Sunday, 27 February 2011

What could sway your child from going on the computer?

Well, for Sasha, today, it was the good old fashioned game of Twister. She was getting to melting point after seeing big Sis have her turn on the computer (it was definitely Tamsin's turn!) and so I scrabbled around for alternatives for her to play with. The iPad? Nope, already done that. My iPhone? Nah, done that too. The million other toys sitting around the house? No, none of them were any good, she just wanted the computer. Until I suggested Twister. Brilliant - as long as you play by Sasha's rules of course (take note, anyone coming to visit). That means you play as a single player and have to stand just off the mat to start. When a colour and feet (or hands) are shouted out, you have to use 2 hands or 2 feet, on adjacent spots. And jump to change them to a different colour when the next action is called. So no Twisting at all in fact. And then after 4 or 5 calls, you switch turns. This happens at great speed and is ever so slightly frustrating, but still definitely worth it to see the pleasure it gives her. Her latest 'quirk' is to say 'good boy, well done' when you do something right - I must have told her 10 times to say 'good girl' to me as I'm not a boy but it just wasn't sinking in...

Managed to dash out to shops alone briefly yesterday and today (wow, twice in one week, husband has excelled himself!!) and have picked up a Peppa Pig potty for Sasha. Just for decoration really. She's still insisting she won't wear big girl knickers... boy am I looking forward to that battle in a few weeks/months time! Anyhow I did feel slightly nostalgic (if that's the right word) as I raced around Next looking for girls' tights; as I saw all the pretty spring outfits which have come into stock I was reminded how much I miss being able to choose those pretty baby clothes and outfits for the girls. Tamsin is now definitely old enough to have her own opinion, although she's not really sure what she wants unless it says Hello Kitty on it (pants, vests, tights, socks, skirts, tops, swimming costumes, hoodies... the list is endless!). I so enjoyed the stage where I knew I could buy her anything pink and frilly or sparkly and she would love it. Sadly never really had that with Sasha, as presumably due to sensory issues (the next thing we need to get properly checked out) she has always been very particular about what she wears. Back in an old post I would have mentioned how she refused socks for almost a year, and then at some point last year she stopped wearing anything except dresses, though she did fall back into wearing socks with leggings. For the past couple of months she has refused leggings, and now wears tights with the dresses, although really she'd rather not be wearing anything at all. So what, you may think, that should make her summer wardrobe easy to buy? Well yes, I'm hoping so, but of course she may just change her mind again by then to be awkward :) Fortunately Tamsin was never really a trouser fan either so we have plenty of dresses Sasha could wear - the trouble is, she chooses not to wear most of them and is incredibly fussy about fabric, style etc. Her 'party dress' is a firm favourite and *ahem* she's gone to sleep in it tonight. Not a usual occurrence, but as she is SO good at bedtime now I try not to create a fuss about anything. I'd better just add it's not a frilly fancy thing, just a short sleeved stripey jersey dress which she took a shine to and named 'party dress' for no particular reason, though I'm sure she has worn it to one or two. Hey ho, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter what we wear to bed?!
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Friday, 25 February 2011

Flashback Friday

Oooh I love these linkys (technical blogging term ;) ) - inspiration for what to post, and really just things that make me smile, so I love to join in!

Flashback friday is about posting an old photo with a story - any story, any photo. Here's mine for today (I've got a few!!):

me and my mum. not sure how old I would have been here, and obviously old photo means not v good resolution, but what I can tell you is that I look like both Sasha and Tamsin in this pic :) Also I have always been very envious of my mum's lovely black hair - dark brown was always second best for me, especially as elder brother was black haired too!!

and I'm going to cheat a little coz here's another:

me and my mum again. In April 2005, I treated her (and me!) to afternoon tea at the Ritz. I was 8 and a half months pregnant, and it was lovely to spend that time then sitting down with my mum. I love this photo because we both look extra happy. Life has seemed like a whirlwind ever since! But hopefully we'll get the chance again someday soon :)

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Five things I want my daughters to know about me...

There are so many fab blogging mummies out there, and I love dipping into different lives (some might call it being nosey...). Some ideas really grab me, like this one which I may well take further - I think it would be nice to write a letter to my daughters now, for them to read in later life. Very topical, as the news today is talking about whether children should continue to use pens/pencils to write exams or do it through computers. Advances in technology, amazing eh?!

Anyway this is a very short form of it, started off in Ella's blog Notes From Home but I came to it through the fantastic Helloitsgemma (click here!) and Mummy's Little Monkey blogs (read here! )....

1. I love you more than life itself. I know, that is a daft thing to say, but it's just so hard to explain how much I love you. You are my life, my family. Love You.

2. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a Stay-At-Home-Mum (long may it continue). It's certainly not the easiest job in the world, but definitely the most rewarding and I'm so glad I was there for you every step of the way. From the gigges to the tantrums, it's all been brilliant. Thank You.

3. Before this however, I did actually go out to work; I had a 'proper' job, and I worked hard as well as Daddy to enable us all to enjoy nice things in life. Some people are really lucky and find jobs that they enjoy, others just work hard for a living. I was somewhere inbetween - much as I loved what I ended up doing ('shopping', as your Dad always calls it), it wasn't what made me tick. I really hope you find a job that makes you happy, but remember you have to work at everything and always do your best.

4. You can tell me anything. I'd honestly like you to tell me everything, although I'm sure as you grow up you may not want to, and I'll understand that too. But I've been there and done most things before myself. I may be disappointed or sad, but I will always love you and help you. I'd like to share in your good and bad times - you are like my best friends. Remember always, a problem shared is a problem halved. That's partly why I started this blog!

5. I'm always really sorry for being snappy and short-tempered, that's sadly not one of my better personality traits. But PMA - positive mental attitude - is something I do believe in strongly, and even though we all have down moments, days or weeks, it's only you ultimately who can bring yourself back out of them. Life is what you make it. True that there is a bit of luck involved, but you have to stay positive to understand how to build on that luck and not squander chances. Life is a wonderful thing - live it to enjoy it, you never know how long you've got. No regrets.

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Fill In The Blanks

I really missed being able to update my blog last week, but was away having a lovely time visiting family. So much happens everyday that wish I could somehow transport it straight from my brain to the computer- don't you bet that will be able to happen in the future?!!

@jontybabe ( her blog here ) has tagged me to do the following list of Fill In The Blanks and I thought it might help introduce me to newer readers (does anyone else read this I wonder?!) so here goes....

1. I am
a 38 year old SAHM with 2 gorgeous girls who I love THIS much (said with arms open wide, going backwards).

2. The Bravest Thing I've Ever Done is giving birth. Twice. However not even that brave as I couldn't do it without an epidural either time!! Everyone's pain threshold is just different, that's what I say...

3.I feel prettiest when
I get chance to dress up for a night out- so about twice a year then ;)

4. Something that keeps me awake at night is when other half is away and there's a strange sound from downstairs. You want to investigate to set your mind at rest but you daren't move, so you stay very alert waiting to hear if there is another sound... which there generally is, but it's different. So you spend the next hour analysing that and deciding whether to move or dial 999...

5.My favourite meal is
anything Italian. Or as any of my Uni friends would say, toast. Just toast. Maybe with some lemon and lime marmalade. Actually I used to say I'd quite happily just take one pill every day rather than having to eat - I didn't really enjoy food when I was younger. Boy am I making up for it now, sadly!

6. The way to my heart is listening to what I say! hints are dropped from time to time....

7. I want to be this happy, always, and for my family to be equally happy. Life is what you make of it.


Don't think I know enough bloggers to tag just yet, but feel free to send me your own list if you're bored!!
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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hugs make me smile

I love hugs. And kisses - am giving the girls as many as possible while they're still young and before they start telling me to 'stop it!'. Sasha is very tactile and cuddly, which is not something always associated with the stereotype of autism.

I just wanted to share a moment that made me really smile today. When we went to collect Tamsin from school Sasha was, as usual, full of beans and running around without her coat on (it'd be without any clothes on at all if I let her, despite the fact it's still winter!). She ran over to the nursery door, where one girl and 2 boys from her morning session were waiting with their mummies, and just held her arms out and gave the girl a really big hug. Fortunately the girl hugged her back, and then said to Sasha 'we're friends, aren't we?', which almost brought a lump to my throat. Of course Sasha didn't pay any attention to what was said to her and immediately ran off, leaving me to talk to her new 'friend', but it was so heartwarming to know that her peers are actually giving her attention and maybe even accepting her for how she is! Kids, truly amazing.

What's more amazing is that I'm daft enough to have left Sasha with the sand play d'oh AGAIN this afternoon, different room this time, and yes you guessed it, I came back 5 minutes later after doing the washing up to find the room decorated with it. Cue Sasha getting upset because I was not happy, and a bit of impromptu hoovering. Ho hum. I still think the pleasure she gets from playing with it in the first place outweighs the irritation of having to clean it up... but only just.
Another repeat 'misdemeanour' from no. 2 daughter is how she has taken to sucking/chewing the ipod and camera leads which are usually plugged in at the side of our computer screen. Fortunately she's not electrocuted herself doing it yet (and now won't, as they have been permanently put out of sight). There are teeth marks - in the plastic bit at the end, not the wire! Just another example of how telling her off about 'naughty' acts just doesn't sink in. She didn't repeat it to be naughty, but honestly because she doesn't remember/understand why I told her off about it the last time.

This post has just reminded me of that song 'smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking, when there's a cloud in the sky, you'll get by... etc'. I vaguely remember my nana singing this to me so it holds happy and sad memories. The words are perfect for 'down' times - not that I actually have many of those thankfully!

Ha. Just read over my last post and noticed a 'thansk'. That and 'relaly' (really) are the two words I just never seem to be able to type properly. So apologies in advance for the next time I do it :)
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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Clothes I like to wear

For some reason this link just grabbed me and just for the sheer hell of it I thought I'd join in...
thansk to ghostwritermummy and Katie Sluiter

so here's my top 10 of things I like to wear. Any day, any time.

1. My new Fitflop boots. Copied idea off a friend and now I don't think I'll wear anything else again. Because a) they're comfy and b) although they weren't cheap, they are worth every penny as they tone my legs when I walk. Result! Still gotta do a lot of walking yet though...

2. My new tan wedges. Acually not sure I'll ever be able to walk in them, or in fact even keep them rather than return them due to previous fact. Impulse buy in TK Maxx today (knew there was a good reason I never go in there) - I bought them as a reward for myself for being so good at the dentist. I LOVE them.

3. My dressing gown. Soft and snuggly and pink. Brilliant.

4. Cardigans - actually these could have taken up numbers 1-10 as I have them in every colour and pretty much always wear one. Just vital for UK weather I find. So here's a group shot (and that's not even all of them!).

5. My white stuff wool tunic. Only just converted to tunics as I've long been a fan of bootcut jeans (something about balancing out the hips) but a good tunic can hide a multitude of sins I find :)

6. My going out top. Won precisely 3 times (OK maybe 4) - I never get to go out :( But I love the colour of this top (it was picked out for me by a 'helper'!) and the style and I know it will go on hols with me every year.

7. Monsoon wedding dress outfit (looks much better without cardi button done up - but this was my brothers wedding in March, and it was COLD!). Bought 3 or 4 years ago, is the only 'posh' thing I own now, but it's such a classic style and fab material that I'll never give it up! Just need some more weddings or christenings to wear it to :)

8. White trousers. Yes, despite having young children, I cannot be without these in summer. They just make me feel so 'summery'! And you can wear anything with them (although I do try to leave the aforementioned dressing gown at home...). You'll just have to imagine these, I cannot find a photo anywhere.

9. Monsoon (again) summer dress. I probably only own about 4 things from there due to excessive cost, but I do love their clothes and fit. Not a great pic, and I know I'm too white, but you get the idea....

10. hmmm. was struggling with this one. but then I remembered red coat. I LOVE my red coat. It makes me feel cheerful. My girls love it too. So I got Tamsin to take a photo of me in it right now.
and that's it. hope you're not too bored!

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Special Saturday and the first party!

Today is #specialsaturday, a day when lovely people try and raise awareness of special needs by posting on a website proud stories or thoughts about our special needs children or others we know or work with. 

I have contributed, and am including it here as I don't think I've said it directly in my blog before :

Our 3 year old girl has autism. Mild/high functioning, with speech
delay, whatever you want to call it, she is different. She is probably
one of the few non-bilingual children who could count up to 10 in
Spanish at the age of 3 (thanks Dora the Explorer!). She has just sung
her version of Baa Baa for me whilst sitting on my knee and given me a
cute bow as I clapped her. We love her so much – just as much as our
other ‘non-autistic’ daughter! A challenge, certainly, and lots more
of those to come, but she’s opened our eyes up to so much more in

Nobody really has life easy, and nobody really know what is going on
in other people’s lives. So next time you judge, please stop and
think. Nobody is perfect, and everybody is different.

Today was an interesting and tiring one for me. It was the first party which Sasha has been to that was not for her older sister; the first party she's been invited to directly. Another emotional moment, because as Sasha does not relate directly to her peers very often and so does not really form friendships due to her autism, she is likely to get less party invites than the 'nice' children in her class. Totally understandable, I don't expect anyone to invite her on a pity count, but a little sad nonetheless. More so for me than her, certainly at this stage, as she barely understands whose party it is anyway let alone who invited her, but as she gets older and is more aware it will certainly get trickier to explain. 

So this was a blanket invite to the whole nursery class including the 10 children who started new in January (which Sasha was one of). Around 40 three/four year old children were there, and one entertainer dressed up as a funky fairy. Now she did a pretty good job of keeping around 39 of the children entertained, but from the second we entered the large (fortunately!) hall, all Sasha was really interested in was the balloons. And mainly the pretty balloons on ribbons which were being used as the table decorations. There were around 15-20 of them - not enough for every child to have one. Which meant of course that I spent the entire party trying to explain to a girl with limited understanding why she couldn't run around playing with one - and that was literally all she wanted to do. Probably more mentally than physically exhausting, although I did have to follow Sasha round the whole hall and in and out of kitchen and corridor etc and so I didn't get chance to sit down and chat with other mums for more than 2 minutes. Actually a good bit of exercise for me, always look on the bright side ;)  Top party tip would be to please have enough balloons so there is one for each child - and a few over for the inevitable bursts. Sasha does love pass the parcel but doesn't understand having to pass it on and why she can't open every layer - in fact most 4 year olds still don't really understand this! I always think it's a bit like teasing them, waving something in front of their nose and making them give it away! Another top tip from me would be that if you have a party of 40 kids, try to have 4 circles with 4 separate parcels going round (with an adult 'helping' those who don't want to pass it on!) and to make sure that every child gets a treat quickly!! What's the fun in a party with children crying?!

As we're only 3 weeks into the new nursery I haven't got around to telling all the nursery mums about Sasha's autism yet - though I think one mum who I definitely have told may have remembered when she tried to move Sasha out of the way by touching her and got a loud squeal for her pains...  I don't think I've developed my elephant skin enough yet though, as all I could think about after was what people thought of Sasha and how she wasn't joining in. To be fair though, she was better behaved than lots of 4 year olds, and she definitely enjoyed the party. I guess I just worry about playground rumours and people 'making comments' behind my back - I'd rather everything was out in the open. Hey ho, will have to learn to get over that quickly!

After the party I treated her to a Night Garden DVD from ELC - definitely not something I would normally splash out on (online is way cheaper anyhow!!), but one of the lovely things about Sasha is that she never whinges about what she's not got, and in nearly 4 years of going into that toy shop she has never once asked me to buy anything more than a chocolate lolly - unlike our elder daughter who wants everything every time we go in. Most adults would just say no to the pleading, and of course that's what we have done plenty of times to Tamsin, but the fact Sasha asks so rarely makes me want to treat her all the more! So she was even happier when we got home. And my children being happy is what makes me really happy.
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Friday, 11 February 2011

Home Alone

Wait! Before you call the police, that's just me, on my tod, at home, no kids. I've not left the kids at home alone, that would be wrong, they're only 5 and 3!

Tamsin goes off into the classroom with barely a glance backwards these days. Funny how you spend so much time wishing they were less clingy but then when it happens you'd like the cling-on back. Sasha also skipped off into nursery quite happily again this morning, which was a huge relief as she was very tearful when I picked her up at lunchtime yesterday. They told me she'd had a strange morning and was hot and cold - am hoping this was just a reaction to the pre-school jabs she had to have in her poor little arms the day before. Made Daddy take her for those, I always feel I did my bit with the jabs when they were younger and it was difficult enough then! Anyhow we had a lovely afternoon and tea round at a good friend's yesterday and she asked to go again, so she seems to have recovered fine.

It still feels weird, being back from the school run at 9am, 'free' in an empty house. Never bored, never a dull moment, still plenty to get on with, but the first feeling is always 'weird'. Not quite got used to it yet I guess but I'm trying :) I realise how lucky I am to have been able to be a SAHM (Stay-at-home-mum for the uninitiated...) and I am very grateful that I've been able to spend so much time with my children whilst they were young. Easier than working? Hmm not sure. Mentally and physically demanding, non-stop, but also rewarding. Only slightly envious of those mums who have been at work during these times; who have been able to go to the toilet AND close the door (I still leave it open even now when there's no-one in the house!! Bad habit, must remember not to do that out anywhere....) and sit down and enjoy a whole sandwich in one go without anyone grabbing them by the hand mid-way through to take them to another room, or having to jump up to find out which crying child has just chopped their arm off bumped themselves for the millionth time that day.

That said, I've no idea how working mums manage to do it all in such a short space of time at home - to stay on top of the laundry, pay bills and shop online, tidy toys, pens, paper and foodstuff remains away and clean the house every 10 minutes (well OK cleaning's not my thing but I try...sometimes), do the food shopping, remember birthday cards and presents, organise parties, empty bookbags and throw away carefully select and frame the zillionth piece of artwork from the bookbag that week, make packed lunches, sew/iron nametapes on polo shirts, trousers, skirts, cardigans, coats, tights and even socks (yes, I actually did that once!! Mummy brain or what...) etc etc. The list goes on and on. But I'm not complaining, it's been brilliant and I'd love it to never end really.

Right must tidy those rose coloured spectacles away along with everything else and get on with it. One last thing is to say how pleased with myself I am for making a visual timetable for Sasha, big pat on my back :) It's only two sheets of A4, laminated, one showing what happens on a weekly basis and the other showing one day split into timed sections (so getting dressed, morning, lunch etc). Then I've laminated lots of photos of people and places that we see, or things to do, and these get stuck on with velcro according to what's happening that day. So it starts with a picture of the school uniform she has to put on, then school, lunch bag, mummy etc, and we can swap them around if we're going to see someone different. It gives Sasha an idea of what will happen - often just telling her things doesn't really make sense to her, so the pictures really help. I love the fact that Sasha now uses this herself when I'm not in the room - so once we'd got her dressed this morning and I was off getting coats, she took that picture off as it was 'done'. She also uses it to tell me what she'd like to do - so I often come in to find various friends stuck on at different times as she'd like to go to their houses! A little tricky as she doesn't understand why we can't just go when we've not been invited or it's not planned, and she then gets upset about it.... but hopefully this will help her to learn. Can't wait to be able to put my parents picture up next weekend as we'll be going to visit them and I know she'll be really excited!! Anyhow here's a little pic so it may all make sense - but must dash now, off to gym, New Year New Body and all that....
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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Humour - is it over-rated??!! Let's all be happy!

Ho hum. Now I've opened my blog up to the world and his wife, I'm suddenly feeling immense pressure to 'perform' on it. You know, like write witty comments, or take super-amazing photos. Well I'd have to be honest and say I used to think my writing was OK - nothing special, but OK. At least having a teacher for a mum taught me how to spell and 'do' grammar. Since joining the blogging network however, I've dipped into so many other people's lives, and enjoyed so many of the posts, that I feel somewhat inadequate now. I'd love to be making everyone laugh and smile, but I guess this blog wasn't about that originally; it was more of a diary for me so I could remember (well I am getting old now!) and hopefully look back and see the progress (of course there has been lots of that).

So I'm going to cheat and post some links which have made me laugh or smile, in the hope that they brighten everyone else's day, and hopefully I'll remember to throw in some other light-hearted stuff every once in a while. Like today, when Sasha told me unprompted 'had all lunch in car mummy' - may not sound like much to most, but for me that was a 'melting moment' as it's the first time she's actually volunteered any information about what has happened in her day. Usually she wouldn't even answer questions about it, so this was a huge step forward :)

OK so here's just a couple of links for starters, enjoy and smile!

Too cute


Labour Dos and Donts



Life is for laughing and living. PMA - so grateful that even those times when I'm a bit down I can make it back up again by looking at photos :)

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Blog link - does this work?!

I'm wondering if it helps if I show this link!/pages/Stephs-Diary-Autism-Family-blog/162948723757197
can anyone click on this or type it in and then press like on the blog page?!?
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Too old for technology.. DD2 will be telling me how to do this soon!!

Just a quick little update to see if anything is working on the Facebook front... I've tried to link this blog to my page there so people can like it and follow the blog, but I'm not sure it's working.... help! Anybody?!
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Sunday, 6 February 2011

Blogging is fun! And time consuming.....

OK, hands up, I'll admit it, I've been fiddling with the layout all day. Really wanted to pick this background though as it involves water, and it makes me smile when I think of how much both my girls love swimming. Sasha has been a water baby from the word go, and Tamsin is now having lessons and improving rapidly. Can't imagine anyone ever trying to give Sasha a lesson! Where do you find a swim teacher who is trained in autism anyhow?! Fortunately she's a natural - with the armbands. Not sure what will happen when she gets too big for them!

I've been inspired to freshen up my page by all the other mummy bloggers whose posts I've read lately. It's amazing how many different life stories there are out there, and I do sometimes feel guilty as I know my life is not as difficult as many others'. Ah, guilt, there we go again, the mainstay of being a mum :) Still, at the same time as developing a thick skin, I've had to also learn not to worry about everyone else - there just aren't enough hours in the day! But I still do sometimes...

Anyhow hope any new readers do carry on and read some of the earlier posts which explain how we've got to where we are now. Comments and feedback always greatly appreciated!
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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Food - is it all it's cracked up to be??!!

One of the most difficult parts about being a mum for me has to have been the whole 'feeding them' malarkey. Guilt is a major part of lots of mums' lives for many reasons I'm sure, but for me food has been the biggest bugbear. Funny to note again how different our two girls are - Tamsin has never particularly liked food (apart from originally chocolate and now sweeties) and could quite happily eat next to nothing and NEVER be hungry. Sasha on the other hand, eats constantly, and I'm sure if it wasn't for her autism she would have literally eaten anything and enjoyed it. The autism stops her because of her fear of anything unusual and not routine.

You would not believe how much I celebrated the other day when she ate a cheese and ham toastie! No idea why it worked that particular day, but I just decided to put one down near her and she almost ate it by mistake whilst paying attention to something else (TV, ipad, her sister?!). Have I managed to get her to eat one again? No, of course not, she doesn't really remember eating and enjoying the last one! So it's back to square one, trying to 'surreptitously' put food down that she might try - but only while she is in the right mood. It's a tricky old game this, not tipping her over the edge, one I've certainly got used to but am very aware others don't understand the rules of (how could they? They change daily!!).

Again, unlike Tamsin, (who has always hated breakfast (along with most other foods) with a passion and has very graciously agreed to eat just one scotch pancake with choc spread on a daily basis to please us), Sasha has eaten Weetabix most mornings thankfully - sometimes 2 whole ones! However lately she has switched to wanting her favourite snack first ('little sausage') before the weetabix, and the last few days she has got very upset about her weetabix not being quite right in the bowl. Of course she can't explain properly what's wrong, saying something along the lines of 'it's broken' after she has mushed it up which is what she usually does?!), but it does really upset her. I have to guess it's not enough or too much milk but can't be sure. However if I take her another one in she seems to then eat it OK. I'm really hoping this is a passing phase - weetabix is definitely the best thing she eats and most likely keeps her 'regular'. A very common side effect of autism is bowel problems, which we have so far avoided thankfully.

We struggled to feed Tamsin anything for the first 4 years of her life, but at some point over the last year she did manage to grow out of that, and although I would hardly ever call mealtimes enjoyable, we do now get her sitting at the table and sometimes trying new things (although 'yuk!' does seem to be her favourite word...). We managed this largely because we were able to reward/incentivise/bribe/encourage Tamsin to eat -and this is where the biggest difficulty lies with Sasha. That's just not an option as everything is done on her terms. Having said that, I did have a good day when I was feeling particularly strong a week or so ago, and I refused Sasha the chocolate egg she wanted until she had had a spoonful of the scrambled egg on her tea plate (something she used to eat happily but decided to stop liking months ago). Well the screams and tantrum lasted a good 45 minutes, right up until almost bedtime, when all of a sudden she switched them off, went and ate the spoonful and then demanded her reward. I was relieved - at least she had understood me!! So why not do it every day, starve her until she eats decent food, I can hear you asking? Well it worked that one day, but hasn't other times, and believe me it just makes for a miserable life/day those times when she won't back down. If one thing isn't right, nothing is right. Food and water keeps her going and keeps me sane!

Must dash off for 'no likey no lighty' but note to self: will write about 'I love you' in my next post.
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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Emotional times

I've been wanting to post again for a while now, but there's been so much going round my head that I was afraid it would turn into a very long rambling one... so here goes, will try and keep it short...ish..!

School nursery is still going fantastically well for Sasha (am touching our wooden desk now!) and I really couldn't be happier about that. It was definitely the right move at the right time, even if it was one we hadn't originally planned! She is obviously happy and confident in her surroundings, and with the staff members - she comes out after lunch club most days with a huge grin on her face. She's then fairly happy and active at home, and hardly ever sleeps during the day now. Sleep used to be her opt-out method when she got particularly upset, so we're quite glad that doesn't happen so often. In fact she doesn't reach the same distressed state anywhere near as often these days.

So that's all great news, but that's not to say she's changed. She still has autism, her speech is still unclear (and as yet has still not been given any actual NHS SALT sessions, but won't go on about that right now!) and I think that starting the new nursery has really highlighted to me how far behind her peers she is with regard to learning some things, and with her social and emotional skills. When she was at nursery I guess I made a fairly conscious effort not to mix or get involved with many of the mums of her peers, as I already had a great circle of friends who are mums of Tamsin's peers. I also knew that it was unlikely anyone from Sasha's nursery would go to her school, and that unless you meet a very good friend, your lives are then taken in different directions anyway and you have less chance to meet. However now I stand with all the other mums at the new nursery every day and watch all the other children coming out, and it is sometimes difficult to see the children chatter away or answer questions easily when I know Sasha just can't do that. Of course the sadness can't possible last as soon as I see Sasha's big grin - and of course it's not the other children making me sad, it's just the awareness of how big the gap is.

The statement process is inching along and we have submitted our final information/thoughts on what Sasha's needs will be for when she starts reception. Just now the mail has arrived, and in it a copy of the NHS SALT (Speech and Language Therapy) report which they were bound to provide for the LEA. They are suggesting Sasha should receive 10 sessions of 90 minutes duration across the year. This is to include observation, assessment, attending meetings, writing reports etc; the list goes on, 13 points in total of which 2 involve direct therapy with Sasha. Not really impressed to say the least - how bad does she have to be to actually get direct help?! The whole statement process is a tricky one though (not least getting to the point where they agree to assess in the first place). Finally getting to a stage where we all agree on what help Sasha needs in specific areas and what this translates to in terms of staff hours etc could take some time and a few headaches.

They do say you shouldn't really think about the future, as no-one knows what is going to happen. That is true for everyone, but lately it has been difficult not to think ahead, and I already know there will be much tougher times to come for us as a family. For now, Sasha is blissfully unaware of the differences, but how will we explain it all to her when she does begin to realise? It would be so sad if she lost her gorgeous sunny disposition and the independent character she has now. 

School can be a difficult place for any child, but particularly so for those who are different I imagine. Last week I was almost in tears during school assembly, when a young boy with some difficulties (slightly more obvious than Sasha's) went out to the front to be awarded a certificate along with other children his age. It was seeing all the heads of the children turn to watch him walk back to his place which brought a lump to my throat. Children don't generally hold back from saying what they feel, although hopefully at this young age it's not laced with malice. One of Sasha's extra chatty peers told me recently that Sasha ignores everyone, and to be fair he's mostly right, although at times she can be the most friendly and sociable child I know. It's just not always at the right times. It was tempting to say to the boy 'she can't help it' or 'she's not doing it on purpose', but of course it's not so easy to explain in a few words. She's just different. It's a shame that our society doesn't really welcome that as a whole about lots of various issues, not just autism. Awareness and understanding have definitely improved over the years though, and we just have to keep up that flow of information to be able to help everybody.
read more "Emotional times"