How my year's goal are going so far...

You may remember back in January, I blogged about giving myself 4 goals for the year. Four major things that I will do before I turn 34 next February.

Driving was one of my "defo will do's". In fact it was top of my list. Having never had a lesson in my life, I took the plunge in late March and started the lessons. I've not been behind a wheel since the middle of May due to a few bouts of Instructor illness and his holiday, and my dear Grandad passing away. But, I can tell you all that my practical test is now booked! Even if I have to push it back due to the break in lessons, I will do this, this year.  I told you I'd do it and I meant it. I've never been more determined in all my life to achieve something. 

Finley got his spot at a fantastic special needs school and starts in September so there will likely be days when he'll need picking up mid-way through the day. Having some wheels means I won't have to rely on public transport schedules or do an hour's journey on the bus from work to go and get him. I'm also 3 month's into a different role at work, which invariably means travel. Again, how cool to not have to rely on trains etc?

So that's goal number one almost achieved!

The rest, um, I'm working on! Growing strawberries may well be something I've missed out on this year but to be fair, I barely keep a border grass alive, never mind strawbs in this very very dry summer that we're having. Getting a passport is all very well and good but I doubt there'll be any jollies this year due to work commitments and Finley starting his new school soon but hey ho, what I've never known won't be missed as far as I look at it. Making bread made an appearance on the list and nope, I've not tried this either. I'm saving this for autumn Sunday's though, to go with a big bowl of Scouse. 

I cannot wait for Scouse season again... I'm so over this lettuce and lollyice diet this heat is bringing us ha! 

How are your year's goals coming along?

3 Alternative Activities That Help Kids With Autism

As a parent, you need to know that dealing with a child with ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder – can be challenging. There will be good days and bad days as you learn to understand each other and overcome the challenges. As a result, you need to be emotionally strong to be the best parent you can to support your child. But, contrary to the common belief, having a child with autism doesn’t have to be a lonely and painful experience. 

You can find support at the school and with your GP, as well as dedicated groups and communities who are ready to help when you need it. We rely a lot on the members of M.A.C.S (Merseyside Autistic Children's Society), whether it be for advice, tips and tricks in dealing with certain situations, or even just sounding off after a particularly challenging day. It helps to talk things out with those who really understand, in our experience.

More importantly, you can help your child to thrive by providing them with stress-releasing activities. Being a neurological disorder, autism isn’t a condition your child will ever grow out of. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t manageable. On the contrary, you can use hobby and playful activities to encourage positive behaviour. In fact, the Hanen More Than Words course we took part in as part of speech and language late last year, really instilled this exact point.  

Of course not everything works for every child, however three examples are... 

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Being part of a sport team

Don’t let other parents or teachers convince your child can’t interact in a social environment. In fact, you can encourage your child to take part in sports activities. If they are unsure of what they would like to do, participation in the sports day at school inspires children to discover new activities and develop new skills. Additionally, it’s a safe environment, where your child can find reassurance in your presence. You can even show the example by volunteering to parents’ sports, from racing to football. This will nudge your child in the right direction. And who knows? You might have a football champion or a fantastic racer in the family! As they find their interest, you can gradually help them to meet their local sports team and make new friends.

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Listening to music

Music is a powerful tool that can improve anybody’s mood. But for autistic children, music can also be part of an active therapy that helps them to develop their curiosity about the world and interact with others. Additionally, as a learning tool, music can do wonders for grasping the language and understanding new words. 

When your child feels down or stressed, playing their favourite tune can do wonders to their mood – and to yours too! Additionally, you can also use music to activate cognitive mapping. Children with non-verbal autism can understand the intention behind verbal communication through musical cues. This has happened with Finley very recently in managing to say "go" at the end of a rhythmic and melodic "ready, steady...". He also now knows that that is a cue for when we are ready to to do something. It's truly fascinating. We also get the most eye contact from Fin when we sing to him. This is a winner in our eyes!

Enhance their experience through DIY art

Finally, if music isn’t the preferred method of communication for your child, you’ll find that simple art projects can dramatically transform your relationship. Indeed, art can give children the possibility to communicate their emotions through a range of sensory activities, so that feeling that can’t be expressed verbally can be exposed. Additionally, creating something can also develop your child’s self-esteem and encourage a positive relationship. Your child may want to share their art with you, which strengthens your bond. If you plan on running a simple art project with your child, you need to define with them, their favourite medium: clay moulding, finger painting, creating a 3D canvas to hang at home, etc. Ultimately, art should be fun, so respect their wishes. Even if it means having coloured rice launched all over the kitchen floor!! 

In conclusion, children with autism can benefit from creative and sportive activities that let them expand their experience of the world and use different communication methods. This can give you the chance to establish a more profound bond. Even if it feels like it's not working at the time, take it from me, it really does work in the long run. 

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