Archive for May, 2009


My PECS School to Home Communicator is the book I needed five years ago. Now Archie is in a school with very good home-school communication. We have a book that goes back and forth in which pretty detailed information is provided. However, his previous school was not so good at letting me know what had happened each day, which at times caused problems  – something like this would have helped us all.


The book consists of pages of symbols with spaces for writing. Two pages per day. So the teachers can tick which classes the child has attended each day. There’s space to detail any homework and a tick box to say whether the child enjoyed their lunch with space to detail what they have eaten. The second page allows the teachers to tick a symbol describing the child’s mood (with a choice of happy, sad, frustrated, okay, tired and grumpy) with room for comments beneath. Then finally a few lines for things the child has to remember. 

The symbols make it easier for you to discuss the day with your child if you wish.


Read Full Post »



It’s pretty rare to come across a film about the severe or non-verbal end of the autism spectrum. The Black Balloon is such a film and it tackles it’s subject brilliantly. Directed and co-written by Elissa Down who has an autistic brother, the film includes instances from her life and she has used these to show the bizarre and often amusing side of life with severe autism.

The film follows the story of Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) who moves to a new home with his family. This includes his heavily pregnant mother (Toni Collette) and his severely autistic brother Charlie (Luke Ford). When his mother is hospitalised Thomas has to take on more responsibility for Charlie which results in him having to face up to the frustrations he feels about his brother.

The director’s personal experience of autism shows in the details. The film opens with shots of locks everywhere. The family treat bizarre, extraordinary occurrences (such as Charlie using a toilet in a stranger’s house) as entirely normal. And there’s a chase, where Charlie just runs and runs without stopping. I’m sure many of us have been there.  The mother is wonderful, but no martyr. She loses her temper when faced with the worst autism can throw at you and she looks tired and fed up. In short, she’s realistic. 

The acting is excellent with all members of the cast giving very natural performances. Toni Collette learned to use Makaton for this film and she uses it effortlessly. Luke Ford’s performance of Charlie is quite incredible. The extras section of the DVD explores how much effort he put into preparing for the role, and this has paid dividends with a truly excellent and entirely believable performance. 

The Black Balloon is a  warm  film which although funny at times doesn’t shirk from showing the difficult side of family life with autism. Highly recommended. 

Read Full Post »