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

Autism and coping with special occasions

Autism and coping with special occasions

We had a busy weekend, the birthdays come thick and fast this time of year in our family. So I thought this was a good time to talk about autism and coping with special occasions. I’ll talk about the weekend we’ve had, and then talk about strategies at the end. They are very much the double edged sword in our house. Both Jack and Lily enjoy celebrating birthdays, Christmas etc.. but the change in routine, the excitement, family gatherings can often become too much for both of them.

But, they both expectations of what happens on birthdays and Christmas, so when we tried to not to as much to help with their sensory input and routine. That upset them. So it’s a very fine line we tread, between keeping them happy and celebrating special occasions, but not over stimulating them.

This weekend

This weekend was a busy one, there was a barbecue at my brothers house. For my brother and dads birthday’s, with a few family members there. Jack was happy as he had 2 dogs to play with, and Lily had her cousin to play with. It probably helped that due to what’s happening in the world right now, there was only a small number there. But Jack coped really well, his anxiety which would normally be through the roof, was manageable.

The dogs certainly helped, especially as they chased each other and were continuously play fighting, which Jack found hilarious. He was chatty, fairly calm and even watched us playing cricket. He didn’t want to play, but would happily fetch the ball. So he sort of was.

As for Lily, she loves playing with her cousin and she spent the entire time by his side. Playing football, cricket, with the dogs and generally getting up to mischief. Which was lovely to see. He is a couple of years younger than Lily, which puts them at a very similar level developmentally.

Lily is both girly and tomboyish, she’s happy playing either the typically boy or girl games. She seems to get on better with boys than girls though, as most of the close friends she has created have been boys. At school and even at nursery before that.

Mum’s Birthday

Autism and coping with special occasions

Saturday was nice, and then it rolled into Sunday which was Mum’s birthday. When it comes to autism and coping with special occasions, 2 days in a row is a very big ask. We also had the issue of the birthday routine. When it’s one of our birthdays, we always go out for a meal. Eating out isn’t always easy with Jack, as he finds overwhelming, the sensory input and his anxiety can trigger meltdowns.

We have learned ways of trying to manage it for him, and last year he was coping really well and really enjoying going out for meals. Of course this year we haven’t been anywhere, and it’s certainly a worry that we might be back to square one. When we eventually do go out for a meal again.

Mum’s birthday was more of a struggle

After Saturday, and Jack had stayed at his overnight respite on Friday, Jack was pretty tired on Sunday. Just like the rest of us, tiredness makes Jack less tolerant. We had prepared him, and Lily that we would t be going out, and that we would order in pizza instead. Which they both seemed happy with. We also planned to go for a walk around, a local nature reserve.

We were later than planned going to the nature reserve. Natalie has fibromyalgia, and Saturday has also taken its toll on her. She needed time to rest and for medication to work before we could go. With all of this by the time we got there, Jack was very anxious and on edge. The nature reserve has several ponds, the first one where the car park is tends to be very busy. Especially on a Sunday.

Once you get past that it thins out and you don’t see too many people. Jack was very argumentative as we walked around the first pond, a sure sign he’s struggling with his anxiety. Once we got past that bit, he calmed down other than getting annoyed with flies.


Nature reserve den

The fairy garden

Lily was really excited to see the reserves fairy garden. Which is a “designated area”, that’s been turned into a fairy garden, where you can add your own creations to it. It’s pretty cool, and not something you’d expect to see in a place like this. It’s not an official thing, just something someone started around a tree.

I know there have been some issues with vandals in the past, but it’s always been in good shape when we’ve been there. It also means it looks different every time we go. Which is pretty amazing. Now as well as adding something to this garden, we have plans to make our own at home. Which Lily is very excited about.

Fairy garden

It turns out the nature reserve is bigger than I realised, despite having been there a number of times. As we found some different paths and several ponds I’d never seen before, where it was even quieter. This was great for Jack, who was much happier. We did end up getting a bit lost, and Jack found the way back for us. Using the map on the PokemonGo app, to find the way back to the pokestop at the car park. Something Jack was extremely proud of!

Pizza to finish the day

We finished the day off by visiting Natalie’s parents, and ordering some pizza in. After a busy weekend, the kids were ready to scoff down some pizza. All 3 of Natalie, Jack and Lily find it difficult to go to Natalie’s parents house. Natalie’s sister who had severe disabilities passed away last year. She lived at home with 24 hour care from carers, meaning the house was always busy (often chaotic) and noisy. Jack never liked going because of those reasons, and often wouldn’t go for visits and stay at home with me.

Now it is a big house that feels empty, and Jack finds that just as difficult. Just as we all do, the quietness serves as a constant reminder of a loved one who is no longer there. His gran also had an accident, knocking a cupboard with her wheelchair, which saw a teapot fall and hit her on her shoulder. Jack was very quiet during the visit, and at times argumentative. When we got home and Jack went to bed, he burst into tears.

This was actually a great thing. You may have heard the MYTH, that autistic people don’t feel empathy or love. The truth is of course they do, but like Jack they can find showing different emotions difficult. Or they show in a different way than what is considered “normal”. Jack letting his emotions out like that is a positive thing.

The strategies for autism and coping with special occasions

When it comes to autism and coping with special occasions, you have to think ahead. You have to strategies, you have to plan everything out and you have to try and establish routines. All of our birthdays in the house follow the same routine, depending on whether it’s a school day or not. Breakfast, presents (or school), chill out time, meal at a family place. Birthdays are not the time to try somewhere new. There is already enough going on in the autistic child’s mind, that it would likely be a recipe for disaster.

Start reminding the child weeks in advance that the occasion is coming up, if it’s someone else’s birthday. Make sure they see all the presents they will be giving before hand. Plan early and tell them what you will be doing on the day. The more prepared they are the better. Now every autistic person is different, some may be able to tolerate any change, some might not be able to cope with any at all. You are best placed to judge that.

We have had lots of very eventful and stressful birthdays with Jack. It would have been easier to just do very little for birthdays, but Jack wanted to celebrate them, he wants to go out and do things. So we put in the hard work to figure out how to make it work, and it was doing. Like i said before though, I just hope the current pandemic doesn’t put us back to square one.

The last and most important point I’d like to make is, don’t put pressure on them, and yourself to make everything “perfect”. It probably isn’t going to be. There will likely be anxiety spikes or meltdowns. You might have to walkaway from something that was planned, because they just can’t cope with it. That is okay, make adjustments and just find a way for everyone to enjoy themselves and be happy. At the end of the day that’s what is important. So, that’s my post about autism and coping with special occasions, I hope there’s some useful bits in there for people. Also that it gives a little insight into what birthdays are like for families like ours. This was a good weekend and Jack and Lily cooed really well on the whole.

Then of course there’s Christmas, but that needs a post all of its own, as that can be really….interesting. As always thank you for reading.

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

Visiting the Grandparents

Visiting the Grandparents

For those that have been regular readers from the start, you might remember that visiting the grandparents, was a regular Sunday routine before lockdown. We hadn’t been since the middle of March, but with the kids missing them, and especially their dog Mack. We decided we’d go over for a visit, and try and keep the kids to social distance.

It was lovely to get out to somewhere different for a change. My parents live out in the Derbyshire Dales, where it’s picturesque and lovely and quiet. So it’s always nice to go for a visit. When we got there I took a video of the kids seeing Mack, to see how excited they all were. To be fair, Mack is usually more excitable but it was a hot day.

It was nice of Mack to run straight past me, he did at least go to Lily. But his best buddy is undoubtedly Jack. All I’ve heard for the last 8 weeks is, “How do you think Mack is doing?” The kids have been so looking forward to this visit, it was great to finally do it.

A walk to the park

As it was such a lovely day, we decided to go for a walk to the local park. When we got there we had the park completely to ourselves. We played football, which was nice. I’m certainly out of practise, I was exhausted by the time we got back.

It was good to get out there in some fresh country air, on the sunshine. The kids absolutely loved it. I’m not sure when we will all go back again, we will see how things are. It is was really nice visiting the grandparents, and gave us all a boost.

Going out and about again

It’s been clear to see lots of people have been going out and about again, this was our step in that direction. We are all in pretty good health, so we decided it should be okay. I just had to remind the kids we still have to social distance before we went, which they were good at.

We won’t be rushing to the beach though, or any other tourist place that will be packed with people. It’s still too early for that in my opinion, and to be honest I don’t like crowded places anyway. So I’m in no massive rush to join the madness. How are you doing? Have you gone to see family yet? Or started venturing further afield. I’d love to hear how you are taking things, in the comments below.

Dad Does Autism

Things not to do in a pandemic

Things not to do in a pandemic

It’s been an interesting day. If I was going to advise you of things not to do in a pandemic. Snapping your tooth clean off at the root, would be right at the top of the list. That’s exactly what Lily did today, whilst simply eating a cookie. Normally it wouldn’t be a massive issue. You’d ring up for an emergency dental appointment, and get it looked at.

Of course, these are not ordinary times. Dentists aren’t seeing patients, and it has taken all day. Just to try and sort out getting a prescription for some antibiotics. The dentist have told us they will ring us, as soon as they are seeing patients again. Until then we just have to hope Lily is alright.

Jack struggles to cope

Lily spent most of the morning crying, Jack stayed out of the way and seemed okay. I took him out for our usual walk, and things didn’t go to plan. Jack gets very anxious about flies, bees, wasps etc.. There was a lot about today, and in Lily being upset all morning. Plus the unusual and distressing situation we are all in anyway. It all got to much for him.

He had a full blown meltdown at the side of a busy road, and then got angrier because it was so busy. I don’t know how long it took to calm him down, but it felt like an age. We had a couple of people ask if I needed help, which is a nice thought. In reality it just makes things worse, as it sets Jack off. Eventually he calmed and we walked back calmly.

At home he said he was scared by the traffic. The traffic seemed much busier, than it has been in some time. Perhaps Jack had got used to the roads being so quiet, and couldn’t cope with the change back. Plus the the other stuff happening, it was just too much for him.

A nice evening

This evening I sat with Jack and we matched the movie, Shazam. Which we both loved, so the day finished well. I’m just going to have to think about what we are going to do for a walk, as I don’t fancy risking the same thing happening tomorrow. That won’t be good for either of us.

Things are calm as the day comes to a close, Lily seems okay and so does Jack. Breaking your tooth is definitely up there on the things not to do in a pandemic though.

Dad Does Autism

What’s in the box?

What’s in the box?

In the never ending battle to keep everyone entertained and happy, the latest thing Lily came up with was What’s in the box? I know it’s something Lily has seen on YouTube. She’s wanted to recreate a lot of the things she’s seen on there. This is a pretty simple and safe one to do, so I thought why not?

All you need is a cardboard box, and as Natalie is an Avon Rep. So we aren’t short of boxes in this house. The lid had already been taken off, so I just cut out some holes on each side and stood the box up. Which made it perfect for what we needed.

What’s in the box?

To be honest, it was surprisingly difficult to find items to put in the box. I started off with a croissant, a green pepper, some tissues and a M&Ms chocolate bunny. What I really love about the 4 photos above, is the 4 different emotions being shown on Lily’s face.

My favourite one we did was some whipped cream in a bowl, and as you can see from the photo below. It was certainly Lily’s favourite as well.

What’s in the box?

I found 4 more things for her to try and guess. A Lei necklace, a stuffed animal, a Easter bunny ornament and a large paint brush. Again there’s 4 different facial expressions. The paint brush one has to be my favourite, and took her the longest to figure out. She is only used to her own small paint brushes.

Why not try it yourself?

Have you ever played what’s in the box? It’s really simple as long as you have a box at hand, and is fun to do. You can even use it as a way to get your child, to handle things they wouldn’t normally touch. That was my idea behind the green pepper, and although Lily didn’t like the fact it felt cold at first. She happily felt around it, and continued to do so after she had guessed it.

So why not try it yourself? Also if you have any good ideas for fun things to use for the game. Then please them in the comments below, as I think we could be playing this a lot over the next week.

Dad Does Autism

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

As the title says, today we are looking at board games. As chosen by Lily, her top 5 board games to play with young kids. Jack and Lily are 12 and 8, both being autistic what they like is some areas can be younger than their age. This is one of those areas, so we are looking at this from a younger child’s perspective. Lily really enjoys board games, and we’ve been playing quite a lot during this lockdown. Sometimes Jack will play as well depending on the game.

Lily picked the 5 games, we played them and each gave them a score out of 5. I will do a quick review with each game too, and leave a link to where you can buy each game from amazon. These are affiliate links and I will get a small commission if anyone does make a purchase using the links. That will help me with the upkeep of the website, for more information, you can go to my Donations & Adverts page by clicking this link. So let’s get started on our list of top 5 board games to play with young kids.

Kerplunk

Top 5 board games to play with young kids Kerplunk Lily

The aim of the game is to take the straws out one at a time, and try not to make any of the marbles drop down. The person with the least amount of marbles at the end wins. Setting up is as much of an event as playing the game itself, especially if you are all trying to put the straws through at the same time. It’s a good idea to make the set up fun, you have to do it at the end of every round, and can become tedious otherwise.

Once you are ready to go, I really like Kerplunk. The tension and anxiety rises every time you take another straw. I mostly enjoy the reaction of the kids when the marbles drop, especially if a lot go at once. They laugh every time, especially if it’s on my turn. We normally play 5 or 6 games, if all 4 of us are playing maybe a few more.

Top 5 games to play with young children - Kerplunk

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (5) Click here to buy Kerplunk

Jenga

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - jenga tower

The aim of the game is simple. Build a tower of 3 blocks in a row, then take it in turn to take one block out. If you knock the tower over during your turn you lose. I do enjoy jenga, but I find setting it up a bit of a pain. It comes with a cardboard sleeve, the theory is you pull it out of the box, and the tower sets straight up when you slide the sleeve away. That has never worked once for us.

When the game starts it’s pretty fun, you get the same tension as Kerplunk. You need more skill for this game, as one wrong move and it’s game over. You need a steady hand, which is bad news for me. When I inevitably end up knocking the tower over, the kids are laughing at my misfortune again. Another fun game, but the setting up loses it points from me.

Collapsed jenga tower

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy Jenga

LOL surprise Monopoly


A classic game, we have the LOL surprise version. Admittedly I’d probably enjoy it more if it was the original, or less of a “girly version”. But it was a present for Lily and she loves it. It does mean Jack has absolutely no interest in playing it. If you’ve got a lot of time to kill, then this is the game to play. Playing until everyone goes bankrupt and there’s one player left, must be a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever done that ever, we normally declare a winner when someone is clearly leading and everyone’s got bored.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids

This isn’t a very competitive game in our house. Lily gets upset if you buy any of her favourite cards, which seems to be most of them. We tend too just play until Lily gets bored, and we declare her the winner. For those reasons, this is my least favourite of the 5 games, but Lily absolutely loves it.

Rating – Dad (3) Lily (5) Click here to buy LOL monopoly

Hungry Hippos

You have to connect the hippos to the game board every time you play, assuming you disconnect them and put them back in the box when you finish playing. I find the hippos quite stuff to put on, the kids certainly aren’t able to do it, which is a downside. Once it’s ready, it’s an easy and fun game to play.

Top 5 board games to play with young kids - hungry hippos

You can play with 2 people, though I think it’s best if you have 4, one person for each hippo. The aim of the game is to swallow as many of the little balls as you can, with your hippo. The person with the most balls at the end, wins the game. If you are anything like us, things are likely to get a bit manic. It’s no holds barred, and the more aggressive the game gets the funnier Jack and Lily think it is. They absolutely love it, we can play up 10 times, before hands start to hurt from hitting the plastic levers, and we stop.

Rating – Dad (4) Lily (4) click here to buy hungry hippos

Don’t take Busters Bones

don’t take busters bones

To start you need to connect the dog to the tray section, and then push it back to set it. It’s not to difficult, the kids struggle with it but can do it without my help. To play you take turns picking a card, that has a number of bones that you have to pick up out of the tray. You have a pair of cat paw tweezers to pick the bones up, this is to keep hands out of the try. As the dog lurches foward, as if to bite, when you set him off. If he bites on your turn you lose the game.

Whilst Buster is sleeping, an audio of snoring plays through some speakers. Which is a great little touch that definitely adds to the experience of the game. It’s another game of tension, and waiting for “something bad” to happen. Im guessing by now you’ve worked out these are the type games we like to play. This one is my personal favourite.

Rating – Dad (5) Lily (4) Click here to buy Dont take busters bones

Conclusion

To conclude our top 5 board games to play with young kids list, a look at the combined rating from both myself and Lily, Kerplunk and Don’t take Busters bones get the joint highest score with 9. Which is pretty much what I expected, I think these 2 are a little bit better than the other 2. Have you played any of these game? What are your thoughts on them? Also, are there any board games you would recommend us to try? If so leave a comment below, thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Lily’s Flower basket

Lily’s Flower basket

After some lovely weather recently I think someone has turned the heating off. It’s turned a bit chilly here, but in the spirit of spring today I want to show you Lily’s flower basket. We got a nice basket and filled it with soil, and bought some nice flowers to add it. I’m no expert when it comes to flowers, so we just picked some pansies and violas that looked like they went well together.


Lily arranged the flowers herself and planted them. I think it they look really good, but you be the judge. What do you think to Lily’s flower basket?

Lily’s flower basket - front
front
Lily’s flower basket - back
back

What else have we been up to?

Despite the drop in temperature, Jack has wanted to go on his walks to catch Pokémon on PokemonGo. I shared a few photos on the Twitter page, where you can find me @DadDoesAutism. As more often than not I use photos of Jack and Lily, they decided it should be my turn this time. So here’s a photo of me with a Pokemon.

Dad and Aipom

Myself and Jack have both had our lockdown haircut, thanks to Natalie. Who did a pretty good job. I’m not sharing any photos here, as Natalie is looking at writing a post about how she went about cutting Jack’s hair.

Haircuts can be a problem with some autistic children, it certainly was for Jack for a long time. We found a hairdresser that Jack is happy with, accepts going to now. With lockdown though, it’s obviously not open right now, and Jack was complaining his hair was too long. We were unsure if he’d allow his mum to do it, but we got it done and it will certainly be a good post when Natalie does it.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here, and even shared a video on twitter. I have been playing cricket in the garden with Lily. She didn’t really know what she was doing when lockdown began, other than trying to hit the ball. I would do a gentle under arm throw, and she’d struggle to hit it.

Fast forward to now, and although we are only playing with a lightweight plastic bat and ball. I am now doing proper cricket bowls for her to hit. I’m really pleased with how she’s wanted to keep practicing, and the progress she’s made. More importantly she’s really happy with herself.

Have you or your kids been trying to get better and something new? We’d love to hear what you’ve been trying to learn. Leave your comments in the box below. Thanks.

Dad Does Autism

Autism and Minecraft

Autism and Minecraft

The first time I ever heard of Minecraft was when Jack asked to have the game. I had no idea of the strong links between autism and minecraft. A quick google of autism and Minecraft will bring up lots of results. It seems to be something that attracts some autistic people, and as is often the case. Once it becomes a special interest, it becomes an obsession.

Minecraft is even being used in therapies, to help autistic children learn things like social skills. You can apply for a specialised server for autistic people, called AutCraft, which is said to be a safe haven for autistic children to play Minecraft. Jack just plays on Minecraft normally, and it’s for fun.

The joy of building something

When you successfully build something, it gives you such a great feeling. No matter what it is, big or small, you still get that feeling of achievement. I talked about how Lego provides that for Jack in “Is Lego good for autistic children”, click the link if you haven’t read that post before.

Of course with Lego you are restricted to what you can make. In the computerised world of Minecraft the possibilities are practically endless. You can go wherever your imagination takes you. 

Using Minecraft to express feelings

The other day Jack was very excited to show me a laboratory he made. He then told me he had the coronavirus inside it and was working on a cure.

on top of the coronavirus lab

I actually felt quite emotional and proud that he was thinking of doing that. He has found it difficult to understand, what is going on in the world right now. Trying to express his own feelings on the matter, hasn’t been easy either.  We have spent a lot of time of time, trying to learnt what Jack is trying to say to us, when he is unable to do it directly.

This was Jacks way of showing us he is worried about the coronavirus, and wants there to be a cure found. So that everything can go back to normal. When he does something like this, it gives us the opportunity to ask questions about a subject he doesn’t like to talk about. 

He won’t communicate about a subject he is anxious about, and if you try and force the issue he’s even less likely to talk. This was showing us he was ready to talk about the coronavirus. Only a few questions, with short answers and nods of the head. But enough for us to get an understand of how anxious and worried he is feeling, and now he knows we know.

Jack’s favourite builds

That was an example of how autism and Minecraft work, to help an autistic child communicate with his parents. Let’s finish with something more fun. I’ve asked Jack to share with you, the favourite things he has built on Minecraft.

Some of the favourite things he has built include, Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria, a nether portal, and the Kanto region in Pokemon.

His absolute favourite is the SCP 250 foundation facility. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, I don’t really either. Here is a brief explanation of what SCP is.


You can click here if you want to find out more about it. There’s a couple of pictures below to showing the facility that Jack has made.

Minecraft & autism
Full facility

an SCP in its containment pod

There have been a lot of posts involving Lily recently, so it was fun for me to get Jack involved again. For those of you out there who’s kids like playing on Minecraft, or even you yourself. What do you enjoy building on there. We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

Dad Does Autism

Oh no it’s Play-Doh

Oh no it’s Play-Doh

Oh no it’s play-doh. The P word! The word that sends a feeling of fear and dread into straight into the heart of any parent. I set up Lily’s art table. It is a foldable table that is mostly used for Lily’s Arts & Crafts, which will be clear to see in the photo below. This time though she didn’t want to do art, she wanted to get the play-doh out. She has been doing lots of art as usual, which I will show later in the post. So I guess she wanted a change.

Oh no it’s play-doh

Whenever we seem to be running out of the stuff, their mum goes and buys loads more. Which I really appreciate….

The stuff gets everywhere, and as any parent who is crazy enough to let their child have play-doh will know. It is a right pain in the arse to clean up, especially if it’s been trodden in the carpet.

Lily’s paintings

She coloured in a mask picture, and then wanted to make some actual masks. I cut an eye mask out of paper for her to decorate, and then we managed to find a plain face mask that she could decorate. Lily loves decorating them, and really loves wearing them too.

The next three pieces are all quite different. Lily has been practising drawing animals, which is something she’s not too confident with. Often when she struggles with something, she will get frustrated and give up. So it’s been nice to see her really trying to improve over the last week.

She also cut out a aeroplane shape and put it on a black card background. Then she used blow straw painting to decorate. I really love this one, I think it looks great. Finally she had done a self portrait, I particularly like the crazy hair.

As always Lily would like to hear which ones are people favourite, so please comment in the box below. Now speak of “oh no it’s play-doh”, it’s time I went and saw what the mess is like….

Dad Does Autism