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

XX

Its Been Hard

I am not the kind of person who moans and complains about my life, I have always been of the mindset that you deal with the cards you have been dealt in life and just get on with it. But if the last 11 months has taught me anything it is that its OK to say that you're not OK, that you feel like throwing your kids out of the window, or just walking out the door and never coming back! I say the first in partial joke, I would never throw the kids out the window, but they have driven me to want to!! I have no shame in saying I have come close to walking out the door several times in the past 11 months. I know I am not alone and there are lots of other people in our situation, but right now it does feel like that, it feels like I am the only one in the world who is struggling. I feel like I have been pushed to the very edge of my sanity and I'm not sure how to get it back again! I'm not the best at asking for help either, I am the one people come to for help so admitting I want or need it usually gets brushed aside.

Balancing the needs of my entire family weighs heavy on my mind, the needs of 3 autistic children, all whos needs are VERY different from one another.  Our house has always run in a very finely honed schedule, it is how we get through the day, how we get through the week and ultimately how we get through life! It's a schedule we have all, autistic or not become accustomed to and a routine that is abundantly clear we all very much need. School is a major part of that routine, that 6 hours a day is a massive part of their schedule, its structure, respite, fun and learning all in one, very different from the routine we have at home. They know their home routine, they all filter in from school and we slide right into our home routine, the same at weekends, everyone knows what they want to do. I'm a full-time stay at home Mum as well as a carer for the kids, but when they are at school that little 6 hours is my time, whether that be having a brew with my mate, a phone call with my Mum, writing my blog or just cleaning the house, it was my 6 hours. Oh boy have I missed those 6 little hours!

I am very fortunate that 1 of my children has been able to go to school full time all the way through, sadly that's not been the case for my 3 other children who so desperately needed it. Spud, who doesn't have autism, wasn't entitled to a place at all. which meant 100% home school. I was sad for him, school is a big part of normality for him, he lives with 3 autistic siblings and our lives are dominated by them in every aspect, so for the past 3 months, he has had no let-up from the trials of living with them. Pops has especially struggled and when she struggles the WHOLE house knows it. She's a verbal struggler, so the past 3 months have been full of screaming, swearing, biting, spitting, pulling her hair and looping the same section of tv shows constantly. There hasn't been a whole lot of homeschooling going on with her, as she just doesn't have the attention span to sit at the table and do it. I  managed to get her into school 2 days a week, which was a huge help, she goes to an SEN school, so the whole school has an EHCP, so there was no way to get her in every day like my other child who has an EHCP. For L, who is in his 1st year of college there was no option to attend college, it was straight online for him. He has struggled a bit, he likes the social aspect of college, so he has missed his pals. Lockdown has made him feel isolated.

We all gave a huge sigh of relief when we heard that schools are set to reopen. I know many are opposed to the move, but I think my kids, my families children and lots of friends children certainly need this. I have 2 going back on Monday and 2 on Wednesday, I am SO looking forward to Wednesday, it will be the first time since December 19th that there will be no children in the house!! I intend to fully appreciate the silence! I am hoping we all just fall back into routine and happiness and harmony will resume. We are just all hoping this will be the last time we will be returning from homeschool, we can all only hope!

Thanks For Reading

Mandy

xx

                                                                                                                      

Mothers Day Gift Guide

It's almost that time of year when we start racking our brains on what to get the Mother in our life and celebrate the greatness of all she is and all she does. I have been sent a selection of items to feature in a gift guide to make your job a little easier this year. With not many shops open yet, thanks to lockdown 3.0, the majority can be purchased online and delivered to your home!

Get healthy, energised supple skin with Dragonfly CBD skincare products. All of their moisturisers, face creams and lip balms have been enhanced with expertly made CBD to offer unique benefits you won't get with conventional skincare products. The innovative Dragonfly CBD hydrating facial cream help protect your skin from the damaging effects or everyday harm, making it perfect for your everyday self-care routine. Available in 300mg and 500mg strengths with prices starting from £40. The Dragonfly CBD hydrating body moisturiser is a light and silky cream, its formulated with ingredients designed to keep your skin feeling smooth and soft. Infused with natural jojoba oil to soften and smooth rough skin, coconut oil to maintain skin condition and enriched with handcrafted Cannabis Sativa L. extract. Available in 300mg, 500mg and 1000mg with prices starting at £25. 

Lavera’s MY AGE Skincare range is formulated with active ingredients such as hibiscus and ceramides, which offers the perfect care for mature skin. Hibiscus actively combats the ageing process by firming and lifting skin, whilst plant-based ceramides form a protective layer to help prevent moisture loss and visible damage from environmental stressors. Combined, these key ingredients help to fight the signs of ageing whilst leaving feeling hydrated and moisturised. No matter where your mum's tastes or beauty needs lie — or if you don't know exactly what those are because we know mums are notoriously hard to shop for — Lavera’s MY AGE Skincare is the perfect indulgence they deserve! You can get the whole range from the Lavera website delivered right to your door with prices starting from £22.95.

Now I know my Mum loves a little gin and I love a little vodka tipple every now and then, so these miniatures are perfect. The best things in life often come in small packages and this new trio of beautifully sculpted miniatures is no exception from the Isle of Wights distillery, rrp £16.50. The 100% recyclable pack features a glass miniature of each of Mermaid’s premium spirits - its signature Mermaid Gin, Mermaid Pink Gin and recently launched Mermaid Salt Vodka. The mini bottles are stunning and can be kept afterwards for decorative keepsakes.
Whether you live with your Mum or you’re planning on leaving a basket of goodies on her doorstep this Mother’s Day, be sure to whip up a home-baked treat for her by following one of these easy recipes from OGGS. Don’t worry if Mum is following a plant-based diet or avoids eggs as OGGS recipes use OGGS Egg Alternative Aquafaba. If you fancy whipping up your own cake then the OGGS Egg Alternative Aquafaba retails at £1.95 and is available from Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose. Not a baker……not a problem. Spoil mum with  OGGS Zesty Lemon Cake, a luscious lemon sponge cake, every slice is zesty, zingy and light. This light but zesty cake is perfect for sharing over a cuppa. The Zesty Lemon cake retails at £5 and can be purchased from Waitrose and Ocado.

I love a personalised gift and not just a print have hundreds available, this one caught my eye straight away. Song lyrics of your favourite song with your favourite line overlayed on top. There are over 30 different colours to choose from and you can even add a personalised message. You can choose any song and they can customise your request to exactly what you want. The design process is simple, just fill in the song title, main song line, colour for the lyrics and finally your personalised message. Available on A3 & A4 or framed for extra, prices start at £15.90.
The gruum range is based right in my hometown of Manchester and most of the products are made right here in Manchester. gruum don't label their products as mens or womens and offer a single range suitable for all. They never test on animals and only source from suppliers who do the same. The haircare heroes set is £24 and is completely plastic-free. The shampoo and conditioner bar is free from any nasties, parabens and artificial colours. For the environmentally friendly Mum, this is the perfect gift, the shampoo and conditioner bar even come with a tray to place your bars to dry out after use. The bars are available in nourishing, brightening, revitalising and colour protect.

Sudocrem is a motherhood staple isn't it? Its got soo many uses and I personally use it all the time. With Mothers Day in mind, why not make your Mum smile with a gift in the post that’s been made just for her? It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, the excitement of receiving something mysterious in the post never wears off. Sudocrem have just launched their new Personalised My Little Sudocrem portal online at https://personalised-sudocrem.com. You choose the name, design, even a gift box and Sudocrem will do the rest.  

 Have you already got your Mothers Day gifts covered this year? Are you more of a bunch of flowers and card person or do you go all out? Myself and my Mum will probably order in an afternoon tea from a local business and have a quiet chilled out day.

Thanks For Reading

Mandy

xxx

Valentines Day Gift Guide 2021

With Valentines Day just around the corner and the UK still in lockdown I have a selection of products available for sale online that can be sent straight to your front door. No matter what your budget or who you are buying for you are sure to get a few ideas for this guide. All the links are clickable, so if you see something you like, just click through and you can get it direct!
The best things in life often come in small packages and this new trio of beautifully sculpted miniatures is no exception from the Isle of Wights distillery, rrp £16.50. The 100% recyclable pack features a glass miniature of each of Mermaid’s premium spirits - its signature Mermaid Gin, Mermaid Pink Gin and recently launched Mermaid Salt Vodka. 
If you prefer a full-size bottle then the 70cl Mermaid Pink Gin, rrp £40 is the one for you. Aromatic and refreshing, Mermaid Pink Gin infuses the flavour of fresh Isle of Wight strawberries with the smooth yet complex taste of Mermaid Gin, a blend of lemon zest, grains of paradise and fragrant rock samphire. The latter, foraged from the island's cliffs, is known locally as ‘Mermaid’s Kiss’, hence the gin’s name! The bottle makes a beautiful keepsake as it's so intricately designed.
How about some luxury grooming products from Clear Confidence, suitable for both men and women. The products are vegan friendly and they are on a mission to eliminate plastic from their range. Both these products below are completely plastic-free and perfect for eco-conscious buyers. They say using a safety razor and a shaving brush is the uber-luxurious feel - plus reduced skin irritation, razor burns and ingrown hairs! Once you switch, you'll never look back! The big razor companies push their multi-blade cartridges as supposedly better performing, but nothing beats a single blade for reducing skin irritation caused by shaving. Plus, plastic razor cartridges are not recyclable! Grab the plastic-free bamboo safety razor for just £14.97 and the same for the matching shaving brush with ash wooden handle.
The history of Four Roses Bourbon, £34.95 for 70cl, is a love story from the very heart of Kentucky, the picturesque and historic town of Lawrenceburg - making it the perfect spirit for Valentine’s. It began when Paul Jones Jr., the brand’s founder, became smitten by the beauty of a Southern belle. He sent a proposal to her, and she replied that if her answer were “Yes”, she would wear a corsage of four roses on her gown to an upcoming ball - which she duly did. And today, roses feature heavily on Four Roses’ Small Batch bourbon - from the cut glass rose in the centre of the label, to the bottle resembling the shape of a rosebud when held upside down! Small Batch has been one of British bartenders’ favourite bourbons and, with online sales having tripled in the past year, it’s a ‘go-to’ spirit as people have sought to replicate bourbon-based cocktails - such as the Old Fashioned or Manhattan - that they used to enjoy out on the town
These personalised any message two hearts keyring, from Pure Essence Greetings, are perfect for valentines day. Each keyring can be personalised with 2 lines of text, with up to 9 characters per line. They are fab quality and quite heavy, I like the clip on the end, perfect for clipping on the inside of my handbag so I can easily find my keys! These retail at £14.99 for the pair and come in a silver gift box.
Smart Screen is a revolutionary, high-end quality cleaning cloth designed to keep your phone, tablet or any other devices looking brand new. With antibacterial Silver Ion agent introduced into the weave process, the Smart Screen remains effective for up to 15 washes. This premium cloth is heavier than most microfibre glass cleaning cloths, making it far easier to handle. It's small enough to fit in a pocket pouch yet opens into a generous-sized square, available in a range of different colours for just £9.95. 


Make sure you keep your eyes on the guide as there are still a few items on the way in the post that I will be adding as they arrive. Are you a flowers and chocolate gift giver or do you look for the alternative?
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xx

The EHCP Battle Finally Won!!

When you have 2 children on the spectrum who have an EHCP you presume when your 3rd is diagnosed an ECHP will follow and he will be entitled to the same support as his siblings have been lucky enough to have. Sadly for us, this wasn't the case! Its been 6 years since DJ was diagnosed with Aspergers, I had already mentioned to his primary school prior to diagnosis that I wanted to go ahead with an EHCP. I was told by then that without a diagnosis that wasn't going to happen and just to wait. I have since found out that this is lies, you DO NOT need a diagnosis to gain an EHCP. I have also since found out that you can infact pursue an EHCP yourself and not wait for the school to apply for one. 

When he was diagnosed I approached the school Senco again, I was yet again told with a diagnosis of Aspergers he was unlikely to get an EHCP as he didn't require the appropriate amount of support. I called BS on this at this point Dj was 2 years behind educationally. It was a constant battle to get him support even with a diagnosis if you couple that with a child who is reluctant when it comes to school, you spell disaster. He struggled so much he hated school, felt like he didn't fit it, struggled with the work, the lack of in-class support saw him slip further behind.  

His SAT'S gave him major anxiety and school were NO help as he didn't have an EHCP so he wasn't entitled to any support!! Vicious circle, no EHCP, no support and yet they tell me he didn't need enough support to warrant an EHCP.....
I took the decision in the last term of year 6 to remove him from education, it was becoming damaging to his mental health being there in that type of environment where he was left floundering.

His start of high school was a turning point for him, even without an EHCP he was getting fantastic support from the resource provision that had staff that not only understood him but helped him. Their Sendco started his application for an EHCP and we waited. Unfortunately for him in the time we applied there was a change of SENDCO, his school was closed down and he had to change schools, all of these factors hindered the progress of his paperwork. 

During our very first lockdown in March, I had a lot of telephone conversations with lots of professionals. Then the magic moment finally came and I received an email with a copy of his draft EHCP!! He had awarded full support and a long list of support requirements for his new school to follow.

His EHCP has now been on effect for 4 months and although still a reluctant leaner he is making good progress in school. He started off spending all his time in the resource provision for all lessons, he is now attending some mainstream classes and coping well.

With us now in lockdown 3.0 I am more than grateful for his EHCP as it means he is allowed to attending school though lockdown. It is very much needed for him as he is playing catch up already. 

If pushing for an EHCP has taught me one thing it has to be don't give up. Keep on pushing for what you believe your child needs and deserves, it been a long 5 years coming and I am so glad it's over. As a special needs parent, I am fully aware that there could be another battle for something else just around the corner! But for now, I am just enjoying the peace!
Thanks for Reading
Mandy
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