Autism and Reading

Autism and Reading

Today I want to talk about autism and reading, specifically how Jack and Lily learnt how to read. Jack starting school life at a SEN school, before moving to a school specifically for Autism. Whilst Lily is at a mainstream school. So there School life is very different.

Jack was never expected to do anything academically, and had proved people wrong. With how much he has actually been able to do. Parents of school aged children here in the UK, I’m sure will know all about reading diaries. And the Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Other parts of the world I’m sure will have something similar. We never had any of that with Jack. He’s never had homework, or been given reading books to do.

He can read though, something that came out of the blue, a few years ago now. He still has no set reading work though, as making it school work would be counter productive. We just allowed him to read at his own pace. The main place he was reading was on computer games, or the internet. He’d always be asking for things to be read for him, then one day I realised he’d stopped asking. With no external pressure, and because he wanted too, he had basically taught himself.

Making progress with Lily

That last bit is the very important point I want to make with this post. Lily has the reading diary, the spelling tests and the homework. This is the area that has been the cause of the problems we’ve had, with Lily and school. Reading and writing is something that Lily finds very difficult, and has caused her a lot of anxiety.

During the months of lockdown, we didn’t put any pressure on her to read. I’m general we didn’t do a huge amount of structured homeschooling. We did lots of different activities that were just part of the day. Not making a big point of this being school time, and putting pressure on it. It was a stressful enough time anyway, without adding more stress to everyone.

I know Natalie was especially worried about Lily falling even further behind. Fast forward to Lily coming home for the first time with a new reading book, and she sat with Mum and confidently read through the book first time. This has NEVER happened before. It would take a whole week, for Lily to get to grips with a book. We are talking roughly 15 pages, with 4 lines to a page maximum. The next when she came, I found her in her bedroom reading through a new book by herself. It was one of those parenting moments, where you are just bursting with pride.

Lily reading

SEN children learn at their own pace

When you have a child with special educational needs, one of the first things you have to come to terms with. Is that they won’t follow the rule book of expectations. The certain points children are supposed to be at, for each school year aren’t important. If you have family and friends with children the same age, who are way ahead. Or have younger children who over take yours, then try not to worry about it.

I know it’s natural to worry, as we all want the best for our children. But it doesn’t do anyone any good, trust me, I have been there. So whether it’s autism and reading, or any other type of school work. Give your child the support they need, without piling on the pressure. Then they will achieve the best that they can, and whatever that is, is great.

If you yourself have any tips or success stories when it comes to autism and reading, we’d love to hear them. Leave us a comment below. As always, thank you for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Enjoying school

After the back to school tears, from Lily last week. I just wanted to do an update, and tell you all. That Lily has been enjoying school. After a few tears on Monday, she has happily gone to school the rest of the week. And most importantly, she has come out from school every day with a smile on her face. Fingers crossed this continues, and she doesn’t go back to dreading going to school.

I think that being back and seeing her friends again, has made her happy. And that is over riding the worries about the school work. The “bubbles” that they are in is also making the school feel less busy, which is also definitely helping g Lily. So far it’s all smiles, and lets hope it stays that way.

Enjoying school

How long will they stay at school?

The thing that’s on my mind, with Lily enjoying school. Is how long will they stay at school? There’s already news of possible Covid cases in the area, though not at Lily’s school. I’m expecting it will only be a matter of time before the schools close again. If that does happen, it will be even more difficult than the first time.

Jack is really happy at school, and would be allowed to stay in school if the schools close again. Which would leave the decision of whether he goes in our hands, which is a lot of pressure.

With Lily I will be back to worrying is she would settle going back again. It’s been a confusing time for young children, and I worry it’s not going to get any easier. I guess we will just have to see how things go, and wait for any announcements. At least for now both Jack and Lily are enjoying school, and hopefully that continues. As always, thanks for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Back to school tears

Back to school tears

Here in the UK it was back to school this week, with schools opening properly for the first time since March. I am sure there was quite a few back to school tears across the country this week. Here we had complete polar opposites, as Jack couldn’t wait to go back to school and see his friends. Lily on the other hand was not so keen.

There have been tears, and lots of talk about not wanting to go back to school over the last week. They both returned to school on Thursday, and Jack leaves first being picked up by a taxi. He went off happily. Lily got up and ready for school well enough, but as soon as it was time to leave the house. Those back to school tears started.

We usually walk up to school, but decided it would be better in the car on this occasion. She was okay in the car, and the short walk into school. But when it came time for us too leave her, the tears were back. It’s never nice to leave your child when they are upset, but her best friend came over to see her. So after giving her some reassurance, we slipped away hoping she would settle once we had gone.

Back to school tears

First day back

When we picked Lily up from school, she came out with a smile. She did settle and enjoyed her first day back, which was reassuring. She’s in a smaller class than she was last year, and will spend a lot of time working in a small group of kids who need extra support. There were more back to school tears on Friday morning, but she walked up to school with her best friend. Which cheered her up, and she had another good day. So far, so good.

Jack enjoyed being back at school, though 2 of his friends aren’t in his class anymore. Which he’s not to happy about, but seems to be okay with. As he can still see them. They have shortened the class size to just 4, which probably benefit Jack. It’s incredible that they can even do that.

On Friday Jack came home and went to his room to play his Xbox. After an hour or so, I suddenly realised he’d been very quiet. He’s usually shouting me from his room, wanting food and drink. Or to show me what he’s doing. So I went to check him, and at 17:30 he was fast asleep. A busy couple of days had obviously worn him out!

Back to normality

I have to admit, it was nice to have a bit or normality back. Plus some peace and quiet for a few hours, which allowed me to get stuff done. And have some time just to relax. It’s all gone well so far, I’m still worried about how Lily will cope with school, especially once the dreaded English work starts.

The social distancing and being in class “bubbles” is probably a good thing for Lily. How busy the school is, has always been the biggest problem for her. Jack seems happy enough, there has been a few changes at school. There is always a delay with Jack, while he processes changes, so we will have to wait a week or 2 at least. Before knowing he’s definitely okay with them.

All in all, the return to school went pretty well, and everyone is happy and ready to enjoy the weekend. I hope the return to school, if your children did return also went well. As always, thanks for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Summer holidays

Summer holidays

Originally I had the idea to write about the transition to the summer holidays from school, which is something Jack finds difficult. It’s perhaps unfair to say we dread the them coming round, but the first week or two are always very challenging. But it’s been a weird year, and although Jack did go back to school for a bit. It doesn’t feel like normal, and Jack has mostly spent his time on his Xbox. So I’ll leave that on the back burner, until next year.

His routine has been all over the place for months, so I don’t think the boy knows what’s going on anymore. He broke his TV in a meltdown a few weeks back, so he has his Xbox in the living room at the moment. Which he is loving, far too much for my liking. It’s keeping him happy, and entertained at least.

Spending time with the kids

I’m looking at slowing the blogging down for this month, and as much time doing stuff with the kids as I can. Obviously we will no doubt share some of the things we do on here, whenever we we do anything now they both ask if it’s going on the website. Which is nice, I’m happy that they are proud to show of the things the do.

We cancelled our holiday to Devon this year, and booked for 2 weeks next year instead. Which is something I’m really looking forward too. It does mean I have to keep the kids entertained without a holiday, and some of the things we’d like to do not open, or we are unsure about doing.

We got a small inflatable pool for the garden, which Lily loves splashing around in. With the heatwave that’s forecast I might be getting in it myself soon hah. We are going to try and have as much fun as possible, during this unusual summer.

Summer holidays

Looking towards school

Thinking ahead, does anyone have any idea what’s happening with school? Jack will go back in September, but it all seems a bit unclear with Lily. To be honest from September, Lily and school is probably going to be a “hot topic”. The EHCP school promised to apply for this year isn’t materialising, leading to a greater feeling of we need to go about it ourselves. And start looking into “special schools” for Lily. I guess we will see what happens in September.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer holidays, whatever you are getting up to. As always, thank you for reading.

Dad Does Autism

Finding good support providers for autistic children

Finding good support providers for autistic children

Something I’ve come to learn is, finding good support providers for autistic children. Is a bit like looking for the golden egg/fleece, or Poseidon’s Trident. Or whatever other mythical object you might want to find. We have been fairly lucky that Jack goes to a really good place for overnight respite, every other week. Finding a good service provider for weekly daytime respite, has proven a lot more difficult. We have gone through a few in our time, for a variety of different reasons.

The first provider we had ceased to exist due to lack of funding, so we moved to another one. Not long after the same thing happened again. The next one we had for a couple of years before cancelling only recently. They were okay, with 2 workers taking Jack out for 3 hours a week, which he really enjoyed. The trouble was, the turnover in staff was ridiculously high, which caused problems. As Jack would get upset when people would leave.

The staff also weren’t given any real training, and far too many times we were let down by people not turning up. Or cancelling at the last minute, which caused major problems. Telling an autistic child that their plan for the day has been changed at the last second, or 30 minutes after he was supposed to have gone out, which happened a few times. With no real explanation as to why to give him, is a recipe for disaster.

Searching for a new provider

With this in mind we have been searching for a new provider, for a while nothing was coming up. Then we were recommended a place, that sounded so perfect for Jack. A provider that could give Jack the 2 to 1 support he needs. They have their own centre, where Jack can go and do all sorts of activities. He can also mix with other autistic kids of his own age if he wants to, and he really wants to. He finds new people difficult and it will take time. They can also take him out into the community, and the big one is the service continues into adulthood. This is unheard of, I’ve never certainly never heard anything like this before. So we desperate to try and get Jack on their books.

We had the issue over needing funding increased to allow Jack to have 6 hours a week, to make it worthwhile. We got the funding in place, for him to go over the summer holidays. He went for the first time this Thursday.

Jack’s first visit

Jack is always anxious about going to a new place, even somewhere he is looking forward to going to. So we put all the ground work in, to make him as comfortable as possible. The people who were going to be looking after him, came to meet him. They showed him photos of where he would be going, and talked to him about what he likes, and what he wanted to do.

On the day, Jack’s support workers came to pick him up, and he was so excited he shot straight out of the door. I had to call him back, as he forgot his bag. It was a good sign that he was so happy to be going! He was really happy when he came home, and even brought home some homemade pizza for us to eat. And he had all our favourite toppings, Pepperoni for Mum and Lily, and vegetation for me. Which shows he was putting thought into what we liked as he did them, which is nice.

Finding good support providers for autistic children

He talked all about what he had been doing, and how he met lots of new people. He said he can’t wait to go back next week, and even asked why he can’t go everyday. In the evening we did have a meltdown, which would have come from all the sensory input, throughout the day. He was fine again afterwards, it’s just one of those things. Jack will always have meltdowns. Hopefully when he fully settles into the routine of going there, he will be able to stay calmer.

Overall though, finding good support providers for autistic children, is no easy task. We are really pleased with the one we have found, especially as it’s not something that will suddenly stop when he turns 18. Which is what happens with his current overnight respite. We are a few years away from that yet, but it soon comes round.

If you want any advice about service providers, please feel free to ask. As always, thank you for reading.

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

Easy to understand Online safety social story

Easy to understand Online safety social story

Keeping your children safe online, is something all parents have to think about these days. We were given a easy to understand online safety social story by Jack’s School. I believe in giving Jack as much freedom as we possibly can. About a year ago we ran into some problems online, with Jack using TikTok.

If you are not aware of TikTok, it is a social video sharing app. Jack discovered it and became obsessed with making videos. He does all sorts of stuff with the videos, adding music, filters and stuff beyond what I know how to do. I personally think it is a great creative outlet for him, and encourage him to work on his videos. Here is an an example of the type of things he does.


Message problems


The problems came with it being a social media app, meaning you could message people. Something Jack wanted to do. You can turn messages off, which is what we did, but it didn’t take Jack long to figure out how to turn them back on.

The problem with Jack messaging people is his lack of understanding of how the real world works. If someone tells Jack they are his friend, he will believe that without question. That obviously has massive safety implications. Jack also can’t separate reality from fantasy. He would think something he watched in a movie was real life.

We have made some slow progress trying to explain these things to him. He has acknowledged these things when talking to him, but it’s difficult to know if he’s saying things just to shut Mum and Dad up. Jack has learned how to say things, to be able to get what he wants. We had problems explaining this to school at first, but they’ve seen it now. Jack is very clever at getting what he wants.

a different type of video

Jack’s trouble with social interaction

The other problem that Jack has in all walks of life. Is people see this 6 foot tall, well built person and think he is a lot older than he is. Add the fact his understanding levels are less than his age. This leaves a massive gap between what people expect of him and what he can actually do. Although his autistic traits are becoming more profound with age. It is not always obvious to people that Jack is “different”, until he speaks. With new people or someone you bump into out and about. Jack’s anxiety means he can get flustered and mix up his words.

When he talks to people, the conversation can be very one way, unless you know him well. Then you might be able to get a two-way conversation out of him, but only if Jack is willing. So when we found he had been messaging people, what we found was Jack bombarding people with talk about a subject. Often annoying the other person, as he wouldn’t stop.

Easy to understand online safety social story

We talked with school about the issue, and they worked on it at school and provided us with a social story. We now make our own using Twinkl, which is a website I highly recommend. I wanted Jack to still be able to make his videos. It is a great creative outlet for him, and something he really enjoys. But we had to make sure it was in a safe environment, so we went through the social story with him.

Online safety social
Story part 1
Online social story part 2

We took the step of deleting TikTok from Jacks phone, and made it so he couldn’t sign back into it. Unsurprisingly Jack wasn’t happy about this, but we came up with a solution that Jack has accepted. I have the TikTok app on my phone, and he is allowed to use it as long as we see what he’s made before he posts it. To be honest I enjoy watching the videos anyway. Also the messages have to stay turned off.

He asks to have it back on his own phone every now and then, but that’s not happening yet. It does mean I have to give up my phone when he wants to make videos, but I can live with that.

Conclusion

I know what you let your children do online and with technology is a divisive subject. It is an area where Jack thrives and even excels, in a world where he struggles with so many things. For that reason I encourage him in the area as much as possible, but of course always wanting to keep him as safe as possible. That was one of the reasons why this blog was started, to give him a platform where we can do stuff together. Something he is really excited about, and why we have the Jack’s documents section on the website. It’s important to have fun and be creative, but you always have to stay safe at the same time.

Dad Does Autism

Step by Step Homeschooling  Success

Step by Step Homeschooling Success

For today’s post, I am stepping aside for Jack & Lily’s Mum. To take you through step by step a homeschooling success with Lily. I mentioned some time ago that after Lily’s chromosome micro deletion diagnosis, we had been tested for it. The results came back that it was passed on from Natalie. Her understanding of the kids has always been amazing, this perhaps explains where it comes from, especially with Lily. As I didn’t write it, I’m quite happily to boast that this post is an amazing insight into homeschooling and communicating with the children. Something I’ve been really struggling with myself.

Step by step homeschooling success

Hi everyone I’m Natalie, Adams partner and mother to our two children Jack and Lily.

Today has been a good day. This afternoon I came downstairs to play with Lily whilst Adam got a few bits done. Lily and I was having a big tickle fight, she absolutely loves tickle fights! This distracted her from wanting daddy too.

Happily chasing her round our living room saying ‘I’m going to get you’ lily happily laughing her head off waiting for me to catch her. She collapsed laughing on the sofa whilst I was tickling her. As Lily was in a good mood I thought it would be a good opportunity to see if she’d do some schoolwork. Now we can’t mention the school part as Lily becomes far too distressed, and anxious at the very thought.

Getting started

So instead I said “oh look what I’ve found, I wonder if you can put this sentence together” Lily laughing replied happily “oh yes I can” so the “oh no you can’t” game starts. It’s always best to keep Lily’s interest where possible so I always try my best to keep tasks to interests of hers. Before we knew it Lily had completed the worksheet finding it interesting and no pressure of it being schoolwork she was enjoying doing it.

So I turned the page over to Lily’s delight all that she needed to do was copy the sentences putting capital letters at the start and full stops at the end. Lily wizzed through this page, “Mummy this is easy”. Every step of the way I tell Lily how well she’s doing, how proud of her I am and how clever she is. Lily likes praise so doing this throughout encourages Lily to carry on. Of course at the end of each sheet we add a quick tickle fight in and big praise for how amazing she’d done to complete the sheet.

The joy of maths

Still on a high note with the odd tickle in between Lily was happy to carry on still unaware it’s school work. Lily wanted to now do a maths sheet as maths is her favourite. See with maths it’s more black and white than English, her answers are either right or wrong which is more straight forward so she can cope with this.

Lily turns to number lines and with my guidance on how to work the sums out, Lily happily sat next to me smiling away giving me her answers with a little doubt in her voice. So I decided to make out I had no idea on the last 5 sums. I was pretending to act surprised and shocked when she gave me the workings out and answers. Lily really enjoyed teaching mum instead of mum teaching her. Making it a game seemed so much more fun and kept Lily’s interest throughout.

Incorporating an activity Lily loves

Subtraction was next only it was a picture of an elephant with sums in squares. She needed to solve the sum in each square, to be able to then colour the square in with the right colour from the chart of answers above. Lily loving arty projects I knew this was perfect for her. She has no confidence with subtraction and my maths isn’t brilliant. So I showed Lily how to use a number line to help her do the sums.

Colouring the elephant
Working hard


Throughout this sheet Lily wanted to guess which colour that square was, then do the sums as this kept Lily’s attention. So that’s what we did. We would both guess a colour first then work out her sums to see who was right, making this as fun as possible I’d say ‘oh no I got that one wrong’ she absolutely loved this. Lily took great pleasure in doing these sums so she could colour the elephant in. With her loving art this task is a fantastic way for lily to engage in learning, and be able to combine art together. Lily only saw this as an arty task, and had no idea she was learning along the way.

Homeschooling success coloured elephant
The completed elephant

Then Lily’s meltdown hits hard

Her final sheet was reading comprehension on Honeybees. Lily chose this sheet as she wanted to learn more about wonderful Honeybees.

Lily was fine whilst I read to her the information sheet which contained the answers for the questions on the following page. However Lily’s mood quickly changed, on the first question seeing she needed to write a medium size sentence, and thinking she needed to do this for every question. Lily started becoming distressed and a meltdown started. Crying, upset and anxious Lily kept repeating that ‘it’s too much’ ‘No one likes me’ I can’t do it’ ‘I’m too stupid’.

I sat next to Lily calmly, and spoke quietly as well as calmly to her, holding her by putting one arm round her and gently applied deep pressure by hugging her. I calmly said ‘Lily it’s ok, your very clever, look at all these sheets you’ve done. Wow your so much cleverer than me! Lets take a few minutes, it’s ok.” I was already seeing this as a big homeschooling success, but I wanted to see if we could do this last piece of work.

Controlling the anxiety and sensory overload

At this point I invited Lily to stand up with me and to walk round our living room calmly. I then sat down whilst Lily did 10 big jumps, at this point Lily sat next too me. I calmly mentioned how good the picture of the honeybees was and the interesting fact about their wiggle dance. We were soon both laughing, and having ago at their wiggle dance.

I then calmly said let’s give this question a go. I wonder what we can learn about honeybees, let’s do it word by word. At first Lily started to become upset again crying, but by remaining calmly at her side and just gently reminding her that it’s only one question. Which is about the difference between bumblebees and honeybees. By taking it one word at a time she’s so clever that she could do this. Still crying she reluctantly carried on writing out her answer. At this point Lily started to say she was tired so we finished this question and had a 5 minute break.

To keep Lily interested I started asking what colours are bees? She said black and yellow so I quickly replied with oh wow look your using a black and yellow stripped pencil it looks the same as bees. Lily was excited by this, laughing she said “Bees will think this pencil is another bee mummy and the end is there sting” this encouraged Lily to carry on.

There’s nothing wrong with giving a little help

With Lily struggling to read, I would read the section of text again. Where the answers to each individual question were in. Once I had read the information to her, I would repeat the question. Giving Lily plenty of time to process both what I had just said, and for her to find her answer.

Lily has always needed extra processing time. So by allowing her this extra time I was removing pressure and avoiding the meltdowns that would follow. After a few minutes I would gently guide Lily if she had not given me any answers. Again this would be done in a playful manner “oh Lily I think it’s somewhere on this line, what about you?” At this I was directing Lily towards the answer without giving it to her.

With reading Lily struggles to read text when it’s black text on white paper. She has previously said the letters/numbers move about. Which is common for children and adults alike, that have learning disabilities. So Lily uses a little slip of red see through plastic sheet, that she puts over the text to make this stand out more. Therefore making it easier for her to read. This also makes it clearer for Lily to read and stops the letters/numbers moving about on the page.

How we helped Lily to Read


The sheets we use and that I used as a child, are coloured projector sheets. If you wish to try this with your child,to start with you’ll need the different colour sheets. Then get a piece of text the text being black on a white piece of paper. This could be in a text book, worksheet or something you type up on a Microsoft word account and print out. Sit with your child and have this document with you. Then simply place the text infront of your child and then place the different coloured sheets over the page with the text, on doing each colour sheet individually.


Each time ask your child if they can see as well as read the text easier with the coloured sheet on the page. At the end ask which colour sheet makes it easier for them to read. At this point you may need to place a few sheets back over the text for your child to be able to say fully. Each child is different so may find different colours suit them better than others.


Then going forwards when doing readings or writing tasks with your child use the colour sheet to place over what your child is reading. I would recommend having a few spare colour sheets that your child prefers. We’ve also designed it so it’s cut to the size of a sentence or 2 so Lily doesn’t always need the full sheet, and it helps Lily to identify where she is within the text.

You can buy these in most places, here’s a direct link to amazons website where it’s tends to be the cheapest place to purchase them. Should you wish to try them with your child. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Assorted-Colour-Acetate-Transparent-Plastic/dp/B00Y0VDRZK

Finishing the work

Homeschooling success


Knowing it would be too much for her to write full sentences, like the worksheet asks. I instead just asked Lily to simply write the answers below the questions to reduce the pressure on her. As Lily worked her way through the questions she’d become a lot happier. Talking freely about things she’d already learnt about honeybees and putting that together with the sheet. One question Lily didn’t require any help with, and she was very proud of herself for this, as she should be. Then the last question came. This was a fascinating fact about honeybees. Lily wanted to say about there wiggle dance, so she copied the text to answer the question, and every so often we’d be laughing as we’d have a go at the wiggle dance.

This completed Lily’s worksheets for today. At the end I could not believe she’d completed 6 worksheets. The whole time I’d made it fun and interesting keeping her mind busy, and not at any point did I mention that it was schoolwork. She was allowed breaks including movement breaks, as Lily is very hyperactive, and struggles with staying still. This was a huge homeschooling success. More importantly Lily was super proud of herself. At no point did I actually think Lily would take part, or that she’d work through her meltdown with me. Then come out the other side happy and excited.

Lily’s reward for doing all these sheets was to play hide and seek with daddy and her baby doll who she hasn’t given a name yet. She was very excited about this and very proud of herself.

We never claim to be super parents, and homeschooling has proved difficult. Today was the most work Lily has done in a day, and we are so proud of her. Do you have any homeschooling success stories? How are you engaging your children in learning? Leave a comment below. The

Dad Does Autism

How is lockdown homeschooling going?

How is lockdown homeschooling going?

When they announced the schools were closing, and they sent work home for the kids to do. My first thoughts on lockdown homeschooling were, I don’t see it happening, especially for Jack. Lily has always had to do homework, and reading tasks etc.. so doing some work at home is fairly normal for her.

Jack on the other hand, has never had any homework, ever. When he was at his old school it was an achievement to get him in school, and an even bigger achievement to get him doing work at school. So homework was never even thought about. Now at his current school, Jack is much happier, and seems to enjoy school most of the time, homework has never been on the agenda.

Jack associates different things with different places, and won’t accept them anywhere else. This can be with the most simple of things. A recent example is hash browns. Jack ate hash browns as part of his “brunch” (He basically got up to late to have a breakfast and lunch before being picked up) for the first time. He told us how much he liked them, so we brought some for him to have at home. His reaction was, hash browns are for (name of respite place) not for home, and he was unhappy with us for getting them.

It might seem silly to some people, but it’s the same thing you see with autistic people and routine. The way I see it, whatever makes it so autistic people need their routines, is at work here. Hash browns mean respite. Sundays mean going to Grandma’s, which obviously is an issue at the moment.

Lockdown homeschooling

So I never expected Jack to take to lockdown homeschooling, and he hasn’t at all. I’ve tried to get him “learning” through things he likes, without ever mentioning school work. But even that is proving difficult, this week he is finding the situation more difficult than ever. I don’t want to force him to do things, apart from the fact it won’t work, it won’t do him any good. At the same time I don’t want him doing nothing for however long this goes on for. It’s a difficult situation that I just don’t have the answer too.

I have some ideas, but this week Jack has not been cooperative with anything I’ve tried. If anyone has good any fun ideas I can try then feel free to let me know. I’m at the stage of trying anything. Today being Sunday, I will just let him chill out, then see if he will do anything tomorrow.

Making more progress with Lily

Lily is more open to doing school work, and has done some worksheets. But the problem then is, she sees that Jack isn’t doing any, and quite rightly from an 8 year olds point of view. Says it’s not fair she is doing school work, while Jack plays on his Xbox. So the worksheets have been put away for now, and I’m trying to do fun learning activities instead. Of Course Lily is always wanting to do arts and crafts, but I’ve needed some other ideas as well.

Playing bingo
Bingo!!!

Whilst clearing out the garage yesterday, we found this old bingo game. Lily was fascinated by it, and couldn’t wait to play it. So there was the days numeracy lesson, with Lily being the bingo caller. Jack didn’t want to join in, but I’m hoping if we set it up with some snacks and some prizes, then he might want to play. Thinking outside the box, and making things fun are what’s important at the moment. I’ve got some ideas but like I said, I’m open to any ideas, feel free to leave some in the comments below.

Dad Does Autism

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.