‘The Adventures of Thomas and Blanket’ – a new book to help kids on the autism spectrum from Sarah Phelps

The Adventures of Thomas and Blanket
The Adventures of Thomas and Blanket

My son Thomas has Autism and as expected finds many things very difficult to understand which makes life that little bit harder as a family. He is the happiest and friendliest little boy you could meet and it is guaranteed that he would put a smile on anybody’s face.

As a mum I have tried to help him understand daily situations that we would almost certainly take for granted.

Thomas has a love of reading books after teaching himself to read even though he couldn’t communicate with us as he didn’t speak until he was four years old.
His love of his iPad had taught him words and pictures and when he was able to verbalise, it was amazing to hear him reading from a book 😍

Due to his love of reading I have created stories about Thomas where I have used him and his beloved comfort blanket as the main character. I have tried to use situations such as his trip to the hairdresser and dentist, which have been extremely traumatic experiences for him, and have turned these situations into magical tales with him as the main star.

I originally set out with these stories printed on A4 paper which I kept at home but then decided to put it into a printed book so that he could keep and read himself. I funded the self publishing of his book called ‘The Adventures of Thomas and Blanket’ which is through Amazon, and to see him reading and understanding the stories was worth all the time and effort in the world. This book has helped Thomas greatly in understanding these situations and he no longer becomes distressed when visiting his hairdresser, who also stars in his book, although we are still working on the dentist trips but I suppose we can’t have it all eh 😊

I am overwhelmed at the response as we have sold over 100 copies of the book through Amazon with some sales as far as Europe which is a wonderful thought knowing that other families have found our book a benefit for their child.

I don’t admit to being an amazing author as I am just a ‘Mam’.

‘The Adventures of Thomas and Blanket’ has even been raised with officials in the Welsh Assembly Government who have overall policy lead on Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Education after we sent a copy to Kirsty Williams Cabinet Member. Again another achievement if something did ever come if it 😊

I wanted to share our story and our books as there may be someone who also has the same fears and perhaps Thomas and his blanket may help them understand that little bit more, just by reading his magical adventure stories.

This is a link to a local news article for you to read too:


Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed hearing about our story xx

Antiphospholipid syndrome – what are the symptoms of APS?


Antiphospholipid syndrome

Antiphospholipid syndrome

In antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), the immune system produces abnormal antibodies that make the blood ‘stickier’ than normal.

This means people with APS are more likely to develop blood clots in their veins and arteries, which can cause serious or life-threatening health problems such as:

high blood pressure

deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini-stroke’

heart attacks

pulmonary embolism – a blockage in one of the blood vessels in the lungs

People with APS may also experience any of the following symptoms:

balance and mobility problems

vision problems, such as double vision

speech and memory problems

a tingling sensation or pins and needles in your arms or legs

fatigue (extreme tiredness)

repeated headaches or migraines

Pregnancy problems

Women with APS have a much higher risk of developing complications during pregnancy, particularly if it’s not treated. Possible complications include:

recurrent (three or more) early miscarriages, usually during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy

one or more later miscarriages, usually after week 10 of pregnancy

premature birth, usually at or before week 34 of pregnancy, which may be caused by pre-eclampsia (where a woman develops high blood pressure during pregnancy)

Livedo reticularis

Livedo reticularis is a skin condition caused by small blood clots that develop inside the blood vessels of the skin.

It causes the skin to take on a blotchy red or blue appearance. Some people also develop ulcers (sores) and nodules (bumps). These symptoms are often more severe in cold weather.

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of the veins just under your skin, usually in your leg. The symptoms are similar to DVT but they’re not usually as severe.

The symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include:


redness and tenderness along the affected vein

a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above (although this is less common)

The symptoms usually resolve within two to six weeks.

Blossom and Wither Art – check out the work of this brilliant autistic artist!


Blossom and Wither Art
Blossom and Wither Art

My name is Chantelle Wilson. I am the artist behind Blossom and Wither Art. I am 20 years old and live in Haltwhistle. I first discovered my love for art in first school and I went on to achieve A*’s in both GCSE and A-Level art at Haydon Bridge High School. I have autism and I use art as a means of escape from sometimes a cruel world. Art is a way for me to enter my own world and enjoy what I love


Chantelle Wilson
Chantelle Wilson
Chantelle Wilson
Chantelle Wilson

What are the signs of anxiety in children? Very common in children with autism or ADHD.

What are the signs of anxiety in children?
What are the signs of anxiety in children?

What are the signs of anxiety in children?

Anxiety can make a child feel scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed.

Some of the signs to look out for in your child are:

finding it hard to concentrate

not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams

not eating properly

quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts

constantly worrying or having negative thoughts

feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often

always crying

being clingy all the time (when other children are ok)

complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell

Your child may not be old enough to recognise why they’re feeling this way.

The reason for the anxiety (if there is one) will differ depending on the age of the child. Separation anxiety is common in younger children, whereas older children and teenagers tend to worry more about school performance, relationships or health.

What types of anxiety do children and teenagers experience?

Common types of anxiety in children and teenagers are described below.

A fear or phobia about something specific

Children are commonly afraid of things like monsters, dogs or water. This is a perfectly normal part of growing up, but has the potential to become a phobia (a type of anxiety disorder) when the fear becomes overwhelming and affects your child’s day-to-day life.

Read about phobias.

Feeling anxious for most of the time for no apparent reason

While it’s normal for children to frequently have fears and worries, some anxious children may grow up to develop a long-term condition called generalised anxiety disorder when they become a teenager or young adult.

Generalised anxiety disorder causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

People affected by it feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed.

Read more about generalised anxiety disorder.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety means a child worrying about not being with their parent or regular carer.

It is common in young children, and normally develops at about six months of age. It can make settling into nursery or school or with a child minder very difficult.

Separation anxiety in older children may be a sign that they’re feeling insecure about something – they could be reacting to changes at home, for example.

Social anxiety

Social anxiety is not wanting to go out in public, see friends or take part in activities.

Social ‘shyness’ is perfectly normal for some children and teenagers, but it becomes a problem – ‘social anxiety disorder’ – when everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone cause intense, overwhelming fear. Children affected by it tend to fear doing or saying something they think will be humiliating.

Social anxiety disorder tends to affect older children who have gone through puberty.

Read more about social anxiety disorder.

School-based anxiety

Some children become anxious about going to school, schoolwork, friendships or bullying, especially if they’re changing school or moving up a level.

They may not always share these worries with you, and instead complain of tummy aches or feeling sick. One of the signs is crying or seeming tired in the morning.

This may be a problem that needs tackling if it is significantly affecting their daily life (see below).

Less common anxiety disorders

Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder are other anxiety disorders that can occasionally affect children, but are usually seen in adults.

It’s rare for children to have panic attacks.

When is anxiety a disorder that needs treating?

It is probably time to get professional help for your child’s anxiety if:

you feel it is not getting better or is getting worse, and efforts to tackle it yourself have not worked

you think it’s slowing down their development or having a significant effect on their schooling or relationships

it happens very frequently

How serious can it be?

Long-term anxiety can severely interfere with a child’s personal development, family life and schooling.

Anxiety disorders that start in childhood often persist into the teenage years and early adulthood. Teenagers with an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop clinical depressionmisuse drugs and feel suicidal.

This is why you should get help as soon as you realise it’s a problem.

Where should I go for help?

Seeing your GP

You can talk to your GP on your own or with your child, or your child might be able to have an appointment without you. The doctor should listen to your concerns and offer some advice about what to do next.

Your child may be referred to the local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), where the workers are trained to help young people with a wide range of problems. Professionals who work in CAMHS services include psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. They should offer help and support to parents and carers as well as the child. Learn more about CAMHS.

Youth counselling services

If your child doesn’t want to see a doctor, they may be able to get help from a local youth counselling service.

Youth counselling services are specially set up for young people to talk about what’s worrying them, and get advice.

For more information, visit Youth Access, the largest provider of young people’s advice and counselling services in the UK.

Telephone or online help

Telephone helplines or online services can be helpful for children and young people, who may feel it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know them. See Where can I go for further information and support?

How can an anxiety disorder be treated?

The type of treatment offered will depend on what is causing your child’s anxiety.


It can be helpful for your child to talk in confidence about what is worrying them to a trained person, especially as it’s someone they don’t know.

If your child is being seen at CAMHS, they might see a child and adolescent psychotherapist or a clinical psychologist. If they are at a youth counselling service, it will be a trained youth counsellor or psychotherapist.

These sessions can help them work out what is making them anxious and how they can work through the situation.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help your child manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave.

It has been proven to help with anxiety that isn’t severe, and is commonly offered to young people who are anxious.

Your child will work with the therapist to find ways to change the way they think and find strategies for coping in situations that make them anxious. They’ll usually have 9-20 sessions.

It’s not clear whether CBT is effective for children younger than six years of age.

Learn more about CBT.


If your child’s anxiety problem has not got better, your doctor may talk to you about trying medication.

A type of antidepressant, called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), may help your child feel calmer and differently about things.

Antidepressants usually take around two to four weeks to work properly, so you or your child may not notice the difference immediately.

It’s natural to be concerned about side effects. Your child should be aware of any possible adverse effects and should tell you or their doctor if they happen. Read more about SSRIs.

What can I do to help my child?

If a child is experiencing anxiety, there is plenty parents and carers can do to help. First, it’s important to talk to your child about their anxiety or worries. Read our advice on How to help your anxious child.

Why are some children affected and others not?

Genes and personality

Some children are simply born more nervous and anxious and less able to cope with stress than other children.

A child’s anxious personality may be partly determined by the genes they’ve inherited from their parents. Parents of anxious children may recognise the signs and remember feeling and behaving the same when they were younger.

Stressful environment

Children can pick up anxious behaviour from being around anxious people. If you’re worried that your child might be influenced by our own behaviour, you might want to listen to these podcasts offering advice about anxiety and worry and explaining how you can take control of your anxiety.

Some children can also develop anxiety after a series of stressful events. They may be able to cope with one of these events, but several difficult events together may be too much for them to cope with. Examples are:

Frequently moving house and school – it can be hard to settle when you’re always expecting change

Divorce or separation of parents, especially when there are new step parents and siblings (although many children will adapt to this and settle in time)

Parents fighting or arguing

Death of a close relative or friend

Becoming seriously ill or injured in an accident

Having someone in the family who is ill or disabled

School-related issues such as homework or exams, or bullying or friendship problems

Becoming involved in crime

Being abused or neglected

Medical conditions

Children with certain conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorders may experience anxiety as part of the symptoms of their condition, because of differences in the way their brain functions.

How common are anxiety disorders in children?

Nearly 300,000 young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder.

In the UK, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 5-19% of all children and adolescents, and about 2-5% of children younger than 12.

Separation anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder in children younger than 12.

Where can I go for further information and support?

Anxiety UK

Young Minds

Royal College of Psychiatrists: mental health and growing up