Well after weeks of hard work fundraising by the Beaver Inn and all its customers, and the children counting down the days, and hours, the day was finally here, we were off to Legoland!!
What an amazing day it was! The sun shone and the traffic was kind.
All the children were so amazing, and over came many challenges to enjoy the day, but armed with symbols and brilliant T.Shirts from Lazy Cow Printing they coped brilliantly!
One of the big hits of the day was definitely the coach, or more specifically driver Pete, Bovy Tours did a wonderful job kindly providing the coach for the trip, and Pete has made a lasting impression on the children, if he ever needs an extra job he could do a good trade babysitting! Already I have had requests for him to go round to play and one even wanted him to take us on another trip....to Vegas!
But on a serious note, there are so many people that helped make the day happen, firstly to the customers at The Beaver Inn who all donated there hard earned cash. Premier Foods for their support. Sharon Harris and her daughter for the lovely candy floss that the children enjoyed very much! Martin Riccard for feeding everyone, and to our photographer for the day Roberta at Red Hot Chilli.
and last but not least...too all the families and children at ASD Ashford who continue to inspire me everyday.
It's come to our attention, that today some of our members in Ashford have received letters from KCC withdrawing school transport. For those who have under 8's, within 2 miles of school or 3 miles for over 8's.
If this applys to you please get in touch in touch.
At the end of the month we are off to Centre Parcs for 4 days, fantastic, can't wait!
Except it already feels like a military operation, traveling with children's is eventful enough, add an ASD child into the mix and it becomes a tad more stressful!
So research needs to be done! Today I have downloaded and studied restaurant menus, so I know which ones will have food for him to eat. There's a lovely long list of things to do which can be pre booked, each needing careful thought as to whether there's anything he would happily do. A list of supplies for the lodge of all his usual favorites, god forbid they didn't have the right brand/colour/flavours!
Then there's the preparation for him, showing him pictures and videos and getting him used to the idea that we are going so as to avoid the anxiety of the unknown.
There will be some who read this thinking OTT, why bother? Because putting in the effort now means I will have a happy relaxed child when we get there and we can all enjoy ourselves, that's why!
So yesterday was our fundraising sponsored walk in the park with the children.
We all set off in beautiful sunshine from the fountain in Victoria Park, Ashford. A gentle stroll along to first play park. All the children had fun, we had some amazing climbers, as I looked around at happy children, it occurred to me for the first time ever the ASD kids were outnumbering the neuro-typical's!
We then moved off to the next park a bit further on for more fun, and then on to the fountain again.
It was as we were on the last bit, I was walking with 3 amazing boys (slightly biased one was my son!) these 3 boys had discovered a mutual love of Minecraft and the new Autcraft server especially for those on the spectrum. Now it is sad to say that I do know a bit about Minecraft as I do play with my son as I think it's important to share his world. So being able to join in as they exchanged usernames, and talked of Enderchests, and Diamond armour, scored me some serious cool mum points, they even offered to build me a house next to theirs!
But what thrilled me more was the fact they there were so completely happy, to have found friends who got it the same as they did, just being completely accepted.
After the walk all the families were invited back to the Beaver Inn who provided a BBQ, Candy Floss and bouncy castle, all for free for the families to enjoy. I can't say how much this meant to families. It was lovely to watch as everyone chatted and the children intereacted with one another each in their own way.
Yes the day raised some much appreciated funds, but, more than that it raised awareness, created acceptance, and formed friendships that will continue to grow.
Ok, so I don't normally blog mainly as I am
not much of a writer, but I have been asked a lot lately about the group. Many
members have been there right from the start, but 2 years on many members are
joining a larger, more established group, so I thought I would share a bit of
how it started.
In early 2011, my son had been officially
diagnosed a while by then, yet I felt really alone. I didn't know any other
parents with a child on the spectrum, the mainstream school situation we were in
wasn't good, and friends just didn't understand. Not being able to find what I
needed at the time, in terms of support that was accessible to me, I turned to
Facebook. I have always been a Facebook girl, so one afternoon I decided if I
couldn't find what I needed I would do it myself. So I started a Facebook group.
I needed something that I could access when I had time, and was convenient, I
remember thinking there has to be a few parents in Ashford like me. Well it
seems I was right, at nearly 250 members later!
The group started small, but steadily grew. It
was while I was pregnant with my second child, that those on group asked about
regular face to face meet ups. So that was what I did, not as easy as you would
first think, as I was told a few times an ASD specific group wasn't needed in
Ashford. Well I disagreed and it certainly wasn't true from the members of the
group at that time. Eventually I met with the Children's Centre in Ashford, they
were amazing, and without them we wouldn't of got started. So with a venue
sorted at The Willow Center, our monthly support group meetings started in June
2012. After a suggestion from a friend that a website might be a good idea, I
spent the summer putting one together myself, that was launched in the
September. I am always quietly proud of the website, not because it's the best
in the world, but because at the time it was something I thought I couldn't do.
For the first year the group ran entirely out
of my own pocket, the costs weren't high but they were adding up. So just before
Christmas of 2012 we began
fundraising for the first time, and were able to have a small kitty to
start the new year.
This year we have celebrated Autism awareness
day, with bubble blowing in the park, ran several lots of training for parents,
and continue to support parents where needed by email, phone and
It's become apparent recently that some people
assume there's several people running ASD Ashford, a natural assumption.
Although I am very blessed to have a few people around me who I am able to go to
and ask their opinions on things and who it has to be said have often had more
faith in my ability than I have at times, it is just me. Yes it keeps me busy,
yes it's hard work at times, would I change it? Not a chance!
A few months ago now Paula and I attended a training day called App's Can Do That, and was run by Kent Communication and Assistive Technology Service. It was for Apple devices but some of these apps are available on Android too. Below are PDF's for you to look at with lists of the various apps that we covered.
Don't forget it's our ASD Support meeting tomorrow 10.30 till 12.30 at the willow centre Brookfield road :-)
Wow what a good week we have had!
Bubble Day was amazing, could believe so many people came, a way to celebrate autism awareness day. We even made from page of the paper! Some beautiful pictures of the children. http://kentmessenger.newsprints.co.uk/slideshow/bykw/p/u/0/2/KE%20BUBBLES%20020413
Then on Thursday we ran our own parent training, providing training that was much needed, yet not be provided. Austin Hughes from Anna Kennedy Online travelled from North Hants to join us for the day. The feedback from parents was brilliant, and it is definately the first of many!
Look forward to seeing you all today, to help celebrate world autism awareness day! The sun is shining, perfect weather for blowing bubbles! :-)