Thursday, 11 April 2013

What is it like to have 5 siblings on the Autism Spectrum ? Autism Awareness ramblings 2013.

 To do my part in raising awareness I thought it was time to show you some of the wonderful things I have enjoyed with the children this week. The collage is from my facebook page and I will leave it up for the month. My youngest collects frogs and loves the multi scensory bright lights and play areas which we fist discovered at the very first Autism Show. It will be in it's third year. I would suggest you pop along it is a fabulous day out and you will see some great speakers and come away feeling like you have been armed with a newness and fresh perspective on life and if you do take your child any age there are quiet rooms and plenty of places to discover .
 This was taken many years ago when I was raising awareness just for a week for the NAS not sure where the other 6 days went but just wanted to share . I really do feel having a safe zone and having the right information and peer support helps every step of the way. I used to host regular coffee mornings at my home basically so we could share stories , sometimes grieve, sometimes celebrate but most importantly share. I had a bookcase full of books on the subject that I had collected and I would led them out. I finally donated these this year as I am about to move into a much smaller home . But I am glad I was able to help with my free lending library for so long. They have gone to a small health center who did not have many books on the subject so will continue to be used to help others.
 Having only 1 daughter who does not have a diagnosis and is not on the spectrum she often felt left out. Fortunately when her eldest brother who is obcessed with competition entries won a day with Girls Aloud all he wanted was the certificate saying he was a winner. So she benefitted from a very special day .But How do you compensate when they do feel like all your attention is being paid to helping the ones who seem to need it most. For me , before blogging I wrote articles for submission to magazines and newspapers and this enabled me to help others but also became a form of therapy a release. Much like my mummy ramblings really.
 Sadly when we did articles on just the two of us they were never picked up , The Daily mail almost published an article on what it was like to have a divided family at Christmas and she cherished this photo as she had her make up done and hair professionally even though it was done in our kitchen she enjoyed the pampering and the quasi interview format and a little bit of mummy time. The photographer was superb and even emailed her some head shots suggesting she should look into modelling. But it made me realised that the key to our close bond was our openness to possibilities.

 She is a popular girl at college and is quite tiny in size , fortunately she does have a best friend who is as close to a neurotypical brother who lives just down the road. It is lovely to see how she has coped . I am sure she has had to find her own ways of dealing with just how rigid some of the early years were with set routines. Oddball meal plans , but now thanks to her maturity she is able to understand more than ever why she is different from her siblings but that she is certainly no less special to me.  She is growing into a neurotypical teenager and I am loving the challenge.   I decided as I have spent a lot of time on activities with the others we would indulge her in preparation for her prom this year . After a quick shot of her thanks to her friend. I booked her a pre prom trial to get some ideas of what she might like on her big day below is a collage but naturally she does not want to give the final look away as she wants a big Wow on the night . I am sure when her faux bro prom date comes to collect her he will smile:-) for more details.
 I think  enjoyed our time alone and of course I felt she looked like my little princess .For us it is this quality time together that we will remember for years to come not the presents or clothes . It is memories you build that remain in your hearts.

With that in mind I leave you with a little review on last night's bedtime story.

My views/reviews  are my own and not those of Barefoot books :

Princess Cinnamon Stitch is adorable she simply does not want to fit in. She's told what is expected of her but would much rather be doing her own thing . Can she show her mum and dad  that there's more to her life than being pretty and good? My 8 year old loved it and repeated the Yippee! Perfect for use as a social story for someone on the ASD or simply for your Tomboys . Personally as a mum I felt the rhyming made it easy for her to listen  to and the  instructions for making your own kite make it a great hands on project for some shared time with mummy.

It is beautifully written By: Juliet Clare Bell; Brightly illustrated By: Laura-Kate Chapman
And comes with a super CD version narrated By: Imelda Staunton -  Find out more here

Lastly  a shot taken last year with two of my Aspie friends and my youngest daughter . for more details.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Autism Awareness Month begins with a Fun Day out and monkey business .


Last week has just flown by , like many of you I had the children home and was wondering just how I would cope amusing them all with their varied interests and still keep an element of sanity in my house as I continue to box up in the hopes of news on moving before the end of the month . With less than two weeks to vacate my current home we decided to take advatage of the Sunday afternoon sunshine and took my 17 year old and 8 year old for an afternoon trip. This of course may seem stange to any of you that have followed my blogs as you know I now have 5 children living with me , but it just so happened it was my ex husbands weekend to have our 11 & 12 year old and my daughter had already travelled with a friend to Alton Towers for a Birthday break. So we seized the day.
We had lots of ideas thanks to the previous day of research using an app and headed out to try Longleat so we could all go on Safari.  The drive there enabled us to show the children one of the virtual landmarks from the app in real life and we found the age gap between the two children closed as we adventured across the roped ladders to the first stopping point to find the Lemurs which we had also seen on the app. They were snuggled in a pile and hard to see . My son asked - what are we looking at in here a Chinese tree garden? ..My husband spotted the mole hills and said , well I thought it said Lemmings back there .. then my youngest squealed with delight as a black and white baby tail came into view - conversations like these are common in our house!

It took us just over and hour and a half to get round the Safari and we had just enough time to enter the beautiful gardens and the lavish home to explore the dolls houses and many ornate rooms. The children by this stage exhausted but still taking everything in right down to sharing the ghostly tale of the haunted hallway. It made the next couple of days much easier as whilst I got on with more packing the children set about drawing discovering more about the animals and where they came from in the comfort of our cozy lounge as it was quite chilly by the end of the day. I would strongly advise you layer the kids up especially for the little train ride as it gets very windy on their ears and my son gave me his scarf for mine so clearly I felt it too!

#daisychains thumbs up from ENVIROWEALTH!
The Packing has continued along with a lot more game playing and virtual exploring. The girls spent a little time Facepainting each other . My tip having tried most facepaints if your children like mine have very sensitive skin is to try and get hold of Paradise paints , they smell of coconut oil, wash off really well and whilst normally I would make a home made batch I simply did not have the time this week . For a non water clean up a gentle make up remover like the Sei Bella eyemake up remover is great around the eyes . But I am sure most kids can tolerate a mild soap or baby wipes , mine just don't they come up all red and end up with dry patches so I learned the hard way.
 We then spent several hours playing and learning a new game called Batabanga , which have to say as a family with so many different abilites was ideal . We played a simple version until we could recognise the cards and patterns which are beautifully illustrated in Safari themes. Then we added in the rules one by one until we were playing at quite some speed with shreeks of Banga and a lot of giggles as cards were flipped over in an attempt to be the winner of the round.  The older more competitive children challenged me - I have the memory of a fish (sorry fish) . They beat me hands down and loved it.

 I managed to get some much needed rest as the older children took it upon themselves to amuse the younger ones now and then and we managed a much simpler game for my youngest which she proudly taught me just today . Fortunately there is no winner , ( she like my other has ASD and is often not willing to play a game with someone else if there is any chance she may loose and yet I was pleased that whilst this was aimed at a younger child she came to me with it after reading the rules )

 It is a lovely collaborative game in which you work together to gather the escaped chickens and get them back into the chicken coop. We played three rounds and I am sure if not for my need to get on she would still begging me for another round. I guess the key for me this week was achieveing a balance . As a family we divided up and then reunited and each showed each other and enjoyed finding out what we had been doing .

 The other interesting challenge I face was set by my 12 year old , who has an incredible reading speed of 786 words a minute on average with a 98% retention rate (she has Aspergers and of course this month is Autism Awareness month so I should point out - she is 1 of 5 that I have on the spectrum and no not all of them are super readers and none of them are the same they are all unique !) My score delighted her as it showed an average of 487 words a minute with a 86% retention rate - I blame it on my age LOL !  But here is the link if you fancy trying it yourself.