Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The After Diagnosis Limbo

Since my son received a diagnosis of ASD in June of this year, there has been so much going through my head. I want to help him over come his difficulties and reach his full potential, and most importantly make sure he is happy, but there is still so much I do not know about ASD, which makes it pretty difficult for me to really help him.

I had been feeling like we'd been given a diagnosis , and then been sent away to work things out for ourselves. Yes, we were given a bit of bumph to read at home, leaflets and such, but most of them just wrote about things I had already found out myself. I don't exactly know what I was expecting, and maybe I was a bit naive to expect anything at all, but I just thought there would be more support initially. The few months after diagnosis can be challenging. No, diagnosis does not change your child, and yes things will go on as they did before, and having the confirmed diagnosis definitely gives you a lot more to think about. There are so many questions I would liked to have asked, but didn't know who I could contact for advice, other than parent groups.

During the summer I was invited to a 'parent training workshop', and I was excited to learn as much as I could, but came home disappointed. The content of the training was purely about what the condition is, basically the stuff that was in the leaflets they had given at diagnosis, just with a bit more padding. All of it was things I had already learned via the National Autistic Society website, or books that I head read.

At our very first appointment with the pead, when the first mention of autism came about, I will admit I knew very little about it. We were given the name of an ASD specialist who had published some very informative books, which I borrowed from the library the next day. As the months passed by, and more and more arrows started pointing to ASD, I spent many an evening on the NAS website, trying to gain as good an understanding of the condition as I could, so that when the diagnosis finally came, we knew what we were dealing with.

Isn't this is what most parents would do? Surely no one is getting through the lengthy diagnosis progress without doing a bit of investigating for themselves?

Maybe the training would have been helpful to families who had recently been referred for diagnosis to learn a bit more about what they were being referred for, but I just feel that for families who had already received a diagnosis, it was a bit too basic. Or maybe there's something wrong with me, and I spent too much time reading about ASD, I don't know? Maybe I'm being ignorant to the fact that other parents may not have knows quite as much as me? Either way, I left feeling totally disappointed. ( I should add, the training day would have been perfect for other family members, like grandparents, to learn more about ASD, because it was full of information, just not the right info for me.)

Some months before diagnosis, Neil was referred for Occupational Therapy, who can help with motor skills and sensory issues. At the time the OT couldn't accept him because he was under the radar of some organisation who were working with the school who could offer similar services. It didn't seem to matter that this organisation wasn't actually giving him assistance, so we were kind of stuck in limbo. Thankfully, once we received a diagnosis, we were re-referred to OT and accepted.

Neil had his second session with the occupational therapist today, and he has been assessed to determine what kind of help they can offer. I also received and invitation to a sensory workshop which is taking place next month, and I can't wait to see what that's all about.

Hopefully we are now heading in the right direction, and we will finally be able to further support Neil, and get answers to the questions going through my head!

Super Busy Mum

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A World of Activities... Twinkl Review

I try to take an active role in my children's education and learning, and I'm keen to continue building on what they have learnt at school when they are at home.

Since Neil started school last year I've tried my best to help him achieve his potential, and try to work on things at home that he struggles with in school.

I have often spent evenings looking for fun activities and resources to help him, and came across a site called Twinkl on numerous occasions. I always liked the look of the resources on offer at Twinkl, but most of the content I wanted required a paid subscription, and I'm a bit of a scrooge with my money so usually just closed the page and moved on.

It wasn't until I was given the opportunity to try a platinum Twinkl account that I realised what I had been missing all of those times.

For those of you wondering what I'm going on about when I say Twinkl, it is a website full of educational and fun resources for primary school children, which can be used by teachers, home schoolers and parents who simply want to do a bit extra at home.

Setting up an account on the site was very easy, you can sign up and be ready to get stuck in in a matter of minutes.

What first struck me about the site is the sheer amount of resources available, and it's all so beautifully presented. The colourful headers clearly mark out sections of the site, making it very easy to navigate. The settings are arranged so that you can choose your resources depending on what stage of the primary system your children are at - Foundation, KS1 & KS2, and there is a section for Special Educational Needs. Dropdown menus then allow you to choose which type of resource, such as literacy or numeracy.

One of the things I really loved about Twinkl is that they seem to have a theme for anything your child might be interested in, be it dinosaurs, superheroes or princesses. There's even a section for you to create your own, if you can't find something you are looking for.

To begin I printed some dinosaur themed number formation sheets for Neil and some pencil control sheets for Caitlin.

The printouts are so colourful and eye catching, perfect for children. My two couldn't wait to have a go at the activities.

So far we have tried to use work sheets which complement the work that is being done at school. Neil struggles with his fine motor skills so writing and formation is something he finds difficult. Using these worksheets is a great way for him to practice his writing, but in a way that doesn't feel too much like work.

Not all of the resources are purely educational based, there are a wealth of craft activities, colouring pages, party packs, recipes, reward charts.... in fact, I've only scratched the surface on what is available.

We all know the addictive qualities of Pinterest...well this is just as addictive, only you print things you like instead of pinning them. You only log on 'to print one thing' and half an hour later you've run out of ink... and paper.

Twinkl has three levels of subscription: Free, which as the name suggests, is free... Gold which works out £2.08 a month... and Platinum which works out costing £3.33 a month. You can find out more about what each of those levels allows you to do here.

Subscriptions must be paid upfront for the year ahead, which is something to be aware of. I would have liked to have had an option to possibly pay monthly, or even quarterly, because £39.95 to spread the cost a bit. When broken down, £3.33 a months is a fabulous price for what you are getting, but some people may be put off having to pay the price in full, and the option to choose a payment plan would be a fantastic feature. I must add though, this is not something that would put me off getting a Platinum account. I know for sure when my year is up I will happily pay for another year because I'd be lost without it now.

My advice to people looking at the site for the first time is to have a nosey through the 'parents' section and go from there. The amount of worksheets and resources available is so vast it can be a bit daunting, but this section is a great starting point to help you get to grips with the site.

There is so much more I could say about Twinkl. I've barely touched on the SEN section of the site, which we have found absolutely invaluable with Neil. So much so, that I'm going to dedicate a whole post to how we use twinkl for Neil's ASD, so keep an eye out for that next week.

You can find Twinkl by clicking here. Alternatively, you can find them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Family Fever
I was upgraded to a Platinum account free of charge for the purpose of an honest review of the service. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Word of the Week - Poorly

Wow, it's Friday again, how did that happen? We've all been struck with the dreaded lurgy, so my word of the week this week is...

I wasn't feeling my best last week, and I was working all weekend so didn't get a chance to rest, and so I've felt rough all week. I thought it had missed the rest of the house but at the start of the week my hubby and Neil started feeling a bit rough too. Neil has been off school since Tuesday with a high temperature, headache and nasty cough.

We've done so little it feels like we've lost a whole week.

Caitlin seemed to have been lucky as she didn't catch our man flu, but last night before bed she complained her tummy was sore, then she threw up at 1am. I hate when the kids are sick in the night, because you can't sleep with worry that they might be sick in their sleep and choke. I spent the night sitting dozing in and out of sleep on the sofa next to her, darting up at the slightest sound. She must have just eaten something that upset her tummy a little bit, because other than a slight temperature this morning she has been ok.

I'm feeling better, it's nice to not have a headache for the first time in over a week! Hopefully the rest of the clan will be feeling better over the next couple of days so we can get out and about, feels like we've been stuck indoors forever.

Here's to the weekend, hope you have a fabulous time whatever you are all up to!
The Reading Residence

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#MorningWin with Belvita & Britmums

Your mood through-out the day is greatly dependant on how smoothly your morning goes. I find, if you have a bad morning, you set your self up for a bad day.

Sleeping in is the worst. It's awful when you wake up, and your bed feels really comfortable, and for a few seconds it is bliss.... until you see the time. I'm terrible for switching off my alarm and just 'resting my eyes', which turns in to an extra 45 minutes in bed.

We've had some major morning fails due to this. One incident involved hastily getting myself and Neil dressed for school and making it out to the bus stop 7 minutes after waking up. This meant Neil had to finish his toast at the bus stop, which wasn't ideal. Because Neil has ASD, he thrives on routine, and this crazy turbo morning totally threw him off completely and resulted in a total meltdown later in the afternoon.

I have to be much more careful now, and I set myself a few alarms to make sure that never happens again.

My number one morning win, which is always a sure way to set me up for a good day, is waking up one hour before my alarm. The bed feels so much better when you lie back down, and that hour of sleep feels fantastic, almost like you have stolen an extra hour. For some reason, when the alarm goes off after the hour I feel so much more refreshed and ready to take on the day!

Getting the kids off to school with everything they need is a success story in it's own right, especially in our house. That sinking feeling when you get back from the school run to see someone's snack bag/ homework/ P.E kit sitting on the kitchen table... and it's a regular occurrence now that I'm trying to co-ordinate two children.

Dosed with man flu, a Monday morning can be a pretty daunting experience. So imagine my surprise when I came downstairs last week to find the stove lit, and both kids dressed and ready for school. What a victory for me, to have a lie in and wake up to a warm, calm house on a fluey Monday morning.
Of course, the downside to this little winner was that I didn't have time for breakfast before heading off to work. In fact, there are many morning when I head to work before I've had breakfast, which is a terrible habit, and I find I spend the rest of the morning snacking.

 When I was given the opportunity to try some new Crunchy Belvita Breakfast Biscuits I knew they would perfectly suit me. They come in three flavours, Chocolate, Apricot and Hazlenut, and they slowly release energy over 4 hours, which stops me snacking at work!

I'm usually a bit of a chocolate fiend, but my favourite of the three has to be the hazelnut, because I love the extra crunch it adds. Although, it's hard to decide, because the chocolate flavour is lovely dipped in a hot drink. Whatever you choose, team a packet up with a nice hot coffee (or tea, if that's what floats your boat...) an apple and a wee yoghurt and you are sorted. They have come in so handy when I'm running late for work (do you see a theme developing here.... yes, I tend to be late a lot).

With a packet of these in my bag, I feel safe in the knowledge that no matter what kind of morning I have to face, (even a 7 minute turbo morning) I'm going to get a good feed in to me, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a major #MorningWin.

Have you tried the new belvita breakfast biscuits? What did you think?

This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at

Friday, October 10, 2014

Love the Little Things 10-10-14

Hello my lovelies! I've felt as rough as a badgers bum this week, but here's what has been getting me through my sniffles and head aches...


I actually read a book this week... a whole book! I ordered it from the little mobile library which comes to our village once a fortnight, and it arrived in last week. It is 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' by Mark Haddon. It's written from the perspective of a teenage boy with aspergers. I have read it before, many years ago, and loved it then, but it has so much more meaning to me now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's rekindled my love for reading a bit too, being the first full book I've read for almost a year. There is really nothing nicer than curling up on the sofa with the fire on and getting stuck in to a good book. I'm looking forward to re-visiting the mobile library to pick something new to read...


X-Factor has been the only thing on my screen this week. I love a bit of X-Factor each week, it's my opportunity to put my feet up and ignore my phone. I'm looking forward to live shows starting this weekend because I'm loving some of the contestants this year, and the live shows also signal that Christmas is in sight! (Yes... I'm already getting excited for Christmas!)


This song was released when I was 19! I used to love this, and hadn't heard it for a long time when I somehow came across it on spotify. It brings back memories of being a dirty student and it made me smile a bit. It sounds just as good now as it did then!



I've barely even made my bed this week I've felt so ill...


It's been a pj's and tracksuits kinda week this week. You can get away with that kinda jazz when you are feeling a bit rubbish though can't you? I'm hoping no one has noticed I've been wearing the same dodgy old paint stained adidas trackies now for the school run for 3 consecutive days but all sense of fashion and pride goes out of the window and I literally throw on any old junk when I know I'm going straight home to put my jarmies back on!
Hopefully I perk up soon because I'm looking forward to getting dressed in some cute jumpers and boots for autumn.

And lastly...

My living room has had a bit of a makeover this week, complete with a stags head and everything. It's the first time I've had a living room with an actual style, and I love it. I'll be posting more about that later in the week so keep an eye out for that!

I'm joining in with Love the Little Things from but why mummy why?

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wicked Wednesdays - Selfie

I often flick through the camera to find Caitlin has been taking random pictures again. The pictures she takes are a mix of arty shots that she has set up, and a few really intense selfies, like this one...


Thursday, October 02, 2014

A brief encounter in the park...

Neil has never been the most sociable of characters. It's one of his traits that I would attribute to his ASD.

Most of the time he's not interested in playing or interacting with other children. He's prefers his own company, and would choose to play minecraft on his own over playing with someone any day.

He will sometimes play with Caitlin, but only on his agenda and she has to agree to play his way. Sometimes, when he's not in the mood he will refuse, which can be tough for Caitlin as she doesn't understand.

When he decides he does want to play, it's always centered around Minecraft. He's not in to knights and dragons or cops and robbers or anything like that, it has to be Minecraft related.

He's not usually bothered about being around other people, he can happily play alongside children at parties and soft play, but he won't actually play with them.

There are times when he decided he wants to join in, but you can see he doesn't really know how. I've seen him go over to a group and just loudly say something, I think in hope that they will respond. Or he will jump in to their conversation quite loudly, but you can tell he's feeling really awkward because he's usually swaying from side to side as he does it.

That's the bit that upsets me a bit.... I'm happy enough to let him play on his own... if that makes him happy, that's fine. It's seeing him wanting to join in but not knowing how that I find hard. We are currently waiting on a referral to a social skills group which I hope will help him in those kinds of situations.

Anyway, last week I wrote about how we have had a new play park built in the village. The kids have been keen to go every day, so after school I usually take them down for a little while before dinner. One afternoon last week, we were in the park as normal, and I was sitting on one of the seats watching the kids running around. As usual, a few other children were also in the park.

Imagine my surprise when I see Neil chasing after another boy with his fingers pointed like a gun, shouting nee nar the police are going to get you, as the boy ran away with some 'stolen apples'. This pretend scene continued for about 5 minutes before Neil lost interest and went back to Caitlin. While it may not have lasted long, the play looked so natural, and Neil didn't seem anxious to be joining in at all.

That was a big step for him. It was so nice to see him joining in, without his anxieties taking over, and for us, that's a fantastic achievement.

Ethans Escapades
Jeannette's Small Steps Amazing Achievements Highlights From Last Week