Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 and Launch of Plastic Free St Albans!

There are only a few days to go now until Sustainable St Albans Week 2018, so I want to share with you some of the fab things that will be going on! If you are local, then pop along to some of the events to learn more about eco living and show your support. And if you aren’t local, maybe these ideas will inspire you to host your own event in your local town!

The week will be kicking off with an afternoon of talks to launch the event, as well as over a dozen activities on just the first day alone. Over the course of the week there is a massive range of fun, educational and inspiring activities for all ages.

Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 logo

Some of the highlights include the grand opening of our first ‘Little Free Library’ – where you can take a book and donate another, several guided walks and cycle rides, organised wildlife watch, vegan cooking demo and tasting (yum!), plenty of talks and workshops on various topics, eco tours, growing activities, seed swaps, clothes swaps, litter picks, poetry recitals and film screenings. The list goes on and on…! It is a jam packed week full of brilliant options to choose from.

Children can also meet Munch the recycling lorry and discover more about recycling, do creative activities using old items, take part in interactive storytelling, attend woodcraft taster sessions, and swap books, amongst other things. Lots of the other activities are very family- friendly and suitable for all ages too of course!

For the full event schedule visit the Sustainable St Albans website and download the booklet.

There is also a one day Know- How Festival, which sounds brilliant! I thought this was worth a specific mention as it has so much going on for the whole family. Here is further information…

Know How festival flyer - part of Sustainable St Albans Week 2018

As part of Sustainable St Abans Week, on Sunday 22nd April, which very aptly is also Earth Day, marks the official launch of Plastic Free St Albans. I am so excited about this, so let me tell you more about it!

Plastic Free St Albans is inspired by Surfers Against Sewage – an environmental charity who are leading a national campaign called Plastic Free Coastlines, to encourage communities to drastically reduce single use plastics – and is an alliance of several local activists. It was founded by Emma Tyers, who previously ran the hugely successful St Albans Refuse the Straw campaign and also has members from our fantastic local groups, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth, too. What a team! The group aims to hopefully achieve S.A.S Plastic Free status eventually.

Plastic Free St Albans logo

The main goal is to work with local businesses, schools, and other organisations to remove, as far as possible, plastic straws and stirrers, water bottles and balloons from St Albans. These particular items are being targetted because they are so rarely recycled, and therefore form such a large part of our plastic waste and litter.

They are also working on St Albans Refill scheme, which asks businesses to provide free water bottle refills to anyone who asks, free of charge. Look out for other upcoming projects in future too!

Last but not least, check out their excellent interactive map of all things plastic free, so you can see how the campaign is developing and, more importantly, know where to head to avoid the plastic! Awesome initiative, looking forward to seeing the map grow!

You can also read more about Plastic Free St Albans in this Herts Ad article.

To launch this fantastic new campaign, there will be a plastic-free picnic at Highfield park on Sunday afternoon, followed by a screening of A Plastic Ocean in the evening, along with a panel of guest speakers, hosted at the beautiful Odyssey cinema. There are only a few tickets left, so grab yours now!

Enjoy what promises to be an inspirational and exciting week!

Handmade recycled silver labradorite stone ring image and giveaway wording

GIVEAWAY!!!

To help celebrate and support both Sustainable St Albans Week and Plastic Free St Albans, the lovely Sally from Leonard of London has offered us a stunning piece of jewellery to giveaway to one lucky campaign supporter! This gorgeous handmade ring is made from recycled sterling silver and has a beautiful labradorite stone.

The ring will be resized for the winner as per the measurements given before sending it to them.

Check out Leonard of London on facebook for more of her work.

Handmade recycled silver labradorite stone ring

The giveaway ends on 21st May 2018 and is open to UK residents only. Enter via rafflecopter below. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

International Day of Happiness

Today, 20th March, is International Day of Happiness. This year’s theme is Share Happiness – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

I created this reminder of actions we can take to help ourselves, and others, to feel good…

International Day of Happiness infographic

This was inspired by ideas from the Action for Happiness website, which has plenty of other ideas and resources too. I printed off some of my favourites for us to display at home…

Squiggle reading our Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Action for Happiness, International Day of Happiness display

Squiggle also wrote her own message too…

International Day of Happiness message from Squiggle

International Day of Happiness message by Squiggle

What will you do today for International Day of Happiness? Leave me a comment!

Organising An Eco-Friendly Children’s Party 

Are you holding a kids party, and considering ways to make it more eco-friendly? It is not an easy task, as I discovered when trying to organise Squiggle’s 9th birthday party a couple of months ago! You need to get a bit creative if you don’t want to leave behind piles of plastic, wrapping paper, and litter. In some ways we succeeded, others we need to work on for next time! Here are some thoughts…

party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living

Eco- and Kid-Friendly Catering

  • Opt for reusable plates, bowls and cutlery instead of disposable options. Alternatively, create personalised party food packages wrapped up resuable food bags or wraps, or even in scarves or bandanas. They not only make colourful decorations for the table, but this approach can subtly assist with addressing allergy issues/ dietary requirements of young guests, plus they’ll double as napkins and the children can take them home afterwards.
  • Prepare fruity drinks ahead of time, using jam jars with sealable lids. It saves on packaging and if the weather’s hot and you’re outside, they’re easily kept cool in a cool box or even a bucket filled with ice. Use sustainable straws (e.g. paper or reusables) rather than plastic, and make the drinks more exciting by adding chopped or sliced fresh fruit such as strawberries.
  • Picnic or buffet areas set aside from other activities help to keep the mess and left overs in one place. They make supervision easier too, so if anyone needs help they aren’t left on their own. Dressing up metal barriers (which you can hire from staging and event specialists) with paper bunting or streaming creates a separation from other areas while maintaining the celebratory atmosphere.
party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
Squiggle’s 9th party

      Green Ideas for Party Activities and Take Home Gifts/ Favours

      It is traditional to give the party-goers some kind of goodie bag or favour to take home, but it doesn’t have to affect your pledge to organise an eco-friendly party.

      • How about giving each child a small plant or sapling they can take home and put in their own garden? If you wrap each root ball in hessian, there’s no waste at all since it can go on the compost heap when it’s no longer needed. This is even better if any of the party activities have a similar theme of planting and growing.
      • For example, you could make ‘plant pots’ by halving empty cardboard roll tubes, then decorate by painting before planting their seeds. Plug each ‘pot’ with balled up newspaper so it will hold some compost. This creates an activity and a gift to take home in one. 
      • Or make seed bombs at the party to take home! 
      • Recycled plantable seed paper, for instance, is also an interesting novelty for children.
      • Nature crafts are fun activities. Have a scavenging hunt with a pile of twigs, mosses and grasses, then make some nature art.
      • Hold a bug hunt. Make a short list of insects to find, with prizes for all who find some, then invite children to draw or paint their favourites.
      • You could even get everyone involved in planting a special ‘celebration tree’ as part of the party!
      party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
      Nature art

        Other Tips

          • Use Japanese blow up paper balloons rather than latex or foil balloons. These last a long time and are more environmentally friendly.
          • Reuse decorations. If you don’t want the same theme year after year, pass your old decorations on and source ‘new’ secondhand ones on your chosen theme. Better yet, also opt for decorations that are made from sustainable materials too!
          • If it is a particularly large party and you plan on having several different activities going on at the same time, or maybe with specific start times if you’re holding competitions or races, it might mean guests are quite spread out at times. Setting up a PA system to make announcements will keep everyone informed and save you a lot of running round. I remember once we had Squiggle’s party on a huge field; that would have been very handy then! 
          party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
          We held a party on this large field a few years back

            Eco-friendly parties are taking off in popularity, not just because they are good for our planet and build empathy for our natural environment, but also because they’re fun and children enjoy them! 

            Can you think of other eco- friendly party ideas? Tell me in comments! 

            *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Alistage. 

            Family Fun Day – Finding The Wild! 

            On Sunday, we went to a family fun day at a local college. Whilst that was in itself far from wild, we did find a couple of nature related things going on!

            The main thing was finding our local beekeepers. This also led me to read more about beekeepers afterwards, especially from an ethical point of view. I found an interesting blog by a beekeeper about how approaches can vary and some are less ethical so I would like to know more about the practices of the ones we saw now. It was educational for Squiggle to see them though anyway!

            Beekeepers, local honey, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, wildlife, nature

            We also spotted some woodcarving, which is such an awesome skill! Squiggle loved the rabbit…

            Wood carving, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            There are a few less ‘wild’ photos too! Building a wall…

            Building a wall, bricklayer, manual skills, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Building a wall, bricklayer, manual skills, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Inflatable assault course…

            inflatable assault course, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Fun games…

            Games, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            There were also sheep, birds of prey, funfair rides and dancing demonstration, plus lots of other things that we didn’t get round to as well!

            Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Giveaway

            To help celebrate Squiggle’s 9th birthday recently, Bakerdays kindly sent us a letterbox cake. We were lucky enough to review one of these yummy cakes previously too, which you can read about here

            Since then though, there have been lots of developments over at Bakerdays! Their website has had a facelift; now even more user- friendly and is looking great, with new designs and more products being added. 

            Bakerdays, letterbox cake, birthday cake, celebration, special occasion, cake, gift ideas, food, review, competition, giveaway, Living Life Our Way
            Mobile version (android)

            The cake arrived well packaged and in perfect condition, same as last time. There isn’t excess packaging or too much plastic either, which I am happy about. There were also thoughtful finishing touches in the box, such as the party blower, some balloons and a little card. I also like the card that says who packed it too.

            Bakerdays, letterbox cake, birthday cake, celebration, special occasion, cake, gift ideas, food, review, competition, giveaway, Living Life Our Way

            I chose this rabbit design after specifically searching the website for the word ‘bunny’ because Squiggle had a pet theme this year for her birthday. I then personalised the writing. Last time I ordered dairy free but I decided to order the regular vanilla sponge on this occasion, just to compare. (Generally we opt to eat as close to vegan as possible but aren’t strict about it!)

            Squiggle was really excited that a cake arrived through the letterbox for her! She was very pleased with the design too…

            Bakerdays, letterbox cake, birthday cake, celebration, special occasion, cake, gift ideas, food, review, competition, giveaway, Living Life Our Way

            We took the cake outside for a garden picnic and Squiggle had the honour of cutting her cake…

            Squiggle also got to have first taste too as the birthday girl…

            Her verdict was “Mmmm… it is YUMMY!”

            I enjoyed it too, it was tasty and good quality. I do recall the dairy free one we had previously tasted more buttery (in a good way!) than this one, and it seemed to lack a filling, but it was yummy nonetheless!

            The letterbox cake is plenty big enough for 3 people to have a very generous sized slice or two, and stays fresh for a reasonable amount of time too. It definitely makes a lovely novelty gift or surprise for someone!

            Bakerdays, letterbox cake, birthday cake, celebration, special occasion, cake, gift ideas, food, review, competition, giveaway, Living Life Our Way

            Bakerdays are kindly giving away a letterbox cake to one lucky reader! Enter via the rafflecopter below.
            Open to UK residents only. Competition closes 14th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

            a Rafflecopter giveaway

            *Disclosure: Bakerdays sent us the letterbox cake for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

            CakeToppers – Personalised Cakes: Review and Giveaway

            I think Caketoppers read my mind; just when I was busy organising Squiggle’s party and thinking about her birthday cake, they dropped me an email asking if I would like to review their personalised photo cupcakes. Since it’s her birthday, they kindly agreed to send me cake toppers for her birthday party cake as well as two cupcakes to sample too, which I really appreciate!

            Caketoppers is based in Farnham, Surrey and offers a selection of personalised photo cupcakes, celebration cakes and toppers. You can use photos, logos or even drawings to personalise your choice of cake, so it makes it really unique. I chose my Living Life Our Way logo for the cupcakes. For the birthday cake toppers, I designed a picture on a photo app using some of Squiggle’s own drawings.

            Caketoppers, cupcakes, cake, celebration, competition, events, general life, gift ideas, giveaway, review, Special Occasions

            The cupcakes and toppers arrived promptly and were well packaged. I don’t like to create so much waste with plastic packaging personally, but it certainly meant that everything arrived very fresh and in perfect condition.

            Caketoppers, cupcakes, cake, celebration, competition, events, general life, gift ideas, giveaway, review, Special Occasions

            So firstly, the cupcakes. They are absolutely delicious! I literally dreamt about these cakes (yeah, yeah, I know). They were really moist and fluffy; they honestly tasted like they had just that second been made (by someone with far superior baking skills that my own!) Gorgeous. I would tell you what the rest of the family thought of them, but they wouldn’t know… they were way too good to share! I sampled one vanilla sponge and one chocolate; both were to the same yummy standard. I personally liked the vanilla sponge best but that is just my personal preference – both really were delicious!

            Caketoppers, cupcakes, cake, celebration, competition, events, general life, gift ideas, giveaway, review, Special Occasions

            The cupcake samples, like my example above, can be purchased for £5 including delivery. A set of 6 cupcakes are £12.99 plus postage. There are also various other options, so check out the website for details.

            As for the cake toppers, Squiggle loved the fact that her party cake was so unique and personal, decorated with her very own drawings. It meant so much to her! The cake toppers are easy to use; they came with detailed instructions but basically you just peel the back off then use icing to stick them on. They are ideal if you plan on baking a homemade cake but want a special finishing touch to decorate it with. Cake toppers cost from £7.45 for a round, square or rectangle edible photo topper.

            I ended up buying a supermarket ‘decorate your own’ celebration cake for the topper, which was a tiny bit too small so doesn’t really do the topper justice. However, that is entirely my own fault and not a reflection of Caketoppers whatsoever! Squiggle didn’t notice at all though – as I said, she was delighted with her special cake! We all were infact, love it.

            Caketoppers, birthday cake, celebration, competition, events, general life, gift ideas, giveaway, review, Special Occasions

            Caketoppers do also sell the right size cakes to match the cake toppers so you can decorate it yourself, if you fancy a semi DIY job. A round or medium square undecorated cake is £20 and large square (10 inch) is £26. (Plus delivery charges). I’ll admit I would have much rather ordered her party cake from them too, especially after tasting those amazing cupcakes, but this didn’t quite manage to happen – despite the fact that they do also have a super speedy next day delivery option. Mummy fail. Oops! (Long story that I won’t bore you with but absolutely nothing to do with the company!)

            Alternatively, you can purchase photo cakes with your own design printed on them, so the same concept as the cupcakes, only bigger. This is an easy, convenient option; and is the one that I am more than likely to opt for next time! These cost from £32.50 plus P&P for a medium 8 inch cake.

            All in all, I would definitely recommend Caketoppers, we are really impressed with them. It is a shame that the same can’t be said of my cake- making or organising skills! 😉

            Last but certainly not least, Caketoppers have kindly offered up for grabs a set of 6 yummy cupcakes, with the design of the winner’s choice. So enter my giveaway below for a chance to try these for yourself!

            a Rafflecopter giveaway

            Open to UK residents only. Ends 7th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

            *Disclosure: I was sent the cupcakes and toppers free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

            National Pet Show: A Fantastic Day Out For Pet/ Animal Lovers!

            This past weekend saw the return of the National Pet Show to Excel, London. For those who have never heard of it, this event hosts tonnes of pet-related stands with information, advice and products, as well as lots of talks, activities, shows and demonstrations. Of course, there are lots of animals too! 

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            We went to this event once previously, when Squiggle was much younger, back when it was held at Earls Court. (Blog post here). We had a lovely time and Squiggle remembered it well so we were excited to return!

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            We have only been to Excel once with Squiggle before, to watch the Paralympics in 2012, and I don’t think she recognised it. I personally really like this venue because it is spacious and has good facilities. Events can be very crowded and overstimulating for a child with autism, so it is good that the venue is big enough that it is possible to find a space in a quiet corner if needed. Plus, as it is located by the docklands, there is also somewhere calm outdoors to go for some fresh air if it does get too much. 

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            The pet show itself has a huge range of animals to see. I didn’t get a photo because s/he was attracting quite a crowd but Squiggle adored seeing the hairless cat, as well as many other rare breeds. I loved this funky dreadlock looking dog, a bergamasco, which is certainly not a breed I had come across before. So gorgeous though!

            Perhaps a slightly unusual highlight but, for me personally, one of my favourite parts was getting inspiration for our new bunny housing. We have already got the actual enclosure itself, but we spotted some great ideas of what else we could include for enrichment!

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            Squiggle also loved the opportunity to meet some more exotic pets in the reptile section, such as Terry the tegu, a python (I think?!) and a very giant tortoise. It was lovely to experience these magnificent creatures close up and hands on! 

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            Over at the More Than stand, there was a little display going on by this cute little poodle pair. I gather there were other appearances spotted here too! I also liked the park theme with children’s games, such as Connect 4 and Jenga. A nice little chilled out spot in the midst of the hustle and bustle!

            National Pet Show, More Than, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            As I already mentioned, there were lots of demonstrations and shows. For example, we saw this golden retriever display and got to meet them afterwards too.

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            There were lots of stalls with useful information too, such as various animal charities. We enjoyed meeting the therapy pets, including this beauty. I think a therapy dog would be amazing. But I also feel that any pets are great for autism, anxiety etc… They are so therapeutic! 

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            There were loads of children’s activities too. Stories, colouring, meeting animals, talks, games and even an exciting future vet activity with Noel Fitzpatrick. There was also a weaving activity; Squiggle was most excited about the huge rabbit that had been created!

            National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

            Tickets cost from £13.91 for a child ticket. However, Littlebird often have deals available, so it is well worth checking if there are any discounted tickets. Also, carers get free entry to assist those with disabilities so if this applies to you then do get in touch with them.

            As well as the London dates, the show is also held at NEC in Birmingham each November too (next dates are 4th and 5th November 2017). It is open all day from 9.30am to 5pm, with a schedule of different shows, talks, demonstrations and appearances throughout the weekend.

            It is a really fun day out. A fantastic event for those with their own furbabies, wannabe pet owners or general animal enthusiasts! 

            *Thank you to More Than for the complimentary pair of tickets we received. All thoughts are opinions are my own.

            Easter Bunny’s Garden Adventures by Squiggle

            Ever wondered what goes on whilst you are still asleep in bed? This, apparently…

            Easter Bunny really should jump to it getting those easter eggs delivered…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            But there is always time for a quick game of tennis with a friend…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            And badminton too…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            Oh look! Bunny height basketball…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            Shhh! He won’t spot me up here…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            Now for a spot of tag rugby. Doh! So close…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            Volleyball anyone?

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            And always time for a quick sack race too…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            Now, must dash! Someone is coming and I got things to do…

            Living Life Our Way, Easter Bunny, outdoor activities, Easter, events, freedom to learn, Home Education, childhood unplugged, activities at home, creative, photography, sports, stories

            HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!!! 

            Credits: 

            Concept, photography, set design and director ~ Squiggle

            Assistant ~ Andy (daddy)

            Captions ~ Katie (mummy)

            Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza 

            Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza event is a fun day out that we have been to every year for a number of years and yet it still works just as well as it is suitable for a range of ages. This year we were lucky enough to get a free family ticket through Herts Big Weekend but we did wonder whether this might affect the size of the crowd. Luckily, although it was busy, it didn’t seem particularly packed. And there is plenty of space and lots to do which helps it feel less crowded too.

            Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way

            The schedule of events is carefully timed so that you can still do the majority of activities and shows even if you are only there for half a day, like we were, but there is certainly more than enough to do for a whole day out too. We were able to do everything we wanted without feeling rushed from one thing to the next but without much spare time to fill either! 

            Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, Lilly Bobtail, meet and greet, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
            Squiggle meeting Lilly Bobtail

            Some of the highlights of this particular event include the Bunny Hop show, Easter Garden egg hunt, meet and greets with Peter Rabbit, Lilly Bobtail, Benjamin Bunny and Easter Bunny, and various shows by Peter Rabbit and friends – including a brand new show featuring all three characters on stage together. We didn’t see this particular show but we did watch the Bunny Hop show with the Easter Bunny.

            Squiggle loved this show and got really into it. One song in particular about chocolate really made her laugh and it was really catchy; she has remembered alot of it to sing to herself after just hearing it that once! 

            Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, Bunny Hop Show, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
            Bunny Hop Show

            The Easter Garden is open for most of the day, daily throughout the Easter Eggstravaganza event. Here you are given a basket on entry and then search the garden to find five different coloured eggs. Once you have completed the hunt you can exchange the five eggs you found for yummy chocolate prizes. 

            Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
            Easter Garden

            This is also where the Easter Bunny makes an appearance for meet and greet sessions, so be sure to check the schedule if you want to time your visit right! (Entry to Easter Garden is only permitted once). 

            Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, Easter Bunny, meet and greet, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
            Squiggle meeting Easter Bunny

            Other activities also available at Willows include Peter Rabbit playground, agility course, sand pit, funfair rides, bouncy castle and slide, animal encounters, tractor ride, indoor role-play village, tractors, soft play, and arts and crafts. Plus of course lots of animals! There is also a large cafe and gift shop. For further information see Willows Activity Farm website.

            Pathological Demand Avoidance: World Autism Awareness Day

            As it is World Autism Awareness Day, I would like to share some information on a lesser known type of autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

            “Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is increasingly, but not universally, accepted as a behaviour profile that is seen in some individuals on the autism spectrum.

            People with a PDA behaviour profile share difficulties with others on the autism spectrum in social communication, social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests. 

            However, those who present with this particular diagnostic profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This demand avoidant behaviour is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control.”

            The National Autistic Society 2017 

            Children with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) do not often respond to typical parenting techniques or even the usual strategies for autism. These approaches either do not work or make the situation worse. Effective approaches to best support PDA children are quite different and therefore it is important for people to understand this.

            Natasha, who writes over at unschoolingaspies.blogspot.co.uk, says that being flexible is key. “The more inflexible the child, the more flexible (and creative!) the adult needs to be.” So true!

            Amelia has one word of advice for other PDA parents: “patience“. I couldn’t agree more! Lots of it. 

            Further information on useful strategies can be found on The PDA Society website.

            In terms of educational approaches, again The PDA Society website has an excellent educational strategies booklet from Positive PDA available for download here. The Autism Education Trust have also created this PDF document ‘Strategies for Teaching Pupils With PDA’ sponsored by Department for Education.

            Kayleigh, A parent of a PDA child, also advises that PDA families “find people who are understanding”. I wholeheartedly agree. I feel that awareness, acceptance and understanding are essential. 

            On that note, I was thrilled when I found out that Fiona is running the Milton Keynes Marathon to raise awareness – and funds – for PDA. She has already reached her £1000 target for The PDA Society, which is amazing! Of course, further donations are warmly welcomed!!! If you would like to sponsor Fiona, go to her Just Giving Fundraising Page.

            Pathological Demand Avoidance, PDA, autism, World Autism Awareness Day, The PDA Society, SEND, ASD, ASC, charity, fundraising, events, marathon
            Fiona in training for MK marathon

            Further Reading:

            Books

            Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome in Children: A Guide for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals by Phil Christie et al

            Can I tell you about Pathological Demand Avoidance? by Ruth Fidler and Phil Christie

            Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: My Daughter is NOT Naughty by Jane Sherwin

            Websites

            www.pdasociety.org.uk

            www.thepdaresource.com

            Blogs

            memyselfandpda.com

            www.stephstwogirls.co.uk

            dinkyandme.wordpress.com

            Sally Cat’s PDA Page

            *Please note the Amazon books are affiliate links. This means I get a small referral fee on purchases. It does not cost any extra to the buyer. Thank you for supporting me in this way.