Socialising and Customer Service

A rare day off in the week with just Dad and Dylan.

We spent the morning treating ourselves to a breakfast out. Dylan’s favourite of bacon, sausage, tomato sauce beans and hash browns went down a treat. I helped Dylan to add it all onto his iPad so he could make the request for himself. The waitress didn’t really pay attention to him or the IPad and misheard his request of ‘no egg please’ and thought that Dylan wanted extra egg. We needed to quickly intercept as the arrival of the breakfast with a big fat egg on it would not have gone down well!


After breakfast we headed over to the bowling alley to meet other home educated teens for a bit of a social meet. It was loud. It was busy but we lasted 2 hours and Dylan got involved. The other children varied in age from 12-15 years and had mixed abilities but everyone was kind and considerate to Dylan.

Dylan had no idea when it was his turn or how many goes he could take at a time but the older kids really looked out for him and made sure he was okay. He seemed to really enjoy himself.

Heading out like this is a big thing for us. Dylan was always very anxious at school; and around other children so to take him to socialise with a whole lot of children that he doesn’t know is a big thing, but he loved it!


The day finished off with plans to return next time. This evening was Dylans turn for the Wednesday night out and yet again Pizza Hut was his restaurant of choice. A slight panic for me on arrival as I realised as we were being seated that there was no Coke available – the bottomless coke is a big incentive for Dylan. I quickly explained to him once seated that he would have to choose between either apple juice or orange juice because the Coke was broken – We had to go and have a quick look at the machine to prove I wasn’t lying but once reseated Dylan decided he was having apple juice and the world didn’t end! Phew!

We had a nice meal and two members of staff commented on Dylan’s iPad – directly to Dylan – about how cool it was that he was using one. Every time we arrive I feel a bit that Dylan may discussed behind the scenes as ‘the boy with the iPad’ but to be honest that’s fine – at least they are noticing!! I don’t know – maybe it’s paranoia on my part that they notice but Dylan and I are doing it; we’re getting out there and it’s okay! Dylan finished up the visit by practicing requesting the bill and using his card to pay.


Dylan showed me in the car on the way home how much he like to rock out to the radio and will happily flick through the stations until he finds a song that he likes, he then request to turn it up by signalling round with his finger next to the volume dial. I don’t let him have it any louder than 20 but he will often try and leave it on 21 or 22 thinking I won’t notice. Cheeky Monkey!


The differences between this morning’s eating out experience and this evening made me think.

Customer care is so important but there are so many people who just don’t know how to manage speaking to someone who doesn’t always answer you back verbally.

I must admit this was something I was unsure of prior to having Dylan – the use of AAC and how to communicate with people who may not respond or communicate verbally.

So I’m making this my mission for 2017.

To expose the retail world to AAC in a real and functional format.

To be approachable and invite interactions.

To give credit where it’s due.

I’ll spend the year with Dylan exposing people to AAC and complimenting staff members that are attentive, accepting or encouraging.

I’ll send emails to companies head offices and tweets to managers to ensure they recognise excellent customer service to those with varying abilities.


Let’s get AAC out there!



New Concept… Sharing

Monday afternoons are manic. 

Grace and Josh often enjoy after school clubs until 4pm, and then twice a month we rush over to a neighbouring town for a bi weekly disability inclusive art and craft club. All three kiddies attend and love it, it’s really only our family and another couple of children but it allows Dad and I a bit of time to catch up on housekeeping etc without the little ones needing to interrupt us. 

The timing of the art club backs straight onto an inclusive sports club just round the corner from where we live. This club then runs every week pretty much right up until bedtime. 

Monday afternoons we don’t have room for error; it’s like a military operation to ensure that we get to where we need to get to, when we need to get there.

Where possible I tweak my working hours a bit to be able to assist. This week I got out of my car and into Dads waiting car full of kids fresh from the school pick up to head to the first club. Dads always super organised and has everyone a little packed lunch so no one complains about being hungry between clubs. Once I’m in the car I’m welcomed by greetings and stories of everyones day.

Dylan who is sitting in the back thrust a packet of crisps at me. 

‘You don’t want these Dylan?’ – No answer ‘Hmmm, salt and vinegar, I thought you liked these, do you want them back?’ 


I pop the crisps back into the lunch bag and continue with the conversation.

Two minutes later Dylan taps my shoulder.

‘Muahm, I waa ippp’

‘You want your crisps back?’

‘Yah bee’

And sure enough, he gets his crisps back and continues to munch away.

This is happening more and more. Indoors Dylan will often ask for a cup of tea. We’ll answer him ‘yes, you can have tea’ for him to respond with ‘tea?’ many many times until I have felt exasperated

‘ Yes! You can have tea!! Go and make yourself a cup of tea!’

I had felt it was either a communication breakdown and Dylan not understanding that yes he could have the tea so he would keep checking or maybe that it was a touch of laziness as Dylan seemed to change the word slightly to symbolise a strange type of request.

Once he makes his tea he will often bring it to us, showing us right up in our face, waving the nearly overflowing cup around clumsily – ‘Careful Dylan, you may spill it! Go and sit down and drink your tea, well done’

Dad told us about Dylan dping this on Monday during the day. This exact same situation occurred, Dylan kept questioning about tea, went and showed Dad in his face once the tea was made and was asked to go and sit down. 

It was only after a couple of minutes that Dad smelt coffee and went to the dining table to see what he was doing and there was a mug of coffee on the seat next to Dylan drinking his tea. 

‘Coffee Dylan?’ Dad questioned as Dylan doesn’t drink coffee anymore – 

‘Is this for me?’ 


So all this time, we finally consider that the repeating isn’t confusion or echolalia and bringing things to us isn’t getting rid of what he doesn’t want or a frustrated thrust of a desired repeated item. It was simply Dylan trying to ask us if we may like a tea too – a behaviour he often sees modelled to him – and then offering us his item that he has to see if we would like some too. 

To share.


Needless our lesson has been learnt and Dylan is being taught to say the words on the iPad to ensure that Dylan doesn’t get further misinterpreted or seen to be ‘oversharing’ and have us taking too many crisps or chips, and also to make sure that Dylan can have his kindness and generosity acknowledged and rewarded.


I’m sorry I didn’t realise what you meant Dylan – yet again I feel I’ve let you down.



Tribunal memories 2013

A memory from 4 years ago.

We lost Dylan’s tribunal yesterday, sad news but with reports like this making mainstream publication I feel more convinced than ever that what we are doing is right and the ruling is wrong. 🙂

My kid deserves more. 

Reading articles like this are so reaffirming. 

Four years ago our fight with the authorities was over.

We were plunging all our efforts into Dylan rather than a system that focuses on its provision rather than the children its is paid to support. 

We vowed that Dylan would continue to learn, at home, supported by Dad and myself. 

During the tribunal process we gained a huge amount through that year. It gave us insight into a highly corrupt, discriminating, publicly funded method of disability ‘management’ which is geared to crippled parents financially. 

We had to meet with some of the most uncaring unprofessional ‘professionals’ we have ever had the misfortune to come across and been told some heartbreaking, uninformed lies about our son purely in an effort to break our spirit and hurt our feelings.
But it also forced us into private professional assessments. 

These have given us a true insight into Dylan and what a truly remarkable, beautiful little boy he really is despite the profound difficulties he has on a minute by minute basis. 

Dylan has learnt. 

He can write his name, he is talking, slowly, but functionally. 

He enjoys being around us and others. He can add numbers, he can count, he can play board games, he can make animal sounds, he can request items, with manners and is learning to understand when told ‘no’. 

He is progressing, happy and doing so well, as he should be like any other child. And he is continuing to do so with us teaching him at home.

We didn’t realise it at the time but we didn’t need tribunal; we’ve already won  🙂