Category Archives: 2019 Blog Posts

Mindfulness Part 1: Motivating Sofia

One of the hardest things with Autism is motivation.  ‘What is the point?’ is not an uncommon state of questioning.  This is undoubtably linked to low awareness both of self and environment, and an understandable question when the awareness that does exist is confusing and difficult to make sense of.

We are setting off on our trip in less than two weeks and sadly Sofia has lost all motivation for it because she is in a high state of confusion.  Life has not worked out the way she expected in her first year at her new school.  The question, ‘what is the point?’ is currently very loud for her and, as is typical of children with autism, extends to questioning the point of life itself.

I certainly have my work cut out for me!   However, this contast she is experiencing will hopefully make the lessons she learns all the more powerful because for her the question is on this trip will be, ‘what is the point of finding the present moment?’

My response to her sounds something like this:

  • All experiences you have, especially the ones you don’t like, cause you to create a desire to have experiences that you do like.   For example, if you taste something bad, you will desire to taste something good to replace it.
  • When you focus on the things you already have and like and enjoy them, you will allow those things you desire to manifest into your experience because the universe wants you to have more of what you focus on.  Focus on what you don’t like, complain about it and fight against it, the universe will deliver more of that experience to you instead.
  • That deliberate conscious choice of focus is what freedom is, it is not something that is bestowed on you by another, or removed by another.  To not be deliberate or conscious of this choice is to give away your freedom so that others can control the way you feel.
  • When positive manifestation happens, enjoy it and desire more of it, or desire improvement of it.  This is an effortless process, sit back and enjoy.
  • Your focus is what is controlling your experiences and that focus is experienced in the senses of sight, taste, touch, sound, smell and emotion.  When one or more is providing a negative experience, then use that to generate a new desire for postive experience, then focus on the other senses already in a positive state to allow the desire to manifest.
  • Only you can create the reality of your experience.  Emotions do not inform you of that reality, they only tell you if you like what you are experiencing or not so that you can generate a new desire.
  • Focus and desire are a dicotomy for creation like male and female.  Out of balance and creation will struggle to take place and will feel uncomfortable.   The balance for easy creation is found in the present moment.
  • With autism the power to create is magnified and you have the ability to move mountains.   However, the path to that power is equally a magnified challenge.
  • It is the true hero that walks that path successfully and it is a privalage and an adventure if you choose to take advantage of it.   And when you are successful, you will discover that life is actually a lot of fun and THAT is the point of all of it.

This sounds rather dull and deep for a 13 year old, however, I use words in a bite size simplistic way that appeals to her self interest, not wanting to be controlled and her powerful desire to have a better experience at school.  Certainly it is the basis of the lesson I want to take root in her mind that she can get what she wants.

Sofia is like water who needs the external force of a glass to maintain shape and cohesion.  It would be nice to see her start to take control of that shape so she gets to be who she really is to others and get what she wants out of life, rather than have them decide who she is she is and what she should have.

Part 2 will talk about expected mindfulness practise strategies I hope to employ whilst travelling

We travel and share our story to help raise awareness for autism and the benefits of adventure travel as a platform for learning life skills for autism.   

Please donate to help us :  Virgin Money Giving  or PayPal

Sofia was diagnosed with Autism when she was 4 years old.   When she was 10 years old she under took her first journey in a sidecar from the UK to South Africa.  Since then she has started to ride pillion on a motorbike and travelled Europe and this year goes to Eastern Canada.  She is now 13 years old and the skills she is learning on this journey are related to maintaining positive mental health.  This skill is the hardest of the life skills to learn, harder still in a modern world where materialism and science define life and spirituality and wisdom not because it can’t be bought or proven, it relies completely on faith.

Our Route Plan Through Eastern Canada

The 9 sections of our route in eastern Canada (see below) all packed into one neat little photo.

Average milage is 1,100m per week – which may be ambitious going from past experience…. but the past experience has always included problems that I hope we won’t have on this journey!

Newfoundland will be place where we make up time as the plan is to stay no longer than 3 weeks, giving us extra time else where to do some back country roads.

Thankfully wild camping is common in most areas, however, it’s mostly done with RVs so we may have an interesting time finding locations suitable for a tent!
An interesting fact: Nova Scotia is a major blueberry exporter and from middle to late august various towns will be holding a blueberry festival which we hope to hook into for Sofia’s birthday on the 18th.

We are riding to raise awareness for autism please make a donation (Virgin Money Giving or Paypal links in the left column under menu)




It’s Personal Development for Both of Us

I’ve spoken quite a bit about preparing Sofia for #Canada, and we have some great clearly marked objectives. We may only achieve them in part, but it will still be a big success for her.

Critical to this is going to be me. In the past travelling as been a survival effort for me. The critical aspect being getting her out & about & encouraging her to ‘see’ the wider world, to destress & if she learns a new skill or makes a development step then mission achieved & it was all worth it.

This year is different. This year my own mental attitude is going to be a model for her main goal on this trip which is to find the present moment of ‘doing’.

So in the coming 3 months (eek! It’s a little less now!) I will be pracitising being in my own zen & fortifying it as much as possible. This is not easy after 13 years of constant high stress & being entirely focused on her needs, but possible now she is at residential school so we are both now more independent of each other.

Sofia is very ready right now to develop this scaffolding for self management evidenced by her increasing awareness of her world. This year on the bike she is aware of vulnerability for the first time & expressed nervousness about going down hills. She is also starting to show signs of reflective thought/self talk. She was zero out of 10 at Christmas, she is now 1 out of 10. This is a huge step forward & now there is a crack in the door I want to fill it with the most powerful strategy I know that will protect her from mental illness in the future.

Please donate to help us raise autism awareness (£10 = 100miles) 



A Special Interest for Travelling

Sadly Sofia heads back to school today – it has been a great couple of weeks riding almost everyday.

I’ve tried to do as much prepping with her as possible. One aspect of this has been discussing the need for her to have her own special interest to help stay focused on her surroundings and reduce any PDA (pathological demand avoidance) responses.

In Africa it was birds, animals and different flavours of Fanta. On this trip it is birds and photography (as an extention of her art) at the moment … the latter may be more of an issue as she doesn’t understand what it means to take a photo. Obviously she can perform the action and understand it is a creative modality, but it has no meaning for her at this point in the sense of not being able to internalise photography as a concept of creative expression – if that makes sense. So I’m hoping one of the staff in her house at school, who is a keen photographer, will be able to help her with this.

Conceptual understanding of the world in autism is a real struggle, especially where there is no intellectual disability because ideas can be understood/verbalised in an abstract way on one level, but conceptual understanding needs ideas internalised in order to take action on that information. With out that internalisation the connections between things have no meaning or value.

The main thing is that she attempts to take advantage of this trip for her own means independent of me and what I’m doing and pushes that agenda.

She needs a lot of encouragement to do this in the presence of others (me in this case) as she is constantly hyper aware of audience over and above her own needs. So this will be an on going conversation until we find the right note or even activity that will float her boat enough to over come this. This will work in line with ‘living in the moment’.

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The Battle of The Tents

Tents have been a thorn in our side since we started travelling.

We went through Africa with a cheap dome tent that was heavy & we didn’t use it much so I dumped it in Zimbabwe and picked up light throw away ‘made in China’.

Then we went through Europe with a super light 2 man Vaude tent which was too cramped and Sofia especially struggled with this which meant the battle was on to camp – we did camp, but not as much as I would have liked due to the added stress on both of us. I love the tent though. It is easy packing and setting up, and one I (or hopefully Sofia) will use as a solo #traveller.

After that trip I discovered the perfect tent someone was using at the annual Overland Event. An Exped super light tunnel the only problem was that Exped had stopped production 15yrs ago and refused to sell me a spare.

All hope lost I got a cheap 3 man last year that at least gave enough bearable space for Sofia, only it is heavy (7kgs) and fills an entire pannier, so now we have a packing space issue. Otherwise a good tent that didn’t spark any major issues with Sofia so a big thumbs up on that front.

Canada, however, has to be a purely #campingtrip due to costs but now we have a lack of packing space, & at best there is no room for food negating one of the cost benefits of camping.

So today I started looking at tents again not thinking a solution was out there with only a year since last looking, when Vaude popped up with a super light (4.2kg) 3 man tent with standing room porch.

I can’t begin to describe the relief at finally finding a suitable tent. It’s like a weight of stress off my shoulders knowing that Sofia, who has been amazingly good considering her own battles, will finally have a tent that she will like and be #happy enough to stay in night after night or in wet weather hold ups, whilst meeting our packing needs.

The tent is £419 on sale, so we need your help! Please could you sponsor our tent with a donation (every penny helps!) – we would both really appreciate it!

Please donate to help us raise awareness for autism.

Vaude comes up trumps for two up camping! We love this tent.