The last wellbeing check-up I posted was back in February, so it has been a while. Besides, I do not know how I am feeling lately. The pandemic experience has thrown my life off in another direction, including work aspirations. Before the “Covid era”, I was entertaining the idea of going back to work in the hotel industry. I even went to London for a networking event.
I must look for something that fits into our family life, parenting responsibilities, and my son’s needs. At the moment, I am, needing more time with myself to figure it all out.
I cannot stay in my comfort zone forever, but I want to work out my life slowly and carefully.
Growing Up and Change
My son is doing well, considering all the changes happening all around him. Although, I am regularly checking in with how he is feeling.
He has a new routine of taking rapid lateral flow tests twice weekly, the addition of Occupational Therapy sessions (to start soon) and Speech and Language Therapy intervention sessions. School assessments will be commencing soon too. On top of this, his dad’s working hours and shift patterns now vary. So, we are trying to keep to a routine as much as possible. Likewise, I explained to our son some of the changes in advance. (which I knew about) So, my son expected those changes to happen, thus reducing any anxiety or element of surprise.
My son is settled at school, happy, and enjoys socialising at school. Well, as much as he can within group bubbles and socially distancing rules. It is indeed strange times, but he is making it work for him.
I am more selective of what I post about him, giving him that space being a pre-teen and have his privacy. Additionally, I always get his approval before posting any blog posts that focus on him. Lately, he wants me to post his artwork, so that is what I will post. Just because he is autistic, in reality, he does not talk about autism all the time. (I hope this makes sense).
Lastly, the following blogs will be product reviews, so once I stop procrastinating, I will finalise these reviews and publish them.
As a blogger, I enjoy writing about many topics, and one I was looking forward to blogging more about was our days out. Well, it is safe to say that that idea is on hold. So, after thirty minutes of pondering, I had an idea. To write a series on a few of our days out from the past. I am delighted to introduce to you my: Blast from the Past series. (ooh, I hear you say).
We have a mixture of experiences in this series, from visiting historical attractions, a bit of sand and sea, to explore all that a national space museum has to offer. Furthermore, I have decided to approach this series by presenting our days out from the past in four parts:
Part One: Beside the Seaside.
The seaside blog includes a recount of our days out to Brighton, Torquay, and Great Yarmouth.
My partner, son and I visited Hampton Court Palace for a food festival. There were even roleplay actors dressed up in Tudor costumes.
I do not know about you, but now I need a bit of nostalgia, and what better way to uplift my soul than to blog about our happy memories. Thus, I hope you enjoy our blast from the past experiences at popular English tourist attractions, museum, and seaside locations.
Disclaimer: The contents of this post is for information and entertainment purposes and is based on personal experience.
The days out mentioned in the blog are based on past experiences. (before lockdown). The attractions and places mentioned in this blog are temporarily closed due to lockdown. (in line with the government’s guidance).
I received no payment or any other commission for this post.
My son wanted to try a different style of art, thus decided to focus on Steampunk art. Likewise, Steampunk art draws inspiration from the industrial revolution, which started in Great Britain and was more prominent during the Victorian era.
Steampunk fuses a sci-fi/futuristic style of art with elements of machinery, steam-powered machinery. Furthermore, in my blog: Our Weekend in Birmingham, we visited ThinkTank Science Museum. Additionally, at the museum, there is a working steam engine called the Smethwick Engine. (giving my son visuals of steam-powered machinery for his work of art).
Steampunk Victorian Skull
Here is the process of how my son created a Steampunk inspired Victorian Skull:
Firstly, my son wanted a skull with a top hat to be the central piece to his art. (as he loves skulls now)
2. Secondly, I printed him a Victorian clock face (as requested); so, that he could draw some inspiration from the roman numerals.
3. He wanted the clock to look fragmented with pieces scattered all over the canvas, giving the effect that the broken clock is floating around.
4. The skull and floating pieces look dreamy as such of fantasy art. Instead of floating cities in space, you have floating particles in the atmosphere.
5. It is a common feature to use metallic colours in Steampunk art; however, it is down to individual interpretation. Conversely, my son wanted to be different and add a pop of green into the mix, which I feel looks pretty cool.
6. I bought a bag of gears and cogs for my son to use for his Steampunk artwork. Moreover, the cogs give a rustic effect with copper, gold, silver, and bronze colours.
7. My son used a gold acrylic pen to colour on one side of the skull. (and a black acrylic pen for the top hat). Furthermore, the roman numerals are highlighted in with a black acrylic pen.
8. The floating clock segments are either green or brown.
9. The other side of the skull is silver. In addition, my son decided to glue on the gears and cogs with PVA glue. (distributing them on the open spaces of the wooden canvas). Therefore, the artwork now has a metallic feel, representing parts from steam engines. Thus, here you have a Steampunk Skull, which was inspired by the Victorian era.
Victorian Themed Related Post:
Ironbridge Gorge Museum: Where we visited the Blists Hill Victorian Town, walked across the Ironbridge, and entered the Darby Houses where we tried on Victorian clothing (including a black Victorian top hat)
My son wanted to try a different art technique, so I decided to introduce him to fluid painting, which is a form of abstract art. You pour paint onto canvas and tilt away. It is messy, but so much fun!
My son used:
Liquid art panel
He experimented with the mixing ratios to figure out the right consistency to pour the liquid paint. (it is all part of the fun) It is a case of trial and error when mixing the acrylic paint and pouring medium together. The pouring medium helps thin the paint, used for liquid art.
Green Red Fire
For this art piece, my son created a swirling motion, flickering paint onto the canvas with a paint brush. He also used a stirring stick to create fire like patterns.
He flickered and poured pink rose paint and purple paint on top of the blue and green colours, which he made from different shades of blue and green colour palettes.
My son selected warm tropical colours to pour onto the canvas using a funnel. He then flickered on yellow paint followed by pouring a mixture of greens.
Lemon and Lime
I painted the canvas purple for my son and left it to dry. My son poured green acrylic paint in a pattern on top of the canvas, followed by pouring the yellow colour in a similar pattern.
He then tilted the paint to cover all the canvas, creating a marble effect.
Black and White Swirls
He painted the canvas in black colour first then dry, followed by squeezing black paint (with silicone oil) into one cup, and white paint into another cup.
Next, he poured the black paint into an empty cup and then poured white on top of each other and continued this motion. He poured the mixture onto the canvas and tilted away. The silicone oil helped cells to form, which is visually appealing. A great technique for fluid painting.
My son, brother, sister in law, nieces and boyfriend attended the fourth session.
Raised Salt Painting
Our first activity was creating raised salt paintings using salt and PVA glue. For this, my son created a butterfly, which he painted blue and red.
For our next activity, my son and nieces created hand castings, using moulding powder plaster.
They then made modelling clay while trying to learn and figure out how to balance the wet and dry ingredients to get the right consistency.
My son formed a shoe and carved the detail into it.
My youngest niece created a masterpiece too.
We had a lot of fun with an interactive art activity. For this we used plastic balls dipped into paint, fabric and a large black tuff tray. We all held the tuff tray with the fabric on to roll the balls around to create an art piece, which I thought was very inventive.
For our last activity of the day, we explored sensory play with different textures. (Wet textures, coloured spaghetti, all contained in large plastic sealed pouch taped down onto the table). The children then used fabric pens to draw on top of this.
There were even surprise eggs, that the children opened up, placed on a large roll of paper on the floor and explored.
For our fifth session, the same family members from session 4 attended this one.
Art in Body Movement
The theme was “travel to the land of colour”, where our children covered us in colourful fabrics and danced in motion to travel to this land.
We explored art through storytelling and body movement.
We looked at how to create landscape paintings, with a focus on colour, shape and composition.
Our children learnt about the different shades of colour in the sky and clouds. We explored the various shades of blue, light and shade and mixing colours.
We investigated the colour palette used for landscape painting and considered the colours that come through in the sky and clouds with the impact of weather changes.
We studied art in architecture, looking at different building designs and use of colour, shape, pattern and cultural influence.
Us adults then stood up in a line so that our children could sculpture our bodies to form shapes that represented houses. From this, we were able to see their interpretation of what a house looks like to them.
We then finished off our landscape by drawing and painting our houses.
My boyfriend, son and I attended our sixth session. This session’s theme was printing, with a focus on Goosebumps characters. My son loves Goosebumps, with his special interest being Slappy the Dummy (as some of you already know).
The artist had printouts of the Goosebumps monsters, which my son could easily name. He decided to test out my knowledge to see if I knew any of the names. I only knew about four (I let the team down).
We used polystyrene sheets (used for printing) to draw our monsters on and carved them in using a pencil.
My son carved the werewolf and a few other characters, focusing on attention to detail.
He worked out pretty quickly that the more pattern and detail you carved in, the better the colours of the print came out.
My son also had the idea to use two different colours for one of his prints.
The artist created a Goosebumps print and a Mummy print.
I drew and carved a couple of Goosebumps monsters along with Slappy the Dummy (at my son’s request).
Overall, we created both separate prints and a roll of prints.
The Art and Us sessions have given us plenty of opportunities to explore and expand our creativity. We have also learnt how to develop new techniques in art. The best part for us about the programme is that we were able to experience this as a family.
I have been so eager to share with you this post. Some of you may have guessed where we have been from my last post about our weekend in Birmingham. Yes, we only had gone and booked a relaxed SEN session at Cadbury World Visitor Centre!
Cadbury World, located just outside of Birmingham City Centre, is a visitor attraction full of chocolate history. The Relaxed SEN sessions are their latest addition, and I am so pleased about this. They offer both morning and afternoon SEN sessions.
I recommend going through the social story (on Cadbury World’s website) ahead of arrival because every person has different sensory needs. It is always good to make someone aware of the environment before visiting.
We booked a morning session on 22nd September, and as when we drove past the Bournville Lane sign, it felt like we were stepping back in history.
Our tickets were scanned on entry and were each given an access wristband:
To our delight, we were handed chocolate bars before entering the Aztec Jungle. It was like living a childhood dream.
My son played on the interactive puzzle game where you had to match the clothing to the correct God.
It was like going through an interactive story of history going through the Aztec Jungle, learning about where chocolate originates from, the cacao tree and the cacao pod.
Journey to Europe and Bull Street
We moved through to the Journey to Europe zone. Back then, chocolate used to be a luxury item only for the rich.
My son, partner and I entered a recreation of Bull Street, in Victorian times, where John Cadbury had his first shop.
Staff were welcoming and readily accessible, informing us of the waiting times for the Making Chocolate Story.
I was impressed that they had several screens with recordings of a lady signing for people with hearing loss or impairment.
Making Chocolate Story
Here we watched an interactive video of the history of Bournville village.
At the back, there were static seats as an option for those who may find the interactive part difficult.
Have a Go Zone
The inner chocolatier in all of us came out when we got hands-on with tempering chocolate.
My son curiously asked how to temper white chocolate.
There was no queue for the Cadabra ride. Therefore, we sat in the car, and I was singing and waving at the chocolate eggs as they swayed side to side. (for my son’s entertainment). It was such a happy place. In other words, what’s not to love about a chocolate ride?
We marvelled at the chocolate tilting machine and watching the staff at work.
After, we were each handed a tasting pot of chocolate, with the addition of two toppings. (marshmallows and Oreos).
We were amazed at how many Cadbury’s ads we could remember. It was fun for my son seeing them too, some for the first time.
Over to the DJ station and then, of course, seeing the iconic gorilla on the drums. (My son wasn’t even born when this advert was released!)
We moved over to the Purple Planet, where there were plenty of interactive games wherever you turned. Here my son was in his element.
I liked that they had a caution sign letting you know about the automatic doors ahead of time.
World’s Biggest Cadbury Shop
We had a look in the Cadbury shop, which was full of chocolate glory.
After careful consideration (because of so much choice) we bought a raspberry shortcake bar, orange zest bar and dark milk salted caramel chocolate bar.
4D Chocolate Adventure
All staff were very accommodating when we entered the 4D Chocolate Adventure, asking if we all were ok with lifts.
We put on our 3D glasses and were ready for the experience, which, my son loved.
The Bournville Experience
Next, we visited the Cadbury World Bournville Experience. Furthermore, here we had the chance to understand more about the Bournville village and the values of John Cadbury, who was a Quaker.
We saw some Cadbury products from the past, including Star Wars chocolate tubes.
Overall, there were a lot more things to see and do than I initially thought, with an abundance of interactive activities. We were all happy that we finally got the chance to visit Cadbury World. Lastly, it was a place that all of us wanted to come to and having the option of a relaxed SEN session makes the experience more inviting and accessible to us as a family.
*This post is for educational and informational purposes and is based on personal experience. I received no payment or any other commission for this post.
My partner and I attended The Autism Show in London, on Friday 14th June. We decided to go on Friday rather than the Saturday as I knew that the train journey would have been a bit overwhelming for my son. On Friday morning, we dropped my son off at school and then headed to the train station to begin our journey to ExCeL, London.
We reached our destination at London Bridge, where we then hopped onto the tube to Canning Town and then onto the DLR to Prince Regent Station. So, you can understand why I made the decision not to take my son.
On arrival at ExCeL, London, there was a sign clearly showing where the quiet seating areas were.
The Sensory Room, at The Autism Show, was created by Mike Ayres Design and OM Interactive.
I loved the interactive features and having features with a relaxing motion, which was very soothing.
There were also tactile panels on the outside of the room, which were both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Smartbox Assistive Technology
We headed over to the Grid for iPad stand, where I was intrigued by the app. Controlled by both touch and eye movement, which I thought was impressive. One of the representatives explained to me that you can personalise the images and tailor the structure of the design to individual preference.
The Makaton Charity
We then proceeded to head towards The Makaton Charity stand where we looked at picture books with Makaton. The Makaton Charity scanned the barcode on my ticket so that I am now signed up for e-mail notifications.
Orkid Ideas sell TomTag Kits, a visual support system. I was familiar with this product from one of my son’s Occupational Therapy sessions.
I purchased a TomTag kit on the day. This included:
7 TomTag button holders
50 blank buttons
2 attachment loops
2 sticker packs.
The sticker packs included stickers related to In the House and Out and About activities.
I always wanted to try this solution with my son as it will provide him with structure and routine but in a visual way. Also, it is portable and discreet, which at my son’s age is something that he prefers so will be more motivated to use them.
Previously, my son wanted me to buy some clay to use at home for his artwork. At school, he has been experimenting with different art material and has recently been using clay.
It was something that I was going to purchase for my son anyway, so it was convenient for me to buy some clay here at this event.
I played with some of the Jumping Clay, which was out on the table. I could tell by feeling it that it was light and easy to manipulate with your fingers. It would be something that is both creative and relaxing for my son. The clay would be ideal for sensory input and will help my son with his fine motor skills. The product is air-dry, which is a bonus.
The Autism Matters Theatre
We sat down and placed the headsets on ready to listen to the 12:05-12:45 professional speaker, Sharonne Horlock. Sharonne is the Strategic Leader at SEND, and she discussed the effective support for autistic children in mainstream schools.
Sharonne provided valuable insight and useful strategies, promoting inclusion and personal growth. So, if you are attending The Autism Show in Birmingham on 21st June or the show in Manchester on 28th June, I recommend visiting the theatre for this.
The Journey Home
I was mindful of the time, so we headed back to make it home in time for the school run. For part of our journey back, we had to run for the train. My partner cheekily commented that he has never seen me move so fast; funny, considering he was the one trailing behind.
After picking my son up from school, he couldn’t wait to open up and play with the Jumping Clay.
He loved the smell, in particular, which in the leaflet highlights that the clay is jasmine scented.
Here is one of his creations made from the clay:
*The content in this post is provided for general information and is based on personal experience of attending the event. The products bought on the day were purchased using my own money and are for my son’s use. I did not receive money or any other commission for this post.
Yay, my first random blog. (I am so excited!). In the essence of staying true to myself, I am making a point to write about anything. I am, fed up with all the rules of how I should write on my blog.
Let’s get more into the discussion.
Content Creator Frustration
When I started blogging, I saw myself as a content creator, not a salesperson. (this is still true in the present time). It can be frustrating as an independent blogger when all you want to do is write content, but it doesn’t get seen because we are going up against large businesses that host blogs on their websites, which have more probability to rank higher.
As a content creator myself, I do not base my judgement on if a blog has good quality content on the numbers of views and followers. Some of the best content that I have read are from blogs with a moderate amount of following. It is unfair but is part of the blogger’s life. (Hashtag: Support independent bloggers)
Long Term Marriage
In my first year as a blogger, I rebelled against the sales side of blogging, as my love of doing this is writing valuable content that is useful to people. Midway, I realised that not investing in SEO strategies meant it would be impossible for my blog (which is managed solely by me) to gain any traction.
It’s a bit like being in a long-term marriage. You are in it for the long haul. However, have to compromise at some point along the way.
So, I have invested more time into internally linking, especially to my older blogs. The blogs complemented each other naturally by the way I write’ however, I am now adding the links to optimise my content. Additionally, I have added meta descriptions, which gives people a summary of what each blog post is about when finding my blog on search engines.
It’s How I Like My Tea
I understand that initially, the algorithm may conclude that my blog is an autism blog. So, what do I go and do to confuse it? I start writing blogs about art. The robots are thinking, is this an autism blog or an art blog? My response to that is that I write about life, our life. I like routine with the occasional spontaneity. I’m a complex individual, and life is unpredictable. One minute, we are outdoors having fun the next minute, we are in a pandemic.
I’ll use the example of sometimes I like sugar in my tea; sometimes I put honey in it. In contrast, if I’m feeling more adventurous, I’ll have a bourbon biscuit with it. (not with tea, it should go with coffee, I hear you say).
Before you know it, we will have AI (artificial intelligence) influencers as competition. Luckily, I don’t see myself as an influencer, just a neurodivergent mother who writes content. The world seems to be going more towards the AI route. The next thing you know, we will have robot teachers.
An integral part of my work is highlighting accessibility, and I cannot blog about this without looking at my blog. I feel that I can always do more to improve my website accessibility. So, I am always interested in suggestions on improving people’s experiences.
I have an installed WordPress Accessibility plugin, and I have been working on improving my layout. I have been adding more descriptions to my images and improving the uploading speed of my blogs. Furthermore, I have audio transcripts, as reading a lot of text can be overwhelming to some people. (me included).
What is new? I have added a table of contents to the top of each post. (along with an estimated time it’ll take to read each post).
By no means is my blog perfect, but I am continually working on its accessibility.
Firstly, as you may already know, I posted a series blog: Blast from The Past. As I am going to emphasise again, these are from past experiences. We have not been going out and about as we are in lockdown. Apart from taking my son to school, I am at home. Because of this, I don’t enjoy writing about the same things repeatedly. (it’s a bit like Groundhog Day). So, I decided (from looking through photo albums) to write about a few past experiences. Additionally, when lockdown eases, we will not be going on holiday. We are more than happy to find a lovely green space (field) to put a blanket down, listen to music, eat food, and play travel-size games outside.
It’s a Hobby
I’d also like to highlight that my blog is a hobby, and I pay for my son’s products (which he needs, it is not just for show) and our days out. (I prefer it that way). My son has only received one complimentary art session after I wrote a blog (which was unexpected). Additionally, my partner paid for our weekend away to Bath, but apart from that, I pay for everything. If in future this changes, I will always do a disclaimer highlighting this. Again, this is my personal choice, and this is not against anyone who does the opposite. I understand that people need to make money, and it is their blog, therefore their prerogative of what they choose to do.
Our days out is what we do anyway as a family, attending autism events/ SEN session. Although, if I see an accessible feature; or find out information that may be useful; and is of value to anyone in our community, of course, I am going to share that. (I’m not going to keep it a secret).
Finally, if in the future we decide to make money from this blog, then it would be my son, and I create artwork and accessories (or something creative) to help build a financial future for my son, not me.
This year, the Cambridge Science Festival celebrated their 25th Anniversary. They also hosted a hands-on at the Guildhall: autism-friendly hour! My son and I have attended the festival before in 2017, so this was our second visit and my partner’s first.
The autism-friendly hour started from 11am until 12pm and on arrival, we received a lanyard, which had a map of The Guildhall and the rooms where the activities will take place.
NHS Genomics Medicine Service
First stop, the NHS Genomics Medicine Service team, where we explored genes and discovering our past. Meanwhile, my son enjoyed matching sequenced patterns to find out a person’s origins.
My son was fascinated by the plasma ball, and as he placed his fingers onto the globe, he felt the heat which was created from the electric current and energy flow.
Institute of Engineering and Technology
We casually moved towards the stall for the Institute of Engineering and Technology, where we were shown how to build an LED torch.
Afterward, we gazed over at a train circuit, where the train ran on stored energy. My son also participated in the activity.
Every time we had completed a stall, we were then given a sticker.
Metabolic Research Laboratories
We headed over to the Metabolic Research Laboratories and MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit stall, where my son took part in the Glucose Challenge. Above all, this was a fun way to educate children about diabetes and blood glucose.
Shark Egg Case
All of us had to figure out the items on the table. Firstly, one object, which we could not guess happened to be a Port Jackson Shark Egg Case! Who would have known?
Under the Microscope
From comparing skin and plant cells using a microscope, followed by holding an Ostrich egg to a human skull. (which my son thought was very cool!) All in all, there was plenty to do.
Finally, we finished off the day by having some lunch followed by admiring the architecture in Cambridge.
Any Science lovers out there? Why not like or share this post? Science is fun and inclusive to all.
*This blog is based on personal experience from our visit to Cambridge.