What an incredible end to the year!!

What an incredible end to the year!!

UK Blog Awards 2015 - Shortlisted Logo - Small

Well I am utterly blown away!! I entered the UK Blog Awards initial stage a couple of months ago and posted the link to vote for me on my Facebook a few times. I looked at the mahoosive list of entrants and there were hundreds!!! Oh well.

Well on Monday just gone I received an email from the UK Blog Awards with the list of shortlisted blogs in each category. I was reading it on my phone and scrolled down and down and OH MY GOD!!!

I have been shortlisted in the Most Innovative Category and am now up against 10 other blogs! WOW!! I am so excited by this!

I started blogging 18 months ago primarily to just write about our family and what it is like to live with someone on the Autistic Spectrum. I have branched out since and do product reviews, run competitions from time to time and it has brought in a very small income.

I have blogged about the (ongoing) fights and struggles we have with Xavier and his schooling, obtaining a Statement of Special Educational Needs, bullying, the issue of being in the wrong setting and how it impacts on a child with special needs. I’ve blogged about Milestones and achievements reached by both my wonderful children. They make me so proud. I have also written about my own personal battle with depression.

I love my little corner of the internet and I am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. I am so thankful for the support that people have shown me along the way and the wonderful comments I have received about my writing. Thank you everyone!

I have made some wonderful friends since joining the blogging community, there has been so much help and an immense amount of support from them! I feel privileged to be apart of such a fantastic group of people!

So…. now to wait until the Awards Ceremony which will be held in April in London. I don’t think for a second I will win… it’s all in the hands of the judges now! I feel honoured just to be Shortlisted out of so many amazing blogs.

#UKBA15 #BeBold

To Drink or not to Drink this Christmas.

To Drink or not to Drink this Christmas.

Scotland’s new fashionable tipple – alcohol-free this time

Research recently released has shown that people in Scotland are buying in the rounds when it comes to alcohol free beer.

It is true that until recently the thought of alcohol-free beer conjured up an image of Billy Connolly wearing a cravat and sipping his Kaliber.

Although cravats are no longer the height of fashion, alcohol-free beer is certainly en vogue.

A recent survey carried out by ComRes for AB InBev UK shows that Scotland is heading up this new fashion in drinking.

48 per cent of adults in Scotland have tried alcohol-free beer.

This research has also shown that the beverage is becoming more and more socially acceptable; at least according to 49 per cent of UK adults, who believe it is more accepted than it was five years ago.

But the real style icon here seems to be Beck’s Blue – the alcohol-free beer has had sales outside of licensed premises go up by a show-stopping 20 per cent in one year.

And Scotland’s hand in the making of this new wave has not gone unnoticed.

Jennifer Anton, speaking on behalf of Beck’s, was encouraged that AB InBev’s efforts to supply consumers wider low alcohol choice, as a responsible alternative, has not gone un-noticed.

Low-to-no alcohol beer has been around for hundreds of years, and was frequently consumed in the Middle Ages.

Like high-waisted jeans and plaid shirts, perhaps it did go out of fashion for a while, but now it seems that Scotland’s drinking fashion sense has gone retro.

Will you be drinking this christmas?

UK Blog Awards 2015 - Shortlisted Logo

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas!! My decorations and tree normally go up on the 1st December…. have been known to do it a little earlier than that too! *blush*

Are you one of these that quadruple their electricity bill over the Christmas period by turning your home into a local attraction by covering the front of your house and garden in sparkly, flashing decs?

I think these look great (within reason) and it always gets my kids excited! I just cannot afford the bills these decorations must produce but I’m not against them!

Indoors we don’t go too over board either.  The tree is the main thing for us really. We have been through a few trees now over the years! Having THREE cats is a bit of a nightmare at Christmas! We used to have a beautiful fibre optic tree…. until one of the cats pulled it down one too many times and it broke!

Now we have a lovely black and silver tree.

When it comes to decorating it I am VERY particular about how it looks!


Not the best photo but that is the finished article! Well… the cats pulled it down the 1st 2 nights and then thankfully got bored with that game so I only had to redecorate twice!

I do my food shopping in Tesco and they have a fab range of lights and christmas decorations. I got my small LED lights from there alongside some of my tree decorations. I love the lights that have the different modes for how they flash. I went for just white ones on the tree and have some multicoloured ones around the big mirror in my living room.

Back to tree decs. I like a variety. My sister hand made one each for the kids. She is very clever.

She made a Crawley Town Football Club one for Izabel.


and then of course Xavier had to have something Dr Who related!!!


Ive also got some gorgeous animal/santa decorations from Marks. Fluffy Santa and some Animals.



They are so adorable!!

The baubles on my tree this year are blue red silver and white. Different textures in all colours as well as different sizes!

We have Santa and Rudolph sitting on a wreath on the front door too!

I am definitely feeling festive! Just need to finish my christmas shopping and get a bottle of Baileys in and I will be ready to roll!

What are your decs like?



it all gets a bit much.

Now is one of those times. I want to be filling my blog with wonderful Christmas Gift Guides for you. I want to be more proactive in finding a suitable special needs school for my son. I want to be filling out my SEN Appeal form. I want to recover quicker from my operation. I want to be ringing the relevant people and writing the relevant letters for my formal complaint. I want to be raring to go and ready for my weekend away with the girls this weekend.

I am finding it really difficult to do any of those things right now.

I think I have been “falling” for a while and finally hit that place called rock bottom. So much going on in my life right now and I want to keep up, I am trying so hard to keep up but I hold my hands up and admit I am struggling!

If rock bottom is where I am at then I can take a positive from that. There is only one way to go and that is UP!

I really want my blog to be better than it is. I am proud of myself for what I have achieved with it so far…. but I want it to be better! I have lots of posts to catch up on… just no motivation.

I visited a special needs school last week and am  visiting another next week so its not as if nothing is being done to find Xavier a suitable setting, things just aren’t moving quick enough for my likings! I want him happy and settled… but i want that YESTERDAY!

I am so sick and tired of filling out forms and making phone calls regarding school/complaints/incidents/statement etc. I never want to see another one again in my whole entire life but sadly that is not going to happen! It is never ending and makes me so bloody incredibly  cross that I have to fight so damn hard to the point of exhaustion. Why? Just because my son is clever doesn’t mean he can cope with a mainstream school. He very clearly can’t. Why is there such a lack of schools in this area that can cater for my sons needs or just why is there such a lack of special needs schools when there is huge a huge demand for them?

I had a laparoscopy done just over 2 weeks ago and it has knocked me for six. I thought I would be back to running around and doing all the things I normally do …. but Im not. I feel exhausted and old. I can’t do those things and the fact I can’t is making me feel incredibly useless! I know I need to take it easy but its hard when there is so much to do!

I am going away with 2 of my sisters and 3 other girls for a girly weekend to centre parcs this weekend. I haven’t decided what I am taking yet, done no washing for it, just not prepared at all and again no motivation! I need a slap I think as many mums would give a limb to be away for a weekend child free!! Its not that I don’t want to go… I do! We went 2 years ago and I had the funniest weekend ever!! I just cannot seem to shake this miserable fog that is hanging over my head!! I know I will be fine once we get going!! I refuse to be a moody old bag all weekend. I need this break.

So please bear with me. I will be back on track and running on full steam again soon.


Concerned your child may have Autism?

Concerned your child may have Autism?

It is a very daunting prospect. It was brought to my attention when Xavier started school in Reception. No signs were picked up at PreSchool. Even when things were mentioned to me I shrugged them off thinking my son just had a couple of odd ways but to be fair I had heard of Autism but knew absolutely nothing about it and I suppose was in denial of the possibility.

How things happened for us was that we met with the schools SENco (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) after the teacher raised concerns about Xaviers behaviour. Then we were referred to the school nurse and had to write a report. This turned out to be pages and pages long. I will add below a few entries from my report to give you an idea:

1. will not eat any form of meat unless it is sausages mince or burgers, otherwise he actually gags, even on the tiniest piece. Used to eat anything and everything up until about 2 years ago.

2. is reading fluently, normal print books 2 years ahead.

3. Very clever yet cannot follow REALLY simple instructions, i.e Go and get some clean underwear from your draw upstairs, he will go upstairs and come back down 4 or 5 times empty handed looking very confused.

4. Is VERY easily distracted

5. Talks very loudly even in a quiet environment and even if I am right beside him.

6. Needs to be given plenty of warning for most things or he just cannot seem to cope with change of activity.

7. He has no concept of waiting his turn to speak in a conversation (he has plenty to say just always talks over people or butts in before the other person has finished speaking)

8. If he iswatching a loved TV programme or reading a book about a favourite subject its very hard to break him out of his little world to speak to him or ask him something. Literally having to call his name 10-12 times.

9. He constantly asks “Mummy why does everybody look at me?” It seems to bother him alot. (even if no-one is actually looking at him)

10. If there is loud noises or raised voices be it indoors, in the supermarket, in the park, etc he will freeze on the spot almost shaking and has his hands over his ears. (he doesnt get upset but his eyes widen and he clearly doesnt like it)

11. His vocabulary is incredible for an alomst 5 year old.

12. he stares up at the sky and spins around and around and around until i have to actually shout at him to stop b4 he falls over and hurts himself. Dont know why he does this.

13. Is obsessed/fascinated with playing with water, everytime he uses the toilet at home, when washing his hands will play for 20 mins if not supervised everytime.

I ended up writing about 4 pages, most of the content I added I wasn’t sure if it was relevant or not but thought best to add it all. The School Nurse called me shortly after receiving my report and told me we had a very strong case to be referred to our local Child Development Centre and that she would refer us asap.

So all in all we were very lucky and within a year of it being brought to our attention that there may be a problem and 2 visits to the Child Development Centre we had a diagnosis.

It doesn’t always work this way and there are different avenues that you could take. For example if you have a good family Doctor, feel free to  visit them with your concerns. They are not able to diagnose but are able to refer to your local Child Development Centre. Xavier was 4 when concerns are raised and 5 when diagnosed. I think age may play a part too. Some organisations want to wait until the child is in a school setting before considering assessing.

I find the National Autistic Society Website a great resource for information.

You can visit here: http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/what-is-autism.aspx

If you do have concerns try and speak to a professional as I believe the earlier assessments start, (hopefully) the right help can be put into place for the child. I am no expert but feel free to ask any questions you may have and if I can answer them I will.


We have been nominated for a UK Blog Award and its now down to the public vote! If you feel we are deserving of such an award please feel free to vote!! All you need is to put in your name and email address here:



Anti-Bullying Week 17th-21st November 2014

Anti-Bullying Week 17th-21st November 2014

Brandon Trust Logo 2011

As reports of bullying against disabled people continue to rise, leading learning disability charity Brandon Trust issues advice to stay safe to mark Anti-Bullying Week

In the run up to national anti-bullying week (17 – 21 November 2014), leading learning disability charity Brandon Trust is issuing advice to people with learning disabilities, their friends, families and support workers about how to identify and deal with bullying.

Government figures show that in 2012/13 the police recorded 1,841 disability hate crimes, a 5% increase on the previous year, when 1,757 incidents were recorded.

But Brandon Trust, which runs free training sessions on bullying for people with learning disabilities and the professionals who support them, warns that the vast majority of bullying or hate crime against disabled people goes unreported. Therefore the actual number of instances of bullying against people with disabilities is likely to be much higher.

Estimates published in the same government report put the real figure at over 62,000 disability motivated hate crimes per year. One of the reasons so much bullying or hate crime against disabled people is not reported is because it’s often not identified. For many people with learning disabilities unfortunately ‘it’s just part of life.’

However bullying is a form of hate crime, defined as a crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person because of a personal characteristic – in this case disability. As such, anyone convicted of a hate crime can receive a tougher sentence.

Examples of bullying include name calling or bad gestures, physical attacks, threats, harassment, humiliation or intimidation. Nasty letters, leaflets or posters, offensive emails, text messages, phone calls or social media posts also all constitute hate crime, as does damage to property, including graffiti. Finally ‘mate crime’, where a person is befriended and then exploited, either physically, socially, financially or sexually, is also a serious issue for people with learning disabilities.

Lucy_Hurst-Brown RS.jpg

Lucy Hurst-Brown, chief executive of Brandon Trust, says:

“As if bullying against disabled people isn’t bad enough … one of the most alarming things we see is just how many of the people we support accept bullying as part of life. Even with shocking cases that hit the media, like the tragic story of Fiona Pilkington who took her own life and that of her disabled daughter following years of abuse from local youths, the majority of cases go unreported.

“That’s why we’re issuing practical advice to help people identify and deal with bullying and to encourage them to report it. Together we will work to stamp out this appalling abuse and make our communities safer for everyone.”

Brandon Trust’s guidelines on staying safe include:

1) Tell someone you trust if you are being bullied, this could be a support worker, a good friend, a family member, a youth worker, someone else that you work or live with or an organisation (such as Bristol Hate Crime Service)

2) If you are being bullied, keep a diary of events, log the date, time, who was involved and as much information as you can remember. Brandon Trust can provide Easy English logging diaries

3) Put useful numbers in your mobile –a local taxi firm, police non-emergency (101) and any local Hate Crime Service or helplines

4) In an emergency always call 999

5) Avoid giving out personal information such as your address and never disclose passwords or pin numbers to anyone

6) Beware of friends who always ask to borrow money or possessions, and ask yourself if these are real friends

7) Find out where your local ‘Safe Places’ are for when you’re out and about. These are places such as libraries, shops, cafes and council buildings that have signed up to the national Safe Places scheme

Brandon Trust offers bespoke training, events and workshops on bullying and hate crime for organisations and individuals. For further information contact sarah.howard@brandontrust.org

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