I set some blog goals for June, so this month I decided I would write a blog post about my July goals. For both the blog and my personal life. For the record my June blog goals were to achieve 2500 website visitors, and 4500 page views. They felt like ambitious but achievable goals at the beginning of June, and I achieve them I did with 2 days to spare.
Setting goals are so important for many reasons, which is why I aim to set them for all areas of life in this post. What are these reasons? I’ll go through the reasons why I think it’s important not just to set the goals, but also to tell people you’ve set the goals.
They give you a sense of direction, and a target to aim for to keep you motivated.
Setting short term goals, and achieving them will give you the boost in confidence. That you need to achieve the bigger long term goals.
Setting a goal and telling someone about it, gives you some accountability.
Setting a goal, and then tracking your progress can give you motivation. I did this for June, and it worked for me. I felt good about the good days, and then the low days motivated be to put a bit more work in the next day.
I’ll start with my blog goals, as that’s the easy bit. I want a steady increase in website visitors and page views. New for this month will be a WordPress followers goal, after I finally got round to linking the website to WordPress. I’ve already got 21 followers, and I’d certainly like to increase that. So here are the blog goals…
3100 website visitors (100 a day)
5500 page views
50 WordPress followers
Go for a walk by myself 3 times a week
Cut down on drinking Pepsi
Read a book
Three fairly simple goals for this month, though finding the time and motivation for the walks might be challenging at the moment. I love me some Pepsi, unfortunately my waistline doesn’t. I’ve put a lot of weight on this year, and some changes need to be made. Lastly find time to read a book. I’m doing a lot of reading off of a screen these days, so I want to find that bit of time. To be able to settle down somewhere with an actual book.
Do you have any goals
They are my July goals, so it’s time for me to ask you about your goals. I know a lot of the bloggers set goals, but not all my readers are bloggers. So what about the rest of you? You can set a goal for anything, and it can be a really positive thing. Have a think, and if you have any goals in mind. Why not share them in the comments? I look forward to hearing them.
This latest post was fun to do, it is about nature art for kids. Basically we went out for a walk around our local nature reserve, which is great in its own right. This time though we took a box with us, to collect things off of the ground to use for an art project. I’m very much a believer in leaving nature alone, so only things on the ground were to be taken.
The kids were happy with this, as they both like to look after nature anyway. The ground was literally covered in sticks, so there wasn’t going to be a shortage of material. We had a nice walk around, and myself and Lily collected lots of material for the art project. Jack just wanted to walk around.
Time for the nature art for kids
The walk was fun, but once we got home it was time to think about the art project. We had a really good haul of stuff, so it was time for Lily to decide what she wanted to do.
This is what Lily decided to do. She cut out some printed letters, to spell Mummy, Daddy, Jack and Lily, and stuck them on some paper. She then drew some pictures. For the record, the drawings are of the Pokemon Bulbasaur (for Jack), A motorbike, a candle (form mum) and a bouncy car like you get on a play area.
Lily wanted to make a frame for the picture, and decorate it using the sticks that we found. So what we did was cut 2 pieces of cardboard to A4 size, and stuck the drawing onto one piece. Then cut the middle out of other piece of card, leaving a frame roughly 2cm thick. Lily stuck that onto the drawing, which left the sticks. Lily had a great time glueing then around the frame, with some PVA glue.
It left the finished article looking like this….
Lily was really happy with how it turned out, and I think it looks great. There’s still plenty of stuff left in the box too, so if anyone has any ideas of things we can do with it. We are very open to ideas, please leave a comment below. To see more of Lily’s arts and crafts, visit the Lily’s Art Gallery section.
I’ve compiled a list of “5 things you need to know about autism”. The idea being to give you some idea of what autism, and being autistic means. Whilst also dispelling some myths about autism. On with the list.
An autistic child turns into an autistic adult
If you think this sounds obvious I don’t blame you, but I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve heard. Won’t they grow out of it? The answer is no you don’t grow out of it, unfortunately that’s still not fully understood by some people.
Including the it seems our government etc.. as as soon as an autistic person hits 18, they seem to go completely off the radar. Services, care and benefits are suddenly stopped, and a transfer to adult services appears to be as easy as cracking an atom. When will this change? Hopefully sooner rather than later, but I won’t be holding my breath.
Autism isn’t a learning disability
An autistic person may or may not have a learning disability (and other diagnosis) alongside autism. What autism is, is a very complicated and disputed matter. The simple version of how I try and explain it is, it is a condition that affects communication and social interaction. Is that accurate, and the best way to put it? I don’t know.
Anyone can be autistic
For a long time autism was seen as a condition for white boys, one of the main reasons for this was the diagnosis procedure. It was tailored towards symptoms shown by white boys, leaving girls and people of different ethnic backgrounds completely overlooked. It’s now becoming understood that girls display symptoms differently, and progress is being made. 10 years ago our daughter probably wouldn’t have been diagnosed.
Not every autistic person is amazing at maths
More than once have I been asked, does that meat they are amazing at maths? When I’ve told people about Jack and Lily being autistic. No it doesn’t! Jack doesn’t do maths at all, and whilst maths is Lily’s favourite subject, she is still working behind her “expected level for her age” at the moment.
This applies for any other “special ability”, there are autistic people out there who have some unbelievable talents. Which should be celebrated, but I’ve also seen autistic people feeling bad about themselves for not appearing to have a special talent. That shouldn’t be the case, everyone is different and unique in their own way. Autistic or not.
You don’t need to feel sorry for parents of autistic children.
Thankfully no one has ever said, “oh I am sorry” to me, when I’ve told them my children are autistic. But it does happen a lot, as well as “awww” and the look of pity. My children aren’t ill! They find some things more difficult than others, but they are perfectly healthy.
There have been some difficult times, especially with Jack. I think they are coming with Lily, now she’s older her issues are becoming bigger. But I’m not sorry for who they are, so no one else should be.
They are my 5 things you need to know about autism, obviously there is a lot more to it. This I think is a good start for people who don’t know much about autism, to gain a bit of understanding.
Lastly I’d just like to mention that I’ve updated the website and integrated WordPress into the website. So I now have a nice new shiny like button at the end of posts, and a follow button to follow this blog on WordPress. Any support as always would be hugely appreciated, thanks.
Today is the latest instalment from our adventures baking in the kitchen. Another very simple, but messy recipe. Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares. I much prefer the marshmallow to the chocolate version, but I can’t remember ever actually making any myself. So this was a first for me, and I didn’t realise just how sticky the mixture was going to be.
300g mini marshmallows
180g rice krispies
Melt the butter in a large saucepan on low heat. My advice is the largest saucepan you’ve got, for when it’s time for the Rice Krispies.
Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.
Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.
Press the mixture into a greased square tin, and the flatten. The mixture is incredibly sticky, which is either fun or a nightmare, depending on your persuasion. We only had small tins, so spread the mixture over 2 tins.
Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the tin and then cut them into squares.
There you have the finished Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares, a great treat from just 3 ingredients. You might notice a slight pink colour too ours, as we used pink & white marshmallows. Lily was particularly happy with the colour, I was happy with the taste! These really are one of my favourites.
We are really enjoying making cakes at the moment, so myself, Jack and Lily are getting a list of possibly 20 of the best cakes. That we think we can make, and will make it a post, eventually making them all. So there will be a link to the recipe of each one, that’s the plan. Sounds easy when I say it. If anyone has any recommendations of good bakes to do with kids, we are open to suggestions. Leave a comment below.
I mostly like to talk about Jack & Lily when it comes to autism, but today I’m going to talk about myself. I will be answering the question what’s it like being an autism Dad? It’s not a term I generally use for myself. Going around saying I’m an autism dad (or mum/mom) is not for me. But I wanted to open up a bit, and show you what it’s like to be a parent to two autistic children. I don’t want it to come across as having a moan about what’s difficult either. Sure I will have a look at the difficult things, but I have plenty of reason to be happy too.
Before I get started, these are my experiences with my autistic children. Every autistic person is different, the experiences we’ve had as a family wont be the same for everyone.
Family and Sacrifices
First of all, we have been pretty lucky to have an understanding and supportive family around us. This is not always the case. I’ve heard some absolute horror stories, of people being completely abandoned by their family. Just because their child is autistic, and that doesn’t fit with how they want to be perceived.
This has not been the case for us, but there have still been challenges, and sacrifices made. We have missed lots of family outings. This is due to Jack’s anxiety, we are always invited, but whether Jack will go depends on the situation. Where is it? Who’s going? And how busy will it be? The last major one was my brothers wedding. We tried to prepare Jack for it, the day before the wedding he tried his suit on and said he was looking forward to it. Then on the day of the wedding, he just flat out refused to go.
Having to split the family
I ending up going with Lily, who gets a bit anxious in busy places, but settles if she’s with people she knows. Ideally I wanted Natalie and Jack to be there, I was disappointed they weren’t. But you can’t let these things get to you, it’s part of being an autism dad. We have to do what’s right for Jack. I rang later to see if he would come to the evening part, but he still said no.
Several birthdays and celebrations have been missed, or one of us have taken Lily. It’s nobodies fault, that’s just how it is. They’ve not all been missed, Jack has been out for family meals at restaurants etc.. Why can he do it sometimes, but not others? My best guess is it depends where his anxiety is? If he’s been having a difficult time at school etc, he will be less tolerant.
Some families have real trouble ever doing anything, so again we don’t have it so bad. What you do need though is a thick skin, and if you’re like me and don’t have that, you need to develop it. Natalie has been around disability her whole life, so she was somewhat used to it. I wasn’t ready for it at all.
When we go out, even on Jack’s best days he will have some little moments. We will have people stare at us. It’s happened every time up until now, and it will happen every time in the future. If Jack has a full on meltdown, then we will have people gawking at us, and no doubt some will be judging.
To give you an idea of a meltdown in public. Imagine being stood outside the giraffe pen at the zoo, trying to calm down a 6ft tall 13 stone child. Who is just growling, whilst kicking, punching, head butting and scratching you. Whilst people stop to have a look, and then if Jack’s catches someone looking at him, he will go for them. So I have the added stress of stopping him hurting other people.
Learning and improving
After many years of learning we are more prepared for things like days out, which can mean preparing weeks in advance for a trip out. A spur of the moment day trip is not on the agenda. Jack needs to be prepared for it well in advance, whilst Lily tends to be okay, she too is more comfortable with this approach.
We get social stories and PECS ready so Jack is fully aware of what to expect. Then whilst we are out, we have to really watch Jack’s anxiety and sensory input. Where necessary we will apply deep pressure to keep him modulated. This might involve holding his hand, whilst we walk around and squeezing his hand repetitively. Or stopping to squeeze his arms and legs, jumping up and down together. Holding each other’s hands and pushing into each other, or waving your arms around like some sort of demented jellyfish. Sounds fun right?
Like I Said you need a thick skin, and it’s no good being shy, or worrying about what other people think. Days out are always stressful, but we do enjoy ourselves. I certainly have no intention of hiding away, especially when the kids want to go out and explore as much as they can.
My own social life
Now I am going to talk about my own social life. To be honest I’ve barely had one, and that’s not completely down to the kids. I’ve had my own struggles with depression, and spent 10 years working full time. Then as soon as I’d come home Natalie would go to work, and I’d have the kids to look after. We basically had no money, so even if I felt like meeting up with friends, which wasn’t very often. I’d just wouldn’t be able too.
Due to circumstances, we’ve only ever really had my parents to call on as babysitters. Which we have done from time to time, and myself and Natalie have had opportunities to go out. I’ve never liked to ask too often though, as there have been stages where Jack has been a real handful. I’m in a better place now, and so is Jack so having a social life is a possibility, which again is more than some people have. Some have to do this all on their own.
Things to be proud of
Being an autism dad might mean you have to move the goalposts of what you hoped for your child, and that’s okay. Maybe you dreamed one day your son would play football for England, but it turns out them just being able to play with a group of other kids. Is something that can bring you just as much pride.
I have so many examples of these sort of things, that are simple everyday happenings for the average person. But mean the absolutely world to us. Things like Jack being able to walk into his school hall. Lily being able to walk into her classroom, with all her classmates. There are loads, but they can be for another post at another time.
Thank you for taking the time to read, and I just hope that it gives people a bit more awareness. Of what it’s like being an autism dad or mum, or autistic person.
I’m doing something a bit different today, and bringing you “Dad’s favourite posts”, from the first 3 months of Dad Does Autism. It’s not something O ever planned doing, or ever plan on doing again to be honest. If you have read my Setting up my blog website properly post. You will know that I have spent a lot of time editing this website.
That includes going over and editing, and in some cases almost completely re writing my first 3 months of posts. Some of the posts by my own admission weren’t very good, but I am much more proud of them now. I have been using Pinterest, and Twitter occasionally to promote these posts.
However I know that not all of the visitors to the blog. come from those 2 places. So I wanted to do a quick post, putting all the posts I personally think are worth going back to read.
There they are, the posts I’d recommend going back to read. The special interests one is my favourite and is almost a complete re write. If you do take the time to go back and read a one or two. I hope you enjoy them, thanks.
Hmm, I like lots of different foods from different countries and cultures. If I have to pick one meal I’d probably go with, creamy chicken pasta.
What is a moment in your life you are proud of?
I’m struggling to think of one to be honest, obviously I was proud to become a Dad. I am so proud of Jack and Lily, especially with how everything that’s stacked against them, that they are doing so well.
About 10 years ago I did a short story writing course, which I completed with top marks. I was pretty proud of that.
What is your favourite childhood memory, and why?
It’s not one particular memory, but all the Football (soccer) matches I played in. I really enjoyed playing for a team, which is something I did from the age of 8 through to 25. Before I hung to football boots up, and I haven’t played an “official game” since. It’s something I do really miss.
What is your favourite family tradition?
Erm I don’t think we’ll really have a family tradition as such.
Why do you write?
It is my escape, and always has been. When I write fiction, I lose myself in what I am trying to create. It takes me away from what’s happening in the real world, and there have been times in my life when that was desperately needed.
Though slightly different, writing like this works much the same way. I immerse myself in what I am doing, and it also gives the opportunity to vent my feelings. I tend to bottle things up, and I’m not much of a talker . The written word is how I show my emotions.
My Questions to the nominees
What was your first job?
If you could be any other animal other than a human, what would you choose to be?
What is your favourite genre of music?
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you could choose one blogger to guest post on your blog, who would you choose?
Tom @ The Doubting Thomas Blog, a dad blogging about family life and being a parent. He writes really well, and is currently doing a great “interview with a parent” series off posts that are well worth a look.
Lauren @ Bournemouth Girl is a creative lifestyle blogger with a passion for stationery, who has lots of great posts on bullet journaling. I’m even sort of attempting one, you should check them out if it sounds like something you’d enjoy doing.
Luke @ the cask connoisseur is one of my favourite bloggers at the moment. There are not many young men out there blogging that I’ve seen. So Lukes blog about his passion for beer and whiskey, is really something different. He goes into great detail of the history behind the industry, and is a fascinating blog well worth checking out.
Claire @ Our Favourite Jar has a great blog, I highly recommend checking her different journal prompts posts out. I’ve certainly finding them very helpful, getting me to answer questions I hadn’t thought about, but needed to be answered.
Okay that is all, to be honest I always find it awkward nominating people. I hope these 4 great bloggers don’t mind. Thanks again to Jaya, and don’t forget to make a visit to Nin Chronicles, you really won’t regret it.
I have done a lot of activity blog posts with Lily recently, but not with Jack. So today we put that right with Jack’s Scooby snacks. Jack never misses a trick, and wanted to know when he can make cakes for the website. Normal cakes won’t do for Jack, so he came up with the idea for Scooby snacks.
Jack’s Scooby snacks are basically just your normal chocolate cake, cut into the shape of a bone, and then the option of decorating with icing. So here is the simple recipe.
75g plain flour (sifted)
25g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
Ready to roll icing
We used a shallow square tin to make the cake.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, add the eggs in one at a time, whilst sitting in the flour and cocoa power. Gently fold the mixture together until it is ready to transfer to the tin. Bake at 180c for 25-30 minutes.
It’s as simple as that! Other than helping him weigh the ingredients out, Jack was perfectly capable of doing it all himself. Which for me is the important thing. Do really simple recipes that Jack and Lily can do without any help, when they have mastered them, try something a bit more complicated.
Making Jack’s scooby snacks
Once the cake has been baked and cooled, it is time to make the bone shapes. We have loads of shaped cake cutters, and I managed to find a bone shaped one. Which made things easy for Jack, if you don’t have one it’s not too difficult to cut a bone shape out by hand. Obviously depending on age and ability of the child, the adult may have to take over for that part.
Jack decided he wanted to leave some of the Scooby Snacks plain, and decorate some. He used ready to roll icing, and used the bone shaped cutter, to cut it to shape. As you can see from the photo below, Jack’s didn’t roll the icing out much. You might prefer to roll in a bit flatter! For the finishing touches Jack used some different coloured icing pens, to add a touch of colour.
Jack was very pleased with what he had made, and Lily was very impressed too. Which Jack was pleased with, though he tried to hide it I caught his smile at Lily’s praise.
I’m in the baking groove now, so there will probably be more foodie posts to come, as it’s something we all enjoy doing. The big question though, would you have your Scooby Snack plain, or with the icing? Let us know in the comments below, thanks.
A subject I see talked about a lot on social media, is autism and food. It seems a lot of autistic people, especially children, have a very limited diet. There are different reasons why this might be the case, and it can go to extremes. A few years ago whilst being shown around a school, myself and Natalie bumped into parents of another autistic child. We had a quick conversation where they told us, their 7 year old son would only eat baby food.
Thankfully we’ve never had a problem with Jack, who I often refer to as the human dustbin. He doesn’t like spicy food, but other than that he eats pretty much anything. Lily on the other hand, is a different story. Before she had her own autism diagnosis, her “fussy” eating was a major concern for us. Now we know she is autistic as well, and that this seems to be fairly common. We have been slowly trying to expand her diet. So I’m going to look at what she eats, and how we are trying to expand her diet.
What Lily Eats
Like most kids she’s more than happy eating sweets, chocolate, cake and crisps. There are limits though, nothing sour, no jelly babies, only homemade icing, and only ready salted and quavers and wotsits.
The one good thing is Lily likes her fruit and veg, she will eat most fruits, other than oranges and other citrus fruit. She loves peas, carrots, broccoli, sweet corn and potato. After that though things get more limited, here’s a quick list of what she will eat.
tinned beans & sausages
chicken nuggets (refusing recently)
burger (only recently)
She will also eat a few different cereals, until recently the milk had to be in a separate cup. Everything has to be plain, she won’t have sauce on anything, other can ketchup and gravy as long as they are in a separate bowl and not on the plate. Compared to what I’ve heard from others that’s not a bad list. It has taken some time and effort to slowly introduce new foods, or sometimes like recently. Lily randomly asked for a burger when Jack and I were having some.
How to approach getting them to try new food
The way you approach getting your child to try new foods is very important, and that goes for any child not just an autistic one like Lily. I think we should be well past the days of, eat that or you’ll go hungry, that’ll teach them method. As my dad used to tell me, he was told by his dad. He half threatened that with me and my brother, but never followed it through.
When it comes to autism and food, you have to take the right approach. Just like with everything else with autism. The way we approach it with Lily, is the slow and steady approach. We always offer her everything that the rest of us have, and give her the choice to say yes or no. We get food in for her to try and offer it her. Only once, if she says no, leave it and try again another time. This has worked well with the fruit and vegetables. Keep showing her the foods and wait for her to become interested in them herself.
You never know what they are going to ask to try, I never expected her to ever want a burger. Just keep trying and it will take as long as it takes, Autism and food is not a subject that can be rushed. Getting Lily to learn to cook foods has also been helpful, she really enjoys it and it encourages her to touch different foods. Often it’s not the taste that’s the problem, if they won’t try it, how can it be? It’s the look, the feel and the texture of the food. Until recently I had to pick every last bit of cheese off of her pizza, before Lily would eat it. Now she eats the whole thing, perhaps making her own pizza helped with that? Click to see Lily’s pizza post!
Unfortunately like a lot of things with autistic children, there can be setbacks. Lily has visibly been finding things more difficult, the longer the current “lockdown” situation has gone on. As much as I’ve tried to keep her entertained, she struggles without her routine just like Jack does, and is missing her friends from school.
She has been saying she doesn’t know what she wants to eat a lot, and saying no to a lot of the things she’d normally eat. Thankfully pizza and roast potatoes and vegetables still always get a yes. I hope this is because of the anxiety and uncertainty of the current situation, and she will eventually go back to eating how she was.
We will have to see how that goes, taking the same approach as with new food. Offering it with no pressure, and letting her take her time. Are there any parents of autistic children in the same boat as us? Has the lockdown brought problems like this to the surface? And how have you been dealing with them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. That’s all from me on autism and food, thanks for reading.
If you follow me on twitter, you will likely know I get very excited by the birds we have nesting in our garden. Lily wanted to make a plastic bottle bird feeder, so she could feed them. I know we have at least 3 nests in the garden, 2 robin nests and one blackbird. I suspect there may be a fourth, but I’ve not confirmed it yet.
So we decided to make a plastic bottle bird feeder, I’ve never done it before so we went for a very simple design. We got a empty 2 litre bottle, and I cut out a big hole about 3/4s of the way down. Then I made two small holes about 3/4s of the way up, and put a stick through. Then tied some string to each end so it can be hung up. Lily being Lily, she wanted to decorate it. So I printed of some pictures of birds, for her to colour in. Then we taped them onto the bottle, before putting in the seed.
We didn’t have much seed, ideally it needs quite a bit more in the bottle. I’m also trying to find a tray for it to go in to make it easier for the birds, especially the bigger ones to get at the seed.
We also made a much easier alternative for young children to make. Lily pretty much made this one herself, using a piece of cardboard, bird seed and some peanut butter. Lily cut the card board into a square, then she mixed the peanut butter and bird seed in a bowl. She then spread the mixture on the cardboard, it’s as easy as that.
I used a whole punch to make a hole at the top, and tie some string through, so it can hung up if needed. Lily was really excited to put them out in the garden, I just hope the birds like them now!
Have you ever made a DIY bird feeder, if so how did it go? Did the birds use it? Let us know in the comments.