My name is Lisa. I'm Mammy to identical twin boys, Michael and Jaxon who are three years old and Blake who is 21months old. In March 2020 the twins received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder alongside a rare chromosome micro deletion 15q11.2.

Not everyone who has this missing chromosome will suffer any affects from it however, in Michael & Jaxon's case, they are affected significantly. We live in the North East of England, in a lovely little village which is only a 10 minute walk to the seaside; the perfect sensory location for our boys.

I'm sure most parents and carers will relate to my most used word; tired. I'm tired, all of the time. Unfortunately, the twins’ behaviours can become challenging throughout the day and also in the night. We are always making changes to our home to find a way to reduce the night time behaviours which is why I contacted Family Fund for some help.

We have received two grants now, the first was for a Haven holiday which was exactly what the Doctor ordered, to take us away from the home and to explore a different part of our beautiful country, and the second was for a new bed, mattress and bedding.

We are currently working alongside our occupational therapist on some strategies to help encourage our boys to become independent at meal times. We are encouraging them with initiating hand under hand, assisting them with their cutlery.

Michael is doing really well and he seems to be loving his new ability to feed himself now that Mammy and Daddy have been helping him, he's becoming more and more independent each day, and it is heart-warming and so rewarding to see. Jaxon on the other hand is not picking it up as quickly as Michael, he does try to feed himself on his own, but he does need Mammy & Daddy's help. With Blake, we are currently still in the very early stages of encouraging him to hold his cutlery, he prefers to throw it on the floor so we are taking our time with Blake.

Mealtimes can still be challenging though, as Michael tends to go through stages with certain textures, so noodles, pasta, rice and scrambled eggs will normally be turned away. He refuses to eat any type of fruit or vegetable, although we always put them on his plate and try to encourage him.

I always offer yogurt coated fruit for a snack, and whilst Jaxon and Blake enjoy them, Michael will just lick the yogurt coating off and leave the dried fruit. Jaxon will eat all fruits and vegetables, but his appetite is unpredictable. He can go through stages where he will clear his plate like a good boy or completely refuse to eat, so it can be challenging. Blake, however, is a food lover and will eat anything you put in front him.

Most of the time the twins will sit at their own table, this enables them to sit in the correct position with their feet flat on the floor. Sitting correctly with their feet on the floor is important as it helps the boys focus on their eating, rather than wriggling about in a chair that could be too big for them.

Occasionally the boys will sit at the dinner table with us, especially if I’ve prepared a meal that I know we will all enjoy, such as mammy's homemade lasagna or the traditional Sunday Roast. We want to continue with the boys in the correct eating position, sat at the dinner table with us so that we can all eat together, that way the boys will learn through imitation; watching us as their role models. To help us achieve this, we are introducing a new routine, and some booster seats which are secured to the dining chairs. We've also been given some steps from our Occupational Therapist to ensure the boys are sat in a comfortable position.

As a Mother, I’ve learnt so much in the last two years, thanks to our boys for being our biggest educators and I am so grateful and extremely proud to be an Autism Mam.

We are sharing our journey on our Instagram page and we would love for you to follow us and see our progress on the Spectrum. We share the reality of family life with an autism diagnosis, what it means for us and how it's changed us as a family. Our Instagram page has also become a support network for other parents who have concerns for their child as our followers find some kind of comfort and reassurance for their own family as they watch our boy’s progress. 

Find out how to apply for a Family Fund grant here.

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