Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12/12 And breathe.....Christmas will still happen

Just taking a moment with a cup of tea, and deciding whether a Kit Kat is an indulgence too far.  It is dark chocolate, and chocolate comes from cocoa beans, beans is one of your 'five a day', its all sounding a healthy option now ;)

I am having such a busy week, and when I am asked 'you ready for Christmas?' my tummy turns as I realise I haven't even bought cards, let alone written them, worked out last posting days, and don't even ask me about presents.  This time of year reminds me how much extra time you need to find from nowhere.  We did dig out the Christmas decorations, and made a partial start.  I always blame the chaotic decorations and our house looks more 1970's scruffy, than a co-ordinated display, on the fact the kids did it.  Well secrets out, Dave and I try, stand back and look at it, then say, never mind, just tell them Alex had a go.  Though I had a gorgeous moment this week, when I left a box of tree ornaments in the living room.  Alex was very quiet and when I sneaked a peek, he had put them all on the tree.  Obviously all within  8 inches of each other, but I was so proud of him, I think I may leave it just as it is.  Dave asked me last night if anyone else had bird puppets on their tree, parrots, pink flamingos and owls etc. Can't say I have seen that particular trend, but I persuaded him birds belonged in trees. 

So Christmas is slowly coming together.  My feeling is my lack of planning won't disrupt proceedings.  Christmas day lunch is planned.  As we have done many times since we have had the kids, we are having turkey and cranberry sandwiches.  Yes, you read that right.   It would not be right, Dave and I sweating it out in the kitchen to make a fine three course meal, that the kids would neither eat, sit with us or play any part in.  The allure of new toys and great TV is too much to compete with.  So we sack off tradition, play with the kids and it all works a lot better.  Calm, quiet, and with any luck, successful.

We also had the airing of the Granada Reports news interview last night.  I had no prior notice, and thankfully my mother-in-law was on the ball and called us.  Alex was so excited to see us all on TV, he kept saying 'again' to get me to rewind it.  I haven't heard him giggle so much in ages.   It was 1.5 minutes, condensed from 1.5 hours of filming.  That's serious editing.  I was pleased with it though, they were mostly accurate (I liked the suggestion I may walk Alex to school, when it is a half hour drive :)), but more importantly it did show the main way she helps us.  Just another notch in autism and support dogs awareness.  Every little helps.

We are in the middle of a school turbulence with Tom.  He had his annual statement review two weeks ago, and without wanting to go into details we had concerns his current school was the right place for him.  So for the last two weeks I have been visiting other local schools, and weighing up our options.  Another reason for the permanent knot in my tummy.  It feels a bleak prospect whichever option we choose as there are problems where we are, but moving him for the second time in two years, into an unknown situation is equally concerning.  Tomorrow I am chatting with a head of a good local school to see if they can meet his needs within the class structure.  If not, then it is back to making Plan A work. So often Tom worries us more than Alex.  I know he has less of a disability, but that makes him complex to integrate into a mainstream world, and we will always face issues of trying to work out how best to support him.  Anyway, I keep pushing on, and hope in time the right solution will present itself.  The really great news is we have found out we don't need to go through appeals or tribunal to resolve, so that is a battleground I can avoid for now.  I just live with the worry and pressure of making the right decision, knowing not everyone agrees, but hoping I may know Tom better, and see it from his perspective.  Time will tell.

I also started writing a book two weeks ago.  Just a fictional novel.  Its based on a character with Asperger's Syndrome, and her journey starting out in the world of work, and forming relationships, as she stumbles upon some criminal evidence that turns her quiet world upside down. Writing a first book is a bit like if I got a canvas and oil paints, and had a go at my first painting, I am certain it will be an amateurish effort, but I fancy a stab at writing, and I have just loved the process of sitting down and typing.  It feels like when I play the piano, your mind drifts, and it has an almost meditative state.  And my piano playing is something best not shared, and very rusty.  We'll see how it comes together.  If my nearest and dearest critics give it a pass, I may share it one day!

So thats it, tea break over, and back to the jobs list.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

11/12 Check it out - ITV Premier

I hope this works..this is the news article shown tonight on Granada Reports.

Failing that link, there is this one to You Tube

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

4/12 Christmas present ideas for autism

Schleich Animals - awesome collection of high
quality animals which are solid and technically accurate, and will stand up easily.
Alex adores his collection, I just wish Lucie didn't chew them!!
It just occurred to me it is Christmas in three weeks.  Our tree is still hidden deep in the attic, and my list of present buying hasn't even been written, let alone made any headway.  And I was thinking how hard some people are to buy for, and you rack your brain to think of something they may like.  And that's just for a regular person.  But it is even harder to know what to buy someone when they have a disability like autism, where you do not know what may capture their interest, or even be safe and age appropriate.  I was feeling a little sad at Alex's birthday this year, when I realised I was still picking out toys in the baby aisle which I thought he would like.  And if your child is given an inappropriate present that may be for 6+ on the box, but your child has no chance of engaging with, it leaves you with a deep sense of sorrow.  But fear not!  If you are thinking of what you can buy for a child with additional needs, I thought I would share some present ideas that I have found over the years that may work a treat.

Of course I have no connection to any of these companies or a personal interest in the items I recommend, but sharing ideas may give some inspiration.  And please don't take my word for it, each child is different, so please ensure these items would be safe and appropriate to their specific needs.  My criteria tends to be I need something robust that will be thrown, eaten, drooled on and stomped on, so that rules out an oregami swan craft kit :) Also - a note on where to buy....I live on the Internet, as I can never get to the shops, and I don't want to single out one distributor, it may be best to find the item in your search engine, and check out stockists.  Something to watch for  - I find several things available in regular gift and toy shops that are sold elsewhere for much more as soon as they are labelled 'Special Needs', so be savvy, and shop around. I have seen the same toy sold for £2 and £15, just because the latter was sold as an autistic sensory aid.  And of course this is just a taster to get your brain cells juiced up.  But I'd be happy to get any of these under my tree this year :) (BTW - to insert these images like this was a nightmare, and it may mean it goes haywire if you are viewing on a different PC setting to me - but I am tired, and my eyes are red from trying to read HTML, and my brain is straying to thoughts of the lovely Cumbrian sausages I am about to have for tea - so I give up - it is what it is and hope you are wearing glasses!)

So here are some cool presents my kids have loved:

Animatronic Toys - Expensive but great
for older kids.  Our favourite was Bigfoot.  
Race track - we love this Rory one as it is a solid track that stays together even when stood on.  The kids love anything going round and round in repeated circles

Chrome tangle - this is one I bought for an adult,
a grown up version of a great tactile toy.
A regular tangle - I have loads, to distract stressed boys, in school, home, car, just great
I loved this gift - when you correctly pair the right
animal it makes its sound.Solid, reliable and well made.

A Knot Ball - great stocking filler,
and keeps agitated hands busy

A personal favourite, as it works for all the family
Marble Run Extreme. Marble Runs are great
if they wont eat the marbles. They love
the repetitive action, but these more complex versions
are for adult set up, and supervised childs play, but hours of fun!!

Alex would have one of these in every room and the car.
A puffer ball, cheap brilliant, squishy and great!

Love these squish balls that are great for developing fine motor skills and building up hand strength.  Be warned - they can burst if too roughly treated.

For kids who jump, and are active a tactile ball to sit
on is a great selection, also see peanut balls, for
perfect balance and sensory feedback

Weighted blankets are great for kids who like deep
pressure. They must be specially ordered for the childs
weight and size for safety.   I cheated and made mine, but it was an epic sewing job!
Bubble tubes are magical. We got ours for £40, and got toy fish to go inside.  Years of pleasure.

Aquadraw is great for kids who mess
as you are only dealing with water - win win!

Puppets - any, finger puppets, hand puppets or even
signing puppets are a great investment, especially on
car journeys

Books - hardbacks are great as they get a battering.
My favourite are the Scanimation series.
DVD's are a hit, animation mostly,our tops are
Winnie the Pooh, Dr Seuss, Sesame Street
 - oo tonnes of choice!
Feeling rich?!  Then any gadget is a
winner,  but I strongly advise a
heavy duty protection case

Ipad Apps/itunes voucher.Apps open a
world of options up, for fun and learning.
Our best buy is the
Monster at the End of the Book

Saturday, 1 December 2012

1/12 TV Premier for Lucie!

2nd Update 7/12 :) - Still not been edited, so still no news on when/if it will air, will keep you posted.
UPDATE  = Filming completed today (Monday 3/12) but will not be aired today, will update when I know the day...

Just a little news.  Our regional news programme on ITV, Granada Reports, have contacted me to ask if they can film Alex & Lucie for their show on Monday, to be aired at around 6pm.  Its not set in stone, as any news programme can change right up till the last minute, but there is a chance it will happen, so if you are in the NorthWest you may be able to see us.  I'll try and work out some way to show it on here after, but that may be a technological leap too far for me!

And just in case anyone thought all Lucie does is work - here is a bit of stuff and nonsense video of her enjoying herself with her friends this week :)  Think she and Ben are a bit soft on each other....