The first week at home with the kids

The first week at home with the kids

So how is everyone feeling after the first week at home with the kids? I know some might have had them home earlier, and some homeschool all the time. But I think for most of us, at least in England where I live, this was week 1. So how’s it been?

Still having problems with Lily’s ear

It’s gone fairly well for us. The only real problem we’ve had is Lily is still complaining of pain in her ear. She seems fine the majority of the day, but come night time it’s a different story. She has woken up crying every night this week. Jack has coped with it really well, a few times he seems to have slept hrough it. 

One time I went to check on Jack he was awake playing on his Nintendo Switch. It was around 4am. I asked him if Lily woke him up, he nodded yes. I asked him if he was alright, he nodded yes again. He was clearly tense, but he was managing to hold it together, which is really good.

Last night didn’t go so well. Lily woke up crying again, and this time I could hear straight away, Jack throwing things around his room. I went to check him and he had a real look of distress on his face and tears in his eyes. I tried to reassure him, but he just threw things at me, I told him Lily was ok, and left him for a few minutes. When I checked he had calmed down enough to be sat on his bed. It was just one disturbed nights sleep to far.

It’s a frustrating time, due to the situation getting a doctors appointment is near impossible, so you speak to one on the phone and they are guessing what’s wrong. She’s on her second antibiotic now. Fingers crossed this one works. The situation is difficult enough, without that added stress.

Things have generally been good

The day times have generally been good, during the first week at home with the kids. Jack and Lily both seem to be enjoying being at home. They’ve had some fun doing different activities. Jack has been a bit argumentative, which was to be expected, but has been calmer than he was during the recent school holidays. We’ve not pushed him with doing school work. He’s never had any homework, so he’s not understanding why he suddenly has to do work at home. So I’ve got a few ideas for him to learn using things he’s interested in.

Lily didn’t do any work the first few days, I thought it right to give her some time to adjust to what was going on. Then she started doing the work by herself. I’ve seen people trying to be teachers, and it’s almost like a competition with some people on social media. I don’t understand that way of thinking myself. I’m more interested in my children’s well being, than I am making sure they get all the work sheets done.

We are lucky to have a decent bit of garden space, so the kids can get out there for a bit of fresh air and some exercise. They’ve been out everyday, with the exception that Jack didn’t want to go outside yesterday. 

I’m doing ok

I’m holding up alright. I am concerned about the effect of a prolonged lockdown on my depression, but I’m doing fine. I’ve actually enjoyed having the kids home for the most part. Ask me if I still am in 3 or 4 weeks, then maybe my answer will be different, but so far I’m feeling good. I’ve been spending a lot of time at home anyway over the past year, so one week without going out doesn’t bother me. If it becomes 4, 5, 6 weeks, then it will be a different story.

The first week at home with the kids then, up to now it’s been pretty good, everyone’s fit and well, and as long as that’s the case I don’t want to complain about anything else. I hope it’s going as well for everyone else. Families living with autism have extra pressures, and this a really difficult time. But it is difficult for all families. So I say to everybody, stay safe and stay well.

Pictures from Lily and Jack

Pictures from Lily and Jack

We’ve had the art stuff out today. To be fair Lily always has the art stuff out, but today it’s pictures from Lily and Jack. I’m trying to come up with ideas to get them away from “screens” without forcing the issue. Lily is quite good anyway, but Jack would sit on his Xbox all day if you let him. Trying to force him off it is not the approach needed, and will just cause him to resist harder.

Suggesting other things he can do, usually with me or his mum often works. It might take a few attempts of different ideas, but generally he likes doing stuff with us. Whether he will do something with Lily, very much depends on his mood. Anyway, onto the pictures. I will start with an old one that has had pride of place on our living room wall since before Christmas.

Lily’s Xmas picture

Today Lily made some sort of card, I think. Not exactly sure what it’s for, but she enjoyed doing it, which is the important thing. It’s very funky and colourful that’s for sure.

Front
Back

Jack chose to draw one of his favourite characters from the games he likes to play. Bendy, from Bendy and the ink machine. Jack likes to draw something he is looking at, the complete opposite approach to Lily. Who likes a blank piece of paper, and just draws whatever comes to her. Autistic brother and sister perfectly making the point, that no 2 autistic people are exactly the same.

Bendy

More art related blog posts and pictures are available in the Lily’s Art Work section. Which will now of course include pictures from Lily and Jack.

At home with the Kids

At home with the Kids

So the big question of the moment, especially for those of us with autistic children. How are you all dining being at home with the kids? There’s was a lot of worry about the uncertainty of things, but I think most people are at hone now.

Obviously the key workers are still working, and where necessary their children are still going to school. The numbers I’m hearing from people working at schools have dramatically dropped the last 2 days. Although you see the videos of some people being stupid, I think (hope) the majority are taking this seriously.

At home with the kids

We were unsure what to do with Jack, but he is at home as well now. I’m a lot more comfortable and happy with that. So far he’s been ok, obviously the routine from school and his respite are gone. He’s accepted it so far, but there tends to be a delay with things, so we will see over the next week.

I do quite enjoy being at home with the kids, as long as Jack and Lily are getting along. We are lucky to have a decent garden, which I know is t the case for everyone. So we are able to go outside for some fresh air, and the kids can run around. Yesterday we cleaned the guinea pigs out, and put them on the garden for a bit. Something Jack and Lily always enjoy. Them being on the garden, not the cleaning bit, obviously.

Holiday Mode

They Both seem to be in holiday mode at the moment. Not much of the school work that was sent home has been done yet, but this is a difficult and unforeseen adjustment. So rushing them into spending lots of time doing maths, would probably be counterproductive. We are still trying to work out the best approach, as always it will likely be completely different for each one.

Im not in a rush, work will get done when it gets done. I’m also coming up with some other “fun” learning ideas, that aren’t just sheets of school work. For example, I have some ideas for another Jack’s Documents blog post, that I will talk with Jack about. He will be excited about that, hopefully you will be to.

Obviously Lily will be busy with her Art as usual, but I’m trying to think of some other ideas as well. Any creative ideas are welcome. I’ve got a couple of blog posts to read that look to have some interesting ideas. I will check Pinterest as well, that’s usually good for ideas. Whatever it takes to keep the kids entertained through this.

One last thing, another short YouTube video from Jack. This time of the guinea pigs, with some background music. He was really pleased the last video got some views…44 last time I checked.

Coronavirus Social Story

Coronavirus Social Story

I wanted to share a coronavirus social story, that was kindly sent to me by someone on twitter. Obviously it is a very worrying time for everybody at the moment. These are unprecedented times in all our lives, and after the announcement from Boris Johnson last night. That we are basically in lockdown, it is getting more and more “real”.

The challenging behaviour from Jack over the weekend rose dramatically, from where it has been recently. It wasn’t a surprise, and I knew it was down to what is happening. Lily is also showing signs that she is struggling. First thing Monday morning she was sick in the bathroom, the first day of no school. This is an ongoing issue with vomiting, that we are not sure if it’s anxiety or allergy related, which I’ve talked about before.

Something amazing

Jack did something amazing yesterday, after sitting down and talking to him. He told us he was scared and confused by the coronavirus. This is such a massive thing. A lot of the problems Jack has, come from not being able to communicate effectively, or express his emotions. So for him to do that was incredible. 18 months ago I would have thought it was impossible. It’s yet more evidence of how far he has come.

He also asked for a Coronavirus social story, to help him understand what is going on. We told him we would get one for him. Last night a very kind person emailed me one. It is very good and Jack is very happy witH it. It’s so important to find a way to explain what’s happening.

Jack had already calmed down and appears less anxious. Of course it will take continuous reassurance, and revisiting this social story. But we will do whatever it takes to make Jack and Lily feel safe.

I thought it only right to share the coronavirus social story in the blog, for as many people to see as possible.

There it is, I hope people find it useful. The autism and SEN community on twitter can be a wonderful and helpful place, as was proved again here. If you want to make your own social story for this or any other subject, I highly recommend Twinkl as a great resource. I hope everyone is coping well in these difficult time, stay strong everyone. Please feel free to share any resources or ideas to help people get through this difficult time. Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! These are difficult times, I’m worried about Jack, but I’m not doing much better. I don’t think Natalie is either, while Lily seems to be doing better she is already talking of missing her friends. But it’s still only right to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there.

It was home made cards from Jack and Lily to their mum this year. Jack made his at school, while Lily made hers at home.

Jack’s on the left, Lily’s on the right

It’s certainly a memorable Mother’s Day, though not really for the right reasons. Unfortunately I spent a lot of the day sorting out a blocked sink. I might go into that more in another post. So basically it was just chilling out at home. What has everyone else been up to? How have you made the most of Mother’s Day? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Inside Jack’s card

Mum was treated to some flowers and a super big box of malteasers, which are her favourite and a good sharing chocolate.

Inside of Lily’s card

As you can see Lily likes to use every bit of space, which includes the back. You can see more of her art work in the Lily’s Art Gallery section. Jack has done some brilliant drawings at school as well, which I will look to put up on here soon. He seems to be able to copy something brilliantly, rather than Lily’s just get a blank piece of paper and draw away approach.

Back of Lily’s card

It’s certainly been an interesting Mother’s Day, I hope everyone’s staying safe and doing ok. Remember to do your social distancing and self isolating if you need to. Fingers crossed we all get through this.

Will the kids be going to school?

Will the kids be going to school?

It’s been a long and stressful week. Mostly around one Question. Will the kids be going to school or not? For some, that question was answered on Wednesday, and at least the situation was clear. We however were in the group of people, where things remained unclear and confusing.

Jack’s situation

Jack has an EHCP and attends a SEN school, which put him in the group that would still go to school. So that makes thing clear right? Wrong! Two days of mixed messages, uncertainty and confusion coming from all quarters. I thought he was staying in school, then I thought he was going to be staying home from today. Finally this afternoon the decision was made that he would stay going to school.

His whole class are staying in school, and we decided for the sake of his routine he will still go. He’s already shown signs that he’s worried about what’s going on. To pull him out of school now, would escalate that and not be good for him. So unless we need to self isolate, it’s business as usual.

Lily’s situation

It’s been just as complicated and stress with Lily. First I though, she finishes school on Friday and that’s it. Then because we have a disability social worker, we thought we were expected to send her to school. We tried to get clarification on this, and we had to wait for answers. Basically no one was really sure what we were meant to do.

The answer came back today. Lily is now off school, but we can send her into school if Jack is at home and struggling. For example, if his anxiety was causing him to be excessively violent, causing the home environment to be dangerous. With Jack at least for now still going to school, that’s not an issue.

How’s everyone finding the situation?

I know it’s not just us, and this is a stressful time for everyone. Will the kids be going to school? Has been the question on all parents minds this week. Lily’s school have sent some work home for her, but the question of how to keep her busy, entertained and still learning is the one that now weighs heavy. At least I know art will keep her happy. How is everyone else feeling? How are you going to keep your kids busy? Any ideas are most welcome. Drop them in the comments.

Some more art from Lily

Some more art from Lily

With all the stress at the moment, especially amongst us parents and carers of autistic children. I decided to show more art from Lily, rather than write anything at the moment. I’ve been looking on wikipedia at Autistic art, which I’ve found interesting. For Lily we start with this lovely picture she drew for Jack, which is something to brighten up anybody’s day.

Brotherly & Sisterly love

She has also been practising drawing bunny’s for Easter, it’s fair to say she’s excited for Easter. We always do lots of arts and crafts for Easter, and it looks like we will have a lot of time to do stuff. So you can expect lots more Easter related art that Lily wants to show off to come.

a first bunny attempt
some more bunny attempts

With the last drawing Lily had a piece of paper underneath, which the pen went through too and made a sort of other picture. Which Lily was fascinated by and seemed more pleased with than the other pictures. To be honest I find it quite fascinating myself.

Lily’s favourite picture

If enjoyed looking at Lily’s drawings. You can find some more art from Lily, in the Lily’s Art Gallery section.

A Difficult Few Days

A Difficult Few Days


It’s been a difficult few days. Lily has had an ear infection, which has involved a lot of crying and not much sleep. Lily has been sleeping in our room, as it’s further away from Jack. It seems to have worked as Jack’s sleep doesn’t seem to have been disturbed. 

On Saturday night Jack asked to go to his Grans with Natalie, while I helped Lily get to sleep. He said he wanted Lily to be able to cry without worrying about upsetting him. Bless him, it was such a nice thing to do. Jack is so kind and thoughtful, but in a meltdown situation that all goes out of the window.

For him to think ahead for the good of himself and others, is such a big step that he is starting to do. He’s had his moments over the last few days, he trashed his room once and has got upset a few times. But generally he has coped really well given the circumstances.

Isolation and routine change

Jacks at respite tonight, he definitely needs the break and so do I. I’m worried that the respite will end up stopping soon, or we end up having to self isolate. Which of course means no school, I’m surprised the schools are still open. I don’t think they will be for much longer.

All that means routine goes out of the window. Jack especially finds routine change extremely difficult, I’ve talked before about school holidays being a problem. So a sudden unexpected change is likely to be very problematic. Whatever happens we will just have to deal with it the best we can. It’s been a difficult few days, but we carry on.

Dad Does Autism

Is Lego Good for Autistic Children?

Is Lego Good for Autistic Children?

With Coronavirus taking grip of the country, we are staying at home and avoiding the madness. So I got to thinking, Is Lego good for autistic children? I’ve seen a lot of stuff around the subject online, they are even doing Lego based therapy. Where they get children working together, to encourage learning and interaction with others.

That’s not something we have ever tried, but Jack has an incredible love for Lego. I dread to think how much money we’ve spent on it over the years. To make matters worse, most of it is broken up in a big tub. He recently expressed a wish to be able to keep his Lego safe, and not get broken. Which was nice to hear. Oh how he is growing up.

Lily has Lego as well, but it has mostly been built by me. She enjoys seeing the finished product more than the building phase.

The positive points

There’s no intense research done here, it’s just my observations on Jack. And as Lily proves, it won’t be the same with all autistic children. But for Jack, Lego has had a hugely positive impact on his life. Here are the areas I’ve seen a positive impact

  • The building process having a calming effect
  • Learned to do something independently
  • something that keeps him off technology
  • Pride in achieving a finished product

Calming effect


Those are four very important points. Finding things that have a calming effect are so important to autistic people, especially as many also have issues with anxiety. We are forever searching for new calming strategies. Lego isn’t an option if a meltdown is well under way, but as a preemptive tactic to keep Jack calm it works well.

Acting independently

Doing something independently is a huge thing for Jack. It’s not that he doesn’t have the physical capabilities to do things on his own. But getting him to act independently is extremely hard for a variety of reasons. One of the main ones, is Jack needs constant reassurance that he is safe in his environment. In his bedroom he seems to feel more assured, and he’s learnt that is his space. But anywhere else, even other rooms in our house, he needs constant reassurance that he is ok and is safe. In order to be able to concentrate on a task.

With Lego he will sit and build by himself. He will ask for help with putting stickers on, and if pieces get stuck together. Other than that he will do it on his own. Sometimes he asks me to come and build something with him, but I believe that’s because he wants the company.

Keeping him off technology

Jack has some sort of technology going most of the time. It’s part of his way of dealing with his anxiety, coping with his environment and feeling in control. It’s not ideal, but he always needs to have at least some background noise. When outside, and depending on what we are doing his phone might go in his pocket. But that’s about it.

So there will always be something on in the background, whether that’s the TV, music or something playing on his phone like YouTube. But once he is building, his main focus is on the Lego. Jack loves to be outdoors, but when he’s inside it’s difficult to get him away from his Xbox or the TV. Lego is one of the best ways to do it.

Pride in his creations

We all take great pride in achieving something, your autistic children are no different. Autistic people often have difficulty showing emotions in a way that the “average” person understands, but they absolutely feel emotion. Regular readers will already know that Jack & Lily to great pride and excitement from showing off their works on here at Lily’s Art Gallery and Jack’s Documents.

He takes great pride in his Lego, which is why he now wants to make sure they are looked after. He’s still got plenty to build from Christmas and his birthday to keep him busy for a while. Here is what he currently has under his bed to keep them safe.

Answering the question

So to answer the original question. Is Lego good for Autistic children? I think the general answer is yes. Of course nothing is going to be right for everyone, but there’s plenty of evidence to say it’s a good thing. From our perspective it’s been a very good for Jack.

The popular Lego at the moment seems to be Hidden Side, you can find it here on amazon (affiliate link – if you happened to want to buy some Lego, I’d receive a small commission if you used this link) of course Lego is expensive, but there are cheaper alternatives out there that you can find in places likes Wilkinsons and Poundland, or on amazon – click here for another affiliate link.

Does anyone personally, or does their children use Lego a lot, and get as much out of it as Jack does? What other ways do you use as calming strategies? What other interests do people have that keeps them and their children engaged. There are so many ideas out there and I am always looking for new ones. Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t Mention The C Word

Don’t Mention The C Word

It’s a phrase that is used for many different things, but at the moment it can only mean one thing. Don’t mention the C word. Coronavirus. I’ve refrained from talking about it up to now, as I’ve felt no need to. But as the situation escalated here in the UK, today we had our first issue.

Lily has been complaining about pain in her ear. We rang up the doctor and were told they couldn’t see her, as they can’t offer face to face appointments. Instead we got a phone call from a doctor, who prescribed antibiotics despite not being sure what was wrong with her.

Yet Lily is still supposed to be going to school on Monday. It just seems like madness to me. Nowhere spreads a virus quite like a school. Maybe the situation will change by Monday, we will just have to wait and see.

Panic Buying

The panic buying that has been going on, has been a bit ridiculous. But you think about how mad people go at Christmas when the shops are shut for one day. We really shouldn’t be surprised. We went out to get some shopping done today, as it was payday. In three different stores, there’s was no paracetamol, hand sanitiser or hand wash to be seen. One store did have some toilet roll, which appears to be a miracle.

We are fortunate enough to have been able to go out today, and we have some support around us to help us out. That’s not the case for everybody. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there. I wish people had shown a bit more consideration, when buying enough toilet paper to last a year. And don’t even get me started on the fact it’s completely unnecessary for this virus. If diarrhoea was a symptom I’d understand it.

Looking forward

There’s a lot of uncertainty around at the moment, which of course is the last thing autistic people need. Jack especially concerns me. If the schools do get shut, how is he going to handle his routine being changed? The answer is probably badly, he’s already struggling at the moment, so the last thing we need is his routine disrupted. School holidays that we have time to prepare for are problematic enough.

This evening Lily has started to look really poorly. Hopefully it is just an ear infection, and the antibiotics will soon put things right. But the uncertainty caused by not being able to get her seen doesn’t help.

How’s everyone feeling about the Coronavirus? Do you feel prepared for it? Are you worried about how you would cope if there’s a “shutdown”? Or if you caught the virus? Or are you still feeling like it’s a case of, don’t mention the C word? I’d like to here your comments on the situation and how you’ve found things so far. I’m sure I will have plenty more to say over the coming days, weeks maybe even months. It’s going to be a difficult time for everyone, but for those who rely so heavily on routine, this could be the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.