Friday, 30 December 2016

Problems of an Autist!

Today, Dominik saw the physiotherapist for a progress report and he has been discharged! 

This is as a direct result of his dedication and resolve. The improvement seen by us (and confirmed by Sebastian) is remarkable. He has a normal bend at his ankle already (the surgeon was worried that he would not even be able to get it to 90 degrees, let alone exceed it!). I am so thrilled for him. He is elated. Genuinely happy with a real world achievement. Properly proud of himself. For a person with PDA this is a massive accomplishment. 

He has finally dedicated himself to something and it has PAID OFF! No begging. No bribing. No threatening. Not even any nagging! 

He is finally seeing what I have known was there all along...huge potential. He told me himself that he has had a massive confidence boost. 

This operation was a catalyst for him even though I was so angry with myself for letting it happen. Ultimately it seems that it was for the best. 

It has provided the ideal test for Dominik. His well-being and quality of life were truly on the line and he rose to the challenge in a super-human way.

Keep the faith lovelies. <3

And now, on to Autist problems!

Because Dominik has now recovered (and exceeded expectations!), I need to book our rifle shooting classes! 

(I am sure I can almost hear the hysterical laughter coming from fellow PDA warriors!)

In writing the email (because I don't do phone calls) I became acutely aware of the reality of Dominik and people and ammunition all in the same place in real life. I'll be honest here, I'd have chosen pretty much any other sport/hobby/activity first. 

I intended to write a standard enquiry email but it became what I am sharing below. It includes some pertinent points and I'm proud of my advocacy...I think. 

And therein lies the Autist problem...was I too honest? 
Is writing an email like this a good idea? 
Have I prejudiced them from the outset? 
Should I have let him try? 

Urgh. This is so confusing for me and I have no idea if it would be confusing for a neurotypical parent! 

Here's the email


My names Natasha.

I would like to bring my 12 year old son along to have a taster session with a view to both of us taking beginner classes.

I think it would be £60 each (plus the £5 each for safety and taster?) is this right?

My son has special needs (ASD) so I am joining him as his carer. I do not however envisage any problems outside of over-enthusiasm and possibly over-confidence!

He has just had an operation on both of his Achilles Tendons and as a result, can now stand properly. on his flat feet for the first time since he was around 8 year old. 

His amazing management of the surgery and his recovery are the main reason we are coming. It is the only hobby he is willing to try and I’d love for this to be a success.

He is home educated so is used to being self-directed. His only other 'class' has been parkour (free-running) and he was forced to stop that due to his shortened Achilles tendons which meant he could not balance well enough to progress.

He is a massive fan of weapons in general as a result of his love for COD games and other first person shooters.

To give you an idea of his dedication to the subject, one of his last full days out was to Wrest Park for a St George’s Day event. He was able to identify pretty much every weapon he saw in each 'zone'. It was so much fun and he impressed those who bothered to actually listen to what he was saying/asking.

Please confirm that it would be ok for us to come along, or if you think there may be a different way to give him (us) a taster, I’m happy to hear any suggestions?

Finally, would you please confirm/suggest dates as soon as possible so I can plan things accordingly.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Happy New Year,


Did I over share? Did I advocate? I don't know but I'm looking forward to finding out.

In other news, Harriet is still a climber and will be visiting a local climbing centre this month, Hannon cannot decide on any new classes this term and has refused climbing, kayaking (because of the day of the week) and archery. Lily is devoted to roller skating and is improving fast. We have a bet on now that if she can beat me in a race before Easter she can have a new pair of skates of her choice. I cannot wait to see her skills develop. Lily is also learning Spanish and will continue with Beavers and Cheer-leading

As for me, I'm itching to begin a career. I just cannot decide which area I want to focus on. I am torn between gaining a TEFL qualification (so we can travel again) and following my heart towards working with families and children and young people. Such a big choice...could I manage both?!

Enough from me. There is a sleep-over here tonight and as you can imagine, there is not going to be any sleep happening!

Happy New Year. 

May 2017 being you joy, health and love.

N x

PS - 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

It's here again!

In what seems like the blink of an eye, it's Christmas time again. This is my third Christmas as a blogger! Where did that time go?

So, this year, dare I say it, it almost feels calm!

None of my children have asked for very much this year and I think this has had a large part to play in alleviating the usual stresses! We are all very excited and have even agreed that we will put up our decorations a tad earlier than usual. Cannot wait til the weekend!

Dominik, of course, has had his main present already and given that he hasn't asked for anything else, the rest will be sure to be a pleasant surprise.

I should probably fill you in on life after surgery! Dominik had his casts removed last week after what felt the longest six weeks of our lives! He hated using the commode almost as much as I hated him using it to be honest! So glad that is behind us now.

The first day he was incredibly nervous...refusing to put his feet down and insisting on using the wheelchair after a week of not using it at all! We had booked to go and see Fantastic Beasts that night and I optimistically, didn't expect to be using the chair but we had to in the end!

The second day he hobbled around with his crutches mostly using them as weapons, which was a bit trying.

But, on the third day, he put them down and began to walk unaided! He is waddling (a little like a penguin) and refusing to bend his knees but the surgeon assured us that within three months he would be much more confident and competent. I guess the irony is that he is point blank refusing to stand up on his toes! He simply will not do it. Hope that's a good sign.

We saw the neurodevelopmental therapist after the casts were off too to check on the progress of his retained reflexes and that was also great news. His pupils are showing almost no stress response now and he was able to do the exercises far more easily than ever before. His back has now loosened up which makes every single movement easier and far less stressful for his entire body. We have been advised to seek a physiotherapist (not provided by the hospital, urgh) and a cranial osteopath so the pathway to wellness continues.

Back to Christmas!

Three years ago when I first began writing this blog, I wrote a long and detailed post about all the things I put into place around this time of year to make life less stressful and anxiety inducing for Dominik but here we are, three years on, and those measures, whilst still being on stand by, are no longer essential.

I am going to copy and paste some of my tips here from the original article in case they are of use to any new readers.

"For those of you with little ones who are at school, I imagine this time of year must be particularly challenging, not least because of the following;
  • Mufti-days
  • Carol services
  • Timetable changes
  • Nativity plays
  • Decorations
  • Staff absence 
to name but a few of the school based changes. 

But what about if we include;
  • School holidays
  • Visiting relatives
  • Christmas trees and decorations
  • Furniture being relocated
  • Presents (and the accompanying anxiety)
  • All predictability vanished
  • Extra people everywhere
And perhaps even;
  • Parties
  • Father Christmas himself
  • Family events
  • Photo ops
  • Different foods
  • Different clothes
  • An abundance of chocolate/sweets and treats everywhere
  • Anxiety at its maximum surrounding the idea of being 'good/well behaved/deserving'

This is perhaps the most challenging time of year for us families with children (and adults) on the Autistic Spectrum so I thought I would share with you a few of my ideas designed to make life a little less stressful.

It is my hope that they will help things to run more smoothly (and joyously), in your home too during this Christmas Season.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

This cannot be said enough! Prepare to the nth degree!

Let your child create their own special visual timetable (in the form of an advent calendar?) so that they can anticipate all the events at school and at home. Let them talk to you about everything that they remember about the changes and how that makes them feel and what they feel they can and cannot cope with.

Enable them to choose, to as large an extent as possible, what they want to participate in and what they don't in the school calendar and respect their wishes. Be the best advocate for your child that you can be and ensure that they get the Christmas they want too. Struggling is not a nice way to live at any time but at Christmas, when everyone else is smiling and happy, it is even worse.

Bribery & Coercion

I think it is all too common that parents begin using Santa (and presents) as a 'carrot/stick' once Christmas time comes around. Children all over the western world are worrying themselves half to death about their behaviour and whether or not they have been 'good' enough to deserve presents.

It is my firm belief that children will do well if given the environment in which they can do well.

Our special children are already doing their best all the time to manage without breaking down, so at Christmas, when there is so much more at stake, perhaps we should avoid pairing their behaviour with the promise of presents?

A lady told my daughter only the other day that if she 'screamed like that' Santa would hear her and she wouldn't get any presents. Not only was this extremely distressing for my daughter but it was horrible for me too! I do not use this kind of carrot and stick system in my house as a rule (I'm not perfect) and I have to say that to hear it come from a complete stranger was horrifying.

My daughter had been having a difficult (and busy) day and she was getting to the end of her ability to cope (several different shops, in and out of the car, hungry and over-stimulated) and this lady simply made things 100% worse. Sigh.

So, yes, try your hardest to not equate their behaviour with good/bad....they are trying their best.


Please, please, please, unless you have absolutely no choice (or alternatively, they want to come along), let them stay at home! The world is a crappy place for those of us who shun noise, smells, lights, people, being touched and garishness right now! Unless your little one wants to plan a trip (and gets complete autonomy over what happens on that trip, including when to call it quits), don't make them come along. A trip such as this can take days to wind down from even if it goes well. If it goes badly the guilt and shame and self-reproach from us perfectionists is almost too much to bare.


Keep the number of visiting friends and relations to an minimum, or, at the very least, let your child hide out in their room (or in the room that is most comfortable for them) and do not force them to socialise if they don't want to.

As an Aspie adult I can tell you, being made to kiss, hug and chat to people who are basically a load of strangers, is traumatic and exhausting and certainly not 'fun'!

Please be an advocate for your child and warn any visitors, that if they are bringing presents, to expect them to be unwrapped on sight if they are seen by said children! If they do not wish for this to happen then should wait for the opportunity to 'sneak' them in unseen when they can be safely hidden and not add to the anticipation that our children are already feeling with regard to unopened presents, and the pressure to like them.

Also, tell these same visitors what treats/sweets/foods are acceptable in advance so you don't have repeated meltdowns over food.

If you can, decline any invitations that are non-essential. Visiting lots of different homes is stress-inducing due to the amount of unpredictability and frequent transitions.

If you do over-do it our little ones will soon unravel and will not have a chance to regroup and recover, and will therefore end up not enjoying the best bits that Christmas has to offer.


Allow your child/children to take whatever role they wish in decorating the house and tree (or not). If they are anxious about decorations perhaps put them up as late as you can in family areas and allow any other children to decorate their rooms so that they don't miss out."

I have added a few tips and tweaked this a little but it is basically the same as it was in 2014.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, fun and joyful Christmas.

Much Love, thanks for reading,

N x

Friday, 21 October 2016

The operation and its aftermath

Dominik had his Achilles tendon lengthening surgery on Monday.

Time has flown by and I cannot believe it's finally done.

Dominik has also been to see Bob Allen for a third time to check on his neurodevelopmental progress.

So, Bob Allen...well, we learned that Dominik has developed (?) his Moro reflex a significant percentage already. The difference is clear to see for those of us who know him well. Some changes to note: he has spent very little time gaming, he has spent a lot of time making new friends and communicating with his peers, he has been experiencing friendships and is being exposed to many variants of family life for the first time ever, he is speaking more slowly, he is more attentive and, perhaps, most importantly for those of us who live with him, he is communicating his needs far more clearly thereby avoiding most meltdown situations.

Other than being slightly edgy, he did not have any significant difficulties in the lead up to the operation. His pre-op appointment was uneventful although it did highlight his Autism. During the appointment, we saw the play therapy lady and a Jr Dr. He spoke in a mumble. He answered all their questions whilst looking only at me. He stimmed. He span on the spinning chair almost continuously. He fiddled with everything in sight. He didn't have any questions and declared that I had told him everything already! He loved the teenage gaming room in the ward and was almost excited to have some time away from home.

I think it is worth mentioning that his siblings have been very gentle with him. They understand how scary all this is and they want to make his days as simple as possible. Last week, for the first time in months, Hannon played with him for the whole afternoon. Earlier last week he spent a significant portion of the day with Lily and Harriet and I spent some of last Friday with him. Dominik has been mostly nocturnal again though so we must take that into account I guess. Lily and Hannon wrote him an adorable card and I know he appreciated their care and concern.

We are now day four post-op and I am so thrilled with how things have gone.

He has had painkillers on three occasions since he came home. He has been having fun trying to navigate the house in his wheelchair (even thought it is not self-propelling). He has come to the table for meals. He is mindful of how long he is sitting for and happily asks for help to elevate his legs when he feels it is necessary. He is dealing with the 'pee pot' and his commode with dignity and maturity. He is excited by the thought of being able to walk 'properly' when the time comes.

We had an emotional morning before the operation as there was obviously some waiting involved before he was called down to theatre. He finally went down at midday. He walked there without issue and let them insert the cannula and wire him up without complaint, although he HATED the blood pressure cuff! He went under quickly and smoothly.

He was a little longer in recovery than I was expecting which was very scary! I was expecting him back at 1.30pm and was finally allowed to collect him at 4pm! Not the nicest experience that's for sure.

He decided that he was confident to stay overnight in the hospital by himself which was astounding to me. In fact, truth be told, he was far more confident of his ability to manage than I was! He didn't even flinch at the thought and when I arrived early the next morning, he was beaming and very ready to leave!

We saw the Dr and received our instructions for care of his cast and were ready to come home by 11am. We did hit a snag here when I couldn't get him in the car. It was the only time he panicked and shed a few tears.

I ended up leaving him there and going to collect the wheelchair and commode from the Red Cross and ordering a wheelchair accessible taxi to collect him.

Once we were home, well, it has been plain sailing.

All in all, my young man has exceeded all expectations (even his own) and has his gaze fixed firmly on the end result.

N x

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Pretty much terrified at all times!

So, I definitely owe myself (and you) a blog post.

For me, time is a little harder to come by these days because Harriet is exploring and generally being an 18 month old!

She is into everything. If you turn around for one second she is into something or, more often than not, on to something! Her ability to climb continues unabated even with the odd tumble.

The garden table, the kitchen table, the kitchen worktops, the bunk beds, the freezer, the chest of drawers, and last but not by no means least, the side of the bath! Nowhere is safe.

These experiences are all equally horrifying and inspiring. Not a single time do I not panic but, barring two occasions that spring to mind, she very rarely slips/falls. She is an adept climber.

Harriet isn't saying any words yet which I am grateful for in some ways but, surprise, surprise, in others, I'm not.

I swear that being a parent is basically being equal parts impressed and terrified at pretty much all times.

Hannon is collaborating on a few games with a new friend. They are beta testing one another's games, they are creating artwork for one another and Hannon has even begun to experiment with voice acting, inserting 'easter eggs', making cut scenes and is just today working on soundtracks! It is so impressive, and yet utterly terrifying at the same time.

Lily is asking very grown up questions all of a sudden. She is still growing at a rate of knots. She has been poorly too and a bit clumsy and in the wars.  It seems many of her changes are to do with her physical person and her level of maturity right now.

But, that is not to say that she isn't taking part in some activities! We walked the whole of Bedford, and learnt some of its history doing a treasure hunt from Treasure Trails (highly recommend), she was boosted over the barrier around our local 'music in the park' event by my mum (!!!) so she could see what it looked like inside and to hear one of her favourite songs played live and she has also managed a full 3 hours at a science event this month.

Her capacity for 'life' is improving all the time and Lily has far fewer meltdowns right now. It is such a relief for us both really and a well-deserved break from her usual level of stress.

On to Dominik! His is perhaps the most surprising of tales! We have now been therapeutically brushing for a fair while. The biggest difference on the surface is the amount of time he is spending actively playing games compared to doing other things. The balance is heavily in favour of editing, dubbing and drawing comics. He got through his birthday without much incidence this year but it was the most low key it has ever been. Not sure he would choose for it to be that low key again, but we might have found a balance for next year!

Dominik has also experienced his first breakup with his American girlfriend, He was definitely thrown by it but recovered quickly. His emotional state in general has been superb. He is still developmentally behind his peer group, but he has gained some ground for sure.

Dominik is also far more able to express himself. He is achieving a level of clarity (and honesty) never before seen. This alone has made a huge difference to his self-esteem and to his level of active co-operation.

He has a date for his operation (yes, we have been advised by several different professionals that we cannot avoid the tendon surgery for his tiptoe walking now) and whilst he is scared, he is also managing well. He is willing to talk about it and he is helping to plan what we will do/what he will want to do during his recovery. It was at this point during the appointment with the surgeon, when he realised that he would have a legitimate reason to stay in bed and literally do nothing! That was when he accepted the operation without a fuss! I must admit, I heaved a huge sigh of relief that he was not a more active, outdoorsy type boy, or else my house would be like living with a time bomb right now!

Dominik has also taken his relative successes in the voice acting and comic dubbing world to a whole new level! He was stressed yesterday about something (and the reason I could tell was because he was being particularly controlling and rude to me) and so I asked him what was wrong (during our evening brushing session). He said that he had taken on several projects and was struggling to manage them. He told me that one of them involved 20 different voice actors! I laughed out loud! My PDA son was trying to project manage 20 people! I have pretty much always known that he works best when he is in charge...but did I ever imagine that he would be voluntarily managing 20 people from all over the world by the age of 12?! Never! He himself has now realised that this is a mammoth task! He has learnt from it and I think he will be more careful what he takes on from now on.
His personality is equal parts terrifying and utterly impressive.

I am sure there is more to say but I am going to go to bed now. I am exhausted and Dominik and I are going to Windsor for our second appointment tomorrow and I simply hate driving there so I must sleep.

Thanks for reading. I hope your summer is as lovely as ours.

N x

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The little things.

A few little things made me smile today and oh man, did I need to!

I just tucked everyone into bed and I wanted to share my joy at our achievement in this area! I'm sure all parents can empathise with traumatic bedtimes.

I used to sleep with Hannon and Lily in my bedroom. They used to have no set bedtime. They used to be awake until I could not be nice any longer! They seriously used to test my patience in the truest sense of the phrase and it was tough for me. I was a newly single mother of three, with two high needs children, trying to 'traditionally' home school a PDA child (!!!!) and getting used to a new-ish life living in Bedford, alone, dependent upon social security benefits.

So, I had to find a solution for bedtime before I lost my marbles!

Between us, we negotiated a new routine. Everyone in their own bedrooms. No electronics after 10pm. Read/play until they were tired if needed.

I set a new limit on food at bedtime too. I simply refused to make anything else after 9pm. That was when I 'clocked off' from the kitchen.

I think that because we came to this arrangement together, I was hopeful that it would work for everyone and give me back some of my much needed mental powers!

There were a few blips. Hannon and Lily shared a room for a while and then Hannon decided he wanted his privacy. Fair enough. We transitioned Lily into her own room over a week, reminding her every day it was happening and we hoped for the best! Then she used to sneak in her tablet for a bit (until Hannon caught her) but I think that was to ease in the change in her own way! No big deal.

Well, she doesn't even think about doing that now and she did so great!

They now both sleep in their own rooms and are in bed by 10pm.
No electronics.
No food.
No fighting.
No exhausted, grumpy mum!

All consensual. All peaceful. All happy.

Hannon is now reading his sixth manga series (don't even ask how much this is costing because it is worth every penny) and has probably read them all several times over.

Lily is reading whatever she can get her hands on but mostly manga, rhyming stories and poems that are familiar.

Harriet goes to sleep whenever she damn well pleases!!! Hahahaha! Yup, the baby has no idea that she needs to sleep. She is learning so much (and loving doing so) that she simply thinks that she has no time to sleep! Sigh. It is tiring but so worth it. Today she spotted a bumble bee in a book and screamed because she clearly recognised that she had seen one earlier in the day. We had chased one through the flowers in the garden. She can now sign 'milk', 'dog', 'finished' and 'monkey'. She is confident, beautiful, smart and completely charming! But, I'm biased of course.

And last but by no means least, Dominik.

Dominik has found new life since we began brushing (to release all of his retained infant reflexes). He is currently focused on his comic dubbing (and some singing) and is even auditioning for parts in other people's comic dubs.

He has wowed me with his ability to learn new skills. He has learnt to use programmes such as: Audacity, Synthesia, Movie Maker, Paint Tool Psi (sp?), Dropbox and probably some more I've forgotten, in a little over a month!

He is researching information about microphones and sound proofing and is asking for equipment for his not-too-distant birthday. He is truly happy and satisfied. He is drawing on a graphics tablet that Lily let him have (she really did!) and improving so fast. He is barely gaming at all. He is making new friends daily, He has stopped obsessing over how many views his videos are getting on YouTube. He is asking about punctuation! He is also teaching himself how to play the keyboard! He is just enjoying life so much. I am not sure I ever thought I would see him like this. Melts me.

And what about me I hear you ask!

Well, I've been shit! I know!! How is that possible?

I think what happened is that life got a bit 'quieter' (with all the kids doing so well) and then my world came into focus for the first time in a very long while.

I've struggled to reconcile being alone if I'm being completely honest with myself. I am angry and disappointed that those who undertook this journey with me are no longer there beside me.

I am bereft at the reality that my own mother is not offering me some extra support right now given that she was with me during two recent Dr's appointments where they both said that ideally, I should be in hospital.

However, I've started to feel a little better and am slowly leaving the fog behind. That is mostly because of my smashing friends and my growing support network.

Ok, I know these groups can't do anything practical on the kind of scale that I actually desperately need and want (a few days off), but they can listen, console, empathise, advise and perhaps most importantly, make me laugh. And that is what they have all done in their own ways.

It really is the little things that cumulatively make the most difference in normal, daily life.

No, my mum has not offered to give me a few nights off (shame really given that I have had only 7 in 12 years) but, my days have become less dark because there really are people out there who do care about me.

I know there are, because they tell me so.

N x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Such good times!

It is important to write about the good times.

The past weeks have been so full of good times that I've not really had much time to take stock.

Tonight I did though.

I realised we have such a roll going right now that it is heart-warming and inspirational.

We have what I can only describe as a 'circle of happiness'. It works very simply....always be kind. That's it. If we are kinder to each other, we genuinely and actively live in a way that is kinder to ourselves. Happy people are kind people...don't you think? Are you more or less likely to do kind deeds if you are happy: or sad: or angry: or simply disinterested? You see my point.

Happiness breeds happiness if we all act on it. Easy.

Here's some happy for you!

Dominik has had an unprecedented number of hits on his YouTube channel and he is simply happier than I have EVER seen him before. He has over 100 subscribers now. He has had over 35,000 views of one particular video (which is not even a gaming video!).

It is lovely to see his joy, ease, calm, and more joy!

He now has two people collaborating with him too! They both lives overseas so collaboration presents some challenges. Plus, his collaboration tool kit is non existent. However, Dominik has just completed his first ever international collaboration. At 11 years old! He did it all with masses of support. He is so proud of himself. He is loving what he is doing. He is genuinely feeling inspired and motivated. He even began drawing on the pc today and made his first ever animation. It was excellent. I'll see if he wants to upload it I think.  :-)

He has also -
joined us on holiday
been to a Vintage Gaming Fair
been for two picnics
been to the cinema
been to a local fete on a sweltering day
been to Legoland
and finally met up with friends at a COUNTRY PARK!!!!

This is just the last three weeks. It is stunning in it's incessantness (is that a word...don't think so). Just exhilarating to be a part of.

Hannon, in addition to the above, has just been to his first ever camp. I honestly never thought this would happen. He has never spent one night away from me voluntarily. Not even to my mum's house which is less that 5 minutes away. This is a major achievement for Hannon. And he loved it. Bonus! He cannot wait to do one next month. He is happy and motivated like Dominik. What more can you ask?

Lily has also done all of the above, and stayed at my mum's house for two nights in a row (one was a sleepover with her two younger cousins) so as Dominik, Harriet and I could be alone (because it basically never happens). How thoughtful and kind of my incredibly sensitive, intuitive little girl. Her moods have wobbled at the extreme ends of the spectrum as a result of how intensely she has been pushing herself but I know she happier now than she was at the start of the week so that's what counts. She is happier. She is loving having her own laptop so she can play pc Minecraft. She has been using scratch to make animations which are really funny and so well drawn. I should ask Lily to upload too I think. That will make her happier too.

Happiness is simply contagious. There is a caveat just have to actually be happy for it to work. If you are not being honest with yourself about what you want and how best to achieve it, you can't be truly happy and therefore the happiness will not spread as easily.

Harriet is just happy. (She is also still a mountaineer.) She graduated to climbing ladders in parks this week! She is calling me now. She is loving learning how to sign. We are doing animals this week and we've found that dolphins are easily signed and remembered after she saw a video of them. She is so independent and headstrong (yup, another one) and so much fun. She receives so much love from her siblings and I think she brings it to herself simply by just 'being'. We can learn a lot from babies. They are so pure. She is just one tiny bundle of love.

Thanks for reading.

N x

Friday, 8 April 2016

Some of our unschooling wins!

I thought it was about time I mentioned a few recent unschooling wins!

Lily is now reading almost fluently and loving her new-found freedom. Not only is she better able to communicate with and understand the world around her, she is also brimming with a new level of confidence in her own ability to learn!

She has gone from reading simple children's bedtime stories, to young adult manga in a matter of weeks. She has revolutionised her own bedtimes in the process. She is now getting in to bed without any electronic media and she is reading (and sometimes drawing) until she feels tired. This doesn't mean we are without incident completely, every night, but it does mean it is far more manageable and that Lily is far calmer and happier.

We have talked again bedtimes as a family, but we are all agreed that they are working really well as they are and we all feel that we are benefiting from them in a positive way. This means we maintain the status quo. Yay!

Hannon and Lily get into bed at 9pm, with all electronics gone by 10pm and then reading for as long as you wish. Dominik stops gaming by 11pm and is in bed with his PS4 off by 12. He has chosen to have his tablet, as he will only read online. He is currently immersed in Undertale fan comics (more on this later).

Lily has also learnt to write by hand. This is something that has never come naturally to the boys, but Lily has taken to it like a duck to water. The boys are happier to type. Full stop. They do not have the skills at the moment to hold a pencil comfortably so typing is far quicker and feels nicer. They can both spell well and Dominik requested that I buy an Usborne book on spelling, punctuation, grammar etc. so he is actively learning some grammar! :-) Again though, Lily has picked up grammar very easily. In fact, I'm not sure we have even talked to each other about it. She may have heard me talking about it with the boys though. Either way, she rocks at punctuation! She wrote a note for my mum this week and it was simply beautiful. I will try and remember to upload a picture of it if that is ok with them. The envelope was even addressed - Beryl/Nanny - how lovely is that?

Lily has begun drawing her own little animations on her white board (her favourite and most used Christmas present by far!) almost continuously. She usually draws boys and girls and love hearts etc, but it is fabulous work.

She has been enjoying parkour and is a natural when she actually tries to be present during the lessons! Her physical abilities are extraordinary. She has also picked up some early tennis skills this week too.

I'm sure I could go on but I must tell you about the others.

Hannon has now learnt to use a second online animation programme. He is putting together little animations as well as making games. He is trying to perfect his YouTube intro at the moment. He has also made a few vlogs which seem to get more views than his gaming, much to his surprise!

Hannon has had a friend here for a sleepover this week and it went so well! There are usually a few skirmishes during a visit but this time, not one! Hannon was kind, thoughtful and generous without even a second thought. He allowed our guest to use his computer pretty much continuously whilst he was here. He said it was because his friend doesn't get to use one otherwise, as he only has gaming consoles. This made me think about how important it is that gaming consoles do not forever overshadow personal computers. We have found that having the ability to type on a keyboard makes a huge difference to communication skills and especially spelling abillity. (Google autofil is an issue though so best to turn that off!!) Lily does not have access to a keyboard and is using handwriting. I guess it just goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way.

Today Hannon typed 50 messages to Dominik during a livestream! 50 messages! He even typed one in the font 'Windings' because he thought it would be funny! He even searched for a translator to do it for him!!! Hilarious. Dominik loved it too.

Hannon likes to make and solve puzzles (they all do actually..hmmm, WE all do!) and we were gifted a 'Monster Book of Monsters' which was great for puzzle solving! If you aren't familiar with it, it is a book that featured in the Harry Potter book series that needed to be stroked in order for it to be opened. Well, this one needs a four part code to open it or it gobbles and growls at you with a cute little mouth. They all had marvellous fun setting new codes and trying to crack them! It was brilliant! Every time one of them cracked a code they would open the book, take out what was in the secret compartment, and then replace it with their own (by now) not so secret stuff and say, "This is my book now", to which I would reply, "No it isn't, it is still Hannon's.". They would then say, "But it can't be, only I know the code, so it's now mine!". How could you argue with that logic? So, the book currently belongs to the person who last set the code!

Hannon has been helping around the house completely voluntarily. He is also helping to choose meals with me every week because he is so fussy it is causing me too much stress now. He is helping me choose foods for him that he will eat. Today he ate....wait for it......KIMCHI!!! Yes, my 9 year old boy ate kimchi and asked for more when he was finished. I am so proud of him for trying it. I lived in South Korea when I was 21 and refused to even try it! He is amazing.

Ok...move on Natasha.

On to Dominik. He has been reducing his competitive gaming time gradually. He is realising what we already know and that is that he is far nicer to be around when he doesn't do it at all. I know. It truly sucks. He is gutted at the result of our experiment. I think we all are actually. We all want him to be able to play the games he adores but we have all seen that without them, he can function far easier. We think it is simply over-stimulation. He gets so agitated that he cannot manage anything else. Not even a conversation some days. He is playing fewer games and he is spending more time with me. He is also spending more time with Hannon, which Hannon loves.

He has continued with his physical exercises too and says that he hopes to return to parkour one day and to take up archery with Hannon and I. He is optimistic about the impending neuro-developmental therapy and is eager to get on with it.

What an incredible change. He is actually taking charge of his own well-being in a big way. He is embracing changes to himself like never before. I have talked to him about the possibility that his behaviour may change once he begins the therapy and he seems to understand that too. I am so proud of the leaps he is taking. He is also monitoring his diet and getting dressed and undressed at the end of each day. Not made much progress with bathing nor teeth brushing but baby steps are good.

Oh, yes! The Undertale fan comics! Dominik has begun writing Undertale (a new-ish game following on from FNAF) fan stories! It is called 'fanfiction' and he loves it! He has written at least two of his own so far. He brought one to me to read and I began talking to him about grammar and punctuation and the importance of structure for your story-telling. At first he was frustrated and cross and then he listened to me read his story without any punctuation and then again, but with some punctuation.

He immediately identified the difference and realised that his lack of 'theory of mind' was inhibiting him. He had assumed we would all read it how he does completely forgetting that we are NOT him!

Once I physically showed him what would happen to the reader, he understood immediately. Yay!

Just proves that practical, one to one support is priceless.
Especially with children who have communication difficulties.

NB - That ('communication difficulties') is NOT just a phrase for SEN advocates to bandy about! It actually means something! You must be practical in your teaching! It must be real! NOT realistic! It cannot be learnt via a make believe story, at least not to any real depth of understanding in my humble opinion. It MUST happen TO THEM. Not AT THEM. I am speaking from experience!

Domink has been taking strides I was unsure I would see.

And I suppose I should include Harriet?

Oh, ok then.

She is still, completely lovely. Today we had a baby visitor and she simply hugged and kissed him, and hugged and kissed him for about the first ten minutes of his visit. She just wanted to love him. It was quite obsessive and she was doing it with no prompting at all. It was beautiful. She's an empath of the highest order! You could see him visibly start to relax even in this new, strange, noisy environment. He left his mum without a glance and began smiling and playing happily as soon as she was done.

She is also walking! Yay! Oh man, she took a few steps in the week before Easter weekend and then on Easter Sunday she just walked! Over 50% of that day, she was on her feet. She was so proud and excited that she had finally got the hang of it! She is now only walking. Within two weeks she has gone from crawling to only walking. The downside is that she now does not want to go to sleep. Ever!! It is tiring me out a little but, meh, it'll pass and she is so happy I don't care! Today we went for a little walk to the end of the road and last week she walked around her first park, choosing her rides and her explorations. Harriet is truly content and happy with her life right now.

Her comprehension is excellent. There are very few daily routines that she doesn't comprehend now. She can communicate what she wants very effectively too. She rarely screams for attention but she does 'tantrum' if she doesn't get her way. I am hoping this will get better when she truly understands that I will let her do anything that does not pose a significant risk to her or us (or the cat)!

Harriet is a blessing as I always knew she would be. There is no love like the love from Harriet.

Ok, that's enough.

I'm exhausted and I want to snuggle with everyone before they get to sleep!

Love to you all from our unschooling bubble.

N x

Saturday, 2 April 2016


I've been composing and erasing this blog post for about two weeks now and it just hasn't really come together at all so, I'm just going to type and see what happens.

The second and third month of this year were shockingly stressful. I don't like to write about my life when it is going off course because I try to be positive and uplifting. I cannot write about anything other than what is actually going on in our real life either so consequently, when I don't write, it's because things are shit.

Here's a brief synopsis of what happened -

 - My car died a death.
 - My daughter was refused DLA because our incompetent Dr lost the form he was meant to complete and return on our behalf.
 - My son has seen a private podiatrist who recommended an urgent referral to an orthopaedic surgeon with regard to his tip-toe walking. This has still not happened as I type.
 - The stress of the potential surgery has sent my son into anxiety overdrive.
 - My daughter has been without her usual activities due to a complete lack of funds so has been equally as anxious.
  - Baby has started walking and is getting 8 (yes, at once) new teeth so is not all. Ever. (Well, obviously not, but you know what I mean.)

I think that is about it but it was more than my Aspie self could manage.

It got me thinking about responsibility.

Sometimes it all just overwhelms me.

The very idea (reality) that I have four little people who rely solely on me for everything in their lives is just staggering and terrifying. When life takes unplanned turns I feel so out of control and panicked that I simply freeze. I just cannot function with any real fluidity. I am normally organised, present, confident, open, engaged and happy. But when I feel out of control, I am distracted, confused, sad, angry, impatient and detached.

The kids and I have a very open relationship so they are aware of all the things that are going wrong but that probably doesn't help when I am once again answering the question, "What's for dinner?", with "I don't know. I can't think about it right now."

As it stands, the DLA for my daughter has been reinstated. Phew.
The car has been scrapped and replaced. Phew.
The baby is beginning to calm down and isn't quite so keen to be on her feet 24/7 exploring her new world of freedom. Phew.

So, that just leaves the potential surgery for Dominik. Well, I took a step back, thanks once again to my guardian angel friend, Felicity, and I don't think surgery is in Dominik's best interests after all.

Felicity's timing is nothing short of miraculous. We don't speak that often and we see each other even less, but when we do make contact, the Earth moves and my life, and the lives of my children, change for the better.

I spoke to Felicity this weekend and began to tell her about the nightmare that has been trying to get seen by said surgeon and she immediately said, "Stop. No." I was relieved when she did because I knew that meant she had a plan! Thank the universe!!! This responsibility was going to be shared. Hallelujah!

I was so nervous about the surgery route anyway (because it goes against everything I believe in in terms of health and well being) and if anyone would know of a better alternative solution (permanent solution, not temporary, surface level, band aid), it was Felicity.

Now, back in 2012, I know she talked to me about what we came to discuss on Saturday, but it had slipped from my mind. It happens. I'm not perfect. It is back in there now though and I'm ready to tackle it! As is Dominik for that matter (which is something else Felicity and I discussed at length).

The alternative to surgery is something that goes by several names, but the most common I have found is, retained infant/neonatal reflex therapy.

It is a lot of information to take in so I am now going to link you to (and quote from) what I found to be the most helpful webpages.

First, a visual, for any Aspie mums like me who need a good visual synopsis before they begin!

Here is the Wikipedia page.

"Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants, but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes are absent due to the development of the frontal lobes as a child transitions normally into child developmentThese primitive reflexes are also called infantileinfant or newborn reflexes."

So, that is what they are.

Here is an amazing summary from a lady called Sue Hyland. I honestly did not find a better summary than this after many hours of research. 

I am going to simply copy and paste the sections that are most relevant to us. Please do visit her website linked above for the full text. It is brilliant. 

"Moro Reflex

Sudden head movements on a vertical plane, that is forward and backward, will initiate the Moro reaction. This reaction is a rapid extension of the limbs, with a big inhalation of breath, followed by contraction of the limbs and a cry. This reaction is initiated by the Moro reflex and is perfectly normal from about 9 weeks after conception to about 12 weeks after birth. It is a reaction to potential danger and occurs as a result of both nerve/muscle stimulation and chemical release."

"Should this reflex reaction be retained after it’s normal time of inhibition then not only willunwanted muscular reactions occur but so will the release of the chemicals, every time the head is jerked backwards or there is a sudden visual stimuli or unexpected loud noise. Obviously these will sometimes auger danger, when a full blown flight or fight response is required, but frequently they do not. "

"3 or more of the following are the kinds of behaviour which suggest a retained Moro:

Mood swings
Unexpected sudden changes of behaviour
Aggressive outbursts
Withdrawn timidity (either of the last two can exist as major characteristics or they can alternate)
Tendency to observe others rather than join in play
Craving for sweet things
Snacking, inability to eat a whole meal
Dislike of rough and tumble
Dislike of fairground rides
Dislike of bright lights, headaches
Dislike of wind in face, water in face
Panic attacks
Copying difficulties
Perceptual difficulties both visual and auditory
Need to be in control
Dislike of change
Dislike of loud noise
Over sensitivity to particular frequencies of sounds
Over sensitivity to textures, labels etc
Sensitivity to a range of high frequencies normally outside human hearing (so that cars can be heard miles away, lift mechanics emitting a high pitch whistle)"

So, that is just the first reflex in the list and as I continued to read them, light bulbs were switching on all over my head.

Here is just one more, perhaps the most relevant for us.

"The Grasping Reflexes

The Grasping Reflexes develop and inhibit at about the same time as the Moro, which in itself is really a grasping reflex, and can be divided into the Palmar, Plantar, Rooting and Infantile Suck Reflexes. They are therefore frequently found if the Moro is retained, usually all being present."

"3 or more of the following would lead you to suspect retention of these reflexes:

Poor pincer grip between thumb and forefinger
Immature pencil grip
Over sensitivity on the palms and bottom of feet, very ticklish
Poor knife and fork grasp and control
Difficulty with cup handles
Poor running skills
Complaints that shoes hurt especially over toes
Tripping, falling
Poor saliva control, dribbling, frothing at mouth corners, spitting whilst speaking
Over sensitivity around and in the mouth
Messy eating
Dislike of certain textures of foods
Tendency to suck rather than chew
Noisy eating
Inability to close mouth on eating
Narrow high arch to Palate
Poor tooth alignment and the need for orthodontic work
Poor control of mouth for speech
Poor co-ordination of breathing and speech
Retained thumb, jumper, pencil, hair sucking
Poor bladder control
Possible reflux from the stomach"

As you can see, there is much food for thought here. Domink has at the very least retained these two, but I suspect he has retained more.

Felicity recommended someone who is an expert in this field, and whilst we may not be able to go to him for the therapy itself, we will be going to see him for the initial assessment. It takes on average, a year to eighteen months of therapy to release these reflexes, but by all accounts, once they are released, the progress and improvement in the individual is life-changing.

I just cannot imagine how much happier Dominik would be if he could fully participate in his life. He is often so timid, afraid, cautious and in pain to even begin to think about taking part in the activities he would like to, but this might just change all that. 

And with it, his heels might actually feel the Earth. How great would that be? 

I'm going to sign off now and hope that what I have written is coherent and helpful.

And, to all of you out there feeling the weight of your responsibility; don't worry, you're doing a great job, you're not alone and remember, it is only temporary and it will get better.


N x

Monday, 25 January 2016

The bad and the good.

I have come to believe that after the bad comes the good.

I am not sure whether or not this is actually a philosophical question (a la Augustine) but for us, when there has been a true sh*t storm, there then comes a precious calm.

During this awkward time of  such rampant and blatant persecution in our country (world?) (whether that be because of your religion, race, disability, sexual preference, choice to home educate etc etc etc) big things are happening.

In the last week I have spoken to three different parents who had just/were about to de-register their children from school.

It is almost as if, by way of their blatant persecution and singling out of the alternative education community (NSPCC report, the saddening, recent (but not current) story about the little boy in Wales, the supposed ' hidden' ulterior motive whereby parents mean to 'radicalise' children, Loose Women), the government have in fact created a tidal wave of people having a closer look at this area.

So, for home education, one of my passions, parents are actually considering the question on a massive scale. This is giving the home education community an unprecedented opportunity to discuss their choice rationally, animatedly and perhaps most importantly, logically (because the success of individualised learning is well known and should be the gold standard for every educational establishment, not just home education), In this article from 2010 in the Guardian newspaper, you can see this quite clearly.

So, yes, this full frontal assault has resulted in an amazing opportunity for everyone. Let's talk about it. Properly. Using evidence and experience and whilst feeling confident in our ability to make the best choice for our family. Let's not fight amongst ourselves.

It is really no one else's business how you and I as parents choose to educate our child/ren. We're all doing our best!

The major point to be taken from these kinds of massive, light-shedding events (specifically the home education events in this instance) is that all choices/options are valid. We can't like them all (some are truly horrifying indeed in the broadest sense of these events) but we have to respect peoples rights to make them all.  It sucks at times, but mostly it is what makes us free. Choice, as they say in 'The Matrix', is the problem.

But, I digress, what inspired me to write this post in the first place, is my current experience with my kids.

This past week has been truly horrendous at times, ('throwing in the towel' kind of horrendous) but, that utter madness has been concluded with exactly the opposite degree of madness.

The level of achievement in my house right now!

The communication, the the life skills, positivity, learning name it. I am so energised by the progress occurring in my house that I am hardly needing to sleep! For the first time in my life I am surviving on about 6 hours...and not feeling tired! Something must be fuelling me and I think it is the children.

Harriet is apparently in training to one day climb Mount Everest! She would surely be 'The World's Climbing Champion' ... in the under 12 months category!!! She is so fast, so sure footed and so determined. I simply stand by her and help her learn how to do it safely. It is heart-stoppingly nerve-racking but it is so worth it! She goes easily and confidently up the stairs now. She can get down from a bed. She attempts to climb up into her high chair and will push things around to climb somewhere she wants to go but can't!! She is also loving a set of little stackable eggs with a duckling in the middle. Watching her figure out how to do it is so fun. She also LOVES being read and sung to. 'Dear Zoo' and any song will do.

Lily has suddenly, and I mean over night, gone from not doing any maths to doing additions of three figure numbers, subtractions of three figure numbers and is beginning to understand the idea of 'times tables' and why they are helpful.

As an aside, I feel that school does this the wrong way around. They try to teach the times tables before children learn for themselves why they are good to learn! It is much easier when the child is motivated by their own experience to explain to them a new concept which they now know, will be helpful to them now, and in the future.

Dominik has yet to 'avoid' a single day of his physiotherapy work. He is still doing parkour. He too has suddenly found the relevant patterns in maths (but still won't work with any odd numbers!!!). He is also trying his hand at his first model kit. Loving it, but finding it challenging for his fine motor skills. Excellent! Oh, and he bought a comic with his own money! Unheard of. He is reading again.

(We realised tonight that we all have our own bookshelves..such a lovely moment.)

Hannon has just simply worked like a trojan on his coding. But, alas, I truly have no idea how well he is doing. I know that he is not nine yet, and that he began learning at the end of October after doing two tutorials with me, but is his progress considered 'good'?

Meh, who cares! Hannon is learning so much, so fast, and with so much enthusiasm that I do not think that the kindest measurement of this is one that means he feels he is in competition with anyone aside from himself! If he is happy with what he is learning, that is good enough for me. He is achieving to his highest possible standard. Brilliant.

He is also still attending Cubs after asking to quit in October! He's slightly wary but knows that I will allow him to stop at the end of any month if he wants to. But that has not happened yet!

He is actively enjoying things now. Partly because the pressure if off to stay and partly because the activities have suddenly become slightly more 'challenging' and it turns out, that he is excelling! Now that the number of 'games' that he doesn't know have decreased the tables have turned.

He has, on two occasions, been the only child to successfully complete both the co-ordinates task (he was also, coincidentally, the only child there who had not 'done them already') and the first aid task! He was STUNNED and so bloody proud. He really stands out among his peers when it comes to his ability to learn new skills (what we focus on most I guess...not what to learn, but how to learn) and the speed with which he can acquire them if he wants to.

He's a hidden, understated little gem. I cannot believe the grace with which he is growing up given that he is enveloped by two such demanding, strenuous siblings. He is my inspiration.

They all are. I just feel so privileged to be on this journey with them all.

To end, I have these motifs in my bedroom. Call me sentimental but they really do help.

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle
Be the change you wish to see in the world
She can do it
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain
When it rains look for rainbows, when it's dark, look for stars

I have more than those but they are the only ones I can read from where I am sitting! :-)

My hope is that you feel inspired by this to consider your own challenges and demands in a slightly different way for a moment or two.

Without the bad, I wouldn't have the good.

Sleep well.

N x

PS - I am tired now but I want to publish, so please excuse any typos. :-)

Thursday, 7 January 2016

And 2016 gets off to a flying start!

Where to begin?

Happy New Year to you all. What a whirlwind this year has been so far. It's like someone opened a door way or something. 'Stuff' (for want of a better word) is just flying into our lives,.

It is breathtaking in its speed.

But first a few thoughts on Christmas this time around.

Aside from one event, it was brilliant. I can honestly say it was all about the things that truly matter. No one was that fussed about presents (although they all love their tablets), it was about spending time together and having fun.

We had very few visitors but the ones there were made the event all the more special. I do wish visitors would have a little more time for everyone when they came though, but at least they care enough to come and see us. I love you all and we appreciate your time,

One small request on behalf of the kids before I move on,. Please try to to show a little interest in what they've been up to! I know its not the same as asking a child who goes to school, but try anyway! I know they bombard you with lots of information and that its mostly about things you've never hear of or things you have no interest in, but, well, ABC's  and mental arithmetic don't count as interesting either really if we're honest. What I am trying to say is that we should simply celebrate enthusiasm and happiness whatever the cause! My four would love to show you what they've been doing. They LOVE what they all do. Please, try to reserve judgement and witness what they are all achieving, even if it isn't something 'mainstream'. I think it is all the more impressive because it isn't! The 'mainstream' is exactly is what most people can learn during the course of their everyday lives. It is the majority, the ;normal', the (dare I say it) mundane. Listen and watch what kids have to show or tell you, whoever they are. Listen even more carefully if they are passionate about it. This is where the true learning experience happens. Especially if they are passionate about. It is important to them. We ask children to pay heed to what is important for us (and society in general I guess) a lot  of the time but sometimes perhaps, we should spend some more time listening to them.

So, yes, where was I...The New Year!

Here's some of what has been going on. Obviously keeping a positive slant on it all. I don't find focussing on the bad bits helpful because they would then over shadow the progress and I don't want that! There have been some tough moments, of course, but what follows could not have happened as it did/does, without them. Every experience is a potential learning experience.

 # Lily!

Lily is pretty much reading fluently, and she is reading words that she doesn't know and they rarely pose a significant problem. She took to the 'hoverboard' like a duck to water. (No, it hasn't caught fire.) She was an amazing hostess at her own Birthday Party. She took to ice-skating like she was born to do it. She is a born 'mover'. Not sure where that will take her but I am sure it will be far. Her innate talent and the ease with which she learns new skills is inspiring. Her vocabulary and maturity also continue to amaze me. For example. we had our 11 year old dog, Tia, put to sleep in December and Lily chose to stay with her until the end (with my mum). Just incredible. The vet tried very hard to guilt me into removing her but I gave Lily the choice and respected her decision. She was amazingly pragmatic throughout. She was a little sad, but, she was also completely accepting and full of love. I am so proud of her. What an amazing human being. She has only spoken positively about Tia since she died and seems to be happy with the desicion she made. (As are Hannon, Dominik and I and we chose to leave.) Love you Lily.

 # Hannon

Hannon it seems is a GAME MAKER. He spends significant periods of time creating and refining various different game ideas. He researches his options. He learns from other people. He experiments with different ideas. He and Lily do 'voice-acting' for their own characters too! He also never. gives. up. His tenacity is awe-inspiring. He is so determined to succeed. It makes me so proud. He tampered a bit with magic over the holidays (and engineering) but has left those behind for the time being. He has also found the time to read at least 12 books since November and it is staring to get expensive!!! But, I obviously cannot complain.. It is simply a running joke.  I even went and bought him his own bookshelves and he is actually using them! Yay Hannon. I love you.

 # Dominik

Dominik has made some massive strides too. He has completed over a month of daily exercises designed to lengthen and strengthen the muscles etc in his lower legs. These can be painful and the demand from me is a daily one so I would never have guessed he would have this much staying power. He is giving this his all. I think a physiotherapist would be able to support him now he knows he can do it. Great progress.  He has also showered twice on the same day that I have asked him to do so! (A miracle for a child with PDA and SPD.) He has also been letting me brush his teeth...not everyday, but more than ever before! He continues to improve his sketching skills (with a new rubber and pencil sharpener) and practices almost daily. He has rediscovered his love of music and all things rhythm based. He seems to be 'pitch perfect'. He can whistle the tune his tablet whistles when he gets a notification and there is no discernible difference. He almost beat me at Just Dance too!!! (Unheard of!!! Along with Mario Kart, Just Dance is about the only other game at which I can do well!) He found something called a Lauchpad and is desperate to try one out. We discussed it and after having talked about the benefits of him having one of these, we actually discovered that he needs (and would prefer) an electric drum kit into which he can programme all the sounds he likes! And, the boon, we don't all have to listen to his creativity. (This will build on all the times we spent playing with Synthesia and a couple of other rhythm/music based visual games (DJ Hero being another)). I cannot begin to imagine what he will create but we are both itching to find out. I also think that the drum kit will have many more benefits...not least of which will be to further strengthen his legs and improve his physical health. His motor skills will also surely take another leap forward as will his proprioceptive skills I should think. This is just brilliant! Alongside his parkour and his rekindled love of creating his own smoothies really bodes well for the future! So proud Dominik, so proud of you. Mwah. Love you.

See, I told you 2016 hit the ground running!

And now for Harriet...well, that would be an essay! She's the best! You'd have to meet her to truly appreciate her awesomeness though. Suffice it to say, she LOVES to climb, point, bite and smile. :-P

And finally, here's my favourite (of favourite ever) picture of our Christmas 2015.

Too. Funny.

And no, Hannon was not like that all the time.

And a dear friend made all the hats for us. Thank you Cara!

Oh, and, the photo was taken by a lovely friend who spent Christmas Day with us. She also brought her beautiful shitzu -yorkie cross. We had such a lovely time.

It was certainly a Christmas that we will remember as being full of smiles and love.

Oh, and we did buy a few family games but by far our favourite is Sushi Go! Lots of fun. Deceptively simple, tactical card game that is hilarious and sneeky (think Uno I guess)!

Happy New Year!

N x