As you may already know I have two autistic children. No1Son is now an adult and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was twelve years old. He would have been diagnosed earlier but I had my head in the sand. Star is my seven year old daughter who has high functioning autism, she was diagnosed last year. As babies they were both similar, that’s how I knew about Star a lot sooner than No1Son.

Am I unlucky to have two autistic children? I don’t think so and I’d like to tell you why. Both my children are wonderful, they are funny, sensitive, clever, caring and I love them dearly. But more than that, they have a special bond with each other. They understand each other more than any other member of our family (there are seven of us altogether) Star will seek out No1Son first for any help she needs or if she is upset. No1Son will come running if he hears that Star is upset or in trouble. They talk together for hours on Star’s current favourite topic, Pokemon. They play video games together. No1Son even lets Star play his games, that is something big believe me! He also let her read his massive magazine collection.

I’m sure this bond will continue for the future, even if they go their separate ways. It’s more than a sibling bond, it’s an autistic sibling bond.

This is my post for the Autism Positivity Flash Blog 2013, please click badge for more information and posts.

Thirty years ago I was a teenager just starting out in life. I had a job as an assistant in a college for blind people. I went on two holidays, one with work to Skegness and one with my boyfriend to Paignton in Devon. We didn’t go abroard. My boyfriend took me to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to see the Harlem Globetrotters and while collecting autographs after the show one of the players pushed through the crowd to me and asked my name. Then he said ‘Anne, will you marry me?’ I didn’t have time to answer as very jealous boyfriend was dragging me away!

I lived at home with my mum, my kid brother and my dog Sam. My favourite pastime was taking my younger brother along with my niece’s and nephew’s on day trips to the park, zoo even the airport to watch the planes.

I had permed hair. I’ve heard that it’s coming back, I doubt I’d perm my hair ever again.
Here is a photo of me with my mum in Rhyl where we went for a day trip.

Fast forward thirty years to today. I’m no longer with very jealous boyfriend, although we did get married and have two children and end up together for fourteen years. He never took me to see the Harlem Globetrotters again. (I may have been tempted to go alone.) My current partner I’ve been with for eleven years and we have three children together. My holidays this year are booked at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest and Pontin’s Southport. I’ve still not been abroad!

I live with my partner, my five kids and four cats. My favourite pastime is….blogging! I do still enjoy taking the kids out on day trips. My nieces and nephews now have kids of their own, actually they have kids old enough to have kids (eeek!)

 My mum is no longer with us, along with my younger brother and my dog Sam.

I have straight hair, it’s still brown, thanks to the dye, otherwise it would be what they call salt and pepper, but please don’t tell anyone. I did go blonde once, in my early thirties. I didn’t like it, but it did earn me my first ever wolf whistle.

Also, I’m not as skinny as I used to be. I suppose having five kids does that to you. Particularly when you have kids at an older age, your body just doesn’t spring back into shape. Two and  half years after having my last baby I’m still trying to slim down. Being tall means I can get away with a little extra spread but as you can see by this next photo my tummy could do with a little help.

These are my lovely friends by the way, we had this photo taken on a girlie weekend recently.

This is the bit where I plug my favourite breakfast cereal. I love Special K, it tastes great and fills you up and it’s good for you. It’s the perfect breakfast if you are on a diet, or just trying to keep breakfast healthy. I was happy to review the new Special K which is now more delicious and wholesome. For the first time in 30 years Kellogs have changed the recipe of Special K and it now includes three grains instead of two. I’ve always loved Special K but now I think it’s even tastier. I usually buy the box with little extras like red berries or chocolate, so it’s been a while since I had it plain. I didn’t miss the extras though, there was loads of flavour and as usual it kept me satisfied for longer.

I’m also a fan of My Special K where you can get tailor made diet advice and recipes just for you. You can work out your BMI and follow a weekly plan to get you on the road to an healthier you. It’s simple to use too and gets easier with time as you add your own recipes to the plan so it suits you completely.

So that’s how Special K and me and have changed in the last thirty years. On a final note, would I have changed anything?
Well, I might have married a Harlem Globetrotter *wink*

This is my entry for the BritMums/Special K “How I’ve changed Linky Challenge”

The Little Man had an accident. It happens, but sometimes it worse than normal as was the case last Friday. As it was a nice day all three children were playing in the garden while I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and dad was working on his music (also in the garden)

The Little Man tripped and cracked his forehead on the concrete back step. I was there right in front of him, daddy was right behind him, there was nothing either of us could have done to save him from the fall. I froze in fear and daddy picked him up, but he wanted me so I pulled myself together and took him into the house. I watched as the lump on his forehead grew and grew and grew, it didn’t look like it was ever going to stop. Daddy brought me a cold flannel and I placed it on with gentle pressure. The Little Man’s eyes starting rolling and I thought he was losing conciousness so we called an ambulance. They were here in less than five minutes. We managed to keep Little Man awake and the ambulance crew did all the tests. They said he was ok, it was a nasty bump but his vital signs were good, there was no bleeding, or weeping from the ears or nose and he hadn’t lost conciousness. They said they would take him to hospital but it would only be for observation. I asked if we could keep him home. I’ve done it before, hour after hour in A&E just didn’t seem appealing and Little Man would have become even more distressed. So we kept him home, knowing exactly what we were looking out for. The ambulance crew stayed with us for 45 minutes and kept checking him over. Then they let him have a tour of the ambulance, along with his sisters which made them all happy. I didn’t let him out of my sight all night, he slept in my bed and slept well. In the morning he was his usual chirpy self and I knew he was fine. Drama over for this time!

We’d had a similar drama with Boo when she was the same age. She’d fallen backwards off a sit and ride toy in the garden and hit the back of her head. She didn’t seem to bad afterwards, but an hour later had a fit and lost conciousness. I really thought I’d lost her as she went limp and lifeless in my arms, it makes me feel quite ill just thinking about it now. We called an ambulance and they calmed us down saying she was ok. She’d had a febrile convulsion and although it had seemed like she’d stopped breathing, in fact she was breathing all the time, it was just very shallow. We took her to hospital but she came around in the ambulance and within an hour was back to normal. They checked her head while there and said she was fine and that the head injury was unrelated to the convulsion, it was just a nasty coincidence. How unlucky is that?

Going back now 20 years, Eldest Daughter also had a fall against the step in the garden but she managed to split her head open. I’m not good with blood and while sitting with my bleeding daughter in my lap I had a friend fanning me to stop me from passing out.  She also called an ambulance and the result was three stitches, but again she was fine and recovered quickly.

Just in case you are now beginning to think I’m a bad mum, may I please point out that I have two other children who have not been rushed to hospital or required emergency care for head injuries. Fingers very tightly crossed.

I pondered for ages on the title of this post and decided on potty training because that’s what most people call it. First up I don’t like potties and secondly I don’t really think of it as training. Good start, yes?

I’ve been dreading the time when the Little Man needing to move on out of his nappies and onto the toilet. I’ve had some bad experiences in the past, Star was the worst as you can seed in this post. Boo wasn’t so bad but it took her a good while to become dry at night. So facing the whole process again was something I really didn’t look forward too.

At 2 years and 8 months old Little Man was more than ready. For weeks he’d been asking to sit on the toilet every time I changed his nappy. I obliged, but he didn’t actually do anything, he just sat there. He goes to pre-school two and a half days a week and as he’s one of the youngest there he was becoming interested in the other children’s toilet activities. My original plan was to wait until the summer, the later the better, or maybe I was just putting it off. However, I felt that maybe I should bite the bullet during the Easter holidays and give it a try.

So, day one went something like, put on toilet, pee in pants, put on toilet, pee in pants and so on until I decided that maybe five pairs of pants wasn’t going to be enough and I put a nappy on him and gave up.
Day two, and three more pairs of pants, showed a little more success. His little face was a picture when mummy clapped and danced in our minutely small smallest room as he finally pee’d in the right place. Of course, he wanted mummy to do it again so we kept going and he kept peeing. Only he kept peeing his pants too….where did it all come from?

Day three showed a lot more success with only two accidents all day, but I was plonking him on the toilet every 20 minutes all day long.

Day four and we risked going out without nappies. Ok, I cheated a little and put on some nappy pants. I shouldn’t have worried. We were out from 10 am until 6 pm and I took him to the toilet four times and his nappy pants stayed dry all day.

After that things just got better and better and within two weeks not only was he having very rare accidents, but he was actually asking to go to the toilet himself. He even knows when he needs to poo, although he’s not always quick enough and it is already making it’s way out by the time we get to the toilet. I think he has done amazingly well.

Today was his first full day at pre-school and he was dry all day. Although he did need a change of clothes after a trip to the toilet because his aim was a little off, ooops! (it’s a man thing)

I am so proud of my Little Man. I’m thinking he will be dry at night very soon too as his nappy is dry every morning and he asks me to remove it so he can go to the toilet. I may just leave his nappy off and use a mattress protector until I’m sure he can stay dry all the time.

Forgive me for making it all sound so easy. If you read my previous post about Star you will see that it’s not always plain sailing, however, I have learned much along the way and would like to share some tips with you.

Don’t get stressed. The more stressed you get the more you will stress out your child and they will take longer to learn their new ‘talent’

Wait until your child is ready and don’t push them to be ready, let them be the lead. I’m not saying it won’t work if you push it but it will be easier for all if you wait.

Signs that your child is ready are; staying dry in nappy longer, showing an interest in the toilet or potty, talking about the toilet or potty, dislikes wearing a wet nappy. The child also needs to be able to sit still for a short while and be able to understand simple instructions.

If having problems try using props or bribes, sticker charts work for older children, or you could give them a small reward when they go on the toilet.

Praise works well, make them feel really special when they do it properly and they will want to do it again.

Don’t shout or be disappointed if they have an accident.

Don’t take age as a reason to start, it’s more important that a child is ready. Some can show signs of readiness at 18 months, some will not until nearly 3 years. It’s rare that a child is not using the toilet by the time they are 4 years.

If it doesn’t work out, don’t stress, give up and try again later.

Don’t expect the child to be dry day and night at the same time.

Use what works for your child, if they prefer a potty that’s fine but some children don’t so try the toilet instead. I’ve never had any success with the potty and I have a special toddler seat fitted to my toilet.

Expect them to take a step back a little sometimes. Accidents can happen even if they seem fully trained.

A child can be very proud of their pants, so get them some nice ones and they will be happier not to wet them. (Little Man has some Thomas the Tank engine pants and when he wants to pee he tells me ‘quick mummy Thomas doesn’t want to get wet’)

Good luck to everyone who has to face teaching their little one to use the toilet, don’t fret too much, go with the flow (excuse the pun) and let your child take the lead.

Kids cups are something we get through a lot and I was happy to review two cups from Contigo. Star has poor motor skills and at seven years old still has problems drinking from a regular cup. This means we usually end up buying sports bottles or cups with fitted straws as she is just too old for the traditional sippy cups. We still have a lot of problem with leaks though, that is until we used these cups.

First we tried her with the Autoseal Runabout cup. For once she didn’t complain about it not being pink as the bright orange and yellow colours were very pleasing. Although, I do believe you can buy the cup in pink! This cup works by a pressing the large autoseal button which releases a gap at the top of the cup so you can drink it like normal. I thought she may have trouble co-ordinating the pushing along with the sipping but she got the hang of it almost immediately. The best thing is, as soon as the button is released, the cup is sealed, so no spillage. Star like to take a cup of water to bed with her and we often find she’s grabbed it during the night and fallen asleep while drinking, leaving us with wet bedding. With this cup there was no spillage because the cup was sealed as soon as she stopped pressing the button. Another great thing about this cup is that there is nothing for her to chew on, Star chews everything  in sight, but with no protruding parts to put in her mouth this cup is going to remain un-chewed. 
In summary, this lovely colourful cup is grown-up like, 100% spill proof and un-chewable. It’s also dishwasher safe and BPA free. It can hold 420mls of drink.
She wasn’t the only person who liked this cup though, the Little Man was grabbing it whenever he could.
The other cup we reviewed, the Striker Autosprout, was more like your typical sports bottle with a pop-up spout. You click a button and the spout comes out, when folded away it becomes leak proof again. You don’t need to bite on the spout to drink and it’s a little larger than the normal straw like bottle spouts. It also seems a little sturdier,  I think Star would take a long time chewing her way through this one. However, it was Star’s sister Boo, aged five, who claimed this bottle, especially with blue being her favourite colour. It also has a nifty little handle for carrying. Also BPA free and diswasher safe, my favourite feature had to be the way the spout is hidden away when not in use. 
Of course there was a wee man who also loved this cup and couldn’t keep his hands off!
My children loved these cups and I’m now thinking of getting the Little Man one of his own. They do state for over 3 years and he has a couple of months to go, but he managed quite well with both cups. 
You can find out more about Contigo Kids Cups here mycontigo.com
You can purchase Contigo Kids cups on Amazon