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. 

Autism isn't just for Christmas

13 December 2017

Dear Friends,

Every year the Queen gives a speech on Christmas day and this year I thought why not join her? So pull up a chair, grab a cuppa or something a little stronger and spend the next 2 minutes giving some thought to my message.




Autism at Christmas...

Using the naughty list as a bargaining tool to make your child behave?
Spare a thought for the child who is facing extreme anxiety 
because they feel that they haven't been good enough.

Listening to your child say their lines for the school play over and over again?
Spare a thought for the parents who listen to their child recite whole sections of their favourite programs repeatedly..

Looking up in delight at your beautiful tree?
Spare a thought for the family who can't put one up because the lights send their son into a panic.

Complaining on Christmas Eve that your kids will not go to sleep? 
Spare a thought for the exhausted parents whose child never sleeps.

Excitedly opening gifts, surrounded by wrapping paper.
Spare a thought for children who don't like the feel or sound of wrapping paper 
so don't have anything wrapped.

Listening to your child wishing you happy Christmas?
Spare a thought for the mum who hasn't heard her 9 year old child speak.

Watching the Christmas day family film together?
Spare a thought for the family who are watching Thomas on DVD for the millionth time 
with their 14 year old son.

Doing up the buttons on your sons new shirt or zipping up that pretty dress especially for Christmas day?
Spare a thought for the child who will only wear jogging pants and T-shirts because she doesn't like the feel of anything else against her skin. 

Tucking into your Christmas dinner with all the trimmings?
Spare a thought for the mother who gives her daughter pizza every day because that's all she will eat.

Cuddling with your kids on the sofa?
Spare a thought for the dad who has never felt his son's arms around him.

Moaning about your child's spoiled behaviour?
Spare a thought for the dad who has dealt with 3 melt downs before 10 o'clock.

Enjoying a party with family or friends?
Spare a thought for the mum who can't relax because she is constantly checking that her son is OK.

Complaining about the holiday being too short and you can't believe it's time to go back to work? 
Spare a thought for the boy who can't wait to get back to school because he needs routine and structure to feel safe.

Spare a thought for children and families living with autism
not just this Christmas but the whole year through.


Happy Christmas everyone!





Disclaimer: This is the reality of Autism 'for some people'. Autism is a broad spectrum disorder so no autistic person or family will have the same experiences. 



This is a revised post: It was first published in December 2015. Help raise awareness and acceptance of difference, please share this post.

#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.

Autism and Bullying

6 December 2017

Dear Friend,

Our son was a victim of bullying...

I really hoped I would never see this day but I suppose it was inevitable. I know when our big lad was first diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder the statistics around bullying and autism scared me silly (40% of autistic children will be bullied according to statistics).

I was a victim of bullying in Primary School and it was one of the worst times of my life. I feared that my son would go through the same terrifying, isolating experience as me. Descending into a school life full of loneliness. 

But he did make friends, we were lucky that he was in a relatively small class of 'nice' children. His Friends had the same interests (namely computer games) and we always welcomed them into our house. He started to get invited to things, there were some disappointments but in general he was happy and settled. 

Research tells us that whilst autistic children can make friendships they have difficulties maintaining them, that as children get older the social gap widens and can cause problems, leading friendships to fail. As he is heading to the end of primary school we can see this starting to happen.



Problems arise when my big lad doesn't understand why people behave in a certain way or when he fails to pick up on social cues or hints that 'neurtoypical' children do. For instance when one friend kept saying they were busy, he thought they were busy, he didn't take the hint. Although the social cues are hard for him to understand, he does feel that something is wrong and recently he asked,
How can you be someone's friend then change the way you act?  

Researchers found that, Children with higher functioning autism were actually the most bullied group. They aren’t sure why this is true, but one hypothesis is that it’s because people with high functioning autism are often of average/high intelligence but can still have considerable social deficits, which makes them, in effect, the “perfect target.”

Recently our big lad became really unsettled, we knew something was wrong but he wasn't able to articulate exactly what was bothering him. We noticed a definite deterioration in his behaviour at home; he was more anxious, stimming and struggling to sleep and he didn't want to go to school...

I've often said that being a Spectrum Mum means that you have to be a kind of detective at times, piecing all of the clues together. In the end we worked out that he was struggling with break times so came up with a plan for him to take in his Top Trumps cards to play with a friend. 

Whilst leaving the school meeting I spotted my son being bullied by three boys...

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would never have known because my big lad didn’t see. He didn’t read their mocking expressions, he didn’t catch them sneering at the cards in his hand or notice their disinterested body language or the sarcasm in their voices. He just carried on chatting away, in a friendly manner... My heart was racing and I wanted to run over and challenge them, to ask them why they were being so mean but they/I was saved by the bell.

It was really hard to witness but I did take some comfort in the fact that he wasn’t upset by their behaviour, that he didn't see it. I went home, stunned, angry and upset and talked to hubby. We were left wondering what else was happening that we knew nothing about? Had he become the 'perfect target'?

Then I found a letter hidden in my son's room. The letter was from his support assistant, teaching him techniques to use when a boy kept following him (one of the three). This boy had been deliberately intimidating my son and causing him distress during break-time. It filled me with disappointment and anger and I went straight into school to discuss what was happening and why we weren't aware.
...children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied far more often than their typically developing peers (nearly five times as often) ... and are also often intentionally “triggered” into meltdowns ...by ill-intentioned peers.
Our solution to the problem has been to clearly explain to our son that this boy is not his friend and to stay away from him. We encouraged him to keep communicating with us at home and his teachers at school. I must admit that I daydreamed about waiting outside school to give this boy a piece of my mind, of intimating him like he had my son, making him feel scared and confused...

School were quick to reassure me that the situation had been dealt with and that it wasn't a big problem. But I am not sure that I agree. I think that for my son to read the signals correctly then the bullying must have been 'bad enough'.

Later that week, my big lad pointed out a notice which read;
We accept people for who they are...
His comment:
Well that is exactly the problem with the kids at my school, they don't accept me for who I am... 
Brilliantly insightful! Who has a problem with empathy? His neurotypical peers not him!

My son needs to be taught techniques to deal with negative behaviours but his peers also need to learn to accept difference, especially if Special Needs Pupils are going to continue to be included in mainstream education.

Happily the head has already addressed this issue with his group. We are lucky to have a supportive school and I do feel reassured. But again, I am left wondering, what next? Maybe it is just time for him to move on, to be with peers like him, in a Special setting.

It terrifies me to think that my son may be seen as the perfect target... As a Spectrum Mum and as a teacher I urge you to talk to your children about Neurodiverstiy and teach them to practice kindness. Together we can teach our children that different doesn't mean less. Together we can teach acceptance! 


#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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More from One Moment in Time...

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!

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