Remembering Terry Pratchett

I was 16 when I read my first Discworld novel. It was such a notable experience that I wrote it in my diary at the time, and have kept that diary for 23 years…

On March 12th this year, when I heard that he had died, I cried. I sobbed big gulping tears for someone who I’d met for mere minutes, causing my children to worry about me. It’s okay, I said, someone has died but it’s okay to be sad.

I suppose I shouldn’t say Terry Pratchett had a huge impact on my life, I should say that his novels (especially Discworld) have. But his genius shines through the words in novel after novel and it’s a huge loss to the world that he died far too soon. Sixty six years wasn’t long enough.

When Viv from Serendipity Reviews asked for contributions for a blog tour in his memory, I jumped at the chance. I’ll be reviewing Soul Music on Thursday. The tour started on 9th April and because I’ve been a bit lax with blogging I’m behind on reading all the posts but I look forward to catching up.

TPblogtour

 

Adult Autism Assessment (UK)

I had a plan. I was going to write the process of going for autism assessment as an adult as it happened. This fell apart within the first month, when I received an extremely vague referral acceptance letter from the local service, which started a long process of anxiety and uncertainty.

From initial referral to diagnosis, my process took 14 months. This varies from county to county depending on waiting lists and local services. It will take at least three months, with an unknown upper limit. This is not particularly helpful.

Wherever you are in England (and possibly the UK, but the services vary and my experience is in England), the first step to getting an adult autism assessment from the NHS is to get a GP referral. Alternately, you can try a private route.

Book an appointment specifically for the purpose of talking about a referral, and prepare a statement in advance. If you have come to the point of looking to go through assessment, you have probably read a lot about the subject to suspect that you are on the autistic spectrum. The most useful thing to take to your GP is an example of how you think you fit the three areas of the ‘triad of impairments’. To be honest, I just waffled and didn’t prepare at all, but it would have been helpful.

The next step is to wait, and wait, and wait… Actually it was only two weeks since seeing my GP that I got a letter from the local autism service accepting the referral. If you have heard nothing with a month, you do need to chase.

The rest of the steps vary from county to county, and are very personal. It’s not possible for me to write about the process in detail because I am still processing much of it, and also I don’t actually want to share most of it because it it so personal.

However, here is a summary (with timescales) of the stages I went through:

Jan 2014 – GP referral

Feb 2014 – Referral acceptance letter

Aug 2014 – Pre-assessment letter, and form to complete

Sept 2014 – Pre-assessment interview in person (1 hour)

Oct 2014 – Pre-assessment questionnaires to complete (200+ questions)

Jan 2015 – Assessment day in person: 6.5 hours including  interview, lunch, tests, interviewing informant (in my case, husband)

Mar 2015 – Assessment feedback in person incl diagnosis if any (1 hour)

In between those dates were many, many e-mails chasing up what was happening, asking for clarifications, sending further information (including from a parent) etc.

In some guides I’ve read, it states that diagnosis will be given at the end of an assessment. With the service I was assessed with (ADRC Southampton), they have a meeting once all evidence is collected for a wider team to confirm whether the correct diagnosis has been made. They do not give any hints of any diagnosis until the assessment feedback session.

I won’t lie, it was a stressful process. The full-day assessment was especially draining, but the uncertainty and waiting caused me huge anxiety. It affected my entire household. There were  times I wished I’d never started but I’m glad I went through the process and have the diagnosis.

Our Week in Books #11, #12, #13, #14 & #15

It’s been a while…

I have lost track a little of where I am with books, and I have this nagging feeling that I got another review book that I haven’t written down (Instagram is saving my memory at the moment, but if I don’t Instagram something it gets lost in my head…) I have no idea where we are with picture books, and need to spend a little while adding the piles next to the bed onto Goodreads.

I also so need to get reviews written. I had a breakthrough in the middle of the night this week and can change my self-imposed review structure to something that is easier to keep up-to-date so I just need to get the initial books finished and launch Chaos Castle and continue to populate it. I’ve been struggling over getting the format and layout right, and that stops me writing actual reviews. Yes, I know it shouldn’t. My brain works like that. Did I mention I’m autistic?

At the moment I’m not entirely sure what day of the week it is, or what I should be doing. I have lots of half-formed ideas in my head that I need to put into a proper structure. Plus I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing with my diagnosis. I did it for me, but I’m getting advice that I can apply for support for things that I didn’t even notice I had problems with (Normalisation apparently.)

I need to get back into regular blogging. I enjoy it. I have blogs floating through my head all the time. If I could publish from my brain, there would be so much content here.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 104/365 = 28.5%
Read 52: 16/52 = 30.8%
Picture books: ??/52 = ??%
Short reads: 23/52 = 44.2%

Books reviewed: none (half-written five…)

Books read (excl picture books):
The Pirates of Pangaea: Book 1
Mia The Bridesmaid Fairy (read aloud)
The Sin Eater’s Daughter
The Spy Who Loved School Dinners (read aloud)
Station Eleven
Mort

Books added to shelves:
Otto the Book Bear – Katie Cleminson (bought from The Works)
Eleanor Won’t Share – Julie Gassman & Jessica Mikhail (bought from The Works)
How Pirates Really Work – Alan Snow (bought from The Works)
Catch That Rat! – Caryl Hart & Tom McLaughlin (bought from The Works)
I Am Henry Finch – Alexis Deacon & Viviane Schwarz (bought from Mostly Books)
The Amazing Broccoli Boy – Frank Cottrell Boyce & Steven Lenton (bought from school book club)
Nuts in Space – Elys Dolan (bought from school book club)
The Twits – Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (colour) (bought from school book club)
George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (colour) (bought from school book club)
Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (colour) (bought from school book club)
The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me – Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (colour) (bought from school book club)
The King and The Sea – Heinz Janish & Wolf Erlbruch (review book from Gecko Press)
When Dad Showed Me The Universe – Ulf Stark & Eva Eriksson (review book from Gecko Press)
The Rising – Tom Moorhouse (charity shop, new & signed)
Usborne What’s Happening to Me? (second hand from charity shop)
Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren & Lauren Child (second hand from charity shop)
Here Be Monsters – Alan Snow (second hand from charity shop)
Dixie O’Day: Up, Up and Away – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy (gift from Clara Vulliamy)
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light (bought from Amazon)
The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury (bought from Amazon)
Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook – Terry Pratchett (bought from Amazon)
Asperger’s Syndrome in 13-16 Year Olds – Alis Rowe (Free Kindle)
The Book of Magic Numbers – Sarah Sophia Boros (free Kindle)
Ten Little Dinosaurs – Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty (review book from Hachette)
Cumulative: 104

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 16

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 102

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Blades of Grass

On one of the brief sunny days last week, I was walking to pick up my children from school and (as usual) looking down. As I look at the grass verges, I see the blades of grass nestle together. I see each individual blade: thinner blades, thicker blades; taller blades, shorter blades; patches of mud, a daisy here and there. It’s still a grass verge, and my brain certainly isn’t quick enough to count each blade of grass, but it’s also lots of individual parts making up a whole.

And I have no idea if I see what other people see. I don’t know whether someone else just sees a swathe of green with texture, or sees each blade, or sees the people walking towards them because they’re not looking down at grass verges as they walk.

I’ve not been blogging much for quite a while. I’ve been thinking too much. And being anxious. Being a lot of anxious. It makes concentration hard.

And now I’m trying to re-frame my life as being disabled. I’ve seen myself as useless, and needy, and pathetic, and incapable; but never disabled. It feels strange.

I am autistic.

I can’t quite get the words to come out without having to qualify it somehow.

Of course I’m not very autistic.

Of course it’s Asperger’s really, if that still existed as a diagnosis, not real autism…

15 months. One hour pre-assessment. 400+ questionnaire questions. Six hours observation, interviews and tests with clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist. Two hours interviewing my husband. 2500+ words of supporting information. Seven years of secondary school reports. 60+ questionnaire questions to my mother. 35 pages of feedback report.

“… would confirm a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…”

I am autistic.

Our Week in Books #9 & #10

Terry Pratchett died.

Nothing else really matters this week. Posting just because I started over a week ago.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 74/365 = 20.3%
Read 52: 12/52 = 23.1%
Picture books: ??/52 = ??%
Short reads: 21/52 = 40.4%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days
Silverlake Fairy School: Dancing Magic (read aloud)
Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost (read aloud)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil
Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen
Reasons to Stay Alive
Isla the Ice Star Fairy (read aloud)

Books added to shelves:
Very Little Cinderella – Teresa Heapy & Sue Heap (bought from The Story Museum)
Famous Five: Five Run Away Together – Enid Blyton (birthday present for MG)
Famous Five: Five Go Off in a Caravan – Enid Blyton (birthday present for MG)
Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen – Chris Riddell (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
A Pirate’s Guide to Landlubbing – Jonny Duddle (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Killing the Dead – Marcus Sedgewick (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Geek Girl: Geek Drama – Holly Smale (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing – Barry Hutchison & Chris Mould (bought from Mostly Books)
Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost – Pamela Butchart & Becka Moor (bought from Mostly Books)
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (bought from Amazon)
Elmer’s Parade – David McKee (£1 WBD book from Mostly Books)
Pirates of Pangaea – Dan Hartwell & Neill Cameron (bought from Mostly Books)
Ice in the Jungle – Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar (review book from Child’s Play)
The KnowHow Book of Spycraft (birthday present for MG)
Cumulative: 80

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 16

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 102

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Sneak Peek at New Book Blog

It’s World Book Day (UK)! I love WBD, especially the £1 books. As a parent, WBD dressing up can be a stress, but so far I’ve not been asked for any exotic outfits. This morning my daughters have gone in as Ottoline (home clothes, odd shoes) and Cinderella’s fairy godmother (fairy dress over home clothes)!

As it is world book day, and I’m bursting to share this anyhow, I thought I’d give you a geeky sneaky peeky at Chaos Castle…

ChaosCastle

Chaos Castle is home to lots of lovely books, predominately illustrated books (but I’ll stretch that definition to ‘just’ an illustrated cover if I feel like it!) It will only showcase our favourite books (that still means a lot of books!) and aims to cover all age ranges.

I’m starting from scratch, so all reviews will be new, so it won’t be huge at first but I’m planning to add our old favourites alongside new ones. The reason I’m not ready to launch is because there is virtually no content up yet, and I haven’t given myself a deadline…

This is a geeky sneaky peeky because I want to talk about what I’ve been doing behind the scenes. Firstly, there is my amazing illustrator, Wellington Drawe (Duncan Wilson), who is creating a world for me to populate. Without him, Chaos Castle would not exist.

Secondly, there are my theme alterations. I’m on WordPress, and I chose the Mantra free theme because it gave me the look I wanted plus is so easy to customise without going anywhere near the code.

There are a few customisations that weren’t offered in the (extensive) options so I created a child theme to play with the CSS and PHP. I know very little about CSS and PHP. PHP has been the easiest part for me to alter, because there are plenty of online references and I come from a programming background. CSS has been a nightmare, and I still haven’t managed to get it to do what I want yet!

Some of the customisations I’ve added are:

  • Different headings for category archives, depending on parent category. e.g. if the parent category is ‘ages’, the header will be “Books suitable for AgeRange”
  • Different headings for tag archives, depending on tag slug. e.g. if a tag is defined as a publisher (which I set in the tag slug), the header will be “Books Published by PublisherName”
  • Added curved boxes for tags, with different colours depending on tag type (e.g. Publisher, Creator, Theme)
  • Format of review page (which I’m currently tearing my hair out over getting the CSS to do what I want!)

SneakPeek

The image above is a sneak-peek of how part of the front page and archive pages might look. Chaos Castle is home to various book-loving characters :-)

Technically Chaos Castle is live, but I’m making constant changes and using temporary images in many places so I’m not linking to it yet. I’m very excited about my project, and I hope you will enjoy it too. It is a vanity project I guess, but also a thank-you to the wonderful people who create the books we enjoy.

Thank-you for letting me gush, and Happy World Book Day (UK)! :-)

Our Week in Books #7 & #8

More reading, less buying, and a bit of decluttering. Quite a successful fortnight.

No reviews though. But I’m working on that for next week (hopefully).

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 58/365 = 15.9%
Read 52: 9/52 = 17.3%
Picture books: 18+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 18/52 = 34.6%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety
Daisy and the Trouble with Giants (read aloud)
My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat (read aloud)
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient
Shades of London: The Shadow Cabinet
Ruby the Red Fairy (read aloud)
Amber the Orange Fairy (read aloud)
Saffron the Yellow Fairy (read aloud)
Fern the Green Fairy (read aloud)
Sky the Blue Fairy (read aloud)
Izzy the Indigo Fairy (read aloud)
Heather the Violet Fairy (read aloud)
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones

Books added to shelves:
The First Slodge – Jeanne Willis & Jenni Desmond (review book from Little Tiger Press)
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle (birthday present for MG)
Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery (birthday present for MG)
The Once and Future King – T H White (99p Kindle on 15 Feb)
The Shadow Cabinet – Maureen Johnson (£2.99 Kindle on 15 Feb)
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr (99p Kindle on 25 Feb)
Cumulative: 66

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 16

Books removed from shelves: 68
Cumulative: 102

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Eight

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It’s eight years since my eldest child was born.

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Eight years getting to know a wonderful person.

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We have our ups and downs. We’re so alike we wind each other up; we’re so different we misunderstand each other.

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I wouldn’t have her any other way.

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Thank-you for making me a mother, Mighty Girl. I love you more than words.

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Our Week In Books #5 & #6

Oops, what a very long list of books I appear to have acquired in the last two and a bit weeks… I suppose using the excuse that some are for MG’s birthday isn’t quite good enough? And The Book People flash sale? And that WHSmith 3 for 2 plus £5 off £15 spend voucher works together making bargainous book buying? And 99p Kindle books are just too easy to collect? Oh, okay, I really need to not buy anything more until I’ve read lots.

Still no reviews. That’s 12 reviews behind where I want to be. Half term next week so nothing will happen then. So I’ll be 16 reviews behind before I even start probably. Oh bother. Must write reviews. Must write reviews…

I am not requesting any review books until I have reviewed, which is painful because I’ve been sent three catalogues I’ve been allowed to request from but it’s not fair so I’m not going to. Yet.

I have got back to reading regularly again though, which is good.

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 44/365 = 12.1%
Read 52: 5/52 = 9.6%
Picture books: 18+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 12/52 = 23.1%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Baby Aliens Got My Teacher! (read aloud)
Daisy and the Trouble with Life (read aloud)
The Dreamsnatcher
Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos (read aloud)
Perry Angel’s Suitcase
Heart of Dread: Frozen (NetGalley)
Murder Most Unladylike
Arsenic for Tea

Books added to shelves:
The Complete First Edition Brothers Grimm – translated Jack Zipes (bought from Amazon)
Perry Angel’s Suitcase – Glenda Millard (bought from Mostly Books)
Phoenix – SF Said (bought from Mostly Books)
Sardines of Love – Zurine Aguirre (review book from Child’s Play)
Her Idea – Rilla (competition prize from Flying Eye Books)
Ever After High: The Unfairest of Them All – Shannon Hale (bought from Amazon)
Ever After High: Once Upon A Time – Shannon Hale (bought from Amazon)
Murder Most Unladylike – Robin Stevens (bought from Amazon)
Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety – Alis Rowe (bought from Amazon)
Arsenic for Tea – Robin Stevens (bought from Mostly Books)
Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights – Steven Lenton (bought from Mostly Books)
Violet and the Pearl of the Orient – Harriet Whitehorn & Becka Moor (bought from The Book People)
Lego Play Book x2 (bought from The Book People)
Lego Standing Small / Minifigures Sticker Book x2 (bought from The Book People)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer – Derek Landy (bought from The Book People)
The Spy Who Loved School Dinners – Pamela Butchart & Thomas Flintham (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Magic Ink – Steve Cole  (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
The Scandalous Sisterhood – Julie Berry  (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
The Fields of Grief – Giles Blunt (bought from WH Smith)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men – Derek Landy (bought from WH Smith 3 for 2)
Temple Run Annual 2015 (bought from Poundland)
The Beastly Pirates – John Kelly (review book from Bloomsbury)
One Hundred Proposals – Holly Martin (99p Kindle on 4th Jan)
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf – Nick Bryan (99p Kindle on 9th Jan)
Slated – Teri Terry (99p Kindle on 17th Jan)
The Warble – Victoria Simcox (Free Kindle on 30th Jan)
The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon (99p Kindle on 6th Feb)
Cumulative: 60

Library books borrowed: 5
Cumulative: 16

5yo's choice from the Library Bus today #libraryhaul #mobilelibrary

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

7yo's #libraryhaul from mobile library last week

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

Books removed from shelves: um… lost track. Maybe 8?
Cumulative: 34

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #4

Things I haven’t done this year:
Post ‘our week in books’ every Wednesday as planned
Write book reviews
Read much
Write blog posts other than ‘our week in books’
Update book spreadsheet
Send additional supporting info after assessment last Friday
Finished design and written reviews for book review blog

Things I have done this year:
Been very anxious
Played Temple Run 2 on phone obsessively
Made a net gain of one book when I should be culling
Visited library to return 18 books, borrowed 11 (minus children)
Had autism assessment day (follow-up with results in 4-6 weeks)

Our Week in Books in Numbers
Year progress: 29/365 = 7.9%
Read 52: 1/52 = 1.9%
Picture books: 17+?/52 = ??%
Short reads: 8/52 = 15.4%

Books reviewed: none

Books read (excl picture books):
Layla Queen of Hearts – Glenda Millard

Books added to shelves:
The Snow Merchant – Sam Gayton & Chris Riddell (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Skulduggery Pleasant 4: Dark Days – Derek Landy (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Daisy and the Trouble with Giants – Kes Gray & Garry Parsons (bought from WHSmith 3for2)
Cumulative: 27 (£46.19)

Library books borrowed: 11
Cumulative: 11

#libraryhaul 1/2

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

#libraryhaul 2/2

A photo posted by Anne-Marie (@childledchaos) on

Books removed from shelves: none
Cumulative: 26

A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup