Makaton Monday ~ Noise

NOISE!!! How is it that I have never shared this sign before?!!  Its one of the most used signs over the last few years and one of the first Bruiser ever used, self-taught from watching Mr Tumble no less! We all know the infamous ‘whats that noise?‘ line!

Noise is a big issue for Bruiser. It’s not a particular noise that bothers him per se, nor does it have to be particularly loud, it could be lots of quiet noises all happening at once. It all depends on his general mood, how the day is going, whats already happened. But ‘noise’ usually is the hair that broke the camels back when it comes to meltdowns.

I’m sure you’ve seen in previous posts pictures of the little man in his ear defenders doing the simplest of tasks. But just blocking out one sense when he’s concentrating or starting to show signs of distress helps make it all a little better for him.

The irony though that I have a child that hates noise yet, he’s the loudest child I know, is not lost on me!






Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.




Makaton Monday ~ Glasses

Hello! Its been a while hasn’t it :)

You’ve probably guessed by now from the title…. Yes, just to add to his already eccentric personality, Bruiser has glasses!!



He looks quite the intellect doesn’t he and soooo grown up! We are already referring to him as ‘Brains’ because of his uncanny resemblance to Brains from Thunderbirds :-D

Along with new glasses comes a new sign! and new signs don’t come along all that often anymore. Gone are the days when every interaction consisted of quick references to our Makaton books :-)

Even though Bruiser now favours talking over signing (that’s a story for another day). We still introduce the new signs as they crop up. His talking isn’t the clearest so it’s nice having the back up of Makaton when communication breaks down and believe me it does, often! During the come down from a meltdown, he seems to respond to visual interaction more so signing is quite often the only way we can get through to him.

Bruiser is quite liking his glasses though and I think he likes the sign for glasses too. He says its ‘ike awwwing eyes on your wace’ (like drawing eyes on your face). I couldn’t have put it better myself!!






Sign/Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.






Just Keep Swimming

This post is a belated celebration but one that I need to share. I am aware that I don’t share a great deal of Wrigglers achievements but believe me there are many and a day doesn’t pass in which he fails to make us proud.

Wriggler has always been somewhat afraid of the water. Don’t get me wrong he likes being in the bath and paddling in the shallow water at the pool or the seaside but anything more than that is out of the question. He wouldn’t even put his face in the water and refused to take his feet off the floor despite me or his Daddy holding onto him for dear life.

Me and hubby have tried all sorts to get him to go to swimming lessons but it’s always been a non starter. I longed for him to be safe in or near water and its something that’s always played on my mind. Come year 4 at school though and swimming is part of the curriculum now.

Wriggler made it clear he didn’t want to do them. I knew that I didn’t have to make him go and that I didn’t have to sign the authority but I knew this would be good for him. I felt sure it was the right decision. Boy did he pull on every heart string to make me change my mind. The night before the first lesson he was terrified. He cried and shook in our arms about it. He was worried he’d be on his own in the shallow end because his friends could swim. Despite reassuring him that there would be many of his friends at his level though, he was scared to death about the water. We and his teacher the following morning reassured him all we could, but I still left him in tears that day.

Over the weeks though he started to enjoy it and he loved coming home to tell us about his new abilities in the water. The night before apprehension slowly began to disappear.

A full school term later and his enthusiasm for swimming is now off the scale. Whilst he doesn’t yet swim without arm bands or any great length for that matter, none of that matters. In the New Year he was awarded his Confidence Award. Something that a year ago I would never have envisaged. He well and truly deserves this accolade after all the hard work he has put in. Whilst private lessons are still off the cards, we are working on that. I don’t care if it takes him another eight years to swim properly. That fact that he is no longer afraid of the water is a small step and an amazing achievement! I could not be any prouder of him.

Well done Wriggler.



The Best Things In Life Are Free…

I’m writing this with an empty heart, I’m all on my own having just spent a lovely half term week with boys. Back to reality with a bang!

Last weekend though, I had such great plans for us but as usual, it being only weeks since Christmas, finances dictated and ruled. That was okay though as the boys were quite happy to chill and take each day as it came.

We mined. Lots! I’m sure I’m not the only one whose little people are into Minecraft… *whispers* well so am I :-D  We all join the same game and work together and then fight over the only diamond sword we manage to make, Bruiser usually gets it though, he steals it from our chests while me and Wriggler are mining. It’s actually quite amusing, he waits till we are down in our mines and then you can see his gamertag move across the top of your screen as he makes his way to our house on the surface and then its a race against time to get out of our mines and up back to our houses to stop him!

The boys love spending time with their uncle, he’s really down with the boys these days, he even has Minecraft too now and had a lesson from the boys! In the morning though we all went with him and Zeus the family dog to the woods. It was nice to blow away the cobwebs out in the sticks, quite literally! It was good for the boys too to challenge themselves on the near vertical muddly slippy hills that took no prisoners. We made it all in one piece though even if it was with mud up to our ear lobes!

We lost hours in ‘their world’ the lego, ninja, space, make-believe pirate adventures that are something else let me tell you. Everything gets mingled together. Wriggler has quite the imagination, Bruiser goes with the flow. The remnants of those escapades are still littered around the house which makes me realise I really should start tidying up, ha! Maybe tomorrow ;-)

The boys spent some quality time with their Daddy over the weekend too while I escaped with a lovely friend; lunching, hand bag shopping and cinema going (yes I have a social life!). He took them on a bike ride up the Trans Pennine Trail. They love it down there.

the best things in life are free

In between all that, we’ve partied, we’ve visited Great Nan, a much-loved Aunt, the boys delivered their valentines gifts, cuddled, crafted, giggled and generally had lots of family fun.

At the end of any time together we always ask the boys what they’ve enjoyed the most. Sunday night while having cartoons and a cuddle before bed we asked them what their favourite bit of the week was. Bruiser enjoyed the bike ride most. Wriggler gave us his top three; no.3 the walk in the woods, no.2 the bike ride down the TPT and no.1 spending time together!!

It brought tears to our eyes. There was me feeling guilty that we hadn’t done much, or gone very far but the reality is; it’s not about what you spend on them, it’s about the time you spend with them that means the most.

Five weeks and counting to our next school holidays…..


Its All About The Teeth

It’s been a long time coming. Quite honestly I never thought we’d get here. Since he was about eight months old Bruiser has been going to the dentist, twice yearly in fact for his checkups. Despite all the visits, the dentist has never seen his teeth…. until now!

There was no promises or bribery, there was no ‘do you want to sit in the chair Bruiser?’ It was all his own doing, all his own choice and he did it all by himself.

I don’t think there is much else I can say, the picture does all the talking…


Makaton Gave My Son A Voice

Talking, communication, gesturing, social interaction; all of them skills that come very easy to us and something that we all take for granted. But for Bruiser my youngest son, this has proved to be something of a challenge.

These difficulties didn’t take us completely by surprise however as Bruiser had a very difficult start in life. He was born very premature and suffered with various complications. We were advised he would encounter a lot of difficulties in his life most likely in the form of cerebral palsy and severe learning difficulties. Bruiser proved his Doctors and Consultants wrong though. Physically he hit all his milestones and although he seemed ‘odd / different’ to us at times he developed what we can only describe as normally.

Bruiser took a while but eventually started babbling when he was eleven months old. We along with his health professionals just put the delay down to his prematurity. Just after his 1st birthday, he said his first word. The words and sounds then came thick and fast and by the time he was fifteen months he could say ‘mam mam’ for mummy, ‘tsir’ for t-shirt, ‘bable’ for table and what was our favourite, ‘ibib ibi’ for iggle piggle to name just a few. In total he had a vocabulary of about 50+ words. He even knew the colours on the bottom of the sky menu which he obsessed over and would repeatedly say, boo (blue) bee (green) ded (red) eya (yellow) EVERYTIME the menu was on.

Then one day along with some of his physical abilities it all stopped… no words, no babbling, no sounds, nothing. Just nothing. It was like he suddenly just didn’t know how anymore. All he did was cry and scream. A LOT. He couldn’t communicate with us and he didn’t appear to understand us. Looking back now I know this was profound frustration with his sudden inability to communicate.

After numerous consultations with his paediatrician (thank fully because he was in the system due to his prematurity, we had someone to go to), he was referred to a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) and also to the Community paediatricians as together with other behavioural problems that were starting to become very evident, it was believed he might be autistic.

Bruiser was on the waiting list almost a year before we got an appointment with a SALT. That was the longest most frustrating period of our lives and something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Bruiser couldn’t communicate and although we soon figured out he could understand us when we used visual clues ie pictures and physically showing him; he couldn’t tell us anything. He couldn’t even gesture. Every time he wanted something it was a process of elimination that got him what he finally wanted, if indeed we figured it out at all. It was awful. They say that parents know their children and their needs instinctively, but we didn’t, we couldn’t and I will tell you now, it’s absolutely heart wrenching.

A friend suggested one day that we try Makaton to help Bruiser interact and communicate. He already watched ‘something Special’ and tried to copy the signs so, I borrowed her books for a short time. Because we didn’t really ‘get it’ or know how to sign as such, disappointingly we never got off the ground with it. It was on one of the very initial appointments with Bruisers Speech and Language Therapist at our home (he was almost two and a half now), that she noticed how involved and interactive Bruiser was with the Something Special programme and in particular Mr Tumble. She decided there and then to try using Makaton as a form of communication.

I will admit that we were very hesitant to give it a go. We wanted our son to talk and we were of the opinion that he never would if he learnt to use sign language. The speech therapist though understood our concerns and immediately put them to rest. She made us understand that Bruiser may never talk again or at least for a long time. So we had to find a way for him to communicate, even at a very basic level to ease his frustration. She showed us how to use some basic signs over the course of several weeks and explained that we use the ones that will get him his needs and wants met first and foremost and see how we get on.

It wasnt easy by any stretch of the imagination, it was bloody hard work if im completely honest. We needed patience in bucket loads. Although he tried to copy the signs he saw on TV, we struggled to get him to give us any eye contact at all or even look at our hands to sign with him. In the end, we took the approach of sitting across from each other and we did role play while he played nearby. We kept it simple, one of us would sign and say ‘chocolate’ the other gave the chocolate. Chocolate is Bruisers vice, always has been, so we knew this would grab his attention, and that it did! He started watching us, watching our hands. It didn’t take him long to grasp that our little ‘hand movements’ got us chocolate. That was it, we had his attention and he wanted to have a go again and again and again. Because he struggled with his fine motor skills and refused to look at us, we helped Bruiser initially (when he allowed it) and we slowly guided his hands and asked for things like a drink, chocolate, car, food.

I will never forget the look on his little face when he started to realise that we understood him, instead of the frustrated ‘I’m going to scream really loud now’ look that we had come accustomed to. He smiled the biggest happiest smile that lit the whole room.

A whole new world had suddenly opened up for us all and most importantly Bruiser. On a very basic level, he could now tell us he wanted a drink or something to eat, he could ask for a toy car, chocolate, eventually something on TV. He could even tell us he wanted a bath…

Bruiser signing to bath

Bruiser signing ‘To Bath’

and a rocket on bonfire night…

bruiser signing rocket

Brusier signing Rocket (age 2yr 9mths)

He would point to the colours on the bottom of the Sky menu as before but this time instead of the silence waiting for us to tell him the colour, he would sign the colours repeatedly again and again.

The earliest signs we taught him were simple ones that’s didn’t require a great deal of skill on Bruisers part; drink, eat, car, ball, bath, chocolate, cake, then as his confidence and ability grew so did his need to learn and know more and more. His SALT loved working with him and coming to visit him, she even commented once that he was one of the most proficient signing children she had worked with. Now the foundations were in place we used SALT strategies to further his communication for example Match and Stretch, all the time using Makaton while talking.

A good six to eight months into using Makaton, his verbal communication started to re-emerge. He started to make sounds again, babbling to start with. Then the same sounds with the same signs again and again. He was associating the signs with sounds. Words albeit not very clear ones then began to come again thick and fast.

(This little video captured some of Bruiser’s early signing and words. If you can see past Wriggler flexing his pecs, Bruiser is in the background watching Something Special.)

It wasnt just Bruiser that was learning Makaton. Me, Hubby and big Brother Wriggler could all now do the basic signs to communicate meaningfully and effectively with him. Life was suddenly no longer as frustrating for any of us. It was happier. We were all happier.

Over the last two years, I have been on the Makaton beginners workshop and also the Enhancement training to further increase our ‘signabulary‘. This gave us the opportunity to take our communication with Bruiser to a whole new level. I was no longer just signing singular words, but several key words in a whole sentence but even by this point, I was still playing catch up with Bruiser. He signed instinctively for everything and it had become second nature to him. It was his first language.

Bruiser’s understanding was tested one particular day. His Daddy signed to him (without speaking) ‘Daddy going shops. Bruiser come? Buy sweets‘. Bruiser shot out of the room screaming and signing yes and came back with his shoes and coat :-D

Makaton has given Bruiser confidence. Confidence to communicate, confidence interact and confidence to be himself. When he meets someone new his initial reaction is to put his head down and turn away or just completely ignore them altogether. However, when he realises they can sign he wants to interact with them and on some level he comes across as sociable. This was particularly evident one day when he met his Communication and Interaction worker for the first time at a special stay and play session. (this was before my Makaton training). She is in fact a regional Makaton tutor. She knew so many more signs than we did at the time. Bruiser was feeding off her, taking in all the new signs and using them with her in context. On a few occasions that he met her again he would get very excited and sign to tell us it was the signing lady :-) When she started working with Bruiser in his nursery setting, she showed him some signs to We’re going On A Bear Hunt, one of his favourite books. He loves to share a book and now he could interact with one too.

He comes home from school now and before his coat and shoes are even off he’s telling us what he wants to do.

Makaton has brought Bruiser out of his quiet, frustrating, shell of a world to an interactive communicative environment. I know he is happy now, because he smiles a lot more and he signs to tell us that he’s happy all the time.

Seeing the difference Makaton has made to all our lives has made us realise how important communication is; something that we had never fully appreciated, something we had all previously taken for granted. It actually makes me quite emotional when I talk about the change Makaton has made to our lives. Its has changed all of our lives, for the better and forever. But first and foremost, Makaton has given my son a voice.


For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly. They are an amazing charity and always willing to help in any way they can. You can also tweet with them here too.

The look on Wriggler's face says everything

World Prematurity Day – Our Story, Part 2 ~ Almost Home

Because of the strict rules due to the seriously poorly babies back in Calderdale Halifax, children were not allowed on the NICU. So although Wriggler had visited me, he had had never seen his little brother who was by now 12 days old. He had relied on photos and videos. But I still dont think it had seemed real to him.

Back home in our local hospital Bruiser was settled in his new incubator. It was time to meet his big brother Wriggler. We went to collect Wriggler from nursery together. It was overwhelming seeing him and he wasnt expecting to see me that evening because the excitement when he came running across the room to me said it all.

These moving pictures of my boys together for the first time speak for them selves. Wriggler couldn’t get close enough to him. It was so lovely to spend that night as a family together.

My Boy’s, together at last.

Wriggler would have laid in the incubator with Bruiser if it was an option.

I cant think where Bruiser’s love of cars came from ;)

Wriggler’s first cuddle

Our first family photo.

Holding Wriggler’s finger

The 7th February was Bruiser’s last day in his incubator… when we arrived the following morning, he was in the SCBU nursery in a cot. :) The hard bit was over, he’d won his fight. He just needed to get stronger now!

First day in the nursery in a cot

From this moment on, Bruiser got even stronger. He started rooting around and crying when he was hungry. At 20 days old, he successfully fed from me for the first time and within a few days was demand breastfeeding during the day while we were at the hospital. It was such an amazing thing to be able to do. Something I didn’t think would ever happen. (I had visions of being hooked up to a breast pump for the foreseeable future) But the staff were so very supportive in my wish to do this and helped every step of the way.

He then started crying for me in the night too not wanting to be cup or tube fed (I absolutely refused to let the nurses bottle-feed or give him a dummy). This was when the nurses decided it was time to let me live on the unit in a parent room so I could demand feed him day and night. This was just the best time ever. We had our own space where we could be a family away from everyone else. I even dared to believe that we would soon be home.

More cuddles and kisses from big brother

Drunk as a skunk after his first proper breast feed

In our parent room

My first night alone with Bruiser

My tiny little baby

Daddy cuddles

Size comparison with a box of tissues.

On the 21st February, the nurse and his Dr came to check on Bruiser and did his weight, the usual daily round. Although he hadn’t gained any (he had in fact lost some weight) she announced that I should call Hubby and ask him to fetch the baby carrier…. We could take him home!

WHAT??!!!!!  :) :) :)

This was totally unexpected after everything he had been through, he was only 28 days old, he was still 5 weeks short of what should have been his due date. But, he was going in the right direction and he was demand breast feeding round the clock. There wasn’t actually anything they were doing for him anymore.  As scary as the prospect was, I didn’t argue. We had nothing prepared at home. We didn’t have any clothes to fit him. We didn’t even have a mattress for the Moses basket. But none of that mattered. We could take him home and I wanted nothing more than to be at home with my family.

All good to go

Going Home

Bruiser’s FIRST bath



Bruiser’s 1st smile @ 30 days old

Our Story – Part One


Thank you to everyone involved in Bruiser’s care.

The Neonatal team at the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, you saved his life. We are forever in your debt.

The Neonatal team at Barnsley Hospital who provided Bruiser’s continued care after he was transferred.

Thank you also to…

Our families for all your love and support through what was the worst time of our lives.

My Mum and Dad for coming to us on the day Bruiser was born and being our pillars of support.

Hubby’s Brother and Sister-in-law, for looking after Wriggler in the very early days when we both needed to be at the hospital. It meant to world to us knowing that he was safe and happy, while we concentrated our efforts with Bruiser.

My Brother and sister-in-law for looking after Wriggler and helping him maintain his normal nursery routine before Me and Bruiser came back to Barnsley.

To all our friends for your messages of love and support.

Everyone that contacted me via social networking and texts to talk to me. This kept me sane during the those first 12 days when I was with Bruiser in Halifax and Hubby had gone back home for the night.


Thank you also to Bliss for all that you do to support the families and the babies in the NICU and SCBU. Without everything that you do, so many babies wouldn’t survive and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this post today


Plants Vs Zombies

This was the first cake I made for someone else and im very thankful to the close friend that had the confidence in me and asked me to make it for her.

I loved making this cake. It was a lot of fun. To be completely honest, id never heard of Plants Vs Zombies so I had a lot of research to do so I knew what I was doing. Considering that I had 7 days notice to make this cake, I was soooo happy how it turned out and it gave me the confidence that I was lacking in myself to think, you know what I can do this! So thank you my dear friend, you know who you are :-)

Monsters vs Aliens

Harry Potter / Sorting Hat Birthday Cake

So Wriggler asked for a Harry Potter birthday cake for his Happy Potter birthday. What do I make? All sorts came to mind; spell books with glasses and scarf, monster book, a hogwarts or gryffindor crest. Decisions decisions… But Wriggler wanted a sorting hat!

This was going to be the tallest, biggest cake I’ve ever made to date! I had my work cut out.

I started with making cake, lots and lots of cake. Eight layers actually, x2 9in cakes, x4 7in cakes and x2 5in cakes. The house did smell lovely after :-)

Once cooled and left over night wrapped up in cling-film, I then towered them up. I cut each layer slightly smaller towards the top. I then filled in between each layer with jam and butter cream. I used several bbq skewers together and stuck them through the middle of the cake to keep the layers together without moving. I then refrigerated until the butter-cream had set. After, I then trimmed the sides of the cake to make a smoother cone shape from top to bottom.

Next it was time to make the tip of the cake. For this I used marshmallow and rice crispies. I melted 8oz of marshmallows and mixed in 6oz of rice crispies. I then used my hands (dusted with icing sugar so it didn’t all stick to me) and moulded some of the mixture together until I had a cone shape that bent to one side slightly. Like so…

HP sorting hat cake

Before putting the cake into the fridge to set, I cut out of the sponge the facial features, the eyes and mouth. I didn’t make the features too deep as I was going to build up the features outwards later on. I also wrapped the marshmallow in cling-film to help it keep shape until it set.

HP sorting hat cake

Once the marshmallow had set I then crumb-coated the entire cake (including the top) in preparation for the icing.

HP sorting hat cake

The cake was then left in the fridge over night to set.

The next morning I set about building the facial features. I used white royal icing for this. I built up quite large eyebrows, nose and mouth.

HP sorting hat cake

I then started to make up the ‘creases’ in the hat. I rolled the icing into long snakes and draped them around the cake. I left some rounded and some I shaped to make more pointy creases.

Once this was complete I put the cake back into the fridge to set.

Now it was time to ice the cake. My favourite part :-D

I used 1kg of brown icing in total. I bought the teddy bear brown icing and added more brown colour paste to darken the colour somewhat.

Icing it in one go was out of the question. After much deliberation I decided that the plan of attack was to ice the cake in stages; front, back, top, tip and space-filling patches.

The idea was that I wanted a tatty old sorting hat. I very quickly realised that the cake would be quite forgiving. Should there be any little tears or mismatched seams I could incorporate this into the tattyness.

I started with the front. Once the icing was rolled out I rolled it around the rolling-pin. Then starting from the bottom of the cake using my left hand, i slowly rolled the icing upwards on the cake using my right hand to mould the icing to the cake and into the creases and crevices ie the mouth nose eye etc. First time round this didn’t quite work, the icing seemed too heavy and came away. Second time I rolled the icing slightly thinner and applied some boiled apricot jam to the icing features on the cake. this made it tacky for the icing to stick to. I repeated what I did first time round.

HP sorting hat birthday cake

I then did the same to the back of the cake and trimmed away the excess.

I was so impressed with myself at this point, I did a little victory dance around the kitchen, like you do :-D

Where the edges of icing met each other I used my new icing tools to give it a stitched effect. The little triangle-shaped gaps on each side were filled with triangle patches of icing and again I used the stitching effect tool to finish off the seams.

HP sorting hat birthday cake

On the top and tip…

HP sorting hat birthday cake

… I used a large triangle piece of icing to fill the area

HP sorting hat birthday cake

For the very tip I cut a triangle piece of icing this time small and make it into a cone shape and inserted a rolled up ball of icing to the keep the shape of the cone. I then stuck it onto the very tip and again sealed the seams with the stitching tool.

HP sorting hat birthday cake

I then made some square patches for the hat which I stuck to the sides of the cake to give it an old repaired look. I used the stringy bag you get onions in to make the criss-cross effect on the icing.

HP sorting hat birthday cake


So that was the main part of the cake done. Time to make some finishing touches including the brim of the hat.

I rolled the icing out to fit the whole of the cake board then cut a 9in circle in the middle (this was the size of the bottom layer of cake). I placed this around the cake. the seam where the edges came together I made to look like another repair and made some loose stitches. I made a ribbon with tassels to cover the seam around the brim again using the onion string bag.

After going round the edges of the hat brim with the handle of a knife and scuffing up the edges, I was almost done.

Using some black lustre dust, I used a blusher brush (brand-new and just for cake decorating only) to dust the areas I wanted to shadow. I used white lustre dust to highlight the tops of creases which further accentuated the shadowed areas. I used a little amount of the back dust to make the hat tattier and look used/old.


Complete with themed cupcakes in house colours sprinkles…..

harry potter sorting hat

Wriggler had a magical Birthday.

harry potter sorting hat


Makaton Monday ~ Yorkshire Pudding

Little did I know when I asked the Makaton Charity if they had a sign for ‘Yorkshire pudding’ how much it would come to mean to us.

Bruiser LOVES Yorkshire Puddings. He has a very limited diet and can be fussy with those few foods but Yorkshire Puddings, he could eat till the cows come home.

Back in January we had a difficult period with our communication with Bruiser. He was getting very upset at mealtimes. Initially, we couldn’t figure out why. He was upset with what he had on his plate and refused to eat it some of the time. We quickly realised that he wasn’t being his usual fussy self, he was asking for a certain food. But what? We went through all his foods and was met with frustration and anger from Bruiser that we didn’t understand. This obviously got very upsetting for us all.

One particular day I asked the boys what they’d like for their dinner and Bruiser attempted to tell me. After a huge meltdown about it, I offered my hand and asked him to show me. He led me to kitchen and looked bewildered around the room. I started his search off by opening the freezer and getting all the draws out and asked him to find it and show me.

That he did. After only a few minutes he lifted out the frozen Yorkshire Puddings (yes I’m ashamed to say I’m a Yorkshire lass that doesn’t cook her own!). This was what he wanted and proceeded to tell me ‘I wuv vem’. I told him they were Yorkshire Puddings. He tried to say it but couldn’t and got quite upset and frustrated with himself. (Bruiser is very much aware that he has a communication difficulty, but that’s a story for another day).

I assured him it was okay and that I would find a sign. I searched through all our books and believe me we have a lot now, but couldn’t find one. I tweeted the  and asked for their help.

Unfortunately they replied to say that after looking through all their word lists they didn’t have one. However, they said that they would send a request to the sign team to create one. Now I know they are making and creating new signs all the time but this was still a bit WOW, they were making a sign for us!!

As with all the signs Bruiser has learnt over the last two years, the words usually come when he has a sign to use. As we had neither, I needed to help ease his frustration while we waited. I made the decision to use existing Makaton signs for him to communicate Yorkshire Puddings that we (his family) would understand. I used the finger spelling for Y to represent Yorkshire with the sign for Cake. Obviously you really can’t just go making up your own signs, but these were well-practiced, existing signs that he knew very well that I knew wouldn’t confuse him.

Like I said when he uses a sign, the sound/word eventually comes and this instance wasnt any different. Bruiser has started to say Yorkshire Pudding in his own little way :-)

A week or so ago though, I got a lovely email from the Makaton team with the sign. I told Bruiser there was a new sign for Yorkshire Pudding and he got very excited. (he loves learning new signs!) Initially he refused to try it as he said it was ‘too difficoo’ (too difficult). But after a few days of watching me demonstrate it to him, he was more willing to try. He now loves asking and signing for ‘orksa pudiiiiiin’. The sign is also getting more and more accurate every time he tries it.


The first part of the sign represents creating the batter and the second part is showing the raised edge of the pudding.

 yorkshire pudding



Symbol used with the kind permission of the © The Makaton Charity 2012

For any help or advice in respect of Makaton, please contact the Makaton Charity directly.



first day school

Back To School

It’s been that week of the year again. Back to school for the kiddie winks or the start of a new schooling journey. This year Wriggler started year4, YEAR 4 (*holds head in hands*)!!! and Bruiser was starting full-time school a fresh in reception (*sobs uncontrollably in hands*).

All I wanted was a photo of them both. You know the drill.. stood together in their clean crisp uniforms, smiling away into the camera. How hard could that be?

Between all the blurred body parts, close up faces in camera, bottoms up and backs turned, even Wriggler holding Bruiser in a head lock, there was one common denominator, Wriggler smiling away facing the camera in the back ground. When I finally captured Bruiser stood still, he was deliberately stood directly in front of Wriggler, turning away from the camera and refusing to smile. Wriggler giggling away behind him.

Whilst it isn’t what I was hoping for, it perfectly summed up our morning and my boys in a nutshell. When I look closely, I can actually see the deliberate defiance in Bruisers face!! He really does take stubborn to a whole new level. :-D

I can’t not love this photo.

back to school


Making A Change For The Better (Step 2)

I’m a strong believer that caffeine makes the world go round and let’s face it, life with young children demands caffeine. There’s no getting away from it. All parents are sleep deprived in some way shape or form. We are also so busy that we need that pick me up at some point during the day. Or maybe lots of times during the day… That’s me!!

Bruiser doesn’t sleep well at all, fact. I’m constantly on my feet all day, and trying to keep my head together while two boys litter my head with demands, needs, wants all at the same time as well as dealing with the difficulties Bruiser encounters on a daily basis, the grey matter needs to be in tip-top condition. The last six weeks have seen me turn into a full-time coffee guzzler and I’m usually an occasional tea girl!

Since the little people have returned to school though, I don’t need that pick me up anymore but yet that need for coffee is still there, like an addiction and I don’t like it. Yes im still tired from lack of sleep but I need to cut back on the caffeine. I need to detox!

I already drink a lot more water these days since I made my first change for the better a few months ago. That’s going great. But I need to replace the coffee for something. So, ive bought some green tea with a twist, Twinnings Gingerbread GreenTea!

making a change for the better

I’ve always been a lover of green tea but only ever been able to drink it hot because of the aftertaste when it’s cooled down. But this is lovely and not bitter. Its warming and the aroma makes me feel cosy and relaxed.

Evenings need a change too. I stop drinking coffee after 5pm in an evening otherwise id be bright-eyed all night long. So ive been getting the caffeine fix albeit not as strong from drinking fizzy pop, by the gallons! (its ro refreshing!) I’ve chosen to replace this with juice and Camomile Tea.

making a change for the better

Whilst I’ve never been a Camomile fan, it is relaxing and I hope that it will help me switch off and unwind with the hope I might sleep better for it. Obviously thats when Bruiser is feeling generous in the sleep department anyway.

While i’m also in ‘body is temple’ mood, im drinking my favourite, hot lemon water! In essence its sliced lemon in freshly boiled water. Its great when you’re feeling sluggish and has great detoxifying properties.

making a change for the better

I’m day one into my change and the headaches are already kicking in…. how bad is that?!! But, im hoping by the end of the weekend I will have turned myself around enough and be feeling much better for it.

 Wish me luck!


dear bruiser

A Letter To Bruiser

Dear Bruiser

Today is your first day at school. Your Reception year and full-time school. You looked so smart and grown up in your uniform this morning. You were buzzing with excitement and you couldn’t wait to leave the house. I couldn’t even get a picture of you stood still.

While you enjoy your first morning with your new teacher, im home thinking about you, wondering what you will doing, wondering what you will be learning about. Gone are our days together where we would play, cuddle, watch cartoons, have playdates, take afternoon naps. Gone are our days filled with giggles, trips to the park and baby groups.

Me and Daddy and Wriggler are soooooo incredibly proud of you and what you have achieved in your little life already. The obstacles you have over come. The battles you have fought. Because there was once a time when we never thought this day would come. You were only 5 hours old when the Doctors told us to let you go. But we weren’t ready to let you have wings and I don’t think you wanted them either. We fought for you then and we still fight for you today. Its been the fight of our lives but just look at you now….

You learnt to crawl;


You learnt to walk;

You learnt to wave;

You learnt to talk, your first word was ‘Mam mam’. It was awful when you stopped talking. Overtime though you learnt to communicate using Makaton and that gave you a voice, until you found your voice…

Ryan signing to bath

Bruiser signing to bath

then, you learnt to talk, AGAIN!! Because you really are that amazing!!

You started nursery;

started nursery

With the help from your amazing big brother Wriggler, you learnt to play and imagine;


You learnt to ride a bike;

As we made our journey together through the autism diagnosis process, something that we were beginning to think would never happen, you made a friend. A best friend. A partner in crime. A friend forever. Your ‘Avaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’

best friends


And here you are now on your first day at school…

I’m glad you didn’t cry this morning. You made it so much easier for me. But it broke my heart anyway. It was the start of a whole new chapter in your life. You are no longer a baby, a toddler, or even a preschooler. You’re a little boy now and you’re ready to go find your place in this world!

I’m going to miss you my baby.

Love Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxx