Parenting from a special perspective: Someone's Mum

12 December 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Welcome Danielle. 

I am Danielle and I am an ex-English teacher living on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border. I have two children, a boy, aged very nearly four, who is on the autistic spectrum, and a daughter, who is nineteen months.

1. When did you first realise your child has autism?
Summer 2015. Nursery called us in to discuss what they called ‘some concerns’. E was just two years and nine months at the time. It came as quite a shock, even though in hindsight the signs were there.

2. How did you feel when you found out that your son has autism?
My world ended, for a little while. I didn’t take it very well at all. I am not sure why – maybe because it was so unexpected. I have come a long way since then.

Transforming a dull wall...

6 December 2016

Dear friend,

Our boys are really lucky to have a games room! We sacrificed our small back bedroom for their games room last year. A quick lick of paint, a sofa bed and a television and they were happy! We also used picture shelves for storing their huge collection of computer game figures. We were all happy with the result and it was super for the boys to have somewhere to take their friends when they came to play.

Hubby's lovely colleague gave the boys his old widescreen Television which meant a quick room change as I didn't want them sitting too close to the screen and we were left with ugly holes in the wall. For a while I hung a big picture over it but then one of the boys friends knocked two of the shelves off the wall, leaving more holes. Hubby tried to fix them (but DIY isn't his strong point, sorry hubby) and we were left with a very ugly, messy old wall.

My first idea was to wallpaper but with what? Then I came across a brilliant solution on-line. I discovered a fabulous Mario brothers wall mural.  I wasn't sure if the company would deliver to Holland or what size we would need but I contacted 'Ink your wall' and the owner Darren replied really quickly and was very helpful in answering my many questions.

There were several brilliant designs to chose from on the easy to navigate site ranging from Super Heros to Lego and Minecraft but the boys love Super Mario Bros. They chose a really cool design from their favourite game Mario Kart with an upside down Mario. We were happy to go for this one so placed our order and the boys couldn't wait for it to arrive.

Ink your wall provides instructions with your paper and there are some instructions on-line for preparation and installation. Make sure you measure your wall accurately, I would recommend giving yourself extra room as the pieces need to be overlapped a couple of centimetres each time. We paid a professional wall paperer to place the Mural for us.  The quality of the paper is very good and can cover small cracks in walls. It certainly did the trick on our ugly wall!

The boys have been proudly bringing their friends home to play and no wonder... How cool is this???

Do you have a dull wall that needs transforming? 

I received a discount for the purposes of this review but all thoughts and feelings are my own.

Gizmo saves Christmas

1 December 2016

Dear friend,

If there is one thing that makes it feel like Christmas then it has to be the good old Christmas advert.   Christmas certainly brings out the creative brilliance in our advertisers. I have really fond memories of sitting on the sofa in my Christmas PJs watching TV with my family and waiting for the adverts to come on. Rather than disappearing off, to make that cuppa, we all waited to see what would come on and we all had our favourites.

Last week my colleagues and I sat on our phones at lunch time watching the adverts that had just been released. There were lots of Ahhhhs and Oooorrrrs and then we had a good old discussion about our favourite Christmas adverts. There is something about these clever adverts that captures the spirit of the festive season. Hearing that Coca Cola music and seeing the big red lorry, makes me feel like Christmas has really arrived and the John Lewis adverts certainly take some beating but when I saw the 2016 Vision Direct advert starring Gizmo the Pug, I feel in love!

The Perfect Present: The Perfect Steak

29 November 2016

Dear friends,

It's getting around to Christmas time and I am wracking my brains again to try and think of something amazing to do for the hubby. I know getting to live with me should be prize enough for the man but he does deserve a little something.

As my beautiful and amazing Nana always said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and she wasn't wrong very often! Hubby loves a good steak and whilst I would absolutely love to take him to Barbecoa London – Jamie Oliver’s barbecue steakhouse, it's not going to happen for us this year!

However, have you seen Barbecoa’s new ‘Guide to cooking the perfect steak’? This beautiful guide features expert advice from Steve Pooley, Chef Director at Jamie Oliver. It recommends the best kind of steak to buy, what to look for, ingredients and cooking methods and serving suggestions. Whilst I am not well known for my cooking skills, the guide promises to help you to cook steak like a pro. I am sure that even I could manage this easy to follow guide and make hubby a slap up steak and an evening to remember.

Here is the brilliant guide from Barbecoa for you. Maybe you can join me by having a romantic steak night too? It can be a nightmare to get childcare over the festive period so what could be more fabulous than to celebrate Christmas with a romantic meal together at home. We can start a Great British Barbecoa off!  If you do give it a bash tag me in your photos on IG @animperfectmum

This is a sponsored post.

Book Corner: Message in a bottle

21 November 2016

My book corner choice this month is: Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle is a really exciting and brand new book written by Tom Percival with the most beautiful illustrations by Tuire SSiiriainen. This is a book with a twist because you get to personalise the story. What I really loved about this personalised story was the ability to add a totally individual and unique message (including a photo) at the end. 

The story centres around a beautiful, kind bird called Kiki who finds a message in a bottle and sets off on an exciting adventure to try and deliver the message. Along the way she has lots of thrilling encounters, meets many interesting new characters and makes some firm friendships.

Do accents still matter?

16 November 2016

Dear friend,

I never ever thought I would be able to say that I have something in common with the beautiful Cheryl Cole, until now. We have both been the victims of accentism.

Accentism is where people are discriminated against because of how they speak.

Unfortunately for Miss Cole her Geordie accent halted her plans to conquer America. My plans were a bit less ambitious than that, I hoped to teach English to 7-12 year olds in a Dutch primary school but my accent wasn't 'Oxford' enough.

I was born and raised in Middlesbrough in the north east of England and I have quite a strong Northern accent (no I am not a Geordie, as anyone from Middlesbrough will tell you but we won’t go into that now.) Ten years ago I moved to Holland and began working in International schools.

In the international school system there are many different accents, national and regional. Children often ask where I come from and I have had many discussions with my pupils about language differences e.g. Portuguese in Portugal versus Portuguese in Brazil. In our multi-cultural, multilingual environment differences in accent are normal.

Do accents still matter?

Media obviously has a significant role to play in our perceptions of people and accent. In the early days of broadcasting the BBC only used announcers who spoke with Received Pronunciation. However, more recently Received Pronunciation has been perceived negatively in Britain as it is associated with undeserved privilege. In a recent research study led by Dr Lance Workman, at Bath Spa University, the Yorkshire accent was rated as the most intelligent-sounding, beating received pronunciation, for the first time.

The world is changing, in many ways it has become smaller. There is a high level of mobility in the international world and we are exposed to more regional accents. In day to day conversations in international corporations we are more likely to come across people with a Chinese English accent or Italian English accent.

In the UK we have seen the Emerson of Multicultural London English. Young people have grown up in London being exposed to a mixture of second-language English and local London English and this new variety has emerged from that mix.

Our language is constantly evolving, therefore doesn't it make more sense to expose our children to a range of language experiences in preparation for this?

British broadcasting now represents a broader range of accents, look at the One Show and the popularity of Ant and Dec. Steph McGovern, BBC business news presenter is a fellow northerner (also from Middlesbrough). She has received some criticism for her strong accent.

“…there are still some viewers who can’t accept that someone with my accent can have a brain…I’ve had tweets questioning whether I really did go to university because surely I would have lost my accent if I did; a letter suggesting, very politely, that I get correction therapy; and an email saying I should get back to my council estate and leave the serious work to the clever folk…What’s scary is the ignorance about what having a regional accent means, or indeed doesn’t mean. It certainly doesn’t equal ignorance.”

I strongly agree with Miss McGovern; my regional accent has no bearing on my professional ability or level of intelligence. Unfortunately, the Dutch school I visited (who were looking for a native speaker to teach English to their pupils) didn't agree! The feedback that I received could not have been clearer.

Why does this school believe that Oxford English will better equip their pupils for the future when only 3% of British people have an RP accent? Is it simply a question of old fashioned elitism? Are these Dutch parents hoping that the RP accent will buy their offspring power and prestige?

There is currently no legislation to protect someone from accent discrimination. We legislate against discrimination according to age, race, gender and sexuality but there is nothing to protect us against accentism. Research by the law firm Peninsular in 2013 found that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents.

I refuse to compromise my identity and culture by altering my accent to suit an elitist, exclusive organisation. 

In an increasingly mobile, multilingual society will accent even matter? For my children's sake, I hope not!

Parenting from a Special Perspective: Upside Mum

14 November 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Welcome Emma. Emma is mum to two boys: J (6), B (4) and her baby girl W (1). Her eldest son J was diagnosed with autism aged 3. She is a primary school teacher who likes to read, drink wine, watch crime drama and is currently more than a bit addicted to Instagram.

1. When did you first realise your child has Autism?

We had been monitoring J's development since he was a new baby due to his difficult birth and what unfolded in the days afterwards. As a result we were attending outpatient appointments with a paediatrician. We noticed he wasn't reaching milestones like sitting up and crawling at the recognised ages. When he was two we were more aware that he wasn't developing language, making eye contact and was displaying some repetitive behaviours. We officially found out when he was 3 years and 2 months old, though we thought it was the case for a while before this.

2. How did you feel when you found out that your child has Autism?

Although we had expected the diagnosis and it hadn't come as a big surprise, it's strange that it still came as a big blow. It was a bit like having part of his life and future ripped from us before it even had the chance to begin. We were also told he had a Global Developmental Delay (which includes Autism but is more than Autism alone.) Although I knew what they were going to say I still cried when I got back into the car, all that night when I got home, on and off for a few days afterwards and again when the letter with the official diagnosis arrived. There's no history of Autism in our family either so we knew very little about what to expect.

How to rock Parent's evening

7 November 2016

Dear Friend,

Parents evenings are coming up again so I thought I would share with you my tips for a successful evening. I'll let you in on a little secret. Most teachers feel a bit nervous on parent's evening, even old hands like me who have been teaching for 20 years.

What should you ask the teacher at parent's evening?

For a successful parents evening preparation is key:

Ask your child: 
  • How are things going at school? 
  • What do you want your teacher to know?

Write down your questions: 
  • How is my child progressing?
  • Is he particularly good at anything?
  • Is there anywhere you think he could improve?
  • What's he like in class?
  • Does he join in with group activities?
  • How does he get on with the other children?

You might also ask:
  • What can I do to help with my child's learning when we're at home?
  • Is there anything you'd like to know about what my child is like at home?
  • How Can I Contact You? It’s good to know how to get in touch with your child’s teacher, so find out whether he or she prefers emails, phone calls or written notes.

Be on time!

Try to keep the relationship with the teacher non-confrontational, even if the news about your child is not all positive.

If you want to discuss things further make a follow up appointment.

Parents’ evenings are not the place to bring up issues about school policies. Make an appointment with the school management or governors instead.

There should never be any surprises at parents evening. If there are issues the teacher and parents should have spoken before now!

Congratulate your child! Make sure you have at least one positive thing to congratulate your child on after the parents’ evening, to boost their confidence.

Why I am happy being an imperfect mum

26 October 2016

Dear friend,

What is the hardest thing about being a parent? Sleepless nights, tamtrumming toddlers, stroppy teenagers, juggling home/work? My answer; always wondering if I have done the right thing (given the right food, chosen the right day care or school, got the right therapy, spent enough time with etc). My perfectionist nature makes being a parent hard at times and the mummy guilt piles up...

People have built careers by tapping into this mummy guilt and I have read articles, with tongue in check references to, the different types of mum; corporate mum, gym mum, helicopter mum, yummy mummy. They are entertaining and usually cleverly written. However, are these stereotypes helpful?

Blogging behind the scenes

24 October 2016

Dear friends,

I love hearing about how other bloggers do it! After all we are all different and have different approaches to our blogs and that is what makes them so amazing and wonderful and diverse. I first came across this Blogging Tag on the Frenchie Mummy Blog and then my lovely buddy Louise from Little Hearts Big Love also took part. I loved their answers and as it is my blogiversary (Diary of an imperfect mum is 2 years old) I thought why not give it a go! SO here goes: Diary of an Imperfect Mum, behind the scenes...

1. Where do you blog?
That depends where I am when inspiration strikes really, I prefer to blog on my macbook sitting at the dining table but blog on my iPad/phone or write in a notebook. I spend most evenings sitting on the sofa with my laptop on my knee. I'd love to have my own space to blog...

2. Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts? 
My family. Life in general. I write about the stuff that happens or that matters to me. 

3. How long does it take you to write a blog post?
This is like a how long is a piece of string question. I tend to "word vom", spit it all out as it arrives in my head and then I review and review and review a bit more. Although there are some posts that I do research on too and they may take longer in general I would say a post takes around half an hour to write. But longer to edit, add pictures etc

4. Do you plan your blog posts? How?

I recently updated my schedule...

Monday: I have a rota that enables me to plan in the posts that I have as part of my series. Every month I post; Book corner, Parenting from a special perspective, Gamer zone/Top Tips and Best of #ablogginggoodtime (the linky I host with mummyinatutu)

Wednesday: I publish a diary or autism post.

Thursday: The #ablogginggoodtime linky is open.

Friday:  Days out posts/Vlogs. The last Friday of each month is Monthly Roundup.

Sunday: Eat, Sleep Blog RT linky. I have recently started as co-host to the lovely Zoe from Petite pudding.

5. What kind of camera do you use? What editing program?
I have a samsung WB380F. I am a point and shoot photographer. I love taking photos, something that has grown since I started blogging and take loads of shots, driving my kids mad. I use Fotor for editing - both the program and the app. I tend to use the same filter for my IG shots and this is easy and quick to use. I also didn't want to spend a fortune!

6. Do you use a notebook to track your ideas?
No, I am a digital freak. I always have my iPad or iPhone to hand and use notes or the blogger app to record my ideas and calendar to organise myself. I also use buffer to schedule my social media. 

7. How do you take your pictures?
Point and shoot. I do have a favourite shot that the boys call 'a mummy photo' I like to shoot the boys from behind, walking along holding hands. I plan one day to make a series from the shots.

8. What’s your favourite type of blog post to write?
The ones that I feel really passionately about, the parenting stuff that pops up to bite me on the ar** and I just have to write about...

I feel most proud of the pieces I have written about our family's journey with Autism. I really want to improve awareness and acceptance of Autism. When people comment on how I've helped them understand better or how they've learned from reading one of my posts it feels amazing! 

9. Who knows about your blog?
I was a little shy at first and only told a few people but now everyone knows. Although I don't think my family are regular readers. One friend/colleague really encouraged me to give it a go and I am very glad he did! 

10. Are you an organised or a messy blogger?
I have recently organised myself as I Started a new job and I needed  to manage my time better. Also I found I needed a break from spending every night behind the laptop. I now have a schedule for commenting, scheduling, writing etc

I am really rubbish at the promotion side of things! But as a rather brilliant blogging buddy pointed out to me recently; we're writers not marketing machines... 

11. Biggest blogging pet peeve?
I really hate it when I get caught up in the numbers game, it makes me feel really bad about blogging and really deflated. Sometimes I have to take a step back, read my own words and remember why I started blogging...

Blogging is like breathing out. For so long I feel like I have been holding my breathe, bottling up thoughts, feelings and ideas. Now through my blogging I am breathing out.


19 October 2016

Dear friend,

I am here today to make a confession as a mum and as a teacher. I hate homework. Homework has been the cause of many an argument in my house and my boys are still in primary school. My attitude is very much, '...well I don't think they should have homework anyway...' which drives my poor husband mad as he is quite right, it doesn't actually matter what I think, they have to do it! But it's been bugging me for ages...

Why do my boys have to do homework?

Let's make this perfectly clear from the start,

There is no education research to suggest that homework is beneficial for Primary school students educational success! 

I dont remember as a child having to do homework (apart from learning tables and lists of spellings) we were encouraged to read and my mum took us to the library every week. I don't recall any other homework being given until I reached secondary school. However, in the last period of educational policy there seems to have been a swing towards more and more homework being encouraged.

My son (aged 10) receives 4 pieces of homework a week, these can include, maths (usually a set of sums with multiple choice answers) Grammar, Comprehension, English (learning vocabulary) and geography or history.

Sunday evening and here comes the phrase all parents dread to hear...

Oh  no! I forgot to do my homework. 

Yep, come on, I know you've done it too. You are having such a great weekend you forget all about the homework! Panic ensues, arguments begin, everyone blaming everyone else. Then rush, to get it done! And who exactly is doing the homework, the children or the parents?

I know some parents who have completed their children's homework, most notably a father who entered an online maths competition for his 10 year old son and won.

Homework puts children and parents under pressure.

We now have a rule that the big lad works for 20-30 minutes every evening after dinner. That doesn't seem like a lot of time out of the day and you probably think; What is she complaining about?  But this homework hangs over us like a black cloud all week.

Firstly he kept forgetting to bring his homework folder home. (His autism means he has problems with self organisation.) We got a bag to put it in to try and help. He left the bag at school. We copied the homework from his friend.

He forgot his bag again. Hubby and I got shouty at each other for not remembering to remind him. The big lad cried. Hubby stormed off in a strop and came back with said homework bag (luckily the cleaners were in school)...

Homework causes conflict! 

Secondly, I have issues with the type of homework. I firmly believe that homework should be about reinforcing learning done in school not introducing new concepts but building on prior learning. It should be interesting and open. I can't see the benefit of my child rote learning a bunch of facts that he won't remember in a month when he could be having real experiences.It could of course be argued that engaged teachers will set high interest homework. But I would rather busy teachers concentrated on developing interesting, challenging and high quality lessons.

Sometimes life happens;  there's a birthday party, we go out for the day...
We forgot to learn a stupid list of facts but we did visit an ancient city and look at it's architecture or go to a museum and see the skeleton of a T-Rex or visit our family or spend an afternoon walking on the beach together or just cuddled and talked...
Aren't they also really valuable learning experiences?

Low interest homework causes children to disengage with learning. 

What happens on evenings when my boys have DJ lessons or football? How do we bloody fit it all in? Managing the family timetable is getting increasingly tricky even with technology allowing us to share calendars.

Homework means less time for extra curricular activities which are vital to children's health and well being.

On days when I work we eat dinner together and have maybe an hour as a family before bed. Half of that time is now spent on homework.  Want to go for a beach walk after dinner, want to watch some crap program together on TV or play a board game (we love that) well not until homework is finished. I hate homework... 

Homework reduces family time. 

Here's what the research says:

  • In general, homework has substantial benefits at the high school level, with decreased benefits for middle school students and little benefit for elementary students (Cooper, 1989; Cooper et al., 2006).
  • While assigning homework may have academic benefits, it can also cut into important personal and family time (Cooper et al., 2006).
  • Assigning too much homework can result in poor performance (Fern├índez-Alonso et al., 2015).
  • A student’s ability to complete homework may depend on factors that are outside their control (Cooper et al., 2006; OECD, 2014; Eren & Henderson, 2011).

Taken from edutopua article :  Research trends why homework should be balanced.

I loved this letter from Brandy Young an elementary school teacher in Texas. This letter was placed on FB and went viral. It obviously struck a chord with a lot of parents.

I wish my boys would come home with a letter like this!

Did you know that 1 in 4 young people are suffering from mental health problems. 

Is it anything to do with the amount of pressure that we are putting our young people under to achieve? Or the tiny amount of family time we have together? Or that less children are participating in extra curricular activities? I would bet on the answer being yes...

I want primary school children to be allowed to be kids. I want them to investigate the world with wonder and interest. To play out with friends and come home with dirty knees and grubby faces. To join a group, learn to dance, play an instrument or take part in sport. To spend valuable time with their families and friends. To learn through play, investigation and action. To grow into well rounded individuals.

 Let's make this perfectly clear,

There is no education research to suggest that homework is beneficial for Primary school students educational success! 

Let kids be kids. Ditch the homework!

Do you hate homework? How much homework do your kids get?

I am very pleased that my new school has a no homework policy for the younger children. 

Book Corner: A quiet night in

17 October 2016

My Book Corner choice this month is: A Quiet Night In by Jill Murphy

This is one of my favourite books in the large family series. It is Mr Large's brithday and although Mrs Large has an extra special night planned, things don't quite go as she would like... I love how brilliantly Jill murphy has observed and reflected real family life using humour and affection. I am sure many parents can relate to this tale, come on who hasn't dozed off during the bedtime read? 

Book corner: A quiet night in

Pregnancy or menopause?

12 October 2016

Dear friend,

I always had a positive view of Mother Nature. In my mind she was a sweet old lady sporting a twin set and pearls but now I've decided that she is a bitch in killer heels and a power suit with 80's style shoulder pads. What has caused this turnaround? My sudden decent into the abyss that is menopause...

If you are under 40, you may want to click away now... go on I won't be offended. Perhaps it is better to be blissfully unaware of what lies ahead (I'm very glad that I was!) 

Mother Nature has decided to play one last cruel trick on women. As if pushing human beings out of a hole in your body isn't enough or spending the entire first part of your young life worrying about getting pregnant and the next half worrying that you aren't. Oh no, we haven't endured enough and must now, in a last twist of fate, be subjected to the injustice of confusing menopause symptoms with pregnancy.

Similarities between pregnancy and menopause:

  • No more periods: you can wave goodbye to those periods! No more tampons falling out of your bag during meetings, or panty liners stuck to your mobile phone. 
  • Sleep problems: sleeping with a tummy the size of a beach ball is hard! During menopause you can get to sleep but you will wake in the middle of the night because you're having a hot flush or you suddenly remembered the name of auntie Flo's long dead cat that evaded you this morning. 
  • Memory loss: perhaps this is just me because I haven't seen it listed on the web anywhere but I have the memory of a goldfish at the moment as I did when I was pregnant.
  • Fatigue: menopause is knackering, I'm not lazy or old, I'm menopausal so move off the sofa it's mine! Now I remember the fatigue during my first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Mood changes: We talk a lot about pregnancy hormones, well ladies lets start shouting about these menopause hormones too. I am veering dangerously between crying at anything remotely sad and wanting to kill the next person who looks at me the wrong way.
  • High temperature: My body has a faulty thermostat, end of discussion. 
  • Sore boobs: forget running upstairs without a heavy duty sports bra on! 
  • Elasticated pants: maternity wear and menopause wear both involve elastic for that expanding waistline.
  • Stress incontinence: there is not a baby sitting on my bladder so why do I need to dash to the loo everytime something makes me laugh or I need to sneeze? 
  • Peeing at night: a full nights sleep is a thing of the past! Count on 2/3 night time visits to the WC.
  • Nausea: Not a symptom of menopause but all the above are enough to make anyone sick.

There is however, one major difference in all this, at the end of pregnancy you are left with the best gift of all, your baby. All menopause leaves you with is; vaginal dryness and a hairy chin. Thank you Mother Nature! 

Read more of my Hysterectomy diary...

Parenting from a Special Perspective: A blog about Raising my Autistic Son

10 October 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Welcome Lynne. Lynne blogs over at A blog about Raising my Autistic Son. Lynne is married to Nick and they have four children. Their eldest teenage son is on the autistic spectrum. Family life is hectic and funny - friends often comment that they feel they have been in a sitcom following a visit! Lynne is also a Speech and Language Therapist.

1. When did you first realise your child has Autism? 

Edward was diagnosed with a type of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 8 years old. However I had had moments where I suspected he might be on the autistic spectrum on and off from when he was only two years old. Those moments included things like him being in his own little world staring into space, flapping his hands in front of his eyes and an obsession with lining his toys up. However he also did things which made me think I was just being neurotic, and that I was looking for a condition that wasn’t there. He liked cuddles and kisses (from me and Nick at least), he liked playing imaginary games and he was funny, very funny. These behaviours didn’t match the stereotype I had built for autism and so it took me quite a while to ask for an assessment.

Blog title displayed on geometric designed pattern in primary colours

Autism and flying

2 October 2016

Dear Friend,

In April my lovely bestie sent me an article about Newcastle Airport signing up to the autism charter. Brilliant news for autistic passengers in the North East! I wrote a post for autism awareness week: Great news for autistic fliers and ended with the sentence;

All we need now are for other major airports to follow suit.  

This sentence kept echoing in my brain so I sent a mail to KLM.

I am contacting you in the hope that I can raise some awareness of the needs of autistic passengers flying with KLM. I am the mother of a son with autism and an EXPAT living in Holland. We regularly fly to the UK.
I have investigated your KLM cares package in the past and was encouraged to look at it again during an exchange on FB with someone from your team. In my opinion the KLMCARES package caters for people with physical needs and issues and does not offer particular support for those with a hidden disability. Many parents just don't want to cause a fuss and as autism cannot be seen it makes it harder to explain what our needs are.
Autistic people find it extremely difficult to be in unfamiliar situations and in crowded areas. My son has super sensitive senses and struggles with the lighting, sound and amount and proximity of people in the airport. We use headphones, bring computer games and cross our fingers that he will be ok but I am sure there is more that could be done to support people in a similar position as us or who have more severely autistic children that will meltdown. The number of autistic children is increasing rapidly (1 in 68 children). Therefore, autism must affect a large number of your passengers. Sadly many autistic families choose not to travel! ...
On behalf of all parents of children with autism, I urge you to look at your customer care policy and add specific help for autistic families to enable them to feel more confident to travel with their children... 

This was the response:

We can inform you that KLM can offer assistance.

The assistance will be that you and your children will be assisted from the check-in to the gate, during transfer and also upon arrival.

It will be the same kind of assistance that we offer to passengers with mobility problems as unfortunately KLM does indeed not offer a different specific type of assistance for people with Autism.

However, you will not need to stand in a long queue with your children as you can pass through to priority lane as you will then be assisted.

We kindly ask you to contact us again if you have made another KLM booking, so we can make sure assistance will be arranged for you and your children.

Maybe you have already done so, but we advise you to send a similar e-mail to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport as well, to ask if they can offer the same kind of service that Newcastle Airport has.

We hope to have informed you sufficiently and wish you well in succeeding with raising more awareness as this is indeed very important.

This mail sat in my inbox for ages. I felt disappointed that such a large airport were failing to support a large proportion of their passengers and only offering mobility support. I am not a campaigner, I am just a mummy. But I didn't give up and I did write a further mail to Schiphol airport.

Last week I received a response and I had a lovely telephone conversation with someone from their customer services department (who also has an autistic child). He is working with the department that provides support at Schiphol to improve travel for autistic passengers. In October we will fly using a "new code" for assistance with a child with autism.

In May 2008 a new IATA keyword, “DPNA”, (disabled passenger with intellectual or developmental disability needing assistance) was introduced. This keyword is to be used for a passenger with an intellectual or developmental disability. Use of this keyword will guarantee appropriate assistance at the airports of departure, arrival and transit.

The problem is that many travellers and many airport staff do not know about this code. When I rang the bookings department to add the code to our booking for October half term it took a long time as the booking system personnel had never heard of it before. It seems that there needs to be more information and training. 

I am really excited and pleased that KLM have taken this on and that they are listening to our concerns. Fingers crossed this will make our experience and the experience of many many more autistic people much better! I will be very interested to see how our flight goes! 

What is you local airport doing about autism. Let's spread the word and have autism acceptance not just awareness! 

Jord Wood Watches: My honest review

20 September 2016

Dear friends,

I've been looking for a new watch for ages. I have a beautiful watch that hubby bought me as a honeymoon present that I like to keep for best but when my ice watch broke I started to wear it daily. It's a beautiful watch but a bit too bling for daily use and also a bit heavy! I wanted something stylish and fashionable, yet a bit different and light enough to wear every day. I really did not want anything with a rubbery or plastic feel. 

When Ben got in touch asking if I would like to review a Jord women's watch. I jumped at the chance. I had seen Jord Wood Watches on IG and loved the unique look. I also love the ethos behind the watch design. 

TELLING MORE THAN TIME  The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time.

 I couldn't wait to pick a cool design, perfect for me and my busy lifestyle. 

The website was super easy to navigate and had great pictures with a beautiful selection of unique women's watches.  It was unbelievably difficult to make a choice but in the end I went for the Purpleheart and mother of pearl and waited (very impatiently) for it to arrive. Jord is an American company and the watch took around two weeks to arrive.

My Jord Watch arrived in a beautiful wooden box. I couldn't wait to open it! 

Book corner: Fidgety Fish

19 September 2016

My book corner choice this month is: Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway

Fidgety Fish is one of my favourite picture books to read out loud. It is so much fun and your kids will love joining in. If you have an active child they will really identify with Fidgety as he is a fish who can not keep still. He wriggles and squiggles and darts and giggles through the story. Eventually his mum gets fed up and sends him out to play to release some of that energy. (I am sure many mums will identify with this story too!) Mum warns him to be careful but Tiddler swims out into the sea and his inquisitive nature soon lands him in trouble... 

Ruth Galloway has written and illustrated a series of under water tales including Smiley Shark, Tickly Octopus and Clumsy Crab. Perfect for an under water topic at school or home.

Bloggers beating cancer: When you knocked on my door....

18 September 2016

Bloody Cancer,

I'll never forget the first time you knocked on my door. Well you didn't really knock you just kicked the door right in with one mighty boot. The chill of your sudden presence stunned me into a shocked silence. It stunned us all... 

The Drs tried to force you back but you were too strong. I made promises to anyone who would listen and refused to accept that this bear of a man, this gentle giant who had always made me feel like the most special little girl in the whole world, his
C C C Catie 
could be taken away so quickly with so little warning.

I watched and waited, desperately attempting to heal with the spirit of my love, to bring peace, whilst you consumed the body of the grandpa that I adored.

The day I discovered a lump in my breast I felt the threat of your return.  The idea of you filled my thoughts and swamped me. I could sense you grasping, attempting to get a grip. Every moment took on a new significance, every cuddle, every smile, every conversation became tainted by you. The future that I wanted so much to be a part of (watching my boys grow into amazing young men) was suddenly uncertain. It terrified me. It engulfed me.

But this time it wasn't you knocking. I was the lucky one and I vowed to start looking for rainbows...

I'll never forget the night we got your call. You forced your way back into our lives, turning our world upside down, filling me with sadness and guilt at how far away I am from my family, how I am no help or support.

The initial shock turned to panic. I don't want to introduce you to my children? You are the bogeyman, a phantom, the stuff of nightmares, I don't want you in their world.  How do you answer a child who asks; Will he die?

But you don't discriminate, you don't care, young, old, male, female, Dutch or English. And now we live with you in our lives as so many people do...

I wish we could find a way to barricade that door and never let you back in.
I wish we could send you far away where you can not cause any more confusion, pain, sadness, desperation and torment.
I wish we could kick your arse!

How you can help.

Join #BloggersBeatingCancer

#BloggersBeatingCancer – join Emma & Sarah on Friday 30th September at 10.30am, for coffee and a social media thunderclap. Use the hashtag, get your friends involved, and get fundraising if you can.”

As Sarah from Mumzilla said:

We bloggers, as a collective, we could really shout. How many people could we each get to donate say £5 to charity? To Bart’s Charity and to MacMillan, for both cure and care? So we have set a date for bloggers, and the people who read our ramblings, to have a virtual coffee morning. To spend 10, 15, 30 minutes, whatever we can spare, to sit and have a drink, and to talk to our friends, either in person or online. To ask people to donate to these amazing causes, that could change lives, that could save lives.

Please support this campaign if you can!

You can donate here.

Parenting from a Special Perspective: The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum

12 September 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs.

Welcome Vicki. Vicki blogs over at The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum and is a mother to Elijah. Shortly after birth he was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, and suffered a Neo Natal Stroke (bleed on the brain). He spent 9 days in NICU and at 6 months had a full TOF repair done via open heart surgery. He is now a happy and healthy little boy.

1. When did you first realise your child has Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).

12 hours post birth Elijah began have ‘dusky’ episodes, he went purple but would go back to normal after a few seconds. This happened a few times luckily infront of a nurse when I was still in the delivery suite. He was taken for assessment in the NICU, admitted and a heart scan confirmed the diagnosis. This was later complicated my a Neo Natal stroke.

2. How did you feel when you found out that your child has Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)

Like my world had shattered, like my stomach dropped, like they had got it wrong. How could my baby, have this? Was this my fault? Was he going to survive? Would I lose my baby or even get to take him home? I was in denial up until 6 months, when we went down to Great Ormond Street for pre admission of the surgery.

3. Where did you first turn for help?

I didn’t, I tried to confide in friends and family let them support me but I couldn’t face them. I was dealing with guilt, with resentment so much anger and I was clearly depressed. After Elijah’s surgery I went to the doctors and was put on medication, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I felt I really didn’t start overcoming this until I joined Instagram! Started connecting with other NICU/HEART/CHD families this then led to my blog.

Picture of baby Elijah in the NICU

Think before you share

7 September 2016

Dear Friends,

It's happened again this week. A post about a child with autism has gone viral. A mum posted on Facebook and that post has been reported on all over the world (well I've seen it in America the UK and Holland).

The mother of an autistic child said she was moved to tears when a visiting American Football star joined her son, who was eating alone at school.

When I read the article my heart sank... 

Firstly my heart went out to this mother, how awful that she has had to carry the burden of knowing that her son ate lunch alone, every day! But... where were the caring staff at school to support this child. Lunch times in a large space with lots of people are bound to be difficult for a child with autism. Why wasn't he being given more support?

Secondly, I am happy that Bo now has friends to eat lunch with but it makes me sad that it took one famous adult to let them see the boy for who he really is. To get them to look beyond the autism, the awkwardness, the hand flapping to really see Bo. Another case where autism awareness has not lead to acceptance.

I applaud the mother of Travis Rudolph as she has obviously raised a kind, caring, intelligent young man. He saw a boy eating alone, sat with him and talked with him. This is a heart warming story about a man showing kindness.  Thousands of careers, therapists, doctors, teachers etc working with our children show amazing kindness too but it isn't front page news! It is news because Travis is famous?

Posts like this always make me feel sad and disappointed because they appeal to the journalistic culture of pity or fear. 

I do not want to be pitied and autism is not something to fear, it is about people who deserve to be understood and valued! I will share the success of an amazing athlete Mikey Brannigan who ran the 1500m in less than 4 minutes in qualifying for the Paralympics. Oh and he also happens to have autism. Did you hear about that?

H Days: 7 months later...

6 September 2016

Dear friend,

I have been putting off writing this update... I meant to write a 5 and 6 month update and here we are at month 7. Why? What stopped me from writing this?

I was confused, scared, angry...

In my 4 month update I mentioned that I had seen my GP as I had been experiencing some pain particularly around my menstruation time. This has continued. And instead of accepting it and facing it head on, I am afraid I tried to bury my head in the sand and ignore what was happening...

Stupid I know but previously I have touched on the weight of expectation I was feeling and that there appears to be a life expectancy placed on illness.

Are you still having problems?
How long ago was your surgery?

Or worse still, people don't ask and just assume you are back to normal.

I am also my own worse enemy and have lifted heavy boxes of books, moved tables and carpets and climbed ladders before I was completely ready. Just so I did not have to admit I was having problems still!

I have struggled with feelings of disappointment and depression at having gone through all of this and still having issues. Has it been worth it? What if there's something really wrong with me...

Internet research is dangerous and for a time I convinced myself that it was because of the endometriosis and there was nothing that could be done...

All without seeking a medical opinion... all because I was scared, or too busy, or unwilling to admit I wasn't better...

Things came to a head when I started to bleed and I told hubby... He made me go back to hospital.

It turns out that the enemetriosis has caused a cyst to grow in the ovary. I have been given medication to try and shrink it. The Dr is confident that this should work.

I have been taking the medication for about 3 weeks and I am starting to feel a lot better so fingers crossed it is working...

I wish I had swallowed my stupid pride and gone back sooner instead of waiting it out. 

But we can not look back in regret we must move on in hope...

I hope this is my solution... I hope at my check-up I can report that I am fighting fit. I hope I can finally put all this behind me. I hope my H days are well and truly over!

Read more of my Hysterectomy diary...

The secret to being a brilliant blogger...

24 August 2016

Dear blogger,

I recently had a massive blogfidence crisis. I lost my blogging mojo after reading somewhere that blogger statistics were rubbish. To my dismay I found out that, unless you opt out, blogger records your page views and previews too. And seen as I rather obsessively look at my blog around a million times a day (joke, although probably not far off) my stats were certainly a bit skewed!

Focusing on the Analytics made Diary of an imperfect mum, feel and look like a totally different blog to the one I thought I had (although I was looking and comparing users to page views initially, which didn't help the matter.) It was a huge disappointment to say the least and got me thinking. What is the secret to being a brilliant blogger? Am I missing something? So I did some research...

The Secret to being a brilliant blogger...

1. Be Consistent: 
I have a schedule. I write about my family, parenting and autism and I hope my readers know what to expect and they will come back.
2. Build a loyal following: more often called find your tribe. 
I am massively grateful for all of the wonderful tribal chat ladies who have offered me so much support, are always there with a positive comment and who have been so instrumental in making #ablogginggoodtime such a success. 
3. Grow your social media channels.
I am definitely not a marketing/sales person. My social media is improving but I am by no means an overnight success.

4. Engage Your Audience.
I hope that this comes through my writing and the replies to comments made on the blog and through social media engagement too. I always put effort into my comments. But it is sometimes hard to find time to be as engaged as I'd like and I have had to leave some groups lately because I needed to focus more on my son's needs.
5. Network!
I guest blog, join linkies, join Twitter chats, comment on and share posts. 
6. Make your blog easy to navigate. 
I hope my blog is easy to navigate. Let me know if it isn't please! 
7. Find your voice.
I am unapologetically me! I write with passion and honesty. I am aware that my blog can be seen as niche as I often write about our experiences with autism. 
8. Concentrate on growth.
I know this is something I need to work on. (Why I downloaded Analytics in the first place.) But in all honesty I have no idea what any of this means or more importantly what I should do with this information anyway. 

Reflecting on my blog hadn't really helped so caught up in the middle of this crisis of confidence, what did I do? I contacted my blogging best buddy Katie and had a major meltdown! I think my behaviour could be likened to a toddler throwing all of his toys out of the crib. It wasn't pretty or funny or carefully considered and even included a threat to pack it all in. What I didn't expect was the response...
A brilliantly written, heart warming, loving post to tell me that I do matter... A post that showed me that yes my words do have an impact, that my writing has made a difference to her. (Yes it did make me cry!) The post got so many fabulous comments with many bloggers saying they also questioned their impact at times. So is this something most seasoned blogger's experience?  Perhaps this is why most blogs don't last beyond 2 years (a milestone my little space in the blogosphere is rapidly approaching).

Another brilliant blogging friend Lisa, who is a seasoned blogger and has seen many bloggers come and go since she started her brilliant blog mrssavagevangel. contacted me after reading Katie's post and made an excellent point. Was it my success/lack of it that was the problem or my expectations? She told me that we are writers not marketing people...perhaps it wasn't my content but the other stuff I needed to reasses.

I needed to get my mojo back but how? I went back to my own writing to  remind myself why I started fell in love with blogging...   

Blogging is like breathing out. For so long I feel like I have been holding my breathe, bottling up thoughts, feelings and ideas. Now through my blogging I am breathing out. 

Blogging is inspiring. One of the best things for me has been discovering a world that I never knew existed. A community of people who are willing to share their personal experiences, advice and expertise to help and support others. What a great community.

Blogging is social. Being an expat can be a really lonely experience. I have left behind my best friends and relocated to a place where language is a barrier and culture can be confusing. I have found a way to connect with like minded people. I am making new friends.

Blogging is therapy. It is my way of figuring out life's little difficulties and challenges. But it has grown from that original purpose and has become my own, small way, of raising acceptance of difference. The thing is, the more I write, the more I realise, it is my son who is teaching me.

Blogging is cathartic. On here I can say whatever I think and not feel judged. I can get everything out in the open and not worry about hurting people's feelings. I can be imperfect!

Somewhere along the line, in the hurry to be a big  blogger I lost my focus, I lost my way...I became too focused on the mechanics...the schedules, the tips and tricks to increase followers, the Klout scores, the back follows, the blogging charts etc Instead of seeing the amazing supportive friendships I've made, the beautiful, inspiring comments I receive and the feeling of peace that finding my voice has given me.

The secret to being a brilliant blogger is simple. Write the blog that you want to write and be the blogger that you want to be! 

Being mama...

23 August 2016

Dear Friends,

I have been kindly nominated for the mummy tag by the lovely Laura over at Adventures with J. The rules for this one are simple, answer the questions and then tag two more mummies to take part. It has taken me ages to do this with holidays, work etc etc I am so sorry Laura. When I first saw this tag I thought it was better suited to mummies of younger kids so I have done a bit of adapting along the way... I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about me from the answers.

I work part-time. I initially worked 2 days a week and now I work 3 although I finish at 2p.m. on Wednesday. I work as a primary school teacher and children in Holland are free on Wednesday afternoon.

If we won the lottery I'd happily stay at home to be honest but I do love my job!

My boys are 7 & 10 so no. But we love a sleep over when papa is away and will all climb into mama's big bed. The boys have their own bedrooms but choose to sleep together in one room in a bunk bed.

An electronic device as sometimes the big lad needs to retreat into his electronic world when the sensory input is too much for him. Or a box of top trump cards can keep my two busy for ages!

3 but after a big scare when I was pregnant with little man we stopped at two. We had many extra scans and check-ups as little mans heart was thought to be bigger than normal. It was a very scary time!

Not often enough... But we have sofa picnics all the time at home that is our relaxing time. When we do go out it is normally for a meal. We socialise a lot with our neighbours/friends, we have BBQs together and dinner parties.

The boys love Pokemon of course and watch anything on Cartoon Network or Disney Channel. CBeebies is long gone (thank goodness) but used to be on all the time and the big lad had a bit of a Bob the Builder obsession...

A furby! Little man went mad for one and he has never touched it. Lego- I know most kids love it but not my two!

Little man sausages and big lad pizza - we are very healthy!

One. But I also have a scooter, a lovely pink one... We live in Holland.

No idea I don't own scales. I am about a size larger than before my boys were born.

Last year we stayed in a 5 star hotel in Turkey, it had a great kids program and we had an amazing time. I like to relax and read and sunbathe and hubby can't sit still so we need somewhere that can satisfy us both... I like to visit places with history.

Everything has changed. Simply put my kids come first...

Next, Vingino, Tumble Dry, Name-it...

I see my boys together, laughing, talking, playing just being together. They are inseparable!

I can't go out without my eye-liner and mascara on! But I am not a slave to products. I do swear by Nivea cold cream, my nana used it and she had the most beautiful skin!

I never really questioned it. I just always accepted I would...

Unconditional Love...

I don't want my sons to be heroes...

19 August 2016

Dear man at the beach,

If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it. If it wasn't bad enough that my son was jumped on by a dog and chased around shocked and scared you choose to attack me too...

Did you think it was a good time to step in with your excellent advice? Are you a child behaviour expert or just an interfering knob head? Do you even have kids?

None of this actually matters. You don't matter, neither does your opinion. All that mattered to me at that moment was comforting my frightened son and making him feel safe. 

You don't know me or my son. You have no idea who we are, how we tick. What if my son had been attacked previously by a dog? What if he had special needs (as it happens it wasn't my autistic son who was shocked.) Would you have reacted the same?

At first I thought you were showing sympathy but no... according to you by comforting my son, I was making it worse, making him frightened of dogs. As I understand it (you were speaking quickly and angrily in Dutch at the time) he needs toughening up...

At this point I was like a goldfish gulping for air and conscious that my autistic son was now looking very stressed at this man talking loudly to his mum. (Loud talking makes him very nervous.) So I muttered something about; What are you talking about? We have a dog ourselves, he's not frightened of dogs...and walked away quickly!

But then I mulled over what you said all the way home and all afternoon it went round and round my head. Stupid really as I imagine I haven't crossed your mind once. Maybe verbally attacking vulnerable women with children is a regular occurrence for you? Having my parenting skills questioned thankfully isn't a regular occurrence for me.

I wish I could see you again to ask. Would you have reacted in that way if he had been a girl?

Why is it that my son must be a hero, a tough guy, why must he hide his emotions and not show fear. Why shouldn't I comfort him?

I am raising my son to be a loving, kind, caring human being who is not afraid to express his feelings. He is sensitive and thoughtful and wants nothing more than to be a clown because they make people happy. I am proud of the person he is becoming...

I do not need/want to toughen up my son. Why should I? Does it make him more of a man?

I suppose that depends on your view of what a man is.

Let me tell you that he is already becoming the kind of man that I admire, who will make a difference to others, will treat his partner with respect, be a strong yet caring father, who will spread happiness and laughter, wonder and fun wherever he goes...

I hope you heard our conversation as we walked away. I told him not to listen to the silly, big, tough man. I told him never to hide his feelings. I told him it was normal to be shocked and scared when a dog jumps up at you... I told him he was OK and I held his hand until he was confident enough to go off and play.

A boy does not have to act like a super hero to be a man... My boys are my heros they make me proud every day simply by being themselves... 

So man at the beach take your advice and stick it where the sun doesn't shine!

Book Corner: The Night Pirates

15 August 2016

As a Primary School teacher I recognise the value and importance of reading with your children. We have a house full of children's books and each month we choose one of our favourites to review. This month I choose:

The Night Pirates by Peter Harris & Deborah Allwright

This months exciting adventure of a tale is a very special book from Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright called The Night Pirates. We have had this book in our library at home for a couple of years now but it remains one of our regular reads. It is the perfect bedtime story for any young pirates in the making...

Meet Tom, he is tucked up in bed one night when shadows begin to creep down the bedroom wall - his imagination races as to what they could be but oh no it isn't monsters or trolls... It's pirates!

Parenting from a special Perspective: Autism Mumma

8 August 2016

Ever wondered what it is really like to parent from a special perspective? Parent to a Special Needs Child? Where do you turn for help? What challenges do you face? What has surprised you? What have you learned? Every month I will be featuring one of my brilliant fellow SEND bloggers and sharing their reflections on raising a child with special needs. 

Welcome Jeanette. 

Hi, I'm Jeannette and I'm from Berkshire, U.K.  I started blogging 4 years ago when I realised it helped me to "blog it out" when days weren't so good.  Other people's blogs had helped me and I wanted to pay it foward as it were.  
The blog has helped me through diagnosis of my second child with autism, my depression and battling some inner demons, we do have some lighter moments too!! 

1. When did you first realise your children have autism?

I started child minding when my daughter (D) was 18 months old, it became apparent that she differed in progress from her similar aged peers, they'd be chattering away and playing and I'd started to wonder and investigate autism.
She was diagnosed at 4.5 years and it wasn't a surprise, more of a relief that she'd receive support in nursery.  I did go through a grieving period for the child she wouldn't grow up to be but that was very quickly replaced by a passion to understand more about autism and try and increase some awareness and acceptance out there.

Her brother (T) is 18 months older and we knew that he was also displaying some traits, he was also 2-3 years ahead of his peers and again, as he grew older, his mannerisms and traits were setting him apart from his peers, although he is very good at masking emotion during the day.  T was diagnosed with high functioning autism at age 10.5 as, by then, we realised that, should he need any support in secondary school - which was looking fast - he needed a "label" by way of a diagnosis.

Parenting from a special Perspective: Autism Mumma

T is now 13.5 and D is 12 on 20th May.

2. How did you feel when you found out that your child has autism?

As above, I almost grieved at first but then became determined to try and change the perceptions of others for them.

3. Where did you first turn for help? 

The nursery school D was at.  I found authorities very unhelpful, they didn't see her as an individual, more a budget figure.

4. What advice would you give a parent who suspects or has just found out that their child has autism?

To seek out other parents and speak to them.  Professionals who've studied autism are no match for those who live with someone on the spectrum.
Trust your instincts and act on them.  If you suspect that your child is struggling in an environment, despite being told that everything is "fine", act on it.

Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice.

5. Did you know what it is when it was first diagnosed? 

I knew of autism before D was diagnosed as I'd had my suspicions.  The traits she was showing all made sense once I'd researched the condition.

6. What are the biggest challenges facing your children and your family? 

Acceptance from others.  Because neither D or T look autistic, it is tricky if we're out and they become uncomfortable.
We haven't had a family holiday for years because they prefer their own environment.
I never "switch off" and that has been detrimental to my health.
My biggest worry is the future, they are children with autism who will grow into adults with autism, they won't be "cured" but they will hopefully learn to cope more with the challenging environments that they'll encounter.

Parenting from a special Perspective: Autism Mumma

7. What has been the greatest help for you, your child and your family in overcoming these challenges? 

Talking to other parents.

8. What has surprised you the most about raising a child with autism?

That in the right environment they can flourish.
When D was diagnosed, they couldn't tell me if she'd read or write and she was overwhelmed by a mainstream environment.

She now reads anything and everything! Writing is still a challenge but she has achieved far more than I ever envisaged.
Her SN school has provided wonderful opportunities, I'm so glad she's in the right environment, for her.

Also, that my children are so similar but very different.  For example, D will cuddle, cuddle and cuddle, the tighter the better and is very affectionate, T doesn't like cuddles or any contact, he'll put his head onto an arm or shoulder and that's as far as it goes.

9. What’s the main bit of/the best advice you’d give another parent who has a child with autism?

Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to seek help or guidance from others.  Appreciate your child for the individual they are and focus on what they can do, not what they can't.

Parenting from a special Perspective: Autism Mumma

10. Generally, what have you learnt about parenting, life, people or children from your experiences as a parent of a child with additional needs? 

That no two days are the same, which is strange considering my children require a routine! That a diagnosis can be a positive if it means that support can now be sought.

Jeanette blogs over at Autism Mummaand started out as purely a parenting blog, but she now finds it helps to journey her wellbeing and battling some inner demons! 

Thank you very much to Jeanette for taking part in the series.  Jeanette's brilliant blog was one of the first autism blogs I ever read and I am over the moon that she agreed to take part in my virtual interview series!

Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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