So at the end of May, Chloe was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While it was no surprise to many who know her, it was still something of a shock to the system to have it there in black and white. The assessment reports were upsetting and really hammered things home.
We always strongly suspected Chloe had Autism, problems at home meant we really needed some assistance and diagnosis seemed logical. With a confirmed diagnosis we hoped we would be able to access services and interventions that were not available to us with out the label.
Oh how wrong we were. In Exeter, the Autism team is diagnosis only. They do make some recommendations on their reports, but they don’t actually offer any support and so we found ourselves saying thank you and walking off out into the rest of our lives with our daughter having this diagnosed condition and no support.
Can you imagine rocking up to A&E screaming in pain, them doing an x-ray and finding you have a broken leg and sending you off into the world to find a way to fix it yourself? No of course not, so why was this the case with our daughters autism? What’s worse is that we’re not alone, its a story you’ll hear repeated up and down the country with all sorts of neurological conditions.
Our kids are being failed. It’s been proven that the earlier a child is diagnosed and they can get interventions, the better, as the brain develops there is much more ability to change, learning new behaviours is easier.
You know me, not one to take things lying down I’ve spent months trying to find out what we can do. Camhs tried to close our case, “autism isn’t a mental health issue”. It’s been a dark time with lots of tears and stress from me…”how can they do this?!”, “where do I turn?” and while we still don’t know our way in some areas, I’ve managed to access help and support in others, through research and sheer determination borne of my absolute fury.
Lola starts attending Devon Young Carers this week, so she can have something of her own and meet other youngsters in similar situations. I hope it will be valuable for her.
Chloe’s sensory and dental issue continue to be a problem. The specialist dental service have now done a referral to the Occupational Therapy team in Exeter after seeing my desperation. I think the wait, as always, is lengthy, but I’m hoping some of those sensory issues will be looked at. If the dental service hadn’t done this, I would have done the referral myself.
We have had a “Resource Allocation Assessment” and budget has been approved for Chloe to have an enabler for a few hours a fortnight as well attend groups and activities for kids like her, run by trained professionals. Again, if this isn’t done for you by a professional involved in your child’s life, do it yourself.
In addition the Communications and Interactions Team are going into Chloe’s school to observe and make recommendations. I hope this will help the school really get a handle on Chloe and provide advice for helping her through her school life.
Speech and Languages went into school to assess Chloe and while there’s no further need for their involvement they’ve been incredibly supportive, going above and beyond and giving the school advice and helping get the message home, just because she seems okay at school, doesn’t mean she is okay at school. Again, I did this referral myself.
As for Camhs, well they grudgingly agreed to do three sessions of exposure work with Chloe. They didn’t do that, they have done three family therapy sessions instead, the first with just Graham and I, the second with Lola, Graham and I and the final one will be one hour with Chloe. So they have offered one hour of support to Chloe. They have made it clear they don’t want to help any further. As other things have fallen into place however, it feels like Camhs are less important. I would argue though, that Chloe’s mental health is affected by her Autism and they have a duty of care to help…but its the only battle I cant be bothered to fight.
Finally feels like we’re getting somewhere, I say this tentatively though because we’ve learned the hard way not to be optimistic.
My advice to any parent in a similar situation is this:
Don’t accept what you are told. Don’t settle. Don’t stop fighting. When it feels like you can’t fight any more, keep going. Don’t let people pass the buck. Make people accountable, demand that if they won’t help, they will help you find someone that will. Demand a Team Around the Child Meeting (TAC) and get everyone there, hold them all accountable.
And while all this is going on, and you’re trying to negotiate the system while living with a child who has additional needs, try your hardest to make time for yourself, you need all your strength. Take up a hobby, see friends, read books for fun whatever it is you need to wind down, do it. And find support groups, online or otherwise, find people who know what it’s like, who have either been there, or are going through it themselves, you’ll find other parents a wealth of knowledge about what’s out there and your rights. If you are local to me, Exeter, drop me a line, I can point you in the direction of groups I use or know of.
Just keep fighting.
Gosh I don’t know where the time is going at the moment. It’s been a week since I last blogged, although it’s fair to say that my last post my mind has been elsewhere! Mostly on the kids. We’ve had parents meetings, assessments (no answers yet!), dramas, days out…it’s been non stop.
Speaking of the kids, well they have been trying out a new product, OptiBac Probiotics.
My two are particularly prone to picking up every single bug doing the rounds at school. Chloe doesn’t cope well with illness and finds it very stressful, while not much gets Lola down but it often feels like she’s never 100% well. In addition, Chloe’s eczema is not good at all at the moment.
I’m terribly au fait with probiotics but we’ve been giving them a go.
Children are full of bacteria, good, bad and benign, but recent studies have shown that a dose of good bacteria can decrease the risk of common childhood infections by 25%. Probiotics work in different ways so its good to opt for probiotics specifically for children. Each box contains sachets of powder. You can either purchase a box of 10 or a box of 30 (£6.99 and £16.99 respectively).
Each sachet provides 3 BILLION live cultures and 0.79g of FOS fibres which are well documented for their effectiveness on the different level of the immune response. It’s also worth mentioning that pregnant and nursing mums can also take For Babies and Children as the natural bacteria will pass through to baby either during birth or while nursing.
Practically speaking I was concerned I would never get this product into my kids because they are both so incredibly fussy, one of them has never even taken Calpol. I needn’t have worried. Ideally these need to be taken with a meal, ideally breakfast and as they are flavourless you can just mix them into food or drink. Lola never even noticed these slipped into her milk.
Having only been using these for less than a month its hard to say whether Chloe and Lola have been less prone to bugs but I am totally convinced that there’s no harm in introducing probiotics to their diets, they can only do good, or at worst, nothing. It is worth mentioning that Lola had a cold just over a week ago but it cleared up in record time so I’m inclined to think these are helping to strengthen her immune system.
Time will tell if these make a difference but for now it just feels good to know I’m doing SOMETHING.
I would recommend these for new mums, babies and children up to the age of 12 and I also recommend the reviews section of the website, the reviews are really incredible.
You can purchase OptiBac Probiotics for Babies and Children from the OptiBacProbiotics website, and be sure to check out the rest of the comprehensive range too while you’re there!
*Product received free of charge for review purposes
Delighted today to bring you something a bit different as well as a brilliant giveaway if you have kids.
Chloe and Lola were both lucky enough to receive one of the newest Bratz dolls from the Study Abroad range each. I’m going to do a review first and at the end of the post you can enter my rafflecopter giveaway to win for your own child, or even you if you want!
So we received Sasha who is visiting the UK and Yasmin who is visiting Brazil.
Firstly meet Yasmin.
I especially love the accessories with this one. She has a suitcase and stickers to decorate it and in addition she has a full outfit, a brush, a bangle, a necklace, red phone box earrings and most importantly for visiting the UK, she has a teacup and some lovely biscuits on a plate.’
It’s far to say Lola loves Sasha as much as Chloe loves Yasmin.
Firstly, I know that when I was little, if these were around I would have wanted them, no question, they are bright, fun and attractive. I also love the fact they come with loads of accessories. The accessories are such that they are prone to getting lost easily, but thats where the suitcases and bags come in handy, so you can keep all your bits close to your doll. I also like the fact that they come with a complete other outfit, its lovely for the kids to have that, you don’t often get that included with a doll unless you buy extra outfits. What I also loved was the easy opening to learning about other cultures, of course you can always do this with your children anyway, but I do love that it prompted the questions from my kids. We ended up looking up Brazil and what it looks like, where it is on the map, what things from Brazil are famous…. it was less the case with the Sasha visiting the UK as we live here already, but personally I loved her British outfit. It must also be said that the dolls seem to be really high quality. I will mention that Sasha’s hair has a greasy feel, I believe there is some product on her hair, and I’m all for that if it keeps it sleek and shiny. I am a mother who is tired of combing impossible tangles and knots and frizz out of dolls and toy ponies.
I know there are concerns about the unreal shapes and details of the Bratz dolls and while I do think this is an issue of wider concern, its not one that bothers me a huge amount in this instance because I think the positives outweigh that issue really, and I believe that if I’m teaching my daughters positive attitudes and being a good role model as well as surrounding them with good role models and messages then a doll won’t make a difference.
I am being honest when I say I really love these dolls and would recommend them as quality toys that won’t fall apart, and there is no doubt that there has been great attention to detail paid when they have been designed.
Bratz Study Abroad dolls are available now at all good retailers, including Argos, Asda, Debenhams, Smyths, Tesco, The Entertainer and Toys R Us and the RRP is £24.99.
And with that glowing review I’m delighted to be able to offer you a chance to win a Bratz Study Abroad doll of your own. It will be one of the following and it will be a random selection, so unfortunately if you are the winner you will not be able to choose which one you win, but don’t fear, they are all fabulous!
All terms and conditions can be found within the Rafflecopter widget.
*Dolls were received free of charge for review purposes.
It’s a bit of a weird thing writing a blog about multiple subjects and I’m not entirely sure that it works yet. I have got a lot of new followers lately (hi!) that I’m fairly sure are here for the beauty content (stay tuned for Urban Decay lushness, more Makeup Revolution, and some fab skincare posts) but I wanted to make this blog about something more, something about me, my family and my life, hence the posts about Aspergers, and Migraines and of course Thor based posts. I think those blog posts make my blog a bit more personal, rather than just being another beauty blog as I was before, not that there is anything wrong with that at all, I just wanted to be a bit different this time round.
I’m not sure what people think, but I’m hoping that if you are just here for the beauty posts, you’ll forgive these posts that seem to go off topic from time to time, and either read them or just skip them.
Anyway, short ramble aside, I thought it was about time for an update on Chloe and whats going on with that issue currently.
The short answer is that nothing much has moved on, we are still on the waiting list for assessment, but we now have a second referral in place with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to look at the anxiety and panic issues Chloe has been experiencing. Although, thankfully, that is in a lull at the moment and the daily panic attacks have subsided.
A friend recently sent me this link and I am now suspecting this might be what we are dealing with. Pathological Demand Avoidance, but that said, I am not sure how likely it is that this is something that would only occur at home.
Behaviour wise things are still pretty bad and Lola still takes the brunt of it all and I worry about them both a lot.
I reached out again to the ASD team, stressing again how concerned I am about the long term effects on Lola and while they have said they will come back to me on this, they have replied in the interim saying they share my concern and that it may be a safeguarding issue…cue days of high anxiety and panic and waiting for Social Services to turn up on my doorstep. I’m calm and rational again but I still don’t know what they mean by that (although I understand the concept of safeguarding) or what it could mean for us.
I’ve lost my temper with the school, when I went in in my panic about the mention of “safeguarding” they were surprised and said that they didn’t realise it was that much of a problem. Clearly they have not listened to a word I’ve said or paid any attention to my tears over the last two years. The support worker they hooked us up with, the one who offered such promise as he seemed so fantastic has disappeared. He went off to do some kind of placement for a couple of weeks and we never heard from him again. No one contacted us, no one told us until I went in and asked, and they apologised because “they didn’t realise he was so involved with us”… so we are back to having no support at all again. With nothing offered in its place.
And then there’s the dental issues, last week, Chloe had six teeth removed, due to sensory issues she had five seriously decayed teeth and one wobbly one that had been wobbly for nigh on a year. Again, I’ve been flagging up to professionals since she was a baby that there were issues with her teeth and oral hygiene…and now this… and I don’t really see that we won’t be back again in another couple years having more out, because we’ve got no advice on how to help her with this. The operation itself was upsetting, as it would be for any parent, but it was short, the most frightening thing for her was being put to sleep, but for me the most distressing thing was her belief that she wasn’t real when she woke up, she was frantically pinching herself and crying “Am I real” “Am I here”…. awful, I hope we don’t have to endure that again. She’s had that reaction to bad dreams before, woken up and not believed she was alive, thought she was actually dead. It’s a horrible thing for any parent.
As always I feel like I want to stress that despite our issues, I’m truly appreciative of the fact that on a scale, our problems are fairly minor, and I’m thankful for that, so many have it so much worse.
So, time passes but nothing changes…but lets just have it on record, that its not for want of trying on my part! And sometimes, the girls actually seem to like each other.
Me and Lip Smackers have a long history! Back in the 90’s there was a chain of stores called Bow Bangles here in the UK, it was bought in the mid nighties by Claires Accessories, and thats how it still is today.
When Bow Bangles arrive in Exeter it was a treasure trove the like of which we’d never seen before and my friends and I were particularly addicted to Lip Smacker lip balms. Prior to learning about Lip Smackers, your only flavoured lip balm options were Chapsticks and this was a whole new world of lip balm pleasure and quite possibly the reason I still have more lip balms than I really know what to do with these days!
These are the ones my friends and I were totally into.
I was really pleased to be sent a Lip Smacker Coca-Cola Party Pack* to try out.
My absolute favourite is the Grape Fanta, with Cherry Coca-Cola coming second, but they are all lovely! Chloe likes the classic Coca-Cola flavour and Lola likes Pineapple Fanta. They don’t just taste and smell good, they are very moisturising and protective too.
I’m happy to see the Lip Smacker brand going strong, they will always have great appeal to all ages I think.
This Party Pack is £12 and available from Claires along with lots of other Lip Smackers…. I’ve got my eye on the Disney Frozen ones (Blueberry for Elsa and Coconut for Olaf) but again I think it’ll be a battle with Chloe and Lola!
*Product received free of charge for review purposes
Just sending over a quick post to apologise for the radio silence!
Not only is half term and by the time the kids have gone to bed I’m too tired to blog, but its been super busy with my birthday and Lola’s birthday and party!
I’ve got a list of things waiting to be reviewed here, some really awesome products, so I can’t wait to get to them, I just need some spare time!!
Back as soon as possible and thanks for sticking around! 🙂
When it comes to branding and packaging, I’m an absolute sucker and here’s a new brand who I think are getting it absolutely spot on.
This fantastic little suitcase turned up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago.
Those fantastic stickers were dotted all over the case, its very appealing and not just to me, Chloe and Lola were keen to know what was inside too. Fortunately for them the products contained within were from the fabulous Professor Scrubbington’s Emporium of Clean*.
A small but comprehensive range was contained within, with absolutely gorgeous packaging. The complete range, as shown, includes a Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair and Body Wash, Hand and Face Wash as well as a roll on Deodorant. I really love how some of the products have a little tale on them…
The entire range, with the exception of the deodorant, is based on foam. The principle being that foams are easy to apply, economical and they don’t slip and slide out of small hands when in the bath tub, they stay there until applied to the body or hair.
To activate the Magically Foaming Formulas, you simply pull down the tip of the “lid” firmly (which can then remain permanently open as it won’t leak) and squeeze the bottle.
Being for young folk dear old Professor Scrubbington opted to keep things as natural as possible, so the products are Paraben and SLS free and the scent is gorgeous and used throughout the range. The scent itself can best be described as fresh and clean, and importantly unisex.
I pondered what to do with the deodorant, with 5 and 8 year olds it wasn’t something I’d thought about giving the kids yet, but as its not an antiperspirant I gave it to Chloe. At age 8 I don’t think using a product under her arms daily is a bad habit to get into at all, she loves the smell and loves using it.
Both of the kids are really enjoying using the products and I’m enjoying having fragrant kids. They’ve always loved bath time but they are loving it even more at the moment, there’s something really fun and novel about using foam for them, but its not just a novelty, its practical too. Washing with foam uses around two thirds less product as a liquid soap, and less water too!!
It is worth adding also that Chloe has really quite bad eczema and these products have not aggravated it in anyway. Probably due to the lack of nasties in the formulas. I hear there are plans for Professor Scrubbinton to add new products to his range of concoctions and we are excited to see what they may be!
Prices start at £5 per product, but you can buy the whole range for £20 with free postage on the Scrubbington’s Website which is a great deal and I think I’ll go and order it myself in a moment because we’re definitely going to be needing backups of all these.
*Products received free of charge for review purposes
As a Mum to 5 and 8 year olds, I learned a few things along the way. I’m no expert on parenting, far from it, as you’ll know from previous blog posts I have more than my fair share of stresses, worries, doubts and parenting mistakes, but despite this, there are a couple of things that I learned along the way that I feel can benefit any parent, but in particular new parents, or about-to-be parents.
Giving advice when unasked for is one of my absolute pet hates and this starts the minute the world learns you are pregnant. People have opinions on what you should wear (seriously!), what you do, what you eat, pretty much everything. My first piece of advice is follow official guidelines and take advice from friends and family you trust, and always ask for advice when needed, but those people who just throw unsolicited advice at you willy nilly? Ignore. As a new parent you are plagued with doubts often enough without people throwing more spanners in the works, and sad to say, some of those people will be people close to you.
My second piece of advice is something I’d been told first time round. Listen to your instincts and don’t sweat it. In the first year of Chloe’s life I worried about everything. Obviously on reflection, we now have reasons as to why some of the problems we had were such problems, but worrying about them and trying to fix them made very little difference.
Take weaning for example, from six months old to a year old, Chloe refused all solid food, she either refused everything or threw everything up as soon as it went in her mouth. I spent six months worrying myself to death, repeatedly visiting health visitors (who just kept insisting “you must make her eat”, with no advice on how to actually do that), but thing is, she wasn’t losing weight, she wasn’t suffering and not long after she hit one, she started eating solids. All that worry, all that stress for nothing. When she was good and ready she did it. As an 8 year old, she doesn’t eat everything but she eats well and she’ll try anything and everything at least once and she LOVES food.
Obviously, when your baby won’t eat, you must see a professional, you must make sure they are not losing weight, its important, but don’t worry yourself endlessly, like I did.
Another example would be potty training. We tried potty training Chloe at 2 in earnest. It took months but she was starting nursery at 2 and a half, and they needed her to be potty trained, so we had to try. I read books, I tried everything. There’s a big thing about potty training, in that if you start it, you need to see it through, putting a child back into nappies sends mixed messages, so once you move to underpants, you have to stick with it…it’s all well and good until your child is so petrified of going to the toilet they just won’t go. Resulting in days of constipation, pain and huge amounts of distress. Again I consulted professionals, “oh have you tried reward charts?”… eventually, after a course of laxatives and deciding I wasn’t going to put her through this any more, I put her back in nappies. We tried potty training again when she hit 3. She got it straight away, no upset, no stress, no pain, no medication. Again, huge amounts of stress and worry and upset, for nothing. When my child was ready, she did.
Honestly there were a lot of things like this, things where I worried myself to death because we weren’t doing what I thought we should be doing (or OTHER people thought we should be doing), but things that all came good in the end.
Let me be clear, when things don’t work out as they should with small kids, it always pays to seek some professional advice (not least to rule out medical issues), but in my opinion, unless your child is suffering, then there’s no point worrying, in most cases, our children will reach targets when they are ready, we are all different after all!
When dear Lola came along, I didn’t really worry about anything, I learned the hard way… there’s no point!
I try very hard to not care about ageing, after all, there’s nothing I can do about it. Yes there are fillers and botox and I’m not opposed to the idea of those things at all, but alas, they are far beyond my financial means, so no, there’s not really anything I can do about it. I gave up smoking a few years ago and I look after my skin but I’m fighting a rapidly incoming tide.
My grey hairs are coming thick and fast now, I’ve taken my hair a lighter to try and make them less obvious when my roots come through and it does work, but still, there’s billions of them and they start appearing within a fortnight of having my roots done.
My face though, things are going downhill really fast. I hit 40 last year and since then things have started to deteriorate quickly. Until a year or two, I was always someone that people thought looked younger than I was. It’s not the case any more, fine lines under my eyes are not so fine any more and I’m getting some pigmentation going on there too, it looks like I have dark circles all the time, but its actually little patches of coloured skin which is unfortunate, and then there’s the loss of firmness, everything is starting to sag. My make up routine is having to change also, eyeliner isn’t as easy to apply on crepe-y lids and I’ve started having to wear one of those clear lip liners with bright shades because of colour bleeding. And thread veins. Red veins on my face that shouldn’t be there!
And then there’s my hands. I bought this amazing set of rings from Topshop a couple of months ago, it had some normal sized rings and some midi rings… well when I put them on my hands it became clear that that style of ring looks better on younger hands. I hadn’t even realised my hands had aged, until my midi rings nestled into the wrinkles!
And then there’s the clothes. The clothes I love are all for people much younger and much slimmer than me. And yes, I can do something about my weight and yes I do feel that people should wear whatever they want to wear and whatever they feel comfortable in, and in fact I’d defend anyone’s right to do so, except me. No, no, there are things I definitely should not be wearing.
Oh and there’s the fact that in my head, I still feel 20. Its a bit hard to look in the mirror sometimes and see a 40 year old face when you feel so young. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crying myself to sleep each night, I don’t think about it a huge amount, but I do think about it, and its partly linked to mortality I think, not just vanity, growing old reminds me that I’m going to get older and eventually one day, die. It doesn’t help that kids are notoriously blunt about such things…”Mum, cos you’re getting older you’re going to die one day aren’t you?” was last night’s gem from Lola.
Generally speaking I’m fairly pragmatic about ageing, but I can’t help feeling worried a bit, I don’t like what is happening to me. I think maybe its a midlife crisis, and adjustment period now I’m 40. I can’t imagine I’m going to feel like this forever, but if there’s anyone out there that has had this adjustment period of getting used to their new older self, please tell me how it affected you and how you got over it, if you did!
How’s your Easter been? Lovely that the weather has turned s sunny for the second week of the school holidays… alas that means bad times for my migraines, but I learned a long long time ago that moaning about the sunshine causes other people to view you as a killjoy, even if it wrecks your health!
The school holidays have been a bit up and down for us, Chloe has spent half of it being spectacularly horrible to her sister, her sister has been particularly sensitive to everything, crying a lot. Both kids have been suffering with a hint of cold and some nasty coughs, and my ears have been all congested making me dizzy and my migraines have been pretty bad. Poor old Thor had a tooth removed yesterday and he’s feeling pretty upset about the whole thing today.
That aside we’ve had some pretty nice times, and some pretty good chocolate.
There were walks with tree climbing and duck feeding.
There are still a few days left before the girls return to school, they are out today with Nana at Crealy and I’m sat here blogging, waiting for the trail end of a migraine to disappear, but I’d imagine we’ll just be relaxing, with maybe a trip to the park tomorrow, winding back down before school starts again. I’ve got extensive notes to write up, ready for my appointment with the Specialist Autistic Spectrum Disorder team next week, re Chloe. I’m going to make sure I go armed to the teeth with information to support what I’m saying about there having been issues at home! After this Easter break, I’ve got more to say than ever.
All in all though, it’s not been a bad break, sometimes the school holidays can be unbearable, this one was about 50/50, still, I’ll be glad when life is back to normal and school starts up, it’ll be nice not to hear crying and arguing all day every day for a while!