My Week in One Photo and a Catch-up

Feeding the birds at St Ives @allpastmidnight

It’s been quiet around here for the last week or so. I went up to Yorkshire with the kids to visit family, and got completely out of my routine. I’m massively behind, but now I feel like I’ve got a straight run-through until Christmas. No more travel, no more distractions. I can just settle back, enjoy myself and hopefully get a bit of blogging done. Or rather a LOT of blogging done.

On the plus side, I have been getting lots of reading done (lots of book reviews to come), and Wee Girl’s return to school after half-term has so far been happy. She’s doing so well; I can’t tell you how proud I am of her.

Meanwhile, Little Man is doing brilliantly, and is comtinuing to listen, learn and copy. It’s quite funny listening to him sometimes. Wee Girl goes ‘Aieee!’, I copy her, and a moment later, Little Man echoes the sound. He has been saying ‘i-bye’ in the softest little voice you could imagine. And blowing kisses. Lots and lots of kisses.

Autism and Independence: Scaring the Crap out of Mum

Autism and independence: Scaring the Crap out of Mum @allpastmidnightThe Reality of Autism and Independence

As Wee Girl is getting older, she’s starting to get more independent. Which is a good thing. It really, really is, and I’m proud of my daredevil child. But it has some downsides too, which are starting to become clear. Having a pre-verbal child with autism and independence is making my life very interesting indeed.

When I was young and we lived in St Andrews, I wanted to go to the beach. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but this is one of my earliest memories, so I couldn’t have been much older than my daughter is now. My parents weren’t able to take me, so I left the house and tricycled to the beach.

On my own. Without telling anyone.

Yeah, I bet you can tell how well that went down. My mother remembers going to the beach and seeing my tricycle left abandoned on its side, one wheel forlornly spinning… I might have made up the bit about the wheel, but the rest of the story is true. I remember wading into the sea with my dress on because I couldn’t undo the buttons at the back.

So maybe this is karma.

The more Wee Girl understands, the more she wants to try things for herself, which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but what if those things are not safe for her to do?

At the park I only have to take my eyes off her for a moment (to get Little Man, for example) and she’s gone, letting herself out of the playground and making for the cafe.

She was sharing a bath with her brother recently, and decided to help wash him. Lovely, right? So she got the soap, and pushed his head forward. She was very gentle, but without meaning to or realising his face went into the water. It was just for a instant and I quickly intervened, but Little Man came up spluttering a little bit, startled but not upset. I would never have left them alone in the bath together, anyway, but moments like that hold a light up to reality and show you how how translucent and fragile the barrier is between everyday life and tragedy.

It’s at times like that when the communication barrier is evident. Telling her ‘no’ seldom works, not in the way it does with Little Man. The sterner the ‘no’ the brighter the giggle, and I can explain the danger, but I have no way of knowing whether she understands. And it’s particularly hard when she’s doing what she’s doing because she wants to help.

She’s going to turn five in a few months, and at a time when most parents are perhaps starting to feel they can relax a bit about certain things, that they can trust their children more as they grow older, I’m finding the exact opposite; the more independent she gets, the more closely I have to watch her. While children her age are finding friends to play with at the playground, I’m there, shepherding her, chasing her, playing with her. Doing something as simple as making sure she doesn’t run in front of the swings, for instance; how many other parents of five year olds are doing that?

Don’t get me wrong, her increased independence is a very good thing. I am happy and proud that she’s getting more engaged, more willing to try things for herself. I’ve spoken before about my doubts at whether her autism really shapes who she is in Would You Choose to Cure Your Child of Autism? but in this case her boldness and gutsiness absolutely are part of what makes her who she is, and I’m growing prouder of her every single day. I would not change that for a millisecond, not even for my own peace of mind.

But this is one of the things they don’t tell you about autism, that sometimes all of the work you put into helping the child to understand the world and get involved makes things harder, not easier, and that while other parents may be starting to relax, my work is just beginning.

And I haven’t even thought about adolescence yet.

Are you finding your work is getting easier as your child gets older? Is your grass really greener than mine?

Brilliant blog posts on

Life with Baby Kicks

Review: Simply Cook Meal Box September

I may have mentioned I’m a sucker for a subscription box. From beauty to food to random stuff, the moment I hear about a new box I start getting twitchy and want to try it. Particularly if there’s an offer on, and when I saw an ad to get my first Simply Cook box for £3, I had to try it.

The idea behind Simply Cook is that you receive a box through the post which includes recipe cards and ingredients to cook your meals during the week. Unlike other meal kit companies, however, Simply Cook only provides you with the flavour base for the meal, and not the fresh ingredients.
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Finding My Blogging Niche

Finding my blogging niche @allpastmidnight

You may have noticed there’s been quite a few book reviews around here lately. That wasn’t deliberate; I’m still experimenting with balancing the content of posts, and haven’t settled into a routine yet. And I’m still finding my blogging niche.

I’ve been upfront about wanting to go pro in the future, and I’m struggling between whether I should keep All Past Midnight focused on parenting and autism, or whether I could look at making it more multi-focused. Books are a big part of my life. I read. A lot. And I’d like to blog about the books I read, but with that desire comes a dilemma. Can I call this a book blog if my primary focus is autism and parenting? And can I call this a parenting blog, if I’m actively seeking to promote this as a book blog?
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I’m Scared my Son has Autism Too

I'm scared my son has autism too @allpastmidnight

Edited to add: I have been giving this post some thought over the last day or so. I knew this would be an uncomfortable post to write and get out there, but it’s what I’m dealing with at the moment, and it would be wrong not to reflect on my emotions about my son. But I have also realised it’s not the autism per se that frightens me. Many many people live perfectly happy lives with autism, and I do believe that an autistic way of thinking can have many benefits, both to the person with autism and to siciety at large.

What frightens me is the prospect of having another child who doesn’t talk. While I love my daughter to bits, and she communicates in her own way (and is I believe moving towards speech), it is incredibly hard never to have been called ‘mummy’ or hear something as basic as the word ‘hello’ or ‘bye’ for almost five years now. Alongside that I’m also afraid that I will find it hard to cope with two children with SEN. You may or may not have noticed that I’m a bit of a worrier (hence me stressing over this post ;)), and I had been looking forward to having a child I wouldn’t have to worry about. Or at least, not worry about so much — pretty much inevitable that I’m going to worry a bit about something.

Hopefully that makes the motivation behind this this post a little clearer, and I apologise if I have upset or offended anyone.

Recently my son turned eighteen months old. He’s happy and chatty. He copies sounds, he points, both to things that he wants and to draw my attention to interesting objects. He shows a great deal of interest in his sister, following her around, copying the noises she makes, giggling when he thinks she’s chasing him (she isn’t).

But none of that matters, because he’s still not talking, and I am terrified.
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Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman

Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman - GiveawayDeservedly nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, Neurotribes chronicles the history of autism through the twentieth century and beyond, moving from the work of Asperger and Kanner, on through the rise of parent advocate groups, the MMR vaccine nonsense, and finally the growth of self-advocating autistic groups, who are vocal and determined to bring about a more neurodiversive world.

It begins with the utterly delightful story of Henry Cavendish, the ‘wizard of Clapham Common’, living in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. His catalogue of quirks and eccentricities paints as clear a picture of Asperger’s Syndrome as we are ever likely to see, and he was lucky enough to be born with the funds to turn his house into his own private laboratory.
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The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings is the first novel in the Dandelion Dynasty series by Ken Liu, whose short stories have won two Hugos and a Nebula, amongst others. Reimagining the rise of the Han dynasty, it is an epic and sweeping novel of war, politics and treachery, set in an archipeligo united by Emperor Mapidéré. But his reign is brutal and heartless, and the other island kingdoms are growing restless under his rule.

Look, I bitch a lot about the death of proper fantasy. By which I don’t mean elves and dwarves (they can all fuck off back to the eighties where they belong), but sprawling works along the lines of A Song of Ice and Fire, The Dragonbone Chair, or The Stone Dance of the Chameleon. They should be at least three books long, with each volume approximately the thickness of a brick. Ideally thicker. If you get it in hardback it should be heavy enough to brain an unlucky burglar (that’s one drawback of having a Kindle).
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Bird Box, by Josh Malerman

The following post contains an affiliate link.

Review of Birdbox by Josh Malerman, @allpastmidnight
Bird Box opens with Malorie, who has been alone with her two children for the past four years. She has raised them in an iron-fisted atmosphere of total control, honing their hearing to almost supernatural levels, and training them to survive with threats of violence.

The whispers began in Russia, with reports of people going mad and slaughtering others before turning the violence on themselves. As events became more frequent and closer to home, the rumours spread: creatures they see outside are making people kill.
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Sharing: Our Week in One Photo

Our week in one photo: sharing @allpastmidnight

This week has been all about sharing. In the photo above you can see Wee Girl and Little Man sharing a moment with the Ipad, and they have been sharing a game too. Wee Girl builds a tower, and Little Man knocks it down. She giggles, builds the tower again. He knocks it down, making her laugh again. It’s beautiful to see them playing together, because seeing her play with another child is something I’ve never experienced. Having another child was the best decision we ever made. Gradually, bit by bit, Little Man is teaching her that other children can be fun.