Tag Archives: Tips

Here Comes The Sun – Tips To Help The Sensitive Child Cope

13 Jun

As the days and nights become increasingly warmer your sensitive child on the autism spectrum may require a little help in coping with the sensory issues that summer may bring.

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So here’s a few tips aimed at those parents of the sensitive child! After all everyone deserves to have a great summer don’t they!

1) Does your child show a dislike to most sun protection products? Little man doesn’t enjoy the application of sunscreen and will spend half the day refusing to comply with my request to apply it. The dislike of sunscreen by a child on the spectrum could be due to a number of factors all of which are a result of the child’s senses. Little man hates the feeling of the lotion on the skin (protests that all feel sticky). This is as well as the smell of the lotion and the fact he needs help with the application process. Here’s some suggestions…
A – Try a powder protection like the one from bare essentials its odourless too.
B – Let your child learn to apply the sun lotion themselves using a mirror then try to cover hard to reach areas that will be exposed to the sun with clothing (thin and cool material)
C – Experiment with different brands of sun protection. Many have different smells and textures and most brands offer sample size bottles or sachets.

2) Try to organise outdoor activities around the midday sun. Children with autism who are sensitive to the suns rays will thank you for it.

3) Use a good insect repellent! No one likes getting bitten by insects and its a 1000 times worse for the child who is tactile defensive. Clothing that comes into contact with the skin is already an issue for these children but if clothing rubs causing friction to an insect bite things become intensely over sensitive. Then there’s the issue of infection to bite. Little man doesn’t listen if I tell him not to scratch a bite, he really can’t control the need to do so, having no power to resist. Your best bet is to just be safe and avoid insect bites altogether. As before experiment in till you find the right product for your child. Another good tip is to use fly nets at the windows or an air conditioning unit at night.

4) Cover up with a hat! As you should for all children insist your child on the spectrum wears some form of sun hat. Your child will be more comfortable in the sun and this will reduce the risk of sunstroke and little mans most feared pain… The headache! If your sensitive child refuses to wear a hat then try alternatives such as a sun umbrella and whenever possible, staying indoors during the hottest point of the day (the midday sun).

5) Does your child with Autism have a fear of flying insects? It isn’t a trait as such, but not uncommon for children with autism to have such a fear. Sometimes its due to factors such as the noise these insects make… Noises such a buzzing from bees, flys and wasps. It can also be down to a fear of getting bitten or stung due to it happening perhaps one day in the past. Regardless of the reason, its usually an intense fear, one that children on the autism spectrum will struggle to deal with. Its all too easy to hide away from those things we are scared of! However this only makes things more difficult in the long run as one day them fearful critters will sneak up on us. My tip… That its better to deal with fear head on by facing it! This can be made much harder when the child who is scared of such insects has a type of autism. But it can be done! It normally just takes a little longer. Ideas…
A) Let children learn more about the things they are frighten about. Use the Internet with them to unravel exciting facts.
B) During warm months use Mosquito nets at windows.
C) Be persistent when helping your child face their fears. Keep on trying on a daily basis.
D) If extreme (to the point your child wont leave the house) then speak to child practitioner for information, advice and ideas.

6) Use a thin 100% cotton sheet instead of a duvet at night! If your child is already a poor sleeper the heat could potentially make this issue worse. Try offering your child lighter cooler bedding. In the summer months little man will often use a sheet instead of a duvet. As long as its 100% cotton we don’t have any tactile issues.

7) Whether appropriate clothing! I found that during the colder months I have to fight the little man to wear his coat, yet in the summer he refuses to go out without it. Experiment with different coats that are appropriate for the current climate. If your child insists on wearing a coat in summer then give them thin cotton summer jackets. Be sure to make sure the material is suited to your child’s tactile needs (little man will not wear waterproof material)!

8) Head to the beach! Being by the sea is always much cooler with the sea breeze. Little man always seems so much happier when we are spending time at the coast. We try to visit less crowded beaches to keep his stress levels down.

9) Avoid the shops! If like little man you’re child on the autism spectrum hates shopping at the best of times then avoid shopping trips during them hot summers afternoons. This is a recipe for meltdowns… You’ve been warned.

10) Cool down! I’ve found that by giving little man a battery operated hand fan he manages the summer heat much better. We did try using cool mist but spraying this on the little man’s face didn’t go down to well. See what works best for your child but if you do opt for a battery operated fan then be sure batteries are fully charged and maybe keep a spare set in your handbag just in case.

Well that’s about it for now. Hope these small tips help and if you have any of your own, then please share in the comments section. Thanks.x

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Tips For Parents Of Tactile Defensive Children (Part 1 – Hygiene Problems)

6 Feb

Many children On the autism spectrum have some degree of sensory integration difficulties. As a parent of a child diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome with accompanying sensory integration problems, I know just how difficult some situations can become for both parent and child.

One of the senses in particular that little man has problems with Is that of his tactile sense, hypersensitivity to touch/tactile input. As his aged with appropriate Interventions Little man is slowly learning different types of coping strategies to deal with such difficulties.

As a child and still to some extent, I myself was very tactile defensive growing up. As a child with OCD I also developed compulsions and rituals that involved me having to touch certain textures that I didn’t like, a required number of times in order to stop bad things happening. This itself made my sensory defensiveness very hard for others to spot!

I guess the above means that to certain degree I have that much of a better understanding of little mans difficulties within the area of tactile hypersensitivity. Nonetheless, there was areas of difficulty for little man that I had never experienced and to some extent would have never related both the symptom and associated behaviour together. A good example of this would be little man’s reluctance to bath. It took a while for me to realise that it wasn’t the fact he was lazy with no desire to wash, but it was instead the way his body felt when getting out off the bath (wrinkly tight skin, the feeling of wetness within certain areas of the body etc…).

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So, that’s why today I would like to share some of the tips and strategies I have learnt, that help my little man with some of the difficulties he experiences at the hands of tactile hypersensitivity. All these difficulties affect the area of personal hygiene.

Teeth Brushing: Little man hates brushing his teeth and will try and avoid at any cost. This is because the way his mouth feels during & following this action. He also gets rather upset that his taste buds have changed when he drinks anything shortly after brushing his teeth. Just explaining that such experiences are short lived and resolve themselves quickly, doesn’t make any difference to a child like little man. So what do you do?

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Tip… Buy only soft tooth brushes. I buy brushes designed for toddlers milk teeth. Its not ideal him using them at 12 years old, nonetheless, I’d rather he brushed with this than nothing at all. As well as the soft brush he also uses toothpaste designed for smaller, younger teeth. This toothpastes doesn’t give off the same sensations. They are lower or except from certain ingredients altogether, therefore avoiding any burning or ultra cooling sensation in the mouth. This also leaves little taste behind and that first drink isn’t as daunting as it was before. I know he will need to use better toothpaste as he goes into his teenage years so have therefore started to look at the different options available in terms of products… Is there actually a toothpaste designed for those with tactile defensiveness? Big gap in the market there if there isn’t! Any suggestions, please do leave them in the comment section.

Bathing: Little man will need me to start requesting he baths in the morning in order to ensure he eventually gives in on the refusal front and is in the tub come late evening. Reasons for the refusal is mainly centred around tactile sensations shortly following a swim in the tub. He understands that the feeling of wetness within certain body areas is quickly fixed with a towel but it still concerns him leading to avoidance. One of the reasons this is, is that he also hates the sensation of tight clean skin, wrinkly fingers etc… That are very present (probably more so) once you have towel dried.

Tips: I must first add, that little man actually loves the shower, sadly we don’t have one and can not afford a shower fitment over our bath. So, why is it different and why might a shower be a better option for your tactile defensive child? Well… the water is aimed downwards in a continuous flowing motion, there is little opportunity for water to really sit on skin in large amounts. When showering the body has not been submerged in water. This therefore removes that sensation of tightness to the skin and wrinkly fingers and toes.

Little man again loves swimming and this itself confused me. Later, I actually discovered he liked the smell of Chlorine and thought that it cleansed his skin of dirt, meaning he could avoid a bath later on at home lol. The fact there is a shower at the swimming baths is another big Incentive to swim. He will protest on an evening his been swimming, that he don’t need the bath his been in the chlorine filled pool plus showered too! For me it was more reason to get him in that bath.

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Good products… I never give little man soap to use. This itself makes the skin super tight and squeaky clean, sending him loopy. I myself, don’t use soap for the dislike of tightness plus sensitive skin. We instead use a good sensitive body wash with little fragrance. But saying this Little man also seeks out certain smells and some actually help encourage him to bath. The boy loves lush and colour changing bath bombs can have him running to the bathroom. These are normally quite highly fragranced so I am pleased they are all natural handmade products with many of them correcting some of the tactile sensations he develops.

Recently we discovered a product from Olay that is a body wash with added body lotion helping to lock in moisture therefore removing the dry, tight sensation. It seems weird as body lotion is something we apply following a bath but it does really work.

DIY… When we recently ran out of our Olay product sent from the gods, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the shops, I decided to get all DIY! I added some Johnson’s Baby Lotion to a bottle of Simple body wash and can you believe it? It really did work! Excluding the odd oily blob of floating mixture in the bath, its actually a really clever and effective solution.

So… Overall use good products to help reduce sensations, apply good body creams and lotions following a bath too.

Use a good quality towel that isn’t hard or stiff. If you have a tumble dryer then use it to keep towels fluffy and warm.

Make bath times fun and sensory inviting with water colour changers, bath paint and our favourite… Crazy Soap.

If you have a shower, give your child the option. Its my experience that a shower is less likely to bring on such extreme feelings of tactile discomfort.

Hand-washing: Little man needs constant prompts to wash his hands. Sometimes seeing is believing so if he can’t see dirt he thinks there must be no germs so no need to wash them. Again he hates the sensation of wet hands or those that feel funny after using certain soaps or hand wash. Other times little man just plain forgets, especially after using the toilet.

Tips….

Prove It: I used an ultraviolet light to reveal the unseen germs on little mans hands…. After all education is important for any child. I also directed him to online youtube videos and resources that explain the differences about dirt and unseen germs (what you can’t see really can hurt you). However, for you a more gentle approach maybe necessary. Children on the autism spectrum can be easily frightened and become over obsessive about subjects, therefore worrying about contamination and then as a result, engage in too much hand-washing! You know your child best!

Visual clues: Just a sign on the toilet wall that states “Now Please Wash Your Hands” that is visible when your child goes to pull the chain, can be enough to jog their memory and have them running to the bath room sink. We had one of them cute posters in a cartoon format that read pretty much the same reminder.

The Right Handwash & Hand-cream: A good handwash instead of soap. Little man then applies a hand cream to replace moisture back into the skin correcting the sensation of tightness. Buy your child a pocket travel size hand cream to take out and about with them, including school.

Child Friendly Hand Sanitisers: Sometimes when out and about your child may refuse to use a public washroom sink for a string of reasons like the horrid liquid in the soap dispensers or a fear of the electronic hand fans (used to scare Little man rotten). On the market there are now really good alcohol free Hands sanitisers (we have reviewed a few here on the blog). These, followed by the application of travel sized hand cream could be the answer.

Nail clipping & Cleaning: By far one of Little man’s worst feared hygiene task. It’s highly embarrassing for your child to have dirty nails and it’s also highly embarrassing for you, the parent that your child has such dirty nails. Little man just finds the sensation of freshly cut nails totally unbearable. He also freaks out when cleaning instruments are used, saying it makes him feel fuzzy. Now, I can share some tips I’ve been given but sadly we are still struggling. Nonetheless, you may have more success. If you have any tips of your own, that you feel myself and the Little man could benefit from then please leave a comment below.

Tips: Crystal nail files can help! I have a Leighton Denny glass file and its gentle and kinder to nails. Still its a struggle for use as he still refuses, freaks out and dislikes the cleaning process that you need to undertake first.

Allow your child to clip and clean nails themselves. Your child then has better control over how short to cut them and the sensations felt with differing lengths. Again we still struggle (Only ever provide such an option to older children.)

Incentives aka good old bribery. Not really a tip as such and quite bad advise but something I admit resorting to. Funny enough he still often doesn’t give in, even if I’m offering something exciting.

Try nail brushes for cleaning. We have a very nice soft nail brush with extra fine bristles that Little man is leaning to tolerate.

Remember, don’t cut too short. If the feeling of freshly cut nails is really overpowering, you will get nowhere near them with the clippers next time. Plus if you catch the skin you may as well forget ever trying again… Not gonna happen!

Try nail scissors instead of clippers. These don’t cut so bluntly decreasing the sensation that’s felt following the task.

Warning: Don’t ever, ever, even try and cut your child’s nails while they are sleeping! One minute he was snoring, I was clipping away thinking “Gotcha Now” When the next thing I knew the clippers were on the floor and I was following them with a freshly punched nose. Not his fault, he acted on impulse having been woken due to a sensation he finds horrific! Yes, just because they are in the land of nod doesn’t mean the brain doesn’t produce messages of uncomfortable tactile sensations!

Tips for preparing preschoolers with Aspergers for full time education

13 Jan

School isn’t an easy place for the child on the autism spectrum. Here’s some tips to prepare preschoolers on the autism spectrum for what lies ahead as well as some tips designed to help you, the parent, find the right school for your child.

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1- If possible introduce your child to a play school or a nursery setting so that they are given the opportunity to get used to being around other children. If you don’t, then you run the risk of problems when it becomes compulsory that your child is educated.

2- Introduce social stories that are centred around that of your child’s first day at school. Continue using social stories that cover school in general… especially trips, sports days and other activities that don’t happen on a daily basis.

3- When deciding on what school to send your child, take your time looking into the different options. If your child has a statement you also have the option of looking into special schools.

4- If possible take your child with you to look at schools. They may only be a pre-schooler but its important to see how the school sits with them. Be sure to choose a school that has experience of educating children on the spectrum and one that offers all the support your child will require.

5- Check ofsted reports as well as online reviews its important to do lots of research when it comes to schools.

6- Ask teachers if you could possibly take some pictures of the school and classroom setting (obviously not the children)! It would also be great if the class teacher and head teacher wouldn’t mind you taking a picture of them (the teaching staff). With these pictures you can build your child a social story that is centred around the school they will attend.

5- Pictures like those above could also be added to a child’s visual timetable. You could even create them a travel book. Inside this book you can display pictures of the teacher, toilets, playground etc… This would allow the child to use visual clues throughout the day in a number of ways. It would be an especially great tool for the non verbal child.

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6- Engage your child in role play. Have fun playing a game of schools, therefore preparing your child for the real deal.

7- Prepare your child for the world of education by starting out early. Giving a child a head start in education is a wonderful gift regardless of whether they have autism or special educational needs. Counting games and colour matching, arts and crafts and reading are all great ways to learn and will help your child practice concentration techniques needed for the classroom.

8- If your child has poor sensory processing then start introducing them into the world of sensory play. By playing a number of sensory games, over time such exercises could help your child adjust & adapt to different types of sensory stimuli.

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Above image from my autism and sen pinterest board (pinned from the awesome site Carrots Are Orange

9- If your child is yet to be diagnosed then do all you can to get professionals to see your child as early on as possible. Lots of children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum much later on once attending school. Children with Aspergers can often find themselves struggling in primary or even secondary school, while parents are battling the system for that of a medical diagnosis or a statement of SEN… quite often its usually both. Though, it should be noted that some traits of autism, especially Aspergers Syndrome may not surface till much later on, once a child is in school. Its not always a struggle to obtain the diagnosis. Good schools and SENCOs may be the first to spot a problem and therefore refer you to a specialist for an official diagnosis.

10- Children with Aspergers prefer a good set routine. School is a very structured setting and the child on the spectrum will really like this aspect of their school day. However, there are times when routines have to be slightly altered and changes need to take affect. We have found that unannounced supply teachers upset little man more than anything (even when he does have warning he still finds it hard to adjust)! Be sure that your child’s teaching team fully understand the importance of routine and the need to inform you of changes asap. Of course there will be times when changes are unavoidable and occur last minute but the earlier you know the better prepared your child will be for the change… However big or small it may be.

School is a substantial part of a child’s life. It is a place they will attend 5 days per week, for an average 6 and a half hours per day. Its imperative that they are comfortable in their learning environment. As parents it is our job to see that they are!

Spend Less Time Cooking And More Time With The Kids This Christmas

5 Dec

I absolutely hate peeling spuds, the whole tasks really grinds my gears. Not only does it somehow make the tips of my fingers sore but I also seem to lose half a potato to the bin by the time I’m done!

What a time consuming, boring task!

Over the years my peeling of potatoes hasn’t really improved despite the increase in family size. A great example would be Christmas Day… Its on this day that I seem to spend the majority of the morning stuck in the kitchen peeling veg instead of enjoying the festivities with the children. Yes… I do enjoy cooking but I’m not a massive fan on the preparations side of things.

But seriously, its not just about peeling potatoes, its more the issue of missing important family time to the kitchen.

The video from Aunt Bessie’s highlights my point perfectly. If anything I feel somewhat envious of the mothers ability to get dinner on the table so quickly therefore allowing her more time with the family.

With this I thought I’d have a go at sharing some of my ideas on ways to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the family this Christmas.

1- Frozen & Ready peeled Veg – This year I’ve decided to do a mix of my own roast potatoes and that of Aunt Bessie’s. I’m also going to opt for some ready prepared veg. Given the child’s father is with us for dinner he will be doing the peeling and if I can get away with it, the cooking too.

2 – I will prepare the sausage meat stuffing for the Turkey on Christmas Eve. If I’m feeling really lazy I could just add some sausage meat to some packet stuffing! However, I do love homemade stuffing and given I don’t do it that often I’ll make to effort.

3 – This year I plan on not over doing it when it comes to the selection of veg on offer! I always do this and find I have it being cooked on all four hobs as well as in the steamer. I don’t know why I do this every single year, especially given there is always loads left over. I just never learn!

4 – I plan on making a really fancy dessert this year and will again make this on Christmas Eve. I’m planning for it to be a dessert that can be served cold so I’m not required to spend longer than needed in the kitchen come Christmas Day.

5 – the last few weeks I’ve seen the shelfs in the supermarkets filling up with treats. Some of which have been on offer and actually look incredibly tasty. These include nibbles and party foods that you tend to serve Christmas during that of the early evening. This year I will most defiantly be stocking up. Who wants to return to the kitchen to spend even more time preparing food instead of eating from a tin of Quality streets while watching the ‘Polar Express’ with the kids?

Oh… And like stuff isn’t stressful enough this year, but I’ve found myself needing a new built in cooker or replacement door as our cooker door has quite literally fallen off and smashed into a million pieces. So, unless I pull the pennies together and fast, Christmas dinner will have to be elsewhere…. Actually is that such a bad thing?

Whether your having the whole extended family over for Christmas or its just you and the kids, its important to remember that as great as Christmas dinner can be, its nowhere near as great as the time spent side by side with those you love.

This Post contains a sponsored video. However, all words are honest and that of my own.

Help your child with Aspergers to get the most out of Christmas

3 Dec

1 – if like my little man you’re child with Aspergers isn’t big on surprises then simply don’t surprise them! I used to hate that little man used to get anxious about what I was getting him for Christmas. He would worry himself sick that I’d get it all wrong so now he buys his gifts with me.

2 – Plan well ahead for Christmas Day. If possible try to spend Christmas at home so there isn’t to much change.

3 – We all know its the month for advent calendars. Little man can’t help but to open all the doors on day 1, just to munch the chocolate (sweet tooth like his mother).This year we are trying the LEGO Advent calendar and given he can’t eat the Lego this is working out pretty well.

3 – Let your child become involved in the overall planning of the day. Make a visual timetable together and let them hang it in their bedroom at least 3 weeks before the date.

4 – if your child has extra sensitive hearing and therefore freaks out every time someone decides to pull a cracker, then why not introduce an alternative to crackers. I shared a post on my sister blog mummy of many talents where I made cute table flavours made with a paper doyley and ribbon. You can pack this out with cracker treats and paper crowns so no one loses out.

5 – If your child is a fussy eater then its worth making a separate meal plan for them. however, do encourage your child to try some of what your serving up. Little man has gone from only eating a small selection of Christmas dinner to most of what we eat which makes dinner time a much each time.

6 – Don’t be surprised if your child with Aspergers just laughs in your face when you announce that Santa is watching to see if his been bad or good. Little man was just 4 years old when he informed me that he knew Santa was a fictional being. He told me it just didn’t make sense and was not logical for a man with a white bead and fat belly to be able to deliver presents to every single child in the world, let-alone fit through their chimneys. Yes, it broke my heart but this is the way he is and I expect this (as long as he doesn’t ruin it for his siblings)!

7 – don’t over do the tape when you wrap the Christmas presents. Little man struggles more than most as he has difficulties with his fine motor skills and he becomes all fingers and thumbs as he sits frustrated as he tries to rip the paper of his gifts… I then have to sit unwrapping the gifts I’ve spent the night wrapping.

8 – Little man has a lot of trouble sleeping and Christmas Eve is no exception. If your child takes melatonin then try to stop giving it to them around 5 days before Christmas Eve. This means that when you reintroduce it come Christmas Eve the body is more excepting and it therefore works much better (after all there is nothing worse then meltdowns on Christmas Day).

9 – Let your child have time to unwind and relax doing what they want on Christmas morning. Don’t be offended if your child offloads the gifts to their bedroom and then wraps the duvet around them why they settle on the sofa watching cartoons. Little man does this. Its not that his not excited about his gifts its just that he needs time to unwind and fully wake up before opening anything… Things will soon liven up so just enjoy the peace and peel the spuds.

10 – Don’t forget batteries! Every child will throw a wobbler if you do, but the child with Aspergers just don’t get how you forget and meltdowns can be mighty.

11 – Avoid doing the food shop with the kids in toll. Its bad enough taking your child with Aspergers to the supermarket but if you take them at this busy time you’re just asking for trouble.

12 – I’ve been trying for years to stop little man asking family and friends how much they paid for his gifts and where they brought them from. Its just that he can’t help but know it actually eats him up inside if he doesn’t. Family have come accustomed to his probing and we try to not make to much of a big deal of it now. My mum will go as far as leaving the prices on for a peaceful life.

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Be A Smart Shopper And Save Money

15 Oct

“I need to cut back on stuff for a bit. Just in till I’ve gotten myself back on my feet.”

“I’m just being careful with the pennies over the next few months to ensure I’ve got enough money for our family holiday!”

The two statements above are ones I’ve heard all too often. Would It be wrong to assume that those reading this have stated one of the above or at least something along them lines. If you haven’t then I’m impressed! Your smart!

You, see saving money should never be a short term goal! It should be a way of life, one that isn’t a chore to undertake. A depressive process that makes us feel restricted and starved of some of life’s pleasures. It should be easy, yet rewarding… Something we do without thinking about it. Bottom line is… Saving money should be a normality.

Changes may need making, though not all will need to be grand or life changing. In fact, we find its a collection of the smallest things that amount to the most significant savings.

Budget planning and careful documentation of finances has provided me with the proof that small changes, even if it means a few switch over of services, can actually amount to some long term substantial savings.

So., why listen to me? Admittedly I’m no well known money saving adviser! What I am is a mother to three children who is extra vigilant with her income.

My eldest son is on the autism spectrum and is registered disabled. I’m therefore his full time carer and this means that other than the benefits we we get including Carers Allowance, we have no other means.

I help other parents of children with autism to get the services they require whether it be educational or personal and do so on a voluntary basis. For this reason I’ve also got an extensive collection of tips and info on ways these families can save money and gain access to services. I’ve incorporated some of this information within this post.

Household Utilities

Energy Bills: If like myself you are on a Pre-pay meter for your gas, electric or even both, you maybe feeling a little ticked off with the constant need to top up your key or card. However, Not having unexpected bills or unpaid direct debits is appealing and was my motivation for opting for Pre-pay meter in the first place. Nonetheless, pre-pay may seem the safest option but in actual fact isn’t the most cost efficient.

Weigh up your options between Pre-Pay and Monthly billing to see what works best for you. Call or visit your service providers website for information and policies on switching from Pre-pay to billing!

Don’t be afraid to switch providers if you find a better deal elsewhere. Shopping around is always a must and should always be done before any signing on any dotted line.

If you find a better deal, give your current provider the chance to match this in order to keep your custom.

Important: Don’t act harshly! Wait till the end of November when all providers should have already updated new prices following any decisions to raise this winters energy prices.

In the meantime, keep bills lower by trying some of these quick tips…

Replace normal light bulbs with the long life energy efficient type.

Never live off your emergency credit. Usage is automatically more expensive per day. You will find that as soon as your on the emergency, electricity and gas is consumed at a much faster rate than if you were not.

If your not a home owner check with council, housing association or landlord if your able to apply for loft or wall cavity insulation. A number of energy suppliers are actually offering both its costumers and non costumers free loft and wall cavity insulation (links will be provide in reference section located at the bottom of the post).

Remember that the DWP automatically send cold whether payments to families on certain benefits such as disability living allowance. Payments are applicable when the weather is recorded to be an average of zero degrees Celsius over seven consecutive days.

The elderly, those with a disability (including a family member) or families caring for someone suffering from an illness may be able to receive greater discounts up to £130.00 from their suppliers under the home-care support programme.

The EDF energy trust, an independent charity can provide grants to low income families receiving certain benefits. (You must be a customer of one of their boards to apply.) The charities focus is on improving poverty by providing help in the way of grants to clear debts of gas and electricity as well as other household debts. The charity also provide grants to those in need of essential items such as appliances.

Mobile phone billing:

Those on contracts who don’t use all their data or call/text allowance should consider requesting that they change their call plan and therefore reduce the cost of their bill for the remainder of the contract. After all why pay for a service you are not using?

Those using iPhone or other smart phones should take advantage of certain apps available to them. Many Apps allow you to send text and multi media to fellow app users. This does only work with an Internet connection but if you use your wifi it does practically make it free saving you a fair bit of money.

Sometimes however, its just better to opt for pay as you go. Most mobile providers offer great deals and bundles such as bolt Ons and family and friends (call certain family and friends who’s numbers you have registered on your plan, free of charge). Basically by opting for pay as you go you can only use your phone when its topped up therefore avoiding any huge scary phone bills.

Sometimes you will find that your mobile provider offers services for home phone and broadband and vis-vesa. They will usually be happy to give you a quote. Given that you are an existing costumer to one of their services, discounts are offered and are usually very good. This really worked out well for me and made the accounts so much easier to manage.

Say No to 0870 is a great website that searches for alternatives to high cost numbers such as 0870 & 0845 by listing their equivalent geographical number. Using this site has saved me a fortune.

Shopping:

Food and daily essentials…
If possible shop online! Don’t stay loyal to one retailer/supermarket but instead be sure to go with the one offering you the best deals. Many offer huge discounts for first time shoppers and I’ve had fun trying them all out.

Be sure to search for the best deals via a comparison website. Also check out one of the many voucher code sites or apps where you can find some fantastic voucher and promo codes that could greatly reduce your shopping bill.

Be sure to take advantage of store loyalty cards and those odd money off coupons you took from the mornings newspaper.

Try to buy certain products in bulk, especially if you find an discount or offer being run on a product you use on a regular bases. Bulk buying may cost more at the time but will certainly save you money in the weeks to follow.

Shopping for other items such as clothing, toys, homewear, electrics and more….

Again scan the Internet for all the latest discounts and introductory offers. Big costly items should be fully researched via review sites, blogs and forums. This way you have a better idea about the product and may even change your mind for an alternative. Be sure to have covered every corner of the web before committing to payment of your purchase.There is nothing worse than later discovering that fabulous deal you missed out on.

Be sure to use a reputable comparison site to find the best price available. Always read T&C before committing to a transaction. This will highlight any hidden extras and charges before you hand over your money.

If your also a bit of a giver you can also donate to a chosen charity without actually sending a penny extra. Just use a platform such as the one provided by ‘Give as you live‘ to enter your chosen store.The greater your spend on an item the more taken from the final sale price and donated to your chosen charity. What’s great is its free, your not spending more than you planned yet your still able to feel good about yourself.

I myself am a huge bargain hunter and love a good charity shop. Other places you may find a good quality homeware, clothing and more include… Jumble sales, bootfairs, high street and online sales, eBay, clothes swapping sites and best of all freecycle. Everything added to the site is free to local collectors. I’ve had some amazing items from vintage lighting to my garden fence.

What’s important here is not to rush into any big purchase decisions! Explore all options and buy with confidence. Also remember that sometimes the more expensive products are cheaper in the long run. It may be more expensive but may last longer and therefore provide better value for money.

Travel – Train, Coach etc…

I’m off to bristol this Saturday with my 10 year old daughter her best friend and my mum. Trying to get the best fare didn’t exactly go as smoothly as I’d first hoped and I quickly discovered the horrifying prices attached to rail travel (even that of advance tickets). After lots of ramaging and much online reading I started to get wiser as I began to discover how to play the travel provider at their own game.

Firstly the earlier you book the better (12 weeks is recommended for best priced tickets)

Use a fare finder like the trainline or red spotted hanky. You can get anything up to 80% discounted from your fare.

It’s great if your flexible as you will often be shown cheaper options for one maybe two dates either side of the original date you had opted for.

Split ticketing. Basically find out the stops on your trains route and then try splitting the fare but not the travel. You simple search for return tickets to the station normally around half way to your destination. Then again search for returns from the halfway mark to the final destination. For some its cut the fare down by half. You end up with double the tickets but the journey remains the exact same… Just ensure the train does stop at the halfway mark to make it work. You don’t even need to get off the train.

Remember sometimes its cheaper to get two singles as opposed to a returned ticket. Apps like the red spotted hanky will show you the best option out of the two.

If you travel on the train a lot as a family or with friends I’ve discovered it’s much better to buy a family and friends rail card for around £26.00 per year. This will get adults up to 30% of their travel and 60% off the child price when you travel together. Family and friends rail cards can even be used in conjunction with most reduced price ticketing and promotions therefore saving you a significant amount of money.

Note: If you are caring for a family member with a disability you can get them to apply for a disability pass from their local council which entitles them to free travel in and around london.

For longer journeys its worth looking at a disabled person railcard which cost £20 for the year and entitles the person with the disability plus an adult companion upto 30% each of their travel.

Family Days Out…

If you and the family are planing a day out which requires you to use the train, london southeastern run all year round offers that give you 2 for 1 entrance at many top attractions if travelling by train.

Families consisting of Pre-school children should consider visiting attractions on certain days around term time. These dates are always cheaper and many attractions offer special price packages for families with toddlers.

If planning a family trip to an attraction during term times advance booking online and collection of tickets at the gate often results in reduced prices.

If you visit attractions more than once per year many places offer annual family passes. In most cases you can buy these at a good reduced price if purchasing on a day you’ve already been visiting the attraction. However this means you have to buy them before leaving the park when many families feel they have simply spent enough.

Always check prices for children with disabilities. These will often come under concessions and many places offer a reduced ticket rate for carers.

Most cinemas are part of a programme that entails a carer of a disabled person who is buying a cinema ticket, a complementary ticket free of charge. Those with disabilities must have a CEA card which cost around £5 and can be ordered online.

Now, I could go on and on all night. After all we haven’t even touched on insurance policies, banking and more. But I guess I’ll have to save this for another time.

Below you will find a reference section with links to some of the services I’ve mentioned above. If any families of a disabled child are reading this please look out for a post I will be publishing later on in the week. This will provide a list of some charitable organisations providing assistance to families of children with certain disabilities and special needs.

REFERENCE SECTION

SMART PHONE APPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY… If you have a smart phone be smart and use it to save money.

WhatsApp: Free messenger (iTunes price 69p) Send text, picture, audio & video. Twitter handle @WhatsApp

IUU: Free Messenger free to download.

Text Me!: Free texting of SMS and IM style messages. Free to download.

Energy bills

Cold Weather payments from Direct Gov

Warm-Home Discount Scheme info on Direct Gov

British Gas Free loft and wall cavity insulation

The EDF energy trust (charitable trust)

Travel Savings

National Rail railcards (RailCards)
Disabled persons Railcard
The Trainline (cheap fare search)
Red Spotted Hanky (cheap fare search)

Voucher Code Sites

vouchercodes.co.uk
moneysavingexpert.com
Savoo
vouchercloud.com

Comparison Sites
USwitch
price runner
MoneySupermarket

This post is my entry into Savoo UKs smartest shopper competition. The prize is for £10,000 a new money saving blog.

We’ve Booked Our Holiday

10 Oct

Do, I feel organised? Hell yes.

It’s very rare that I’m able to be so prepared. Although booking holidays in advance when your child is on the autism spectrum is really an absolute must, things almost certainly never work out as planned for me.

Some may remember a few months back when I excitedly announced that we were chosen as one of 40 family’s to become a Butlins Ambassador. Well, I’ve been thinking about booking our break for a while but wanted to ensure I made the right resort, accommodation, and catering choices before doing so.

I’ve been given the opportunity to really plan this holiday around the whole families needs and this has allowed me to really step back and think things through when deciding on the best options for little man in particular.

Although we experienced quite a few hiccups during the Tots 100 Christmas party break at Butlins. I do put the majority of this down to the fact we got tickets so late on in the day. This combined with the fact that we wasn’t able to take the children to the actual bloggers meal and party was a bit stressful for little man and me having to dash away caused him some anxiety.

This break is a true family occasion and I won’t be doing any dashing of any sort whatsoever.

The fact that Butlins have a really scheduled time table that little man can follow is absolutely perfect. We found that just having the iPhone App that displayed the daily listings of what was happening at what times made organising what to do really easy. We actually got the app at least a week before leaving so had plenty of time to create little man his very own schedule.

I’m pleased that this year my mum and good family friend Donna will be joining us. This means that all the children can enjoy all aspects of the holiday and I won’t feel like I need to rip myself in half to please them all.

So, our break is booked for the Easter Holidays (1st-5th April 2013). We will be staying 4 nights and coming back home the day before my birthday. This should give me plenty of time to fully organise the trip and prepare the little man.

We are staying in the new Wave hotel at Bognor which is recommend more towards older children of both Alice’s and little man’s age. I’m hoping this will really suit him (they have ps3 in the games room so that should be a winner). Another great aspect is that they both each get their own TV at the end of their bunk (not that we are planning on watching a lot of tv) but what a way to avoid arguments.

I do feel really excited about our next break and have made it my mission to be as prepared as possible.

Here’s a couple of tips if your planning on taking a child away with autism or Aspergers during any of the pending half terms.

1) Book in advance to enable yourself time to plan efficiently.

2) Make sure the child on the spectrum knows when and where you are going.

3) Make an events board. I have done this simply by making a timeline that shows where we are going and in how many days. I do this with all events and occasions that little man needs to prepare for, not just holidays.

4) Try to use real life visuals for your events board. Take these from pictures or Brochures.

5) Let your child explore the designation online. Little man will be checking out the new Butlins website this evening.

6) if you have any worries or concerns make sure these have been discussed with the booking team or those taking care of your accommodation. This could be anything from the request of a room with a shower ( little man prefers to shower and its less of a battle for me to get him to use it) it may be something as simple as avoiding a certain room number (little for us massive to the child with autism).

7) Make sure you have brought and packed everything you need and well within time.

8) Importantly don’t forget any medications. Little man’s melatonin was something we took up again just before going away last time then we forgot to take it. Not great as it can’t be brought over the counter.

9) Pack essentials for travel. We normally go by car and a good supply of snacks and drink is a must.

10) Don’t just leave everything to the last minute! The child on the spectrum can become very anxious when this happens. Believe me… I know.

Heres a few images from our last trip away.

Little man Butlins

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Alice and little man

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Alice and the toddler

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Britmums Live The Highlights

26 Jun

OK, it’s fair to say that I have banged on about it a fair bit “Britmums Live” and why I was pretty dam excited to be attending.

Enough already I hear you scream.

But it’s done now! I attended and got high on the natural buzz of everything blogging, So… I guess it would be just plain rude of me if I didn’t tell you how it went!

Two entire days of workshops, inspiring talks, healthy debates, mingling, tea and a generous servings of cake (not forgetting the odd glass of wine and an awards party) is a lot to get through! So… As not to overload you, I’ll break this down into more manageable portions as to provide you with the highlights.

So here are my top 20… Enjoy!

Friday…

1) Arriving at 4.30 pm midway through a tea break. A cup of coffee and a slice of moist cake was just what this girl needed after the commute (god I loath the underground, though don’t tell the transport obsessed son I just said that)!

2) My first workshop of the weekend “The bloggers studio: The path to getting published, with bloggers who have done it” Having already started writing a book (see last post) this for me was need to know information. All speakers provided us listeners with some fantastic advice, especially “Emily Carlise” (More than just a mum) which meant that I left smiling.

3) I found that this year there was a much larger network of parent bloggers who’s main focus was on that of SEN, Autism, Aspergers and Disability. This meant that I finally got to meet some of the bloggers behind some of my favourite blogs. Tania from Special Needs Jungle has been a lady I’ve wanted to meet for some time. Finally getting to have a good old chin wag over a couple of glasses of wine was brilliant (Yes, we talked about everything from SEN provision to our boys unique and wonderful little ways).

4) The BIB Awards ceremony, Oh yes, did I forget to mention that an awards bash was merging into the agenda? OK, forget I did not but who can blame me, especially when this very blog was a finalist in the category Inspire! Ok, sadly I didn’t claim the title, but at least I lost out to the lovely talented “Mummy Whisper” Seriously it is impossible to hold any kind of blogger resentment, Lisa is just to bloody nice!

5) The fact that Special Needs Jungle did it for us SEN parents by bagging the Change Award! My fellow SEN blogger, activist, Aspergers Mum and now drinking buddy Tania was a little shocked by winning but still stepped on the stage and shared an important message with the 500+ bloggers, “Please do something to help looked after children in care as many of these children are not lucky to have dedicated parents” Please read and share her latest post.

6) The waiters at the BIBs party… I say no more!

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7) The after party drinks with some lovely bloggers.

Saturday…

8) Sarah Brown (wife to ex PM Gordon Brown and founder/president of Piggy Bank Kids) opening key note “Finding your Voice”

9) The Discussions Den, “Blogging for the greater good” A real inspiring discussion hosted by the lovely Kate (Kate on thin ice). Other speakers included Camila Batmanghelidjh (Kids Company) the inspiring Polly Gowers, (Give as you live) Claire from One and one of my favourite bloggers fellow finalist in both the Mads and the BIBs “Kylie Hodges” writer of the blog “Not even a bag of sugar” All gave some fantastic tips and advice on blogging for the greater good. This was by far one of my favourite discussions at Britmums Live.

10) The “Getting the most out of Google +” workshop as this meant that I now understand a little better on how to actually use it.

11) My one 2 one style consultancy with TK Maxx personal stylist “Claire” her suggestions surrounded me with doubt. However she knew her stuff and I left wanting to buy myself some peg trousers.

12) More Cake!

13) How great it was to never find myself stood awkwardly in a corner like a loner! Seriously, there was more than enough lovely bloggers to chat and mingle with.

14) Having a manicure at the Crocs stand! My nails looked lovely (keep an eye out for my lightweight crocs wellie review in August).

15) The display of fireworks right outside my hotel window.

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16) The talk by Cherry Healey… What a legend! A brilliant talk on how to combine social media, press and tv to help promote your blog and of course having the time to do so.

17) Acting like a bit of a tit in the Orlando photo booth.

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18) Chilling out at the Butlins stand with Laura (Tired mummy of two) it was lovely to catch up.

19) Getting to chat with some lovely bloggers and brands during the breaks including Romanian mum and Mum of three boys.

20) Lastly the amazing bloggers keynote. I cried and laughed out loud. I can’t recommend the following post enough!
Doing it all for Aleyna: Survivor
Down Side up: What to say when a baby is born with Down Syndrome
Dorky Mum: Twitter is like
Ministry of Mum: Seven days of special love

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Lastly I would like to thank the people at Orchard Toys for sponsoring my attendance. Of you haven’t checked them out then please do.

A tennis Masterclass with Judy Murray

21 Jun

It’s lovely when I get the opportunity to do something for me and last week I got just that!

Now I’m no super star tennis player, in fact, in till recently I couldn’t even hit the ball. But I do like tennis and have always wished I could actually play.

So when your invited to a 2 hour master class with Judy Murray coach and mother to Andy Murray, you jump at such an opportunity.

I was frilled to be invited by Highland Spring one of the sponsors of the Aegon Championships which ran from the 11-17 June to come along and do just that.

So, on the 14th of June myself and sister (now fellow blogger) put on our trainers (something I rarely do) and headed up to Queens London. It was the 4th day of the Aegon Championships and the place was lively with excited tennis spectators.

We met with the lovely Eve (PR for Highland Spring) and headed of to the practice courts for some action.

Judy and her team were lovely. They took time to give each one of us (their was 8 of us in total) some one on one tips to help us improve our game and can you believe it, Judy had me hitting the ball in under 5 minutes.

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The Masterclass was a real enjoyable way to build up a sweat and get some exercise. I learnt all the basics and actually by the end I couldn’t wait to get home and buy myself a racket.

Following this intense Masterclass we all got into something more comfortable and headed of to the VIP Crown Club for some champers and strawberries. Wow this was a VIP experience, one I don’t get on a daily basis (wishing).

It was lovely to relax and chat with Judy who told us a little about what its like to be mother of the super star tennis player “Andy Murray”

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A fabulous day was had and I’d like to thank Judy Murray and her team, plus the guys at Highland Spring for inviting me.

If your attending Britsmum Live I’ve heard that Judy Murray is now attending. Shes lovely so make sure you all say hello.

20 ways to make summer a less stressful time for the child with Aspergers

19 Jun

Summer activities with a child on the autism spectrum can become something of a wash out, something many families dread. But who wants to spend an entire six week school holiday stuck in the house fearful of going out.

All children need entertaining, boredom is something that never goes down well in anyone’s book and although I’ve done the whole staying In doors thing In the hope it saves me from the public meltdown, I’ve moved on from this, there really is no point in hiding away and not dealing with situations head on.

Summer is much harder when siblings are involved, there’s places they want to go, ones you know the child with Aspergers just can’t cope with. But as a parent you want your children to be able to experience the things they want to, building a set of awesome memories throughout the way.But as a parent you don’t want any of your children distressed and unhappy.

I am lucky in the fact that I can sometimes leave little man with his father while taking the other two children out for the day and vis versa but there are times I don’t have this option and therefore need to weigh up the pros and cons.

Below I have included some ideas that may help you have a reasonably good school summer holidays, but remember every child is different and what may work for some won’t work for others.

1) Many children on the spectrum are not great with overly hot temperatures so try to visit local parks etc in the late afternoon early evening. This way all the children can enjoy the trip to the park.

2) Avoid massive crowds unless you are visiting a facility that caters for your child’s needs. Most theme parks do a wristband that means your can skip the queues and avoid sensory overload and meltdowns.

3) Cinemas are now doing autism friendly screenings which means all children can see the latest film release and no one is left disappointed this summer.

4) Try to have a least one day out where the activities are focused around your child’s special interests. My son likes transport so a visit to the transport museum always goes down well. If siblings are attending spilt the day into two doing something they want to do first (I say first as yes your child is likely to ask when are we leaving and going to the transport museum for example, but if they go to the transport museum first they have nothing left to look forward to and may not cooperate as liked.

5) To avoid boredom on the days your not going out, set up a schedule of fun activities in the garden. All children can get involved. Have some sensory play in the sandpit, burn some energy on the trampoline and why not have some fun sensory play in the paddling pool. This is perfect as your child has the option of coming inside when it all gets to much and other children can continue to play and have fun.

6) If like mine, your child is a fussy eater and wont eat anything that is A) packed in a cool bag and B) isn’t hot, than picnics are not really a suitable family activity. Instead of having children miss out completely why not opt for a disposable barbecue instead. This way the children get the experience of eating outside in the sunshine without any tears.

7) If going out for the day to the park or beach a potable pop up sun tent is a must. These can be brought at a reasonably good price and is a haven for the child who becomes overly sensitive to the heat.

8) As much as I love to do things on a whim I no longer get this option. Checkout what’s happening this summer, plan a scudule and try to stick to it. This way your child knows what activities and visits/days out are happening on each day.

9) The above is essential when going on holiday. This is likely easier in places like holiday camps etc as you can adapte there scudule to suit that of your own and your children can easily express what activities interest them.

10) Another great thing about holiday camps is the supervised activities meaning your other children can still go of and have fun even if the activities are not to the child on the spectrums liking.

11) If going on long car/train journeys over the summer break, bring something to entertain your child, an iPod, iPad, potable DVD player, book or handheld game console (a must for all children).

12) Try to keep bedtime routines the same (as much as possible). This avoids problems when the holidays come to an end and your child returns to school.

13) Talk your Aspergers child through any activities planed for the summer, especially new ones. Try to do this well in advance. Show your children pictures of the places you plan to visit or check it out on there website if they have one.

14) Give your child choices, letting them feel they have a certain amount of control over planed activities. Many children with Aspergers need to feel a certain amount of control.

15) Don’t overload your child, ensure there are free days at home where your child can relax even if the day is scheduled.

16) If going on holiday take your child’s blanket and pillow to make sleeping easier.

17) Expect difficult days and try your best to prepare for them. Lack of routine will always make things harder for the child with Aspergers Syndrome.

18) Educational play is a good way of keeping your youngsters brain busy during the summer. This is great for the child who doesn’t like homework as they tend to learn without even knowing it.

19) Use the summer months as a time to help your child build on their independence skills.

20) When a parent becomes stressed this has an undesirable effect on the child with Aspergers. If your finding the summer months difficult try to talk to other parents in the same situation. There are many online support groups and forums for parents of children with autism.

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