Spending time in the garden

Spending time in the garden

Spending time in the garden is always nice, right now it’s a lifesaver. Something I had planned to do this spring, was finish the garden. At one time it was an overgrown mess, but last year with the help of my parents, we got it looking pretty good for the most part.

This year I want to keep on top of it, and finish it off. The one major obstacle, other than me possibly breaking my big toe (click here if you haven’t read about that calamity yet) is we have bramble growing out from under our cherry blossom tree, which is proving impossible to get rid off. So I just need to try and stay on top of it.

Our garden

Things have started growing and flowering over the last couple of weeks, which has been a welcome sight, when the garden is pretty much all we get to look at most of the time. Some plants have still got a lot of growing to do yet, and a bit of weeding needs to doing. I’ve put one new plant in this year. I would like to fill a few more of the bare spots we’ve got.

I want to get Jack involved in helping me. He enjoys the allotment and growing stuff at school, but as is often the case, that is a school thing. So when you ask him to do it at home, he says no that’s for school. Which is why I chuckled when they sent school work home. Unsurprisingly he’s not accepting it if you say it’s school work. So I’m trying to get him doing learning stuff, without ever mentioning the S word.

Garden 2

Despite my injured I got back it there and did a little bit of gardening. I was careful not to over do it, my foot is feeling better, but my big toe is still a bit sore. Fingers crossed it will be back to normal soon, spending time in the garden is the most enjoyable thing at the moment. Whether it be the gardening, playing with the kids or just relaxing out there. It’s so important for my own mental health, as it is for everyone in the family. The most eventful things that has happened is the kids letting the Guinea Pigs our on the lawn, which led me to think one got stuck under a tree root. Thankfully the she was just hiding and got out by herself. Still it had me stressed for a bit.

Guinea pig under root

I even ventured out for a little walk today, as Jack asked to go for one. Considering the problems we had with just getting him outside last week, I didn’t want to say no. We didn’t go far, just 30 minutes around the village. It was nice though, we took it steady and it was nice and quiet. So overall it’s been a positive day. Have you been making the most of your garden? If you don’t have a garden, what do you instead? Make the most of your once a day exercise allowance?

Dad Does Autism

When stupidity added to an already difficult situation

When stupidity added to an already difficult situation

It is already a difficult situation. Not just in our household, but for everyone. So the last thing you want to do is make things worse. This is when stupidity added to an already difficult situation. My own stupidity. So with everything going on, being in lockdown and all of finding the situation hard. What did I do?

On Saturday I decided to cut the grass on the front garden. It needed doing, and it was a nice day for it. Some friends and family, and followers on twitter already know how this story ends. It’s not a pleasant one, but here goes.

The incident in question

I got about halfway, where we have a big cherry blossom tree. The main root sticks out and breaks through the grass. I’ve never had a problem in the 6/7 years we’ve lived in the house, but this time I somehow ended up running my foot over with the lawnmower.

Im still not entirely sure how I managed it, but it has left my big toe on my right foot in a bit of a mess. It could have been a lot worse though, the big toe took the brunt of it, and I escaped without any cuts. I do have a toe that is about 3 times the size than it should be, and the nail took some damage too.

The aftermath

Since then I’ve had to take it easy, which isn’t ideal when you have two autistic kids who are finding things more and more difficult. Playing sports in the garden with Lily has been one of the major things keeping us both going. Suddenly I couldn’t get my trainer on my foot.

It has got me down over the last couple of days, add in to that it was Easter, and then today is my Mum’s birthday. So I’m now stuck at home and injured as well, during a time that would normally be all about family. I’ve found it difficult. Gladly I feel a bit more upbeat today, I dug out my old work trainers, which are much more roomy and I could get on. So I went and stood in the garden for a bit of fresh air and sunshine. Though the half mowed grass was a reminder of the incident.

I’ve got my fingers crossed my foot will start to feel better soon, but we will have to wait and see. The fun activities with the kids, and the jobs I had planned to do, like clearing out the garage and jobs around the garden. Have all got more difficult to do, but after weeks of having to stay at home, I really can’t face sitting around doing nothing for too long.

Dad Does Autism

Lily’s Easter Art Extravaganza

Lily’s Easter Art Extravaganza

Today I want to share with you all, some Easter art Lily has done. Keeping the kids busy, entertained and happy during this “lockdown” isn’t always easy. It’s a very difficult and confusing situation we find ourselves in, but one thing that Lily always finds happiness in is art. She had already planned on doing lots of art for Easter, before all this happened.

The situation has given her lots of time to work on her Easter art, and has been so important to help her cope with what’s going on. So let’s get on with the art. The first set of pictures are various Easter bunnies and Easter Eggs.

bunnies & eggs

The next set of pictures are more Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, with the use of some craft items as well.

craft art

The last pictures include paintings of spring scenes. Lily enjoys painting most of all, and had great fun creating these paintings. The one with the pink flamingo is my personal favourite. Lily would like to know which one is your favourite. Leave a comment to let her know.

spring scenes

Myself and Lily really hope you enjoyed looking at her art work, and that you get as much pleasure out of them as we do. If you would like to see more of Lily’s art work, you can see more in the Lily’s Art Gallery section of the website. Click here to go straight there.

Last of all we would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter, if you don’t celebrate Easter, the. A Happy Sunday. It’s an unusual Easter, usually we would visit family. Obviously we can’t do that this year, so we probably do a video call instead. We will still have a fun though, and enjoy eating too much chocolate! Happy Easter everyone.

Dad Does Autism

A Dark Lord’s Tale – origin story part 1

A Dark Lord’s Tale – origin story part 1

  (As has been promised for a while now, the first short story on Dad Does Autism. The origin story of a character I created in the early/mid 2000s (I forget exactly when).It was for an online game called e-fedding. For those of you that aren’t wrestling nerds. You created a character and wrote storylines for them, and competed weekly against an opponent. It brought out my passion for writing, and I learnt a lot. So here goes, for the first time in 12 years…)

Origin Story – Part one

Everyone needs an origin story, so here’s mine. It was Sunday afternoon by the time I awoke. I rolled over and saw Daisy still asleep. It had been a late night, but she still looked amazing. I could just see her pretty face poking out from her long golden hair, as she lay on her front. How I manage to keep her sticking around, I really don’t know.

     As I rolled out of bed, a quick look in the mirror, my make up wasn’t too bad following a night’s sleep. Touch up the white face, black around the eyes, and redo the black lipstick. Then I’d look the part, that’s what I decided last night anyway. I don’t normally wear make up. Today was a big day. First I needed a cup of tea. My gran always said there’s no better way to start the day than a nice cup tea. I can think of a few things, but gran wouldn’t approve. I went through to the kitchen and put the kettle on.

     “Daisy? Have we got anything to eat?” 

     I could hear her groaning, and see her moving around as she started to wake. The advantages of a one bedroom flat, you’re always within shouting distance. I could see Daisy was now sat up, and rubbing at her eyes.

     “I doubt it. You’ve been too busy messing around, trying to become this Dark Lord thing, in that silly club of yours. Instead of doing something useful, like the doing the shopping while I’m out at work.”

The kettle had boiled, so I made a couple of cups and took one in to Daisy. I checked myself in the mirror. Chest out, belly in. Dad bods are in nowadays anyway apparently.

     “I’ve told you before. It is not a club, it’s a cult. The position of Dark Lord is very serious. All the important people are in it.”

     “Will it pay the rent and put food on the table?”

I could sense Daisy was not entirely convinced, but she doesn’t know the power the cult posses. Being a Dark Lord will open up lots of doors. Who needs a CV when you’ve got a secret handshake.

    “The position will bring with it certain privileges and opportunities. Trust me this will be great for us.”

     Daisy just smiled and kissed me with her soft lips.

     “If it makes you happy. How did you even get yourself nominated for an important position?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I just think I would want someone a bit more organised, someone with experience of holding important positions. You’ve not had a job since that incident with the special sauce at McDonalds.”

    “Yeah, well I have other qualities.”

    “You do?”

      I could have done without Daisy putting me on the spot, though I guess it was practise for the interview. She’s smart. I could see Daisy looking at me waiting for an answer, I started to get flustered, but didn’t want to show it. What would I say when asked what qualities I had? I had absolutely no idea.

    “Take your time.”

  Now I really was getting flustered. I needed to get into a Dark Lord’s mindset. What is a Dark Lord’s mindset? I have no idea. Do you have to be evil and stuff? I just like the title and pension benefits. No matter, I’d google it and wing it like I normally do. Just like now.

    “I’ve got Dark Lord qualities, you wouldn’t understand.”

 Daisy had that wry smile on her face, the one where she knows I’m winging it, but doesn’t want to put me down.

    “I wouldn’t worry about it too much, I get the feeling your going to be perfect for the role. I can see it now, Timothy Purvis, the Dark Lord. Here I got you this.”

   Daisy pulled a bag out from under the bed, and passed it over to me. I always love a surprise. This was the best one ever. A full length black leather trench coat. I couldn’t believe it.

     “This is perfect!” I must have sounded like an excited child, but I was so happy. I desperately wanted one for this interview. You have to look the part, but I couldn’t afford one.  I gave Daisy the biggest hug I’d ever given anyone. No matter what I knew she always had my back.

   “Now go get ready.”

Time for a water fight!

Time for a water fight!

A water fight has been the end result of a difficult week. We have had a problem getting Jack to come outside for the last few days. He first said he didn’t want to go outside on Monday, it’s not unusual to have days where he doesn’t want to go out. So I just left him, as trying to force the issue would be counterproductive. After the same thing happened on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday day, we started to become concerned.

Jack eventually told us, that he wouldn’t go outside because the coronavirus is there. We told him it was perfectly safe to go in the garden, but unsurprisingly that wasn’t enough to convince Jack. I reached out on twitter, and got lots of responses with ideas to try and get Jack outside. I’d like to thank everybody for their help. We will be trying everything, even if not now, it is likely Jack will need reassurance again before this is all over.

Plan A

The first idea was to use our Guinea Pigs to get him outside. He always loves it when we get them out, especially if we just let them roam free on the garden. It worked to get him outside for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately it was a lovely sunny day, which meant there was lots of wasps, hornets, bees etc.. buzzing about. Jack hates anything with a buzz, and had a fear of wasps after a nasty encounter with a wasps nest at his grandads house when he was younger.

Jack has spotted a wasp!

So now we are fighting on two fronts. Back to the advice from twitter. Another social story, but concentrating on going in the garden is something we have looked at. Someone also shared this book with me, which you can read by clicking here.

Starting fun activities we know Jack will enjoy. Mentioning to him what we are doing, and leaving the doors open for him to join in if he wants too, with no pressure or demand on him. Lily wanted to have a water fight, and whilst we weren’t going to directly ask Jack if he wanted to join in. Lily as always soon went for the direct approach, and asked him to join in.

As usual, Lily had more success than we do, and Jack came outside. We did it late afternoon, with the idea that their would be less “buzzing” things about. It was a resounding success, Jack stayed outside for quite some time having a water fight with Lily, and even watering the plants in the garden.

Time for a water fight

The thing that really made me laugh, was that the two kids that will scream blue murder and the mere mention of washing their hair. Decided to tip water over their own head, after the photo below they did it with a bucket.

They then turned their attention on me. I absolutely hate water fights. I hate the feel of the water. I tried to make a run for it, but there was no escape.

It was great to see Jack not only outside, but also having a great time playing with his sister. It gives me optimism that we can keep getting him outside, in the sun and fresh air. As long we make it fun and do it on his terms.

Dad Does Autism

Dad Does Autism blog checking in

Dad Does Autism blog checking in

It’s been tough going so far this week. I’m trying not to let things get to me, but I’m finding it impossible not to worry. The Dad Does Autism blog is certainly helping me keep my sanity, but myself and Natalie both have underlying health conditions. Obviously there is concern for our own health, but the impact one of us being hospitalised on the kids would be huge.

Obviously it wouldn’t be easy on any children, but the difficulty in understanding and communicating, means Jack at 12 years old will find it as confusing as a much younger child. Unfortunately we’ve had some experience with this. A couple of years ago Natalie fell and hit her head, it quite quickly became apparent things weren’t right. So we called for an ambulance.

Seeing his mum taken away in ambulance convinced Jack she was going to die. I didn’t realise this at first, he became very quiet and withdrawn. I thought it was the shock of what happened, but Natalie came home later that day and we told him everything was OK. Over the next few days Jack didn’t get any better, and started lashing out. We managed to get him to communicate, that he still thought Mum was going to die. It took a few days using PECS and social stories, but eventually he was happy that mum was not going to die.

Talking about coronavirus

We have talked with the kids about the coronavirus a little bit, they knew the reason they were of school. So we told them there’s a chance we could get poorly, but most people get better. Lily doesn’t seem to phased by it, she doesn’t really understand what it means. Jack on the other hand, keeps getting worked up about it. He’s started saying it’s a zombie virus, and we will all be turned into Zombies.

I’m guessing someone’s said something in a YouTube video. The trouble with letting Jack do things on his own, if he sees a video like that, he will take it literally. The BBC news or people joking around on YouTube, Jack has no concept of the difference. So I’m currently trying to convince there’s not hoards of Zombies roaming the Derbyshire countryside.

Trying to cope

As I said, I’ve started to struggle mentally. So I’m now making a concerted effort to get back on track. Getting outside and doing the daily exercise had ground to a halt. So I’m back out there today, playing some sports with Lily. I’ve always liked to play sport, rather then just do what I call mundane exercise. I don’t mind a walk around somewhere nice, but jogging and going to the gym I’ve always hated.

Then there’s my autism blog, it’s certainly been more difficult to keep up the writing, with the kids always at home. I have managed to do a bit most days, but there needs to be a bit more general organisation. So we can all be a bit more productive. Getting the kids to go to bed, and to sleep is become more and more challenging. They just aren’t getting the stimulation during the day to wear them out. Especially Jack, who has been up into the early hours the last few days. We are trying, but being so limited with what you can do, it’s proving difficult.

Exciting things to come

There are a couple of things I am excited about. I have started writing my first short story, that I plan to share on here. It’s about halfway done. It will be the first time I’ve wrote a piece of fiction and shared it with people in over 12 years. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time, but I’m so happy this autism blog has given me both the platform and the confidence to do it.

Natalie is also planning to write a piece for the website, which I am really pleased about. It will be about how the relationship between Jack and Lily was built, the strategies used etc.. Natalie really is the “expert” with this stuff, I spent a lot of time at work in the early years and Natalie did a phenomenal job with Jack and Lily. She doesn’t have much confidence with the writing side, so with my help with that side, she’s happy do it. As always teamwork is vital to our success. Hopefully that will be on its way soon.

Dad Does Autism

FGTeeV giant TeeV review

FGTeeV giant TeeV review

Something different today as I’m doing a FGTeeV giant TeeV review. I’ve been feeling much better since my last post. The weather has been decent, and a bit of time in the garden has been good. But today I want to talk about the fact that, Lily loves FGTeeV, if you don’t know what that is, it’s a channel on YouTube. As seems to be the way with kids these days, YouTube is where Lily finds her entertainment, and her favourite celebrities.

We decided at the weekend to get Jack & Lily a treat each to cheer them up. Like I’ve previously mentioned, we’ve all been finding it hard. So a little treat to boost morale, I felt was a good idea. For the record I treated myself to 3 bottles of beer. I don’t drink a lot, but I do enjoy an occasional beer.

FGTeeV giant TeeV

Jack chose some add on pack for a game on his Xbox. Lily wanted an FGTeeV giant TeeV set. She has wanted it since Christmas, but it wasn’t on sale in the UK at the time. So she had been saving a voucher she got for Christmas, which she used for this. As this was more expensive than what Jack got. The delivery man came calling this morning, a lot sooner than I expected. It’s safe to say Lily was super excited.

She finally calmed down to take that photo, at first she was running around shouting “oh my god, oh my god”. It’s safe to say that Lily loves FGTeeV! Next of course came opening it. As is the fashion at the moment, you open the big box to find lots of little surprises inside each in their own package to open. Lily has had similar things for Ryan’s World (also on YouTube), my initial reaction was you get more for your money with this one. This costs £39.99 in Smyths at the moment.

A review

As you can see above, you get a big figure, a smaller figure, a small plushie that makes a noise and a keychain plushie. You also get a little squishy , a little flashlight and some stickers. You get the TV box to keep the toys in, with the added aspect of the enjoyment of opening each one. There are different ones to collect, with smaller and cheaper option to get more figures.

Lily was over the moon with it. Which is the important thing. She needed cheering up and it certainly worked. This was a nice and quick little blog post to write. It’s not the easiest time to be doing this, but for my own sanity I’m desperate to keep writing. Finding the time has been challenging, but I’m just about managing. Even if this was not how I’d planned things originally. It’s important for everyone to find things to keep you going in these difficult times. Stay safe everybody.

Dad Does Autism

Anyone else starting to crack up?

Anyone else starting to crack up?

So it’s basically been 2 weeks of everyone being at home, and not being able to go out. So the question I want to ask is, anyone else starting to crack up? Or is it just me? I’ve got a lot of things I can be getting on with to pass the time, but for the last couple of days I’ve struggled for motivation.

What really hit home yesterday, was I saw it in Lily for the first time. She didn’t want to go outside, she didn’t want to do much of anything. She just sort of moped about, looking fed up. I was in a funny moody, Natalie and the kids would tell you I was being annoying. Basically I was making silly noises, and doing stupid things. It’s something I do quite a lot, I get a sort if release from it. Yesterday was over the top and I got on everyone’s nerves.

In the end we went for a little drive around locally. I’m not sure where you stand with just having a bit of a drive. We didn’t get out anywhere, we just had a bit of a drive. Is that ok? I’m not really sure, but I needed to see some different scenery for my sanity. Everyone else felt the same, and I personally felt much better when we got back. I think everyone did. Jack has started to get more and more agitated, by not being able to follow his normal routines. He’s become very argumentative, but we are just about keeping a lid on it. I just wish I had some answers for him, the uncertainty is the worst part for everybody. For Jack it is even more of a problem.

So is anyone else starting to crack up? Or are you doing ok so far? If you are starting to feel it, what are you doing to try and cope with it? Any ideas are welcome, please leave a comment below.

Dad Does Autism

Jack and Lily had a sleepover

Jack and Lily had a sleepover


Originally I had planned a post about autism awareness being 365 days a year, not a day, week or month. But something far bigger happened. Jack and Lily had a sleepover!

I will quickly mention it, as today April 2nd is autism awareness day. I am very much for raising awareness. There are people in the autistic community, who get a bit angry about it. That’s not me, I’m far too relaxed as an individual for that. I don’t get angry about puzzle pieces, or saying “with autism” rather than autistic. Or any of the other stuff people get riled up about. I have my preferences, and respect other people’s preferences. Respect is the important word. Respecting each other is the most important thing.

The world has become more aware of autism over the last few years, but there is still some way to go. The keyword for me is acceptance. It is ok people being aware, but unless there is acceptance it’s pretty meaningless. Autistic people are a diverse bunch, who offer so many different things to our world. My dream is a world where autistic people are universally accepted and embraced for who they are.

Jack and Lily had a sleepover

Last night the most remarkable thing happened in our house. Something I never though would ever happen. I went up stairs to check if Jack and Lily were asleep, to find Lily in Jack’s room. They told me they were having a sleepover. I checked with Jack 3 times to make sure he was ok with it, and it wasn’t just Lily forcing the issue.

He seemed genuinely happy with it, which is amazing considering a year ago he didn’t even want her in his room. I was expecting Jack to get tired and decided he wanted her out at some point. Considering Lily had filled his bed with her pillows, teddy’s and her blanket. It would have really upset Lily if that had happened. But the teddy’s and the dogs aka the Snuggly’s were all having a sleepover too. The next time I checked them they were both asleep, and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Showed them this photo this morning & they love it more than me.

They are both missing their friends from school. This current situation seems to be bringing them closer together than ever before. This morning Lily was pretending to be Jack’s teacher, and was getting him to do some work. With more success than I’ve been managing too! They were then playing some sort of Easter game up until dinner, when Jack wanted some time on his own. It is by a hell of a long way the most time they’ve ever spent together, and got along the whole time. It has been so amazing to witness.

Delayed processing as part of autism

Delayed processing as part of autism

So we are into the second week of the kids being at home. Since my last post things haven’t been going quite so well. Jack has delayed processing, understanding delayed processing as part of autism, and how it effects Jack, was something that took us a long time to get our heads around.

To put it in broad terms, an autistic person may experience a delayed response to sensory stimuli. What this means using Jack as an example. When I ask Jack a question, there is usually no response. It’s as if he hasn’t heard the question. I normally ask again, as Jack usually has a TV or some music on. Just in case he didn’t hear. But it is highly likely he did hear the first time.

Echolalia and learned responses

He just needs a lot more time to process what has been said, than you would typically expect from a child. Jack can give immediate responses, but these are what are called learned responses. Which is where his echolalia comes in. Jack can learn a conversation, and repeat it the next time the same situation comes up. But this is like someone on auto pilot. You are not getting his true thoughts and feelings. We have had many “disagreements” with “professionals” who have worked with Jack regarding this.

Getting Jack to express those true thoughts and feelings, hasn’t been an easy process. We are getting there slowly, and Jack is much better for it. Learning ourselves when to use social stories and PECS took time. They are so important and have been vital to Jack’s progress, and his ability to communicate.

Visual Aids - a picture exchange communication system folder
One of Jack’s PECS folders

As a parent it’s not easy to always remember this. Sometimes you can forget that a simple question like, what do you want for dinner? Is not so simple for an autistic child. Jack has to be given options to choose from, otherwise you just get a blank look and maybe a “don’t know”. Start with options of food he knows, even showing him the options, and he can give you an answer fairly quickly. Even in a situation of high anxiety or meltdown, though it’s likely he will respond with nods of the head rather than words.

Delayed response to situations

This delayed processing as part of autism, also comes into play, with situations that happen. Which is why it comes as no surprise to me, that Jack was fine with the sudden change last week. But this week he is finding it very difficult. His anxiety has gone through the roof, and he’s become tense and argumentative. It’s like it has taken him a week to process what is happening, and everything that has changed.

We are now prepared for this, and a week isn’t actually a long time. In the past Jack has had spikes of behaviours that stemmed from an incident that has happened months before. Which left us and everyone else baffled, until we finally worked it out with Jack. Knowing about the delayed processing, and just how long the delay can be has certainly been a great help. Now when Jack is unhappy, we know to trace back for months to find the solution if necessary.

What’s happening now?

Jack finding things difficult this week, in one sense can be a good thing. It’s only taken a week for him to start to process what’s going on. So we can now work on bringing his anxiety down, and getting him in a happy place. 

The one issue with that of course is these are unprecedented times. We don’t have the answers to the questions he wants answering. When can he go back to school? I don’t know. Will respite be back soon? I have no idea. When can we go and see his grandparents and their dog Mack? I don’t have clue. Just like I have no answers for him when he asks about going bowling, or to the cinema.

He is getting frustrated that I don’t have any answers for him, and he’s becoming very argumentative at times. To be honest I’m getting frustrated myself, the last two days have been hard work. There’s no break from it either, no chance to recharge. The outlook isn’t looking good for that break coming any time soon either.

Jack was fairly calm and relaxed Tuesday evening, so hopefully that’s a good sign. When his anxiety has been down he’s been really good. He’s been playing with Lily more than usual, and spending more time out of his room than usual. I guess being at home all the time, staying in your room all day gets a bit dull. One positive of this coronavirus stuff, is we are doing activities together more than we would usually, which is nice. 

Free sensory guide

Lastly I would like to point you in the direction of autismspectrumteacher.com where you can currently get a free 12 page guide to “Meeting Sensory Needs” by clicking here.

It is aimed at teachers in the school environment, but having read it there is certainly value in it for parents as well. As we know only to well with Jack, and are beginning to learn with Lily. Meeting a child’s sensory needs is so important. Get that right, and everything else will start to fall into place.

There’s some great information and ideas in the guide, which is the first chapter of an upcoming book. Though it’s based in the classroom, you shouldn’t assume your child’s school is always aware and doing these things. So arm yourself with information to take to them, that’s what we have always done and will continue to do for Jack and Lily.