Hello my name is Donna . I have an 8 year old son who is on the Spectrum. I have gained an Autism Awareness Diploma , Special Educational Needs Diploma , Understanding Autism and other qualifications . I am a Family Ambassador in my current day job working on the Hidden Disability Campaign and i am currently helping our local Autism Ambassador with a Relaxed Performance Campaign , making theatre accessible for all. My blog “The boy who loves balloons “ follows my boy and I and our life on the Spectrum. In my blog I share our experiences through humour , hope and happiness and raise awareness. I also champion local initiatives and I am keen to branch out into other areas. I have a passion for writing and raising awareness of autism. 🎈
Since finishing work this evening I have been for dinner with my son . I thought it would be lovely as being at work all day has meant I didn’t get the time to cook anything . So we met his dad and we all went for a lovely dinner.
As we are eating our dinner the owner of the restaurant, who is friends with my sons dad , came and sat down to join us for a chat . Emir was eating a lamb chop . The owner of the restaurant decided to ask him a question.
Do you like the food Emir ?
It smells funny (holds the food and sniffs at it )
Do you like it though ?
No , it smells like a toilet !
Yesterday started with my boy trying to charm me into taking him somewhere . I think , that he thinks , that I’m stupid.
Mummy, you are my princess and I love you so much !
Aww thank you , I love you too .
Can we going swimming to the lake today Mummy ?
So my day was already mapped out by my very clever boy. Off to the lake we went . It’s one of our favourite places to go and the weather was exceptionally hot.
He wanted to bring his giant weather balloon with us , of course . Not a beach ball or a frisbee , no only a balloon the size of a small house.
Anyway I managed to persuade him to just bring a ‘relatively ‘ normal balloon with us instead. One that’s not the size of a small house.
We had to stop on the way , at the shop to get his fruit pastel ice lolly that he always has and of course we had to put the same music on in the car , that we always listen to . I love to look at his face in the mirror when the music is playing , he looks so happy and relaxed in his own little world, and has the biggest smile on his face.
When we got to the lake we found our usual position , then a beautiful swan decided to join us. Emir does not like birds at all so he instantly got angry at the swan for coming near us .
Go away duck , get away from my balloon ! If you pop my balloon I’ll pop you !
The swan didn’t stick around for long.
We decided to have a little swim in the lake. I remember when my son was shy , wouldn’t say boo to a goose ( oh the irony ) , that doesn’t seem to be the case now !
While happily throwing a ball to me he decided to shout at a dad passing by ,
Hello , excuse me , hey you , can you move ! Please !
At least he said please !
When we left the lake , me and Emir had a little disagreement. Anyway he pinched my arm quite hard , it’s actually bruised . All the way home he said he wanted a caramel slice and I said he didn’t deserve one for being rude to me. As we got home and got out of the car he asked me again…
Mummy can I have a caramel slice ?
I’ll think about it Emir !
Well , you know I will just keep on asking you mummy !
To be fair , he did .
After the lake I decided to do a bit of shopping . Happily browsing the sales racks and my son decided to disappear. Next to me were some teenage girls and all of a sudden they started laughing . I looked up and there is my boy peeping up at them through the hanging clothes ! There he is
This is why I can’t take him shopping.
At least I got a positive reaction instead of the usual judgemental one . I’ll cover that in another blog post .
Anyway we had a lovely day together. When we got home he told me he was hungry and wanted a bag of crisps . Go and get some , I said , to which he replied
Can you get them mummy , I can’t I’m too little !
Well he’s not too little to answer back and be rude , or tell a grown man to move out of the way , so I’m sure he can manage to get a packet of crisps from the cupboard !
This evening he asked me if we can play tickles.
Emir it’s too hot to play tickles!
Well take off your clothes and then play then ?
Thank you for reading . I hope you all had a good day . My next posts include an interview with an adult on the Spectrum. Please message me with some questions to ask him. I’ll also be writing a post about real horror stories of how people have responded to public meltdowns and how we can change people’s perceptions of Autism.
So this week we have had lots of fun , lots of funny comments and lots of adventures .
“Mummy, why did you tell me a long time ago to not go too far in the sea ?”
“Because it’s dangerous”
“But Moanna does mummy”
“Moanna is a princess that’s why”
“When I am a princess, can i go too far then ?” 😊🌴🌈❤️🎈
At the start of the week we had a little trip to the beach , our favourite place to be . We both love the sea , the sun and the hot weather and try to spend as much time at the beach as we can in the summer .
We have our favourite beach and we try to go there every summer for a few days. The beach there is beautiful and if the weather is hot enough it can feel like your abroad somewhere. The beach is sandy and about 7 miles long and with plenty to do for the kids.
Emir knows we are going to have a trip to this place this year and every single day he will repetitively ask me are we going this year , and how many no’s is it . And when I answer him he gets very stressed out.
No that’s not right mummy , it’s no , no then yes , yes ?
Anyway the other day we decided to stay a little closer to home and went to one of our local beaches and it was lovely until Emir saw the sea gulls , yes the dreaded sea gulls ! He hates them . They are big, noisy and unpredictable, his worse nightmare all rolled into one. I don’t know who I feel sorry for more though, Emir or the seagulls as every time one ventured a bit too close it got a great big stone hurled at it.
“Mummy i hate the birdies , tell them to go away I’m going to hit them “
Apart from the sea gulls , oh and the floating sea weed that freaked him out as he thought it was a green jelly fish , we had a lovely time . A nice swim in the sea and a BBQ.
We played a little game in the sea , where he kept pretending to rescue me from the shark and the big waves.
One morning while getting ready for school , he asked me ,
Mummy can you order me a giant white balloon ?
Not today Emir .
Why mummy ?
I don’t have the money.
Ok. Why don’t I sell you mummy ?
This week was the week the Guinea Pigs had to be moved outside . As lovely as they are , they are the smelliest things and even cleaning them out every day was not enough so outside they went . Emir has dealt with this very well actually . I thought he would get upset about it but he has been fine. Although he did get a little stressed when I told him the piggies are going to live in his class for a week before the summer holidays so he and his class mates get to look after them. I thought it would be lovely for his class to have them for a few days.
This morning at school drop off, as we arrived at school, one of his friends was in the playground holding Winston. It was so lovely to see. Having the piggies to look after for a few days has been educational for the kids and teaches them responsibility. It may also make Emir appreciate them more and want to be more involved with looking after them..then again maybe it won’t.
As you may or may not know but children on the spectrum often think very literally, so when I told one of my sons friends, to throw the veggies in the cage, that’s exactly what happened. Bruno nearly suffered concussion from a flying carrot. I am not 100 % sure the piggies are enjoying their stay at school.
“I don’t want someone else to take my Guinea pigs “
This week it was the school disco. It was held outside this year which was lovely and he took his pound coin and off we went . When we arrived his little girl friend tracked him down. He tells me he is going to marry her.
I want a wife mummy but will you still be my mummy ? I want you to be my mummy forever. I want to take you on holiday when I’m big up to the sky ” .
When the disco finished and i arrived at school to collect him, I could see all the children dancing and singing. It was a lovely atmosphere and all the children looked very happy. I always worry about Emir going to the discos as although he is very sociable, he is not aware of the social boundaries. Yesterday he thought it was acceptable to smack my friend on the arse, just one example.
Anyway, as with a lot of children with Autism, my son is often in a little world of his own, and that is ok. When I arrived at school and saw the other children dancing, i did wonder what Emir would be doing. Then i saw him, running laps around the outside of the dancing area. That’s fine. That’s what he does. He slept well that night.
This week we also ventured to a local lake , where you can actually swim, its lovely. The thing with my son is i have to be very careful what I actually promise him. You see children and adults on the Spectrum are extremely clever. My son is no exception.
When Emir wants something he will fixate on that and he will ask me for it over and over many times until it actually happens. If he asks to go to the lake for example , he will want to know exactly when this is going to happen and he will repeatedly remind me about every hour, every day, until it actually happens. This is quite hard to deal with but it is a part of who he is and i accept everything about him, so we just get on with it.
What is a little harder however is when i have found myself being coerced into agreeing to something I wouldn’t normally, just because he has asked me that many times that i kind of switch off.
“Yes Emir, no Emir , that’s right my darling”
Before I know it i have agreed to a week off school, a week by the sea, leaving today and a giant 6 foot weather balloon that will definitely be arriving todayas well . Then when I have to explain to him that those things are not happening, well its not pleasant . So you see its never a good idea for me to zone out as I end up agreeing to sell my soul.
Anyway this particular trip to the lake was planned and it was very nice. When he is in the water , he is very calm and happy. This is definitely his happy place and therefore its mine too.
At the lake they also have this amazing park, he had lots of fun there and even attempted a really long slide . He thought it would be fun to lay down as it may make him slide faster , all that happened is he got stuck but we laughed it off and he did it again !
Of course we have had lots of balloon blowing sessions . His absolute favourite activity . The biggest balloon he has is a giant weather balloon as he calls it . It’s enormous. I don’t know how he does it but he can actually blow this up without using a pump , it does take a long time but he manages it . I can’t blow balloons at all , after a couple of minutes I go dizzy ! .
Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into our daily lives. Please comment or message me and let me know if you would like to see more posts like this where we share our adventures with you . I am thinking of having one day a week where I post just photos on to the blog , let me know what you think . ❤️🎈
“Maria Cook who is chair of Autism Support Crawley has teamed up with ITV Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner to launch one of the most powerful campaigns for British theatre” Crawley news 24 20 March 2019.
So I am honoured to have been approached and asked to write a post championing a powerful National campaign , making theatre accessible for all . The Relaxed Performance Campaign has been set up to make theatre more accessible to those with Hidden Disabilities by showing more relaxed performances on certain days that are kinder to the senses. Aspects of the performance are amended, such as the lighting and the sound, to be kinder to the sensory sensitivities that these individuals may have.
This post does contain video footage and quotes from those involved with the campaign, used with their permission. This post does not contain any affiliate links.
The Relaxed Performance Campaign was set up and is run by ITV’s Dancing on Ice Judge Jason Gardiner our very own Autism Ambassador and chair of Autism Support Crawley Maria Cook .
Maria does a lot of work in West Sussex and for Gatwick Airport with spreading Awareness of Autism, building links within the community and making things happen for our individuals with Hidden Disabilities.
Maria runs coffee mornings, committee meetings , and parent and carer support groups, she does fund raisers and family events where parents can get together and talk through their challenges and not feel alone . She is very hands on in her involvement with community projects to make places more accessible for children and adults with hidden disabilities such as Autism. Purely voluntary Maria realised the day her son Ryan was diagnosed with profound Autism, that she wanted to make a difference. She is very well known locally and well respected for the work that she does. One project she has been involved with is to install a wheelchair swing in our local park for children with disabilities.
Having a son of her own on the Spectrum, she lives with Autism and it’s complexities on a daily basis and is an excellent advocate for the condition. With the support of her husband Lee , who is also very passionate about this cause ,and extremely supportive of her, they make things happen for the community.
The Relaxed Performance Campaign is just one of the many initiatives she is managing and I am so proud to be a part of this. She approached me asking if I would like to be involved with the campaign and write a post about it. Of course i was more than happy to get involved. Having a passion for theatre myself and of course being an advocate for spreading autism awareness, I am delighted to be writing this post to give you some information about this campaign , how it can help you and what the future holds.
First of all I would like to direct you to the Relaxed Performance Campaign Facebook page, where you can find out a wealth of information and find out about up coming events . Maria is always looking for parent volunteers , if you have a few hours spare to help , she would love to hear from you.
Details of this amazing campaign can also be found on Instagram and Twitter.
Background to Relaxed Performance
The RP campaign actually started in January 2019 but was launched officially in March. Maria has been interested in setting up the RP Campaign for the last 4 years as she was never able to access the theatre or pantomimes with her son Ryan. Maria felt that it was unfair that families with children with additional needs should be missing out on a British family tradition and she made it a personal mission to change this. She saw on social media one day that the lovely Jason Manford was performing in a show called “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” and the advert she saw was for a relaxed performance version of the show. When she saw this it lit a fire in her belly and she realised that this is what she wanted to achieve, relaxed performances everywhere, and specifically relaxed pantomimes.
From that point on she made it her personal mission to bring relaxed performance to the Hawth Crawley and make a relaxed performance version of the Christmas panto. Having made her decision and realising what she wanted to achieve she just needed to find a starting point.
As chairperson of Autism Support Crawley, Maria and her charity were short listed for a Community Award for best local support group. The award ceremony was held at the Hawth theatre in Crawley and she attended with her husband Lee and some other trustees. Sitting in front of her in the auditorium was the general manager of the Hawth Theatre himself and hosting the award ceremony was the producer of the annual Christmas panto held at the Hawth, Paul Hendy who has also been on ITV , so Maria though to herself, its now or never, and decided to seize the opportunity.
Autism Support Crawley actually won the award which is a huge accolade. When presented with the award on stage Maria approached them there and then with her ideas and told them she wants a Relaxed Performance Panto. After the award ceremony they all met up and discussed the plans and that is how it all began.
Maria spoke to Dave Watmore , general manager of the Hawth and Paul Hendy of Evolution pantomimes in the bar after the award, and they were very very interested in the idea and jumped onboard. Maria explained that she believes it is unfair that families and siblings of children with disabilities and the children themselves were missing out on the panto and she felt extremely passionate about changing this.
They put their heads together and together with Maria’s knowledge of Autism and being a parent carer herself and their knowledge of the theatre they devised a plan to get the Relaxed panto up and running. Maria already had a lot of ideas about how to tweak the performances to make them more sensory friendly.
Since this conversation there have been 3 years of relaxed pantos and a few other relaxed performances in between. The campaign has been so successful so far with over 300 people attending the Relaxed panto this year that would not have normally had the opportunity. When she talks about this i can see the passion in her eyes and hear it in her voice. Click on the link below for some moving video footage of children talking about Relaxed Performance.
Last panto season at the Hawth was Aladdin and the star of the show was Jason Gardiner, they ran a relaxed performance of this panto . Jason Gardiner was fantastic , I myself actually did go and watch the show, also known for his very honest comments on the Dancing on Ice judging panel and known on the show as Mr Nasty, Jason actually has a heart of gold and is extremely passionate about this campaign himself. He has become a close family friend to Maria and particularly her son, who he has become inseparable from.
Jason had heard about the Relaxed Panto through Maria’s social media posts and hashtags and he expressed an interest as it is something that is close to his heart. He approached her , asking to meet her after the panto and asked her all about it and what she had achieved so far. Jason arranged a meet and greet for after the relaxed showing of the panto , for all audience participants, front of house , cast and support staff and Maria said it is an occasion that will live with her forever. Such an emotional and profound experience that reduced people to tears.
Jason will say the moment that changed his life forever was meeting Maria’s son Ryan. Ryan is profoundly Autistic and needs a lot of care. During the performance Ryan got so excited whenever Jason appeared on stage and was drawn to him, and after the show when he met Jason, still in full costume and make up, he ran up to him and gave him the biggest hug. Ryan picked up the passion and kindness of Jason and he was drawn to him. Jason says that is the moment that he realised he needed to do something for the campaign, and he has been driven and passionate about this campaign ever since. Maria gets very emotional when she talks about this and how Jason and Ryan are now inseparable and the best of friends. Ryan idolises Jason and they have regular contact.
Once the “Dancing on Ice” season had finished Jason and Maria put their heads together to come up with a plan on how to move the campaign forward from there. Jason lives in the theatre world and knows all the top end people from the west end shows in London. Jason’s mission from day 1 has been to make the relaxed performance nationwide and he wants every single theatre and production company in the UK to make adaptations to shows and look at ways they can cater for those with additional needs.
The following is taken from Jason’s official press release. “On January 2nd, 2019, I had a life altering experience when I took part in my first Relaxed Performance at the Hawth Theatre. Being an actor on stage during this special performance was deeply humbling and very illuminating. After the show my cast mates and I went front of house to meet our incredible audience of kids and their families, many of whom were members of Autism Support Crawley. The genuine joy, excitement, and love that we were shown by every single child with Autism, significant social communication needs and learning difficulties, their siblings, parents and grandparents had such a profound affect and compelled me to learn more”.
Taken from Jason’s official press release “
Talking with Maria Cook ( chair, Autism Support Crawley), I now understand that most children and adults, their families and carers living with not only Autism, but other Hidden Disabilities such as ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder to name but a few, can’t go to the theatre as it is too overwhelming and the ‘rules’ and expectations are too demanding to conform to. This hit me very hard as I truly believe theatre should be available to everyone, especially children with Autism and other associated conditions. The benefits they get from attending the theatre cannot be overstated, but moreover, it allows them to share this experience with their families in a safe, understanding and accepting environment.
With the endorsement of Autism Support Crawley and other recognised Autism charities we aim to spearhead a national awareness campaign to make Relaxed Performances something that all UK theatres and Producers offer as common Practice”.
Jason looked at ways the theatres can make regular performances into relaxed ones and the relaxed performance team put together a guide on how the theatres can achieve this. This can now be sent to all the theatres across the UK, so they can make the minor adjustments needed.
Because Jason has so many celebrity connections he decided to have T Shirts printed off for the campaign and have everyone wear one and become involved. Maria made social media pages for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and spread the word across all possible platforms. In march of this year he announced the launch of the Campaign on “This Morning” with Phillip and Holly. The link below shows the interview.
As soon as Jason went live on national television, Maria said her phone went crazy with people wanting to connect and follow on Social Media and that’s when the campaign really gathered momentum. They were contacted by theatres, companies , people with autism, Parent carers , so many people wanting to get involved and Maria said it was so overwhelming and she realised at that point that she needed more people on board.
The following is taken from Jason’s official press release ……
“I launched the campaign on This Morning, thanks to Holly and Phil who made that possible. Now I’m reaching out to all my high profile chums and colleagues to ask if they will support us by wearing our Relaxed Performance T-shirts which have been proudly donated by Moonpig.com. We are asking everyone who agrees to take part to simply take a selfie wearing the T-shirt and post it on all social platforms including the campaign’s accounts and hashtags:
Facebook Relaxed Performance
#RP“ ( Jason Gardiner official press statement content)
The online company “Moonpig” became a sponsor for the T Shirt campaign, through Jason’s contacts and things have been moving forward faster and faster ever since.
HOW THE SHOWS ARE ADAPTED.
Jason and Maria and the RP team have devised a manual that they send out to theatres , detailing the small adaptations that need to be made to regular performances, to make them relaxed. Small things like the lights will be a little brighter, usually about 30% brighter, depending on the auditorium, lower sound and no surprises through out the show such as the cast spraying water or running out into the audience or any sudden loud noises.
The theatre will then run regular performances but will allocate a particular day to a relaxed performance and this will be advertised across social media and on bill boards.
The cast of the show will then be briefed on the relaxed performance and told about how to implement the changes that are needed. When talking to the cast of the shows , most of them will say they prefer the relaxed performance version of the show as the audience will be more engaged and because the lighting is brighter, they can actually see the audience and how much they are enjoying the show.
Front of house adaptations range from turning off large TV screens with bright flashing graphics, and maybe turning music down lower or off , and keeping flashing lights to a minimum, as flashing lights can trigger an epileptic fit.
Loud noises and flashing lights can be extremely uncomfortable for an individual that has sensory processing difficulties. They have looked at tannoy announcements and ways to reduce the impact of those. They have briefed staff and cast members on what to expect when dealing with an individuals with Autism. They explained how to deal with people with special needs.
They have also implemented a system where the theatre will open the doors to the audience a little earlier, to give them time to buy their tickets and find the seats and get themselves comfortable. All these changes are minor and not expensive yet so effective.
THE FUTURE OF THE RP CAMPAIGN
The overall goal of the campaign is that all theatres and shows will have relaxed performances across the UK. They want the RP to be held on suitable days ie not school days, so the whole family has access to these showings.
They are also going to look at adults with Autism and how they can make RP applicable to them as at the minute the focus seems to be primarily on children with additional needs.
They want to change the way that RP is advertised as they feel it could be a lot better. Since starting the campaign there have been 349 Relaxed Performances that have either taken place or are scheduled, however Maria and Jason feel that the advertising is not doing the campaign justice. They want to change this and make the advertising more effective. They want to reach out to more people and families.
Maria and Jason have stumbled across some set backs during the campaign mainly with convincing some theatres that putting on an RP is financially viable , as some believe they will lose money. By attracting more families with children that have additional needs , to the theatre, surely they will make more money. Maria and Jason believe that it is a basic human right to be able to have access to the theatre and that everyone should be included and have that opportunity in their life, including those with additional needs. Jason himself has said that “theatre can change lives”,and that is what is at the heart of this Campaign.
HOW THE PUBLIC CAN HELP THE CAMPAIGN.
Share , share , share……..on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIN , everywhere, share the RP pages and support this amazing campaign.
Maria has a very small but committed RP team that work with her behind the scenes, and they have helped the campaign immensely. What Maria would like is anyone that has links to Special Educational Needs, such as Autism, and any other Hidden Disabilities or additional needs, such as individuals with Autism, parent carers, charitable organisations, to come on board and follow the RP campaign on social media, spread the word, re tweet and share, contact theatres and production companies and get the message out there.
Locally in Maria’s area she is always happy to accept volunteers to the campaign, ideally people with time on their hands, that are able to attend meetings, people with some IT skills, people that are positive and supportive of the campaign that are willing to champion it. Numbers are important and what the campaign needs is followers and supporters to spread the message nationwide.
Theatres and production companies need to know the reasons why relaxed performances are so important. It’s not just a tick box exercise, this campaign is giving people the chance to fulfil dreams and live the best life they can and have the same opportunities that neurotypical people have , and why shouldn’t people with special needs, have the same opportunities and access to a great British tradition that is the theatre and Christmas Panto.
Thank you for reading . Please share , like , comment , follow and if you have any questions please contact me ❤️🎈
Have a look at the videos below to see how the campaign is affecting lives..
When it comes to after school activities , its a bit of a mine field. I am aware of the vast array of choice there is however what I have not yet found , is what my boy would love to do , apart from blowing balloons of course .
We have dabbled in many things but not yet found one that has stuck , although Cubs does seem to be going quite well , fingers crossed 🤞. He became obsessed with Swimming for while and he does still enjoy this however getting him to actually learn how to swim is a mission. We are still not there yet. He mostly enjoys splashing the water with his hands and playing sharks with me.
In the following post I will share with you the activities that me and my Emir participate in and the benefits we get from them, maybe it will help you to decide what activity to get your child with Autism into. This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through my post, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Emir joined Cubs about 3 months ago and although we have missed a couple of sessions, on the whole he seems to be enjoying it and does look forward to going each week. Apart from the time they were working towards the Fire Safety Badge and they decided to ring the fire alarm, that just made him angry, and for weeks after he just kept asking me to reassure him that would not happen again.
Cubs runs once a week in our area. They usually start the session with some games and then they join their relevant sixes and sit in a line and wait for instructions from Akala. The fact that Emir sits in the same place each time and with the same group , appeals to his nature however I was concerned about him following instructions. So far he is doing well with this. When I try to give him instructions he usually just gets angry and tells me to ” go back to work mummy” , he thinks this is the way to break my heart. During cubs, they participate in activities that work towards various badges.
They usually spend 2 or 3 sessions on each badge. They have worked on their Fire Safety, Navigator, and DIY badges since Emir has joined. Emir has gained his DIY badge which I am very proud of. He does enjoy painting and getting messy.
They usually finish the session with handing out badges, investing new cubs, updating the pack on up coming events and saying a prayer and shouting the Cub Scout Promise. Since Emir has joined, we have participated in a night hike , in which we got drenched as it was pouring with rain, if there is a hike they will go in literally any weather ! Character building I believe . Emir didn’t particularly like getting wet or see the point in it, but he fixated on the promise of the hot chocolate back at base so that got him through.
Of course now he associates cubs with hot chocolate so we always have to finish the evening with one when we get home.
I was worried how Emir would fit in to cubs , however , I had absolutely nothing to worry about. They have made him feel so welcome and they make allowances for his condition, and although he still has to participate in all the activities and follow instructions, I think they are a little bit more lenient with him.
Every summer they hold a summer camp over a weekend, and although I don’t feel Emir is ready for this as he never leaves my side, it is a good thing and some children with Autism would be ok with a night away from mum and dad.
The cubs always try and involve the parents and they are happy to accept volunteers. If you are considering Cubs for your child with Autism, I would encourage you to join them. Emirs confidence has grown so much as he gets praise for his achievements and seeing the badges he is awarded, makes me so proud.
Now if your child with Autism is anything like my Emir, they will be complete water babies and just love splashing around in the water for hours upon end. If Emir sees water , thats it, he’s in. It could be freezing cold, we could be in the middle of the town centre, if he sees an opportunity to splash, he will take it. Off come his clothes and in he goes. I’m not sure he will be able to get away with that once he’s 18 !.
I went through a phase of taking him swimming most days when I was a member of my local gym, however now I have cancelled the membership we don’t go as often. In my area we have a scheme called Amaze and they issue all children with an Autism diagnosis, with a Compass Card. This entitles them to free or discounted entry to many attractions. One of the benefits of the Compass Card for us, is free entry for the both of us into the swimming pool at the local leisure centre. You should check your local area for a scheme like this. I try to take him once a week and I am currently trying to teach him to swim…..again.
Teaching Emir to swim has been quite difficult as he will not focus. All he wants to do is splash about, however what I have found is that if we use a swimming float, he will hold onto this and if I tell him to kick his legs really fast and he will move fast, he absolutely loves this as he gets to splash and make noise and at the same time he is actually swimming without being aware that he is. You can find swimming aids and floats pretty much anywhere but click the following link for the one we use.
When i first started taking Emir swimming as a toddler, to gain his confidence in the water we started using a body float like the one below. This was a fantastic aid for swimming. Please click on the link below for further information.
I have looked into swimming lessons but as yet I have not booked any. I’m trying to find a teacher that will accommodate my sons condition so I am researching this.
Most leisure centres have swimming sessions with floats and slides but depending on your child’s condition, they may not like these sessions. I am lucky as Emir does not mind busy places so he can cope however if your little one doesn’t like crowds this may be little more challenging. I would have a look and see if the local pool offers any Autism friendly swim sessions or maybe check out when the quiet periods are. I am not aware that my local leisure centre runs any Autism friendly swim sessions, I may suggest that they do, but I am aware that they have an on site sensory room.
My boy and I love going to the cinema. I am not sure if he can get into the cinema free with his Compass card, I need to investigate, but we do have Cineworld cards. You pay a monthly fee and can see unlimited films for free and receive a discount on food and drinks.
Again I know that my local cinema do offer Autism friendly screenings of some films. Emir is ok watching a normal 2D film but I once took him to see a 4DX film. Erm that was not my best idea. Every time water sprayed at him he screamed and got very angry. He still talks about it now ! He doesn’t forget anything.
I am sorry for all the people watching the film at the time, as each time water was sprayed on him he would shout obscenities out very loudly. It was nearly as entertaining as the film itself. We then worked out that you could turn off the water spray , thankfully.
At the moment Emir is working on 3 and 4 letter words but it is actually surprising how many swear words he knows . Have a read of my post about swearing if you want to have a bit of a giggle.
The film he has loved the most so far has to be the Avengers films and The Secret Life of Pets 2. He laughed so much. I love his laugh. It’s the best sound in the whole world.
Recently, Emir watched the new Karate Kid. The one with Will Smith’s son in. Well for weeks he’s been telling me “Jacket on, jacket off” and “Be strong mummy!” And making the arm movements along with it, so I thought I would see how he gets on with Karate.
It turns out that someone I work with runs a Karate Club so I took him for a taster session and he did seem to really like it. Again I was concerned about how he would fit in and again my mind was put at rest by the lovely people running the club who made him feel extremely welcome and gave him extra one on one attention.
One thing that has occurred to me is that there are many many activities for neurotypical children and as parents of children with additional needs I think we shy away from certain activities but we really shouldn’t as they will quite often accommodate our children and why shouldn’t our children join in too. Why ever not? . So don’t be afraid. Bite the bullet. You will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
We have yet to book our second session, I believe he will get a month for free before committing to joining. I am following Emirs lead here. When he asks to go again, I will take him. He has mentioned it a few times so I think we may be onto a winner.
He does keep trying to karate chop me however and try his kick boxing on me while I am cooking the dinner, so I may have to think about setting some boundaries.
The way karate works is you work towards achieving a certain grading which is represented by the relevant coloured belt, with black belt being the highest. You follow commands in Japanese and learn the art of self defence. I think for Autistic children it could be beneficial as it encourages focus and discipline and getting into the many karate positions can help to relax the muscles.
Karate helps to develop and reinforce balance, focus, coordination and concentration. I think the repetitive movements associated with Karate, appeal to the nature of Autism and proprioception.
Proprioception is the awareness of the position and movement of the body and in Autism there can often be issues with proprioception, therefore Karate offers some level of assistance with this.
I would strongly recommend Karate as an activity for your child with Autism based on this alone. Just do lots of research and find a club that is willing to accommodate your child’s individual needs and bear in mind that it can be quite a costly hobby.
I have found that Emir does like to get his hands dirty and he loves to be outdoors so a couple of years ago I made him his own little garden to grow plants in and he did really enjoy that. He still loves watering and looking after plants, so I am thinking of making another little garden plot for him to maintain.
I made the garden by laying some stones down on a little patch by our front door and I bought some potted plants and layed them out on the stone patch. Emir then watered them daily and watched them grow. Unfortunately as plants do, some of them did die and the garden just seemed to come to a standstill once the winter set in but I do intend to build another one and I think this would be a lovely idea for your children with Autism too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you just need to designate a tiny patch of your garden to do this.
Choose colourful, cheerful nice smelling plants and buy a little watering can. You can get some really cute little garden accessories for your little ones. Little wellies, gloves and watering cans. We loved going to the local garden centre to buy our plants and accessories and Emir loved having the responsibility of looking after something and watching it grow bigger.
Click on the following link to have a look at the cutest little gardening starter kit.
It’s also a nice easy activity to do together. It is something for you to talk about and get excited about together and with my son I found his confidence grew and it gave him something else to focus on besides balloons.
Now this is a particular passion of mine, I just cannot afford it. When I was younger I loved Horses and riding. I did shows and won rosettes and was actually quite good. But as with lots of things, it just sort of subsided. I have had a few opportunities to continue riding, as an adult, but , its just so expensive and time consuming.
So I decided one day to take Emir riding. Well I have to say this is NOT his thing. The horse was too big, too smelly and too unpredictable for his liking. He was actually ok until the horse decided to make a blowing noise with his nose and then that was it. Emir needed to get off. It was a shame actually because he was happy to sit on the horse while it was moving. But he will not entertain the idea of going again. All because the horse made a noise.
The thing with Emir is he is very very sensitive to noises and smells. This morning he got angry with me because he could smell the chicken sausage I was cooking him for breakfast.
Although not for my son, riding for children with Autism actually has a lot of excellent benefits. Going back to the topic of proprioception, riding a horse actually helps to stimulate the Sensory preceptors. Riding horses has been used for children with disabilities, as a therapy. Equine therapy helps children and adults with Autism to develop the core skills needed to function in society.
Lots of stables offer riding for the disabled programs and have facilities that cater for children and adults with additional needs, so it’s definitely something worth looking into. Check out the Riding for the Disabled Association Website at https://www.rda.org.uk/ for more information about your local stables.
One of the little boys in Emirs class at school attends climbing lessons and is doing very well . For his recent birthday party they all went to the climbing place and had a go. This is done at our local leisure centre. Again I believe it can be quite expensive but it’s definitely worth having a look into. Emir loved it so much and keeps asking to go again.
Again I think this activity is excellent as it encourages , balance, focus and concentration. Anything physical such as climbing will help to work muscles and tire out our children and help with coordination.
For those parents that simply don’t have the money or the means to try those activities I would like to recommend a book which I myself have, with a range of activities that you can do at home together. I will write a post soon about the different at home activities to try, but in the meantime please have a look at the link below at my personal recommendation of a book of activities to try.
Alternatively if you find you want to stay at home and work on developing your child’s academic ability, you can make this a fun activity to do together by incorporating learning into play. There are of course lots of educational games out there for sale. Emir and I will often sit at home and work through work books together but I find his concentration will diminish very quickly and he cannot focus for a long period of time.
For this reason I find educational games more effective as he has fun but also learns at the same time. We like to build towers together and then knock them down but we will count blocks and name the colours, and play matching games. We also like to play card games where he has to spell out what he can see on the picture card and we also like games such as Jenga and he loves to build his marble run.
Are you worried about your child’s speech ? I have found some excellent resources to help with this.
Please click on the link to have a look at some more educational activities you can do together at home. These help specifically with language development and speech.
I hope you have found this post helpful and I hope it has given you some ideas of activities to do with your child. Please do not be put off , like I said most places will support a child with an diagnosis of Autism.
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“Gatwick is the airport for everyone. We aim to be the UK,s most accessible airport, putting the needs of every passenger first and giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly”.
Travel and Autism, are an interesting mix. Airports can be stressful for anybody, but imagine the noise and the unpredictability and how that could affect a passenger on the Autistic Spectrum. The following post is a guide to how to cope and why London Gatwick should be your London airport of choice. There are no affiliate links in this post. Please click on the link below for a guide for children and parents with autism on travelling through the airport and travel in general.
Travelling at any time can be quite stressful and travelling with children and adults with hidden disabilities can be especially challenging.
The difficulties faced by our passengers with Hidden Disabilities and additional needs could be the following:
Sensory overload. The airport can be very noisy and a busy environment. This will be especially difficult for an individual with Sensory Processing Difficulties.
The unpredictability of the airport environment and the unfamiliar surroundings.
Needing extra time to process information and get documents and belongings ready.
Difficulties in understanding and following verbal instructions.
Difficulties in understanding and interpreting body language and gestures.
Needing to have a travel companion with them at all times to assist them.
As a mother to an autistic child , the boy who loves balloons , of course , and an employee of Gatwick Airport , I would like to share with you my experiences of travel and make some recommendations. As already stated, there are no affiliate links in this article.
Having only ever flown from London Gatwick Airport , I cannot offer any advice on the other UK airports.
London Gatwick however has been working on their accessibility campaign and making the airport much more accessible for passengers with a range of hidden disabilities , including Autism.
As an employee of the airport I can quite categorically say that employees are now much more aware and capable of dealing with hidden disabilities, through training and regular accessibility days.
London Gatwick was the first UK airport to introduce the Hidden Disability Lanyard. Since its introduction, over 8,000 passengers have requested one when travelling through the airport. Following Gatwick’s lead, the Hidden Disability Lanyard has been rolled out across 13 other UK airports.
The hidden disability lanyard , shown above, can be collected from one of the special assistance receptions in the airport itself. When a passenger displays one of these lanyards , staff are aware they may have a hidden disability and will know how to deal with the situation and offer assistance.
Employees will not know what the disability is , for example Autism, ADHD or any other , but will simply know that they will need to offer extra help and show a little more empathy to the passenger. If you are planning a holiday soon and are intending to travel from London Gatwick, I would recommend getting one of these free lanyards.
The other day when I had finished my shift , I was in the lift when a little girl who must of been about 6 , travelling with her family asked me if I worked for the airport . “Yes ,”I said , “would you like to work for the airport?” I asked and her reply was “No , everyone at the airport is evil !” Well as sweet as she was , I can confirm that we are not in any way evil.
Accessibility days are held regularly at the airport and I have been lucky enough to be involved with the next one. This gives passengers the chance to visit the airport prior to their holiday and familiarise themselves and their children with the airport and the travelling process. This is so beneficial to children and adults with hidden disabilities to prepare them for their upcoming trip.
Myself and my son have attended one of these accessibility days. To be honest at the time he was still obsessed with buses so he didn’t show much interest apart from the fact that he got to see where mummy worked and that was very exciting for him.
When we looked at the X ray images on the X ray machine ( which the children get to do as part of the day) he got super super excited when he saw my bag go through and he saw his bus under X ray conditions. “Mummy look it’s my bus !” He shouted.
At the previous accessibility event, passengers had the chance to look inside an EasyJet aircraft. As an ex Cabin Crew member for the airline I can definitely say that EasyJet will be very helpful when it comes to travelling with a passenger with additional needs and Hidden Disabilities. Thanks to EasyJet passengers were able to experience boarding the aircraft and sitting in the interior of the aeroplane.
Virgin also opened its lounge up to the passengers and offered drinks and food. Airside tours were provided, giving the chance for passengers to see the new Sensory Room. The sensory room offers a relaxing, calming and fully interactive environment for passengers with sensory difficulties to visit before they fly.
There is also the chance to meet the firemen and see the fire engine. See the police and the trained security dogs. You will be able to ride on the assistance buggies also.
There will be the chance to check in for a flight and be issued with a boarding card, then you will get the opportunity to go through security screening and be searched , have your bags checked and see your belongings under X ray conditions.
Before you travel I would highly recommend attending one of the accessibility days . The next one is in November and details can be found on the London Gatwick Airport website.
The airport is also the first UK airport to open a sensory room. Situated in the north terminal this room is a place for passengers with hidden disabilities to go and calm themselves before a flight.
The sensory room itself is very impressive and we are currently in the process of organising a trip there for my little boys class, to go and spend an afternoon in the room, which I am very excited about.
If you are planning a trip from London Gatwick I would highly recommend you visit the sensory room prior to travel.
The sensory room has something for all the senses, including mirrors, lighting and soft play furniture. There are sensory activity centres and seating also. It offers a fully interactive experience for the passenger with sensory difficulties.
If you would like more information on the sensory room prior to your trip, just contact the airport and we will be more than happy to help you.
Whilst we do not yet offer airport tours prior to travel , we would like to encourage you to visit the airport prior to your travel, to make yourselves familiar with the airport layout and the check in process.
If you want any further information please contact us at HiddenDisability@gatwickairport.com
Gatwick Airport also has close connections to the National Autistic Society. The airport has been recognised by the charity as a leader in innovative solutions for passengers.
The National Autistic Society website is a great resource for anyone planning on travelling and offers excellent advice. Click on the following link to be directed to the website.
A sensory bag is exactly as it says. A bag full of sensory items for your child with Autism. They are easily made up and do not have to be expensive. You can choose the items or toys that best match your child’s needs and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
The bag can be a simple drawstring bag which is easy to carry. It’s useful to carry the bag around when you go out and if your child needs calming or an item to help soothe them , they are all to hand in their sensory bag.
Below I have comprised a list of products that I have in my sons sensory bag. There are a lot of excellent toys on the market for sensory stimulation and soothing, however these are the 5 I would personally recommend.
1. Egg Timers.
Before the Autism diagnosis, I did not know how useful an egg timer could prove to be. We often use these as countdown markers when my son is doing some homework. I will often use the 10 minute countdown and explain to him that once the timer has finished we can move onto another activity . It’s really hard to get him to focus on doing his workbooks so this is a great resource. Him being able to see how long he has to focus for and that after that he can choose something he enjoys, really helps his concentration.
When out and about an egg timer is a good tool for behaviour management. If having a meltdown the egg timer can be used as a visual time restraint. Let the meltdown run its course but once the egg timer has finished we will talk about what caused the meltdown . It sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. Like anything with a child on the spectrum, it’s all a bit trial and error.
My son and most children on the Spectrum like to know what’s happening next. An egg timer is an excellent time visual so he will be prepared to move onto another activity and he can anticipate when this is going to happen.
When monitoring screen time , egg timers are fantastic as a countdown timer . If your children are anything like my son , when I try to take the tablet away he will get very upset . Having a visual timer set so he knows how long he has left on the tablet , really helps.
Click on the link below for the egg timers we use.
2. Light Up Flashing Mini Spinner.
The next item on your list should be a light up spinning torch. Otherwise known as a light up flashing mini spinner. My son loves this. It’s very sensory and stimulating and actually calming at the same time.
When the torch is switched on it oscillates and vibrates. If you switch it on in a dark room it looks even more amazing. A must for any sensory space or sensory box.
The mini light up torch provides excellent visual stimulation for children and adults with autism and I would recommend this product hands down. Click on the following link for more product information and to place an order.
The next item in our sensory bag is the infamous Fidget Spinner. This toy was particularly popular last summer, however my son is not that interested in this. When he was a baby and even now he loves to spin, so I am not sure why this toy is not more interesting for him. The reason I am recommending it however is because it gives excellent sensory stimulation for people with Autism and is very popular. It’s also extremely therapeutic. I have had a go with it a few times myself and I actually love it.
Some retailers claim that the Fidget Spinner has health benefits associated with it, such as helping to combat stress, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Fidget Spinners are available in lots of different designs and colours but this one is my personal favourite. The spinner in the picture above was from ” The Works” and it does its job, however I have recently bought the following spinner for my son and I am very impressed with this one. Click on the link below for the spinner I am talking about.
In his sensory bag my son has the above Rubik’s Cube. Its called a gear cube and its by Maomaoyu. It’s similar to the standard cube but it moves with more speed and is more tactile and sensory than the standard Rubik’s cube. For this reason we have one and my son loves it.
When he plays with it, he is more focused on the manipulation of it as opposed to matching the colours together.
The gear shift puzzle comes with an extra surprise. Not only can you twist and turn each individual layer of the puzzle but you can also twist each layer separately. With the gear shift puzzle, the adjacent layers don’t interlock, which makes it much more pliable. For this reason I think it is particularly good for individuals with autism.
Click on the link for more information and to order one.
5. Colourful Maracas.
If your child is anything like my son, they will like making noise and listening to or making music. My son is very musical, he will often sing along to the radio in the car. He memorises lyrics of songs like a computer and he will often request a particular song to be played in the car, by singing me the words. He cannot always tell me how he is feeling but he is very specific when it comes to music and which song he would like to listen to.
I think music is calming for him. When music is playing he will focus only on that. He also enjoys making a lot of noise and will often thrash out something resembling a tune on his keyboard. For this reason we have a small Maracas in his sensory bag, which we can take out and about with us.
Maracas come in lots of different colours and varieties and are pretty easy to find. I however prefer the classic style of maracas like the one shown above. They are colourful and fun and are a lovely addition to your sensory collection. Click on the link below to have a look at the range I would recommend.
There you have the 5 products I would recommend for a sensory bag. If you are looking for just one product that you can take out and about with you, I would like to refer you to Sensory Softies.
“Shakes was created by therapists to provide affordable sensory input for individuals of all ages and abilities. They provide support for children living with Anxiety, ADD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and more. They are lightly weighted, calming vibration, fidgets and fuzzies. They are not just toys they are therapeutic”.
Actually used by therapists, this is an all in one sensory toy, with weight, vibration, different textures and fidgets. Please check out the website for more information.
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So this is a tricky subject for anyone with children without Autism , trying to manage the subject with a child with Autism , can be even more troublesome?
Up until fairly recently, my son and I would share showers together . It’s easier as he needs help with washing and rinsing himself.
The day I decided not to shower with him anymore , was the day he hid his willy between his legs and asked me where his winky had gone ?. Ordinarily this would just be dealt with in a very light hearted manner , however he then decided to tell me “look mummy, now I look like you !”
This was followed by a question about why I don’t have a winky. I explained that boys have them and girls do not . That’s as far as we got on the subject .
I think the final straw was while I was happily rinsing my hair of shampoo , he decided to try and tie my nipple up like the end of one of his balloons. He affectionately refers to my nipples as dummy heads , because I guess they must look like the little bobbly bit that shows up when you have inflated the balloon. Either way the time has come to keep them well hidden from him.
We have yet to approach the subject about the “birds and bees ” as I don’t feel the time is right yet and so far he believes babies are born through feet or belly buttons. I’ll let him hold on to his innocence a little longer , it’s adorable.
He already has had a plethora of girlfriends but he doesn’t really understand what this means other than having a girl run around after him do jobs for him , hang up his coat for him and kiss him loads. He gets that from his dad.
His hand is already permanently attached to his winky . I suspect this is just a typical male thing anyway. The way he twists and pulls it makes my eyes water. I told him once if he didn’t stop it would drop off but that traumatised him far too much as he took it literally , so I had to change my approach .
When I was little my mum used to tell me if I picked my nose my brains would fall out . I’m not with Autism so I could cope with this , although some days it feels like my brain has dropped out somewhere . Just ask my work colleagues.
One day while momentarily unattended in the shower , washing himself , I decided to check on my son , he looked like he was washing himself but I’m not sure , when he saw me he was very proud to announce “mummy look it’s gone really big !” I’m not sure he got that from his dad. Only joking, I haven’t seen it for so long I forgot what it looks like. I get a lot of headaches.
Joking aside, this is a sensitive subject for any parents, let alone parents of children with Autism. When I was very young , I used to think that my dad loved to tickle my mum while they bounced on the bed , until my mum eventually explained what was really going on !.
How do we even begin to explain to our children with autism about the birds and bees.
Like I said I have yet to have this conversation with my son but the following links may prove helpful should you decide to once the time is right. Please click on the links to have a read and see if they can help you.
Talking to my friend at work yesterday , she was telling me that when her son was about 9 , they were standing in a queue for the check out at Tesco when her son announced really loudly “Mum , what’s a boner ?”. Now if you knew my friend , you would know she wasn’t easily embarrassed, but she said she was mortified ! Bless him.
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Since writing my blog, I have done some market research and learned that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder believe their biggest challenges to be dealing with public autism meltdowns and handling the in laws. (I will cover the in laws issue in another post as I suspect it will be a very long one!).
In this post we will explore how to deal with the public outbursts and autism meltdowns . My darling boy, has only one setting, LOUD. This is one classic symptom of a child on the autistic spectrum. The world and its mother know about the ins and outs of balloon blowing, what he wants for lunch and when he needs a poo. I remember one day, while at the pet shop choosing his pet Guinea Pig, he announced mid way through a conversation about taking care of our new pet, that he had just farted, it was really smelly and when can we go home because he needs a poo. Thankfully the shop assistant thought it was very funny.
Personally my biggest challenge is not so much the autism meltdowns but more what he says in general. Two days ago while waiting for our Chinese take away, sat next to a man waiting, my son decided to ask me on repeat when would his yellow 4 foot balloon be arriving. I had to show him on my fingers how many no balloons there were until his new one arrived. Anyway he decided, as he does, to ask me this question repeatedly until I actually had a vision of picking him up and launching him right out the door. It was only a vision. Anyway my tone must of changed slightly and I calmly explained that he doesn’t need to ask me again about the balloon. “Alright, alright, keep your hair on “,was the reply.
Thankfully again the man smiled. I don’t actually know where he learned this expression as he is usually such a literal thinker and would freak out if someone said that to him, as he would actually believe someone was going to take his hair off.
Talking of visions, have any of you actually had visions that make you question, not only your sanity but also your credentials as a mother? I remember my friend telling me that one day whilst breast feeding her adorable new born, who was very thirsty for breast milk, every day, she actually envisaged throwing her baby out of the bedroom window! Obviously she did not do this but the very fact that she had the vision at all, stressed her out immensely.
I myself had a similar experience when my son was a baby. He used to cry a lot and would constantly want picking up and cuddling. One day while out for a lovely day out in Brighton, walking along the pier, he decided to have the mother of all tantrums in his buggy. Back then I used to get embarrassed and care too much what people thought. Always worried about feeling judged and what other parents perception of me was (Now I don’t give a shit ) and I actually had a very brief vision of picking him up from the buggy and throwing him in the sea! I was so distraught that this vision came into my head!! its a bit like when you think of something you don’t want to think about and then the more you don’t want to think about it , the more you do? well I hated myself and can honestly say I have not had any other visions like it , but I felt so guilty.
When my son is old enough to read my blog, he will read this and hopefully laugh. He may not speak to me for a week but I will have to take that risk. “Son I love you more than the world and you know that”.
So how do we address the issue of dealing with autism meltdowns . I think the biggest reason we struggle with this is because we care too much what other people think. We constantly worry about feeling judged and being criticised as parents. But why? No one knows your child more than you, and no one knows what your dealing with, so why do we worry about the disapproving stares and the comments about how they would of handled that in a different way. I get it. Your already worn down with the tantrum, the last thing you need to have to deal with is a big dose of feeling judged on top.
The truth is, your doing great. Children do not come with an instruction manual. If anyone reading this is not a parent, please, when you see parents dealing with children having a tantrum in public, please just be nice. When dealing with the autism meltdown I think its important to remember the following:
Your child is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time. Acknowledge their feelings. Let them have the feelings, talk about it and understand them.
Try not to get angry. Try to stay calm. If I raise my voice to my son mid tantrum, he shouts back at me!
Wait for the autism tantrum to pass. Forget what other people are thinking when they stare. Just allow the child to express their frustrations.
When the child has calmed down a little, then take charge. Be assertive but not aggressive and try to avoid bribes. Then try and talk the child through what just happened and how you can help them to feel better. I ask my son is he feeling happy or sad , to try and establish my next move.
I think consistency is important when dealing with difficult behaviour. Follow through on what you say will happen. I need to work on this one myself. I am rubbish with this.
Praise the good behaviour. I think ABA therapy focuses on rewarding good behaviour. Its reinforcing behaviour that is socially acceptable.
Once you have established what triggered the tantrum, maybe then you can take steps to avoid the same thing happening again. Remember I am not an expert and I am talking about how to deal with autism meltdowns specifically.
Another option you have is to purchase some social story books or packs that highlight the appropriate way to behave in public. This may help your child with Autism. These packs are available online and on Amazon. Please click on the link below for further information.
As I am writing this post, I am sitting in my favourite coffee shop enjoying a nice skinny caramel latte. I am having more luck today than I did the other day. You see, my son loves a caramel slice and we often come here together for a coffee and a cake. One day last week we came here and my son, as usual, was blowing up his brand new sausage shaped balloon I just got him. You know the ones that can be manipulated into animals.
Sitting near to us on the next table was a lovely young couple enjoying a nice peaceful coffee together. My son was quite happily pumping away at his balloon when he decided to let it go. Lets just say the young couples relaxing coffee was not so relaxing anymore. They were not only interrupted by a flying balloon, the young girl also got an extra shot of deflated balloon in her coffee.
Thank you for reading. Please comment, follow, like or share and most importantly enjoy your morning cup of coffee. ☕
You may be considering starting a blog but are not sure where to start. It sounds too obvious but the place to start is well, at the start. Put pen to paper and start writing. It really is that simple. My advice is to write about your passion. What is it that you cannot imagine living without ? What lights a fire in your soul ? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. When you have a passion for what your writing about, it shows.
Also be unique. Don’t be afraid of being yourself. There are lots of blogs out there but what makes yours special is that you wrote it. Your blog does not need to be like someone else’s, just yours.
For me writing a blog has been a journey. I have been learning as I go and I still am. Before I started I knew nothing about blogging or the technical side of things and I have just taught myself by researching and being genuinely interested.
I started my blog less than 2 months ago so I am what you might call a new blogger and I still have a long way to go but I am enjoying the journey and if you have been reading any of my posts you will know that I am insanely passionate about my son and autism. For me, blogging has been a hobby and therapy all at the same time. If I could make this a successful part time job I will be very happy but that’s a long term goal. My primary reasons for writing are because I enjoy it , I want to share it and I want to share it with my son when he is able to understand.
I have compiled a list of 5 reasons why I blog and why you should too. Within this post are affiliate links. If you purchase through my blog I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Something to share with my son.
My blog is a bit like a journal. Keeping a diary of things we have done together. Quite often in the past I have wished I had a notebook to write down something funny he has said. Well now I do. Every time he says something funny or makes me laugh, which happens a lot, I take a note of it and use it in my blog posts. When he is older it will be nice for him to read all about himself and the memories we have shared and the funny comments he has made. I hope we can share it together. Hopefully google won’t decide to remove all my hard work for some reason and it will be accessible for a long time. I have considered printing off my blog posts, just to be safe. Or maybe I should transfer it to some memory stick or something. Again, I am still learning so I will figure it out.
2. Write about and raise awareness about your passions.
Maybe you love fitness, cooking or horse riding. Maybe like me your a devoted mum , passionate about your children and want to write about them . My passion is my son and my interests are with Autism. My blog was recently ranked at number 8 in “The best UK Autism Blogs. Check it out at https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_autism_blogs/ . Here you will find a comprehensive list of some of the best Autism blogs in the UK . Whatever it is your passionate about, writing a blog is an excellent outlet for your creativity and your opinions and experiences will be of interest to someone out there . You will appeal to like minded people who share the same interests. Find your niche, your area of interest and knowledge and write for that audience. You don’t have to be an expert in your niche , just passionate and have some experience. A desire to help other people and raise awareness of your chosen subject, is important. Just be yourself and write how you feel. Just go for it. It’s like therapy. Which brings me to my next point.
3. It’s a hobby and therapy in one.
As a mum to a child with Autism, life can be hectic, demanding , challenging, tiring and of course rewarding. Where better to channel those emotions than within writing. Getting it all down on paper can be cathartic. It’s the same as when you have trouble sleeping because you have a million thoughts rushing round your head. If you write it down , then you get to sleep. Blogging is similar. Get it all out of your head and onto paper and it’s strangely healing. If your feeling angry , vent! If your feeling stressed, reach out and if your feeling happy, share. It does wonders for your soul, trust me.
Whatever your passion it is bound to evoke all emotions and getting them onto paper and into your writing can only be a benefit in my opinion. When your passionate about something , it will show in your writing.
4. Help others in your niche.
Being able to help others is rewarding and if you can help just one person through your writing that has to be an achievement. There are always people looking for opinions, views and advice on subjects that matter to them. Personally, I like to write for parents who are in a similar situation to myself. I like to feel like I am reaching out and offering a metaphysical hand in friendship. Autism parenting can be an isolated existence and parents can often feel alone. Through my blog I hope to connect parents and make it a little less lonely. I like to feel that I am offering a place for parents to share experiences and vent their emotions.
At this point I would like to make a personal recommendation. I borrowed this book from my local library and I found it extremely useful. Please click on the link for more information.
To make money from your blog could take some time. I think in the beginning the focus should be on building an audience and driving traffic to your site. To do this just write loads and use your social media to promote it. Pinterest is an excellent platform to show case your blog and reach a greater audience. That’s my personal preference of social media but others may prefer Instagram or Twitter as a marketing tool. I think the key is to master one of these platforms first then once you have mastered one of them fully, then move onto another one. With Pinterest you can download a lovely little app called Tailwind. You can use this app to schedule your pins being published. I have just discovered this and it can free up a lot of time for you and keep your pinning consistent.
To drive traffic to your blog from Google you need to use a little thing called SEO. Search Engine Optimization. This means basically making your blog more highly ranked on Google and making it appear when people search for it. To do this you can purchase plug ins for your blog and you can also research key words. By using certain key words in your content you become more prominent on Google search engines. I am still learning this myself so am not able to offer much more information on that. Hashtags are also important when categorizing your content and posting your content on social media. Hashtags, quite simply, enable your site to be found.
To actually make money from your blog requires a bit of patience and research and a willingness to learn. There are many ways to make an income from your blog including placing adverts on your content, affiliate marketing and selling digital courses and products such as e books. I have recently read a book called “The She Approach to starting a money making blog”. I read this book in one day and have attached a link below for you to have a look at.
Check out Ana’s course on how to start a blog, by clicking below.
At this point for me, my focus is on creating something to show my son and enjoy my writing as a hobby however I would like to make money from it in the future. That would be the icing on the cake for me. I am not sure if making money should be the number one priority when starting a blog. I think the reasons for writing should be because its rewarding. I believe making money should be an after thought, however I suspect others will have a different opinion and that’s ok too. Just like your blog should be unique to you, so should your reasons for writing one. Of course I would love to have an income from doing what I love. Is that not what we all want? If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will, so go for it and get writing. Thank you for reading. Please comment, share or follow.