Sunday, 5 July 2015


I have just been reading about Project Wild Thing, which describes itself as 'a movement to get more kids (and their folks) outside and reconnecting with nature'. I have first-hand experience of the impact of staying inside too much, as Tom, my older son who has Asperger's, suffered from severe anxiety after attending a mainstream school and was unable to go outside. It took me about a year to get him the therapy he needed from CAMHS, so he had months without exercise or sunshine.  His therapist gradually helped him to get outside again and to access his new school, but it is still a slow process and he would easily fall back into old habits without me to chivvy him along every day. 

Staying indoors for so long has had a measurable impact on Tom's health: blood tests show that he has a deficiency in Vitamin D, known as the 'sunshine vitamin'. At its worst this deficiency could cause rickets and other diseases that I don't want to think about; at its mildest, it causes bone pain and muscle weakness. It has also been associated with depression. Tom now takes vitamin D supplements and has regular blood tests to ensure that his vitamin D levels are rising. Hopefully, a summer with regular time outdoors will help build up his levels too. Studies show that short, regular exposure to the sun is the most beneficial way of increasing vitamin D and that it is vital to use sunscreen to protect skin from UV damage. (Confusingly, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that we only get our vitamin D from supplements and diet because of the risk of skin cancer linked to sun exposure, however Tom's doctor has prescribed summer sunshine in addition to supplements).

Getting outdoors is not a problem for Charlie, so we have been making the most of the recent hot weather and getting out as much as possible whilst Tom is back at school. At first, I brought along a textbook for us to study outdoors, but this was not appreciated. So, apart from regular sessions of maths and English at home, the books have mostly been put away this week.

Not a popular outdoor activity

At the local park: relaxing in the shade

Squirrel spotting

The first signs of ripening blackberries

Barbeque on the beach

Seaford exercise path


At the end of the day, we have been enjoying eating in the garden, with a glass of Pimms, or two, for the adults.

Source: Vitamin D deficiency,

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