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

Hanging around the garden

Hanging around the garden

Just a little update post, mainly about how we have been hanging around the garden. Since Natalie did the last post about homeschooling, it’s been a few days since I’ve done anything. I’ve got plenty of ideas, but with children to entertain all day it’s not easy. I can’t stand being disturbed when I’m working, so it’s not fair to try when the kids are around. As I will just get short tempered with, it’s not there fault we are all stuck at home all day.

So what have we been doing? Like I said, it has mostly been hanging around the garden. Lily’s Grandad dropped off a pedal go cart for her, which she was extremely excited about. Jack and Lily both got to say hello to their grandparents, before they left. Which was nice, it’s the first time they’d seen any family since the lockdown began. So just getting to say Hello, was good for them.

Hanging around the garden go cart

Lily has had great fun racing the go cart around, to the point we are having a hard time getting her off it. At least she is enjoying herself. Last week I really felt like the lockdown was having an effect on her. The go cart has given her a new lease of life, over the last couple of days.

Gardening and Birds



I have been getting some gardening done. We have some big bushes in our back garden. I chopped them all down last year, but they’ve grown back quickly. They are a bit of a pain, but they seem to be a haven for Birds to make birds nests. The bushes go up against a fence and trellis, and the rest of the back garden has high walls.

It’s obviously a safe place for nesting, we had 5 nests last year. We have the first one already this year. I don’t know who enjoys watching the birds fly in and out more, me or the kids.

I’ve been quite pleased with how my gardening has been going in the front garden. It’s the best it’s looked since we’ve lived here, though it still needs quite a bit of work on it. Jack wants to help me with the gardening. He made a video of his idea of “helping”.


Perhaps I’ll persuade his to do some weeding tomorrow, but I doubt it.

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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

I’m feeling so tired

I’m feeling so tired

For the last 2 or 3 days I’ve been feeling so tired. Perhaps it’s a turn in the weather, we’ve had lots of lovely sunny spring days during this lockdown. This week however it’s been more like the British dull, grey and drizzly weather, us Brits know only too well.

Perhaps it’s the lack of Vitamin D, and not getting outside as much. Leading to an even greater feeling of isolation than previously, but I’ve been feeling so tired this week, and really struggled for motivation.

Annoyingly 3/4s of this post appears to have vanished, and I’ve not got it saved anywhere else 🤦‍♂️

Feeling so tired

There was at least another 7 paragraphs, talked about the difficulty and demands on parenting autistic children. I don’t think I can remember well enough to write it all out again, even if I wanted to. To be honest I don’t want to, the tiredness probably had something to do with me messing the post, and i’m feeling a bit dejected about it.

I’ll quickly say the two main points, that are proving difficult, and taking my energy. Jack’s routine. Dinner has to be at 12, and Tea has to be at 5. If it’s not he gets annoyed, sometimes angry. With Lily it is the demand for attention. All the jobs I would normally do when the kids are at school, I’m finding difficult to do, as Lily always wants you with her. I will just have to keep plugging away and do what I can.

I also went on to talk about playing in the rain, but I will now do that in a separate post tomorrow. As I have plans with Lily to get the waterproofs on and go for a long walk in the rain tomorrow. Assuming that it does actually rain that is.

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How to make a milk bottle elephant

How to make a milk bottle elephant

Lily has been looking at some new ideas, to put into her Lily’s Art Gallery section of the website. Rather than just showing you this one, we decide to tell you how to make a milk bottle elephant, which is her latest creation.

It’s quite simple to make, but I think it looks amazing. All you need as an empty plastic milk bottle. The big 6 pint bottles work best, but you could make a small elephant with a 4 pint bottle. Then all you need are some scissors, glue, card, tissue paper and some google eyes. Then you are ready to go.

Making your elephant

The first thing you have to do is cut the top of the milk bottle off, approximately 15cm down, cutting through the handle and the main part of the bottle. Then cut an extra 3cm off of the handle, that is the trunk.

On the bigger sides of the bottle, cut out a curve Starting 4cm in and finishing 4cm in the other side to make the legs.

Side of milk bottle elephant
The curves to make the legs

To complete the legs, you need to cut out a curve at each end, to the same height as the other to curves. Which should now give your bottle the appearance of having legs. If my instructions aren’t clear, hopefully you can see from the photos.

Back of milk bottle elephant
The back end of the bottle

The next step is to cut some elephant ears out of card. Then it is time to decorate your elephant. You can decorate it however you want. As always Lily wanted it to be as colourful as possible, so she cut out some rough square shapes, in numerous different coloured tissue paper and decorated the bottle and the ears, by glueing the paper to them.

Card elephant ear
the elephants ear

The last thing to do is glue the ears onto the bottle, and then glue some google eyes on too. That’s it! Pretty simple stuff, but something that I think looks really good. Why not try it yourself? Lily had great fun doing it.

Milk bottle elephant completed
the finished elephant

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Self Isolation Questionnaire

Self Isolation Questionnaire


Today’s post is a sort of Self Isolation questionnaire. I was never much into blogs before I started writing my own, but now I read a lot of them. There are lots of good stories and ideas out there. One thing that really interested me, was a blog post titled 40 self isolation journal prompts at the blog Our favourite jar. Ive narrowed it down to 25 question, which I will be providing answers too. To see the full list 40 head over https://ourfavouritejar.com/, that’s where the inspiration for this post came from, there’s lots of other great posts to read as well.

I’ve never kept a journal or diary, but in a way this is my diary. Not every post is about me, what I’ve been doing, or how I’m feeling. But this is the only place I keep record of those things. That’s why I’ve decided to answer the questions here. Feel free to use the questions yourself, i think it’s a worthwhile exercise, which is why I’m doing it. So, on with the questions

Self Isolation Questionnaire


1. How long have you been self isolating now?

We started when Boris Johnson made the announcement. A quick google tells me that was March 23rd, which makes it 37 days as It writing this.

2. Who are you isolating with?

My partner Natalie and our 2 kids Jack and Lily.

3. Are you still working?

No. I actually left work in March, it wasn’t related to Covid-19.

4. How are you feeling today?

I’m feeling pretty good. I did quite a bit of cleaning today, and rewarded myself with a couple of games on Madden 20 on the PS4. It’s the first miserable rainy day I can really recall since this started, so I’ve left the kids playing on their games while I got on with the cleaning.

5. Who do you miss?

Our Sunday routine for as long as I can remember, has been I take Jack & Lily to my parents while Natalie goes to work. We are video calling my parents to keep in touch, but all 3 of us are missing the visits. Especially getting to play with their dog Mack.

6. What keeps you going?

When things start to get on top of me, I try and get a bit of space and listen to some music. Music has always been a very important means of escape for me.

7. What events are you missing out on? How do you feel about it?

Currently we haven’t missed out on anything that was planned. We do have a holiday booked in August, in Devon. We’ve only paid a deposit so far, and they’ve informed us we would get a refund if they are closed due to lockdown, or we could choose to move the holiday to next year. We are keeping the options open for now.

8. How did you exercise today?

Vigorous cleaning was the sum total of my exercise today. Normally it’s been playing sports games in the garden with Lily, and some days going for a walk.

9. Have you had to go shopping?

Natalie has done the main shopping, as she normally does, and she is doing it for her parents as well, who are both in the high risk group. I’ve been to the local shop a couple of times when we’ve ran out of milk.

10. How are you keeping in touch with people?

As I’ve mentioned, video calls to my parents, then I’m on a WhatsApp group with my closest friends. Then using social media to communicate with everyone else.

11. What is on your to-do list today?

I don’t have one.

12. How are you coping emotionally?

I’ve been up and down, but mostly up. I have long term depression, so I was worried how I’d handle this situation. Overall I’m doing ok.

13. How is home schooling going?

Hit and miss. Lily quite likes doing the school work…when she’s in the mood for it. Jack not so much.

14. What would you do right now, if you could do anything?

I would go for a nice walk in the Peak District with the family, followed by a pub lunch.

15. The first thing you will do when we are released?

Not much. I don’t think I will be rushing straight out to be honest.

16. Has this time made you change your mindset?

Not really, it has more reinforced my mindset. The need to slow down and focus on family, which is what led me to leave work. I would have been classed as a key worker, if I’d still been at work, and would have been expected to continue working. I have huge respect and admiration for all the key workers out there, but I’m glad to be at home putting all my efforts into my family at this time.

17. How do you deal with difficult days?

If it’s the kids having a difficult day, just put the extra effort in to make them entertained and happy. Get some games on the go, try and get everyone doing something together.

18. Do you avoid the news?

Yes! Like the plague, and that’s 365 days a year. I figure if anything important is announced, I will hear about it.

19. One thing that made you smile today?

Reading a new book with Lily, it was called the Zoo bet.

20. How are the children dealing with it?

They have been up and down. It’s not been as bad as I might have feared. Jack has delayed processing, so issues might arise later on, but up to now he’s coped fairly well considering his routines disappeared overnight. Lily has started to get bored revelry, and is missing her friends from school a lot.

21. What have you done that you wouldn’t normally have time for?

Stuff with the kids. They are quite demanding, so other jobs I’d like to get on with, aren’t always easy to get too. I have managed some time for it, but of my time is spent entertaining the kids.

22. Have you kept a list of things to do once this is over?

No, it’s perhaps something to do though. I think we will all need some things to look forward too.

23. Do you feel closer to people even with the distance?

Strangely, yes. I guess as most of us don’t have much to do, we are all talking to each other more than normal. Whether that’s phone/video calls or messages.

24. Have your political views altered in any way?

No.

25. What has been your self isolation highlight?

Our kitchen sink got blocked. I’m not known as a DIY handy man, but I managed to take the pipes apart, clear the blockage and put it all back together again. It was a proud moment for me.

That’s it for the self isolation questionnaire. I hope you enjoyed my answers and why not have a go at it yourself?

Dad Does Autism

Thank you

Thank you

Today I would just like to say thank you to everybody who left us a message, after yesterday post about the passing away of our pet Guinea pig Buffy. Whether you left a message on here, Facebook, Twitter or directly, we’re read them all and we appreciate them all. Usually I reply to each individual message, but I just feeling like it. So wanted to thank everybody together.

The house has felt strange, as anybody who’s had a pet Guinea Pig knows, they are extremely noisy. Since being on her own, out other Guinea Pig Biscuit has been very quiet, I just hope she gets back to her normal self soon. After the kids went to bed last night it was very quiet, and felt a bit weird.

More cheerful things

On a more cheerful note, the kids have been playing well together. Lily has been wearing me out, wanting to play all sorts of sports in the garden. Jack rarely wants to join in, so he just hangs around the garden doing his own thing. He has been making curry’s on his Pokemon game on his Nintendo Switch, I don’t know what curry has to do with Pokemon. But he wanted to make a real one, so he made prawn curry for me and him to have for tea, which was nice. Natalie and Lily don’t like curry, so had something else.

Thank you post curry

I could get her used to Jack making the tea haha. It’s not been an easy couple of days, but the kids seem to be holding up ok. So I will finish by just saying thank you again.

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Losing a pet

Losing a pet

It is with a heavy heart, that I have to share some sad news. Yesterday one of our Guinea Pigs passed away. Losing a pet is always difficult, but with things being difficult at the moment it almost feels worse. Playing with the Guinea Pigs was one of the things, that was bringing a smile to the kids faces. Something that is proving more and more difficult, especially with Lily who is starting to look really fed up.

So to suddenly lose Buffy (yes she was named after my favourite slayer of vampires) has hit hard. We first noticed a lump on her back a few days ago. Natalie rang the vets and they said it was probably a cyst, and to keep an eye on it. Due to the lockdown they were only taking in emergency cases. Friday night through to Saturday morning she deteriorated quickly, so we got her booked in at the vets.

To be honest, when I put her into the travel box I knew she wasn’t coming home. There was barely any movement, and once inside she buried herself in the hay. It just felt to me like she was trying to hide away to die, which is an instinct in a lot of animals. At the vets she had a fit during her examination and died, the post mortem showed cancerous ovarian tumours, so at least she is t suffering anymore.

Our pet guinea pig buffy

How the kids are taking it

Lily cried herself to sleep last night. I stayed with her until she fell asleep, it was hard to see her so upset. It was more than just tears, she got quite distressed. She is very sensitive, loves animals and gets very attached. I’m expecting more of the same over the next few days, before she settles down.

Jack also loves animals and gets attached, but has a lot of difficulty showing his emotions. I’ve talked about this, and his delayed processing before, click here to read about that in more detail. We told the kids separately, as Lily crying might upset Jack. So I was the one who told Jack. As expected he went very quiet, I could see he was upset as his legs were shaking rapidly. He asked how she died, which is normal for Jack. He has to know every detail, I assume that helps him process what has happened.

We talked about how Buffy would now see Fluffy again, who was the Guinea Pig we brought at the same time as Buffy who died a couple of years ago. As well as Dylan my parents old dog. My parents look after the Guinea Pigs when we go on holiday, Dylan used to sit on the grass watching them in their play pen before he died.

The grieving process

Losing a pet isn’t nice for anyone. Jack and Lily have added difficulties, Lily doesn’t really understand death yet, I don’t think Jack really does either to be honest. Then he has his emotional and delayed processing issues. The grieving process will be different for both of them, but we just have to support them both the best way we can.

Buffy has been cremated and will be coming home. We aren’t completely sure what to do yet, seeing the ashes might be too much for Lily, but Jack will probably need to see them to accept that she has gone. Losing a pet is the downside of the wonderful joy of having animals as part of your family.

We still have the one Guinea Pig (Biscuit) at home, but we are unsure what to do next. We’ve been told it could be 6 months before pets are on sale again. If we got another Guinea Pig there would be a big age gap, with one dying long before the other again. Biscuit will also have been alone for some time, and might not accept another one coming in. As I’ve said before in my Are dogs good for autistic children post, we’d like to explore the possibility of getting a dog. We will see how it goes.

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The positive things

The positive things

I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s really important to look at the positive things at the moment. I have been up and down myself, which is why I decided to write this post. So I can myself focus in on some of the positive things that are happening at the moment.

The first and most obvious thing is, having lots of time to spend with the kids. Now of course it’s not all roses and sunshine, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed it. Watching Lily do her art, baking cakes and playing some board games has been nice. Lily’s latest creation is this lovely blue and green penguin, made from a plastic bottle cut in half. Then wrapped in newspaper and painted. Then stuck on some googly eyes and cardboard wings.

Penguin

Getting outside

Before I hurt my foot we were playing lots of sport in the garden, I think I’m just about fully recovered now, so we can start doing that again. Getting Jack outside in the garden is still hit and miss, but he’s getting out enough that’s it’s not a major problem. Jack and dad time has largely been about watching movies and snacks, with a bit of Lego building thrown in. We have been on a few short walks. Jack doesn’t want to go everyday, but again he’s going enough for it not to be a major concern.

I’ve also had a couple of walks, where it’s just me and Lily. Both kids like to have their own time with us. We live in a small village, so we are surrounded by fields and a lot of animals. There seems to be a lot of horses round us, which Lily loves. So we walked up to take a look at some of them, which was really nice and Lily loves it.

Lily and horses

I’m not a hardcore environmentalist or anything, but I also think it’s quite nice that everything has slowed down. I’m sure Mother Nature is taking some deep breathes of cleaner air at the moment. Obviously things can’t stay like this, but I do think there is a lesson to be learned regarding slowing down, and what people’s priorities are.

Friendships

It’s been a very interesting time for friendships. I’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances over the years, from school, college, football teams and work. There is only a very small group of friends I stay in contact with regularly. At the start of the lockdown we were talking a lot, as we all processed what was going on. It’s slowed down a bit now, as o think everyone has settled into a bit of a routine with what’s going on. But it was good to have friends there, helping to keep each other going.

Jack and Lily are both missing their friends from school. It used to be said autistic people cant make friends, which is absolute rubbish. Both Jack and Lily crave friendship. None of Jack’s friends from school live anywhere near us. But Lily has seen a couple of her friends around and has been able to say hello. We live close to the local shop, so when we are in the front garden we see lots of people.

Lily saw her best friend/boyfriend, and his mum took this lovely photo of them waving to each other over the garden fence. You could see how much they wanted to be able to play, hopefully they will be able to soon. It is lovely to see how strong the friendship is.

Waving the positive things
waving, with Jack sneaking in the photo in the background

They are a few of the positive things I could think of. Have you had any positive experiences come from this pandemic? We’d love to hear about them, so feel free to let us know in the comments.

Dad Does Autism

Chocolate fairy cakes

Chocolate fairy cakes

Lily wanted a break from art today. She decided she wanted to bake some chocolate fairy cakes instead. First of all I would like to say thank you for all the lovely comments, about Lily’s art work, on yesterday’s post. I sat with her this afternoon whilst she was reading them, and she was so pleased that people were enjoying her work.

Preparing to bake cakes

So today she wanted to bake cakes. It took a while to decide to make, but in the end Lily decided on Chocolate fairy cakes. We followed a very simple recipe, as you can see from the ingredients list below.

Cake ingredients

Lily did most of the work herself. Most of my help came through reassuring her that she was doing it right, and that the ingredient measures were right. Then I stood back as she started mixing the butter and sugar.

Mixing the cake ingredients

Then came the eggs, flour and cocoa powder. I was called upon while Lily had a little break because her arm was tired, to finish the mixing. Lily then put the mixture into the cases, when they were ready I put them into the oven.

A little TV break and a drink while we waiting for the cakes to be ready, and then came Lily’s favourite bit. Decorating the cakes. It’s always the part she most looks forward to. I helped her make some simple icing, using just icing sugar and water. Then it was sprinkles time. As you can see, Lily likes her sprinkles and likes to get creative with them.

Chocolate fairy cakes

Chocolate fairy cakes

They were very easy to make, it kept Lily busy for the afternoon and she had fun doing it. Then you get the bonus of getting to eat cake at the end. I think it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Cake

Jack was given the first cake, and gave it his seal of approval. Meanwhile I was left to do the washing up.

Dad Does Autism