New Year, New Beginnings As the countdown began and Big Ben struck 12 I raised my glass to my husband and we wished each other a happy new year from the comfort of our own sofa. On this occasion both girls were asleep and whilst it would have been nice to see the new year in together at a bar or a fancy restaurant, finding a babysitter when you have a child with special needs isn't an easy task. I sat there and reflected on the year that had just past. My thoughts turned to 2016 and what it had lined up for me, for Lyla and for us as a family. New Year, New Beginnings? I think to myself I would love to return back to work as an accountant this year. It would be great to have the adult company and not for every other conversation to be about meltdowns, incontinence products and EHCPs. For me to chase month-end deadlines and late payments as opposed to chasing missed appointments for paediatricians, SALT and annual reviews. For me to have to do the banking, meet deadlines and clean my desk, rather than following strict routines, watching Waybuloo on a loop & cleaning poo off the walls. But then my thoughts turn to my beautiful girls, particularly Lyla. By now I would like to think I know her the best anyone could. That although she can't talk I understand her and she understands me. I have become not only her mother but also her carer, therapist, interpreter and voice. I wash her, feed her and dress her. I make sure she's comfortable with her surroundings and that everywhere we go is "Lyla proof" or that if it's too noisy or busy that we have her ear defenders on hand. I always make sure I have an apple on me wherever we go (her favourite food) just in case she has a meltdown when we're out and about. I make sure her iPad is charged and that we have enough episodes of Waybuloo on the planner to tide us through the night if she decides she doesn’t want to sleep, and when she is tired I will stroke her face and her back to calm her down. I know she likes to always sit on the right hand side of the sofa and that swinging will make her happy. I know that she loves to stand at the window and watch the rain or the leaves blowing on the tree and that she feels free when she is jumping on a trampoline. We have developed our own language which proves that love needs no words. And then I start to think about us as a family. How although I would love to return to work I do feel lucky to cherish all the moments I have with my girls. That although I attend countless appointments and workshops it also means I will never miss out on a school assembly or a sports day. I get to experience being a mum to a child with autism as well as experience all the new things Talia learns that Lyla may not yet have achieved, and even though it seems us as a family can cope with the struggles of autism sometimes it is hard for me to balance out being a carer, a mummy, and a wife. I need to ensure I take care of myself so I can continue to be the best me I can be. So for 2016, although I won't be returning to "work", I do intend to have some more me time, to have some date nights with my husband who works so hard to support our whole family and to spend more family days where I am just Mummy. New Year, New Beginning? Every day is a new beginning and what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Take each new day as it comes and know you are doing a fabulous job. Scarlett lives in Hampshire with her husband Ashley and their two daughters Lyla (six) and Talia (one). Lyla has autism, sensory processing disorder and attends a specialist school. Currently Lyla is non-verbal and has limited play skills and interests, but with the help of the iPad which was funded by Family Fund Lyla is starting to show new skills and abilities. Family Fund has been such a great contribution to our family lives. From technology (iPad and a laptop) to a family holiday to Butlins so that we could have quality fun time together following the arrival of Lyla’s younger sister Talia, which was quite a big change for her to deal with. Last year Lyla was granted sensory equipment and this has helped calm her down for sleep and has helped us to give her down time away from the iPad / TV which are her only other interests. You can follow Lyla and her photo journey for 2016 on Facebook or Instagram.