Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The latest artistic masterpiece......

So. Just a little update to prove it really is never-ending......

This is, luckily, only pencil. On our side table in the lounge.

Earlier on today, after school, I got the paints out as both girls enjoy that so much. After a while (and my boat on sea masterpiece) I went off to do some other cleaning/tidying (see, told you, I never stop...!). I foolishly forgot however, that I had left the box containing the paint bottles in the same room as Sasha. I came back just in time to catch her squeezing out a huge volume of paint - so all mixed up but fortunately into the paint pots and not on the carpet (which was just inches away at the edge of the mat).

So next, time for a play outside whilst I got tea ready. Within a minute, Sasha had dug up a substantial amount of mud, wiped it on the table and brushed it flat. All over. Her hands were black all over - I guess I should be grateful it wasn't up to the elbow, right?! Had to quickly interrupt tea making to rush outside with soapy water and towel, to make sure it didn't come inside, along with any muddy feet.

Just a couple more examples..... Her signature theme tune is, I've just decided, It Only Takes A Minute.
Ho hum. Gotta love her.
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Monday, 26 September 2011

Clean clothes on the floor... would you wash again?!

Here's two pictures from a couple of months ago which I've just come across again. They made me laugh.... though not so much at the time...

It just shows what damage Sasha can do in literally minutes if I'm not watching her like a hawk. Good old tug on the clean clothes hanging on the washing line? Oh what fun. Drag it around the grass a bit? Yes please. Drop my half finished ice lolly in a hard-to-see corner of the sofa when I'm done? Oh why not. Bit of artistic colouring on the carpet? What a good idea!

And the list goes on. It's laugh a minute round here, doncha know ;)

One of the mums from school was a bit shocked today when her child called out 'bye, Sasha Basha', but it made me giggle. Sasha really likes to rhyme other people's names all the time (lucky me, I'm Mummy Bummy). To be fair, we probably started it by calling her Sasha Basha when she was much younger - when we started to realise that she left a fair amount of mess behind wherever she went. Sasha Trasha could have been another one.... 
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Friday, 23 September 2011

New school life in reception - good or bad?

I really don't want to sound too smug about this, but Sasha has had an amazing start to her school life. Two and a bit weeks have passed, and I can tell she is still enjoying it and wants to go in everyday. She is happy and confident, and loving the routine. For me, it's so amazing and almost makes me want to cry with relief!

We had a major wobble on the third day in, after the weekend, when I had to leave her screaming in the classroom in the morning when she didn't want me to leave. It was full on screaming, not just a little whimper, and it took everything I had to extract myself and leave as quickly as possible. I spent the morning wondering how it was going, and expecting a phone call, but thankfully heard nothing. I got no direct feedback at the end of the day (well 130pm, short days for the first half term, that's a whole other post), so I assumed it was no real problem. In her communication book it did say she joined the group again fairly quickly - I'm grateful that her curiosity gets the better of her and can calm her down!

On the Friday of the first week we did hit a stumbling block with assembly. All parents are invited every week (though fortunately not expected!), and children are often presented with certificates after talks on a theme. For the first assembly, I really wasn't sure how Sasha would cope with having to sit quietly and listen for an extended period, so I was nervous myself before going in. I thought it would be best if I sat at the back so she couldn't get to me easily, but somewhere that she could see me as she came in so she wasn't worried about me not being there. My plan backfired slightly however, as the second she saw me on her way in, she stopped dead where she was and refused to walk any further. She then spent the assembly lying on the floor by the wall near to where I was sitting (i.e. not sitting at the front with her classmates). She moaned and whimpered, but fortunately didn't create a big fuss, and the teachers were very good at just sitting with her and letting her 'be'. Of course, what she really wanted to do was come and sit on my knee, so I had to spend the rest of the assembly looking the other way and not making any eye contact, so as to not give her the opportunity. That was difficult when she was only inches away!!! Toward the end she did 'up' the crying, and started trying to shuffle towards me, so she was then led back to her classroom slightly earlier than her classmates. A couple of new mums sitting by me were sympathetic, and that did bring tears to my eyes! I wasn't upset because she wouldn't join in, and am in no way worried about what other people think, but it did just highlight again how different she is from all the other 'conforming' children, and how difficult her life may be.

So this morning was the second main assembly (they do them on Mondays also, but without any parents present) and this time I had decided it would be better for Sasha (and me, if I'm being honest!) if I wasn't there. It was planned as a welcome assembly for all reception children though, so it seemed a shame not to be there. The main sticking point was that it was to be a mass as well, which meant an even longer time for Sasha to sit down (and try to listen to a priest who even the adults find it difficult to understand!!!). At the last minute I was persuaded to stay, but in hiding at the back of the room, and I'm so glad I did. Sasha came in with her classmates with no problems, and sat right at the front where she could see the action - great intuitive thinking from her teachers. There was a lot of words, and a lot of standing up then sitting down again, and even queuing to go up to the priest at the front, but also a lot of singing and interaction from the older children in the school (Tamsin helped give out welcome stickers to all the new starters!). I made sure she couldn't see me, so from where I was, I could only see the back of Sasha's head if I half stood up. I did that a few times to see her just watching everything intently. I had to leave before the assembly finished (it had been going over an hour at that point!!), and as I snuck out, my greatest fear was realising I hadn't seen Sasha go to the toilet that morning, and that she may well have an 'accident' as she wouldn't know to ask for the toilet in such a strange environment! However I also knew that there would be other mums of 'normal' children fretting about that, nothing unusual there. Several other parents commented later in the day at how well behaved Sasha had been, and it really was a huge relief to me. Maybe after a few weeks I'll even be able to work back up to sitting in the front row again!

My major worry now is that everyone thinks Sasha is doing so well and that they assume I'm making up the difficult times! I can live with that though... 

I know other friends and bloggers who are not finding life so good at the moment, and struggling to get their children to attend school, or having difficult meltdowns post school. I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed for them that things improve and they start to go back up the roller coaster.
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Sunday, 18 September 2011

#Healthworkers - more needed! Please read and sign the petition.. takes seconds...

OK, OK, I know that actually I really need to get on and update my own blog with news of how school is going, but tonight I saw a Tweet (ooh, get me, all technological n stuff) which has prompted me to quickly write this.

Mummy From The Heart has written a brilliant post to create support for the #Healthworkers campaign.

In short, there is a severe drought in East Africa and not enough health workers. More signatures are needed on a petition to persuade David Cameron to do more about this. I'm not political myself, but I do believe that creating awareness is the first step to achieving anything, so I'd like to help spread the word and have added my own signature.

I'm going to also ask the following bloggers to join in, although I know they are all very busy ladies....
The A-Word
Looking For Blue Sky
Little Fella and Us
Aspie In The Family

But even if you are not named, please do click through the links and do what you can to help. It will mean  lot to so many.
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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The eve before school start...... boys v girls

I'm afraid to say I shouted at some small children today. Probably scared them half to death. Boys though, horrible little things Smiley (I have two brothers, I can say that....)

Only kidding (about the boys, not the shouting). This afternoon was going so well though - Sasha's last day at home before she starts school tomorrow. She had been really happy running about in the park with her snake (no, not a real one, silly, just a long fluffy thing on a stick that wiggles....), and then we had to go to school to collect big sister. Whilst waiting outside the main entrance, Sasha continued to play really nicely with one of the girls her age that she knows, and another younger sibling (also a girl, do you see where I'm going with this?!). The three of them were laughing and giggling happily together, running about with the 'snake'. Then some boys turned up, and within seconds the snake was broken. Fortunately this didn't cause a meltdown, as I retrieved the two pieces quite quickly and promised they would be fixed at home.

At this point then Sasha ran off down the ramp the other way, and was followed by the boys. A couple more minutes of playing followed, and then I suddenly noticed one of the boys give Sasha a little shove in the back. As I started to walk towards them, the other four boys all crowded round Sasha, and the biggest boy (from the year above) grabbed hold of her in a bear hug/wrestling type of way and then toppled her to the ground, so she fell and grazed her knees. I was running towards them at this point (they weren't even very far away!) and I shouted at the boys to stop, then asked them angrily if they thought that had been a nice thing to do, and if they would have liked it to happen to them. At this point Sasha was screaming and crying her eyes out, so I sat down with her for a big cuddle, and I'm sure all the other mums just thought she had fallen over.

It was a gut reaction from me, and not necessarily the right one, as I'm sure the boys weren't being naughty or evil, they were just indulging in a bit of chase and catch the girl. My worries for Sasha are much stronger though, as it brought home just how vulnerable she is, and how she wouldn't understand a potentially dangerous situation. In reality this kind of behaviour is worrying for all mums, particularly of girls or smaller/quieter boys I imagine, when the children are still so young and they just seem more fragile. To me though it opened up lots of thoughts of how things might become that much more difficult in the future for Sasha, when the children do start to mature and notice the obvious differences more. Probably her relationships with girls will end up being the ones we worry most about, as we won't be able to force friendships, and I think we all know that girls are a lot more complicated in their thinking!

Oh well, roll on first day of school tomorrow. Fingers tightly crossed that she will still actually want to go in the morning, and hasn't changed her mind. I wonder if she'll want to wear uniform or not?! I'm hoping to try and speak to the Cook in the morning, and pre-choose her school dinner, as that is actually the biggest worry of the day for me. At home her hot food is pretty much limited to chips and pasta shapes, with the odd pea thrown in! I should actually be preparing some info now about Sasha for the teacher and assistants, but just can't seem to settle down and do it. It's a shame I have to do it at all. In a way, they'll need to find out about Sasha and understand her for themselves, so I just hope they can find the time for that. I can tell them now, it won't be easy Smiley
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Autism support: thanks to TRACKS and EYAS!

Following Sasha's diagnosis of autism, I've been through many roller coaster thoughts on what we should be doing to help her. We've tried private speech therapy, and used all the advice and help we could get from the NHS, but stopped short of going in search of 'holistic' or 'alternative' therapies. I honestly don't think she would be any different now regardless of what we tried - she is who she is, and fortunately we're very lucky with that Smiley

There have been two major providers of support for us over the last year or so - and I mean for me as well as for Sasha. Our EYAS (Early Years Autism Specialist) has been absolutely wonderful and I really don't know what we'd have done without her. Apart from giving me a break, and helping me to often change how I handled Sasha for the better, she taught Sasha how to share, follow instructions and be patient - although Sasha will only do this when she wants to of course Smiley

The second major help has been TRACKS. Please click on their name to see the website. This is a specialist pre-school nursery which has been set up to specifically help children with autism. They rely on charitable donations and would appreciate any donations to help keep up their good work. We were lucky to get a place for Sasha there, and I took her once a week after school nursery, even though it was a 40 mile round trip twice a day for me. It was a real shame there wasn't any similar provision closer to home, as I would have hoped Sasha could attend more often. The staff there all have a huge experience and understanding of autism, and in fact the staff-child ratio was almost 1-1. It is a sad fact, but without 1-1 support at school it is unlikely Sasha will really discover her full potential. She needs to be understood, and that is what they excelled at. I'm so sorry Sasha won't be attending any more now she's about to begin full time mainstream school. Both Sasha and I will really miss that environment - she loved it there, and we know she was loved and was helped to develop greatly.
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HABA toys - top quality!

Some time ago, I was delighted to be asked to become an Ambassador for the Haba Mums Club.

I was sent some lovely toys for the girls to play with, in return for our honest views on what we thought of them. The Mums Club has a great website set up, where you can hear real mums talking about the toys. 

Here's a couple of pics of the first ones we had:

We were then sent another couple of toys, but what with all the end of term birthdays and summer holidays, I've been a bit rubbish and not managed to find the time to get back to them with our review of those. It's the next thing I'll do... honest. In the meantime I just wanted to quickly say that HABA toys are gorgeous - little on the pricey side, but fab quality and so well thought out. I'd definitely recommend them!

You can view their website by clicking here.
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Saturday, 3 September 2011

The evil that is moon sand.........

OK, here's a top tip for any of my friends with autistic children:

DO NOT buy any Moon Sand/Moon Dough.

If someone buys your child some as a present, take it back. Do NOT open it.

It really doesn't matter how many times you tell them to KEEP IT ON THE MAT, they are incapable of doing this.

I know, I know, why not just throw it away and not let them play with it? Tempting, it really is, but that's where the autism comes in. It wouldn't be forgotten; in fact it would be requested frequently, and then cause anything from a minor to major meltdown when you aren't able to produce it. So keep it or throw it, either way it's a PITB. Plus, it is actually one of the toys that gives Sasha the most pleasure - must be the texture I imagine.

Anyhow, that's my top tip for today. Now, does anyone know how to get a 6 year old to stay in bed until at least 7 in the mornings??! Yawn......

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