A Knitted Menagerie

When I was expecting Samuel, I was overcome by the desire to knit.  I think it is part of “nesting” which many pregnant women experience!  We were living in Sussex at the time and there was a lovely wool shop situated in Burgess Hill.  You don’t tend to find those sorts of shops very often as they did go out of fashion.  It was filled with wonderful wools and pattern books and I could spend a very happy morning  browsing. Unfortunately, it caught fire one day and is no longer there.  I was due to have an amniocentesis test.  As I knew I would need to rest for a few days after, I bought a number of pattern books and lots of lovely wool to start knitting for my baby.   I started making a beautiful blanket in soft, cream Aran wool.  It had a leaf pattern and you knitted lots of little squares to sew them all together.  I also made Samuel a number of little cardigans and socks in various pastel colours as I had no idea as to whether I was expecting a girl or boy.

By the time Lydia arrived, I was fed up with knitting clothes, mainly because I can never get the tension right. So I moved on to soft toys – so much easier!  I started with a snake, then progressed to crocodile (snake with legs!), zebra, monkey and elephant.  And then I discovered crotchet and was hooked!  That is when Stewart the Minion joined the family on Lydia’s 5th birthday.

Animals patterns from “Knitted Wild Animals” by Sarah Keen. Minion pattern by AradiyaToys


Haiku for Lydia

At this time of year, most parents are on tenterhooks waiting to receive the dreaded school report. What will it say? Will it be positive or filled with doom and gloom?

I am fortunate to say that both my kids have had very good reports but it is my little girl’s one which has touched me. Lydia is 6 and will shortly be moving up to Year 2 in September. She is the youngest of my two so has always grown up aware that Samuel processes information in a different way.

At the end of the school report there is always space left for the class Continue reading

From Rags to Riches

Certain clothes can bring back rich memories.  Hidden away in an old, battered, black suitcase at the back of the loft, I have kept a number of clothes that I am not yet ready to part with.

I open the case and on the top is Lydia’s orange and pink stripy Babygro that made her look like a fruity humbug and Samuel’s first pair of red checked flannel pyjamas that Nanny bought him.  Under my children’s baby clothes I find my old Bastille Day t-shirt that a friend bought back from France in 1989 to celebrate the 200th anniversary.  There is also my favourite black dress from Next with red embroidery on the collar.  I loved that dress and kept it with the thought that one day I would unpick the stitches and create a dress pattern from the panels to recreate it.  Right at the bottom, tucked out of sight I find my skin-tight black top which creates a riot of memories.  I used to wear it with black leggings and a big, elasticated black belt that fastened with hook and eye.  It has three strategic holes cut out, tear-drop shaped leaving little to the imagination particularly as I never wore anything under it.  But that was over 25 years ago and under wiring is now my new best friend!   But oh,  how I loved wearing it for a night out on the town.

Looking through old photographs brings back memories of clothes made by my Mum and Grandmother.   When I was growing up, Mum used to have “sewing evenings” with her friend Linda who used to come around every Thursday evening and they would sew together.  Mum made me and my sister bright red jumpsuits.  My grandmother was a very talented seamstress.  She could create her own patterns and Zoe and I had some lovely clothes as a result.  I particularly remember blue winter coats with white fur around the hoods, red dresses with white box pleat inserts and matching knickers and my ultimate favourite a silky,  bottle green party dress with a pattern of little dogs in boxes with a beautiful circle skirt in which to twirl and swirl. Surely every little girl’s dream.

I am not yet ready to part with those clothes. So I close that battered old suitcase and leave it hidden with its memories, nestled in the shadows where the spiders spin and weave.

From Rags to Riches

Too Much Information!

Sometimes I feel that I am living in a hotel… but unfortunately, not as one of the guests! My role in this family run hotel seems to be the waitress!

Because of his autism my son does not use the usual preambles of speech. When he wants something his way of asking is very commanding (not sure where he gets it from!). So we have “where is my breakfast”, “get my breakfast”, “get my drink”. Or he will pass his empty plate to you and simply say “more”! He has an excellent memory so I can see a career looming as playing “Oliver”!

If he needs something, he wants it right that minute and it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. Although, I get frustrated I have found it better just to get him what he wants as otherwise he continues to yell out for it. He cannot yet comprehend that I need to finish a task before getting him what he wants.  I have tried the “now” and “then” technique but it hasn’t really worked for me.

Samuel has difficulty with empathy, although this is improving his needs come very much first. For example, if his sister is crying, Samuel’s concern is that he finds the noise distressing and will even shout out “take her away, take her away”. You have to talk to him quite gently as to “why do you think Lydia is crying; what should we do to help her” ? These are behaviours that come naturally to those of us who are neurotypical but have to be learned if you are on the spectrum.

One of the things we were taught at Earlybird’s (http://www.autism.org.uk/earlybird) is that children with autism have problems in filtering out the important instructions. Therefore, it is really important to give them straightforward, simple instructions. With Lydia at bedtime I might say “come on Darling, time for bed, go and get into your jim jams”. This is in marked contrast to Samuel. I will say “Samuel” (pause – name said to get attention!) “pyjamas”.  We were also taught not to always give a negative instruction as that is all that your child tends to hear. So instead of saying “Samuel, stop running” (as he heads to the road) you re-phrase it to “Samuel – walk” which is a much more positive statement.  We went to the zoo once and Samuel started climbing a fence; as he was some distance away I yelled out in my best “get-here now” voice “Samuel” (pause) “down”.  I am sure that someone thought I had a dog with me!


It’s a twin thing

I have an identical twin sister. She is just 10 minutes older than me and even at the grand old age of nearly 50 we are very much alike.

We were born at the back end of the 60’s. In those days ladies were taken in for bed rest when they had multiple births which happened to Mum. She was in hospital on “bed rest” for about a month. In those days they didn’t use ultrasound they used x-ray instead (that obviously accounts for a lot!)

As a result of being a twin, Continue reading

Thoughts of Father’s Day

My son was a Beaver.  As part of the scouting movement we do attend the traditional CofE services to celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Christingle service.   We attend a beautiful little church which sits in a very quiet, tiny hamlet.

My son always finds it very difficult to sit still during these services.  I always like to sit at the front, so the four of us sit crammed into the small wooden pews.  I like to have Samuel with me, wedged into the corner.  I am not sure if it is sacrilegious or not but I always have plenty of snacks and drinks for him.   However, if you’ve ever attended an event where your Autistic child with ADHD has to sit still for a long time, I think you would go readily supplied too.   So, my two kids sit there munching crisps and guzzling Continue reading

Super Powers can be Invisible!

If you have read some of my other blog posts (Where are the Instructions?) you will know that my son has autism. Samuel was not diagnosed until he was six but the signs were always there.  I just didn’t know what the signs were!  At 37 I had no experience of children, had never even held a baby until my son arrived grumpy and red-faced (the result of a C-section).  My first thoughts were “OMG the baby has red hair”!

When I look back, I see how different he was even from the very beginning.  The difference stands out more when I compare his behaviour with his sister.  Today in the playground, Lydia was running around, interacting with her friends playing “tag” and “hot-dog” (not sure what that game is!)  Samuel was quite happy on his own and “stimming”.  His autism is the “high-functioning type”. But, even so behaviour can be challenging and it drains me as it is always changing.  You achieve one milestone only to be faced with another challenge.

A couple of years ago, when I was Continue reading