Special Friends Belper

Special Friends Belper

There is a local charity near us, that I have talked about before. Click here to view a previous blog post about them. They are called Special Friends, and they are based in Belper, Derbyshire. Lily has done a number of different activities with them that she has really enjoyed. If you live in the Derbyshire area I highly recommend them. You can find more information at their website https://www.special-friends.co.uk/

Once again we go on the the current situation with Covid 19, as it dominates everything everyone is doing. Events that Lily would enjoy going to, which involve lots of other children, can’t be going ahead right now. Hopefully they can get back to business as usual when this is all over, and Lily gets one of her outlets back. Where she can just go and be a kid and mix with others, and not have the worry of Jack’s needs. Which sometimes do get in the way of what Lily wants to do, as much as we try not to let it.

A special friends surprise

Today a surprise came through the letter box for Lily. A plastic folder than had in side a certificate, a framed photograph and a couple of other things.

Special friends folder

It had been dropped off by the people at Special Friends. For them to be making the effort to do this at this time, speaks volumes for the people running it. I don’t know how many children they did it for, but I’m sure every one of them were just as pleased to see the folder as Lily was.

In these difficult times, it’s the gestures like this that keep you going. It really brightened up the day for Lily. She has started looking a bit down recently, but this and a couple of other things have certainly made her a lot happier. So a massive thank you to the people at Special Friends.

Dad Does Autism

Jack and Lily had a sleepover

Jack and Lily had a sleepover


Originally I had planned a post about autism awareness being 365 days a year, not a day, week or month. But something far bigger happened. Jack and Lily had a sleepover!

I will quickly mention it, as today April 2nd is autism awareness day. I am very much for raising awareness. There are people in the autistic community, who get a bit angry about it. That’s not me, I’m far too relaxed as an individual for that. I don’t get angry about puzzle pieces, or saying “with autism” rather than autistic. Or any of the other stuff people get riled up about. I have my preferences, and respect other people’s preferences. Respect is the important word. Respecting each other is the most important thing.

The world has become more aware of autism over the last few years, but there is still some way to go. The keyword for me is acceptance. It is ok people being aware, but unless there is acceptance it’s pretty meaningless. Autistic people are a diverse bunch, who offer so many different things to our world. My dream is a world where autistic people are universally accepted and embraced for who they are.

Jack and Lily had a sleepover

Last night the most remarkable thing happened in our house. Something I never though would ever happen. I went up stairs to check if Jack and Lily were asleep, to find Lily in Jack’s room. They told me they were having a sleepover. I checked with Jack 3 times to make sure he was ok with it, and it wasn’t just Lily forcing the issue.

He seemed genuinely happy with it, which is amazing considering a year ago he didn’t even want her in his room. I was expecting Jack to get tired and decided he wanted her out at some point. Considering Lily had filled his bed with her pillows, teddy’s and her blanket. It would have really upset Lily if that had happened. But the teddy’s and the dogs aka the Snuggly’s were all having a sleepover too. The next time I checked them they were both asleep, and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Showed them this photo this morning & they love it more than me.

They are both missing their friends from school. This current situation seems to be bringing them closer together than ever before. This morning Lily was pretending to be Jack’s teacher, and was getting him to do some work. With more success than I’ve been managing too! They were then playing some sort of Easter game up until dinner, when Jack wanted some time on his own. It is by a hell of a long way the most time they’ve ever spent together, and got along the whole time. It has been so amazing to witness.

Special Friends go Swimming

Special Friends go Swimming

Today’s post, special friends go swimming, is about a great local charity. But first, Jack was at his over night rest-bite on Friday night. As I wasn’t feeling too well. I didn’t take Lily out anywhere. We just sat together and watched some films. It was Captain Underpants and Boss Baby. As far as having to watch kids films as a dad goes. These are two of the better ones.

This morning I still wasn’t feeling great. But Natalie was taking Lily to the park, before going to pick Jack up. And I wasn’t getting out of it. I was alright once I got there. Lily had fun with the park to herself. 

The other day I talked about Jack’s dogs. Lily doesn’t use them to communicate. At least not yet. But she has her own dogs. She uses them for comfort, and to play. Unlike Jack. Who will take them out in his rucksack. Lily likes to hold them. At least for a while. Then I have to hold them. I’ve come up with what I think is an ingenious solutions.

Yes. As they are small. I can get them into my coat pocket. It does mean having to walk around the park. With teddies hanging out of your coat pockets. But such things don’t bother me. What I’m going to do in the summer. I haven’t worked out yet.

Special friends go swimming

After Natalie had brought Jack home. She took Lily to a swimming session. Organised by Special Friends. They are a small charity based in the town of Belper, in Derbyshire. If you are in the Derbyshire area. And you have a child with additional needs. I strongly recommend you check them out at http://www.special-friends.co.uk

Lily goes to the sibling group once a month. They also have a play group. They even organise things just for parents. I believe Natalie has been on a Mums one. I haven’t been on the dads night out yet. But would consider it. The need to get out and meet people who understand. Has really dawned on me recently.

They also do family events. Such as the swimming session today. Which was a sensory swim. With lights and floats etc that Lily really loved. Especially put on so a group of people in similar circumstances. Can get out and feel comfortable together. I can’t praise the work they do highly enough. 

Their next event is trampolining. All 4 of us will be going. It will be the first time taking Jack to one. So hopefully he enjoys it. As with anything new. Taking Jack comes with a bit of trepidation. Because we know that it’s like when it doesn’t go well. But he’s doing well at the moment. If things stay that way. Then I think he’s ready. 

Dad Does Autism

Lily Making A New Friend

Lily Making A New Friend

Some good news today about Lily making a new friend. We have done pretty well, with the seasonal viruses this year. Because I have asthma I usually pick up every bug going. Not so much this winter. This morning though, I woke up feeling terrible. So I’ve not got much done at all today.

Yesterday, when I took Lily to school. She saw the child she has been trying to make friends with. She started to walk over to him and then stopped. I told her go over, but she looked really nervous. After a bit of gentle persuasion she walked over. 

Then they we’re off walking and talking. Lily has come back from school much happier the last two days. She has told me all about playing with her new friend. It has made me so happy. Lily has always needed someone to come over to her. To ask her to play. For Lily to be the one initiating things is such a massive thing.

After the difficult start to the week for Lily. I’m so pleased it’s finished on such a positive note with Lily making a new friend. Hopefully this is the start of things getting much better for her.

Dad Does Autism

Proud of Lily the Artist

Proud of Lily the Artist

Lily’s on a mission to turn my house into a art gallery…

After the post earlier today, when I was feeling really down in the dumps. I wanted to come back and share positive new, and talk about autism and art. Lily came out of school looking really happy. She said she had a good day. She was very happy that a child had said they would play with her tomorrow. A child she doesn’t normally play with. But she has been mentioning recently.

It seems like she has been trying to make a new friend. And she is succeeding. Which is a huge thing for Lily. She has often said to us. That she can’t make friends. It feels like she is proving to herself that she can. I believe this child is also autistic. Which could be where the common ground is. Or could just be coincidence. I don’t really know.

Autism and Art

So finally we come to the great thing Lily did at school yesterday. That everyone was really proud of her for.

Lily’s Rocket

Over the weekend Lily started making a rocket. It wasn’t a school project. We hadn’t given her the idea to do it. She just took it upon herself to start making it. Most of it she did by herself. She got a bit tired Doing the red and yellow strips. So she got me to help. Then when went to her grandparents. Grandma was roped in as well. Autism and art is something I’ve been reading up on, with Lily taking such a keen interest in art.

Show and tell

When it was finished on Monday. Lily told us she wanted to take it to school. So she could do show & tell. Again, this wasn’t something school had asked her to do. She just wanted to do it. So on Tuesday we took it to school. Off to class she went with it. I wasn’t 100% sure if she would tell them what she wanted to do.

Natalie went to pick her up from school. When they got home. I heard all about it. She had asked to do the show & tell. Lily has always been quiet in class. So her teacher and assistants were absolutely delighted that she wanted to do it. They told Natalie she was brilliant and they were really proud of her. And that all the class gave her a big round of applause.

Lily was bursting with pride when she came to tell me. I had a lump in my throat…

Dad Does Autism