Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Charlotte's Tandems

I just got this in an email today, so I thought I'd share....

Charlotte's Tandems is a Registered Charity that lends tandems to people with additional needs or disabilities for FREE.  We are different to many other charities as our Borrowers have the use of our bikes for two months in their own time.
Have a look at our website to see how much fun people can have on our bikes.
Please could you tell your contacts about us and put us on your website and newsletters?

Best wishes,
Alex Reeves
Charlotte's Tandems
Click on these words for links to the Borrower's Form, the Charlotte's Tandems Facebook group, Twitter Feed @CharlottesTand and our Video
...sounds cool and I like the fact that it is free!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Encouraging Independent Dressing Skills

I used to dress my son every morning but now he is getting older, his privacy is becoming more important to him.

I have a system in place that seems to work for us and encourage him to dress himself.

Firstly I try and buy clothes that are easy for him to out on and off. Things like t shirts are ideal and so are elasticated track suit bottoms that he can just pull up and down. I try and limit the amount of clothing I buy with fastenings and buttons and zippers, although this can't always be avoided.

In his wardrobe, he has two big tubs and two small baskets. One tub has t shirts inside, the other has track suit bottoms. The small baskets contain underpants and socks respectively. His more formal clothes are on hangers at the back, out of his way.

When he gets up in the morning, he simply selects an item from each tub and dresses himself. It is a nice simple method and allows him to feel grown up.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Socialising and Aspergers

My son isn't great at social skills.

He can't read the emotions of others very well and he has a tendency to concentrate on his own needs and feelings first. He can't read a room and he doesn't take cues from the body language of others.

Last week we went ice skating and everyone was skating anticlockwise. He skated clockwise, which seemed to sum his general outlook quite well; the boy who skates clockwise in an anticlockwise world.

Since we have been homeschooling, I have been even more eager to seek out opportunities for interaction with others. I'm signed up to goodness know how many newsletters for home edders and parents of special needs kids and generally, if something is organised and it is nearby, we will join in.

So I got an email a few days ago about a local sports group for disabled kids and their siblings and the good news was that it was a short walk from my home. I love anything like this because the other parents don't look at you like you've got two heads when your kid is acting oddly. With special needs families there is a kind of "we are all in it together" buddy mentality and natural camaraderie.

So I turned up with my son and received a warm welcome. So far so good.

The first game was where you dance around and have to run into a corner. All of the corners have colours and then someone picks a colour and everyone in that corner is out. My son was "out" very early in the game, which caused him to stomp off in a rage.

He soon found the chill out room, which was full of food and drinks. Whilst the other kids played together in the main room, my son sat on his own in the other room. He complained it was too noisy in the hall and he needed to get away to chill out.

When he did finally rejoin the group, they had moved on to team games, which he had no concept of. He soon tired of all the teamwork and whilst the other kids cooperated nicely in a game of volleyball, my son ran around the perimeter of the hall with a hula hoop round his waist and a green glittery pompom on his head. He was having fun, just not the social sort I had hoped.

I came away wondering what I had gained from this experience. My son had enjoyed himself most when alone and not interacting with the others. Should I be forcing him into these situations, I thought to myself. He doesn't seem to be getting anything out of it.

I found a balanced article on the subject on the Your Little Professor website.

One Aspergers child said:  “If you like being on your own, then be happy with your own company and don’t let anyone convince you it’s wrong.” His advice to “pushy parents” is “Never force your child to socialize. Most Aspies and autistic people are happy to just be by themselves.”

So for now I won't be pushing it, although we do have a home-ed art class this week and a kids party at the weekend. Maybe I will bring along the hula hoop and green glittery pompom to keep him occupied...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Autism and Logic

I was reading the newspaper today and there was an article about the oldest man in the world. I was showing my son the article and photos of the man. He was quite impressed.

"If he is the oldest man....." He replied,

"....who is the oldest child in the world?"

I laughed so much, the tears were rolling down my cheeks. Kids say the funniest things!

Monday, 5 May 2014

We Are Home Schooling!

Anyone who has read this blog before will be familiar with my rants about the school system.

Well, I finally decided to put my money where my mouth is and deregister my son from school.

We have just completed out first week of homeschool and it was surprisingly meltdown-free.

You can read about our homeschool adventures on our new blog at:

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Perfect Pitch

Quite by accident, I discovered that my autistic son has perfect pitch.

Perfect, or absolute pitch is when a person can sing or play a note without any external reference. For example, if I ask my son to sing a C note, he can do it exactly.

This is very rare in neurotypical people, but autistic people are 500 times more likely to have perfect pitch than the general population.

The way I understand it is that he sees musical notes similar to the way we see colours. We wouldn't confuse blue with red in the same way that he would not confuse a C with an E.

It was quite odd how I found out he had perfect pitch. We were watching a DVD of Disney's Frozen when my son remarked that the soundtrack was higher on the DVD than the cinema version. I didn't believe it, but when I played an audio recording of the Frozen soundtrack, it matched his singing exactly and when I compared it to the DVD I found that his comments were, indeed, correct.

I am interested to explore where his musical abilities will take him. He is interested in learning to read music, which is what we are doing right now. Whether this translates to the ability to play an instrument well remains to be seen, as his motor skills and coordination are quite poor.

Autism is AMAZING and my son is a musical superman.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Birkbeck Babylab

Back in January of this year, I received an email from a very nice lady called Bryony inviting me to the launch of an exciting new project at Birkbeck university: The Babylab. Although I wasn't able to attend the launch due to prior commitments, Bryony was kind enough to send me a press release about the project, as well as links to further information. It made for fascinating reading.

The Babylab project launched in January as part of a £2.5 million Autism study calles STAARS (Studying Autism and ADHD risk in siblings). The project will involve over 400 families from Europe and the UK.

The aim of the project is to study infants who have older siblings with autism and ADHD and to monitor them from birth, as they have an increased risk of developing these conditions. With earlier diagnosis come earlier intervention and improved outcomes for families.

The research team are currently looking for families with infants ages between 3-10 months old who have an older sibling with autism or ADHD to take part in the study.

Professor Mark Johnson, who is leading the study, says: "
We are very excited to be embarking on what is one the most innovative collaborative research projects into early markers of autism and ADHD to have been carried out to date.  Combining the data and expertise at the Babylab in London with that of our partners across Europe and North America will enable us to drive discoveries that will make a real impact on the lives of people with autism or ADHD and their families.”
The research will involve cognitive tests, neuroimaging and behaviour tests to study babies and toddlers as they play. The families involved in the project will participate in questionnaires and interviews in order to give the research team a fuller picture of the child's background and influences. 
For more information on the project, visit the research team blog, or view the Babylab podcast.
If you are interested in taking part in the study, you can contact Janice on 020 7079 0761 or email