Shear(er) delight!

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Alan Shearer Centre with local group SPARCS. I’d never been before but Reilly is a regular and has attended many times with school to use the hydrotherapy pool.

Its fully accessible for those with limited mobility and located just off the A69 its set in over an acre of beautiful grounds complete with woodland walk, sensory garden and specially adapted play area.  A hidden gem.  Plenty of seats and perfectly kept lawns for those budding number 9’s to have a kick about.

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Inside there is so much to do.  The ladies on the reception were incredibly helpful and enrolling Reilly as a member took all of 2 minutes, membership and use of the centre is FREE.

Reilly loves all the sensory activities the centre has to offer and was very welcome for a cool down on an incredibly hot day.  I love watching these incredible kids at play.  Fascinated, focused and happy. I also love watching parents, grandparents and carers being able to relax, without judgement in a place they feel very welcome.

 

 

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While there I arranged for Reilly to visit the hydrotherapy pool in the summer holidays.  It can be booked for sole use in hour sessions which is perfect for and the general public who don’t need to be subjected to me in my cozzy.  We’ve chosen to share that date with Kelly and her little one, Kelly is one of the fab parents I met when talking about Reilly’s blog at a coffee morning earlier in the year.  I always get so stressed about keeping Reilly happy in the holidays,  I see a lot of time being spent here in the summer, even a cafe so no need for soggy sandwiches and warm pop.

 

It is well worth checking out SPARCS who run meet ups for autistic families at some excellent places around the North East and of course The Alan Shearer Centre and all they have to offer.  As well as the activity centre they have The Alan Shearer Short Break Centre and The Specialist Residential Home.

Check it out and if you see us there make sure you say hi!

x

 

Finding Reilly

What a difference the sunshine makes! Tonight when Reilly came home from school he typed Dory fish into my phone and  instead of looking at photographs of them I decided to take him along to the Blue Reef Aquarium at Tynemouth.

We’ve  drove along with the windows down and the sun beaming in, just perfect.  Reilly has never been to the aquarium before but I showed him photos of the outside and some of the exhibits and he was really excited.  First thing he did was go into the shop and purchase one of those fishing rods with the magnetic fish you throw in the bath, straight to the massive open tank in the foyer and started to rip it open, they were going in!!  Just stopped him in time.  Lady on reception was lovely though I must say.  There was no-one else there as we got there late in the afternoon so place to ourselves.  Happy days.

IMG_2845I expected him to wonder at the fishes and be intrigued.  He gave no shits about them whatsoever.  He did however enjoy watching the seals, I mean who wouldn’t.  I took some photographs while we were there and they look like he is in some kind of magic undersea utopia.  Beautiful greens and light.  I must go again a little better prepared with lenses etc and plan some photos properly.

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The otters enclosure smelled worse than I imagine an otters pocket and we hastily ran through that bit.  Reilly and smells, particularly really strong ones is a no go.

All in all it was a lovely afternoon he showed me a picture of a sausage and an icecream on my phone so we left in search of a nearby chippy.  We kept driving, the sun brought hundreds to our beaut coast this afternoon and it was just amazing to see.  Ive not seen people headed to the beach complete with towels and windbreakers for decades.  I loved it.IMG_2829

Back at our local chippy we sat outside on the bench and Reilly listened to the ravey version of the Moonpig advert a million times.

Love the sun, love my sons, its a good day xx

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Reilly the Bouncer

I ventured out this morning with Reilly to Airbox Bounce at Cramlington.  Reilly has been here before and loves it.  This morning was different though because we went as part of the specially arranged sessions with Autism Northumberland.

I’m a softy and a bit of a home bird with Reilly in the holidays but when offered a lift and some company with my nearly cousin and her 2 boys. I decided to take it and give it a go.

I’ve mentioned many times before how difficult it is taking Reilly along to activities for many reasons- the main being understanding of members of the public, some people are incredibly rude and unlucky for them as Reilly grows older and my skin grows thicker I have no problems addressing the tutters and moaners straight on.  Tut or learn is always my mantra.

We arrived just before 10 and parked at the rear of the building.  This has been well thought out and lets the kids from the group leave without having to negotiate the groups of people arriving for regular sessions. They also countdown to the end of the session which is great for the kids to prepare. 


There were plenty of staff there to ensure the kids were safe.  Because it was just our kids and their siblings it was perfect.  No blasting music to set off any sensory issues. Lots of space to play without the rough and tumble at their own pace. 

There is a cafe upstairs that sells everything you could need or want (soya milk is good Airbox for those dairy free folks 😉). The cafe has a great view of the whole trampoline park below.  

Downstairs where the majority of parents/carers gathered is a small soft play area which Reilly enjoyed.

He had a great time and has been typing Airbox into the mac this afternoon so safe to say we’ll be back with the Autism Northumberland group check their Facebook for booking info.  Being able to have fun with Reilly without the judgements, stares and being able to relax is priceless. 

While I was there I picked up a nomination form for Autism Northumberlands Awards Ceremony which is just a lovely idea.  These children are special, we all know that but by Christ they have a struggle and this ceremony is to celebrate those achievements no matter how small.  Nominations are open to anyone if you know a superstar you would like to put forward.   Nomination link


Fidgit Spinners

For a week now I have had my 10 year old Ellis tweeting in my ear or rather squawking for a fidgit spinner.  I’m seeing them EVERYWHERE!!  Kids, adults, for sale all over Amazon and ebay.

Anyway I ordered one a couple of days ago and he has been lurking around the house like Kevin the teenager and having epic radgies everytime someone pulls up outside and it isn’t hand delivering his spinner.  Where is it? has it been posted? whats the tracking number? has it got lost? will it come in a van or post? has it gone to wrong address? repeat repeat repeat with intermittent heavy sighs! First world problems for a 10 year old.

During a heated discussion this morning over whether I had actually ordered a fidgit spinner (it’s understandable, I always say I’ve ordered something but have really forgotten about it) Reilly comes in and launches this lime green ninja star Shuriken type spinner across the room.  It had arrived in the post and I hadn’t noticed! Hurrah no more wingeing from Ellis and Reilly has a new weapon (not so hurrah).

I’m happy though because it’s opened up the dialogue of stimming   << Click to read Stimming in the Park.  Ellis was astounded when I told him these gadgets have been around for a very long time.  If you see someone with a spinner don’t miss an opportunity to let them know who else may be using them and why.

ps Reilly isn’t particularly interested in it and i’m sure parts will be removable so with my Keith Lard health and safety hat I’d probably say for older children and adults x

Eve’s Birthday at The Tim Lamb Centre

After a hopeless week its been rounded off with a lovely day today.  Reilly was invited along to one of his classmates,  Eve’s birthday party at one of mine and Reilly’s favourite places The Tim Lamb Centre.

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I’ve blogged about this place before.  Its always been somewhere that I can truly relax.  Staff, parents, other children – we all get it.  Naked runner through the cafe – no sweat. Meltdown in the ball pit – no problem.  The centre provides leisure and social opportunities for children with disabilities & additional needs in the North East of England, i’m lucky enough to have it 5 minutes drive away.  All children need a place to play and opportunities to socialise with their friends, but for some children with disabilities & additional needs, accessing community facilities can prove challenging and sometimes impossible.

Last couple of class parties for Reilly have gone pretty well so I had high hopes for today.  Mini panic en-route when he realised we weren’t headed to Smyths but was soon resolved with a couple of photographs of the centre on his ipad. The centre has just reopened after a big refurbishment so I was looking forward to having a nosey around.

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The Tim Lamb Centre is set in the Rising Sun Country Park at Benton nestled behind Asda. The refurbishment includes a £200,000 extension which includes a new café area, kitchen and accessible toilets, new soft play has been fitted and all rooms updated.  There is a games room, toddlers and music room, sensory room, computer room to name a few.  The gardens are enormous and fully equipped – that even includes, rabbits, chickens and goats.

Today was important for me not just because I love to see Reilly with his school friends as minimal as that interaction might be but it gave me a chance to take Ellis my 10 year old along too see Reilly in an environment where he is comfortable and not judged.  

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Ellis struggles with the fact that people look at us and are sometimes very rude.  It also gave Ellis a chance to see that Reilly’s behaviour is not just Reilly playing up, Reilly is not the only one.  We had a good chat with Deborah at the centre about their Sibling scheme and Ellis is really interested in meeting other children who are in the same position as him and is looking forward to joining in with their days out and sessions in.  It may lay to rest some of his questions like why did it have to be me who got an autistic brother, breaks my heart but until you see the disruption within the family unit you cannot begin to understand.

Overall a great afternoon, kids were great, Ellis enjoyed it,  Reilly managed to leave Eve’s birthday present wrapped up which is a first and it gave us parents a chance at feeling, dare I say it normal –  whatever that is just for a little for a bit.

Big Happy Birthday to Eve and thank you for having us x

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Reilly went to a party!

Couple of weeks ago we got Reilly was invited to one of his classmates party, Harry.  This is the first party we’ve actually been able to attend. He’s clocked up a massive 3 invites in his 5.5 years so we were excited and a bit nervous.

Reilly completely understood all of the conversation we had while getting ready, no red wellies aren’t ok for a ball pit. No we don’t take our own juice etc etc.  He understood he was going to a party and was really happy!!  Organised as ever we called at Tesco on the way there for a gift bag then the realisation hit me he was going to have to give a present to someone else and I expected the worst, how on earth was Reilly going to hand over a present.  He loves them, he opens everybody’s at christmas and then some.  Needn’t have worried he navigated Tesco’s like a pro, bent my bank card ramming it in the machine at the till and left kinder egg in hand.  Like a boss.

Party was at The Harvester at North Shields.  It has a separate play area which is pretty huge and the staff were lovely.  Not sure that people really comprehend how much pressure it puts on you as a parent to take your child to these places, children who are prone to meltdowns, stripping off, sensitive to noises and textures; so when we can all flock together its brilliant.  Mess with one, mess with us all.

The only parents we knew were Gary & Sarah who thankfully sing from the same sheet as us and see the humour in most of the shenanigans that accompanies autism and we did have a mini put the world to rights while watching the puzzled looks of neurotypical children trying their best to engage with the kids to be met with stoney silence.  We don’t see other the other parents at school.  Theres no school yard gossip for us, our treasures are transported so it was lovely to see some new faces and exchange some of them knowing, non-judgemental looks when the inevitable happens.

I spent quite a while talking to one of the young barmaids at the end of the bar where Reilly took up residence for about half of the party, right alongside the fruit machines, he loves them.  Every button gets pressed.  She was a bit smitten with our Reilly, heartbreaker of the future apparently.

All in all he did so well and I’m really proud of him.  Only one lying on the floor incident which was quickly brushed off.  He ate 3 chips, I ate about 50, he put his coat on and that was our queue.  Time to leave. He did it, we did it and it wasn’t even painful.

Harrys party was a huge success. The question is should I brave one for Reilly in July?

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Ibiza 

   
Everyone knows how utterly terrified I was to bring Reilly away on holiday so here’s my quick rundown on how it went.

Firstly  I was pretty underwhelmed by Newcastle Airport special assistance.  I downloaded the form from their website as advised and took it with me.  Queue for checking in was pretty big but this assistance form doesn’t cover checking in first (this would be an enormous help to families with autism and other special needs). Reilly was eager to get up the escalators as always and get exploring so we had a few ahem moments while I stood to the side waiting for Shane to reach the desk.

We were fast tracked through security though so that’s great,  not the friendliest of faces but who knows what goes on in his home let’s not be judgey.

We headed for the quiet area near Dixons.  Not sure what I was expecting but not this,  it consists of about 20 seats no different to the others but to the side of Dixons joined to a cafe.  I will eat my hat if anyone in there needed assistance more a seat in a really busy airport.  One granny was tutting at Reilly on his seat backwards to see the planes. She got the death stare.  Not the best.

The girls from Jet2 were bloody fabulous! Reilly defo felt the love that day.
Reilly was dying to board.  He sat and watched the planes the whole time and was loving it. We got on last and took our seats.  He sat down at the window and put on his seatbelt, secured it and left it alone?!?  What was this wizardry? He NEVER keeps a belt on.  He loved it!! I didn’t even need a diazepam!  He fell asleep for an hour during the flight which was brilliant apart from the numb bum  cheek but to be fair I’d take 2 to keep him happy.  He woke on landing and proceeded to have an absolute wobbler as everyone stood up to get bags from overhead lockers, can’t blame him really. He was wild through the airport but luckily it was really quick and we were soon on our way.  I’m so happy it went well Ellis was so anxious about how others would react to Reilly it had made him incredibly anxious bless him.

He LOVES it! Typical no fear Reilly jumping on the water. We’ve been in the sea or pool from 9am til 6pm today he only came out to eat ice creams no 12,13 & 14.

Ellis and I look like lobsters despite factor 50 applied every 20 mins and Ibiza has the best sunset I’ve ever seen but guess who forgot her flash card for her camera!

 The cards I made with Spanish equivalents of I am autistic/non verbal have been an absolute godsend. Quick flash of the card and attitudes are turned on their heads.  The staff are incredible with him.  The lifeguard on the beach who caught Reilly trying to climb his tower says I must take him to swim with dolphins in Tenerife as that is good for autism 😯Families who were a bit dubious of us this morning have been buying the kids water pistols and floaters as they are fascinated by this little beaut who roars louder than a lion but looks like an angel. His tracking device is now on the canopy 2 floors below attached to his minion keyring 🙈.

Lovely people and fabulous time so far.  I’m off clubbing.  Not really , Im watching taggart while kids are asleep,  I’m so cool.

ps EAR DEFENDERS are a godsend if your little one will keep them on.  The plane was incredibly noisy once everyone stood to retrieve their bags from the overhead lockers.