Thursday, 22 April 2010


Hello all again. Wow, two posts in two days, what's wrong with me - haha.

Just thought I'd post to say what a fab couple of days Callum has just had, as have I (apart from the minor hiccup of emotional crisis).

Yesterday a small group of us went to Dartford to see Horrible Science the show - thank you Lorraine for organising! It was brilliant fun and very entertaining for both the children and us adults. Lots of jokes, dance, songs, facts and audience participation. The afternoon that we went there was our group of 12, 1 school party (looked about yr 7/8) and about a dozen other mums and children (who we all thought looked like home educators too). It must have been very disappointing for the players, but was ideal for us and especially Callum as he doesn't like lots of people in one place. He laughed in all the right places (he has a very odd sense of humour, love him) and said a lot of the answers before they were told; he didn't shout them out, but I was pleased to see he'd retained info. He wasn't too keen on the second half as it was 3D and he doesn't like it (seems to give him headaches), but he did at least try it for a while; almost jumping out of his skin when a circular saw blade appeared to fly off the stage towards you. He, at least, did find it funny too, so we had a good giggle about it, but after that he decided to watch the rest without the glasses. On the journey home he didn't stop talking about it and I'm glad we bought the programme as there is things to do inside.

Today we attended the local groups annual 'show and tell' fair, this year's subject being Science! We gathered together our bits and pieces for our chosen subject of brains and set off to find this sweet little village hall in the middle of no-where! Luckily Phil had taken the day off (as requested) as there would have been no way we would have got there by public transport. On arrival we found a table and set out our things, then had a quick nose round to see what everyone else had done. In the afternoon some of the kids presented little pieces in front of us and at the end of the day there was a professional 'set' that showed the wonders of temperature using solid carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen. It was rather fascinating and although some of it went over Callum's head (he was getting rather tired by then) he did enjoy it, especially the bit where the guy asked us all to lift our feet and he shoved liquid nitrogen across the floor which, of course, 'steamed' up and rolled around like little balls until it evaporated. That bit wasn't the bit he really liked though. Someone had left their coat on the floor and the edge of it got caught by the nitrogen and started to freeze and 'steam'!!! Callum loved that bit!!!! Typical boy! We also all got a taste of ice-cream made by freezing in liquid nitrogen (I, for one, have always wanted to try it), so all in all it was a very good demonstration. It was a very long day though, 11am - 4pm!

In fact the whole day went well and was very interesting (for me, especially, as I could see how others show their work and I began to feel even better about what we do ourselves).

The only down side to the past couple of days has been that Callum has had so much input, had so much fun, probably a little too much sunshine and he ended up with a rotten headache that turned into what can only be described as a mini migraine. So in bed by 7.30pm, cold flannel, calpol and mum laying next to him until he fell asleep properly about 10pm. Bless him.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Hello, thought I'd better post as it's been nearly three weeks since holiday and everyone else I know is blogging like mad - haha (you know who you are!).

It's been a weird few weeks, partly because of school holidays which changes our routine and partly because I'm trying to think of different approaches to our home education schedule as our current 'timetable' isn't really working. That's what I like about home education, it is forever changing and evolving.

Callum, as I have mentioned before, isn't really self motivating and after reading several of my friend's blogs about how their children love going to libraries and getting books out and reading to themselves and to their siblings; how they will happily go and cook or go on websites and look up information or approach their parents with ideas for projects, I was, I must admit, feeling a bit depressed and deflated and did begin to wonder whether I was doing the right thing by Callum. Maybe if he was at school he would be given all these wonderful subjects on a plate and he would have avenues of interest opened up to him. However, luckily for Callum and myself, this 'depression' didn't last long!

Callum is ASD. ASD children (or most of the ones I have encountered) are rarely self motivating in all subjects. They, by the very nature of their 'disability' (I put it in single quotes because it's only a disability when the rest of the world doesn't understand it) are usually interested in only one or two things. But when they are interested they will go at that subject hammer and tongs and know everything there is to know about it, to the extent where they can often bore the pants off of the poor unfortunate who has innocently asked them about it! Great if you have the same interest, but a nightmare if you haven't; if you know what I mean.

One of Callum's interests (his main one in fact) is road signs!! Yes, you heard correctly; road signs!! Not really a subject that can be easily pulled into normal academic subjects, hence my difficulty. He will happily read the Highway Code, the big yellow book of Road Signs, any catalogue (ie, Archers, who kindly sent me one of theirs) that contains road signs, traffic lights, bollards, etc, that you can buy and manuals on how to set up workways (as he calls them) in the street. Are you getting the picture? Try and get him to read anything else, even a simple story, and he reverts to a reading age of about 3 (no disrespect aimed at any 3yr olds who can read well). It isn't that he can't, it's just he doesn't want to. He says he can't read long words, but have you seen some of those manuals? I hit a brick wall and get no-where. However, he does like being read to! And he will, occasionally, look through a factual book if there are a lot of photos with very little writing. We've picked up a couple by a local author named Bob Ogley (Kent Weather and a World War II one) and Callum loves them. They are basically pages and pages of photographs with some writing to explain the who, where, when kind of thing. He doesn't read the information, but he adores the pictures and we've used them in recent projects to 'make real' some of the information I've been trying to impart.

Actually Callum loves photographs full stop. He loves taking them, uploading them and displaying them. So we photograph all our science experiments, take lots of photos while out and about and record bugs, flowers, seedlings, anything really while at home. I'm beginning, as I write this, to realize that we record pretty much everything we do and we don't need to supply lots of writing to back it all up. Epiphany moment me thinks! You see this brings me onto my next problem.

WRITING!!! He hates writing!!!! I don't mean he dislikes it or can't be bothered, HE HATES IT with a vengeance!! He has trouble doing it (he says it hurts his head) and has trouble with spelling because he doesn't always hear letter combination sounds easily. I have tried taking him back to the beginning with Jolly Phonics; I've tried working through workbooks; I've tried pinning up alphabet posters; Education City; typing stuff instead of writing; anything and everything, but still he hates it. He understands WHY he needs to do it, but just hates doing it. I've decided that I'm going to get a selection of forms that he can fill in instead as I've been thinking about how much writing I, as an adult, do and, to be honest, it isn't really a lot. I do email, I do blog, I do Facebook, I do txt, but actually proper writing (with the exception of the blog and several stories I have on the go) I don't do that much. Callum is hardly likely to blog and he certainly wouldn't write stories (although stranger things have happened), so what actual writing will he NEED!!!???? He will need to fill in a job application, possibly a mortgage application, he'll need to register with a dentist or a doctor (if he ever moves), but I've realised that basically it will be forms that he will need to write for, not novels or essays, so I thought why not get him some forms and we'll fill them in. He can practice his writing in a 'real and truthful' way and he will get some idea of what he will be expected to be able to write! So my task over the next few weeks is to amass as many different types of forms as possible and slowly work through them with Callum.

Another interest is Science. Oooo I hear you all say, that's wonderful! Well, is it? You see when you have a child who dislikes reading, hates long words and detests writing, Science becomes a bit of a nightmare! We do experiments, which he loves (check out our Alka Seltzer lava lamp) and we watch plenty of science progs on telly, but I want to take him a little further and he wants to go there. But how do I do Stage 3 & 4 Science without the reading, writing and long words? Hmmm, me thinks that may be impossible! However, I'm going to give it a go, so wish me luck!! I'm hoping, and this is a very long shotted cunning plan (is shotted even a word?), that his interest in the subject will inspire him to read and write, but only time will tell.

He also loves water, hence spending any spare time he had on holiday playing around in the stream! His choice of employment at the moment is either a lifeguard or a policeman. His reason for choosing lifeguard is and I quote "it involves my love of water and I can save people", aaah bless him, he is a kindly soul, despite the odd outburst. So projects on rivers, oceans, etc normally go down reasonably well.

What I'm trying to say after all this rambling is that when I actually sit back and look at Callum's interests and what we do to incorporate them we do actually cover quite a lot of subjects, it just doesn't feel like it and we don't always have loads of evidence to show for it! And I do still have to be the one, in the main, to 'spark' the activity. But by sitting back and taking stock of Callum himself, and not comparing him with others, and taking stock of what I actually do, and not what I expect myself to do, we are actually doing ok! I see Callum being happy, socialable and content. So what if he doesn't want to go to Scouts or karate or music lessons. So what if he doesn't leap up and suggest projects or immerse himself in a pile of books. Callum is Callum and I wouldn't change him for anything. Hence the 'depression' not lasting long.

And do I need a timetable, possibily! Does it have to be in depth, no! A rough 'guideline' is probably the best thing we could have and maybe a hatful of lucky dip projects that we could try. Only time will tell if this approach works and if it doesn't, so what, we'll have another rethink!

Friday, 9 April 2010


Hello all

Been back a week now since holiday, but first chance I've had to catch up!

Holidays - we all love them, but, as any of you who have ASD children know, they can be a very stressful time and have to be planned with almost military precision. I started planning ours last March, but due to breaking my leg had to wait until this year to actually be able to go, haha.

Anyway, we toddled off to Cornwall this year; partly for a family holiday and partly so I could catch up with my friend Kay who now lives there. I found a holiday village that was very close by to where she lives and had intended, last year, to go as just Callum and myself, but decided that we could all go and make a proper family holiday out of it instead. The accommodation was a bungalow/cottage type place with 2 bedrooms, bathroom, living space and kitchen, but the main reason I chose it was because at the bottom of the back garden was a running stream! Callum adores water and I mean he really adores water! He would happily stay on a beach all day in all weathers just looking at the waves and is fascinated by ponds, streams and even just a plain old water feature in a garden, so I thought this would be ideal.

We spent months looking up the website, looking at the photos online of the rooms and checked out the location on the map. I even let the people know about Cs Asperger's and they were fab about it. Callum looking forward to going! Then, a week before we were due to set off I get an email saying that they are building another cottage next to the one we had booked and would we like an upgrade! Eeek! Bless 'em, they were brilliant and gave us a couple of options which would still have water next to them (one the same side as our original booking and therefore had the same stream or an even larger property which had a lake nearby). Callum was a bit ooo errr for a while as he wasn't sure what to go for, but we (Phil and I) decided that we would go for the option that was on the same side as our original booking. That way the stream and outside would be pretty much what C was expecting and the insides were almost the same, but with an added bedroom.

The journey there was horrendous and seemed to take forever. Decided to go the picturesque route instead of the motorway (Callum not keen on motorways), but kept getting stuck behind old cars or tractors, so veeeeeerrrrry slow! Arrived early evening very tired out and needing a cuppa. Was met by one of the maintenance people who informed us that they hadn't got round to reading the meters so we could have free electric all week on top of our upgrade - woo hoo!!

Cottage was lovely and Callum couldn't wait to get into his room. He'd already decided on which room he was having as, in the online photo, there was a little portable telly and he'd decided to take his playstation with him to set up on it. That set up, we were free to unpack and check outside. The stream was 5-6metres from the back door! Callum was straight down there and spent every single spare moment in his wellies in the stream! Regardless of time of day or weather; we even had some hail and he was still out there!

Sunday, we did a bit of food shopping and went to Kay's for dinner. Monday, Callum just stayed in the stream all day! Tuesday I went out with Kay as it was her birthday and Callum and dad went out for a drive round, getting as far as Looe.

Wednesday we went out on our first day trip (well afternoon as it rained all morning - yes, Callum was in the stream). Went to Trebah Gardens near Falmouth which was lovely. Dog friendly so we could take Draco, our black lab, with us. Even the cafe was dog friendly AND it sold gluten free cakes, so I could indulge in choc pecan brownie and a cuppa - bliss! They did a dog trail quiz which we followed and, once handed in, the dogs got a goody bag of treats. There was even a beach so Callum had everything he could wish for! All in all a good day was had by all, although I ached like hell when got back as the gardens are set in a valley so it had lots of winding paths and steps. I even treated myself to a Gunnera as I love them, so prehistoric looking, can't wait to be able to plant it properly.

Thursday I stayed at home, but Callum and Phil went off to Bodmin steam railway. Handed the camera over with new batteries, but because they were cheap ones, they managed to get one photograph before it packed up - boo hoo! They had a great day, but I didn't have any photos to look at, oh well, them having a good time was all that mattered. I put my feet up (legs were really aching) and read Shutter Island.

Friday we spent the day with Kay, her husband Simon and their son Jake. We went down to Charlestown, which is a harbour with a maritime museum on the side. The boys enjoyed the beach and ran around in the museum looking at all the memorabilia including pirate stuff and things from the Titanic. Afterwards drove back up and went to Seaton, a beach with black sand. It also has the river going into the sea, the river being the same one that is our little stream outside our holiday home. That was interesting to Callum as he could see the difference in size (although even when entering the sea, it isn't that wide). There is also a cafe on the side where we had some lunch. Had our first upset of the holiday on the beach. Kay and Simon were taking Jake over to the play area across the road and we were going with them. However, we hadn't been long on the beach and suddenly Callum breaks down in tears because he doesn't want to go. Kay, Sim and Jake end up going to play area and Phil, C and myself stay on the beach with C standing on the edge of the sea watching the waves! We went back to Kay's afterwards and C stays on while Phil and I go back and start packing to leave the next day.

Saturday morning it's time to leave and we load up the car, C plays in the stream one last time and seems fine until everything is loaded and we are about to leave. Then we get a few tears as he doesn't want to go home, bless him. He's had such a good time and the place was just perfect for him and us. Have promised that we will go back again.

I would highly recommended the place as a perfect base. There is no nightclubs or kids clubs and it is in the middle of nowhere, but it was lovely and the people who run it are brilliant. We will definitely be going back!