{Navigation Bar}

Monday, 30 March 2015

Fencing Success!

Over 5 years ago, I named my blog Steph's Two Girls because I was very conscious of the fact that both girls are equally important to me, and I didn't want all the focus to be on just one of them.
Gratuitous toddler photo of Steph's Two Girls ;)
I guess that having just received the diagnosis of autism for our younger girl, I instinctively knew that she would need my full attention in many ways, and that there would be many meetings and much talking about her ahead. I was adamant however that I didn't want our eldest girl to be forgotten, to only be the 'sibling'; she needs just as much attention.

Fast forward to now and whilst I review toys and blog about family outings with both girls, of course the majority of my 'serious' blog post writing is about autism and PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). This plays a big role in our eldest's life too, but it isn't her life as such, and as she gets older it's possible she won't want to be included in the blog at all.

Tonight though, I want to share how super proud we are of our 'big' girl. She has had just five lunchtime fencing sessions at school, and today she took part in her very first fencing competition.

She attacked, she jabbed, she stood her ground - an all round amazing effort from a girl who would generally be classed as quiet and sensitive. She cheered on her school mates, and her team of three won Silver medals! 

Sometimes it's the achievements you aren't expecting which mean the most.























Linking up with the lovely Jane and Jeanette for Small Steps Amazing Achievements


“Our
read more "Fencing Success!"

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Nintendo Mario Party 10 for Wii U (review)

We were all very excited when the latest Nintendo parcel was delivered recently, especially when we opened it to discover Mario Party 10 was being released for the Wii U.


My girls are quiet Mario fans. By that, I mean that they wouldn't go round shouting about it, but they do love him, lots. Me too, if I'm honest - he's cheeky, and fun, what's not to like?!

Mario Party 10 appears to be a bit like a giant board game, on screen, with a seemingly endless variety of mini games to play as you travel along (over 70 of them apparently!). Each player uses the Wii remote and picks a character to be (Princess Peach is popular in our house), then you press to roll the dice and move along for the next challenge. Quick and easy to pick up, but still entertaining.


The Amiibo characters can be used to unlock extra themed boards relevant to each character, and also to collect special tokens to give you extra power-ups as you progress.

There are three sections; Mario Party, amiibo party and the Bowser Party section (a little on the scary side, which is why it has a PEGI rating of 7, but great fun as one person plays as Bowser to battle against up to 4 other players).

I like the fact that the games can be finished quite quickly, so it doesn't feel like the girls have been sitting in front of the screen for hours on end, and we all like the fact that you can have up to 5 players, so perfect for family or friend gatherings. Here's a quick Nintendo video to tell you more:


Mario Party 10 for Wii U is out now, what are you waiting for?!



Disclosure: we were sent a download code to trial this product, and all views and opinions expressed here are our own.
read more "Nintendo Mario Party 10 for Wii U (review)"

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

This is our PDA story (Week 10)

So can you believe that we're already up to Week 10 of 'This is our PDA story'? 



It may seem like a lot of stories, but I know this is just the teeniest tiniest tip of the iceberg. 

This is just a handful of brave parents who have found the time to tell their story about how living with PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) is very different to raising typically developing (also known as NT, neurotypical) children.

There are so many more parents and carers out there who are not being listened to; who are being blamed for the non-conforming and often challenging behaviour from their children. They are sent on standard parenting courses and given strategies which only serve to fuel the fire.

We've watched programmes like 'My Violent Child' and recognised the signs of a family that are doing the best they can, and of a child who has undiagnosed symptoms. We've seen the thousands of judgemental comments and tweets suggesting that all the child needs is a good slap - in fact, that has been said many times, in person, to parents of children with PDA, even without using social media to hide behind.

The parents are often totally unaware of PDA; their child may or may not have been diagnosed with autism. They haven't yet stumbled across the right website, or the supportive Facebook groups where they can see they are not alone. This means they are sadly not being supported in any way, or offered the right help or advice, and my passion is to try and spread the word and help others understand, so that they and their children are not judged but are instead helped. 

The writer this week could almost have been dictating how I feel. We are about to go through the round of parent consultations with both girls; we have had Stampylongnose on repeat on YouTube for what feels like years, friendship issues are a high priority currently, and as Sophie went to bed tonight, she told me 'you know, the most difficult thing about my life, the thing I just can't do, is.... wait'. That came just after 'I just like to do what I like to do. The reason I like to be at the front all the time is that I can see better. And no-one is walking backwards, bumping me'.

It may not be easy for us as parents or carers, but it's definitely not easy for our children either. We just want to help them as best we can.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It’s the season of parents’ evenings, and Facebook is filled with lots of proud posts – and rightly so, raising any child is challenging enough and successes should be celebrated. But when the success I’m celebrating is that K hasn’t hurt any of his classmates or any of the teaching staff for a few weeks, and is actually joining in for some of the lessons (rather than running around or hiding under the desk) – that doesn’t feel like the kind of post that might get multiple ‘likes’.  I KNOW Facebook is a lie – nobody’s life or children are perfect. And sometimes I wish I was more open about the challenges our family faces, but when you have a child like K your world tends to shrink and you end up lurking only in the places you know you are safe and accepted.

K has really struggled at school this year, and we’ve been lucky to have professionals that all recognise that he has a very PDA profile (his official diagnosis is high functioning autism, or Aspergers as it once was). The recent successes at school are down to the head, his teacher, the SENCO, the Autism team and his paediatrician all devising and implementing PDA-specific strategies (making it feel like he can choose if he joins in or not; not forcing him to if he says no; more 1-2-1 support).

A lot of families really struggle to get the help they need – and often the most useful advice isn’t from professionals, but the stuff you seek it out for yourself (at 2am, in desperation); and it’s mainly on the forums, discussion boards and support groups that are set up and run by parents who have been through this themselves. When I tentatively posted about my concerns about K at 18 months I was advised that I would have to fight for any support he might need and only I would have his best interests at heart – ‘Surely not’, I thought, ‘if he needs help he’ll get it’. But it’s one of the best bits of advice I’ve ever had. I often wonder how the parents of PDA children must have felt before the internet existed to connect us all together. It must have been so lonely out there.

In certain situations, when he’s calm and happy (and mostly when he’s with me), K can be absolutely charming and lovely. This is the real K – the K that well meaning friends say ‘well he seems fine to me’ about. But when his anxiety is high, he’ll avoid most demands made of him. I’ve become like a professional poker player over the years, watching for his every ‘tell’ - the glint in his eye that means he’s heading to sensory over-load hyper mode, the build-up to a massive refusal meltdown. Even before I’d heard of PDA I’d realised that certain strategies; make it a game (that he always must win); make it a race, worked better than others. But only sometimes!

K has always found waiting for anything impossible – so slowly I’ve adapted our home life to accommodate this. I know how to time a request so it coincides with the end of a ‘Stampy Minecraft Let’s Play’ video (arg!). Adapting our home life has caused heated debates between my husband and I – he thinks it’s creating an unreal situation and real life is not like that – it doesn’t bend to your will and accommodate around you. But at home K is far less stressed and less PDA-like than at school. Often PDA children mask at school and then explode at home –but K is the opposite. In a way this has meant that we’ve been able to access support that others have to really fight for – but day-to-day life is still challenging as he struggles to stay in control all times, and I can’t help wonder how long mainstream school will be able to accommodate this. And he really hates school; just getting him there can be a challenge in itself.

What K really struggles with is friendship. He wants friends, but doesn’t really know how to conduct a friendship (he’ll just talk endlessly about his current obsession), and he also becomes possessive over (perceived) friends, and can be aggressive towards other children he sees as trying to take his friend away – he wants them all to himself.
He can also develop negative fixations on other children, where he becomes annoying and provocative towards them, and once he’s entered into this cycle it can be very hard to break it.

As a parent of a child like K you have to develop a tough skin, which is one thing I’ve really struggled with. It’s hard when you know that other parents have been into school to complain about your child, when you’re doing absolutely everything in your power to access help for him, and read every book going in the hope of a magic solution (there isn’t one). But it also makes you into a fighter. I’ll always be there to defend K.

I would like to end positively, and say that parenting K has opened my eyes to many things. I was a very compliant child, and meekly did everything I was asked to do. K challenges everything and therefore forces me to question things too – especially when it comes to the education system and why things are done in the way they are. The system works for the majority of children, but K is a square peg in a round hole – and why should I force him to be something he’s not? He sees the world in such a unique way and in later life we encourage and embrace this – think out of the box! – but we expect all children to fit one set mould.
K is very bright, but PDA has meant I have adjusted my hopes and dreams for his future. My main priority is ensuring his mental health stays robust, that the anxiety doesn’t win and that he’s never, ever made to feel as if he’s a failure or wrong for having a brain that likes to do things its own way.

Ultimately I just want him to be happy – which I’m pretty sure is what every parent would wish for their child.

And I am very proud of him.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



As always, please do leave any comments of support below as they are much appreciated, and really help to let the writer know they are not alone, and not being judged.

For more reading, and different experiences, please check out previous weeks in this series by clicking below:

Week 9

Week 8 

Week 7

Week 6

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

Please do also visit the website for The PDA Society, www.pdasociety.org.uk, where there is much more information, and also www.thepdaresource.com.

Linking up with the lovely Jenny from Let's Talk Mommy for #ShareWithMe.

read more "This is our PDA story (Week 10)"

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Race For Life

I think I'm still in denial. Then again, this has happened, so I can't really hide it any more:



Yes, I've only gone and joined the #PinkArmy - also known as signing up for the Race For Life.

Following the success of my six hour danceathon for Comic Relief, I must have gone a little crazy. Someone suggested I sign up to run, and I did. RUN?! 

Let me tell you now, I am NOT a runner. Never have been. A few years back, after having two babies and deciding I needed to shift some extra weight, I visited a personal trainer once or twice who tried to convince me that running was the best thing for me. I protested, lots, but he made me run a mile once. I never went back to see him again.

Dancing is easy, and fun. Running is not. Simples. I know my good friend Steph (who blogs at Was This In The Plan?) would not agree with me... I think she's lost count of the number of marathons she has run! She's amazing. My younger brother is about to run his fifth London Marathon this year, but I'm not entirely sure he would say he likes running. He's just crazy too.

Anyhow, it's done now, and I'm telling you so that I can't back out. I'm also spreading the word in case there's anyone out there who would like to tag along with me at the back, whispering motivating and inspiring phrases (but expecting no reply). You can sign up too, at raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.orgI've got a special discount giving £2 off for the first 20 people who sign up using the code RFLSteph.



There's all sorts of fab merchandise - I have a hoody and a T-shirt already, but there's also jewellry and lots of other ways you can support Cancer Research UK. Just check out the website page.

I know I've only just finished fundraising for another very deserving charity, so I'm not going to push this (yet), but I do have to let you know that my fundraising page is at www.justgiving.com/stephcurtis. Every Little Helps as they say (ha, see what I did there? Sneaky mention for the sponsors...).

My motivation for all this includes an uncle of mine, my mum's youngest brother, who was taken from us far too soon at the very young age of 50. He was a fabulous, funny man, who is still dearly missed of course, and I think of those he left behind often. Other family members and friends have since been affected in different ways, and I'm doing it for all of them too.

My race will be at the end of July, so plenty of time to train; I decided to try the 5k for my first time around but there are longer distances on offer if you're feeling brave. What are you waiting for?!

Linking up with the fabulous VeViVos blog and her #PoCoLo linky:



Post Comment Love
read more "Race For Life"

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

HOME the movie and products review

Last weekend we were invited along to the Premiere of the new Dreamworks film about to be released, called HOME.



v

It is an amazing animation; proof of that is that Sophie stayed in the cinema to watch the whole movie. That is nothing short of a miracle for a girl who struggles to maintain attention, and whose viewing is normally limited to short videos which she can skip through as and when she chooses. 

It was admittedly a gamble to take Sophie there as we'd never normally frequent the cinema, but I knew how much our older girl would enjoy it. So I was prepared to exit in a hurry with our youngest when necessary (I always have a plan B).

It was a 3D movie, and Sophie obviously struggled with the viewing in 3D, but after about 10 minutes she just removed the glasses and carried on watching anyway. I tried that myself, and some parts looked the same, but others looked slightly fuzzy, so I'm not sure how the whole experience was for Sophie! She suggested leaving half way through as I think the noise and sensory issues had become almost too much to bear, but she hung on in there and I was so pleased for Tilly's sake.

The film is a great feel-good animation with the usual morals behind it. I loved the fact that the lead girl (Pip) wasn't at all girlie and had a great attitude, and that the main alien (called Oh) was different, and not one to follow the crowd. Remind you of anyone?!



Before the show we walked the purple carpet where there was an amazing entertainer - SamSam the bubble man, who holds lots of world records apparently. The girls loved his giant nets; I'll admit to being slightly nervous as they darted around a very busy Leicester Square trying to pop the bubbles....



We had also been given some of the merchandise related to the film to review, and these products were all a big hit with the girls. We were particularly impressed with the Colour Changing Figures which change colour when you rub them; they're also great fun in the bath. Both girls wore their Boov (the name given to the race of aliens) Ears headband before we went into the cinema - you can twist the 'ears' into different styles according to your mood.







The favourite toy was probably the singing and dancing Oh, who 'put his hands in the air like I just do not care' - we have a little video of him in action for you here:




I've already seen these products out in the toy shops and they are very reasonably priced.

So it's a big thumbs up from us; hope you can get out there and see this fab movie very soon!


Disclosure: we were given tickets for the Premiere showing of HOME and a selection of related products to review for free. All opinions on these are our own.


read more "HOME the movie and products review"

This is Our PDA Story (week 9)

Welcome to week 9 of 'This is our PDA story', where I've been asking other families living with PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) to share their thoughts and experiences.

This time it's the turn of another mum to a young girl with PDA, and she is talking about the unpredictability of PDA. For more of her thoughts and words, please do visit her blog Bean Soup which covers many different situations.




A Week in the Life of PDA

Steph asked me to share my twopence worth to her wonderful “PDA in the spotlight” section of her blog.  We agreed on something along the lines of a typical week living with PDA.

I sat down to write. 

I realised that there is no typical week.  There is no typical day or hour and every time I think there might be…it all changes on the flip of a dime!

You see, my experience of being a ‘PDA parent’ is that you rarely reach a plateau of predictability such as you might do parenting a child with a more typical form of autism.  My daughter’s original diagnosis letter states “Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: a-typical Autism Spectrum Condition” and we learnt fast the a-typical bit!!

That is what makes PDA kind of like Autism on some form of mind-altering drug in my humble opinion!  It takes many of the typical autism traits and fires them out randomly. 

For example, just yesterday, my daughter (Bean) was ever so tired and emotional (not necessarily PDA-related, she is five, five year old girls bring that to the table sometimes, don’t they, but her responses were violent and controlling to a degree that would be considered above and beyond appropriate for her age!) and nothing I said or did was ‘right’ in her eyes. 
I was making her tea and despite it being her very favourite meal that she herself had requested that morning, it was all “wrong, wrong, wrong” even the sound of my voice, the way I looked at her, her brother’s breathing, her dad being near her. 
She had attended a weekly ‘forest school’ session at school that afternoon and she is generally challenging/emotional/angry/anxious in the three days leading up to it and the evening following it.  So it was expected and I reserve favourite dishes, special books, novelty/new items such as pens, trinkets, stones I’ve found in the garden etc for Tuesdays.

It was going as it generally does on a Tuesday (oh, maybe there is a typical day evolving here!): involving a lot of patience, calm, fast-thinking, routine and being as available as I can be on my part with a lot of tears, anger, hitting and volatility from her, both of us trying to navigate through the myriad of emotions and responses.
Then we received a call from our neighbours to ask for my husband’s help with delivering a goat kid and instead of this out-of-the-ordinary event upsetting the apple cart further, it completely twisted the situation on it’s head dragging a instantly happy, easy-to-please, compliant five year old girl with it! 

The child went from screaming at her father to stop looking anywhere near her to subsequently spending the following half an hour outside tending to baby goats next door followed by a walk around our own farm checking on animals with him.  She then came inside happy for Dad to help her get her ready for a bath (something she usually refuses to allow), chirpy, amiable, a downright pleasure to be around. 

Granted, food consumption may well have helped the situation (lord knows I can be a troll when I’m over-hungry!) but essentially, the challenging behaviour that is so indicative of PDA can vanish/appear in the blink of an eye at times and that is what makes it so tricky to manage and support.

Something about my daughter that continues to surprise me is that she struggles to cope with changes in routine at times or for periods of time yet positively thrives on novelty and new experiences at other times and I have no bloody idea what reaction will be brought to the table at any given time.  It’s as confusing as it is complex but somehow I kind of relish the challenge.  I myself thrive on a sense of ever-changing, having Bean in my life affords me the opportunity to never get stuck completely in a rut, to always have to think ahead of the game and outside of the box.  Her needs can be 24/7 and while we try to promote a sense of empowerment to live with and, indeed, overcome her challenges, it is an intense process and one that can be suffocating and exhausting.

Bean’s PDA, nay, parenthood per se, takes me to places I never knew I had let alone could cope with at times due to it’s sheer unpredictability and volatility (driven largely by acute anxiety) but at the same time I am learning all the time, at a speed of light at times, ensuring that my experience of parent-child relationships is truly a mutual learning experience*!

*Disclaimer: This sentiment is written with a slight (and extremely rare) hangover which I wonder is making me view the wondrous challenge of parenthood with ever so slightly rose-tinted glasses!!  Perhaps I should add a footnote of: “Granted, there are days (or weeks!) when I consider having gin for breakfast!”


In short, there is no such thing as a typical day for us here at Soup Towers at the moment except for the fact that each and every day we prepare for the unexpected and carry a toolkit of distraction techniques in our pocket along with a good deal of diplomacy and patience…and a cupboard full of gin and chocolate!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


As always, please do leave any comments of support below as they are much appreciated.

For more reading, and different experiences, please check out previous weeks in this series by clicking below:



Please do also visit the website for The PDA Society where there is much more information, and also www.thepdaresource.com.

Linking up with the lovely Jenny from Let's Talk Mommy for #ShareWithMe.



BritMums
read more "This is Our PDA Story (week 9)"

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Siblings {March 2015}


Today we did something that I don't think we'll repeat any time soon. In fact, if I ever suggest it again, please feel free to shoot me.


Hamleys. On a Saturday afternoon. With a bunch of balloons tied to my shoulder bag (don't ask).

Anyhow, as it happens, it was the perfect opportunity to grab my Siblings photo for this month! So yay me.

I know the lighting is all wrong, but believe me, it was nothing short of a miracle that I managed to snap a pic with no-one else in the background. I mean, we were practically falling over people every way we turned in there. So I'll maybe try the staged shot for next month with my fancy new camera. This one, I'm ranking up there as one of our greatest achievements.

My next post contains pics which were also contenders for this month's siblings photo - yes, more than one shot on the same day! Another miracle. Fab day out all round.....

dear beautiful
read more "Siblings {March 2015}"

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

This is our PDA story (week 8)

Welcome to week 8 of our series on 'This is our PDA story'. This is where I open my blog up to other people living with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) in their lives, to try and spread the word and increase understanding of what the PDA reality is on a daily basis.

Before we start, I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read and commented so far. It really does mean so much to me and to all the other PDA people, to know that there are others out there who are prepared to listen and to offer support. You are all brilliant, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

This week's story is from a lady who really has been there and done that - actually still doing it - when it comes to PDA. As you'll see, her daughter was diagnosed at seven, and is now 11. The family has been through some tough times since then, but thanks to using the correct PDA strategies they are coming out the other side. Jane has written a book about her experiences, which I know has been a great help to many other families dealing with PDA.

 It's called My Daughter is NOT Naughty and even the title resonates loudly with me. You can check it out in more detail by clicking on that title.


Jane also writes a blog called Pathological Demand Avoidance an autism spectrum condition.





Pathological Demand Avoidance – There is Light at the End of the Tunnel

My daughter first began to noticeably show extremely challenging behaviour at eighteen months of age. Biting, spitting, kicking and point blank refusing to do simple things like getting dressed, getting into the car, into her car seat or pushchair were just a few of the behaviours that we began to see.  We were not unduly concerned and put this behaviour down to ‘the terrible twos’ which is, after all, a very typical developmental stage for many children.  Despite the consistent and firm use of traditional behaviour modification nothing but nothing seemed to alleviate or to moderate these behaviours.  Instead they became progressively worse and more and more pervasive throughout all aspects of her life.  

By the time she was three I was struggling to cope with the constant meltdowns which, at that time, I just thought were childhood tantrums.  Also she was becoming more and more resistant to any suggestions or demands at all, she was completely obsessed with me and would actively attempt to stop me, by using a variety of strategies, from having any type of communication with other members of the family.  Her obsession with me became suffocating and she could not stand me speaking to her dad or her brother.

She was hyperactive, constantly on the go, needed one on one attention all of the time and never, ever played or entertained herself at all.  I was exhausted but still thought that this was a phase that she would grow out of and eagerly awaited for her to begin school, feeling that this would be a pivotal moment where we would see a natural decrease of such challenging behaviours.

The beginning of nursery school, in a mainstream setting, when she was nearly four years old was indeed a pivotal moment but for all of the wrong reasons.  Instead of behaviours becoming more manageable this is when they actually exploded beyond all control. 

Between the ages of four and six Mollie would experience numerous meltdowns in school that would involve attacking staff and children both physically and verbally as well as the destruction of property and the trashing of classrooms.  The school and I worked together to try to teach her age appropriate behaviour but nothing worked and the school and I were at a loss.  During this period she was excluded on many occasions and eventually she was completely refusing to attend school regardless of rewards or consequences.

In year one everything went completely pear shaped and getting Mollie into school at all was proving to me more and more difficult.  Sometimes it could even be 11am or noon before I managed to get her into school at all.  Within a few short months we were experiencing complete school refusal. 

At the age of six and following a hard fought for diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome I, with the full support of all the involved agencies, removed her from mainstream school in order to pursue a more specialised placement.  She was out of school for fifteen months while a new placement was secured and funded.  During this period life at home was unbearable and I was on the verge of completely cracking.  Meltdowns involving physical violence, every room in the house being completely trashed and verbal abuse were occurring at least three times a day and the rest of the day was spent walking on egg shells trying to avoid or to diffuse any further outbursts.  

None of the recommended strategies for Asperger’s worked with Mollie and we found ourselves in a downward spiral of behaviour.  Also none of the extensive research that I was doing with regard to Asperger’s was providing me with any answers, the diagnosis just didn’t seem to accurately fit my child or to describe her difficulties.  I decided to revisit a diagnosis that I had investigated at an early date called Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome.  
This fitted her like a glove and at the age of seven she was diagnosed with PDA at the Elizabeth Newson Centre (ENC). I funded the assessment privately due to a complete lack of awareness, understanding or even acknowledgment of the existence of this condition from my local health authority.  

Following Mollie’s diagnosis of PDA she was promptly discharged from all of my local health authority services and I was effectively blackballed.  I am even aware that some psychiatrists refused to see Mollie, point blank, due to her diagnosis.  Unfortunately I was left to navigate this complex condition without a map or compass due to the actions of my local health authority and the victim in all of this was, at that time, a seven year old child!  
Her second school placement were wonderful and everything was implemented to PDA perfection but still Mollie could not cope and the behaviour, despite the use of PDA strategies, did not yield any long term results.  After about eight months she was again having multiple meltdowns at school and behaviour at home, while not as violent, was still as challenging. This fear of public meltdowns in school eventually led to school refusal. 
Her final school placement was at a specialised ASC placement but again this eventually resulted in her extremely high anxiety resulting in school refusal.  It was at this stage that I realised and accepted that the only place that Mollie could cope was at home and so I made the decision to completely remove her from mainstream education and to home educated her following a philosophy of unschooling.

During the last two years we have made fantastic progress with Mollie and our family is a much happier and calmer place for all of us.  Violent meltdowns are now nil and we have only experienced one meltdown in the last two years that has involved the destruction of property.  As Mollie is growing older and maturing she is learning naturally from play and the world around her.  

Following a period of over a year of being unable to even the leave the house due to social anxiety she is now venturing out more as and when she can achieve this.  Her ability to moderate her own behaviour in accordance with the needs of others is also greatly improving and she will often apologise following a verbal outburst. She is also now able to mix more successfully in group situations within the family without needing to dominate and control all social interactions. 

This progress has taken two years for us to reach where we are today.  Progress can be painfully slow and it is only when one looks back that you can sometimes actually see just how far you have come.  For us progress required the removal of school, due to her extremely high social anxiety, combined with the continual use of PDA strategies as well as developing successful techniques for other areas of difficulty.  

We had to adapt our world to fit in with her version of what is normal rather than expect her to change and to adapt to a world that may be our version of normal but was  ‘hell on Earth’ for her.  What is normal, it isn’t a fixed concept but is variable depending on the individual.  Mollie now has a life and an environment that is ‘her normal’.  As time goes on we hope that she can manage to mix in the frantic and unpredictable neurotypical world for longer periods of time so that the balance between isolation and socialising becomes a little bit more even. 

For now life is good and we have reached a place where I never thought this family would be, we are a happy and well-functioning family unit.  Our way of living is radical, unorthodox and unique but it is what works for us and it is how we have managed to find a life worth living again for all of us.  

Below is a link to the basic strategies that we used and continue to do so on a daily basis.  
PDA strategies


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As always, please do leave any comments of support below as they are much appreciated.

For more reading, and different experiences, please check out previous weeks in this series by clicking below:

Week 7

Week 6

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1


Linking up with the lovely Jenny from Let's Talk Mommy for #ShareWithMe.
read more "This is our PDA story (week 8)"

Monday, 9 March 2015

#Danceathon #TeamHonk Red Nose Day 2015

WE DID IT!!! Six hours of non-stop dancing (apart from two quick loo breaks) at Wembley Arena, all in aid of Comic Relief.

Here's the proof; an action shot of me moving so fast that I'm blurry. 



Thanks Penny for that photo, and to Seasider In The City, Mums Do Travel and Being Mrs C (yes I do know their real names!) for being my dance buddies for that section and JustAnnieQPR for being my 'partner' in another dance. This photo was taken during the Strictly Ballroom session, which was around 5 hours in. A huge WELL DONE to all of the Team Honk participants, wish I could have spoken to every single one but there were just so many of us! 

We also romped through 70's disco, 80's anthems, 90's rave, Swag, Bashment, Musical Theatre, Funk, Diva Dancing, Pop, Michael Jackson songs and Sixties Soul. Phew! One of the best bits was the crowd of 2,000 learning how to do a Thriller dance routine and then performing it at the end of that section - that particular instructor was just amazing! I'm sure you'll be able to catch it on BBC iplayer later this week, and you don't even have to do the dancing..... alternatively, the actual Red Nose Day is on TV this Friday and I'm sure there'll be some clips of this event shown.




Top marks go to the celebrities who stayed on stage for the whole six hours too - Rufus Hound was just amazing, especially when one of the mics broke and he had us all 'Dad dancing'.

I must just give a special mention to Hotter Shoes too. They've not asked me to write this post, but they did very kindly sponsor me for the Danceathon, and they also provided a pair of shoes for the event. I have to tell you, there's not many shoes or trainers I would consider wearing for the first time to any sort of event like this, but I knew the Hotter ones would be so comfortable, and they totally were! No blisters, and it felt like I was bouncing on air the whole time. You can see the style I wore in the collage below (#shoesie!):



I'm still struggling to understand why there were NO Take That songs played at all during the day..... anybody who knows me would realise I could easily dance to TT for more than 6 hours though ;) Below is a little clip of just one of the songs/dances we did. I think you'll recognise it.....



And here's an official Comic Relief video:

All that's left to say is a really big THANK YOU to all those who sponsored me - I can hardly believe I got to a total of £570 on the day, or that the amazing collective of bloggers #TeamHonk raised over £29,000 between us, but we did! Just in case anybody forgot to add their pennies, here's the link again ;) my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/stephcurtis 
read more "#Danceathon #TeamHonk Red Nose Day 2015"

Friday, 6 March 2015

Team Honk Red Nose Day #Danceathon

This weekend I will be boogying, at Wembley, for SIX hours non-stop. It's time for the Comic Relief Red Nose Day Danceathon and I will be proud to be there as a member of Team Honk.
Team Honk consists of bloggers from across the UK who come together annually to raise money for this great cause, spearheaded by the inspirational Penny, Annie and Tanya. You can read about all the amazing things they have done by checking out the Team Honk webpage.

I know I mentioned this Danceathon once before on my blog, but that was ages ago. Time has flown (can you believe it's March already?!) and the Danceathon is taking place in Wembley Arena THIS Sunday. 

Yikes.

So much for all that exercise and dancing I was going to do as training. I don't suppose there's much point dancing for six hours solid tomorrow, the day right before the actual event, just to prove that I can do it. Still, if all else fails, maybe we can just recreate the flashmob?!: Mad Blog Awards Flashmob.



We'll be dancing along to Jive, Swing, Street Dance, Hip Hop, Disco, Bhangra, West End Musicals and the best bit - 80s anthems!! There has GOT to be a bit of Take That in there somewhere... maybe Gary will even show up?!

So I've packed plasters for blisters and my #selfiestick in my bumbag (seriously) and have ironed my tutu and legwarmers (OK, I may be lying about the ironing bit), and I've even worked out our route to Wembley (no thanks to unhelpful tube cancellations on the day). I am READY!

The only thing left to do is to see if I can raise just a little more sponsorship money.... I don't like to harrass people for anything, but I do think SIX hours of dancing is worth just a little donation if you can.... money all goes to Comic Relief and their great projects in the UK and abroad. 

http://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/stephcurtis

Best bit of all of this is that you can follow at home by using your BBC red button - you may even get a glimpse of me dressed up and sweaty on your TV screen if you're really unlucky! More likely though, that you'll get to see some of the amazing Celebs who are leading the dancing - Davina, of course, plus Rufus Hound, Caroline Flack, Claudia Winkleman and some amazing cameos by people like Judy Murray, Jo Whiley, Rachel Riley, Emma Freud, Alex Jones, Arlene Phillips, Alijaz and Pascha and MORE!

Below are some facts about where your money will be spent:


£50 could pay for a girl, in a Kenyan slum, to do an apprenticeship + gain vital, life-changing skills and knowledge 
£20 = school uniforms for 2 street children in Ghana, so they can get the education they need 
£25 = a sport session for disadvantaged UK young people, keeping them safe & off the streets 
£30 = 15 elderly people, living with ‪#‎dementia‬ in the UK attending a weekly support session 
£15 = 6 mosquito nets, to protect 6 children in Uganda from contracting life-threatening malaria 
£50 = replacement care so a young carer can sit exams without worry about their loved one 

Thanks and Happy Dancing - even if it is in the comfort and safety of your own home!


Sponsor me for the Dancethon!
read more "Team Honk Red Nose Day #Danceathon"