But we only buy fish on Fridays

Routine and structure. Two important words if you are parenting a child on the spectrum. Children with autism will often have quite rigid thinking patterns and it can be difficult for them to generate new ideas. They are constantly trying to make sense of a chaotic world; everyday sounds, conversations, actions, interpreting what people mean, working out what is expected of them. Routine can help.

Routine can make sense of the chaos – it creates some sort of order and allows someone to know what is expected of them and at what times. Having routines in place can reduce a lot of stress and anxiety felt in this unpredictable, ever changing world. Sometimes it can be helpful to use timetables, picture boards, symbols, reminder notes to help the routine structure. In my experience with C, routine is something that comes naturally to him. He likes repetition and actually creates a lot of his own little routines whether it’s to anyone else’s liking or not; he made up his own school morning routine, he has his own trampoline schedule consisting of bouncing at set times of the day, he has routines he goes through when watching tv etc. And then today “but mummy we only buy fish on Fridays. I can’t do that today – it’s Sunday!”

Picture board routine

A few Fridays ago, Z chose 2 pet fish for his birthday. After introducing them to the tank and setting up the tank environment he decided he wanted to add more fish. We happened to go on a Friday to get another fish. Today, a rainy Sunday, we thought it was a good idea to go a run to the pet shop to choose the last fish to complete the aquarium Z wanted. It wasn’t a good idea to C – he didn’t expect that to happen on a Sunday, wasn’t prepared for that to happen on a Sunday. His thinking is rigid, it’s not easy to just change the idea that pet shop days must be Fridays.

Is it annoying sometimes that his routines are so set? Yes! Is it frustrating sometimes that he can’t just “change” his routine? Absolutely. But is it causing harm to himself or others? No. So over the last few years I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) to choose my battles. Changing the routine without warning, preparation or explanation can cause way too much stress for him and then also us. If the set routine isn’t causing harm, isn’t damaging or isn’t stopping anyone else’s happiness then why change it? There will be many times where we will have to break routine and there will be days where we do have to deviate from “normal” and those days are hard but today was not one of them – no new pet fish today, that will have to wait til Friday!!

Spot the fish!! 🐟🐠

Dear nursery – part 3!

Dear nursery,

It is with mixed emotions I write this last nursery blog. This week Zac should be graduating from his pre-school year with his friends, all the boys & girls should be celebrating together, all the teachers feeling proud at their little ones graduating to school, all the parents & carers crying happy, proud tears. Instead we’ve been in lockdown & we’ve all missed our last nursery term, we’ve all been keeping busy at home with our families & we’ve been trying to fill our days with fun activities. But the truth is, nursery we’ve missed you & as a parent I’m so sad that I haven’t been able to thank you all & say goodbye properly. So dear nursery, this blog will have to do for now….

What a nursery journey our boy has had – we’ve completed 2 years & achieved more than we ever thought possible. With your hard work, help & care Zac has become an artist, a model builder, a story teller, an inventor, a dancer, a painter, a writer, a baker, a sand sculpture, a play doh modeller, a smart board expert. Over two years he’s taken part in trips to the library, a sports day, an obstacle course day, he’s played with his friends, he’s learned lots of language, he’s learned to count, he’s sometimes learned to listen instead of chatting!! He’s taken part in special themed days, he’s excitedly told me his news when we’ve gotten home.

We can’t thank you all enough for giving Zac the opportunity to be the same as his friends – you have adapted everything so he can take part, you’ve done extra risk assessments, you’ve filled in a mountain of paper work to allow his wheels to join him. You have supported him in everything & you have made sure he’s happy, made sure he’s comfortable, made sure he’s got what he needs. You have loved him. You have been a huge part of this chapter of his life & will always be included in his story.

We know you have all been part of Zac’s nursery journey but there has been a special person who has been with Zac for his full 2 years – mrs s. I cannot thank you enough for the way you have looked after our boy, the way you have made his nursery days fun, the way you have met his every demand, the way you’ve reassured him, the way you have helped him achieve all that he has. You will always be part of our family & I know Zac is going to miss you so much (he’s already asked if he can sneak you into school). And mrs mcC, as his teacher this year you have taught him so much & given him new experiences, you have always listened to his ideas & given him the freedom to go with them. Throughout lockdown your messages have been so appreciated & have cheered us all up and as you know he’s asked to sneak you into school too!! We have been lucky to have such a fab team at nursery & you are all appreciated!!

So nursery – it’s time for our boy to graduate, time for him to start a new chapter, time for him to move up to the world of school. Time for you all to welcome new children, time for you to make lasting impressions on new little lives. Please know there will always be a place in our hearts for nursery & I hope our Zac will always have a place in yours. 💙

Love Zac’s mummy x

Nursery lockdown graduation!!

And then you turned 5!!!!!

Today we celebrate another miracle milestone, another chapter of your story, another amazing achievement, because today you turn 5!!!

5 years old – you are full of life, full of fun, full of mischief, full of ideas, full of cheekiness, full of charm and full of chat.

5 years old – you never fail to make us laugh, you always know how to cheer someone up, you have wisdom well beyond that of someone who has just turned 5, you can articulate words so perfectly and you bring positivity to every situation.

5 years old – you have so much ambition, you have so many goals you want to achieve, so many places you want to see, so many people you want to meet. Your heart is full of love for life.

5 years old – some days you want to be batman, some days you want to be as strong as iron man, some days you are superman, some days you pretend to be Spider-Man. To me you are a hero everyday – the kind of hero that never gives up, the kind of hero that wears their heart on their sleeve, the kind of hero that is brave, the kind of hero that faces battles everyday but just smiles through them all.

5 years old – you are our miracle & today is all about you. 💙