Starting to use PECS

Fin has been at school now for coming up to 6 months already. His complex needs meant we weren't expecting too much in the name of progress, however being at a specialist school it wouldn't have been too surprising had he actually have managed to come on in some way - we just didn't want to have our hopes up to be honest.

Well we had parents' evening the other day and we were very pleased to see that Finley has moved from 0-6m or 6-12m in the EYFS charts to 8-20m in most areas. Wahoo!! It's all the teeny tiny things that happen which are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, yet they're the mortar to his brick building progress. 

Coming up to 5 years old now we remain non-verbal however school reported that he is very strong on his use of PECS (Picture Exchange Cards). In particularly with his choice of juice. He has a choice of blackcurrant or orange (in a green cup) and if he wants one or the other more you will know about it and he'll not give in with his whacking you on the head with his card of choice ha! 

This is just fantastic. He knows what he wants and can finally express it to adults... even if it is a little forceful at times. Well done Finley!! Currently we have food cards but that's purely down to what motivates him. He's not really very requesting of toys or anything like that, and he won't eat biscuits or chocolate;  but apples and raisins etc... he loves. We don't limit him when it comes to snacks and even though we know he won't opt for sweet things, the cards are always available should he change his mind.

Do any of my readers use PECS with their children? Any hints or tips? 

My one tip is to keep them low, almost at head height, and freely available. Fin normally goes to the kitchen if and when he wants something. He would usually drag one of us in and throw our arms in the rough direction of where his desired item lives. So we chose to pop them on the fridge with magnets and it seems to be working well at home. Not all the time though, but hey what else is new with autistic children. All on their terms isn't it! 

Fingers crossed he can start using makaton soon as well. We've been trying with 'again' and 'more' for approx 18 months and it now, very occasionally, is used. To nail makaton would be the icing on the cake for me but for now, PECS does us just fine. I'm just so pleased that he is now able to have a form of communication with people, regardless of it's limitations!! 

Rock on Fin.

Have you entered our most recent giveaway? If not... Get me entered!

WIN: Vitaminnies' second book in the series & other goodies...

Remember our giveaway last year... Cece The Strawberry? Well not only am I privileged to bring you an exclusive look at the next book in the series, Tassi the Banana, but I also have THREE to giveaway again this time round.

Striving to educate through fun, the characters in each book of Vitaminnies' series will aid children in learning exactly why different types of fruit and vegetables are good for them by explaining the effect that different vitamins and minerals have on our bodies. Not only will this generate more of an interest in their own five a day choices, but it makes learning fun whilst introducing the collectable element.

Having recently passed my driving test late last year, I can vouch for a few of the pages in this book through first hand experience. Tassi really does give you extra concentration and nerves of steel in stressful situations! It's a way in which reading with your little ones, you yourself can give examples of how these important foods have an impact on you as the parent.

I am giving three of these books away...

One of which you can win below, the other two you can win over on our facebook and instagram pages. Why not enter all three to give yourself the best chances of winning. I'm also going to throw in some foam banana sweeties and/or other random banana goodies to go with the book so you'll have a nice little package in the post if you're lucky enough! Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join the #ACEForSchool Challenge!

So it's just over a month since the kids have returned to school...

Ahhh back to school new-ness!

Gone are the scuff-less shoes; early morning eagerness to get up and head off has been replaced with "oh do I have to?"; wardrobes contain 2 less jumpers & 1 randomly gained cardigan that happens to be 2 sizes too small; and the colourful lunchboxes are already fading and dinted. The joys of motherhood huh?

One thing that is different this year though, is the number of crisp white polo tops binned by now thanks to chocolate mousse stains, paint, or... if you're my child... muddy footprints from treating clothes like a rug after outdoor p.e lessons. 

Seriously, just because these supermarket polo tops are pennies to buy it doesn't mean they are disposable and that's something I've genuinely come to believe in, by utilising a simple product that will give the washer a helping hand. That product range is Ace. What's even better is, I spotted these in Poundland the other day as well so it's completely relative to the cost of the tops themselves.

No soaking, no scrubbing, no effing and jeffing about the number of times I've told Carson NOT to trample on his uniform! Simply spray the Stain Remover directly on to the marks, load in to the machine and pop it on to do it's thang. 

With Finley's autism being so severe, I was in two minds as to whether I should show this image but I just have to. Other parents in the same situation need to hear that i actually vouch for this stuff in genuinely removing stains and definitely eliminating odours!! You see Finley has an issue with sensory processing and will smear his nappy contents for the smell, feel and taste.

So in situations like this you want a fresh smelling wash without the perfumed softener. We chuck in a cap of the Ace for Colours. It genuinely eliminates odours. Again, not expensive and not hard for even the less-domesticated to use! Because, you know, we're too busy cleaning the rest of the house after this!

Crack on kids. Make a mess, explore and enjoy your childhood. Grow, develop and thrive! That's why I've taken part in the #AceForSchool campaign. Because it's all too easy to think of mess made by kids is the same as mess by adults. It's not!! It's crucial that they take part!

What I'd give to be daring enough to go jumping in muddy puddles, or hill rolling myself. When did I become such an unimaginative being?

Anyway, I digress... Not once have I had to throw a top away yet. As Carson just said before... "you Ace-d it mum!"

I did son, I sure did.

With very little effort, but I'm taking allllll the credit. 

What's he laughing at?!

This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s

My 2018 Goal... I've done it!!

So I write today with a sense of real achievement for I have reached a goal that I'd given myself, for once!

Yes I stuck to something and I bloody well achieved it. Better still, it was something that I'd been wanting to do for the last 15 years and never bothered with. Whether it was for financial reasons or nerves, I never got further than applying for my provisional license. 

I passed my driving test!

I started lessons on 21st March 2018 and had a 2 month break between the middle May and middle of July. That makes the total learning time just under 4 months. I did it!!

I'm not going to lie, being a learner driver royally sucks. At 33, I'm talking huge sweat patches under the arms and boobs and on my back; my left foot would bounce on the clutch as my leg couldn't control the shakes. Just as those nerves would settle down, a normal driver would f*ck things up again by doing something insanely stupid. I mean seriously, the road is full of absolutely numpties.

One lesson was very satisfying in that the impatient cow behind me (getting annoyed I was doing 40 in a 40 ha!) roared past me as soon as it was clear, only for the police to walk out in the road and wave her down. They did her for speeding. Muah hahahaha!!

Anyway, I bloomin' well did it. So I wanted to give learner drivers some tips that I picked up along the way and I really hope it helps.

Eat bananas before your lessons. This really does work. Don't ask me how but several friends suggested it and I could really tell the difference when I hadn't had them.

Chew gum. Saves any dry-mouth situation which really does happen when you're stressed!

Do not wear a lot! You will sweat. Your body is tense for over an hour, this burns serious calories. I have friends who never sweat, even in 30c UK weather, who have admitted that they were dripping at the end of each lesson! No jeans and no thick tops or jumpers!

Ignore people behind you (or to the left or right of you!). I'm not saying to pay no attention or not to bother with your mirrors, but some drivers seems to forget they were learners too once. They're not worth being affected by. Fingers, shouts, flashes, horns... it will happen because frankly, people are dicks. Sorry about that! If you let them pressure you, you will stall or roll backwards, or potentially speed if they're right up your bum. It's just not worth it.

Well I hope this helps someone. If anyone has any questions, fire them at me and I'll answer for sure!

I'm going to set myself  goals more often. I  am loving the feeling of achievement right now!

Great things to do with your kids this autumn

With the summer sun almost out the door and the autumn winds starting to blow in off the horizon, you may be forgiven for thinking the holiday season is all but over. But don’t despair! The blustery period between the end of summer and the festivities of Christmas (yes, the “C word”) doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom and there are plenty of opportunities to have some fun in the fall this year. Consider these opportunities as a great excuse to get out and about, even when the weather leaves you longing for the sunny months of summer. 

Leaf chasing, leaf kicking... same thing!

Leaf Chasing

This is a whole song and dance in America where city-folk from densely populated, not-very-green cities travel out to the country to take in the beautiful colours of autumn foliage. We are lucky in the UK in that we pride ourselves on greenery, even in our busy cities like London and Birmingham, the roads are usually tree lined and there’s always a park around the corner. Of course, it’s not difficult to see the appeal, once the trees start taking on their autumn colours, it’s almost like the world is coming into a whole other life and is a great exercise to name some colours with small children. Don’t forget to collect different types of fallen leaves to keep in a scrapbook, it’s good for identifying different types of trees and leaf shapes. 

You could even turn your leaf chasing excursion into a small break away, while it might be a bit chilly to camp out, most modern-day UK caravans for hire have quality central heating for those cold evenings and there are plenty of sites located in woodlands and wooded areas. Surround yourself with spectacular and colourful autumn nature!

Make an Autumn Collage

Collages are great, not only do they provide lots of interesting materials to use and look at, but they offer plenty of enrichment for children between the different shapes, textures and colours. Get them out in the garden or down to the local park and collect some bits that can be used to make an autumn day collage. Fun, easy to come by materials include dry grass, tree bark, sticks, pine cones, end of season flowers, leaves and even dirt! 

Get a big piece of card or corkboard, use PVA glue to attach your autumn scene parts and tah-dah! A piece of artwork to be proud of. If your kids are a bit older and responsible, help them fix push pins to their larger materials, so they can move their scene around as the season progresses. 

Build a Winter Animal Home

Over the winter, there’s lots of local wildlife that will bed down and hibernate, sometimes around your own garden. Building a winter home for your wild neighbours can be an enjoyable activity for both and your children. Gather lots of sticks, leaves and other natural foliage you can find on the ground to build a shelter amongst trees or under a hedge, anywhere private and out of the wind. You could build a few different types of houses to suit different animals, in the UK we have three different mammals that hibernate; hedgehogs, dormice and bats.

You can use the opportunity to find out more about each animal species together, like the fact that hedgehogs are keen on interior decorating! They won’t enter a nesting box that has already been lined with leaves so leave hedgehog homes bare. 

If you pre-plan and place animal homes somewhere you can get back to with disturbing the animals hibernating, you can always return before the deep winter to find out if the home has become occupied! 

Autumn is a favoured month by many for its pretty colours, fresh winds and the tasty fall vegetables like pumpkin, squash and sprouts. Before the winter chill blows through and the festive decorations start to go up, how will you spend your autumn this year?