Monday, 28 October 2013

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

This is normally a light and fluffy blog, more vanilla ice cream than steak and chips! Those of you who are kind enough to read my witterings regularly will notice that my output has slowed considerably since the summer. I have thought long and hard about writing this post as it involves others rather than myself. However, I have decided to open up a little.

In the summer my lovely husband was diagnosed with high functioning autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Most of you will know this as Asperger's syndrome. In a nutshell it means that he has problems with processing information; he can't filter out irrelevant information so occasionally it all gets a bit much. Social communication is difficult; he has had to learn how to pick up social cues etc. There are some positive aspects - he can be very focussed and is therefore very good at his job.

Partly on the back of this diagnosis, and partly because of struggles at school, DS, (age 10), has been referred by the school for an assessment for ASD. He is almost certainly borderline, but as he matures it is becoming more obvious that he needs some support. 

In one way my reality has not changed. You are born with ASD; you don't "catch" it. DH has always had ASD, and after seventeen years of marriage we have developed ways of coping. In fact, his diagnosis has enabled us to make sense of his struggles and find some external help. DS has always been a little "different" to other children. Despite knowing this in my head, for a while I felt really upset. I am finding it difficult to contact others who have partners with ASD - although I have found quite a few whose relationships didn't last. However, I do have friends who are being very supportive, and I have good friends who have children with ASD. Life continues, but the journey is different than we expected.

Coconut ice

When I was a teenager my Mum had a "Woman's Own Cook Book" which I found fascinating. It had been an engagement present. My Dad still has the book, complete with all the recipes Mum had stuck in the back. He's not allowed to throw it away!

Picture from Amazon
It had chapters on everything, including one on how to put on weight! (Not one I can imagine being written these days. If you are interested, it involved eating ice cream in bed!) One of my favourite sections was on making sweets and I often made peppermint creams (remember those?) and the like. I was very lucky that Mum was happy for me to make a mess of her kitchen, as long as I cleared up afterwards. 

A few days ago DD and I decided that we just had to make coconut ice. It is extremely easy to make and doesn't need any cooking. We used a recipe from a magazine, (more on that in another post), but there is a very similar recipe here. The recipe we used stipulated red food colouring - this is definitely not the best. Instead of pretty pink and white coconut ice we ended up with vaguely peachy/tomatoey and white coconut ice. It still tasted great though, although I must have grown up as I can only manage one piece these days!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Diddly squash

One of the things that I love about my veg box is enjoying the seasonal veg. Autumn is particularly interesting and a few weeks ago my veg box contained these little fellows:

The coin is a British 10p which is only a few centimetres across. These were seriously diddly squash. There was no way I was going to peel them! For a while they sat on my shelf looking decorative but eventually I decided to roast them whole and stuff them with bolognese.

I followed the instructions from my very helpful veg box people. I decapitated them and scooped out the innards with a melon-baller. Not as gruesome as it sounds! Then I brushed the inside with some olive oil and shoved them in a hot oven. These only took 15 minutes to cook. Then I filled them with some bolognese I'd had on the go in the slow cooker all day, topped with grated cheese and voila!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Scanning and shopping - moral dilemmas of our time!

I find shopping in a supermarket to be a minefield of ethical decisions. Fairtrade, organic, seasonal, local, high welfare? Should I be shopping there in the first place, when the high street is in trouble? And how do I balance ethics with my budget? Now there is a new moral quandary to add to the list - do I scan and shop?

In my area the battle for the high street has been lost; I have no local greengrocer, fishmonger, butcher or baker. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to a very busy T*sco Extra, which stocks just about anything you are likely to want to buy from tomatoes to televisions. In the last few weeks they have introduced a new system which I tried out this week. I was issued with a hand-held scanner, and as I did my shopping I scanned each item and packed it straight into a bag. When I had finished I used a self-service till to pay - no unpacking and repacking at the checkout.

I quite enjoyed it, the scanner beeped satisfyingly at each item and showed me how much it cost and my running total. I did a weekly shop for a family of four in just over an hour. So far, so good. Now for the moral quandary - there is obviously less need for staff with this system. An assistant poked around in my shopping to make sure I wasn't making off with a leg of lamb, but she was in charge of eight tills rather than one. So am I depriving people of work? Am I contributing to the dehumanizing of society? Or am I pining after a world of friendly shopkeepers which no longer exists, and should I bravely face the future, scanner in hand? Should I stop worrying so much?!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Rescuing a bromeliad...

The bromeliad was in need of a good home. Unloved and uncared for, embarrassed by its yellow sticker and ashamed of a chipped vase, it lurked in the reduced section. Would anyone choose it? Was it forever condemned to life in a supermarket?

Suddenly it found itself lifted up, and unceremoniously thrust in among the potatoes and loaves of bread. Uncertain of its future, and hardly daring to hope, it waited as it was pitched around between trolley and car. Finally it came to rest. The dirt was brushed from its leaves, life-giving water was sprinkled over its compost and it was gently placed on a sunny dressing table. Life had begun...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

When the kids are quiet...

After church on Sunday the children disappeared upstairs into DD's room. All was quiet and calm. I would like to claim that this is the usual post-service atmosphere, but I would be lying! Every so often a child would appear, surreptitiously rummage in the craft box and disappear again. In view of my upcoming birthday I managed to contain my curiosity; instead I enjoyed the unaccustomed peace. Eventually all was revealed: 

This plastic cup had an upgrade.
Birthday cards from DD (left) and DS (right)!
I wonder what they will do next Sunday?!