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”.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
I wanted to share with everyone the social story we used, and how we used it. We don’t use PECS continuously with Jack for everything while at home. However we do when we take Jack out, especially to a new place. There are many different styles of PECS and social stories. Natalie put this one together using Twinkl. Natalie has membership for this website, which allows us access to thousands of resources, such as PECS and a wide variety of educational tools from early years to adulthood, including a fully kitted out section for us parents. There’s also free downloads for those without membership. This is the story we used.
Using the social story
For people who have been around autistic children, this will probably be a familiar sight. If you haven’t then what this is used for is, to explain to Jack what he is going to be doing. Just telling Jack what he is doing isn’t enough. He fails to fully understand what you are saying. He also needs constant reassurance through the whole process.
This is where the pictures are really useful with Jack. We have all the pictures separate and I keep hold of them. I give Jack the first picture and he keeps hold of it. Then as we get ready for the next stage I swap his picture for the next one. This means he has the picture of what he is supposed to be doing. Which he keeps in his hand as a reminder, and he can keep looking at if he feels like he needs to. He also had both of us talking to him, which he also requires.
Yesterday this worked extremely well for Jack. He stayed fairly relaxed for Jack, and coped so well. As with everything autism related. The same things don’t work for everyone, as the spectrum is so wide and varied. But this is something I would definitely always recommend people try, if they haven’t before. Have you used social stories? If you have I’d love to hear about how you found them. Please leave a comment about your experiences with them, positive or negative. Thanks.