on this subject a little bit before and stating the important places to read about Autism. Blogs are good and books, some come recommended and can be purchased online from stores such as Amazon, Kindle versions are available for most books now and some support groups may have lending libraries where you can borrow books.
One publisher who leads the way regarding books available about Autism is Jessica Kingsley Publishers. There are hundreds of books available about every subject you can think of such as:
Depression and Anxiety
Foods and Diets
The paper version of the catalogue is great reading in itself as it is amazing how many great ideas have been used to inspire people to create material to help us to understand about certain topics. I challenge anyone to look for a book about something they need more information on and not find it. I honestly don't think it's possible.
When we received my sons diagnosis I craved every single piece of reading material available. Even before diagnosis when we couldn't put our finger on some aspects of his behaviour I just wanted to absorb all the information to get a better understanding. I remember then that I took great comfort in knowing that this information was there from Jessica Kingsley.
It's just another place to go and maybe as parents you could share/swap with each other, some books I tend to keep as regular reference which I re visit again and again. The thing is that when living with Autism and especially living with a child growing up there are so many stages that you want to grab that help for all those stages.
These books are not only for parents, they are available for family members, siblings, professionals and anyone studying Autism. It might be enough to make your mind boggle but it can also help to make certain situations a little clearer.
You can order online at: www.jkp.com
A booklet is available with Your Autism magazine as part of your membership with the National Autistic Society. If you attend any of our Derby & District NAS Branch meetings, I do have a copy of the booklet to have a look through.
Give it. try and let me know, if you have ordered any books, what can you recommend? If there are resources you have found useful please let me know. Next week I will cover Social Stories and how they can help someone with Autism.
Thank you for reading this week and please come back tomorrow for a bit of TV chat with Pass the Remote Sunday but for now.......
Every Saturday will be about Autism, family and life.