Tag Archives: pictures

Capture The Colour Competition

14 Aug

I love expressing myself, my ideas and the things I love through pictures. I’m no David Bailey by any means but still gain great enjoyment as I capture images of anything and everything that draws the direction of my eye. A visual reminder of something or someone special, unique art spray painted across a South London wall, the weird and the wonderful, the pretty pink sky to an old cobbled street in Greece. All a moment captured in time, a tiny piece and glimpse of the past captured forever more. Each moment so different but as meaningful and wonderful as the next.

I love photography, it’s a way to build up a memorable profile of family life. I love the thought of this profile of memories being passed down through the generations still to come.

Another little hobby of mine is comping (I’m pretty new to it and finding it a little addictive)! Its not just any competitions I’m interested in but mostly those that require some sort of creativity of some sort. So, as you can imagine, when bringing the two elements that are Photography and creative competitions together, I’m never to far behind. This particular post is just that, my entry into a new and exciting photo competition one I’ve been keen to enter for weeks (only life gets in my way)! The competition is hosted by the well known brand and online site “Travel supermarket” and it goes by the title Capture The Colour Competition“. It’s a competition requiring a little creativity, imagination and that of a steady hand.

TravelSupermarket’s ‘Capture the Colour Competition’ is aimed at bloggers who will need to choose 5 pictures they have taken to match 5 different colour categories which are Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and White. Bloggers are then required to post the images and a little info relating to each, onto their blog (linking to the competition). Once complete bloggers Nominate five more bloggers to participate. Prizes are awarded for each colour as well as over all prizes given to an overall winner. There are iPads and travel vouchers up for grabs. You don’t need to wait to be tagged to enter. Check out their site for more info.

Red: MONKEY BUSINESS

Now I’ve chosen this particular image as its one I really do love. Monkeys are a fabulous subject to photograph, they are such beautiful and intelligent creatures who never fail to amaze me. This may seem a strange choice for the colour ‘Red’ especially given that ‘green’ looks more fitting. Nonetheless, I feel that it is the small delicate hints and touches of reflecting red tones that give this image an extra special edge. Image was taken last year during at day out with the children at London Zoo.

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Blue: A DRESS TO IMPRESS

What can I say other than I’m only human. A woman who’s only crime is her love for shopping. Blue Is one of my favourite colours as there are so many different shades of blue that seem to suit my fair complexion. Besides the colour black it’s the colour you’ll find me wearing whether it’s my clothing or that of my accessories. That’s why it only seems right to opt for blue when shopping for evening dresses and it was these two stunning dresses battling it out for my affection. I finally opted for the first one and wore to an awards bash with pride.

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White: PICK UP A PENGUIN

I love this image which once again seems a strange choice for the colour category I’m pairing it too. For some reason this just felt right. The penguin is beautiful and I remember how its beauty captivated me… Seriously, this is one of many penguin images I’ve taken. Others include some awesome underwater and feeding shoots.

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Green: WINTER WONDERLAND

A shoot taken on a freezing winters afternoon. This was taken on a day that time stood still, allowing me to spend time with my beautiful daughter. Alice-Sara is the sibling to a child on the autism spectrum meaning there are days she finds things difficult (its not easy as my daughter could tell you)! Sadly my time seems so unfairly spread leaving her longing a for little attention. We had a lovely afternoon making angels in the snow. Her green striped jumper looks bold and vibrant amongst the sparkling white blanket of snow, that completely covered the park we were visiting.

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Yellow: OCEAN WONDERS

This was taken a few years back when I first brought my canon camera. I was dead proud of this shoot and although I’ve got better at taking pictures overtime, its still this one I wish to included! I remember longing to show it off and now here’s my opportunity.

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So there you have it, my 5 colour inspired images of random adventures.

Now to tag 5 others (I apologise if you’ve been tagged already)

1) Mummybird
2) Diary of a teenage mum
3) Mum of three boys
4) Always Be a Friend
5) Cakes Photo Life

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#HAWMC DAY 18 – Inspiration

23 Apr

Stories can be used to establish social routines (using ‘fill in the blank’ procedures) and improve the ability to make social judgements. They may also be useful in helping others better to understand the child’s perception and responses.

 Children With Autism & Aspergers Syndrome: A Guide For Practitioners & Carers (By Patricia Howlin)

 The above statement is one made in one of many books I own that covers topics relating to the autism spectrum.“Children With Autism and Aspergers Syndrome – A Guide For Practitioners & Carers” was one of the very first books I acquired on the subject and I will still often refer to it from time to time. So, naturally when day 18 of the #HAWMC was set with the prompt “Pick a random statement from a book and write about it for 15 minutes” this was my first port of call. 

 There are hundreds upon hundreds of statements made within this particular book, so, why this one?

 I feel it’s important to highlight the above to other care givers, especially those with a newly diagnosed child. Yes, this is a life long condition that cannot be cured. Nonetheless, there are things that you can do to help your child develop better social interaction and communication skills, along with important life skills with the use of some commitment and good old-fashioned creativity.

 When my own son was first diagnosed, I didn’t really get sat down and given all the answers, if the truth be told no one really has them to give. Yes, I was sat on a chair amongst an entire room of professionals and all though I was asked that question… you know the one “Do you have any questions” I just didn’t know where to start, I just remember having plenty. I was therefore sent on my way with a folder of bits and pieces and a very jumbled mind. 

 It wasn’t in-till long after the little guy was diagnosed that I attend something called the “Early Bird Plus” designed for both caregivers and teaching professionals caring for or teaching a newly diagnosed child. Now although “Technically” Little man wasn’t exactly newly diagnosed, I still wanted to attend and have some of those unanswered questions answered! 

 It was during this course that I was first introduced to the simple yet effective idea of visual prompts and clues. With this I didn’t only discover ways to formulate routines, making them visible to Little man so he remained aware of what was happening when and where, but they also still play a big part in Little man’s daily bathroom routine enabling him to better do things in sequence (though sensory sensitivities remain a huge factor we are yet to improve)!

 There are many ways to use these visual aids (kinda like the visual symbols used for PECS). They are also very easy to create or if you don’t fancy that they can be found normally on a string of websites and are mainly free to download. 

 I designed and created a great visual aid for use in the bath room and that of the bedroom. Although he reacted in the way I expected when introducing the aids I soon discovered he was using that of the one in his bedroom to help him formulate his bedtime routine! Ok, he remains an extremely poor sleeper, though he does follow the chart removing the symbol cards that I attached to some Velcro dots, placing them in the pocket I attached to the bottom of the chart. He now uses a written reminder he keeps within on of his many organisers. Nonetheless, the bathroom system remains in place and although his very tactile defensive his got the sequence going and is trying much better than before.  It’s my view that any positive improvements within this area really need to be fused over with lots of praise being given to the child.

 So, how else can we use pictures and words as a visual clue and symbol to teach our children the basics in making the right social judgements as-well as good communication and interaction skills to formulate good friendships?

 Some may have heard of social stories which are a great way of getting a child on the spectrum prepared somewhat for an unfamiliar situation such as a trip to the dentist or even a fun day out at a theme park. 

 You can easily make up a pretty effective social story with no more than an exercise book and some pens! However using photos (if available) of the places that you plan to visit and those people you are visiting (of course with their given permission) can really help a child with autism or aspergers feel more prepared with the situation and therefore calmer on the day! Lets face it, who likes visiting the unknown? Those with autism have difficulty regulating their emotions and that of anxiety can trigger a number of undesirable reactions both during the lead up and that of the day. 

 Little man is growing up, his heading up to secondary school (lucky for us this is one that is attached to his current independent special school). People find it difficult to understand that many of Little Mans sudden outburst are caused by anxiety. I think this is not only because Aspergers is known to be the “hidden disability” but more the fact he can come across (at times) rather street wise, especially more so now. The truth is he is improving with the help of his school, his friend next door and some social modelling from others, but his still more than likely to say the wrong thing, something inappropriate, generally considered social unacceptable. But there are times I do wonder maybe they got it wrong then bang… something happens, a meltdown, over intense conversation on his special interest and the inability to shut off. Then there’s his all nighters and inability to switch off. That’s the thing, your child may have problems with social skills but as they grow they can often act a certain way for a chain of different social situations. I’m not stating Little man is socially correct all of the time but his learning. One thing I do try empathise & encourage is for Little man to be himself as he has at times totally moulded himself in a certain way to fit more comfortably into certain social groups and gatherings. He maybe a success but once home he off loads and he will normally have a hell of a lot of bottled up stress need releasing. It’s important that he knows how to behave for an array of situations but to reframe of hide who you are by either going into oneself coming across as a bit shy or maybe even a loner to avoid running into difficulties or act a way because it gets you liked by others, both something  Little man engaged in during mainstream, I can tell you from a parental perspective that this isn’t anything other than a disaster waiting to happen. 

 As many a parent of a child on the autism spectrum can probably vouch, we as parents are presented with that bit more reason to worry when it comes to our children growing up and therefore having to experience new things as they embark on their journey to adulthood. Something like visuals and good social modelling are of the up-most importance and will in time become a natural way of life and acquired parenting skills that we will find ourselves doing with little if any thought at all.

 You know your child and will learn what works best for them and you as a family. As mentioned earlier within this post, Little man no longer uses visual symbols for within his room but now uses words, just as you or I may write our schedule of order of events in a personal diary or organiser , this works and if even he remains awake till 3am with school set to kick of a few hours later, his still able to do those important steps to prepare for bed from brushing his teeth to putting his clothes in the wash. As for preparation for a new situation, we don’t always get things right (those that read about our Butlins holiday at Christmas will more than agree that it didn’t go smoothly) yet at times things go much better than maybe they would have if the effort to prepare Little man wasn’t made. I did the social stories with pictures, but he sees things very black and white so its important to have visual reminders of “Real life” places, people, etc this helps him to formulate some kind of image and expectation. The only danger of this is to be careful not to overdo it as spotted difference or unexpected changes could make the hard work go to pot!

 Lately, I’ve tried to be more creative with how we do the above. I’m agree he knows he sees thinks differently and thinks and processes information a tad different from his age peers. I’m also aware that as his grown his not welcomed anything that causes him to stand out so I’ve tried to continue with the preparation while making it more fun, age appropriate and fun. Last week why searching the App store on my iPhone 4S for some type of daily planer and social story maker, I found Comic Book. As you do, I had great fun playing around with it and trying different things. I created the picture below of my toddler Harley, and sisters new baby Riley. It has a number of stickers with great phrases, themes, colours, fronts and more. After testing it with the toddlers pics, I felt assured that this would be a great fun addition to my social preparation tool kit and Little man agreed it was pretty cool. Maybe with the doctor’s permission  you could snap a few pics during the next appointment and use this for your comic strip! For me, this is an App that will provide more than just good fun. 

 Other ideas are that of video recordings of places you may visit, memory books of the places you have been to before or even use small visual cards, laminated and hole punched and added to a curly key chain key ring and attach to your child’s belt loop. This is perfect for non-verbal children as they can use the symbols as a way to communicate their basic needs such as using the toilet while at school instead of become frustrated or upset. Again all these are easily made and need not cost a fortune.

 I also mention in another of my recent #HAWMC post about the brilliance of Pinterest, I’ve created a great Autism and Sen board that’s packed full of ideas to help your child in the areas discussed and many more… Yes, total pin head here! 

Below are some ideas on creating and using visual aids. These are taken from the autism & Sen board on my Pinterest and original author also included with these pins

from the blog rockabyebutterfly.blogspot.com

from the blog carrotsareorange.com

from the blog etadventures.blogspot.com.au

 Visuals may not seem appropriate right now, you may feel your child doesn’t need them? Remember at some point in our life we all require the use of prompts and instructions as-well as organisation… a work timetable or organiser. When we experience anxiety concerning an upcoming situation or event we form a mental picture which isn’t always easy for a child like mine! Early intervention is the key so if your child could do with a little prompt or preparation, why no give visuals and social stories a try? 

Who Loves me?

23 Oct

Who Loves me?

 No, not me… I know you all adore me 🙂

 Who loves me…  Is the name given to these awesome personalised flash cards designed for children of all ages.

 I had to jump at the chance of reviewing a set of these for Harley (22 months old). 

 The idea is simple yet extremely clever & effective. Each flash card consists of both words and pictures, however what’s different is the pictures are in-fact images of the child’s family, friends or loved ones. Each have the name of the person under the image in big bold lettering, then there is text on the back of the card, personalised to relate to the person in the picture.

 When I saw these on another blog I was taken by the idea and just thought how great these would be for pre-schoolers especially those who are on the autism spectrum. Now Harley doesn’t have a diagnosis of autism, however his older brother Little man now age 11 does and I would have loved to have a set of these back when he was two, five even. 

 If I had these back when Little man was younger I would have used them when he started at school to include the images of teachers & class room assistants (of course with their agreement) this would have allowed little man a way to get used to the teachers in the school (class teacher, head teacher, classroom assistant and so forth) the beauty is you can order one card  or a 100 cards really its up to you.

Got the pennies you could even get the class done 🙂

 The text on the back would have allowed the little man to remember their roles within the school, therefore he would have gained a better understanding of whom to go to for help when needed, avoiding a mass of difficult issues.

 The possibilities are endless… Go mad, make cards of the doctor, dentist, even shop assistant (Yes, yes with permission of course) Even snap pictures of building, places (school, doctors & dentist surgery, school bus etc….) This would allow your child to become familiar with places that normally cause heighten anxiety. These would also be perfect for the non verbal child, encouraging speech or just providing reassurance or a better understanding. It’s a fact that children on the spectrum are visual learners so these cards are perfect!

 As for Harley… He loves the cards and has had hours of fun playing with them. 

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He names all the people in his cards, lines them up, runs around the house telling everyone to “Look” and even packs them away nicely. 

 One of the cards is has the image of his Granddad, who he doesn’t see often. It was magical when he visited and he was able to recognise him from the cards. He went over to his toy box took out his cards opened the box, taking the card of his granddad out and said loudly, “Look Granddad” as he placed it in his hand. 

 How awesome is that!

 So how’s this done?

 It’s so simple, if simple was made illegal, I’d be in the slammer! 

My mum could do this and she’s a load of poo when it comes to computers (sorry mum)!

 Firstly decide on the number of cards you want. Each card can be brought individually at a price of £1.99, however the more you buy the cheaper this is! Discounts are applied on the count of 8 and 16 cards (Yes, I’m unsure how it works if you want hundreds of these babies, but really hundreds seriously, would anyone want this many)? 

  Next, make sure you have decided who is going on each card? Make sure you have all your images ready and waiting on your computer & some idea of the text you want written on the back of each.

Note: If you sign up to the site, you can actually save half-way through returning later to finish.

 You then follow the easy to follow instructions for each card (don’t panic at the price, reductions are applied at the checkout).

 Simply add your image taking the pic from your hard drive (the higher the resolution the better) add the name that will be located below the image once in place, then choose your image from the picture library from the choices given (these are little clip arts that go on the back, just above the description). Now type your description, keeping it short and sweet (you are only allowed a maximum amount of characters).

 Once you have finished, you then click the next key adding another card. Just click finished when your through, you will then be re-directed to the checkout where deductions are applied and payment made.

 You will receive an email confirming your order and allowing any corrections of any mistakes and typos before finally being dispatched (despatch email will be sent once they are on the way). 

 Ours took a few days, it’s a super fast services.

 Costumer service is excellent! One of my images was a tad blurry so I was sent an email to notify me and offer me the chance to change the image which I did via email (so this was taken care of for me) How awesome a service is that!

 I highly rate these cards and recommend them to anybody looking for flash cards with a difference especially for parents of children on the spectrum regardless of their age. 

 These cards are off the highest quality yet really affordable. They make a fabulous personalised christmas present that’s guaranteed to break a smile or two!

*****stars  awarded

£1.99 per card

Special price of £11.99 for 8 & £17.99 for 16 flash cards

Gift vouchers available 

 Want Some? How could you not! 

Just click here to get yours!

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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