Silent Sunday

31 December 2017


One Photo No Words


Merry Christmas

25 December 2017



Silent Sunday

24 December 2017


One Photo No Words


A Glimpse into our autism: Structure

20 December 2017


Dear friend,

Yesterday he asked me; Mum where is my timetable?

It is December. This is a month full of change. It feels like almost nothing remains the same.

There is a tree in the house, there are lights and decorations. New clothes and food. People visiting. More social functions to attend. Special evenings at school.  The list is endless...

Having autism at Christmas time can be enough to make him want to hide away, to retreat into his computer world.

I am mindful of this need to retreat and we allow him to do that when he needs to...

But I also want him to be part of the celebrations.

I do not want my son to hide away. I do not want his experiences or opportunities to be limited.

I have to trust my instincts and I have to listen to my boy.

So we make a timetable and we plan our time over the holiday period. We keep surprises to an absolute minimum.

Our Christmas will be just as special but perhaps, less busy, more structured.

Yesterday he asked; Where is my timetable?



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


More autism awareness posts...

#PointShoot Week #37

19 December 2017

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 


You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

This will be the final #PointShoot of 2017. I will be taking a little break over Christmas but I hope you can all join me again on 9th January and I look forward to seeing all your gorgeous Christmas snaps.

A huge thank you to all of you who have joined in #PointShoot this year.


This week's featured post comes from memeandharri


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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


Link up your weekend pictures!








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Week in photos #13

18 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.


The word for this week has to be work. I have been really busy this week getting my planning ready for next term. The boys seem to have had a lot of homework to get on with too. 

We made the most of the snow on Monday evening and took the dog for a walk in our village. The boys enjoyed sledging in the snow and the canal really looked beautiful. 

On Wednesday we took a trip into Katwijk and hubby bought a new shirt for Christmas. Later we had dinner at my mother-in-laws. She made Hutspot for us, one of the boys favourites and a traditional Dutch dish with Meat, potatoes, carrots and onions all mashed up together. 

On Saturday we went to the Christmas Market in Leiden. We saw Santa arrive on his boat and took a walk around the stalls but it was really busy, too busy for our big lad so we left quite quickly. The boys had a look in the toy shops and little man pointed out some things he would like but big lad didn't want anything... I haven't got a clue what to get him. 


Daddy and the boys went swimming on Sunday morning so I got some me time, which was lovely. We also popped to Noordwijk to Humpy Kids (I know what a name) it's our favourite clothes shop for the boys. We bought them some new clothes for the Christmas party at school as our big lad always likes to look super smart and wear his 'posh clothes'. 






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Feel Good Friday

15 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Are you sick of listening to bad news? Do you feel weighed down by all the negativity? Are you looking for a large portion of feel good news to take you into the weekend? Then look no further...

Tal Ben-Shahar, Harvard University Professor and leader of the class “Positive Psychology”, encourages his students to be an active agent in finding happiness. One way to do this is to read some positive news every day.

Positive information benefits us emotionally, physically, and mentally. It can contribute in a meaningful way to a happier and healthier life.
Good news has been proven to increase our ‘good mood hormones’ and even strengthen our faith in humanity and it is no coincidence that major news providers such as the Guardian and the Huffpost have good news sections now. 

Here I hope to inspire you with feel good stories that I have found across the web. It is time for Feel good Friday...

For my first post, I have a Christmas story that is very close to my heart. A young boy with autism who never talks to strangers, broke his silence to speak to Father Christmas. It turns out that he wanted rather a special toy that was no longer in production. See what happened...




Have a happy weekend!


If you spot any great stories then drop me a line here and let me know. 

#PointShoot Week #36

12 December 2017

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 


You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

This week's featured post comes from Susan K Mann


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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


Link up your weekend pictures!







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Week in photos #12

11 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.


Monday started well as I had a catch up with an old friend and colleague of mine which was lovely but ended with tooth brushing lessons for the boys. They were not very happy but I must say that it has improved their cleaning no end. 

Tuesday was Pakjes Avond, in Holland we celebrate the birthday of Sinterklaas with a present evening. I followed the boys to school and we watched Sinterklaas arrive in a flower truck it was a lot of fun. As the day went on my cold got worse and my voice quieter. But we still had a great family evening with Oma and Opa. The boys had an amazing reaction to their new computer game, I think they were happy.

On Wednesday I had no voice, I couldn't manage teaching so stayed at home in bed and rested. Hubby came home and put up the tree, with Sint over we are moving onto Christmas, very quickly. I do love the sparkly lights in the house and I have enjoyed a minced pie or two. It hasn't taken us long to get into the spirit. 

On Saturday little man played football and then we did the shopping and took a trip to the garden centre to see their Christmas Show. I've gone a bit reindeer mad and bought another one for the tree. Then we spent the afternoon at home chilling. I took the opportunity to watch a few more of the series Outlander on Netflix, I would definitely recommend it.

Sunday morning we got ready and dashed to the MidWinter fair at Archeon. The snow fell and made the atmosphere even more magical. But it was very cold. The boys enjoyed trying on the knights armour and watching the battle. We finished off the weekend in fine form having dinner with our friends. 





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A Glimpse into our autism: Losing my shit!

8 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I lost my shit.

One minute I was feeling uncontrollable anger and the next I was crying at some ridiculous meme on Facebook. I just couldn't get a handle on my emotions at all.

Lately it feels like I have been engulfed by the weight of my responsibilities.

Quite simply the world is not set up to deal with the needs of children and parents with autism.

Everyday we face some kind of battle whether it be, finding the right school, fighting against bullies, facing stereotypes, feeling rejection, dealing with negative behaviours or handling judgement... and it never stops.

I am always going to worry about my son, his issues are never going to disappear.

A child with autism grows up to be a tween with autism then a teen and an adult with autism. The autism won't vanish with age.

Sometimes dealing with this knowledge can be all consuming. But I never say that out loud.



I very rarely open up to any of my friends or colleagues or even family.

Why?

Because it feels disloyal to my son. It feels like I am letting him down, loving him less, failing...

The conflicting emotions rattle around inside my brain making me feel sick with worry and guilt.

Really the problem is I love him too much. I feel it all too much. I want to shield him too much.

I need to let go... But that isn't an option because for now I am his advocate, his voice, his anchor.

Yesterday I lost my shit and that's ok!


This is for any parents out there who have also lost their shit. You are not alone!

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

#PointShoot Week #35

5 December 2017

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 


You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

This week's featured post comes from Four Acorns.


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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


Link up your weekend pictures!







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Week in photos #11

4 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. 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 started with parents evening for the boys. It was a new experience for us as, in group 8, the children attend with their parents. I liked how our son was able to give his opinion too. We have had a rough ride with the big lad this term but it is good to see that it isn't affecting his work and he continues to progress well. Little man is making super progress and working hard too. We were really pleased with them both.

I managed to fit in a bit of present shopping on Tuesday and nipped into Leiden to collect a few things for the boys. On Wednesday I had some me time at the hairdresser, I actually fell asleep in the chair, not once but twice. I wasn't brave enough to go for a new style but did go a tint lighter. Maybe next time.

On Saturday we went to the English shop. The boys filled up on Jelly Tots and Cadburys chocolate whilst I went for the tea bags, mince pies and Devon custard. I also managed to sneak in a couple of selection boxes for their stockings and some quality street for Oma and Opa. I am going to attempt to make a Christmas cake. My colleague has persuaded me that it is easy. 

Saturday evening was really gezellig, we had friends around and the wine flowed freely so Sunday was a lazy day, we stayed in our PJs, watched Strictly and the X Factor and played Monopoly. 

I am starting to get a little concerned at how fast time is flying and how very little I have done. Especially as Tuesday is our Sinterklaas celebration and Pakjes Avond (present evening). 








Happy Days!

One moment in time with Kerry Jordan

1 December 2017

Welcome to one moment in time, a guest posts series, where bloggers share the stories behind special or significant photographs. Welcome to Kerry Jordan from Crazy, Messy, Glorious. A huge thank you to Kerry for taking part, I love getting to know my fellow bloggers better and I love how we are going International with One Moment in Time too. It is super exciting that blogging can open the world to us like this! Now over to Kerry...


Our beach photos are my favourite. They're rare, because we don't get much beach weather here on the East Coast of Canada. The bright sunlight and uncluttered landscape is a mamarazzi dream. Also, my husband and the beach look great together. He used to be a surfer, ya know.

This photo, though. It really soothes my soul and here's why.



Our daughter was born with hip dysplasia which means that her hip joints didn't form properly during pregnancy. She had surgery at one and a half. When other kids were doing tummy time, she was in a cast from her chest down. All that worry and fuss, the scary hospital stays and the lack of mobility formed her personality. At six, we're struggling to love the surliness out of a very anxious and pessimistic little girl.

Still, it's not hard to count the blessings that came from this. Our prayers were answered and that painful time in our lives was brief. Our daughter's legs are just about normal now and she's active and plays sports as well as other kids her age. Seeing anxiety take over all our lives pushed me to get help to face my generalized anxiety disorder. That's life changing for all of us. Living with uncertainty, trusting that we will get through bad times, and not letting fear make decisions for us are all lessons that my husband and I took from this experience. The number one thing that grew out of all this was our compassion. We're learning to love ourselves and each other when it's hard.

When I look at this photo, besides being thankful that our daughter can walk on the beach, I'm struck by the symbolism. Standing on an endless expanse of shifting sand and water, Daddy and daughter practice tossing a big yellow happy face. She catches it. It's awkward and she staggers forward, before heaving it back with all she's got. It's about giving and taking. It's deliberate, not effortless at all. Every time she throws the ball, Daddy has to chase that happy face and bring it back before the waves carry it away. When she throws that ball and we catch it, oh the joy! Such a simple thing, yet so heavy with grace and love.

You can read more from Kerry at: BlogTwitterPinterest.


Do you have a special photograph and story you would like to share? Then I would love to hear from you!




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A Glimpse into our Autism: Blanket statements

29 November 2017


Dear course leader,

Yesterday you told me that all autistic people should be in mainstream education. 

I could feel the tears prick my eyes and catch in the back of my throat and although I wanted to challenge you on this I couldn't as I knew I was going to lose control of my emotions. I did not want to do that in a room full of my peers. Now I feel sad, angry, disappointed that I missed the opportunity...

I missed the opportunity to say that I think you are wrong! 

You can not make blanket statements about people with autism. You can make a statement based on your child, your experience but you can not talk for everyone!

It seems strange that I am disagreeing with you, especially as I fought to keep my son in mainstream education. I strongly believed that I was right to go against the professional advice and leave him in his primary school after diagnosis.


We were lucky, we had an amazing school with a very supportive head and Special Needs team. My son was in a relatively small class with children who accepted him from the start and he loved it. He also received excellent additional support.

But now it comes to looking for a secondary school, our choice is simple...

The best place for our son is a special school for children with autism.

Do not think we have reached this decision lightly. Like every step we have taken on this autism journey it has come with deep thought, contemplation, discussion, professional support, sleepless nights and I am certain the appearance of more grey hairs.

We have made this decision based on what is best for our son, at this moment in time.

We have visited a few secondary schools and asked about their care programs for children with autism. All of them advised us to take our son to a Special school for autism because they could not guarantee the level of support he needs.

Today we began the process. We filled in the initial form for entry to secondary. My heart beat just a bit harder as I added my signature. There is a lot riding on this, my sons future...

And sadly we are not guaranteed a place!

Butterfly with coloured jigsaw pieces pattern with text
Yesterday you told me that all autistic people should be in mainstream education.

I missed the opportunity to say that in our experience you are wrong!

You can not make blanket statements about people with autism.


A glimpse into autism is a series of short letters that explore the impact autism has on our family on a day to day basis. Disclaimer:  this is our experience not all autistic people are the same but many carers are faced with this dilemma. 

More autism awareness posts...

#PointShoot week #34

28 November 2017

Do you love making photos of your family? Do you like to record the everyday memories you are making? Then #PointShoot could be the linky for you. Come and share your photo story posts with me. 


You can share days out snaps or a fun, special, or touching moment from your week. It can be one photo (including Instagram posts) or a series of shots with words or without.

This week's featured post comes from my lovely friend Mackenzie Glanville



Feel free to grab your featured blogger badge!





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A photograph is the pause button of life.

We are open from Tuesday 6 a.m. until Friday 6 a.m. (so there is plenty of time to link up.)


Link up your weekend pictures!






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Week in photos #10

27 November 2017


Dear Friend,

Welcome to my Photo series #PointShoot. A look back at our week in photos. I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus.


The word of the week has to be germs. Poor hubby started off first and then rather kindly passed it onto everyone else. Big lad was sent home from school on Thursday and Little Man on Friday.

Poor hubby had to take over the care even though he was sick because I had parents evenings this week. Typical!

This week also saw my rebrand. I felt the blog needed a change of name to match my new focus. I am happy to announce that Diary of an Imperfect Mum is now Spectrum Mum. After more than 3 years of blogging, Imperfect Mum just didn't seem to sit well anymore. There are still a few things to iron out, including my redirects but despite all the hard work I am glad I made the move.

We had a quiet weekend to help the boys kick those germs. It enabled me to get some jobs done at home and to make the Surprises with the boys for their Sinterklaas party at school. Little man wanted a cat and big lad a Nintendo Switch. It was a challenge for my meagre crafting skills but they turned out well. (I'll add a picture soon.) I also managed to get some Sint/Christmas shopping done online.

On sunday morning I awoke with a really sore throat but was determined to get out for a walk and the beautiful sunshine and clear blue sky made me feel tonnes better.










Happy Days!

How to reduce Christmas stress

22 November 2017

Dear friend,

Our rose tinted memories of wonderful Christmases past, often lead to unrealistic expectations. We get caught up in the need for a perfect tree, perfect dinner, perfect presents etc all contributing to an overwhelming feeling of stress. Christmas takes a lot of work. 


Just mention the word Christmas in October and you can will see some people visibly wince. According to the Stress Management Society, one in 20 people considers Christmas more stressful than a burglary, and over half of Britons will have had an alcoholic drink before lunch on Christmas day – to try to cope with the stress.

There are many demands on your time but remember that it is your holiday too. It is completely reasonable that parents want to relax and enjoy being in the moment with their family. After all isn't that what Christmas is all about?




Talk: Make sure that you have conversations with your family and friends about everyone’s expectations of Christmas well in advance. That way you can make compromises that suit everyone. Don't be frightened to say; NO!

Planning: Be careful not to plan too much!
Advent calendars can help kids with the lead up to Christmas and we also use a month calendar with key events noted so that we can cross off the days.

Parties: Christmas parties and extended time with family and friends is special and should be treasured but some children may need support.
Encourage children to socialise initially but have a survival kit to take with you. (This could include a book, music, computer game/ipad, drawing pad and pens) Give your child a timescale e.g. We will leave at 8, but be prepared to leave earlier if necessary.

Decorations: Don’t go overboard on decorations: keep them out of kids bedrooms entirely.
If you are away for Christmas (hello my EXPAT readers) then why not focus on one area of your home or on one thing e.g. the tree.

No Bribery: Remember some kids take things very literally: Autistic parents do not have the advantage of 'neurotypical' parents who can use an element of blackmail to ensure their kids are good before Christmas. The big lad had a lot of stress around being good (as in his eyes he hadn't been good enough) and this lead to several sleepless nights. Many 'neurotypical' kids also find this pressure too much.

Routine: Stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Try to build in some quiet time before bed. But be prepared that kids may not be able to sleep on Christmas Eve, relax the rules a little and let them stay up a bit later.

Shopping: Set a budget and stick to it! Take a list and check off as you go along.
If you hate the Christmas rush then the kids will, leave them at home with a friend/relative.

Gift giving: The anticipation of a day when you get lots of new stuff can be totally overwhelming. Some children find it too stressful having presents under the tree and some children find too many presents overwhelming. Writing letters or making wish lists helps. You can also stagger your present opening. Set up some gifts so that they are ready to play with.

Food: A traditional Christmas dinner is a lot of work and many people are choosing to eat out or eat on Christmas Eve instead so Christmas day is free to relax. Why not share the work by asking guests to bring a dish?

Exercise: Get out of the house. Exercise reduces stress and keeps family strife to a minimum.

Relatives: We all have those annoying relatives who were obviously perfect parents. Nod and smile sweetly, or better still change the subject when they start to give you advice. Say, Can you excuse me for a minute, walk away and don't look back...

Breathe!

Have a stress free Christmas!



This is a revised post.


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