I won't be making any New Year Resolutions this year

31 December 2016

Dear friend,

Happy New year to you. I really hope it's a great one filled with fun, love and good health. It is natural of course at this time of year to reminisce over the past year and to look to the next.

Hubby surprised me with a meal out last night and we sat with the boys discussing our favourite parts of last year. Little man enjoyed going to the zoo, big lad Christmas, hubby the holiday and me what would be my moment of choice? I didn't actually go for a moment even though they have been many moments of magic this year (our year in photos) I went for a word that encompasses it all, family... then little man said, love...




You see this year has been amazing and filled with special times with family and good friends but there has also been a spectre hanging over me. I faced major surgery in January and came through thankful and happy that it was over but unfortunately it wasn't and problems have persisted. I found this really difficult to shake away at times...

After demanding more help I was given an MRI scan and just before Christmas, the word cancer was introduced into the equation. The panic threatened to pull me under. I was petrified that this disease that has already invaded our family, was going to ruin everything I have and it shook me to the core. But I read one quote that stuck with me throughout:



We waited 6 days for an outcome. This quote became my mantra during those six days.

Life went on, I held it together but every time I looked at my kids I panicked, every time I folded the wash I wondered how would hubby cope alone, I felt guilty, how would we explain my illness to the boys, should we tell them at all?

Over those 6 days I found no peace...

Thank goodness, for me, the news was positive. I am one of the lucky ones!

I have spent a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends, I have relaxed for the first time in ages, switched off from everything (this blog included) but I needed to write this before the year is out, to draw a line under it all...




This year,  I will not be making any resolutions. I will not wait for the end of a year to improve my life or reach for a goal. Life is far too short to wait for things to happen. Make your life exactly what you want it to be.

I am determined that I will not forget how I felt when faced with the possibility of losing it all. I will never take for granted what I have and I will always be grateful because:

When you love what you have, you have everything you need!

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2017.



You can make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support here.


Point Shoot: Our year in photos

30 December 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is a look back at our year in photos.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...

A Glimpse into our Autism: Jokes

19 December 2016

Dear friend,

Yesterday he told a joke then he explained it to us in pain staking detail...

We were sitting at the dinner table and he said mum I've got something to tell you. He proceeded to tell us a joke and we all laughed. It was very funny until...

he explained the joke in perfect, pain staking detail.

Do you get it, mum?

It was then I twigged. He had been learning about jokes at school. He had memorised this joke like the simple knock knock jokes he loved when he was younger.




Humour and jokes are so important to children. They help them interact with others and make friends. He has always tried to use humour. He has always wanted to be the funny one. That is fine as long as your friends are laughing with and not at you. Sometimes that line is hard to find...

What if Jokes and idioms are part of a foreign language to you? The abstract language too difficult to decipher. I'll never forget the day I was cross with him and told him to give himself a shake and he did, he shook his body all over.

There are so many unwritten social rules and niceties that we just take for granted but that he must learn.

We must teach him how to tell and understand jokes to help him improve his social skills. We must also remember to tell him that he doesn't need to explain the joke to others because they get it.

Yesterday he told a joke then he explained it to us in pain staking detail...


Spare a thought for autistic families when you are pulling those Christmas crackers...

A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.

More autism awareness posts...

Point Shoot: 1-1 time in Panbos

16 December 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my new Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is 1-1 time in Panbos (also known as De Pan van Persijn.) Panbos is a forest with play areas and walking routes for old and young. Little man was in need of a bit of one on one time and what better way to spend it than exploring the forest together on an absolutely beautiful Wintery morning.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...



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 to Diary of an Imperfect Mum. 

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.

Point Shoot: Pakjes Avond

9 December 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is: Pakjes Avond. On 5th December we celebrated the birthday of Sinterklaas with Pakjes Avond (present evening). The boys were super excited and waited impatiently for a knock on the door to say Sinterklaas had delivered their presents. Luckily we must have all been good as there were 2 big sacks full.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...



A glimpse into our autism: Memory

7 December 2016

Dear friend,

Yesterday he asked me what do I do with my underpants? I would have laughed, if the look on his face hadn't been so serious or I hadn't been so tired...

Every day at 7.30 we go upstairs, he gets undressed and has a shower and we get ready for bed. Every day he asks; What do I do with my underpants...

Every day we follow the same routine, the same pattern...

We keep it that way to help him feel safe, in control.




But he doesn't just ask as part of the routine. He doesn't remember. Like he doesn't remember to flush the toilet, bring his homework book back, drink enough or shut the cupboard door...

Yet, we get in the car and I throw on some tunes and he immediately asks for track number 7 because that's his favourite (we haven't listened to this for months) he remembers the place we visited 5 years ago last summer, what we ate on his birthday 3 years ago, the name of every Track in the Slam top 40 and the statistics of each Pokemon in his Pokedex...


It's like his Brain computes the information and filters out the mundane. Yet the mundane tasks are the exact things we need to remember to help us function, to keep us safe and healthy, to let us live an independent life...

Yesterday he asked me what do I do with my underpants? I would have laughed, if the look on his face hadn't been so serious or I hadn't been so tired...


A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.


More autism awareness posts...


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.

Point Shoot: Leiden

2 December 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my Photo series, Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is...

A sunny Saturday morning in Leiden. We love Leiden, it is such a beautiful city and we are super lucky to live next door to here. The market winds its way around the canal in the city centre. What a stunning place to do your shopping! This was a fact finding trip, to the toy stores, to see what Santa might bring but we couldn't resist visiting the delicious Mamie Gourmande Boulagerie 

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...


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!


A Glimpse into our autism: What is this?

30 November 2016

Dear friend,

Yesterday he asked me
What is this?
as he was practically sticking a piece of chicken wing up his nose.

It made me snort with laughter as memories of him as a toddler flashed before my eyes.

He looked at me with disdain and turned to his dad repeating what is this, while examining the wing like it was a piece of important evidence in a criminal investigation.




Any new foods presented to him were always investigated with the interest of a true scientist at work. Before the food came anywhere near his mouth it had to first be examined closely, turned around and viewed from each angle, it would then be inhaled with the skill of a perfumer and inspected again before being carefully but purposefully licked.

Most foods were left abandoned and we returned to the trusty sandwich or pee and carrot mush. For a long time his diet was extremely limited!

But not any more! Now we can't fill him, now he will try (just about) anything...

To him eating is about engaging all of his senses, including his memory. He often asks, have I had this before or gives us a running commentary of when, where and with whom he last ate said food.

And chefs like Heston Blumenthal and researchers think he is right. Saying we rely too much on taste and sight and that we should be engaging our other senses more. They are looking at ways to make us use all our senses together, including memory, to improve our eating experiences.

We made jokes about him being a food critic in the making... but perhaps we were right. Maybe I should be pushing him into the kitchen and not out of it. (Too many knives + clumsy boy =scared mummy)


Yesterday he asked me
What is this?
as he was practically sticking a piece of chicken wing up his nose.

It made me snort with laughter as memories of him as a toddler flashed before my eyes.


A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.


More autism awareness posts...


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.


Point Shoot: Beach therapy

25 November 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my new Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is...

a series of photos taken on one of our regular Sunday morning beach walks in Katwijk. This is one of my favourite places in the entire world. Beautiful all year round.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...

A Glimpse into our autism: In the club

23 November 2016

Dear friend,

Yesterday he asked
Can I join football too? 
The panic rushed through my body, like the feeling you have when you suddenly realise that you've lost something. I don't want my son to lose his confidence I don't want him to feel disappointment, feel less...

He has never shown any interest in football. He has issues with hyper mobility, balance, coordination and spacial awareness and has always needed support during gym. So when he asked the question it knocked me off my feet...

Little man joined the football team and he has seen how it has brought him closer to his friends and made him feel more included in the group. But he would not be in the same club as his friends... how do I tell him that?

Most children have a hobby, do a sport or attend a club. He wants to fit, he wants acceptance. He wants to be with his friends. Why wouldn't he want that too?




I fought hard for my son to be 'in the club' I went against the initial advice and kept him in a 'normal' school. I wanted him to have the same opportunities as everyone. I believed that we had to aim high, that he was "clever" and I have never regretted that decision because he has exceeded all of our expectations.

But I have questioned that decision many times over the last 5 years. Every single time we have hit a bump in the road, I've questioned that decision. Every time he has been made to feel different, or has been excluded or has struggled, I have questioned that decision...


We sit in a no-mans land where our big lad is 'too good for' some things and 'not good enough' for others... He doesn't quite fit in either club, special/normal...

We have faced this with many things, but most notably therapy and swimming lessons. We had to fight really, really, really hard to get the support he needed. If he had been at a special needs school would we have needed to fight so hard?

Now we need to fight again, for the right for him to feel like his friends. For him to have a hobby something he can succeed in and get pleasure from. We need to find something that he can do...

Yesterday he asked
Can I join football too? 
The panic rushed through my body, like the feeling you have when you suddenly realise that you've lost something. I don't want my son to lose his confidence I don't want him to feel disappointment, feel less...


Update: A few weeks ago our big lad started DJ lessons. He loves music and can tell you exactly what is in the Slam top 40 (a dutch dance music channel). His friends think it's cool! He is happy. 

A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.


More autism awareness posts...

Simple Christmas Cards for kids to make

22 November 2016

Dear friends,

I think most of you know I'm more likely to be pinning a fail than a perfectly made crafty creation but I do like to make my own Christmas Cards every year. Bearing in mind my totally rubbish crafting skills I have to find something that looks great but is relatively easy. This year I have a duel task, preparing for home & work, as I am teaching a class of 5 year olds and they will also need to make cards.

Where did I turn for inspiration? Why Pinterest of course. The spiritual homeland of many a brilliant and very talented blogger and crafter and I wasn't disappointed. There were so many wonderful creations, pop over and take a look at my Pinterest board. It made it very hard to narrow the choices down but here are my 6 Simple Christmas Cards for kids to make...



1. Bubble wrap Christmas tree. 
I love this idea and think it would transfer well to the classroom. I would prepare the stamps for the children myself. Such a simple yet effective idea. I would like to experiment with colours too.

From learn with play at home


2. Hanging decorations. 
I have a collection of sparkly things, sequins etc which we could use to make this card. The children could choose the card colour and draw the lines themselves. Super simple if you are short of time or an easy card to make if you realise at the last minute you have forgotten someone.

From Activities for kids

3. Footprint Snowmen.
The trucsetbricolages site has some great ideas for seasonal crafts using hand and foot prints but I loved this snowman one. I am not sure whether I want to have 23 children painting their feet though, it could get messy.

From trucsetbricolages

4. Reindeer children.
I love this idea! Simple yet really really effective! I would print in b&w then let the children colour their noses or stick on a red circle. The antlers could be made by drawing round their hands and cutting out. I'd love to see my classroom windows decorated with the kids faces like this!


Pinterest


5. Fingerprint Snowman.
These look really cute and I like how the children can personalise the snowmen too but I think these would work better with older children or as our cards at home.

From Crafty Morning

6. DIY leaf print cards.These are my favourites to make at home. I love them!

From Stay at home life


Which card was your favourite?
Do you like to make your own cards too?

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.

Point Shoot: Sinterklaas arrives in Holland

18 November 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my new Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is the Sinterklaas Intocht.

On Saturday, Sinterklaas arrived in Holland, a massive cause of celebration that involves a parade and is watched by millions live and on Television. It is a magical time of year for all children.

Pakjes avond (presents evening) takes place on 5th December. But children leave out their shoes for Sint and may receive a small present before then.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...



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!



This is a revised post.

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 to Diary of an imperfect mum. 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.



Point Shoot: If you go down to the woods today...

11 November 2016

Dear friend,

Welcome to my new Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

This week's Point Shoot is on our trip to Landgoed Groendaal.

The forest here is really beautiful and we love how the dog is allowed to walk off the lead in some areas too. It is a brilliant place for a Sunday morning walk. There is also a small petting farm and in the spring/summer season a kids playground is open.

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...



10 things not to ask an autism parent...

9 November 2016

Dear friend,

This morning I crossed the road too quickly (narrowly missing a cyclist and a van) just to avoid talking to a parent from school. She rubs me up the wrong way. Every time I walk away from a conversation with her I feel worse. She is nice, she is pleasant. She just always asks the wrong things! Instead of avoiding this woman I should simply tell her:


1) Please don't ask me every time I see you how my son is doing at school.
Especially when you obviously know/think you know. Part way through our conversation you will throw in an anecdote from your son which is usually about one of the big lad's bad days. I get feedback from school thank you!

2) Don't ask for details of the support/therapy that my son is receiving.
I don't ask for details about your child's education, or their problems.
Is (child) struggling with maths? I hear you have a tutor.




3) Don't tell me how lucky I am that my son is clever enough.
Autistic does not mean retarded.

4) Don't tell me that my son is lucky that the school/class/teachers etc accept him.
I thank my lucky stars that we have found a good school and that he is in a relatively small group of nice kids. But they are also bloody lucky to have a funny, warm, caring child like my big lad.
Acceptance is a big word. How many of those kids invite him to play or to their party?

5) Don't ask if my son will go to the next group.
The answer is yes because the school and us, recognise the importance that he stays with his peers. Do you? Refer also to point 3. (In Holland children who are struggling academically will repeat a year.)

6) Don't ask if my son will stay at this school.
I don't know what the future will bring. But with the right support, the right teachers, we hope he will continue at this school! Is this code for he should be in a special school? (See point 3.)
This question highlights that my son is different it excludes us.



7) Don't ask if autism runs in the family.
Perhaps, but we are not sure what causes autism.
You are basically asking me if it is my fault that my son has autism.
Does insensitivity run in your family?

8) Don't ask me if I know your second cousins best friends kid who has autism.

9) Don't ask if I have tried...
Autism is not an illness. It is a developmental disorder. There is no cure.

10) Don't ask if he will grow out of it!
No. Autism is for life.


Don't ask a special needs parent a question that you wouldn't ask a neurotypical child's parent.

Please treat my son and I the same as everyone else. I know it can be difficult but if in doubt just smile and say

Hello.




This is a revised post. 



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.



This is a revised post.

Point Shoot: Apple Picking

4 November 2016

Dear friends,

Welcome to my new Photo series Point Shoot. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.

My first Point Shoot is on our trip to De Olmenhorst.

Olmenhorst is a farm in the middle of the Haarlemmermeer between Amsterdam and the Haag. It has been open for over 150 years and is now a really popular and beautiful location for apple and pear picking. After a week of sickness what better way to get out of the house and take in some fresh air and it was a beautiful day!

Now I'll let my photos do the talking...


A Glimpse into our autism: Holidays

2 November 2016

Dear friend,

Yesterday he asked me:
Why am I like this?
He came downstairs after bedtime and stood uncertainly in the doorway. I could sense his anxiety.

I swear I felt another chink appear in my already battle scarred heart.

I didn't need to ask what he meant. The week had been filled with many small instances of confusion, anxiety and mislaid moments.




At half term we lose the familiarity that a day at school brings, we lose the structure and enter into unknown territory. We go back to walking a tightrope but negotiating the wobbles that appear on the path becomes harder because of the holiday.

A trip to the UK, on an aeroplane, staying in a different house, different bed, staying up late, going out for dinner, visiting people, shopping etc adds to the chaos. What for us is a holiday filled with fun, to him is a time filled with anxiety.

He cried, his head was too full, we had done too much...

His tears were ones of desperation and exhaustion, physically and mentally.

What do you do when your child finds holidays stressful? Should you stop going away? Many autistic families do.

I can't stop seeing my family. We only return to the UK twice a year but faced with a boy in tears my choice feels selfish...


All we can do is reassure him. We have learned to restrict our trip to 4/5 days to make sure that we have a few days afterwards when he can rest and experience some normality before returning to school.

We try to bring some calm in the chaos of his thoughts...

Yesterday he asked me:
Why am I like this?
He came downstairs after bedtime and stood uncertainly in the doorway. I could sense his anxiety.

I swear I felt another chink appear in my already battle scarred heart.


A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore how autism effects us on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same.

More autism awareness posts...



I am a 'Super' parent

1 November 2016

Dear friend,

How can it be that some days you are flying high, going about your day with air cushioned soles in your shoes and laughing at the small mishaps? Other days everything seems to weigh you down, get in your way and make those tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Lately I've been having more and more of those hair raising days. I think it's being ill, feeling pain can do that, it lowers my patience threshold so that all my energy goes into maintaining my professional persona at work and managing (badly) my home.

It's these days when I can't see the wood for the trees, when I don't even notice those beautiful trees that upset me the most. 

I lose sight of my son and can only see the diagnosis. The autism hits me right between the eyes, almost laughing in my face. 

Come on, take me on... I dare you!




When I read a headline that tells me, I need to be a super parent in order to help my son it annoys me really pisses me off! 

At first, I didn't read the offending article, I dismissed it as more pity or fear journalism but when a blogger I respect, suggested I did, I was surprised. Actually, she was right, it wasn't quite what the headline suggested,  it was interesting and gave hope to some parents of children with severe autism. 

But why the sensationalist headline? Why do we have to be beaten with a stick to listen? 

What made me feel uncomfortable was a statement from Dr Catherine Aldred, a consultant speech and language therapist with Stockport NHS Trust, who after stressing it was not about blaming the parents said; 
We're taking the parent's interaction with the child and taking it to a 'super' level, these children need more than 'good enough', they need something exceptional.
This is an awful lot of pressure to be placing already stressed parents under! We now have to have super communication?!

I like to think I am a good mum. I have said before that special needs parents are not saints. All parents make mistakes, lose patience and get tired. I love my kids unconditionally. I give them my all even especially on those dark days. Despite my energy being null, I still carry on and give everything I have to them; I take them to football, make the dinner and help with homework, I try to work out the cause of the anxiety, I listen, I soothe, I interact, I do my best... If that isn't super then I don't know what is? 

We are all super parents! 
We show super strength, determination and fight every day when we go that extra mile for our kids. 

What is my super power? 

My super power is hope...

What is yours? 




Monthly Roundup October

28 October 2016

Dear friends,

Welcome to my monthly roundup an opportunity to look back at the ordinary moments that have made our month extra special. It is so easy to take for granted people, places and things and this look back really helps me to appreciate their importance and rejoice in the everyday memories we are making together...




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.

I am not tagging anyone in this challenge but if you want to join, tweet or DM me a link to your post and I will read, comment and share. I want to take this opportunity to say a really big thank you to everyone who has read, shared or commented on Diary of an Imperfect Mum over the last two years. 

Read more about blogging...


Campaign for better assistance for Autistic fliers

23 October 2016

Dear friend,

We arrived home from the UK today. It was the first time we have requested assistance during a flight. In the past I have always believed that our big lad wasn't "bad enough" to need support. Stupid really but I think many parents just don't want to make a fuss and try and deal with situations themselves. However, if you have been following the blog you will have seen that after a blog post about flying and an e-mail exchange with KLM support asking for specific assistance for autistic travellers (not just being grouped in with travellers with mobility problems) we were offered a new type of assistance.

The big lad was nervous the night before and talked to me about not wanting to be seen as a queue jumper (bless him). He was also very anxious that we would be split up and did not want to be assisted alone. I assured him that I would not leave him and that he was entitled to help. We also discussed how this would not only benefit him but it would also help lots of other autistic people who fly too.



The morning of the flight we arrived at the airport and were directed to the desk. The member of staff was friendly but did ask, in front of the big lad, what is wrong with him? She proceeded to say that she would 'let us' all go together. At this point he had a slight panic but I reassured him I would not leave him.

The assistant arrived quickly. She told me she had only been working there 6 weeks. She was really good with my big lad and chatted with him putting him at ease. Unfortunately she took us to the wrong gate to begin with but we soon arrived at the correct gate. A small hiccup.

On entering the security baggage check we were allowed to go through the barriers and straight to the front. The queue was extremely long (autumn holiday) and this was perfect for my big lad who was becoming stressed by all of the people. However, when we entered another employer came over and told the assistant that it is policy that we have to wait in the queue there (a real jobsworth). I told the employee that that was silly as it defeated the object of our type of support and that for people with autism waiting in a queue with lots of people was extremely stressful. She said; OK for today but that it was airport policy and in future we would have to wait.  

There was a quick sort of luggage and removal of electronics and liquids (I was feeling quite stressed at this point) and then through the machine. Unfortunately the security people asked permission to check my big lad. I asked them to wait until I was present and mumbled 
My son has autism...
(I hate having to do this!) He handled it all surprisingly well!

The rest of the queues etc went without any problems as we went straight through passport control and also through the gate without question. This was a much better experience for my big lad who arrived at the gate much more relaxed than usual, despite the hiccups. All in all a success. 



On our return flight, another business class traveller asking if we were 'priority' when boarding (he obviously thought we weren't). I anticipated that someone might be waiting for us when we landed, however, there was no assistance given. When we arrived at passport control I mentioned to a member of staff that my son had DPNA code and required assistance. I was just guided to the passport line and given directions to the desk for support. This was a shame but thankfully the queue was not too long! 


Gaps in the current system are:

  • Staff have little if no awareness of the needs of autistic people; particularly around difficulties waiting in queues and being around a lot of people.
  • There needs to be a way that staff can identify autistic passengers, a lanyard or badge for instance. This would also help other travellers see they have priority.



  • Airports need to look at their policy for assistance with respect to autistic people. Autistic people should not be made to queue or be split from family members.
  • Security need to be aware that many autistic people do not like to be touched by strangers or indeed anyone. 
  • Do not ask a parent What is wrong with..?
  • No support was given on the return journey.

KLM have been excellent in arranging this support and in discussing these issues with me and I am really pleased to be able to give my feedback. I really hope that we can make a real difference for all autistic travellers. Rather excitingly, they are beginning a project to help travellers with additional needs that will involve staff training and using a visible sign for DPNA travellers. 

So what did my big lad think? 

It was better, not having to wait in the queues, there are a lot of people and I get a full head. This was better. But I don't want people to think I am a queue jumper! 

I don't expect the changes will happen overnight but I will be interested to see how things have progressed when we fly again at Easter.

Autistic families, don't be ashamed afraid to ask for support!

Thank you KLM for listening and for going the extra mile to help autistic people. It is brilliant to have such a big airline taking this issue on.

Now we need Airports such as Schiphol to take on these initiatives and develop airport wide policies. 

Autistic travellers deserve more understanding rather than just being grouped in with physically disabled people. 

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