Interview with an Autistic Child

Interview with an Autistic Child

One of the things I find most difficult to try and explain to people, is what it is like trying to hold a conversation with my son Jack. That’s where the inspiration for, interview with an autistic child came from. Nothing I could ever write, could capture Jack’s personality and his “autism” as this has. Me talking will be in bold, and inside Jack’s answers there will be comments from me, these will appear in brackets and italic, to be easily distinguished. I apologise if it gets a bit confusing, but that is kind of the point of this hah.

I explained to Jack what we were doing, and what it was for before we stared. He was very happy to do it, indicated by the huge grin on his face. Jack loves showing off, and as with most kids these days it seems. He wants to be famous online, YouTube, TikTok etc. So jumps at any chance to be part of this blog. So let’s get on with the interview.

Interview with an autistic child
Jack training to be a ninja

What is your name?

You know.

Yeah, but what is it?

Jack. That’s a dumb question you know.

How old are you?

You know.

I know, but the people reading don’t. So you need to tell them (-pause-)how old are you?

I told you, you dummy.

No you didn’t.

What? You know, come on.

Yes, but you need to answer the question for the readers.

(At this point Jack is giving me a funny look, so I whisper to him 12 and he nods his head and we move on.)

Who do you live with?

You know, dumbass. (You might have noticed there’s a trend to Jacks answers.)

I know. But you need to answer for the people reading, remember? Because they don’t know.

Guess who’s over you’re head?

(At this point Jack has put one of his favourite teddy’s on my head, and wants me to guess which one it is. If you aren’t aware of the snuggly’s you can read about them by clicking here. A little panda has been added to the gang, so we went through this 4 times before I repeated the question.)

You know dummy. You say them I will nod.

Mummy (Jack nods), Daddy (Jack nods), Lily (Jack nods), anyone else? Biscuit. (Result! An independent answer!! Biscuit is our pet guinea pig.) And you know who else? Who? The Snuggly’s (You can never forget the Snuggly’s.)

Do you like going to school?

Yes. (That’s all Jack had to say about that.)

Do you have friends at school?

(Jack nods his head.)

What are their names?

(We have to wait for a minute, as Jack wants me to watch something that happens in PokeMon, that is on the TV.)
Jimmy, Alfie, Bonnie, Jack, Dawid, Jacob.

What are your favourite things?

(Jack points at the TV for Pokemon.) Minecraft, SCP’s don’t forget about that.

Anything else?

That’s all I can think of.

What about dogs?

Yes. (Jack nods his head and makes dog noises).

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I don’t know. I’m already a Pokemon trainer, I want to become a Pokemon master.

Thoughts on the interview

That is the interview with an autistic child brought to you by myself and Jack. Some of the key things, that I believe it shows far better than I could ever try and explain are. Just a simple question, isn’t so simple. If Jack knows you already know the answer, he just doesn’t see why he needs to tell you.

Staying focused is a difficulty, the TV was a distraction, but it would have been worse without it. The TV in the background actually helps Jack to focus. Without it, he would have been up and out of his seat within a minute.

Jack’s understanding is limited, and he needs a lot of prompting to help him give answers. He wants you to answer for him, why exactly i’m not sure. Perhaps it’s to do with anxiety. But as he proved a couple of times, he can give answers independently sometimes.

One of the big things comes in the last question, and is something I will do in more detail in a future post. Jack can’t differentiate between reality and fiction, to him Pokemon are real. He is a Pokémon trainer, and he wants to travel the world catching Pokémon.

I hope this gave a little insight into how Jack works, and also how we work with him. 7 fairly simple questions that took a lot more effort to get through than what would be perceived as “normal”. I think that sums up well, what life is like for autistic people and those that care for them. Thank you for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Mini Egg Rice Krispie Cakes

Mini Egg Rice Krispie Cakes

So after Jack made chocolate biscuits in the last post, Lily wanted to make something. She decided to make mini egg Rice Krispie cakes, the mini eggs are a great addition to the simple Rice Krispie cake. They add some colour, and well I Just love chocolate mini eggs. We found a pack in the back of the cupboard left over from Easter. Personally I just wanted to eat them, but I was overruled by Lily.

It’s another very simple recipe, because that’s how we roll. My involvement was getting the pan and bowl out of the cupboard. Filling the pan with water, and turning on the gas hob. The rest was all Lily.

Ingredients

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 60ml golden syrup
  • 135g Rice Krispies
  • chocolate mini eggs

Method

  • Break up the chocolate into little pieces and melt in a large bowl (big enough to take all the Rice Krispies later. I’ve made that mistake before) suspended over a pan of simmering water.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, add the butter and syrup and gently fold in.
  • Pour in the Rice Krispies and then fold briskly until everything is combined. When ready put the mixture into cake cases.
  • Finish by adding the mini eggs. Gently push them into the mixture to give them a chance of sticking.
Mini egg Rice Krispie cakes
mini egg Rice Krispie cakes

These tasted great! Like I said in the marshmallow Rice Krispie squares post, I prefer the marshmallow to the chocolate version. Adding in the mini eggs definitely gives these something extra though. Lily was very precise that every cake had to have 2 mini eggs each (#autism), as you can see in the picture.

I’ll leave you with a couple of questions. How do you like your Rice Krispie cakes, chocolate or marshmallow? Also, what else do you think could make a good addition to this treat other than mini eggs?

Thank you for reading, Dad Does Autism

Easy and Delicious Iced Chocolate Biscuits

Easy and Delicious Iced Chocolate Biscuits

The latest edition of our simple baking ideas, sees Jack making some easy and delicious iced chocolate biscuits. I’ve never been able to get biscuits quite right myself, but Jack did a good job with these. So let’s get to the simple biscuit recipe.

Ingredients

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 250g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
Baking - easy and delicious iced chocolate biscuits

Method

  • Pre heat oven to 190c. Sift flour and cocoa powder into bowl and set aside.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and pale in colour.
  • Mix in the sifted flour and cocoa powder until it forms a dough.
  • Roll the dough into small balls and place them on a baking sheet, well spaced apart. Then flatten the balls.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Icing and Decoration

Once the biscuits have been baked and cooked down, it’s time to decorate. Jack likes ready to roll icing, so we used that. He rolled it out and used a cutter to get the right size. Now for the fun part! Decorating the iced biscuits, Jack and Lily both think a like. They like each one individually decorated, so you have to get all of the decoration stuff out. Sprinkles, icing pens, chocolate beans etc..


So there’s the finished article, I think they turned out pretty well. They definitely felt and tasted like a biscuit, not like a cake which is what happens when I try to make biscuits. So, well done Jack. They got a big thumbs up from Lily, who I think are most of them!

This is the 4th baking post we’ve done, you can find the others by clicking the following link. Chocolate Fairy Cakes, Scooby Snacks, Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares. We have been compiling the top 20 cakes and bakes list, I talked about in the Rice Krispie squares post. It has changed a couple of times, but I think it is nearly ready to be shared. Which we are looking forward, not as much as the baking and the eating afterwards though!

Dad Does Autism

Family Check Up

Family Check Up

I’ve been busy with my editing the website, doing what I call “proper” blog posts about specific subjects. Plus trying to master Pinterest, so I thought it was about time I did a “family check up”. This blog started with me just talking about how we are all doing, and what we’ve been up to. I’ve learnt a lot about blogging, and writing blog posts since then.

However, I still do just want to do the posts where I’m talking about what’s been going on in our life’s. So let’s have this “family check up”.

Family check up

School

We will start with the major one. Jack is back at school full time. It feels really weird, and I don’t know if I am comfortable with it yet. He was really struggling and was desperate to go back, and we are fortunate that he goes to an autism specialist school. He is in a class of only 7 when it’s full, at the moment there are 3 of them attending. Due to this we decided to send him back, and he is much happier. It had to be full time or not at all, otherwise the confusion in routine would be too much for him.

This of course meant Lily wanted to go back to school, though not full time. At the moment she is going on just on a Monday, with the key workers group to do a outside classroom. She really enjoyed going on Monday. and was asleep by 5pm! It felt weird having a quiet house on Monday, in my head I was foo to get lots of stuff done. I ended up just enjoying the quiet time, and did nothing.

Times have been hard

It’s been a difficult few weeks, especially for Lily who is the one really struggling at the moment. We’ve got quite good at reading Jack, and knowing what’s wrong, and how to solve it. Lily is a complete mystery still, and one thing the lockdown has made really clear. Is just how much being autistic affects Lily.

There’s a lot of work coming up to get the understanding of how Lily works, so we can help her the best way we can. Natalie is back working too, so there’s going to be quite a bit of time where it’s just myself and Lily coming up. I’m hoping to be able to spend some time talking to Lily, and hopefully work put some ways to help her. Too give you an idea, whilst talking to her this week. She said things like “you know I don’t understand things” and “I sometimes wish I wasn’t hear”. Which is a frightening thing to hear from an 8 year old.

How am I doing?

Obviously I am stressing about Lily, but getting her to talk is actually a good thing. We now just need to work things out. Other than that I think I’m going a bit stir crazy, I really need to get out more. Even if it’s just for those walks I set in my July goals post, hopefully next Monday I will make more of the day without the kids.

I am pleased with how this blog is going though, which is keeping my spirits up, as well keeping me busy. Though i’m currently having trouble leaving comments on other people’s blog posts. I think Akismet has me marked down as spam, so I’ve emailed them to try and sort it out. It might seem a minor thing, but it has really stressed me out.

I think that will do for this family check up, hopefully in the next one I will be a bit more cheerful. Hope you’re are all doing well, and staying safe, take care.

Dad Does Autism

July Goals

July Goals

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.
July goals
keeping tally in my notebook

Blog goals

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

Personal Goals

  • 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.

Dad Does Autism

Nature Art for Kids

Nature Art for Kids

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.

Nature art for kids

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.

Dad Does Autism

5 things you need to know about Autism

5 things you need to know about Autism

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.

5 things you need to know about autism

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.

What is autism?

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.

Dad Does Autism

Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares

Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares

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.

Ingredients

  • 45g butter
  • 300g mini marshmallows
  • 180g rice krispies
Ingredients
Ingredients

Method

  • 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.
Marshmallow Rice Krispie Squares
Pink Marshmallow Rice Krispie 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.

Dad Does Autism

What’s it like being an autism Dad?

What’s it like being an autism Dad?

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.

What’s it like being an autism dad?
photo of me worn out by the kids

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.

Jack & Lily
Jack & Lily our for a walk

Going out

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.

Family
At a fireworks display

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.

Dad Does Autism

Dad’s favourite posts

Dad’s favourite posts

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.

Dad’s favourite quotes

So here we go with Dad’s favourite posts…

Welcome to Dad Does Autism

Lily shines at Sports festival

Introducing the Snuggly’s

Be careful what you say

Our Autistic Valentine

Special School Horror Story

Special Interests

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.

Dad Does Autism

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