My Sunday Photo

14 October 2018

If History were told in the form of stories it would never be forgotten...

Helmsley castle

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Growing pains

10 October 2018

Dear friends,
do you ever look at your children and think, Oh my goodness, where is the time going? I do. I have a major conflict of interests. Stuck between wanting to freeze time to keep my boys 'little' and being excited about the things they are yet to achieve. This poem is my response to the unforgivable habit of growing up. 

Growing Pains

I need your help! 
I am experiencing terrible growing pains,
It only seems like two sleepless nights ago 
That you were tiny babies, 
Looking up at me with wonder in your eyes. 
I was your world...

I am sorry,
I did not always appreciate these days.
The multiple, minute, repetitive moments that filled them
Made it sometimes
Feel like forever.

I am sorry,
Sometimes I felt lonely,
I was afraid that I was getting it wrong,
I wasted time waiting for the next milestone to come
And I wasted energy comparing your path with others.

But most of all I am sorry that
I didn't realise how with each milestone
You were moving further
And further
Away from me...



I wish with ever fibre of my being 
That I could experience one more time how...

Your tiny, soft foot fit in the palm of my hand.
I could carry you in one arm (resting you on my hip)
Your first words were spat out with pride and determination.
You pulled funny faces as you experimented with new foods.
Your warm body curled into me in bed with your feet flat against my side. 
You only covered your excited face during games of Hide and seek.
You squealed go faster during bike rides to the duck pond.
Holding your tiny hand in mine made me feel safe.
I had to rush my shower because you needed me.
My pockets were always full of your special finds. 
Going to the toilet became a group outing.
Your little face appeared at the window as I left for work.




I failed...
In the business of our lives,
To spot the tell tale signs that
Things were changing.
In my blinkered
Rush to get life done,
I missed the signs that
You were outgrowing me.

But I can't fail to notice it now... 
It hits me right between the eyes, every time I look at your long legs.
It weighs me down, when I try to lift you up.
It cuts deep, every-time I offer my hand and you decline.
It makes my tummy flip, when you refuse face painting or dressing up.
It saddens my soul, when there's no-one at the window to wave goodbye.
It cripples my confidence when you utter the words; 'Oh Mum, embarrassing."
It fills me with sadness, when you have nothing to tell me.
It says I told you so, every-time you dash out of the door without a kiss!




Now it is me who is looking at you
With eyes filled with wonder,
Who wants to ask you all the questions,
Who wants to follow you
And snuggle at your side.

Please cut mummy some slack,
Give me that occasional squeeze,
Tell me about your day,
Let me call you my baby,
Hold my hand.

Know that you will always be my world
Even when I'm no longer yours!





This is a revised post.

Pockets reference - you must read the post by occupation mother. 


My Sunday Photo

7 October 2018

The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.




A Glimpse into our autism: High Functioning

3 October 2018

Dear friend,

Our big lad recently started secondary school and has also made the shift from mainstream to special school. It gave me a great sense of peace over the summer holidays to know that he would be moving into an environment that is set up to understand and support children with autism. But then...

Do you think they will find him 'too normal' at this school?
He is not what I expected at all. He's really good isn't he? He is really friendly and communicative.
Yes but he is different than the 'others' you can't tell by looking at him.
I thought he was really high functioning.

To hear this from people we know and some we love shocked me.


Big lad doing a Fortnite dance on the summit of Roseberry Topping.

Our son has always been lost in this no-man's land between being 'too good' for specialist support and 'not good enough' for mainstream.

High functioning children with autism are often left out of the support scenario because there is not enough funding. We are used to fighting for the help that he needs. By moving into the special school system I hoped that the fight would become easier.

People like the linearity of a scale, we like to put things in boxes or to see where they fit and make comparisons.

Verbal, articulate people with autism are often placed at the top of the scale and labelled as high functioning whereas Non verbal people with autism are often placed at the bottom and labelled low functioning.

But...

Autistic people can not be put neatly into a box or applied to a scale because autism is a spectrum disorder.

To use labels like 'normal' or 'high functioning' is not helpful to us because it belittles the difficulties that my son faces every single day. People assume that he won't need many or any accommodations because he is high functioning or looks or acts normal.

Functioning labels are not an accurate representation of the help that an autistic person needs.

High Functions does not mean, doesn't need any help!







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 October

2 October 2018

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 month's featured post comes from Renovation Bay-Bee



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Photo Diary September

1 October 2018

Dear Friend,

I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite moments from the month. 

 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!



  • New haircuts. Little man was very pleased with his new lightning bolt design
  • Big lad enjoying a Haring at the market in Leiden
  • Cycling into the city with my boys
  • Sunday morning walks at the beach
  • Watching my boys enjoying being together and splashing in the sea
  • A walk in the forest. It was full of fallen acorns
  • Little man found a huge stick!
  • We spent ages listening to acorns dropping into the lake


  • A day out in Haarlem
  • Discovering tiny doorways
  • Finding beautiful hidden streets
  • A great view from the top of Hudson Bay
  • An afternoon at the Rijksmuseum
  • Discovering stunning architecture
  • Seeing famous artworks up close
  • An evening function in a cafe on the beach & a beautiful sunset  

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My Sunday Photo

30 September 2018

Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost...


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How to get your kids talking about School

26 September 2018

Dear Friend,

How many times have you asked you kids; How was school today? Only to hear; ok, fine, rubbish or receive a shrug? I think most parents share this struggle.

It is almost impossible for me to get any information about school from our autistic son. I loved this analogy I heard on a course for parents of autistic children. The psychologist described the autistic mind as like a filing cabinet, she said that there was a file for each topic, Home, school, grandma's etc She went on to explain that when school is over the file is shut and locked in a draw. 

Perhaps the key to learning about school lies in asking the right sort of question. 




20 questions to get kids talking about school



1. What is the best thing that has happened at school today?

2. What is the worst thing that has happened at school today?

3. What happened today to make you laugh out loud?

4. What frustrated you the most today? Why?

5. Did anything make you sad today? Why?
(Sad can be substituted with happy/cross/frustrated/bored/laugh/tired/excited/scared.)

6. If you could change anything about today, what would it be?

7. If you could choose, who would you like to sit next to in class?

8. Tell me one thing that you learned today.

9. If you could only do one thing all day what would it be?

10. If two of your class mates were leaving who would you want it to be?




11 What would you like to do more at school?

12. Which lesson do you wish you didn't have any more?

13. Did the teacher say anything funny/silly today?

14. Who is the funniest in your class?

15. What did anyone do to help you today?

16. What did you feel most proud of today?

17. What is your favourite playground game?

18. If you could choose 3 children to go out to play with who would you choose?

19. If you could set the timetable for the day at school what would you do?

20. What do you want you teacher to know?




I find that I get a better response at dinner time rather than straight after school as the boys have had some time to process their day. I also like to hang around a bit at bed time after stories because often my big lad likes to talk then and get things off his chest before he sleeps.

Why don't you try out a few of these questions and see what response you get?


Do you have any questions you could add to my list? Let me know in the comments...



This is a revised post.

My Sunday Photo

23 September 2018

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life. - Albert Einstein


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A Glimpse into our autism: Outgrown

19 September 2018

Dear friend,

Yesterday he told me not to worry, that my son would grow out of his autism.

He went on to tell me about a friend of the family who has an autistic son who is 'much better now'.

I felt my eyes roll...

Despite what some news stories have said my son will not outgrow his autism.

Outsiders may look at our boy and remark that he has 'Got better', 'He's doing really well', 'You wouldn't know he has autism' because the outward symptoms of autism have changed as he has grown up.

My son is a person and he has developed and matured as all people do. He has also worked hard to learn coping strategies and is very good in certain situations at masking his difficulties.



According to the DSM it is impossible to "grow out" of autism.

Manifestations of the social and communication impairments and restricted/repetitive behaviors that define autism spectrum disorder are clear in the developmental period. In later life, intervention or compensation, as well as current supports, may mask these difficulties in at least some contexts. However, symptoms remain sufficient to cause current impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

A diagnosis of autism means only one thing: you’re autistic; having a condition you can grow out of is something entirely different.

It is important to note that Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects different people in different ways. It is very difficult to say how a person will develop over time. But autism will not go away.

My son will become a teenager with autism and an adult with autism and an elderly person with autism.

Planning for his future quite frankly is one of the scariest challenges we face. Please don't belittle that challenge by telling me he will outgrow his autism.

Yesterday he told me not to worry, that my son would grow out of his autism.

I felt my eyes roll...







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.



Photo Diary August #2

17 September 2018

Dear Friend,

I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite moments from the summer. 

 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!




  • A day trip to Efteling where we discovered that we are a family of rollercoaster lovers now. It was great fun!
  • The boys on their favourite ride the Piranha
  • I thought the boys had outgrown the fairytale forest at Efteling but they couldn't leave without visiting Long neck
  • The autipas system at Efteling was fabulous. It really took the stress out of queuing and made it a much more relaxed day for our big lad and us! 
  • Lazy Saturdays shopping in Leiden
  • A visit to Museum Volkenkunde for the World Press Photo exhibition
  • I loved watching Little Man interacting with the exhibitions in the museum, he has a thirst for learning now
  • My favourite room at the museum, the Buddha room




  • We watched the flower parade. We are lucky that it passes our front door. 
  • The theme this year was, All around the world




  • We ended August with an evening trip to the beach and were lucky to see a stunning sunset. 


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My Sunday Photo

16 September 2018

We are not makers of history, we are made by history..

Whitby Harbour 


Ten ways blogging is like having a child

12 September 2018

Dear friend,

Are you a blogger or are you thinking of writing a blog? Blogging is amazing and has opened up a whole new world to me but there's something you need to know...

I have had a revelation! After almost 4 years of blogging I have realised that actually, writing a blog is like having a child. 

Stay with me, I haven't drank too many cocktails at lunch. I can explain...





Ten ways blogging is like having a child:


1. They need feeding good stuff

Great content is key and my most popular pieces are those I have written with passion and from the heart.

2. They change your social life

The best part of blogging is getting to know some amazingly supportive blogging chums. You find your blogging tribe like you find your mummy tribe. Blogging has encouraged me to get out and about and do more with my family too.

3. You celebrate every achievement

I love reading every single comment that I receive on Spectrum Mum. It feels amazing when a fellow blogger features or shares your post. Appearing front page/blog of the day on Mumsnet or being featured in an on-line publication (plus40 bloggers or The Mighty) is a huge cause for celebration. And lets not even mention the craziness around the Mads (Blogging Awards).

4. You want them to look good

I have had several changes of theme, header and colour scheme. I have spent many hours 'messing around' with things to make my blog look how I want. Your blog is a reflection of you.




5. Some days you're just knackered...

We all have those days where we feel we don't know what we are doing. Most bloggers have a crisis of confidence when their blog reaches the terrible twos.

6. There are sleepless nights...

Bloggers brain can be like baby brain. I find ideas pop into it when I'm drifting off to sleep and I have to jot them down before they disappear then end up writing into the small hours or I check my twitter feed as I get into bed and then I can't get to sleep.

7. You focus on their growth...

Those milestones are important and as a blogger it is easy to get caught up in the Stats, League tables, Klout scores, DA etc It is thrilling to see that people all around the world have read your words.



8.  They can make you crazy...

I admit that I had an addiction to blogging. Be careful or it can begin to take over your whole life.

9.  You worry about their moral upbringing...

What is your niche? Most Bloggers will have heard of the importance of having a niche. My blog has changed direction over the last 4 years but I am happiest and most confident writing about and raising awareness of autism. You have to pick a niche that you really love and feel passionately about and write about that honestly. Be true to yourself.

10. They need praise, rewards or special treats

I am really proud of the positive comments from people in the autism community. I am so thankful that people have responded well to my tales from the scenic route of parenting. Blogging is something that I stumbled into almost 4 years ago and I am still loving the journey and learning a lot.


Would you add anything else to my list?

This is a revised post



Photo Diary August #1

10 September 2018

Dear Friend,

I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite moments from the summer. 


 Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!




  • Exploring the North Yorkshire Moors
  • Finding the seated man at Castleton
  • Visiting Grosmont (the station in Harry Potter)
  • The boys paddling in the river at Lealholm just like I did as a child
  • A day at Flamingo Land where little man made his own bear and big lad discovered a love of roller coasters 
  • The tastiest fish & chips at Helmsley 
  • Helmsley Castle at sunset
  • Family fun at Stewart’s park





As an Expat I really miss the hills and rolling countryside of England. Holland is very flat. But little man reminded me that England has hills but Holland has water. Wise words indeed!

When we arrived back in Holland we hired a boat and spent the day investigating the canals. The boys enjoyed being dragged behind in their little boat. It was a gorgeous day and I loved seeing big lad so relaxed. Looking at the beautiful Leiden from a different perspective was also really special! 


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My Sunday Photo

9 September 2018

Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is...




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A Glimpse into our autism: Expert

5 September 2018

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I was introduced as an expert...

It shocked me.

I don't feel like an Expert.

I am just a mum...

When the big lad was diagnosed my expectations did not match the reality!

I expected that a Dr would coordinate his care and make sure he received the support and therapy he needed.

I had read that early intervention was key and I honestly expected to be directed to a team of Professionals who would immediately begin working miracles with my son.

In fact the opposite happened.

Most people told me that my son was too young and I had to search for help.

Several years later and I have dealt with around 30 different Drs, therapists, teachers etc who have contact with my son.




  • I found the right support
  • I bullied Drs. into therapy programs, despite being told my big lad was not 'bad enough' or 'old enough' 
  • I have acted as the link between professionals
  • I have coordinated appointments
  • I ensured that we weren't focusing on too much at once
  • I anticipated future needs
  • I found and then fought for the right school
  • I become the 'expert' in my son


  • I am not writing this for sympathy. Nor am I a martyr. I am not unique.

    I love my son and want to help and support him where ever I can. But do you know how difficult it is to spell out all of your child's problems in black and white, again and again?

    I can understand why some parents have chosen to opt out of therapy or how many parents have anxiety issues or how some parents have become consumed by "autism" or how many marriages fail.

    Special Needs Parents are under immense pressure!

    You have to get this right!

    It is far too easy to become focused on the what needs to be done and forget about the why and the who we are doing this for.

    As a mum, I want my focus and energy to go into loving my son.

    I want him to get the support he needs. But I want my son to have a 'normal' childhood that is not dominated by 'autism'.

    Sometimes, I don't want to be the expert, I just want to be mum.

    Yesterday I was introduced as an Expert...

    It shocked me.

    But I guess they are right because I am the expert when it comes to my son.


    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 September

    4 September 2018

    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.


    Important announcement: 


    #PointShoot is now a monthly linky and is open for longer to reflect this.
    • Open on the first Tuesday of every month
    • Open for 2 weeks
    • I will comment on and retweet all linked posts (please ensure you have your twitter handle in the sharing buttons)

    This month's featured post comes from @mummymindful



    Feel free to grab your featured blogger badge!





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    Link up your pictures!






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    Photo Diary July

    3 September 2018

    Dear Friend,

    I love capturing the ordinary moments and special times with my camera, looking at our life through a lens gives me a clearer focus. Here I take a look back at some of my favourite moments from the summer. 

     Now over to my photo diary... Happy days!



    This week I am sharing with you some shots from our holiday in the UK.

    • Hubby celebrated his birthday. There was lots of cake as my parents bought one and we did too. Still who doesn't love cake? 
    • Little Man took a bath at uncle Dave's house! He loves a bath and we don't have one and neither do my parents (we replaced them with large walk in showers). The boys enjoyed playing monster uncle Dave.
    • Little Man found a jelly cat toy in Yarm and had to buy it. 
    • There were some lovely pub lunches, pints of fruity cider and of course fish and chips.
    • A trip to my parents wouldn't be complete without a day in Whitby. We love Whitby. We played on the 2p machines, walked along the pier (that was scary, you can see straight through between the beams) and climbed the 99 steps to discover a pirate grave but not Dracula's. 




    • It was a beautiful day to climb Roseberry Topping. 
    • We were so lucky to get to share this with my best friend and her gorgeous girls. We used to climb this every year with school. I must admit I'd forgoten quite how steep it was.
    • Big lad has spent most of the summer breaking out into Fortnite dances and I managed to catch him at the top. 
    • The views were amazing! 
    • Nic made a scrumptious picnic for us all which we shared at the top. 
    • My favourite bit was coming back the super steep way and sliding down on our bums. 


    Part 2 of our UK trip next week...

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    My Sunday Photo

    2 September 2018

    When I count my blessings, I count you twice...




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    My Sunday Photo

    26 August 2018

    Be happy, be bright, be you!




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    Top Tips for going Back to school

    20 August 2018

    Dear friend,

    The adverts have started on the television, it must be back to school time... Is it me or does it get earlier each year? I don't really want to worry about it now as I want to enjoy the last couple of weeks of my holiday BUT there are definite benefits to being prepared.... As a parent and a teacher I have experience of this busy time from both sides of the fence.


    My Back to School Tips


    Get your children into a school sleep schedule: The idea is that children return to school refreshed after a long holiday and ready to learn but that can't happen if your children are tired from going to bed late every evening. I relax the bedtime rules when the kids are on holiday but in the last couple of weeks before school I start to tighten them up again and make sure they are well rested before school begins.

    Establish (or re-establish) routines: It is natural that we fall out of routine during the holidays but try and reestablish this before you go back. Especially useful for children about to start school for the first time - ask the teacher what their routine will be and try to replicate at home with similar snack times. 

    Read books: there are plenty of books about starting school e.g. Do I have to go to school?

    Lay out clothes, bags etc the night before: We have a visual timetable for the big lad (autistic) it is stuck in the cupboard door and he (and I) can check what he needs and lay it out the night before saving time and stress on the morning. 

    Label everything: Teachers waste so much time handling lost property. I have spent many an evening looking for new cardigans with unhappy parents...

    Start a new tradition: for example, a special breakfast for the first day or a termly photo. Keep it fun!


    Organise Homework: Find a place in your home for homework things and to do homework. OK I must admit I am rubbish at this, hubby is much better. Establish a homework routine. 

    Talk about nerves: Some nerves are normal! But if you feel your child is too nervous talk to the teacher. 

    Talk to the teacher: Notify the teacher if any major life changes such as divorce or a death in the family have occurred during the holiday.

    Plan lunches: Keep packed lunches simple and don't give too much food. Are there some banned foods at your child's school? Leave little notes in their lunch box or write on their banana for snack (my boys sadly are too cool for this now!)



    Develop a central calendar: keep track of all school related activities, late starts, early closings and any change in events or school events.

    Get Uniform ready: Try and buy in advance. Allow for growth!

    Check the gym kit: Do the shoes still fit, is it clean?

    Time: Tell your child where and when you will pick them up! This is so important, especially for children who are just starting school, many young children will ask; "When am I going home?" Until they are fully settled. I have had a couple of unconsolable children who thought mummy or daddy weren't coming back. Make it clear!

    Be present: Walk, drive, cycle with your child to school on the first day. Arrange to go into work a bit later if you can. If you can't don't worry - maybe leave a little video message or note or small good luck present?

    Talk to your child: Ask them, if you could tell your teacher one thing what would it be?


    Do you have any back to school tips? Let me know in the comments...



    This is a revised post.



    My Sunday Photo

    19 August 2018

    Sandy toes, Salty kisses & Seashell wishes...



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