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Mount Stewart!

Recently I decided to become a member of the National Trust! I don’t know why I haven’t done it before with so many great properties so close to me, but I decided that I would get a lot of use from it this year with both the kids able to enjoy it now!
Our first trip out using our membership was to Mount Stewart. We had heard about the new park that had been built there and when we woke up on Sunday and it was a glorious morning I decided that once I had fed and watered the kids I would take them out to see what the new park was like!
Amellia was very excited and just couldn’t wait to get going, and was even more excited when I let her know that it was only a 15-20 minute drive. A beautiful drive to along the Strangford lough with a spectacular view of Scrabo Tower!

When you go through the gates to Mount Stewart if you are wanting to go to the park go straight on at the round about and park in the first car park on the right! Once parked and you have everyone bundled out of the car, you then head to the little hut just in front of the car park! We got greeted by a lovely man who chatted to us about the park and told Amellia & Dylan to have a wonderful time! He then pointed us in the way of the park.. walk down the path and first left is up to the park but it is a barked path so not great for prams! We choose the second left so that I could push the pram up easily.. well not really easily it is a pretty uphill path but it was ok, We stopped to admire views and then hunted out the entrance to the park!

img_5865The park is based on letters wrote by Lady Londonderry while she was away in Spain to her daughter. They are trying to get these books republished so that they can help the park come alive to all the children who visit but for now you can check out some snippets from the books here.

As we ventured in I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting to find, I thought it would be a cute little park, but I was wrong, It was an amazing, large, very open, with wonderful made play features in! Whenever we arrived nobody else was there as it was early on a Sunday morning, so it made it perfect! I parked the pram in the middle of the park, lifted Dylan out and we set out exploring!

My little girl loved spotting all the wooden animals about the park and was on full charge mode to find them all in a record-breaking time! There was lots of them all crafted into different animals! I was so impressed with them all, the detail on them was incredibly! By the time Amellia had raced around and found them all, Dylan was still busy inspecting the first on he found in great detail! My favorite was the cute little octopus & Amellia loved this rabbit the best!

Onwards to explore! There was stepping-stones.. well stepping logs in this case! Climbing frame, balance beam, seesaw and lots of other wonderful things all made out of wood! It was just simply amazing. While Amellia was happy exploring and climbing on everything possible, Dylan really enjoyed pottering about in the big open space in the sun!

At the far end of the park there is a big open space which Amellia and Dylan spent a long time in, drumming on the stepping logs, running about and digging in the dirt! Dylan really enjoyed this as he has only just accepted the feeling of dirt on his hands, so they both sat down for a while and played in the dirt.. and ended up covered! Typical!!
There was also a big wooden chair at the end.. which I tried to get a lovely photo of my pair in.. obviously it wasn’t successful, when do those pictures ever go well, right!?
img_5920We spent two hours here, running about, laughing, climbing on things, watching a honey bee on a flower, practicing our balancing and enjoying being outside without being to restrained on where we could wander! Dylan wanted to stay there for a lot longer than I expected, he normally really likes new places like this for about thirty minutes then realises that it is somewhere new and starts screaming to leave. I think what really helped here was that we had gone so early so we were the only ones there, there was lots of open space between everything so lots of room to potter about and enjoy the fresh air and it was such a large area that I only had to turn him round a few times to keep him close by so that I could see Amellia too!

When it was time go he came over to me and put his arms up, so I picked him up and walked about for a little while showing him the wooden animals again so that Amellia could have minutes before leaving!

We then were going to go to the cafe to grab a spot of lunch.. but silly mummy forgot her purse, doh, so we had to head home for some lunch! The kids cannot wait untill the next time we visit, which will be very soon and I will remember my purse next time!

You should be sure to pop by and visit Mount Stewart if you are wondering where to head for a day out with your family! I will be sure to let you know about all the other hidden gems around the Mount Stewart gardens whenever we have explored further!
-WeeOhana x

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Questions!

With it  being Autism Awareness month I decided to ask on a page on Facebook that has many bloggers on it if they had any questions about Autism. Here are the questions I was asked and my answer! =]

Sophie from mamamei.co.uk has a little brother who has Aspergers and asks
are people still struggling to get a quick enough diagnosis? “
We are currently going through the diagnosis process and it is a very long and infuriating thing. When Dylan got seen at the CDC clinic we got told that it is autism but we have to wait till he is 2 1/2 before he can even be referred across to the autism clinic and then he will be put on another waiting list before he is seen, which is a very long list. The annoying thing about this is that if they had referred him when we were first there he wouldn’t have been seen until he was over 2 1/2 anyway.  It will then be a push to try to get him into a nursery that will be able to deal with his level of needs without a diagnosis. I know a few other parents who are going through a similar thing and are having to wait for an unacceptable amount of time. One lady had her child referred to the autism clinic at 2 1/2 and he is 3 1/2 now and she still hasn’t had a letter to start the process. So; I’m not getting my hopes up for a speedy one myself.
It is very irritating because they say early intervention is key to helping, but they don’t seem so keen to provide much help until they are over a certain age etc!

Claire from Http://lifeloveanddirtydishes.com asked; What did you notice about your child that made you seek a diagnosis?
There was several things with Dylan that made me want to seek a diagnosis. One of the main things was that he was talking for a while well he said 2/3 words then about a month later he lost them and all the word sounds that he made. He tip toe walked and still does the majority of the time. He also has very poor eye contact and will not respond to his name no matter how loud you shout it! I had worries about him for a while before anyone else would accept that I was in-fact right to be worried and that he needed to be checked out by the health visitor. Even when he was a young baby I raised a few concerns with my HV, like he didn’t smile or giggle for a very long time. I also as a mum remember feeling very upset because we didn’t seem to have that automatic bond people talk about. When you were feeding him his bottle he wouldn’t look at you lovingly etc! There are lots of things about Dylan that increase my worrying about him that I spot as the times go on. Mainly though I am very eager to try to get him talking or communicating in some way so that he can let me know what is upsetting him, what he wants or what is going on in his head! This would then in turn hopefully lessen the amount of melt downs we have in a day-to-day occurrence as he could then communicate.

Vicki from Www.tippytupps.com wanted to know;  “if you have other children, how do you balance out their needs so neither feel left out?”
This is something that I am really conscious about as I have a little girl who is five years old. I am always worried about her missing out on things because of his dislike for many things. Though me and my husband work hard to ensure that she gets to do the majority of things that she wants to do and that she gets days out just by herself so that she doesn’t have to worry about having to leave if he gets upset and that she gets all the attention. We take turns once a month where we will take her out for a full day and do whatever she wants to do, be it swimming, shopping, eating, going for a walk or anything that she thinks of! During the month if there is something that she wants to do that only takes a few hours for example swimming and my husband is off work, he will take her swimming while I go for a walk with Dylan or do something that he enjoys!

If you have any questions you would like answered drop them in the comments below and I will surely answer them for you on this blog =]

If you enjoy my blog and reading about what we are going through with Dylan and would like to read some other blogs similar here are a few;

Danielle Duggins – “I  write about experiences mostly – https://someonesmum.co.uk/category/autism/”

Ann Hickman- “I blog about how our family experiences the world.. often a differently to others http://www.rainbowsaretoobeautiful.com”

Victoria Hatton- “I write about autism too, my daughter has Asperger’s and I’m an Autism specialist teacher. I write both from a teacher and a mummy perspective: Teacher: https://www.mummytimestwo.com/…/navigating-autism-from…/ Mummy: https://www.mummytimestwo.com/…/moment-knew-daughter…/”

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Dear Husband..

Dear Husband;
You are simply amazing. I don’t tell you often enough how wonderful you are, how strong you keep us as a family unit and just how much I love you. This past year has been a very tough one for our family, life changing things have appeared that we never thought we would have to face. We have faced some real challenge as a couple learning to accept the things that have been thrown in our path. I feel that we are now a lot stronger than we were before, and we will continue to build up skywards, together.

I must admit at the start of all this we grew apart, drastically. It really scared me, I didn’t know how I would make it through all this without you by my side as support. I thought we were going down a long and horrible road, and we were going to have to do it apart. All of this coupled with my issues that I have, has been extremely scary, I felt very low and because of this started to push you even further away and I honestly don’t know how you stuck by my side. You didn’t deserve it, and it made us argue, disagree, row and everything else a happily married couple should not do. It was horrible, I hated myself more and more, but I just couldn’t get out of that rut. I still find some days tough and I’m sure you do too, even though being a manly man that you are you don’t admit it.

I am so glad now that we are stronger than we have ever been and that we tackling everything thrown at us together. You are my best friend, my soul mate, my shoulder to cry on, my companion, the one who laughs at my stupid jokes, helps me spell silly words that I just can’t grasp, you make me smile when it has been tough day, cuddle me when there just isn’t any words to explain what I am feeling or what is going on in my head. You make the world seem a little less scary, you hold my hand when times are tough, you help me relax when things are getting on top of me, you guide me when I just can’t guide myself, you make me feel beautiful even when I am wearing the same clothes that I had on when you left for work, you give me the confidence to carry on, you give me the strength to keep my head above water when it feels like I could so easily slip under and you make me feel loved; when I just can’t understand how anyone could.

I really can’t thank you enough for all that you do, you accepted me for who I am and took both me and my wonderful daughter under your wing and treat us like royalty (most of the time ;]) You are the greatest father I could ask for my children. You always put them first and make sure they are happy and have everything they could ever dream of.
We all really love you and couldn’t do this without you.
You, are simply incredible.
My 1 in 7 billion.
My best friend.
My husband.

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Go with the flow!

Recently with Dylan I have learned that you really have to go with whatever is working for him that day. If it isn’t something that desperately needs done that day, isn’t important, or I can wait until my husband is home then I simply won’t do it if its something that he won’t cope with. Some people may see this as a little odd, that I’m letting my son control a lot of my life, but in reality; why would I take him to do the grocery shopping when hes having a bad day, just for him to have a meltdown in the middle of the shop. Which means he is very distressed, people stare so I get upset, he gets more upset as I get worked up trying to calm him so we leave. So; why would I put either of us through that? This is why most of my shopping is done online, or when my husband is home!

Today a friend of mine had a go with the flow light-bulb moment! She is a hairdresser and has been meaning to come over to cut my little mans hair for a while, his hair is a very precious thing to him and like a lot of autistic children he finds it very difficult when it comes to haircut time! So, when I went to the yard today she was there too sorting out her horse and was chatting away to me while Dylan very happily played with the shavings when she had a brain wave.

We decided why not have a go at cutting Dylans hair while he is really happy and relaxed in a place that he loves! She headed of to her car to get her hairdressing scissors, water spray and comb! He loved the water spray and played with this for a while to get his fringe wet and get him used to her! After doing this for a while I sat him on my knee to make sure hands and fingers didn’t get in the way! She snipped away and he was happy enough for the first few snips then he started to notice what was going on! With a quick few more snips it was done and after a few minutes he was happy to restart playing in the shavings like nothing had happened! It was over so quickly and he didn’t get too worked up which lead to him happily enjoying being at the yard again in a very short space of time!

He then went on to eat some of the horses food (which to me is bizzare seeing as it is nearly impossible to get him to eat any other human food than what he has already accepted into his very small selection of food he will eat), help me fill the hay nets and empty the wheel barrow!

All in all it was a very successful day! Fringe Trim, feeling lots of different textures and a happy little soul spending time outside in the fresh air! =]

It all boils down to.. pick your battles! Pick what is worth battling over and if it isn’t and its going to make everyone unhappy. simply do it when you get a chance! =]img_4144

WeeOhana x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Make Your Own PECS!

The other night I made my own PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) for Dylan!
There are several stages of PECS, for the moment Dylan is on stage one as he has just started using them! PECS is a form of communication that is used with lots of children on the autistic spectrum but can be used with other children too.It is where they learn to relate pictures to the items that they want.

I have seen lots of people who make these online and charge a fee for doing it then send them to you, I was very tempted to do this until I thought about how often I would need to order new ones as he got new interests, foods he likes etc. So I decided to have a crack at making my own and it really wasn’t that difficult! Took a little time to get all the things together and work it all out, but I did and I must say I’m pretty proud of myself with how they turned out =D So I am going to show you how I did it and what I used so you can make your own too! If you need any extra help/advice etc drop me a comment and I’ll be more than happy to help! =D

I already had a printer, which is the Epson Expression Home 322. I have had it for a while though so you may be better sourcing your own printer! Mine isn’t a very fancy printer but does all that I need and was a very friendly price! I then sourced a Laminator (Amazon.. my favorite place for finding everything I need/ want ;]) it wasn’t a fancy all dancing one, just one with good reviews and could do exactly what I wanted! (Click here to view it) Along with this I also ordered 100 Laminator pouches.. I’m not entirely sure why I ordered 100.. but when I see a good deal I can’t resist! ;] (Find them here) I then needed a paper-cutter as I wanted all the edges to be straight and nice! (This one!) and the last thing I ordered online was some Velcro! (Here) You will also need some paper and few bits of thicker paper too! =]

Now, I am going to try to do this in a step by step stages so it is easy and clear to follow! =] I’ll try and not waffle as we know I do get carried away sometimes! 😀

  1. To start I made lists of what I wanted to make PECS on. I started off by just doing two, Snacks and TV Programs then thought of nine of each that Dylan liked and wrote them down!
  2. Next I searched online for clear and simple versions of these images! I found when I searched to put the words “White Background” after whatever I was searching as it means they won’t get distracted by looking at the whole picture
  3. I then made a folder on my laptop for each PECS board and save the nine images of each topic into the correct folders
  4. After finding the nine images I then went into the folder and selected them all. You do this by left clicking once on the first image then holding shift and left clicking again on the last picture
  5. When they were all selected I then right clicked on the images and selected the option print, which opened a pop up.
  6. When in the pop up I scrolled down the side of it which gives you the options of how to print the pictures until I got to one called Wallet. This meant that all the pictures could be printed off on one sheet of paper and would all be the same size!
  7. Then I used the paper-cutter to cut them all out. This took a while for me as I liked to make sure they were all exactly the same size! Very simple to do though with the paper cutter recommended above as it has a built-in ruler! =D
  8. I then put them into a laminating sheet with a good distance between them so that they would all seal correctly and wouldn’t peel once laminated.
  9. Once the PECS images were done I left them to cool while I laminated the thicker paper that I would be using for the background!
  10. I then cut out the images again, making sure I didn’t go to close to the image as I didn’t want the laminate to peel off them!
  11. Next I stuck 6 of the Velcro dots onto the piece of thick paper all evenly spaced of course ;]
  12. In the middle of each of the PECS images I then stuck the other side of the velcro dots on. (I know I said nine but have only put six on the page, this is so that you can change them about, or remove some and put the other ones on when things aren’t available!)
  13. Admire your work and feel very pleased with yourself! You have just made some PECS for your child which will greatly improve communication and hopefully make meltdowns less often as your child has a way of telling you what they want when they get used to the PECS =D

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These are the ones that I did,and I would love to see the ones you have done! Especially if this step by step has helped you! =D
I wish you all the luck on your PECS journey! =]
Also remember if you have any questions on how to do this etc, Just ask! I’m more than happy to help!

WeeOhana xx

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Garden Center & Play Park!

The other day we took the kids to the garden center to investigate the new play area, but we weren’t too sure what we would find! We were really shocked when we walked around the corner and saw the most wonderful little play area!
The first day we went was a weekend so we really didn’t stay that long as there was quite a few older kids and after Dylan being pushed twice I knew he was going to lose his rag soon and didn’t want to push him too far after having already had a good 30 mins playing and everyone else being happy! We let the kids choose one thing each on the way out as they had both been fantastic and who doesn’t like treating there little ones every now and then!

My little girl chose the unicorn and has named it..”Pink Fluffy unicorn, dancing on rainbow.” Not quite sure where she got the name from seeing as it isn’t even pink.. but as long as she is happy! She chose this unicorn as it is just like her little brothers rabbits that he takes everywhere! If we ever lost those rabbits there would be trouble! I am going to have to buy a few spare and swap them about so that he gets used to them.. I had intended for the second bunny to just be used at bedtimes.. but as time has progressed he has now taken a shine to them both. and he would take them everywhere if I let him!
Dylan chose the peter rabbit push along toy! As soon as he picked it up he wouldn’t put it down! I love the selection of toys and clothes they have at Donaghadee Garden Center, lovely little bits! =]

We headed back the next day as we knew there would be fewer people, or at least fewer big people with school being back! Dylan had so much fun!
We had a fantastic time! My hubby and I got a lovely little lunch, he had the stew and said it was phenomenal and I had a lovely painni! What was even better was that Dylan got to happily play while we got some food! He was so happy pottering about and exploring by himself!

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He loved this big wooden tractor a lot! You could pretend to drive it, climb all over it and move the gear stick! He had so much fun driving it, especially with our table where we were grabbing a bite to eat right beside it! He is very much a mummys boy at the moment and doesn’t like me being out of his sight! He even follows me from the living room to the kitchen!

It also has a lovely little wooden barn which has steps up one side with a little bit to explore up the top and then a slide to get down! You can also go under the barn too which Dylan enjoyed! He must have ran up the stairs then down the slide about 50 times in a row before he even started to tier!

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Another amazing thing that they have is a little ball shoot thing! You put the ball at the top and it rolls all the way down,he really loved this! So much so that I’m thinking of making one in my back-garden for him! Its a fantastic thing and so very simple to make as it is made using guttering!

I will be going back here many times, in-fact I think I am going to be a regular! A fantastic little place and undercover for Dylan to play in and quiet! It is also great because even though you get your lunch etc from inside the cafe it is closed off away from here so you aren’t worried about the noise etc annoying others who are eating!

Well worth a visit if you are ever near! =]
WeeOhana xx

 

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The Ark Open Farm

We are very lucky to have a wonderful little farm just up the road from us, our flaw ithough is that we really don’t take advantage of it all too much.. and with Dylan I am always nervous of going there in-case as soon as he gets there he loses it, but our recent trip there proved to us, that we really have to go more! Especially seeing as this trip had to be cut short when he fell into a puddle and wasn’t too keen on his trousers being all wet and sticking to him! Before this happened though we were having a wonderful fun, so I thought I would share it with you =]

When we woke up it was a rather nice day, well it was cold but not windy or raining so that is always a big bonus here! My hubby was also off work, so he took little miss into school and came home and I told him of the plans for the day. We got our little monkey man all ready and headed off, I was slightly worried that as soon as we got there he wouldn’t be too happy as the smells etc are all different and I was holding my breath with my fingers crossed too that it wouldn’t be busy. It wasn’t busy and as soon as we got there we were greeted by a lovely and friendly dog. Dylan loves dogs so he was settled straight away, though he did want to just stay with the dog but with a little persuasion we got him to go off exploring everything else!

A lovely young lad came up to us when we were looking at the cows and asked us if he would like to see a baby chick.. I was a little apprehensive as we all know how rough kids can be, and just how delicate chicks are! The young lad held the chick for Dylan too see, and he loved stroking the chick and just staring at it! We were made to feel in no rush and the lad chatted away to us about the chicks while Dylan happily was stoking and staring at the chick! When he started to get a little grabby he put him back in with the other chicks and went on his way. I think Dylan would have stayed there all day just watching them walk about, he sat on my knee and was so happy just watching them all walking about, eating and having a little drink!
We then moved on to see the goats, there was some tiny little baby pygmy goats who were very young. They were so cute and kept escaping from there pen for a little walk about! They were just adorable, though my little man didn’t have much interest in them I would have happily have taken one home.. though I’m pretty sure the hubby wouldn’t have been too impressed! 😛

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We then went into the barn where they have a range of animals! Some more goats, sheep, lambs, alpacas (I think!), reindeer and some bunnies! The young lad from earlier was there and happily got out a rabbit for him to see, and he loved stroking the rabbit.. though quickly found its ears and like most, thought these looked great to pull.. so the bunny went back in, away from his grabby hands!
Dylan then proceeded to run up and down the barn (he loves big spaces to run and walk about!) until he spotted a sheep! It was love at first site! He stood by the lamb stoking it, smiling and laughing, it was simply wonderful to see him to happy and engaging with something!

After playing with the sheep he then spotted a cow in the barn! (Plastic) He swiftly took a seat on the little stool and started to try and milk the cow, it was wonderful as he was very hands on, didn’t mind the water on his hands and was having so much fun! With Dylan we have a real problem with water and bath times so it was simply wonderful for him to be having some fun with water and not having a care in the world when it got on his hands or wellies!

We then headed off outside to have a play in the park and too see the other animals outside.. completely unlike how his sister would have been Dylan walked straight through the park without even a second look and was straight down to look at the ducks and swans in the little lake they have there! It has a lovely little wooden and very safe walkway out to it and you can stand on this and watch the birds, after doing this for a while we headed back out to continue on our travels!

He found a puddle, a muddy puddle and he wanted to jump in it! There wasn’t a chance I was going to stop him from doing this because as said before water is one of his least favorite things! He splashed about in it for a while and then we carried on to see the owls, peacocks and the other birds they have outside!

 
We also headed into a wonderful little wooden Noahs Ark they have which had a giant connect four in! He played with this for a long time with his daddy, getting picked up to slot one in (working on his depth perception & engaging by going to daddy to get lifted to put the token in!). They had lots of fun doing this, everyone was all smiles and laughing! =]

We headed onward to the forest walk.. or we attempted too. Dylan found another muddy puddle and was jumping in this, but then stopped to have a look about and his welly got stuck resulting in him falling backwards and landing bum first in this lovely muddy puddle! I knew it was going to happen but just wasn’t quick enough to stop it happening! Bad mummy >.<

We then had to head home as he wasn’t a happy bunny having a wet and muddy bum, though I’m thinking he secretly planned it so we have to go back another day to see the animals again ;]

All in all it was a fantastic day out! Dylan felt lots of new textures, had fun with water, met new animals, got lots of fresh air and had a lovely time with mummy and daddy! I’m now convinced Dylan should be a farmer and I need to try and get out to lots of places with animals, as he really came out of his shell, was making vocal noises, engaging with us and the animals, accepted a person he hadn’t ever met before, smelling lots of new smells and feeling things he hadn’t felt before!

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We will be back soon and I look forward to our next trip to The Ark Open Farm!
If you are in the area I really do recommenced a visit!

WeeOhana x