I know this is a tricky one for many, all Z’s therapies are now done through school. His speech and language and Picture Exchange Communication being the main ones. He also has rebound therapy and he gets to use the hydrotherapy pool once a week. PECS is used every day at school, I think speech and language therapy is maybe once a week. As Z is in a special school we're lucky that being a small class size he is constantly being spoken to, which helps with language development.

Before school, the first ‘I Say’ therapy would have been a six week speech and play session at home. The lady was nice, but, because it wasn’t autism specific it didn’t work, it wasn't for Z. It was just the basic she would describe a toy; red ball, green square, that type of thing.

Next up portage, this was worth its weight in gold. He took to his portage worker straight away, and to see that little bond grow week after week was amazing. She was the first person he ever cried after when she left. She knew exactly how and what motivated him, she got him to sit at a table and do small tasks ready for school, helped him with eye contact. She taught me so much about how to help my son, especially deep pressure when he needed it. She tried to help me to understand him better, his needs, and how I could help with transitions when we were going through difficult patches. From meeting me at the crèche on a bad day to ringing just before she finished work to make sure we were ok. When I think of new ideas, it's thanks to her for telling me to always think outside the box.

He had two sessions of PECS, these were six months apart, and as a parent were a waste of time. It's not explained very well, it's not really helpful when you don't know what you are doing. Still now he uses PECS in school and not at home. It would be much easier if he did, but I think the parents need to have a full days training, not just the brief ‘this is it and off you go’. When it's explained why it's so important, I think the parents would be much keener to get on board.

The next therapy he had was messy play; this was to help him try new foods. It's something I was doing with him, just didn't realise it was classed as a therapy! My logic was if he'll play in a bowl of squirty-cream and some just happens to get into his mouth then a) it’s safe to eat and b) we may get a new food out of him! He was supposed to get five sessions of this, he had three then he started school. This is something I often do at home, we get the tray out and put a few foods on and ‘play’, no focus on eating, just messy play. Most of the times we try sweet food, this is me building up his trust. This therapy officially stopped a year ago, from then we have a few more foods in his diet, including yoghurt and custard. I'll take that as a win, it's calcium!

Last summer we bought him some guinea pigs, I read that they are good therapy pets for children. He likes this one, he will sit and cuddle him, it's even better now they are covering pets and animals in school, he will help to feed them. Well only this one really, he doesn’t like it when the other one eats the food. I'm hoping that they will help him try new foods, fruit and vegetables, not the guinea pig pellets!  

Jo is mum to Z, nearly four who was diagnosed with autism at 2 years 10 months. At the moment Z is still pre-verbal, he's starting to say the odd word, and his best friend is George our Chihuahua. They both love to go for walks and play in the water! - Read more of Jo's blogs at First Time Valley Mam