What I Want You To Know On Autism Awareness Week

So, let me start off by saying I am all for 'awareness' but I do think an awareness week' is counterproductive! People with autism want awareness every day of the year, not just for a special week or a special day. Also, it's not just awareness they want and need, it's understanding! We don't necessarily want you to understand every aspect of it, but just some understanding would be great. So next time you see someone doing something you feel is unusual, shouting loudly, spinning in a circle, having a meltdown in the street or swearing loudly, don't automatically think it's someone 'being naughty or disrespectful'. Don't get me wrong, before having children on the spectrum if I saw someone as big as my Pops having a full-on meltdown in the street I would probably be one of those who looked and thought, wow she's rude! Having children on the spectrum gives you a different perspective, if I see anything now I don't pre-judge. Now, this is where it gets tricky, some parents say when their child is mid meltdown they would love a sympathetic smile, or the offer of help, in our case it's the opposite. Pops can be quite aggressive when melting down so the last thing we want is someone to try and intervene, but to make out life easier just don't stare and make snarky comments, or worst of all as if you can cope because truth be told no we can't cope, it's hard, and we are just on the edge of melting down ourselves, but we cant, cause we are the adults we are supposed to be the ones in control of the situation. 

Mind dump over with..... I thought the most useful thing could do as a parent of children on the spectrum is share some info, so let's go!

How To Support Someone With Autism
  • People on the spectrum take things very literal, so avoid using words, phrases and humour that can be misconstrued. My funniest memory of this is me saying to Dj "wow, it's raining cats and dogs out there" after coming in from the rain, only to find him stood looking out of the window in horror at the sky, waiting for cats and dogs to fall from the sky!!
  • If you're unsure how best to support someone with autism, ask their parent or carer, they are best placed to know what makes them happy and sad.
  • Sensory perception is key, people with autism have so many sensory sensitivities, so the environment is important. They can be sensitive to light, movement, sounds, smells and touch, we have pre-agreed places that they can and can't go to, for instance, we go to the park at 8am or 7pm before anyone gets there or when everyone has left, as being there when there are other children is just too much.
  • Try and stick to the plan, sudden changes aren't greeted very well, explain things every step of the way. People with autism like the reassurance. just a simple trip to the shops with Pops is exhausting. It's a 5-minute walk and she will constantly ask where we are going, what we are getting, who will be there, she needs the reassurance of those answers.
  • Allow them time to process when given instructions or asked questions, don't badger them for a response straight away. It usually takes time for them to digest the question or request before they can act on it.
  • Makes questions and directions clear, avoid being 'wordy', Pops works better on short commands. Her SALT told us if you give her a whole sentence of instructions she is only hearing 2 or 3 keywords and will switch off. For instance, if I want her to get her cup out of the lounge, I will say "Pops cup please" rather than saying " Pops can you go get your cup from the lounge"
  • DO NOT STOP their repetitive behaviours, obviously, if they are dangerous that's different. But repeating things, doing things in certain ways, lining up cars, walking around with 10 felt tips etc are all coping mechanisms, so please don't prevent them from doing them. At the moment Pops goes to school with 28 Stabilo pens in her bag and 2 Instaglam dolls, shes never takes them out at school, I've asked, but she needs to know they are in there and checks several times throughout the day.
This list could go on, but I think these are a few key facts that would help should you need or meet someone on the autism spectrum. Are you a parent or carer for someone on the spectrum? Is there any you would add?

Autism - Facts vs Myths
  • People with autism cannot talk - This is incorrect, some can talk from day one with no problems at all, some will require some form of assistance. L was an early talker but didn't seem to understand spoken language. Pops didn't say her 1st word until was 5 years old! and it was bubbles... She used a combination of picture cards and sentence strips to communicate.
  • People with autism AVOID social contact - False, I have 1 who avoids social contact at all costs and prefers his own company. I then have one who seeks out company and doesn't like to be alone at all.
  • People with autism do not make eye contact - This is also incorrect, again I have one who does avoid eye contact and one who insists you look at them in the eye when you speak to them. Their eye contact is fleeting and on their terms, but they do give it.
  • Autism is the result of bad parenting - Not even going to dignify this myth, with a response! But safe to say it's false! Autism is a developmental disorder!
  • People with autism are like 'rain man' or have a special talent or skill - This is not technically true, there is a small majority of people on the spectrum, around 10% who have a special ability. 
  • People on the spectrum cannot live alone and live independently - This is false, with the correct support and guidance they sure can! I remember when L was little the thought of him doing anything on his own seemed impossible. He is now 17, goes to college, can manage his own money, travel independently and is looking to the future and living alone.
  • There is no 'cure' for autism - There is no documented cure, but with the correct early interventions they can live pretty 'normal' lives. I hate using the word normal, cause what is normal anyway. I think early intervention is the key! I have 2 who had it and 1 who didn't, as they thought he has ADHD, so he missed out on that key intervention, so he now struggles massively.
I think the main thing I want to point out to everyone is Autism is a spectrum, if you have met 1 person on the spectrum you have met just 1 person on the spectrum as they are all so wonderfully different. I have 3 children on the spectrum, 1 who goes to college, independently, 1 who attends a specialist autism school and needs LOTS of support and 1 in the mainstream with an EHCP and accessing about 50% of the mainstream classes. If you think who much of the spectrum we cover as a family, just imagine how big that spectrum actually is!
If you want to share for awareness or support then please do, but don't just save it for 1 day or just 1 month. If you see a blog post, a picture, a comment then like it, share it, do it all the time, as they need support all the time and we love to know someone is listening.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

A-Z Of Autism - D Is For....

So if you read C is for then you will know what all of this is about, if not here is a little recap. I'm a Mum of 3 autistic children and way back 13 years ago when my eldest was diagnosed I really struggled to find real-life info about autism. So here we have the A to Z of autism, I'm not a Doctor or health care professionals, these are just some words on what autism means for us. Each fortnight (life stress dependant!!) is the next letter of the alphabet, do head over and check out C (highlighted above) and let's get on with D!

Delay

What I am hearing from other SEN parents recently is a lot about delay, global development delay. There has been a rise in autism diagnosis of children of preschool age, 2 of my 3 on the spectrum were diagnosed at just age 3. There a lot of parents now whose children are being diagnosed as having a global developmental delay, rather than autism. They seem to think it's because CAHMs don't want to rush into an autism diagnosis, so a GDD gives them time to observe. Ultimately this means that the child misses out on those crucial early interactions they need with an autism diagnosis. Look out for my future post, on what to look out for and note down!

Distraction

My boys specifically get massively distracted and find concentration difficult. Their distractions can range from someone clicking a pen behind them to a squirrel running past a window. It makes school a little difficult especially for Dj, he is massively distracted by other pupils and finds concentrating on his work difficult when it's too noisy. 

Dyslexia

We are in the process of getting Dj retested for dyslexia, he was tested in year 5 and we were told he was borderline. I am unsure how you can be borderline dyslexic? But I am not a Doctor... He struggles massively with English, spelling, writing and tells me words float off the page when he is reading. The common signs your child may be dyslexic are:

  • May talk later than other children
  • Adds words to their vocabulary slower
  • Have difficulty pronouncing words
  • Have difficulty rhyming
  • Unable to follow multi-step directions
  • Has trouble reciting the alphabet, days of the week and months of the year
  • Slower to develop fine motor skills
  • Had trouble sounding out or blending words
Dj certainly fits all of the above criteria, so we will just have to wait and see what the test says, if it comes back he is then we will get more assistance in school.

Dyspraxia

Similar to dyslexia, Dj is also waiting to be tested for this. Dyspraxia affects fine and gross motor skills. Dj has poor balance, poor posture, poor hand-eye coordination, he loves to dance, but has no rhythm! He is very clumsy and always walking into things, tripping over and has very over-exaggerated hand and arm movements when he walks. He tells me it helps to keep him upright. I am inside if it is associated but he also has terrible vertigo and struggles on stairs and near glass windows where he can see how high up he is, a aeroplane or glass lift is his worst nightmare.

Dyscalculia

Again we are awaiting tests for this. Dyscalculia impairs an individual’s ability to understand everyday math concepts, make sense of numbers, and memorize formulas. Dyscalculia looks different in everyone who has it. One of Dj's biggest cause of anxiety is Maths, he says he just doesn't get it, no matter how much it is broken down for him.

Decisions

I think this a broad spectrum word in the D category. when it comes to making decisions my 3 can NEVER make up their mind, they constantly go back and forth over their decisions. Even if it's only just about what they want for their tea, the whole anxiety of making decisions is too much for them. As a parent of a child with additional needs, the weight of making decisions for them is heavy. Whether you are making the right decisions for their now and for their future. Its a tough one as we can't see into the future so we just work on a what works for right now basis.

Diversity

The autism spectrum is just that, a spectrum, each person on the spectrum is different. There are a diverse range of people diagnosed and some you wouldn't even realise! 

DLA

People on the autism spectrum are unusually entitled to some form of disability living allowance. This is to help pay for the extra thing that they need. Whether that be paying for taxis to get to appointments, additional clothing and adapted items for instance. The amount a person gets is done on a points basis and includes filling out a large form. The form isn't over complicated but some questions may not seem relevant as its just one form for all no matter what their disability.

So that's my D's for this time, I am hoping to have the next letter up in 2 weeks! But in this house, you just never know, but stick with me OK. If you want to catch up on previous weeks check out the A-Z of Autism page which contains links to all previous letters.

Thanks For Reading

Mandy

xx

Shimmer and Sparkle Instaglam Dolls - Series 2

Shimmer and Sparkle Instaglam dolls are a great range of fashion dolls that have actual real makeup inside! There are 6 collectable dolls on the series 2 NEON range! Each of the 6 dolls has its own unique style, hair colour, outfit and neon make up pallet including lipstick.
The dolls themselves are really eye-catching and come in their own enclosed display capsule and display base. As I said above there are 6 in the collection Nina, Luna, Hayley, Jada, Mia and Evie, we were sent Jada and Nina for Pops to have a look at, she loved them so much we have since bought Evie for her aswell! Only 3 more to collect, so she keeps telling me!!
Each of the 4-inch dolls head opens up to show a hidden make up compartment and mirror, so your child can recreate their own makeup looks themselves. Each makeup palette features a combination of neon make up colours, 2 eye shadows, 2 lip glosses and lipstick.
The Instaglam dolls have poseable heads and once you've perfected your look, pop her back on her golden stand and proudly display her. The Instaglam dolls have a hidden beauty tool too. Their hair accessories on their heads pull out and reveal makeup brushes, these can be used on yourself or the dolls.
I love the size of the dolls they are great for taking out and about as they aren't too big. Pops has autism, so we encourage creative play as much as possible and she's always in my makeup box, so these have given me some welcome relief from her pinching mine! The dolls are well made, non-toxic and made with high-quality materials. The makeup doesn't stain and washes off really easily, so they can really go wild with their creations. Roleplay is so important for development, and our children copy what we do, so its nice to be reassured she can do this and the makeup is completely safe for her to use. 
Each of the dolls has a secret sparkle reveal, slightly dampen the application brushes and brush them over the doll's eyelids and lips for a shimmer reveal!
Head on over to the Instaglam Website and check out all 6 of the dolls available. The full range is available for rrp £9.99 each at Character Options Online, there are also some fab full makeup sets available, which Pops already has her eyes on for her birthday!
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx


Easter Gift Guide

 

With Easter just around the corner, I have some fab gift ideas for all budgets, it's not just all about chocolate eggs. I have been sent a selection of products from some fab brands to be featured in this gift guide. All are available to buy online, so just click the highlighted link in each section to take you directly to the purchase page.

Bird & Blend - Tea Infused Chocolate Eco Easter Egg - £18.95

The ulTEAmate, melt in your mouth, chocolate TEAster Egg has landed! Not only is this thick & creamy artisan chocolate infused with our Hot Cross Bun tea, but it is also filled with surprise Cream Egg tea bags and its packaging is 100% plastic-free & eco friendly! Available in dark chocolate or milk chocolate, the dark chocolate version is vegan too! Only Coco are the fantastic small independent artisan chocolate company that makes their tea-infused chocolate bars - we cannot recommend them highly enough! Be warned, they only created a limited run of these (to ensure no waste!) so you’d better be super quick to catch one - it's sooo good that the Easter Bunny wants it back!

Coding Critter Bopper, Hip & Hop - £40

Hop into preschool coding fun with Coding Critters Bopper the bunny and her two pals, Hip and Hop. They’re reading a storybook for interactive coding adventures. Code Bopper to find carrots, pull them along in her garden cart, and hang out with her two adorable bunny friends, Hip and Hop. Coding Critters introduces early coding concepts to children as young as four through hands-on interactive play. Use the directional arrows on Bopper’s back to programme a sequence of up to 30 steps. Coding Critters double as interactive pets: Press Bopper’s nose and switch her to play mode.

Waboba Moon Ball - £5.99

The ZERO GRAVITY BOUNCE! It has been engineered to be the highest bouncy ball. The lightweight Zero Gravity Foam is the bounciest material on earth! Until you bounce it out of this world of course. Say goodbye to small rubber balls and old pink super balls. The patented design makes an iconic pop sound when it hits the pavement, making it more addictive and fun to bounce high everywhere there is a hard surface. Its high quality and extremely durable. The Waboba Moon Ball withstands endless bouncing, sport uses, and indoor & outdoor games. The Moon Ball helps improve hand-eye coordination. Used by professional athletes as a sport training ball. It is also a great sensory ball for kids

Craze Sensations 4 pack compound kit - £9.99

Craze Sensations. A fabulous new collectable ASMR range that taps into the sensory trend.  Open and discover a world of sounds and textures! Mix the decorations with the special compound to create unique satisfying sensations. Inside each of the 4 pots, there’s a new sensation to enjoy. Open the pot, discover the exciting compound and then mix it with the textured decorations and let the fun begin! Listen and feel that AMSR satisfying sound as you squish, smoosh or crunch the decorations together with the unique Craze Sensations compound.

Hoppy Floppys Happy Hunt Game - £16.00

Hoppy Floppy rabbit needs your help finding his carrots! This attractive family fun game will keep early learners engaged as they develop a variety of key skills through play. Early learners spin the spinner to help Hoppy collect the carrots. The game develops a variety of core skills in matching, strategy and colour recognition. The cute rabbit-themed plastic squeezer will help build fine motor skills and encourage pre-handwriting skills. The box contains a colourful egg-shaped game board (printed in the box), game spinner, 16 plastic carrots in four colours, four plastic baskets, a Hoppy Floppy rabbit squeezer and multilingual instructions.

Reading Eggs Mega Book Pack - £69.95

After lockdown 3.0 we are all probably fully aware of Reading Eggs, I know the majority of parents I know used it through school with their children, but did you know that they do the books alongside? The best-selling Mega Book Pack is the ultimate activity book bundle for children learning to read and is suitable for ages 4–7. Bursting with fun and colourful activity books, game flashcards, reading books and more, the Mega Book Pack is designed to supplement the award-winning Reading Eggs programme, allowing your child to practise essential reading and writing skills offline. Research shows that children enjoy the greatest gains in learning by using a combination of digital and print resources. The Mega Book Pack matches the first 80 lessons of the programme, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your child’s face! It can also be enjoyed as a standalone resource to support your child’s reading, phonics, spelling, comprehension and sight word skills at home.

Stomp Rocket 40000 Stunt Plane Kit - £29.39

Run, jump and stomp to launch Stunt Planes; 100% kid-powered. No batteries required. Great for year-round fun to get kids away from screen time and more active outside. The set includes 3 Stunt Planes, sturdy adjustable launch stand and launch stomp pad with an air hose. Looper plane performs giant loops, glider plane soars up to 100 feet and Wildcat plane does all kinds of crazy tricks. Adjust the angle of flight with the adjustable launch stand, fly into the wind or with the wind and change how these planes fly. You can pair it with the Stomp Rocket Science book and get kids interested in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) early. Ages 5 and up.


Pick N Mix Retro Sweets - £7.99

Panda Sweets Pick N Mix Boxes are huge, they contain a massive 1kg of sweets. The Pick N Mix Boxes are perfect for movie nights, family gatherings parties or any other occasion, they are absolutely stuffed to the brim with a huge range of sweets, such as jelly sweets, chewy sweets, fizzy sweets, chocolate and marshmallows. The kids absolutely loved it, and so did Mr RTR, he's a massive sweety fan, who isn't right. We have had lots of pick n mix boxes but this one is definitely the best value for money at under £8, we have paid well over £10 for others identical. Use code LIFESOFAR at checkout for 15% off your order until the end of June 2021.

I hope this guide has given you some ideas for the upcoming Easter break, all items are available for home delivery, so not to worry that the shops aren't open! Happy Shopping.

Thanks For Reading

Mandy

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