Another School Sports Day?! Noooooooo!!!

Here is Caleb’s little sister ❤️ Today, she took part in three events at the children’s Primary School Sports Day.

In the first and second individual races, she was first across the finish-line, and then in the team relay event her group came second! She was absolutely on Top of the World, and basqued in all the deserved praise.

Her 9 year old brother also picked up 2nd place for the Long Distance Race, and came 3rd in the Sprint. He enthusiastically carried on his own Sports Day in the garden, with his sister, as soon as they returned home 😀

To be honest, the pair of them had been buzzing since bedtime, last night. Excited. Nervous. Going to dream about it! Today, searching for us in the crowd. Big waves!

But that is just NOT the case for Caleb, our oldest, 11 year old, Awesomely Aspergers boy. Things couldn’t be further from this happy picture!

It has always mystified me how much discomfort Sports Day brings Caleb, on EVERY level. 

Is it the change from the usual school day routine? Motor control challenges? Team events? Physical exertion? Public praise? The disappointment? Crowds of spectators?…

I’ve never really researched it as an Aspergers issue, but I can tell you that Caleb and Sports Day, for whatever reason, have a troubled history!

Last year seemed a lot better because Caleb had a gentle-natured male teacher who he massively looked up to, and the competitive events were reduced to a short period, with fun activities and group games taking up the majority of the day. Caleb even happily acknowledged we were there watching (!), which was amazing because usually my presence only seems to exacerbate his misery. Playing football that day, he regularly called over to us, and seemed very proud!

But having recently moved to a new school, Caleb struggled today, albeit he bounced back quickly when home. He talked about the positives much more than in his younger years. He was keen to point out what he’d succeeded at. Happy classmates didn’t criticise that he was allowed to sit out of the sprint race. No one insulted him.

But not a pleasurable day!

So I tried to put myself in his Aspergers shoes…. And this is the ‘experience’ I imagined…

Dazzling sun or drizzle assault on skin; What will these next hours hold? 

Shoe laces have (AGAIN) come undone. Fingers shake as I bend down.

DON’T look for those familiar faces in the crowd. A frenzy of excited children, surround. A rush of activity, where to now? 

Sit there! Get in line! Get ready! Look smartAn in-charge voice rings out LOUD across the field. 

A high pitched whistle blows. Cheers and chanting explode. From somewhere my own name is called. “Faster! Faster! Come on! You can do it!”…Every stranger’s eye on that finish line, high expectations abound. 

The scent of cut grass mixes with sweaty bodies.  This body, no longer my own… Heavy limbs, prickly skin, aching chest. Breathing shallow.

Can’t swallow. 

Senses in overdrive, yet feeling my energy leave. So weary.

Team points, others look to me… So much for just blending into the background. 

Everyone else happy, celebrating community?

Pressure. Scrutiny. Competition. 

Broken routine. Adapted rules.

1st? 2nd? 3rd? Not today. Yet to know HOW THAT feels.

But all the fun’s in the taking part, I’m told.

……………………………..

Glad I didn’t keep Caleb off school, despite secretly wishing for rain! Proud this is another tough area he is facing and navigating his way through.

Maybe I need to look into it more, to help him keep moving onwards and upwards. I can see, from a quick google search, we’re far from alone in this challenge.

If you can relate in ANY way, or have your own insight, I really would love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences 😊

Another Sports Day over!!✅

And Caleb already has a smile back on his face, on the same day! 

This is most definitely progress ❤️

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When Laughter Matters

Facebook Memory; February 2014The year Caleb gained a Step-Dad ⭐️

Mum: Caleb, can I ask you something? Do you think you’d feel brave enough to get up in front of everyone, at the wedding, and read something out from the Bible, down a microphone? 

Caleb: [deep, hesitant breath] Ye-eess. Sure Mum, I can do that for you.  [Pause] YES! [more certain this time, beams a big smile]… Actually, I’d REALLY like to!

Mum: That’s brilliant Caleb, thanks!

Caleb: [Walking away, he continues to himself…] I think I’ll start by telling everyone a joke first, of course…

😆 Haha!

An ‘awkward sense of humour’ is a commonly identified trait of Aspergers with inappropriate timing and misplaced content, if given the chance! BUT! I just don’t think social cues are the be all and end all here. 

There is SO VERY much about Caleb’s communal, energised, wholesome, fun-seeking outlook that, to me, is just heart-squeezingly special. Hilarious too. Enviable. Maybe even more advanced than the status quo?

Take me. When did I last properly laugh out loud, with abandon? Today? The beginning of this week? The weekend before? I’m actually not sure, off the top of my head. Not that I’m a misery! I’d like to think I’m rather cheerful! 😂

Can you recall when that last, involuntary, bubbling up feeling overtook your body?

For Caleb, interacting playfully ALWAYS comes hand in hand with the sort of laughter that has him gasping for breath!

Things don’t get in the way. He doesn’t care about looks, how popular you are, nor about age, gender, ethnicity, background, sexuality, disabilty … Or any other label you can think of.

Face-to-face with you, Caleb will just accept you, wanting NOTHING MORE than to laugh with you. LOTS.

 LOUDLY!

Tactile and affectionate, he was saying to me only this week, about high school I’ll be friends with anyone Mum. I’m not going to write anyone off, so long as they are nice back to me, and nice to my friends’ 

I read somewhere recently (unverified!), that babies laugh up to 300 times a day, and yet the happiest adult compares with a vastly lower 20 times a day, and even still – the typical 40-year-old laughs, on average, just three to four times daily.

I’d LOVE to have the capacity, like Caleb,  for laughter to override the challenges… wider worries dissolving: The house is a bomb site  – The bathroom STILL needs cleaning – I just watched something traumatic on the news, AGAIN. What is WRONG with the world?? – I’m in a rush – People are watching, this is embarrassing, what will they think? – Just had an argument, feeling sad -Got caught in the rain – hair is frizzy – Feeling fat … It’s-been-a-lonnnnnnnng-week...
But for Caleb, laughter is a regular,  in-built release, overriding all the negatives and anxieties. What an awesome gift!

Granted, he does rely heavily on his agenda and interests driving play. Caleb’s not remotely convincing in pretending to have fun, if the activity isn’t all that attractive!

And yes. You could argue he lacks some of the subtleties and timing, which more readily connect his peers…

But what I wouldn’t give sometimes, to strip away the sarcasm, synicism, caution and weariness – and just enjoy daily, good ol’ Laurel and Hardy Slap-stick, TRUSTING, fun!

I think one school teacher captures Caleb’s nature beautifully, in a single end of year report paragraph:

Caleb’s enthusiasm for life and the way he throws himself into each day with a smile on his face, and a spring in his step, is purely infectious, leading him to being well liked by adults and peers alike. He’s SUCH a keen, fun-natured learner, full of confidence, always excitable and enthusiastic…and I know he will continue to shine!

Summer 2010: Caleb leaps onto the school stage,taking his turn to shake the teachers hand, and receive his year-end Learning Journal ❤️

Today, compared to your average 11 year old boy – Caleb laughs a LOT. Regardless of any awkwardness! And that makes me VERY happy.

Research identifies laughter at the heart of health and well-being: It basically ‘switches on’ our immune systems; reducing levels of stress hormones, increasing health-enhancing hormones, neurotransmitters, and infection-fighting antibodies; and improving blood flow to the heart—all resulting in greater relaxation and resistance to illness, improved mood, sleep, short term memory, creativity, relationships, and overall positive outlook!

I’M IN! 

How about you?!

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Living Happy. One Family’s Way…

MY LIFE, transformed by four other little lives, brought into the world, now ages 11, 9, 7 and (almost) 1!

As a parent, what should I want most for my children, if not HAPPINESS?

And yet my Awesomely Aspergers boy, in particular, can have the BEST DAY [with a lot of effort, from others, to this end], and STILL his thoughts refill with broader, perceived challenges in his life 😬 

So how do we equip ourselves, as a family, to be truly happy and fulfilled?

Certainly, it is not to say that life needs to be without challenge, effort, or even failure. I’m definitely NOT saying that. Finding purpose and stepping towards our dreams, through the challenges, surely makes good outcomes most special; ownership, a building block to self esteem. Action becomes committed and motivated. AND ‘the learns’ keep the door open to change and new possibilities!

IN A NUTSHELL, our family outlook has somehow developed three pursuits: 

  1. COURAGE, in the face of the tough stuff
  2. to keep OPTIMISTIC about the future
  3. to be GRATEFUL in the day to day 

Not that I find any of that easy myself, ha! I naturally focus on the bad moments, dwell on them, over analyse them. I usually search for a way I could have done things better. Feel guilt. Pointless stuff.

It’s not about pretending it’s all a breeze though, is it? Learning to mask reality with surface glossiness? Sometimes, life, work, health and relationships ARE tough. I’m blessed with a husband who is masterfully calming when my hysterical waterworks switch on! And he’s very good at caring deeply, and showing it.

Yet there’s a few practical things we have introduced, daily, to help MODEL AND BUILD these traits within family life, especially for Caleb, whose inner voice remains very challenge-focused.

For example, as the children go to sleep every night, we talk to each, in turn, about what they are going to dream about. There is a rule; it has to be forward thinking and positive. Whether that be a birthday party next week, or a future dream career, we encourage the children to end the bedtime conversation by naming a positive thing they are looking ahead to.

On the fridge we often use a visual countdown for bigger, exciting events, which everyone gets involved in updating. We sometimes add pictures, linked to the EXCITING THING, a talking point that keeps the positive anticipation at the forefront. 

Equally, we enjoy looking back on photos of past adventures too.


En route in the car, day-to-day, we regularly list and reflect back upon the highlights of our weekend, week, month, year… We name the good times and get to know each other’s preferences while we’re at it. WE LAUGH TOGETHER! It reminds us that even if this week is tough, there have been plenty of happy times recently, and there will be more to come. 

Similarly, at the end of the school day, we each share two positives, no matter how small, before we launch into any difficulties about our day.

For my son Caleb, I liken troubleshooting any perceived challenge, to feeling travel sick and being unable to get off a merry-go-round! No progress, no agreed solutions, and stubborn pessimism! But if there is a shift of focus, from extinguishing the negative, to looking instead to his character strengths, perceived skills and reflecting upon attractive end goals; this positivity counteracts the pessimistic thoughts, and helps us to move forwards!

When it comes to courage, we tell each other it’s NOT about being fearless. Nor is it about avoidance! Perhaps instead, the first step to courage is self awareness? Knowing what makes us each anxious or uncomfortable, and naming it! And then asking ourselves if it’s important? Is our fear restricting our happiness? If so, let’s find strategies and incentives to face into it, and cheerlead one another, instead of labelling each other negatively, or humiliating one another. Supporting one another is key. In our house we try to promote lovingness, above being right! A work in progress !!

You see, it may be our journey to seek out courage, optimism and thankfulness. BUT, what I want MOST OF ALL, even above these traits, is for the children to GROW TO BE KIND; In my mind, this is the heart of happiness. What’s life without kindness? Without relationship? If the pursuit of happiness is me-first motivated, with jealousy and bitter gossip snapping at its heel, and the pain of unresolved past hurts lurking under the surface, then fun-times or success surely cannot sooth, for long, a deeper brokenness.

Not that I’m in the unbroken camp! Far from it…But I CHOOSE gratitude, and loving deeply goes a long way to helping me feel very fulfilled. It also acts as a balm to the sometimes sharp slap of bad bits, hurtful things, outside of my control.

Yes, I’ll own up now, the Cinderella story ‘The Slipper and The Rose’ was my all time favourite movie as a child; and when the latest ‘Cinderella’ film came out, whilst others found the phrase “Have Courage, and be kind” utterly nauseating, I was (internally) shouting a massive, emotional, ‘AMEN!’ in the aisle…!

Which takes me to my final thought.

I talk to God. I believe in a relational God. I find just TALKING, out loud, to a greater power, liberating.

In all my efforts to be the best Mum I can be, I am reminded…

I’m human.

Me. You. And the Beautiful Game.

Me and football.

The best sport ever. Also known as “The Beautiful Game.”

I’m a Man U fan. A big one. I love them because: They’re the best team ever, with Wayne Rooney, my favourite player … and there is no local team where I’ve moved to.

I used to support Hull City when I was younger and lived nearer. (WELL DONE on getting into the Premier League, by the way, City fans!!👏🏻…but watch out, Man U rules the FA! 😜)

Obviously I’m also a huge England fan. What is it with the rest of modern English kids I see, though, who support Argentina, Portugal or Germany as they have the so called “best players.” ??!! 

Going to Wembley was totally epic.

I’ll admit, when I’m watching a game, if my team are loosing in the last 10 minutes, I usually leave the room, end up missing the end of the match, and feel really angry. Mum says the team needs me to be loyal, to the end, that the support might be needed to get an equaliser … But if it gets to that late stage I just feel so wound up, I loose the winning feeling and sometimes give up. I need to work on that maybe!

When I play football I’m Goal Keeper, Centre Back, Centre Defending Mid or Centre Mid as I’m not the best at the odd side or strike, plus I’m:

  1.  The strongest tackler
  2.  Best GK, at school..

But don’t underestermate me; I can still score a woppa of a goal! Also my dream number is 15 as you see on my Man U T-Shirt.

I used to go to a football skills club at the Hull Stadium, run by Hull Tigers FC. It was really nice so I wanted to join another club, now we’ve moved… but mum says she doesn’t think I enjoyed it that much, that I complained all the time afterwards, about players/the ref/team selection not being fare. But I disagree.

Mum reckons I’d be better as a Coach/ Manager one day instead, with the good advice I give to everyone on the pitch.

I LOVE spending time creating my dream team. But, about my favourite players or dream team, I can get a bit…well…more…serious about it at times if people deliberately annoy me, that is. I know you’re probably joking, but it still winds me up. If family say something bad about my favourite players or my ideas, for example, they may be laughing, but how’s that funny?

My brother supports a different team to me. Awkward! Just this week we’ve agreed not to play each other’s teams on FIFA anymore, unless they’re selected to play by the Barclays league. And we’ve said not to laugh at each other if we score.

You see, I love football. But other people’s opinions & preferences. That’s sometimes a problem! I do have more of a joke now though, with my mates, about our differences.

After all…

FOOTY IS EPICALLY FUN! 

A Quick Gaming Lowdown

So for my new friends, and all of you lovely lot out there …

This week I’ve decided to list some awesome computer games, not write anything to do with me personally this week, just computer games!

So on this quick lowdown I’ll show you THE best free apps and computer games on earth!

BEST FREE APPS:

  • Clash of clans
  • Pixel gun 3D pocket edition
  • Lineup 11
  • Bad piggies HD
  • Fifa 16

… and they’re all FREE!

BEST WII/XBOX GAMES EVER:


  • Star wars battle front
  • Uncharted 2
  • Uncharted 3
  • Minecraft (PS4 edition, not downloaded)
  • Fifa 16

Also, one more thing… if you see, on any app, or a comment on youtube, from the “AwesomelyAspergersboy” – or on clash of clans: “Coolchamp” – please ask to be an ally or friend on the game, or give a like to me!

Thanks for visiting! 😀

From MrC.

Embracing Change, Naming the Challenge, and Love is All you Need!

Following on from my ‘lack of empathy’ thoughts in a previous blog, there’s this other Aspergers trait I’d once blanket-accepted too, which has become less and less of an issue for us;

That CHANGE is always going to be a MEGA TOUGH mountain for Caleb.

But no. Not really. You see, I now realise change wasn’t the problem, my approach was, and the fear of the challenge  …

Yes! Caleb loves, loves, LOVES his routines. And there’s comfort in the detail and order!

He will: Arrange clean clothes for the day ahead on the same spot of the bedroom floor, ready to dress in the same, given order. He will not put on his socks before his t-shirt! He prefers not to dress before breakfast. The bedroom curtains are only opened once all his morning tasks are complete. AND he’s actually disappointed with himself if he sleeps in past the usual time of rising. To lie-in? Yuk!

ANY house rule we have for the morning, needs to be fully justified or at least Caleb needs to be CERTAIN I think it’s absolutely necessary, before it will become part of his routine. On the spot – ‘BECAUSE I’M THE MUM AND I SAY SO!!’ –  Not Cool, Mum!

And yet, Caleb also LOVES to experiment with different food combinations from the cupboard for breakfast, wear a new top, listen to a new CD, break apart and create a new Lego model, try a new game on his tablet… a brand of toy, remarketed, brings fresh interest; a new model of car to study – such ‘upgrades’ are exciting news!

For Caleb, new experiences and surroundings, however, are approached much more cautiously. I wonder though, is it actually the ‘change’ itself, or is the anxiety more about things being ‘unexpected’ ? 

Caleb may be much more alert than others to a new environment, and safety-conscious, but so long as his senses are not overloaded (eg. A funfair), then the years have lead him to enjoy and invite a range of new activities, and an acceptance and tolerance of new routines and surroundings, despite any initial discomfort.

Caleb surprised us all by giving gliding a go, aged 10! Totally his choice. ‘No way!’ was his first thought. But by the time the day came to go and watch, he ended up asking to do it!

  • He mastered heights at Go-Ape, even the zip wire!
  • Go-karting (bit tough, the vibrations!)
  • Laser quest,  in the dark!
  • A trip enclosed and suspended on the London Eye
  • The crowds of Wembley stadium, to watch England play.

All things we’d have avoided like the plague, once upon a time!

When Caleb was younger he found shopping centres hard. He has  never had a big ‘meltdown’, but he’d TOO-cheerfully ask “Shall we go now Mum? Shall we go home?” every five seconds. No, we didn’t stop going! And today there’s no problem at all. No fear.

I also remember the worry over a Premier Inn bed, the first time we visited one. We made the decision then, to keep using the same hotel so that the adventure might be new – the destination – but Caleb now finds Premiere Inn and the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet a second home. We’ve learnt that having things that are familiar in the mix is key, family relationships constant, and time to process the unexpected… Now Caleb is happy at any hotel, because he makes the connection. This is family time.

I once wanted to protect Caleb from difficult feelings. But now he is learning to name them and to manage them. Change is inevitable. That’s life. New experiences can make life richer, friendships broaden , perspectives widen, and new interests and skills can begin and develop .

Practically we try to:

  1. Let him know details in advance of the event/change
  2. Listen to any outpouring of negatives without shutting the conversation down (patience!)
  3. Allow as many of the smaller routines and relationships to stay constant
  4. Keep calm and be upbeat without ‘bullying’ him along – acknowledge his feelings and when it’s tough… Caleb has picked up on this script and now uses it on me, when I’m stressing …“I understand your feelings Mum, but…” Haha! I’m being coached!

So. He is going to be ok.

Until recently Caleb had decided he would never travel out of the uk when an adult. But then he watched blog Supercars of London, and the annual road trip taken around Europe …. And decided he will drive baby Matilda on similar trips around the world when she’s older!

I don’t need to worry.

This week Caleb began at a new school. His new uniform is itchy and the tie restrictive, the teacher suggested he read for 15 minutes, 3 times a week, instead of 10 pages each time, like at his old school… And he’s not allowed to loop his ‘y’s in handwriting any more!

But do you know what? He’s happy. He feels accepted. Every child in his class is ‘a friend’ …

And he’s positive. Despite the challenges of change. It’s week one and he’s already throwing himself into it. Because he has secure relationships. And a history of new life experiences. And self awareness of what he finds tough, what he can control, and what he can’t. And he accepts it that way and moves forward, through the challenge.

So proud of you CALEB. Of each of our children. YOU are VERY lucky to have such loving siblings. They play a big part in the normality within the new.

Everything is going to be A-okay. YOU’LL SEE

Aspergers AND Empathetic ?!!

It’s been a winding road to diagnosis! One big thing at the beginning that used to REALLY confuse me, and fuelled a no-way-is-Caleb-autistic belief – was that I had somehow taken on board, at some point in my life, the assumption that autism equated to a lack of emotional connection and empathy. People on this spectrum would struggle to show affection physically, to develop emotional attachments …and with a lack of eye contact too, would even be described by some experts as ‘distant loners’ or ‘head over heart decision makers’.

With this in mind, CALEB simply could NOT be autistic. NO WAY JOSE! This little boy is the MOST affectionate child on earth!

I remember on the first day of his school life, how Caleb hugged a (slightly taken aback) boy from his class at the end of the day, and called out cheerfully “I love you!” to another.


Full to bursting with a hunger to ‘connect’ with people, Caleb remains super tactile and ready to engage with anyone identified to him as a friend. There are no social nerves.

Yes, at the back of my mind grew a nagging inkling that this innocent affection was being outgrown by Caleb’s peers, that his energy was sometimes received as overbearing; Caleb wasn’t picking up on any ‘invasion’ of peoples’ personal space. Gender or age didn’t come into it either. Every friendship was special. Everyone was a potential best friend.

Well, so long as you didn’t do something unfair or unkind! Caleb’s desire to protect people and stand up for justice, was – and still is – VAST. As such, I have found his perspectives and decision making to be enormously emotionally charged too. 

For a long time I felt nothing but pride for Caleb for all of the above – for not being socially conditioned. For being a wonderful role model to us all! How on earth could love, affection, integrity and enthusiasm be red-flag signs of a developmental problem?

When it comes to family, Caleb has always loved his younger brother and sisters VERY deeply too, showing extreme devotion. He welcomed each into the world with blatant adoration, and without a whiff of jealousy. If anything, it was as though he OVERLY empathised with their feelings. If I was to withhold a treat from Caleb’s younger brother because of naughty behaviour, for example, it could be Caleb’s favourite treat in the world but he would stubbornly refuse it too. It would upset him just as much as the tantruming toddler, but tears of solidarity would fall. Trying to get Caleb to understand that this was in fact a loving act on my part, and a consequence of a bad choice of behaviour, was overridden by his pain at seeing them upset. And his feelings would long continue after his toddler brother had forgotten about it and moved on happily with his day! When Caleb thinks you’ve been unfair, it’s a BIG DEAL. 

Today, with a 10 month old baby sister well loved by ALL the family, it is still most often Caleb who is first to visit her when she calls out from the cot in a morning, to rush to her at the first sound of tears. And his URGENCY to safeguard her during the day to day seems as great as a true emergency would feel to me.  


He will play for hours without tiring, at her level, mirroring my common words and interactions, delighting in her giggles. He never shows anger towards her. Ever.

And yet, as his 7 year old sister and 9 year old brother have grown and developed into independent thinkers, with their own game plans, ideas, hobbies and shared opinions… So it has become harder for Caleb to find common ground in every day play. Should you wish to take play in a different direction, Caleb is quick to conclude that you are deliberately trying to sabotage the ‘good time’ you have been having together, otherwise SURELY you’d  be able to see that his idea is far superior! “Mum! They are spoiling it on purpose !!”

Yes! … Playful, emotionally connected, loyal, protective, physically affectionate, cheerful , energetic… ABSOLUTELY.

BUT patient? A team player? A good listener? The ability to understand another’s differing point of view during shared activity, or to follow an agenda that doesn’t interest him?… Not so much!

Caleb takes things very personally. If you disagree, debate usually leads him to suspect you are trying to upset him on purpose! That by extension you are belittling him and forcing your ideas on him. He feels frustration keenly, but struggles to recognise the signs of these same feelings in OTHERS.

I am very proud, as Caleb has matured in recent years, to see him work hard to be a member of a team, to wait his turn and to participate in activities he wouldn’t have chosen, to accept differing opinions. His mantra is “Let’s agree to disagree!”. I only hope this learned behaviour, heavily supported by some fantastic teacher role models in key stage 2 – and of course family input – will allow another side of empathy to develop.

In the meantime – Caleb feels he has failed his 9 and 7 year old siblings, for not convincing them of the merits of his No1 interests!!! 😆😜 …But God has given him a NEW BABY SISTER!! 😍 So! Poppy may have rejected Mercedes cars for Beyoncé and street dance, and Josh may not support Manchester United, or display his Lego in the way his big bro chooses to…

But Caleb has HIGH HOPES that this time, with baby Matilda, he might just be able to make a disciple of her!