Thursday 23 May 2024


You'd think that common sense would exist when it comes to Assistance Dogs, but apparently not! Most of the time, people are respectful and ask the most amazing questions. But sometimes, people's are not respectful or polite.

So here are some stoopid things people say to our family....

"Oh I didn't see the coat!" Ummms I is a black Labrador with a red coat, my sister is black and white with an orange coat. Do you need to go to Specsavers? Twice this person came over with their dog to check that I had a coat on! What the fluffs man. Twice! Mums got cranky the second time.

"You don't look blind." I is an Autism Assistance Dog, not a guide dog. Mums even had a man say to her "it's okay, I'm just going to pat the dog." Mums was sitting down with sunglasses on and the man sat down next to her to pat me! I blocked without a command! Mum even had a lady verbally abuse her that Mum should give me to a sight impaired person who actually needs a guide dog.

"Do you really have to bring the dog in?" Yes because we help our children in many ways. And our public access rights are protected.

"They don't look disabled enough to need an Assistance Dog." My Dad says "and you don't look ignorant yet here we are." He has some good come backs!

So please don't be like these people. Please be respectful. 

Having an invisible disability is difficult enough, add in the unwanted rude comments, and life is much more difficult to navigate.

Thursday 9 May 2024

We're NOT all Autistic.


Oh but we're all a little bit Autistic."

Hmm, if you are Autistic, I'm guessing that you've heard that phrase or statement, or something very similar to it, at some stage from well meaning friends, family, colleagues or even from random strangers. Maybe even from a medical professional.

It honestly amazes me how often we hear this. At least once or twice, sometimes more, a week, someone tells me "oh but we're all a little bit Autistic." So far this week alone, that phrase has been said to me three times - once from a parent of an Autistic young adult. And depending on who says it, and how it is said, it really grates on my nerves.

Why does it grate on my nerves? Because we're not all a little bit Autistic.

Welcome to my unofficial TED talk on why we're NOT all a little bit Autistic.

At times when we hear that phrase, it's followed by, "but all children do that," or "I fidget," or something similar.

There are many Autistic traits, many of which can be seen during typical childhood developmental stages. For instance, toe walking. Babies and toddlers will often toe walk when learning to walk. But your typically developing child will outgrow toe walking. An Autistic child may toe walk for longer. Many Autistic adults toe walk.

Echolalia is another trait - the repetition of phrases or words. Listen to babies babbling. Often babies, and toddlers, will use Echolalia like speech patterns when learning to communicate. But a typically developing child will outgrow the echolalia speech patterns.

Fidgeting. Yes we all do fidget. And anyone who says that they've never fidgeted is telling porky pies. You might fidget because you're bored during a work meeting. You might fidget if you're nervous or anxious about an upcoming appointment. Fidgeting may look like tapping a pen or pencil, tapping your foot on the ground, playing with your finger nails, drawing random objects in the margins of your work books or diary.

For the neurotypical, ie non-Autistic, person, once you're out or away from that environment, the fidgeting stops and it no longer interrupts your day.

For an Autistic individual, stimming - aka fidgeting - is a part of their daily life. Every single day. Stimming is used to express emotions. Stimming is used to ground and self regulate emotions. Stimming is used as a tool to distract from the external over whelming sensory input.

For an Autistic person, stimming is a part of life. I carry sensory items in my pocket every single day just in case I need them. Up until recently, I didn't realise just how many times a day I use these items to self regulate my own emotions and to distract myself from sensory overload. And thinking back on it, I have always carried a small sensory item in my pocket during my adult life so far. One of those big aha moments.

Sometimes stimming is a welcome distraction. Other times, stimming can be detrimental especially if it is a self harming stim. For an Autistic individual, escaping from the environment does not mean that the stimming stops. Stimming is classed as a restrictive and repetitive behaviour, ie it occurs all the time and can impact their daily life.

I could go through all of the Autistic traits and criteria that are used to diagnose Autism, but we'd be here for days. So I'll move onto other reasons why we're not all a little bit Autistic.

If everyone was a little bit Autistic, the world be a much friendly sensory and social environment for everyone. Our world is set up for neurotypical individuals. Schools, shopping centres, attractions, hospitals, pretty much any place you visit, are not created with Autistic individuals in mind. Many of those places are a huge sensory nightmare.

"Oh but shopping centres can be very busy." Yes they can, especially around peak times throughout the year. But a simple shopping outing to buy groceries during an off peak period, can be socially and sensory overwhelming. For both my children, it's often the choices that are available. For example, buying a snack. They know they want a snack but there's so many choices. They may initially have a snack type in mind but then as soon as they see the other choices, their brains go into overload. It's then not a simple choice, and we'll often walk away with no snacks and with children who are feel overwhelmed and bombarded.

If we were all a little bit Autistic, the world would be much more inclusive of neurodiverse individuals. And let's be completely honest, the world really isn't truly accepting of differences and therefore not truly inclusive. Often in workplaces, Autistic individuals have to request and justify why they need accommodations. If workplaces were inclusive, Autistic individuals would not need to justify why they need certain accommodations simply to do their role.

If all children were a little bit Autistic, education settings would be created to suit all learning types. This definitely doesn't occur. As it is, all children (regardless of neurotype) learn in a different way, yet learning materials and assessments are standard for all. Individual Education Plans (they may have a different term depending on where you live) are created every school year to assist Autistic students to access a quality education that suits their learning style. And unfortunately these IEPs aren't always suited to the students changing needs.

None of things exist for Autistic individuals.

Autism is a neurotype. You either are or you aren't Autistic. It's not half and half. An Autistic individual doesn't choose when and where they're going to be Autistic.

It isn't a compliment to tell an Autistic individual that everyone is a little bit Autistic. Saying this implies that you are discounting everything that the Autistic individual has gone through to gain the diagnosis. You're discounting their struggles that they may hide every day. You're discounting the affects of Autistic masking. You're discounting the efforts that the Autistic individual maintains to navigate their world.

So please, please stop telling Autistic individuals that "we're all a little bit Autistic." Because one day they may respond with, "and we're all a little bit ignorant, let me re-educate you!"

And if you think you are a little bit Autistic, go and get an Autism Assessment done. Then you may just realise that no, we're not all a little bit Autistic. Because gaining an Autism diagnosis is another barrier for many people.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Sensory Overload.


Sensory overload.

Many people, including neurotypical individuals, struggle with sensory overload. Some individuals can tolerate this sensory overload. They will develop strategies to help them tolerate these sensory overload.

Autism and sensory processing difficulties often go hand in hand.

We're often told, "oh yes the lights are quite bright, I'll turn them down/off."

But sensory overload is not just bright lights. If an environment is too busy - lots of people or even lots of information/colours/posters/decorations on walls/ceiling and so on, this can cause sensory overload. Big smells from food and drinks. The texture of clothing or other items. There are many sensory inputs that can cause sensory overload.

For those individuals who have sensory processing difficulties, turning the lights off, turning music down, isn't the solution.

What does sensory processing difficulties feel like? It differs from individual to individual. O has always been, and still is, very articulate in describing how she feels. L is now much the same.

O .... "If your skin feels like it is crawling when you hear someone crunching on ice cubes, you might be able to imagine how sensory overload feels. But now add in that the constant continuing overwhelming sensory input that makes your skin feel like it is literally crawling and itching all the time. Your brain hurts like you have a migraine, to the point that you feel like your head is going to explode. Sounds feel like they're echoing around your head with a constant ringing in your ears. And nothing you do, can ease these sensations. The sensory overload may cause your brain to shut down, and cause the flight fight freeze response to take over. Once these feelings take hold, there is nothing you can do except escape from that environment. And it's not just sounds that cause sensory overload. Bright lights, clothing textures, places that are busy with people. Any sensory input collides with every other sensory input causing a tsunami of sensory overload."

I always thought that I was being overly dramatic with sensory inputs. I'd tell myself that I was fine and had to tolerate the sensory inputs. Now I know that I'm not being dramatic. I have sensory processing difficulties and I allow myself to react and respond to the overload.

So next time an Autistic individual tells you that they feel like they are becoming overwhelmed by the sensory input, ask, what you can do to help them.

Saturday 10 February 2024


How do Assistance Dogs communicate with our hoomans when we need them to pay attention to us?

Through our actions and at times barking!

When my boi runs away, I bark once and then sit and wait for my family to give me the command to track my boi.

When I see my boy hurting himself, I begin nuzzling him to redirect him to me. Sometimes I just go and lay on my boi!

I even go and nudge my boi, and my mum, with my nose when I sense that they need a break.

And my intelligent disobedience skills are paw-some! There are times when I know better, so I will not obey a command and make my boi doing something else instead. One day I saw my boy walking towards a road, so I dragged my Mum towards him and then pushed my boi back onto the footpath.

All Assistance Dogs will communicate with their owners in different ways!

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Saturday 3 February 2024

Come with us to Equine Therapy!

Come with us to Equine Therapy!

Equine Therapy is more than just spending time with the horses.

Equine Therapy is building a connection with your horse.

Equine Therapy is about learning new emotional regulation skills and putting them into practice.

Equine Therapy is learning how to communicate with the horses. Learning how to care for the horses - grooming them before and after riding, washing the horses down, getting their feed proportions correct.

Equine Therapy is learning to communicate with your horse while riding, giving the correct commands, seating positions on the saddle or bareback, learning to ride with no reins and controlling the speed and direction of the horse by moving your legs.

Equine Therapy is learning how to strengthen your core muscles.

Equine Therapy is more than just spending time with horses.