Next week, little Mr and not so little Miss go back to school.

Our daughter is in Year 6, so she is part of the first group and is looking forward to getting back - even if for only 6 weeks. She is a little upset that didn't get to do her SATS (she had worked very hard and in all pre-tests averaged just 1 wrong question - so she really wanted to test herself).

So, she is not happy that missed SATS and the day to go visit her new school where only her and 2 other girls from year 6 are going - but is happy to get back to the routine. We're also happy as it removes that distraction of electronics and Roblox 🙂

Little Mr is also heading back. He is only year 2, but because of his needs he has a full time place starting next week. Well, we say full time - they asked us if he could stay off Wednesday's as they have a full class on Wednesday - they have some children doing just some days...

He gets full time because he is one of the more vulnerable children - in regards to his needs. Though it's going to be a challenge as he has been off for nearly 2 months - and they are only back for 5 weeks.

We're all looking forward to normality

We're all looking forward to it though, the normality. Also, the school were really progressing with little Mr and we feel he has fallen back a little due to not having that expertise input each day - we do our best but don't always have all the knowledge or skills that have.

I myself are looking forward to doing something more productive. At the beginning of this pandemic I found myself, like many, out of work. I did all the necessary and we have coped well - but I have to start getting back into more day to day work now we are getting more open as a country - the UK if you didn't realise 🙂

I'm not sure how long it will take us, as a country, as a world, to get back to normality - but we really need to strive for it. This virus will be with us for longer that we think - but we just need to follow the guidelines to help us.

What I hope is that a vaccine can come soon. What I don't want is for our kids to have to miss out on the day to day interaction they have with their peers. When we were at school we got to interact in the playground - not from just 2 metres away.

Normality will be to be able to just be in a room and not worry that we are going to get a virus. We never had to worry about that with things like colds and flu's - so hoping that we can get to a place where Covid-19 fits in with those (because of any vaccine).

It's been difficult - but least we had a garden

Looking back over the past few months - like many would say, it's been difficult. Having to stop in the house - especially as little Mr just loves to get out.

We went from just being able to go out, take drives for him to enjoy - to not being able to leave the house. He didn't understand at first. However, the good this is that we have a garden and he spent quite a bit of time out there. I know many didn't have that luxury so I am really thankful of that.

We were allowed to do out daily exercise - so we went for a walk around the estate. This was the only outside world we saw.

The negative side is, that this became the normal. Getting into the car, now that we can, has become a little more difficult. He finds it difficult to tolerate longer drives - something we had to work on some time ago. So, another challenge we now have to re-work on.

We all have new challenges

We all have new challenges because of this pandemic. Some are more minor and some major. Moving forward we will have these changes to living to deal with, this virus living with us. Let's hope that we can progress through this and come out with a new normal that matches our old normal.

I know little Mr will get back on the right path when he gets back to school - though for less time that he will be off again for summer holiday.

I know that not so little Miss will progress well - even with the challenge of not being able to see her new school and teacher when she moves up in September.

I know we will progress with our challenges - such as new uniform (she needs some parts embroided with name) and new work.

Shops are still a challenge with queues to get in.

But we will all get through this...

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First off, it's been a little while since I have written a post - so many things going on.

I'm not sure I let everyone know, and it's funny that I title this as the 2020 year of change when 2019 was a big year of changes too.

First off, in 2019 I sent through 3 jobs. The first one I had been with for 6 years but was made redundant. I then searched around and got offered a role working on a new product using C# and ASP.Net.

Unfortunately, that one didn't work out. We released the first product but the company didn't fit with me. So I handed in my notice to start with a 3rd company who writes business systems produce in C# and C++.

As you can imagine - that was a lot of change throughout the year. The bonus is, this new company where I have now been for 3 months is walking distance - well 20 minutes walk.

I also spent some time in Poland - the best part of a week - where we have an office. My first visit and I enjoyed it...

Anyhow, back to 2020.

What's happening in 2020

Well, the biggest change will be no so little Miss going up to senior school.

Last year she did a lot of work around the 6 weeks holiday where we worked towards her doing the grammar test. She passed that - plus an academic test at her 2nd choice school.

However, at the moment we are waiting to hear which school she does get into. Whichever one it is will still be quite a big change.

Whichever school it is means a change in our morning routines - I will have to drop her in while my wife does the afternoon run.

There will still be changes with little Mr in regards to school as he will progress through the classes as needed. They don't progress in an ordered fashion like at a mainstream school - he goes into the class that best suits his skills.

One other change we were contemplating this year was a house move - though I think (at least at the moment) that will want until 2021 or 2022 now.

Holiday breaks

The other thing we are trying in 2020 is something other than going to Butlins. We love Butlins but we have been quite a few times in the last 5 years.

It's time for a change - so we are going back to a place we have not been to for 10 years.

Holidays are always difficult. Little Mr is not good on planes - as you may have read in one of my earlier posts. We went to Spain a year and half ago which was the first time he had been back on a plane in 4 years. 

Needless to say, we are going to give it a few more years. This year though we are going to go on the ferry over to the Isle of Wight.

We last went there when not so little Miss was just 8 months old. We're even going back to the holiday park we stayed at then - though there have been a few changes.

New paediatrician

One other change is we see a new paediatrician for not so little Miss.

We've seen the same one for a few years now but she forward us on to someone that is more experienced with older children. She always believed that she was on the fence for ASD - so we hope this new doctor can tell us more or more definite.

That could prove to be a bigger change than any of the others this year. 

Change is good

So, there are plenty of changes - some to lifestyle this year. Change is good. Change is inevitable. As I said, I could have changed the title to 2019 and still listed many things.

The moral is, embrace the change. If you're just getting a diagnosis then embrace it. If you need to change lifestyle or school - embrace it.

Don't let anything get you down - always drive for a better life and an enjoyable one.

Embrace life and love everyone.

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As I sit here, in front of my iPad on New Years Eve evening 2019, I’m reflecting back on the year.

Changes this year

This year has certainly had its changes. I’ve had 3 jobs. I was made redundant from a job I was in for 6 years, started at a new company but after 3 months found it wasn’t for me. Then started the 3rd at the beginning of November.

Little Mr had had some changes, with his growth and changing class for the new year.

We looked at secondary schools for not so little Miss as well as helping her practice to take the Grammar test (she passed).

Along with all the regular stuff we generally have in our life being a ASD family.

It’s amazing how much more preparation we have to do as well as not being able to do the simple things these days.

So it’s been a busy year

So, it has been quite a busy year with all this going on. Amazingly, it has also been quite a quick year.

It may be because of all the things that have happened but it doesn’t seem like a year has passed.

That said, with all the changes in work I probably spent almost 2 months between jobs - mainly because the 2nd job I had wanted me to wait an entire month to start???

I’m hoping for a more stable next year to be honest.

I have my doubts on this, due to not so little Miss changing school next September as she starts secondary; but I can hope.

One thing I do want to remedy

The one thing I do want to fix in 2020 is my social media and blogging. This year it kind of took a back step.

With all the changes, challenges and so on, I never really got to blog too much.

What I am doing, to change this, is remove some of the blogs I started as tests and let them go. I want to concentrate on my main sites - this being one. As well as my SeanMcCammon.com site. This later is where I blog more general stuff - plus tech stuff around development and so forth.

I really want to try and concentrate/focus on getting my sharing and chatting back up to speed.

Giving back

I am also going to start sharing some tools I have in development.

Over the past year or two I have tested out some SEO tools. Tools that you have to pay a subscription too. Tools that do specific things.

I’m going to be using my new found ASP.NET skills (I moved back into doing actual development, away from more managing development) and produce tools that will, for me, replace these subscription tools.

These tools I am writing for myself to use, to save me paying out $30 here and $30 there for similar tools. Tools that maybe more polished - but that is something I will be building on.

The bonus is that I will be putting these tools up for free use. When created I will be putting them up on a new site for anyone to use.

Now, the initial release (when I can complete this first tool) will be a single tool. I can only work on one at a time. However, I hope to put together a few through next year.

This is a personal project I want to add to my new commitment of blogging.

I will probably include any updates on my personal site but also on this new site. Posts to keep everyone updated.

So my 2020 is going to be full

So, as you can imagine. I expect to do a lot in 2020 and I hope to not over commit. The minimum for me is to return to blogging more and to release the first of the tools.

More will follow though - in those new blog posts.

But, until then. I hope everyone has a great New Year’s Eve and New Year.

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I wanted to try something different today. I recently downloaded, recently being today, a new handwriting note-taking app for my iPad: one that's compatible with the Apple pencil. So I wanted to test this by writing a quick post using it.

As part of the app, it converts or can convert, the handwriting into text. Even my bad handwriting. At this point, it seems to be doing a very good job: even when I misspell things.

But why you may ask?

Why should I be trying this you may be wondering?

The truth is, although I am not the greatest writer: I do like to write. The best writing, or the best flow of writing, I find happens when I put pen to paper.

This isn't truly pen to paper of course: but it's amazing how close it is. And to be able to take my scribble and automatically get it converted... Well, to me, that's going to motivate me to write down notes move and share.

In can you wandered, before I go off on another tangent, this app is called Nebo.

I can see me using this app a lot more

New technology, when embraced, can help and improve our lines and our workflow.

I know this app is going to improve Mine.

As I said in the beginning, this post is really about testing this app and how capable it is. I think it's really capable of what I want and is going to allow me to be creative...

So I hope to start sharing more again.

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So, it's been a little while since I last wrote and uploaded a new post. You may have been wondering where I have been? What have I been doing?e

So, I just wanted to write a quick, more personal, post on where I have been and what I have been doing.

So, where have I been?

The short answer is I've not been anywhere. I've been here all long... 

Well, here, at home. I've not left the country or any other elaborate things such as that.

What has happened though is I started a new job. My previous role ended in June. I spent some time looking at got offered a job with a small company doing some development in C# and ASP.NET.

However, I couldn't start there until August and so spent some most of July doing some things around the house and then spending the last week of my time off with the wife and kids.

When I started working it was an intense start. I had to get back into doing just development and back into C#. I also had to start to get up to speed with ASP.NET (something I am still doing) as I had never really done much development in web ap's.

The good thing is, that, it seems to be currently going well. There is a lot of work to do due to some time schedules - but it is keeping me busy which is why content is slow to come.

What I may do is include any stuff I learn along the way - though I have started to write some posts on my old personal website over at seanmccammon.com

I've had that site for too many years and it's changed many times - though as always been more of a personal share and all about us site: where as this is more about our life as a family.

What I've been doing

I'm not sure I need to expand as I've really given the details above - but let's do this. Let's get deeper.

So, as I have said. A lot of what I have been doing has all been about getting up to speed with this new role. 

That's work. At the same time, a lot has been going on at home. 

So, the first thing is that not so little Miss wanted to do the Grammar test this year. So, I've been working with her to help her prepare for this.

Maths and Verbal Reasoning she has been doing well with, but like me, English is not her best subject. So, if she missing out on the score it would be down to this.

She has worked hard on this, doing some work every day since July - so I am hoping she gets enough points to reward her. 

On that, she did the test yesterday. She said the only thing was the comprehension in the English, as we expected, and so now we just have to wait until October for the results. Here's fingers crossed.

With that out of the way, this spares up a little time again for both of us. No section of the evening cordoned off to work on this every day.

The other thing is, that, little Mr has become a little Mr for sure. He had enough of being off school and that caused an issue. Then when he went back he was in a new class with a new teacher and thy mixed up all the kids that were in his class for the last 2 years.

So, with only 2 out of his previous class plus 4 or 5 kids from another class - he's been difficult to settle. This has caused some issue in and out of school.

Change is difficult and so it's just a matter of support and trying to wait it out. We're hoping as the weeks go on he will settle.

That said, there are lots of other things changing in his school. As his school is more than just Autism based - it does make us think: should we try and apply to a nearby school that is just for children with Autism? 

We feel he had done well in this school for the last 2 years - but we also know what changes are happening so worry.

So, lots been going on

So, I hope you see that time has been taken up and I've not been anywhere - just not really had time to sit and write.

I do hope to start to share more going forward. See if grammar school works out. See if little Mr.'s school experience picks up again. Winter is coming and that always brings an issue too.

What even does happen though - I need to get back into the sharing... issues, and remedies we use.

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Let me start by saying that this is more a personal blog entry. It's just me sharing what's in my head with everyone. I like to share from time to time, share what is going on but also share what I am thinking... That said, lets start with my sharing 🙂

So, some may already know this (those that have been following my twitter at the time of writing this), some of you may not - I’ve been unemployed for the last month.

Well, the reality is that I’ve been between jobs because I did have a role I accepted just after I finished my previous. However, because of reasons I won’t go into - I couldn’t start until 1st August - which is next week at the time of writing this.

So, with just 1 week, well even less than that, to go; I’m excited and looking forward to the new challenge. 

However, starting a new role in a new company does pose us a few challenges.

What challenges do we foresee?

It may seem a bit bad for me to say that a new job poses some challenges. There are many out there that are also between jobs but have yet to find one. I’m certainly grateful that I could the role I have when I did.

This last month has given me the time to do some of those things I have had on my list for a while. I decorated little Mr’s room. We did some gardening. I built up a new shed. Plus many other things. 

It has also given me the time to think. There have been a number of things I have thought about - one, in particular, was how flexible my previous role was.

When I needed to work from home or a late morning to take little Mr to the dentist - that accommodated that. They accommodated me as they knew about little Mr and why we would need sometimes to do these other things.

Starting a new role as a dad with a child on the spectrum - they don’t know our citation. So, those mornings I need to take little Mr to the dentist I will need to book off. Some of the other things my wife will have to do more - we won’t be able to share some of those.

It’s about working with the company till a point they understand that there are times I need something and that taking that time won’t affect my work. It’s about building up that relationship.

Does it take more time to build up they understanding?

I also think that, unless the person(s) you are working with also have a child on the spectrum or some other disability - they may not fully understand what takes up your time. There is just a finite number of times you could listen to the same song or do the same activity after all... is there?

To build up that understanding of why you sometimes have to leave early or do a dentist run take longer and requires more effort. At least that’s how it is for me.

To lead them on that journey into special needs. To show them why you need to sometimes do the things you need to, and Why you may need time to do them.

It’s certainly a difficultly that you need to endure and get through as part of your new role. Just a much as learning your role and new company.

Having met the people I will be working with, I’m sure that this stage of understanding won’t take us too long to get through.

The unlucky timing

The other item on the list of thinking about my new role is the unlucky timing. Generally, through the 6 weeks holidays (that’s school holidays for those outside of the UK), I usually take a day or 2 each of the weeks as a holiday day. 

The reason is, most kids start to find it difficult towards the end of the holiday with things to do. Things to keep them occupied. Little Mr can get quite a handful.

I get just this first week and a bit this year, then start work with just weekends. It does mean that my wife has to deal with all the meltdowns and other issues. It just turned out to be bad timing in regards to this. 

Next year will be different. Next year I will do my usual plan. However, this year is certainly going to have an added challenges.

I’m really happy though

All that said, I am really happy to be starting a new role, and one that is still quite close to our current home which means no long commute times.

I know how lucky I am to have a job and I am truly looking forward to doing my new daily role. 

We all face challenges and we strive to overcome them. To be honest, both us and our kids will be looking forward to the end of these holidays.

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So, I've not been around much over the past few months. I've left the odd, occasional tweet. I've posted a few images on Instagram, but I've not blogged or shared too much.

That's mostly down to it being a few busy months. 

Have I Been That Busy?

Now, I could say that I have actually had a little more time where I have not been in the office too much - but the truth is; in those times I have been super busy doing something else.

But let me elaborate a little more. Around 2.5 months ago now (I believe it was April) I got told that I was being made redundant from my previous company.

Well, the first stage is that I was told I was at risk of being made redundant. I think that, in most cases, if you are told this you can almost be sure that you will be.

So, after being told I was at risk I started searching for a new role - but also taking the time to see if there was anything I could do self-employed. 

I would love to say that I decided to go and blog full time - but the truth is that this (and other sites I have) do not, at this time, pull in anywhere near enough people to consider that. I would be nice though...

So I Started My Job Search

So, I started my job search. The 30 days at risk period finished and I was told that I would be made redundant after 5 weeks.

Let's just say that those 2 monks (the 30 days + 5 weeks) were very busy. I was sending out job applications daily and had either phone interviews or face to face meetings 3-4 days of the week. 

I saw many companies. However, where I live the skill set being looked for slightly differed to mine.

I started my career back in 1997 as a software developer. I spent about 15 years doing that until I became a SCRUM Master, followed by what I did in my previous role which was also hands off.

I wanted to get back into software development but have had 8 years in hands-off roles (with the odd occasional tool to create and code). My skill set in development was not completely current.

To give you an idea, since I last had a role in C++ development, C++11, 14 and 17 had been released. (11, 14 and 17 are standards - so changes to the language).

So, on top of my search, I was also trying to get my skillset back up to current standards. When I was not talking to companies, I was updating my skill set.

On top of that... I had mostly done C++ development - but where I live, most of the roles where C# or Java. Both of these languages I had used - but not in the sense of years of use, more for particular projects.

So, when they said 2/4/6 years experience I said I don't have that - but I can code in them...

Cut A Long Story Short

So, I could go on and on about all the companies. I could talk about how I had started to look further away and even contemplating relocation back to Berkshire...

However, I did manage to secure a new role local to me. This is a role developing in the looked for C# - so will give me that validation of years and not just a project... It is also VERY interesting work. 

So, I am very excited to get going. I don't start there till 1st August, so have a month and a week off (though already 2-3 weeks through that) - just eager to start.

As Well As All That

That's not the only thing that has kept us busy. On top of searching, learning skills and so on. Our daughter is now coming to the end of year 5 in school. 

What this means is, we've now been searching and looking at secondary school (senior or high schools for those that call them that).

It's amazing how much time and effort it can take to do this... Firstly, you have to find out what schools there are. You need to check out things such as reviews and OFSTED. You need to figure out where you are in regards to the catchment area.

Then comes the open days where you spend 2 hours trying to rush around (and usher your kids) each school - checking out facilities. All the time while trying to get through the facade of what they are showing.

Like many places, companies, schools, etc., you get shown what they want you to see on their open days - but you always need to dig deeper.

To be honest, I'm happy that a lot of this I can do while I am not working and after I have accepted a new role. It gives me time to focus on what needs to be done.

As well as this, little Mr is moving classes for his new year too. There is a whole bunch of things that have been going on there - though I won't detail any.

He is progressing well though. They are still working with him in regards to PECS. He's still finding he voice - even if it is still a non-verbal one.

So That's Where I Have Been

So, my time has been taken up - and not all by fun stuff. As we read the summer holiday - and there are a number of things I need to work with my daughter on through them - I am looking forward to working again.

That said, having this time off has shown me what I could be achieving if I did work from home - so that notion is never going to be far away. A goal that I work towards maybe. All I need is a few hundred thousand visits a month here 🙂

Hopefully, I will be able to start talking more again about the things we are doing... General things in life. Things about our life in autism.

I will always be trying to share regardless - so keep watching out. You may also find my twitter and Instagram interesting as I do post there a little more often.

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