Tag Archives: art

My First Gallery Post – Eyes

18 Jan

I’ve never joined in with the Gallery linky, but this week it was on the subject of “Eyes” and considering I love eyes, especially my children’s I just had to share and join in.

As you can see all my children have very different eyes. My youngest has big brown eyes, Little man has three colours in his eyes (wished I had a better picture, he never lets me take one)! Lastly my daughter has blue eyes. These pictures were from my iPhone so not great pics.

Here’s a pretty funky image of one of my own eyes.

To be part of the Gallery visit Sticky Fingers

Creative minds, pupils with autism use ICT to create Art.

9 Sep

There are so many things I love about blogging, hearing good news alongside inspiring stories of success from my readers, has to be the ultimate highlight to blogging.

Last week, I got my kicks of happiness, when I received an email from reader and teacher, ‘Joanne’

Joanne contacted me and asked if I was happy to upload some art work to the, ‘Autism & Art’ Page, here on the blog.  The art was created by pupils with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties who attend a unit for children with autism and SEN (special educational needs) that forms part of the mainstream school, “Evergreen”  Most of the children at the unit are non-verbal but are very expressive when it comes to art. The  children’s artwork has been created on computer with the use of free art software packages, which Joanne has been kind enough to share (this can be found later on in this post).

Of course, I informed Joanne that it would be an honour to feature the children’s fabulous artwork on the blogs Art page, however, while chatting with Joanne, I felt inspired to write a post to show the world how talented these budding little artist are!

Yes, they really are some talented lot, and it’s not just me, Joanne or the rest of the staff at Evergreen Primary school, who think so!

The pupils were nominated for the Northern grid awards (ICT In Education Awards) where their work has been widely showcased and celebrated as a result.

The Northern Grid Awards recognise and celebrate the excellent practice happening in North East Schools. The pupils at Evergreen, were actually Highly Commended in the “Surprise me” category. This was for an activity that was actually formed to support literacy for the KS1 class. The presentation began as a teacher made resources to present the story, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ to pupils. The pupils were then involved with developing the presentation into their own, ‘Bear Hunt’ story through their interaction with the story props and resources. Seriously guys, check it out on the site hosting the awards, the teachers and parents of these pupils must be beaming with pride!

Joanne is a lady who is very passionate about her work and she has a great fondness for those she teaches. She told me that, “Most of the children are non-verbal but can actually teach me a thing or two!” It’s refreshing to see teachers and teaching assistants, so passionate about what they do, I really love that, it’s something so simple but for a mother of a child on the spectrum, it’s something you are truly grateful to find.

Joanne’s role with the children is to create creative & sensory friendly learning experiences and her success shines through within the children’s beautiful, yet talented work. She talked about the way the children use computers to create and learn and like myself and many other parents, she really understood the importance of using ICT as a resource for children with autism, both in education and within their everyday lives.

It’s my belief  that children and adults on the spectrum, have an amazing way about them when given a computer. A child that is branded a menace due to their refusal to participate in written work can then excel if put in-front of a computer. When I went to view Little man’s work at a past parents evening, at his old mainstream school, they didn’t have a single exercise book to show me! The only work they had to display was all done with the use of a PC. Little man has fine motor skills difficulties and like many children on the spectrum his handwriting took the force of this. Little man is extremely aware off these difficulties and the fact he is often considered less able within certain areas of his learning (despite his intelligence). He is overly proud and he would rather not engage at all if it meant that by doing so, It would only portray him as some kind of “failure”. Its my opinion that every child with autism as-well as those children with other communication difficulties, should be able to express themselves with the use of ICT, by way of having regular access to a computer. Now, I’m not stating we should give up, stop encouraging them to engage with written work, not at all! I’m just stating that expression is important especially for non-verbal children like those whom Joanne teaches.

 Here’s the wonderful creations of art, that will feature on the Autism and Art page.

Spiderman, By: Thomas Age: 9 

Mr Men, By: Liam Age: 6 

Thomas the tank engine By: Ethan Age: 5

Worms By: Jacob Age: 4 

Wow, I think they are simply wonderful!

 Joanne was kind enough to share the resources that herself and the teaching team regularly use with the children in the unit. All resources are ICT packages that are used to create  different types of art. What is so awesome about these resources, are… amazingly all are “FREE!” meaning you can use these with your child at home.

Tux paint: A great piece of free computer software for kids.

Sumo paint: A free piece of software introduced to Joanne by one of her pupils. Sumo paint has a complicated yet detailed set of features. Greater colour and texture options, fine detailing, filters, layers, and effects. Here you will be presented with endless possibilities.

Nga Kids: Interactive art you can make online. The National Gallery Of Art’s great range of resources enables you to create your own classic masterpieces.

Art pad: An online canvas with basic tools, its appeal to it’s users is that you can re-play you’re painting to watch your creation take shape; you can also email a finished painting.

Cbeebies: Cbeebies have a fantastic selection of activities with characters that appeal to Joanne’s pupils’ interests. Programmes such as Mr maker and Get Squiggling, have magic paint-box activities.

Help kidz learn: Free online games from the guys at inclusive technology with its own creative section.

Create Comics: Create your own comic strip Joanna’s pupils like Garfield, DR Who and Marvel comics.

Audactiy: a piece of kit that can be used to record voices, sound effects, music etc… and can also be used in developing resources. (Free downloads)

Having obtained these from Joanne, I discovered there was only one or two I have used before (Cbeebies, Help Kidz Learn). So, I tried the rest with both Little man and Alice.

Little man enjoys art on a much greater scale when It’s created with the use of a computer. He loved Sumo Paint and has used it for the last three days.

Alice is very creative and like me she has a passion for Art. Though she loves the more practical aspects of art, she also had great fun with this.

I love the comic strips and find the software an invaluable tool for children with autism. These comics can be used to build social stories together which your child. The Comic strips you make, can also be used to help a child with autism to communicate perspectives, feelings and more. All this while remaining fun and creative.

 A massive thank you to Joanne and her wonderful pupils at Evergreen Primary school’s unit for children with autism. Check out the Class website by Clicking HERE  (please note… there is also a special members only section for parents of the pupils whom attend the unit).

Disclaimer: Please note that the above images are the property of Evergreen Primary school and should not be copied without the permission of its owner. The images are subject to copyrite and all terms apply. 

If you are interested in the story or want to find out more, then please leave your details, and I’ll be sure that Joanne gets them.

Thanks Claire-Louise

Silent Sunday

4 Sep

Alice gets creative with fab effex

4 Sep

My daughter Alice-Sara had a lovely surprise this morning, let me explain!

Well, nine days ago I arrived home from shopping to discover a card sat on my mat from Royal Mail. Not expecting a parcel I had no idea what my lovely postmen had tried to fit through my letter box with little joy. The parcel had therefore been taken back to the sorting office for arranged collection. Having no idea what it was and having been madly busy, I didn’t have time to collect it till yesterday morning. 

Well, to Alice-Sara’s delight the package that awaited us at the shorting office, was from Spinmaster. 

Spinmaster are the makers of Air hogs, aqua sand, Zoobles and much more.

A few weeks back Alice-Sara reviewed one of Spinmasters  Zoobles and loved it so much, that she’s now acquired five more.

This time Alice-Sara would be reviewing FAB Effex a new craft material that is highly tactile and mouldable. The self sticking reusable material can be moulded into a number of different shapes, and can even be wrapped around pencils to create a twisted . effect 

There are a number of kits in the range, Alice received the FAB effex fashion kit. 

What you get!

150 FAB Effex pre-cut pieces

2 FAB Effex sheets

1 sticky square

3 Paper dolls with stands

I instruction guide

What we thought

Alice couldn’t wait to start, she got all the pieces out of the box and sorted them in to little piles. The pre-cut pieces were nice and bright, though they were a bit random and didn’t have all the correct colours/shapes to match the ones showed on the instructions.

If this was little mans review he would have been quite upset about this, what with his rigid thinking he would have insisted it was done the same as that displayed in the instruction booklet, thankful it wasn’t!

Alice got to work on her first doll. The instructions were not much help so, she followed what she could and used the power of her wonderful imagination to create some awesome designs.

The material is really great stuff to work with. It has a wax type backing that isn’t very sticky to the touch but sticks well to a number of different surfaces, really holding it’s shapes.

You can wrap the strips of FAB Effex around a pencil as to create a ringlet type curly effects, which Alice did for the hair on a few of her dolls. I was pretty impressed with how some hours later the effect had remained in place.

Alice-Sara loves to design outfits and then dress up dolls/models. She has a number of fashion design creations made from paper and card craft sets. Fab Effex was therefore a welcomed change as it gave Alice-Sara opportunities to try something new and a tad different from what she’s used too (Kinda taking her out her comfort zone)

Alice-Sara used the two additional sheets of material to cut out dresses and tops for the remaining two dolls opting to use these instead of the pre-cuts. What’s FAB about FAB Effex is that it’s reusable meaning you can undo and redo if any mistakes are made! This was a welcomed bonus as it saved us from a few diva moments I’m sure!

On the whole Spinmaster have come up with yet another fantastic idea, however the instruction’s supplied were a little disappointing (though the Fab effex website have much clearer and easier to follow instructions).

What Spinmaster now need to remember is, “Not everybody will have the internet available to them” despite the fact we are in the year 2011. We did found that the instructions were also laid out in a confusing fashion, what with the languages being all displayed to together, made it hard to read, and this would not work for a six year old, Alice-Sara is eight and struggled.

However, there are many positives! We loved how the pieces stuck and how they were easily moulded to shape. The colours and patterns were nice too.

It’s a great toy to help stimulate a child’s imagination. All pieces can be used to create a number of different craft projects and can be stuck to a range of different accessories such as, CD and DVD cases, twinklet boxes and more.

This Fab Effex kit can be brought for around £9.99

FAB Effex can  be brought from Amazon, Argos and beyond!

Check out other reviews from fabulous bloggers HERE

We thank blog-match and Spinmaster for sending us a FAB Effex fashion kit in return for an honest review.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

31 Aug
Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

Warning, the picture of the loo roll indicates the amount of crap mentioned within this one post! Seriously continue reading and you will see!

So, the return to school is upon us, we hit the high Street for uniform, stock the fridge with packed lunch, try to re-establish the already crap bedtime routine and pray the kids will get up in the mornings.

I’ve never had the privilege of looking forward to the kids returning to the land of learning so that I, ‘Mummy’ can over indulge on cbebbies with little H. I always kinda preferred the holidays over the term times, and never acquired that feeling that many do, “I can’t wait for these kids to return to school in September!” When the Little man was in his old school he was normally excluded within a few hours of returning. My daughter has no problems in school, but then again she isn’t expected just to fit in! That’s right, my daughter doesn’t have Aspergers syndrome which means she is welcomed on school trips and is given a part in the Christmas play. I don’t need to wipe her tears and try to find the answers as to why she isn’t allowed to join in with her peers or why she is being taught in isolation as opposed to in the class-room alongside her peers. Its simple… My daughter has not been discriminated against for being “different” she’s one of the lucky one’s!

Little man wasn’t, he sadly went through all the above and more, that was in-till he moved to a school especially for those with autism and aspergers. He only started the independent special school a month prior to the school holidays, yet in that short space of time, things were amazingly different, so much so, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe this situation any better. Normally by this time of the month dread has started to set in. I find myself becoming depressed with what’s to come, a pool of sick lay deep in  my stomach waiting to be stirred! Yes, I’ve done all that rubbish of trying to remain positive, “LOOK AT ME I’M SO POSITIVE, I MAYBE SMILING LIKE A CHESHIRE CAT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT GOD I’M HOWLING ON THE INSIDE”. When you have been crapped on as many times as we have its pretty hard not to lose all hope.

That’s why it’s strange, I haven’t got that feeling of dread, that deep Pit of sickness in the bottom of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful it’s gone yet I don’t know what to replace it with? “God at times I make so little sense, I struggle to understand myself” Surely I replace it with nothing, isn’t this the overall beauty of it, the beauty of no worries? It’s been so long that I’m totally lost when it comes to being free from such dread, seriously, to many I’m I may even sound as though I’m missing the drama! Well, I’m not, I promise you that! 

It’s not just the removal of the dread surrounding the return to school, it’s all of it, the whole stinking lot of it! You see, you spend so long fighting, it becomes a normality! You don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, it takes over your life… the daily calls to collect your child, the letters you write, appeals and representations you make on their behalf. You give it all you have, wishing for an end, a break from the grilling daily fight, then your hard work pays off! Your child gets into that special school, yet when they do… the massive hit of relieve you waited for doesn’t bowl you over quite like you expected it too. Instead you find that you have gone into some kind of shock, you’re unable to settle and adjust because I guess you’re waiting for someone to take it all away.

I know we are not completely home, safe and dry, (can you every be when your child has special educational need, living amongst a system obsessed with saving money regardless of how its achieved). Yes, anything can happen! Yet this is the same with everything in life, meaning taking each day as it comes, enjoying everyday that don’t bring with it a pile of stinking poop.

Friday, last week I got that bit of paper I’ve worked so dam bloody hard to get. Yes, It has been placed in my hands previous, only to be given straight back with the words, “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” attached to both Little man’s proposed and final statements of Special educational needs.

Gosh, I was fast becoming an expert on the use of fluffy wording that gave the LEA a, “Get out of jail free card” 

Excepting such an insult would make the whole deliberating experience to that point, completely and utterly worthless. 

Believe me, having a statement that states nothing other then good old fashioned common sense, was not the kind of statement that would see my child’s special educational needs met. I had constantly heard that it was my duty as a parent to ensure my child’s attendance at school during the height of Little man’s school refusal! So, wasn’t it my duty as his parent to ensure that when he did get there he was happy, cared for, involved, treated respectful, made to fill his contribution to the school along with his individual opinions were valued?

Such question pushed me to where we are today, where I was last Friday!

It had been pretty quite for some time (I hadn’t heard a peep out of the LEA) Little man may have already gain the place we so furiously fought for, yet his statement still remained a sheet of paper not even worthy as bog roll! For this reason the tribunal was still scheduled for the 26th of September.

It remained in the hands of the Gods (well, at times I’m sure they think they are)! Three independent reports, detailing a wealth of information! These were reports so detailed and lengthily that I myself discovered thinks about my child causing me to both cry and smile. The whole tiresome experience of trying to get your child a statement of SEN sends your head spinning in a total mass of emotions.

I opened the email from my solicitor and read how she had received the copy of a proposed amended statement, that was sent to me (Well, I’m still waiting) However not to freight, with the request for a forward the solicitor sent me a copy via email that I so eagerly downloaded and with bated breathe, I opened the attachment! 

There in black and white was every amendment requested, no corners cut, no compromising! Was the LEA all out of compromises? Were they beginning to have enough of the battle, just as I had done all so long ago? Surely they weren’t providing my little man with the ultimate gift available to them… A package of provision to unsure my sons needs where met, like he so greatly deserved, like you or I?

YES, YES, BLOODY YES…….

I looked over in his direction and let out a yelp, followed by a, “WE DID IT BABY!”

He smiles, high five’s me then sits down to continue his game. He was happy for his mum was happy, however he could not fully understand the extent of relieve that the battle being fought was finally over! He had no clue to what might have been!

And do you know what? That was just the way I liked it!

I never want to fight a fight like this again, yet I know that there will be times I will need to fight my sons corner, whether it relates to his educational or social needs, well, as for the remainder of his childhood anyway! (I’m pretty sure he will be somewhat of a great advocate for himself when his older!)

For now I’ll try my hardest to adjust back into a life of normality (what ever that maybe)! I’ll take each day as it comes, enjoying every school performance that both my children take part in. I’ll roll about in the comfort that he now feels that he belongs .

I’ll channel my desire to help others in that same position, into my work as a voluntary tribunal support adviser, I’ll spend more them on my blog indulging my passion to write and throw myself back into my passion for art!

I’ll discover, learn and watch my new interest in photography evolve 

I wont miss a single moment of my toddlers amazing milestones!

I’ll just try my best to be me again

Only a much improved vision

I can officially confirm

“What doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger!”


Silent Sunday

28 Aug

Link to Silent Sunday here mocha beanie mummy

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

This week we’re loving the WoodenToyShop

2 Jul

As some may know already, I’ve decided to give my children a fun and exciting job! 

To review toys!

Aww, the life of a kid ah! 

Little Man, his sister, ‘Alice Sara’ and little brother Harley (Or should I say monster) have been very busy this week! The children have been working with an awesome collection of toys supplied by WoodenToyShop.co.uk

We love wooden toys in this house so this fantastic online retailer was the perfect match for the children. This is a company that I will certainly be using this christmas! Yes, yes… I understand its only July but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if your anything like me your be buzzing around on Christmas week like a ‘Bee’ taking pro-plus! However that’s in the past, I’m a reformed woman now (come back and ask me nearer the time and your see)! 

Today it’s the turn of Alice-Sara, my beautiful, creative, art loving daughter who is eight and already a bit of a diva! Alice is putting the Melissa and Doug friendship stamp set to the test. It couldn’t be more fitting, a true match made in heaven.

Alice set up the table, keeping all bits out of little brothers reach (wise girl, I don’t want my furniture decorated with stamps thank you) 

So at £9.45p what do you get for your money…

  • 9 Funky reasonable sized wooden/rubber stamps
  •  5 Coloured pencils
  • Double Ink pad (we got pink and blue)
  • All presented together in a sturdy wooden box that can be used time and time again. 

The only downside here was no pad of paper was provided with this set (well, for the price, lets not get greedy)!

The set has a recommended age of 4+ This made me question whether Alice was actually a bit to old for the set. Well, I needn’t of feared she really enjoyed using the stamps and used them for a number of projects.

here’s 10 great ideas on how to get the best out of your stamp kit. As recommended by Alice herself

  1. Your stamps can be used to decorate cards.
  2. Customise your own pictures,drawings or paintings.
  3. Create funky boarders for all your art work.
  4. Stamp, colour, cut then stick them around your room to decorate and brighten things up.
  5. Do the above to decorate school books (Teachers permission required)
  6. Use in scrapbooks to add cool, girlie additions 
  7. Why not decorate the plain wooden box it came in. 
  8. Use stick down gems and plenty of glitter (not supplied) Alice-Sara states that by adding the glitter to the rainbow design will really make it stand out and sparkle, giving it a beautiful finish (her very next project I believe)!
  9. Stamp on to some durable card (not included). Colour the design and decorate with gems and sparkles (not included). If using glitter leave to dry, then laminate the card and cut your designs out. Lastly add small magnets or safety pins at parents permission, (available cheaply from many craft shops) to create fridge magnets and badges.
  10. Make mum a beautiful stamped card.

The possibilities are endless, making this stamp set a whole box of  girlie fun.

 ALICE RATES IT: 9/10

 Mums thoughts

 Its wooden, stores away neatly (no horrid cardboard boxes taking up needed space). It isn’t even super messy which is always a bonus in our house! The ink is washable so can be easily cleaned from skin and clothing (as I later discovered when Harley stamped himself from head to toe). The product was delivered in a matter of days, its fun, very girlie and kept my little lady happy for hours giving mummy some me time which she spent swimming in the tub till she became a wrinkled old prune. 

 Oh, a fantastic price too!

 MUM RATES IT 9/10

(I even gave it a go myself but… Sssh don’t tell the kids!)

 My thoughts so far on the online retailer WoodenToyShop.co.uk

 10/10 

An awesome site that I spent hours trailing through. There are all the classic wooden toys taking me back to my childhood, plus some new and exciting fresh ideas. Just check out the play food, the wooden cup cakes on their own tiered stand just look absolutely brilliant. If the cakes don’t do it for you then I bet either the outdoor play, train-sets or dolls house’s will. 

WoodenToyShop.co.uk has something for everyone big & small.

Little man writes poetry

23 Feb

I’ve been meaning to share this for a little over a week now.

Poetry seems to be a talent for many on the spectrum. I read an article recently about a girl on the spectrum who completely spoke in rhyme even if nothing was said for hours when she did speak it would always be in line so that it rhymed with the last syllable of whatever it was she had said two hours previously.

Little man sometimes answers a questions etc in a rhyming manner, however this isn’t all the time and he certainly doesn’t remember the last word he said a few hours earlier… though his a firm believer that a poem sounds better when it rhymes with the last syllable.

As most will know from a few of my past posts. Little man has become a fan of Bruno Mars. After I brought him the album some few weeks back, it’s been played daily to a extremity! Day one he had memorized every single lyric for every single song (much to my delight) pretty amazing, but also a little annoying.

He started doing this really irritating thing that was driving me round the bend. Everytime I spoke to him he would turn, look at me, open his mouth and out would fall song lyrics, completely unrelated to the topic at hand! He didn’t sing… more like spoke the lyrics before turning and walking away. With a sigh of relief I can safely say that this phase has come to a magical end. Sadly the obsession remains and is now on a equal par with transport.

Little man has always loved to create poetry. I remember a world cup poem he created last year, it was full on awesome and definitely a one of a kind!

On Valentines day on collection of my daughter from school she handed me one of her beautiful handmade cards (she is quite the little artist) The words she wrote were full of emotion and I admit I shed a tear or two (real emotional mummy is me)

Little man made a few of these cards when he was in the early years at school and although they mainly consisted of drawings of trains, buses & maps with no words inside (unless the teacher had noticed and therefore helped him write something) Regardless I always found them beautiful. The last few years, mothers day, birthdays, valentines etc Alice makes the cards Little man signs them. I’ve been reading a lot that many children/adults on the spectrum are great artist, I myself have created the autism art page on this very blog! However Little man has never really been a keen drawer unless it’s transport, maps or another new invention. He hates to use colour and I’ve learnt that this is purely to do with his frustration with his own fine motor skills… he has problems keeping the colour within the lines and has difficulty maintaining his concentration so he just won’t bother trying anymore. Although his sister, like myself love to draw and create pieces of art I’ve come to learn that my little man is an artist in his own right. He loves to write pieces of art (well dictate or type seems more fitting, as writing pen to paper is his pet hate) His poetry is great… very deep and meaningful, I think it’s his way of expressing his emotions at times. Then there are those that are full of humour… Whatever the kind there always pretty amazing.

So once home from the school he went off to his room where he closed the door behind him and vanished for the next half hour.

Sat on my bed half asleep but conscious enough to know little man was now stood directly infront of me.
One eye open (the night before wasn’t easy) I asked him what he wanted to which he made an annoucement.

“Attention please, Attention”

he then went on to say at volume…

“Today is valentines day, and all I know is its all about love and that stuff” he pursed to pull a funny face as to say love and stuff was yuck. “Its also my Nan’s birthday on Valentines day”

He was correct but I still sat wondering where the hell this speech was going!

“So, as I’m to tired after a long days learning at the library. I’ve decided not to make my mum a Valentines card, But I’ve made a poem for you mum instead. It’s all about Love & stuff” Again he did that face to resemble a person that was feeling sick. (the facial expression programme was certainly paying off)

I sat up and took note, smiling I nodded and said, “go on then do your thing”

“Its not a thing woman” he said in a offended manner! (yep sounded like his father a little more everyday)

“it’s a poem!”

“Calm down, I didn’t mean it in a rude way, it’s just something u say” I explained before adding…

“Oh, and a little less of the woman! It’s mum to you”

He laughed, cleared his throat and held up the paper in his hand at eye level then began to read aloud…

For the best, a poem that you will never want to miss.

He was a man that you miss and want to kiss
Your her blood and flesh
and nothing will go to mess
unless a heart will be broken
a tick of a token
You will be gone
and regret the bet you set.

Hands together I clapped and went in for a kiss which he reluctantly excepted with a screwed up face, only to then wipe it from his cheek with his sleeve saying, “yuck mum, that was a wet one”

“Nevermind that, your poem was exceptional” I proudly annouced.

to which he repiled.

“I’m good at this” (so modest like his mum)

As he turned around to leave the room I asked him where he was going now!

” I like the word exceptional mum so I’m going to put it in my book of best words. It’s not as good as the word loath, that’s still the best word”

He then came back with his book and asked me to write the word and it’s meaning. Of course I complied.

I get the feeling that everythings going to be alright from now on. With the exception of the odd bump in the road, i’m sure things are on the up. I’m so proud of all three of my children, each one with their own special character and amazing ways.

Looks like little man will be writing poetry besides patroling London transport as a member of the transport police when his older. Time can only tell.

An Inspirational Journey.

28 Apr

With so much to say I really don’t know where to start.

So last week I had an idea! Being me I just had to make this idea a reality. Of course this idea was autism related Yes I’m starting to think that maybe Autism is my “Special Interest” How dare I say my son is obsessive. Well what’s this idea, project or even mission if you like? Well I went in search of beautiful images. These beautiful images would be sorted, arranged and placed together to create a collage. Autistic adults & Parents of autistic children from all over the world have sent me their stunning images and gave me permission to create a collage that would need No words for it would tell its own story and by doing so help us raise awareness for Autism Spectrum disorders.

As I sat at my computer working on this very project I came over a little tearful. I don’t think I was sad I just think I was a tad emotional. We  started our journey a few years previous. I sat at the very same computer but this time the mission was somewhat different. I had to educate myself on Autistic spectrum disorders. When It was first suggested that this could be a possible diagnosis for little man I felt lost. Yes I had heard about autism as Little man had a cousin on the spectrum. But I knew little about the condition. Alfie his cousin was at the lower end of the spectrum and Aspergers was considered a more appropriate criteria for a diagnosis for little man. However this took a huge amount of time. It was both tiring and stressful. My heart goes out to every parent going through this process, Stay strong and don’t give up.

Sat at the computer I continue my trip down memory lane. It’s a long lane full of emotional challenges and certain disadvantages that we had to overcome! But there are also many positive event’s that balance it all out. I have learnt to embrace little mans Aspergers instead of fearing it. I don’t want to be a parent who doesn’t understand their child. Ok  there are times it’s impossible to know whats going through his head but I’m sure that’s just boys in general:) But I get knots In my tummy when I think back to all them times he had unwelcome meltdowns and I was at a complete lose to why it was happening and what to do about it. I wanted to scream! And keep screaming. I dare to think how he was feeling. I just wanted to eliminate the triggers for the unwanted and Challenging behaviour, But to do this wouldn’t I need to know what those triggers were? I didn’t have a clue and needed an even bigger clue to know where to start looking. Goggle had become almost a second mum to me. I relied on it so much. Google pointed me in the right direction just as my mother has done many times. I learnt so much and with this I noticed improvements in all areas of Little mans life.  It was evident that a number of problems were caused by his difficulties with his Sensory processing. I can not begin to emphasize how much time and understanding  you will need when dealing with these sensitive problems. It may take time but what else have you got? I had to analyze a number of different  situations for what felt like forever in-order to work out what triggered certain outburst and social awkwardness. We made a reasonably long list of possibles hence the reason I was shocked the school reported no worries or concerns of their own. I remember a certain child Psychologist telling me “His challenging behaviour would  likely become more apparent at school as he grew” I have to say he was right it’s now became very apparent within school! At least I have more confidence  in taking hold of a problem situation as 9 times out of ten I can work out why it’s happening ( See what research ca do for yer ) Avoidance was the key although depending on what the problem was avoidance was not always the best nor even possible action. School was a big No, No But avoiding it was only going to send the AWO knocking at my door gunning me down like a harden criminal. I also assumed that Cognitive abilities were well within the average range. So his learning was fairly good given that he missed a considerable amount of school time. Not only was little man a night owl he also liked to be a naked one. He hated clothing and as soon as he returns home from school off come the clothes and into the toilet he goes. He did this same routine every single weekday and still does ( At least now the clothes go back on afterwards). So I had come to the conclusion that he hated to wear any clothing when taking a poop ( Including socks ) He preferred to be naked in general. He didn’t like wet food touching dry food ( exceptions being daddies pasta and gravy on a roast dinner everything else a no,no ) He hates scrapping  and scratching noises hence the reason for all them meltdowns and boisterous behaviour  every time the task of washing up came around or scraping the fork across your plate in-order to gain the last mouthful off baked beans. That noise sent him loopy yet I just stood looking up asking God why, why, why. He said it makes him feel fuzzy Little man has always been very verbal so It wasn’t that he could not talk to us to let us know he was having difficulty dealing with things! He just expected us to know. I guess at that young age they always do.  But being a child on the spectrum this little blunder may carry on for many years. Sadly for some it’s forever. Little man has come so far and mostly always  informs us if he is stressing because his having a problem with something. If your child has never undergone a problem with sensory sensitivities then it will be pretty hard for you to really relate. Those that have I’m guessing are furiously nodding their heads about know.

Another trigger that came to light was that Little man had certain phobias that made him understandably very anxious. He loves doors but was scared to use public or school toilets for fear the doors may shut and lock him in. He also had this fear in other situations that entailed being behind doors. elevators posed problems as did shops. Yes have you ever been in a shop and it’s due to close? They often lock the door so no other customers can enter. God I remember and will never forget that first and only time that very thing happened. He was aggressive swearing and screaming. He was seen as a spoilt brat. Then we had the emotional overload kick in. He laid on the shop floor holding my feet and asking not to die. He was just 3 at the time. And no he did not grow out of it we have just avoided it ever happening again. He also fears others if they have a certain physical  disability . He will face the wall  and cry. He don’t mean to be nasty he is truly afraid.  Still the on looking eyes don’t make you feel much better.

I’m very proud how far we have come. Little man is having a range of problems within school and lately he has brought some of these behaviors  back home. But we are dealing with them best we can. However exclusions are having a huge negative impacted  on the family and I really want to find a way for this punishment to be avoided. In my opinion it’s only making his routine suffer and his sleep pattern disappear. Apart from the school issues I think we have a much better situation going on. Home life is more settled and we both have a better understanding of one another. We are working on removing his use of swearing if anything his public use at least for now and his aggression towards his poor little sister who is innocent 97% off the time. Hand on heart I think without many of my new friends within this massive autism community I would not be where I am at today. At first it was just us and I really didn’t expect to much in the way of personal support and advice, especially from the internet but how wrong I was. Blogging opened a door for me to explore so many different places that had connections with ASD. Twitter and facebook must be run by aspies 🙂 I wanted to exchange advice and tips with a handful of parents (  the more the better!) Wow I have made contacts reaching well over the thousands. Many are with other parents all going through the same thing all with a story of their own. Behind every blog, profile & tweet there is a connection with autism and that connection bonds us all together in a very strong and uplifting way that I guess only us parents of special needs children would understand. I have Created a Facebook page and group that is open to parents, siblings, and those on the spectrum regardless of age,  gender or race. How quick  the list of members has grown is amazing. And to read comments confirming how beneficial social groups can be to those with autism and their families is a very positive thing that makes me smile. I have been truly inspired by many to go that extra mile when raising awareness for autism. I’m so very lucky to have interviewed people like John Kirton from the documentary Autism x6. John you always offer great advice thank you. Also to be raising awareness along  side advocates such as Anna Kennedy ( advocate and author ) who I’m so lucky to have on my Facebook  friends list 🙂 And other inspirational people I am lucky to have made contact with who are always happy to give advice and I’m sure those in the world of autism would know these great people or a least of  heard of them. Donna Williams, Sally Hugget, ,Polly Tommey ( who is busy with her autism campaign ) are just a few. There are  many more who range from parents, professionals, advocates, educators, Authors, bloggers, autistic individuals and so on.  Wow I really do have many places and people to turn to. Thats just a great reason to smile and cry a happy tear. From Just us to all of us. How liberating. Every time I receive a message or a comment from a parent of a newly diagnosed child I will direct them to this very post to assure them they are not alone. The collage, Group and Facebook page are all a chance for me to give something back.

So now when you look at the images within the collage please see more than just faces! These are the faces of autism. These are the beautiful faces of autism.

The collage filled with beautiful faces of Autism Is now available for viewing on this blog  under the page titled Awareness Collage.


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