Thursday 31 December 2015

My New Years letter to you......Yes you sat reading this

To my lovely friends and family,

So here we are folks. The last day of 2015. It's a time when we are meant to reflect on the last 12 months of our lives and look forward to whatever the future has in store for us.

I have to say that I am honestly pretty relieved to see the back of this last year. There have been many moments of absolute despair and I have  felt so alone and confused at times. But on the flip side to this I then I found you lovely lot out there in the world of social media.

I had plucked up the courage to share my story and I realised I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone in feeling overwhelmed and isolated. I discovered that up and down the country there were so many mums just like me who muddled through each day, and collapsed into bed relieved to have simply got through the day in one piece.

And for that reason alone I can't tell you how happy I am that I started writing. I have made some wonderful new friends and I have been truly humbled each time one of you lets me into your lives and shares your own story with me.

So 2015 has been a year of ups and downs alright- I had a depressive episode and shared it warts and all with you! My little man started his new school and I shared our first day anxiety with you all, and you were there with us every step of the way. Then there was our crazy family holiday in which I lost the plot and had my own mummy meltdown, but again you were there for me to keep me going.

There have been many highlights this last year too- being published in magazines and newspapers, Yahoo picking up my work and then my blog going viral. And starting to write a book to name but a few. But over and above all of that- what’s been the highlight for me is when someone who reads my stuff takes the time to contact me to say what I have written has helped them, or made them cry. Or my words have them realise why they have felt so out of sync with the world their whole life... well that just floors me. 
I can't get my head around that and it honestly makes everything I do, all the hours I spend, 100% worthwhile.

Your support and friendship means more to me than you will ever know. And that is why I will continue to share our story in 2016.

I have discovered these last few months what a politically hot world the Autism community is. And I have found myself staying away from the politics of it all as my feeling is that it reflects our attention away from what’s really important- us,our kids, our families and a need for true openness and acceptance. I can’t be afraid of what I write because people can see straight through the bull. And it's just not my style. 
So if you want politics I’m just not the writer for you.

I will continue to write about my love for my son, our journey with Autism and how I get through the day. Sometimes its pretty and sometimes it's not. I can't and won't shy away from that as I need to be honest. Life is tough sometimes and mums should never feel ashamed for saying that. It doesn’t mean we love our kids any less or want to change them.

Parenthood is one of the hardest things we ever face, period. 

Its not wrong to say we need help on occasions.It's not wrong to share our joy, our ups and downs and our moments of despair because we are human.

I have always written straight from my heart and always with my sons privacy at the forefront of my mind. I try not to offend anyone and so far I seem to have avoided any controversy. But if I worried too much about what I write I honestly think it it would change the way I share my story, and I don’t want that, as I have finally found my voice.

And I hope that by sharing my own story it helps people see the world from a different perspective. And helps other families like mine muddle through the system knowing that they are not alone in what can be a very hostile and confusing world for both us and our kids.

So really I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you.

Thank you for being there, and reading my ramblings. Thank you reaching out to me and for sharing your stories. Thank you for following my page and sharing my stuff. I wish I could thank you all personally but this will have to do for now.

You will never know how grateful I am to you all my lovely friends and family.

So here’s to a happy healthy and slightly bonkers 2016 as I continue to share my story warts and all and I hope you will continue to stick around for the ride....

Mrs M xx

Monday 21 December 2015

4 days to go ....

      Adult time....
  • It's near enough impossible to get adult company at the best of times when you have kids, and at this time of year the pressure is really on us to be sociable. But often we’re just too shattered to join in.
  • So don’t feel guilty about this, you have a hectic demanding home life, and even more so at this time of year keeping your child calm and happy.
  • So if you can get a sitter and you want to go out.. then great, but if you just can't face it don’t be pressured by anyone. You and your family are the most important thing.
  • If you wanna stay tucked up indoors in your PJ'S watching TV then remember that’s fine-there's some fab Christmas movies on this year anyway.
  • People can always come to you, and this can make life easier sometimes, but again if you're too exhausted don’t worry people who know you and love you will understand you situation.
  • And don’t stress about how clean your house is, that not your priority…people who enter your home need to accept that it's a loving home, and cleaning isn't top priority -the cleaning can wait until the kids are back at school!

 support networks...

Samaritans at Christmas

  • Do what works for your family, no one else's.
  • Take it at your child's pace and dont feel pressure from others.
  • Spread opening up the presents throughout the day if that helps.
  • Let your kids watch what they want on the TV, that’s what pause and record was invented for husband ;-)
  • Cheat and take shortcuts, I certainly will be where needed (there's nothing wrong with that.)
  • Have realistic expectations of the day and dont beat yourself up if things go a little off plan.
  • Be prepared in advance as far as possible, but remember even best laid plans can go pear shaped sometimes.
  • Meltdowns aren’t always avoidable despite all the preparation in the world (that goes for us too ha ha- I have been known to have the occasional 'mummy meltdown.' )
  • When all is done and the kids are asleep, pour yourself a nice glass of your favourite tipple, collapse on the sofa
  •   You did it ....Well done x 

Watch another FAMILY'S
 story here...

Autism and keeping Christmas fun- (Part 1)

                                           Christmas- school presents and shopping -(Part 2)

                                                 Friends , family, and growing up -( Part 3)
                                                        The National Autistic Society

Thursday 26 November 2015

A Slice Of Autism Christmas Survival Guide...

December can be a tricky time for many children on the Spectrum.
So I have created a 'Survival Guide' to the Festive season looking at all aspects of family life including;

  • Food and family meals
  • School
  • Parties and pantomimes etc
  • Looking after yourself
  • Routine / Social Stories
  • Sensory issues
  • And the big days itself name but a few
There will be helpful links,videos, helplines,visuals and little pick me ups along the way so we can get through the madness that is December together!

I will share a page each day on my Facebook page during Advent...

And the full Calendar can be seen on my website now at...  

Or why not subscribe to my blogs via the link on my blog to have the handy tips delivered straight to your inbox each day, so you dont miss out?

I hope it will be useful for you!

Mrs M x

Tuesday 24 November 2015

How we can help alleviate the build up of stress at School for children with Autism

Many children on the spectrum can have huge anxieties about school, and if we think about it it’s no wonder really; the hustle and bustle of the playground, the unwritten rules and complex friendship groups, and the language and sensory demands that bombard our kid’s fragile nervous systems is bound to take its toll. And that’s before we even think about our kids sitting still in a chair and actually ‘learning’ anything formally.

 I worked for many years within the Primary Education sector with Autistic children, so I have a good understanding of what daily life for many kids on the spectrum can be like. I also have an 11 year old son who went through Primary school as a very anxious child with High Functioning Autism and sensory issues. He would often cope at school and reflect all his anxiety inwards, only to explode once at home. Until finally during Year 6 it all just became too much and his mental health 
deteriorated due to prolonged anxiety. He now attends a specialist school in Year 7.

So I kind of feel like I am positioned well to see things from the perspective of both school and home when it comes to school related stress and anxiety.  Some parents can feel that their concerns aren’t really taken seriously, and that they can come across as paranoid, overprotective parents as they often see a different child that the one that school sees. And that can cause conflict and tension between home and school which is helpful for no one (especially the child in the middle of it all). And with the new SEN Code of Practice it’s even more important than ever that schools works collaboratively with parents as that will lead to the best outcome for children.

However  I completely understand that it can be really confusing when presented at school with a child that seems to have multiple sides.  A child that seems fine at school and yet mum reports that as soon as they get home their child goes into meltdown; crying about their school day, struggling with their homework and lashing out at their siblings. But hard as this can be to get our heads around....this is real thing as many kids have the ability to hold it together until in their safe place.... which is nearly always at home.
So if you find yourself in this position as a parent or a teacher what can we do to help?

Open communication and trust
I know this sounds obvious really, but relationships can break down so easily, and this is completely avoidable. Parents are usually exhausted after years of little sleep and incredible stress, and often have been left feeling that no one believes them.  So when meeting to discuss issues about their child remember that it’s taken a lot for these parents to ask to meet you.

And parents remember that teachers often won’t have had specific training on Autism. So share information, share good practice, be open and honest with each other about what you know, and admit if it’s something you feel out of your depth with. I know as a mum I know my child best and my views will be vital in helping school deal with any issues my child may be having, as can teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum and school policies be vital in working together to support each child.

Look for subtle signs
Many children on the spectrum don’t like drawing attention to themselves as this means they will have to have a social interaction of some kind, which can make them really uncomfortable. So instead they sit quietly and can appear to be coping. It means that we are going to have to look for the subtle signs. Parents will be really useful helping school with this as they know their child’s signs. 
Things to look out for may include-

 Rocking back and forward on a chair
·         Chewing sleeves/ fingers/ hair
·         Difficulty concentrating
·         Wanting lots of toilet breaks/ wandering/ avoiding the task
·         Disruptive behaviour
·         Low self esteem
·         Avoidance
·         Never volunteering to answer questions
·         Lack of appetite at lunchtime
·         Following the crowd
·         Humming/ vocal noises/ throat clearing
·         Finger picking/ scratching
·         Over compliant/ very quiet
·         Wriggling / difficulty sitting still
·         Needing things explaining lots
·         Late/ incomplete  homework
·         Forgetting verbal information

Work out ways to release the build up of pressure if you see any signs of stress
The school day is very busy and there are lots of things teachers have to squeeze in. But there are lots of quick and easy things that can be done to help children release the stress, relax or cope with the day with less uncertainly. And many kids on the spectrum have sensory processing difficulties too which will be having an impact on their ability to learn and process information. 
So here are a few ideas to try-

·         Fiddle toys when sat listening ( could be as simple as blue- tack)
·         Physical exercise- break times are vital part of kids day, never take this  away
·        Carpet square for own place on the  carpet, or even better let the child sit on a chair as they often need the support
·         Brain breaks as part of the lesson
·        A busy box filled with things the child can do independently for periods of free choice or when there is a lot of sitting and listening involved in the lesson
·         Task sheets breaking down the activity
·         Timetables up in all the classrooms
·         Can homework be done in a lunch club?
·         Ensure information is written down , including messages for home
·         Incorporate special interests where appropriate
·        Be aware of the environment; seating positions/ lighting/ smells/ noises etc and how this can affect a child’s ability to learn
·         Provide a chill out area ( could be some cushions under a desk, or a pop up tent)
·         A worry book/ box can help a child leave their worries at school
·      ‘2 stars and a wish’ can be done as a 5 minute debrief at the end of the day (2 things you have enjoyed today, one thing that didn’t go so well) it’s quite  a nice way to get a child to open up. Or simply some quiet time at the end of the day to listen to an audio CD or read a book as this can help with the transition home
·        Very clear expectations and no open ended questions
·   ‘Choice without a choice’ as some kids struggle being put on the spot; so “you can do this, or this”rather than "what would you like to do?”
·     Remember some kids can struggle with the pace of language so wherever possible back up with visual support

Give home a ‘heads up’ on any changes to the day ASAP
Sharing information is essential for keeping children prepared for any changes .This could be done in a home school book/ emails/ a little note home on a post it note or a phone call at the end of the day. And parents its really useful for school to know things like your child has had a bad night’s sleep, they are fretting about a test, or non uniform day etc. Keep those communication channels open in whichever way works best for you both.
There are many more ways in which children can be helped at school. But as each child is so unique and different, their needs will reflect that too. Sometimes all we need to do is think outside the box a bit with our kids.  A collaborative approach always works best, in which we listen to each other and respect each other’s knowledge and experience. The key to helping our kids is to learn from them. Watch them and listen to what they’re body language and behaviour is telling you as they can’t always verbalise it. Their needs can usually be met with a few simple modifications and good communication between home and school.

(This blog has been published on as a Guest Post 24/11/2015)

Friday 20 November 2015

What I want my child to know when his meltdown is over

To my beautiful boy,

You look so peaceful curled up in your bed tonight little man, it’s like the events of the day have washed over you with no ill effects at all. Your face shows no sign of the meltdown you endured earlier in the day. But as I stand here watching you dream, I can’t help but re-live the afternoon’s events over and over in my mind. Could I have done more to help you? Could I have avoided it from happening?

I am exhausted, but peaceful sleep won’t come for me tonight, my mind was whirring around as I wrestled with my thoughts, so I find myself here, having crept into your room on tiptoes so as not to wake you. Peering over your bed and wishing I could tell you how I feel.

You’re so precious to me my beautiful boy. I love you more than you will ever know. I wish I could make things easier for you because the world is just too much for you sometimes.
And today the meltdown fog took you away from me. I wish it was me in your place. I hate seeing you lost in yourself like that.

I had seen the fog approaching you, I wanted to scream to it to leave you alone, please stay here with my son, and let me make it better for you. I’m your mum and I am here to help you through it, that’s what mums do.
But I could see the panic in your face as you struggled to catch your breath. I could see the fear in your eyes as it began to engulf your body, swallowing you like a predator. I felt so helpless because deep down I knew this had to happen. Your body was saturated and overloaded with stress, and it had to come out somehow.

Every nerve in my body was telling me to scoop you up, but my motherly instincts were so wrong as my very touch was painful to you, and made you pull away from me all the more. My heart broke because I felt like I was making things worse. I felt so helpless as the fear and rage swept over you. 

As I watched helpless, I saw my own panic reflected in your teary eyes, and I didn’t know what to do. I hate feeling like that. It’s meant to be my job to protect you my beautiful boy.

I tried to tell you it would all be alright but you couldn’t hear me, the meltdown fog had blurred your senses and the world around you was gone. I could feel my heartbeat pounding as I tried to stay calm and keep you safe from yourself.

I know you don’t mean to hurt anyone when you lash out. It’s not really you, so I take the hit as doors slam and chairs fly. Time stood still and every second felt like hours while I watched you lose yourself to the fog. All I could do was let it take its course which pained me to my core.

And then eventually you became quiet, you rocked slowly and I knew this was your way of calming yourself, before  you slid  down the wall in a heap on the floor.  You slowly unravelled every muscle of your body and there you were.

My beautiful 11 year old little boy; so vulnerable and raw.

 I could feel your whole body sigh as the exhaustion set in. And I wanted to cry, but I fought the tears back. Holding my breath I waited for a sign that you were ready for me to enter your world once more. Your eyes slowly opened and looked at me. 
My knees give way and I crawled towards you reaching out gently to touch your hand.

Your eyes closed at my contact and I knew you were with me once more. I needed to hug you, to release all my adrenaline too, as suddenly realised how exhausted I was. So there we lay on the floor. My hand on yours, I have no idea how long we remained like that. But that touch was so precious to me that I never wanted it to end.

 And as I lay there I realised something. You never really left me because when you’re swamped in that fog I feel everything with you. You and I are so in tune that I feel every fear, every anxiety, every scream and every feeling of pain you inflict on yourself..... I feel it too.

We are so connected you and I that your pain is my pain.

Do you know you’re not alone my angel? I know you may not say it, but deep down I know you feel it because with me you’re truly yourself. It’s safe to unravel when you are with me. And I want you to know I will be here, no matter how thick the fog gets, I will be there by your side all the way waiting for you to find you way though.

As I watch you here sleeping in the darkness my love overflows, and the tears drip down my cheek.
 I kiss your forehead and whisper to you how proud I am of you. I may not be able to stop the fog from coming all the time, and I can’t make the world a less confusing place for you always, but I know that it’s going to be OK because I love you to the moon and back, and I am here for you always right by your side.

And really that’s we need to know. 

The future remains uncertain; but right here right now, all that really matters is us. And we’re in this together, always and forever.

Goodnight my darling boy, sweet dreams
Mum x

This blog was published on the Mighty 20/11/15)

Wednesday 18 November 2015

The Meltdown

The Meltdown

My boy
My beautiful boy
The days been hard
The world is too much sometimes

I can see the fog creeping over your body
Don’t let it take you
Stay here with me, let me make it better

But deep down I know this has to happen
It has to come out somehow
You're saturated

I’m your mum and I am here to help you through it
But my instincts are all wrong
Because every nerve in my body is telling me to scoop you up
My beautiful boy I need to make it better

I am helpless

My heart breaks to see you like this
I’m losing you to the fog, to the meltdown
It’s engulfing you, swallowing you like a predator

You’re gasping for air
Panic and rage soon follows
Breathe, remember to breathe my boy

I don’t know what to, what should I do?
I feel like I make things worse
My touch is painful to you, you pull away

What’s wrong, what can I do?
You can’t hear me
Heartbeats faster

I see my panic reflected in your eyes
My boy is so frightened
You lash out, I take the hit
Doors slam, chairs fly, I need to keep us safe until this passes
Seconds feel like hours

Slowly the fog subsides
and you become quiet
You rock slowly to calm yourself
Then slide down the wall in a heap
Your body unwinds and sighs

I hold my breath, and wait wrapping my arms around myself for comfort
Feelings of calm creep back in
My knees give way, I crawl towards you
Reaching out I gently touch your hand
You close your eyes

My love overflows
It’s OK my angel, you’re OK now
I love you
We're going to be OK

Mum xx

Sunday 8 November 2015

Who is 'that mum?'....

Can I share a story with you?
A story behind who ‘that mum’ really is.
You see ‘that mum’ found herself on a roller-coaster of a  journey, a journey that she hadn’t really ever planned to ride, and she certainly hadn’t read the guidelines for!

Now you may be read this and think that mum sounds just like me, I’m so relieved that I’m not alone.
Or you may read this and think I know that mum; and I never realised that’s why she stands in the playground each day looking down at the floor, maybe I’ll go and talk to her?
Or finally you could read this and think I hadn’t realised how much courage it took for that mum to finally open up to me and let me into her world.
So here is the story of ‘that mum’

One morning in September there was a playground full of nervous little kids. All looking so grown up; wearing their crisp clean uniforms, and running around in their squeaky new shoes. Their parents were beginning to smile and nod at each other in a knowing kind of way, all as nervous as each other. Then the awkward silence was broken by the bell ringing loudly, a signal to everyone that it was now time. Time for all the anxious parents to let go, and time for the children to start on their journey of it was their first day of school

Well here she is
Here in the middle of this
But her son was screaming, and clinging onto her as if his life depended on it, and she was wishing the ground would swallow them up, as all eyes looked in their direction.
Her poor boy, why was he being like this, why couldn’t he just be like all the other kids?

Day after day as his anxiety continued she told herself it was just his nerves, it would soon settle. But niggling in her gut was this fear that she couldn’t shake; a feeling that something with her child was different. Yes he was anxious, and yes he needed routine, but more than she would have expected for a little 5 year old boy....She suspected there was more going on, but she was too afraid to admit it yet, even to herself.

So instead she distracted herself with thoughts of the football matches they would proudly stand and watch. And the school plays they would sniffle through, and that kept her focused for a while.

But slowly she began to realise that her son was just unique from his classmates. She watched with a feeling of envy as the other mums in the playground collected their kids who were all smiles and laughter. And she found herself beginning to avoid eye contact with them to ensure she didn’t have any awkward conversations about how well it was going. She just couldn’t face opening up to them, or worse having to pretend that everything was OK.

So she would stand in the corner and wait nervously for that first glimpse of her son, as she knew instantly as soon as she saw him what kind of day he’d had, and therefore what kind of evening they would face at home.

 He would stomp out at the back of the class looking pale, scowling at her whilst chucking his bag in her direction, and then he would often explode in the car, pushing his sister away and sobbing uncontrollably. He was struggling with the demands of school. Then teatime would become a battle zone, and homework ... well let’s not even go there with homework! It was just the most horrific time of the day and left them both feeling battered and bruised with the stress.

Day after day she began to question what more she could do, and then the guilt would eat away at her because she was a working mum. She was clinging on by her fingernails. It was exhausting, especially when she didn’t really know why it was happening, she had no answers, and no one else saw it but her family. But deep down she just knew......

Everyday was getting harder and harder to get him into school, and eventually she became so exhausted holding it all together and putting up this front. Tired and worn down she knew something had to give.

She felt sick.. She had to start being honest with herself and stop pretending everything was OK.
This is not something she wanted to have to do. You see she wanted to be the mum on the PTA organising the cake sales, and dutifully volunteering as a mum helper, reading once a week with his class. That’s the journey she had expected to be taking with her 5 year old son, not this roller-coaster ride she was now on.

It would take all her courage to start this conversation with someone she barely knew and let anyone glimpse into her world. A world she had kept hidden for so long to protect her son from prying eyes and judgement.
She felt like she had been slowly climbing this roller-coaster for months, higher and higher she had gone..... she was now at the top of the climb facing a momentous drop into the unknown, there was no other way down....  she was so scared.

What would she say?
What would she think?
Would she think she was a bad parent?
Would she call social services?
Will she laugh at me?
So her defence walls were guarded. The war paint was on as means of protecting her feelings keeping her dignity intact.

She avoided it for days, head down, looking at no-one. Never quite plucking up the courage, and never finding the right time to start a conversation.  But then one particularly morning full of stress (non uniform day) she simply could take no more,  and whilst peeling her screaming  son off her leg, her gaze caught the teacher’s eye. And the emotions simply overflowed, tears began to well up and slowly trickle down her face.

This is where her complex journey with school as a special needs mum begins.

This is where my journey to becoming ‘that mum’ all started!

Mrs M x

A version of this blog can be found on

Monday 26 October 2015

Confessions of an Autism mum

Most of you reading this already know quite a lot about me by now as I have a tendency to get it all out there for the world to see!
So I thought it was about time I was completely honest with you, and shared my.....
 'Confessions of being an Autism mum' 

How many of these can you relate to?

  •  I hide in the toilet for 5 minutes peace, I can usually manage a few minutes before I get busted as they've all got wise to me now, so think I'm gonna have to find a  new spot (maybe the hubby's man shed?)
  • Sometimes I lay in bed at night and I suddenly remember  that I've left the blumin washing outside on the line... hmm what to do... get out of bed to bring it in.... nah it can wait 'til morning

  • On particularly challenging days my old faithful friend the bottle of dry shampoo comes out. I just dont have time to wash my hair so a quick spray and I'm good to go for another few hours, and on really busy days it's a woolly hat all the way for my head! 
  • Sometimes when I can't face the world, I am exhausted, or just cant process anything else, I make excuses to get out of things. Being a mum to an Autistic child means I'm on high alert ALL of the time sometimes my battery feels a bit  ...well....flat.. I haven't even got the energy to explain all that to you half the time just, so I say I have a headache 'cos its easier. (please forgive me dear friends)
  • Cold coffee is my constant companion, several cups are consumed to keep energy levels up..  I would probably go into panic mode if I actually sipped a hot cup as I have forgotten what hot coffee tastes like nowadays 
  • When I have forgotten to wash the uniform a good old wet wipe rub down will do ! 
  • I have eaten a whole tube of pringles for my tea collapsed on the sofa infront of the soaps
  • I very rarely answer my home phone as I just cant chat. I am usually too busy making three dinner choices, chasing the puppy who has stolen my slipper or acting as referee to three kids intent on starting WW3. (If its someone important they know to text me I say)
  • Shower time is an event I have to psych myself up for (not my own obviously .. I mean that would be silly....for my son of course !!). So its towels on the floor at the ready as Noah himself would suggest we build an Ark. We have floods of epic proportions at shower time...oh and we mustn't forget the streaking giggling nakedness we have in abundance too, as he runs around the house shouting "dont look at my personal parts."
  • Doing the weekly shop for me is a break... I savour the solitude and keep my head down in case I bump into someone I know over the frozen peas. But then my silence is halted as my phone beeps and I know my times up .....
  • Sometimes if I sit down... well...... I fall asleep when watching catch up TV in the afternoon (but dont tell my husband as I prod him all the time for nodding off during Downton)
  • I often embarrass my son by walking him out to his taxi for school in my 'Elf' pyjamas if it's been a manic morning! (Then I run in quick hoping the neighbours didn't spot me and my son cringes as he waves goodbye) 
  • We may have messed about with the clocks once upon a time....well anything for an extra hour  in bed!!
  • SHHH. .don't tell anyone but those cakes I sent in for cake sale day at school were shop bought ..( I think I got away with it by putting it in a cake tin ) 
  • Such a sad time for the family was when our pet rabbit died while we were away on holiday, so nanna was instructed to but a replica rabbit and switch it MI5 stylie before we arrived home. Of course he spotted it straight away ! 
  • I love my slippers. Given the choice I would wear them on a night out. Pah.. whats a night out anyway?! Heels are out, slippers are in that's my motto. Oh and they must have good grippy soles 'cos you never know when your gonna need to jump up off the sofa to rescue a child stuck in a sleeping bag. Or intercept a cushion that's heading towards the cold coffee on the table... and trust me skidding across the floor at my age isn't a pretty sight to behold let me tell you! (I have even been known to collect my daughter from school in my slippers when in a rush ....I waited in the car for her of course)
  • And finally and hardest to admit I  am secretly envious of other mums Facebook pages. Ahhh I know I shouldn't be and often its just a fleeting thought.. ...but sometimes I look at pictures of lovely perfect days out and all the blumin smiling happy faces and deep down secretly wish that was us.

But then my son brings me back to the room, and makes me smile by simply being him and sliding accross the floor like a slug in his sleeping bag chasing the dog....and I feel guilty for feeling like that.

 Because I love him to the moon and back. My confessions don't make a bad mum , I'm just human you see and nobody's perfect ...especially me ! 

                                                                                Mrs M x 

Thursday 15 October 2015

Unspoken Bonds - by an Autism Mom.

"It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion." 

I don’t know about you but I have always been a sucker for a good old bit of escapism into Jane Eyre's world of period costumes and romantic drama. And without fail that line always leaps off the page right at me every time I read it. That magical connection between two people that needs no words. No explanation or thought. It exists...... just because!

This is how I feel about my children. They're my world and I am connected to them through invisible bonds. You see they will always be part of who I am, it’s instinct, and I just feel it.... like string connecting our hearts together. 

I feel their pain; I share their joys and laughter. I worry when they worry. When they cried as babies I knew what they wanted. When they stir in the night I am there to soothe them. When they need care and love I am there. No words are ever needed, because I’m their mum.

I have close relationships with each of my three, and my girls are growing up to be wonderful young ladies. I can see their independence developing, and their personalities blossoming, as bit by bit I slowly have to loosen the string that connects us. They have their own minds, and ideas, and they will leave me one day to live their own lives with their families. That bond will always be there but I will have to let it stretch some more to let them go when the time is right.

My relationship with my Autistic son feels somehow different. Our strings are still connected as tight as ever, if not tighter. Maybe it’s because he can't always express himself, or because people find it hard to understand him. Perhaps it’s because I am so fine tuned after 11 years of being his safe place. But I just know that I get him.... because I'm his mum! We are interlinked. He trusts me, and relies on me to get through his day and that leads to something wonderful and unique as a mother. Yes things are tough but there is so much to be thankful for too. When things are good, they are amazingly good, but as ever life has a habit of throwing little obstacles in our way, like this week for example....

Rather inconveniently I developed a painful mouth abscess on the nerve of my tooth (that I really could have done without). But as a result I had become shattered on the medication, and had to keep sneaking off to my room as a way of coping with the pain. It hurt to talk, and move my head, and you could say I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I am ashamed to admit my kids ate take away on a school night, and ready meals that pinged in the microwave! My floor didn’t see a hoover for 3 days... and well my hair didn’t see shampoo for 3 days either if I’m honest!!

As the days passed and the routine of home disintegrated, I could feel my son’s anxiety ramping up as a result. He was stressed and worried about me but just couldn't express it. I had become distant because of the pain, his routine was out of sync and I was being a rubbish mum.
After a particularly manic half hour, in which I was close to losing the will to live, whilst trying to get him to take a shower, my son (who bear in mind has Autism and struggles to express himself) floored me with this comment.....

"Mum I feel your distress like a whale call"

 It hit me......Just like I feel his worries and pain, he feels mine. He couldn't explain that it was making him anxious, or defiant he just knew he could feel it. He could feel something wasn't right. Like a whale calls out to her mum in the ocean. It’s just his instinct.

I realised that just because he is Autistic, and he can’t always articulate how he feels, that doesn't mean he isn't feeling it. In fact if anything I think his Autism amplifies his feelings all the more.

My girls, yeah they gave tea and sympathy. But my son...he felt it. He felt a knot in the string that connects us, no words or explanation needed... he just felt my distance and it confused him. His instinct told him something was out of sync.

There's so much about Autism we don’t understand, wonders and talents that lie yet undiscovered in our kids. My son seems to feel the world around him, it’s all amplified. He smells and touches and sees things that I take for granted. So what that language doesn’t come naturally to him, because he works on an instinctive level that I can only glimpse into when I view the world though his eyes. Children like my son have a lot to teach us about relationships and love. He just feels it, he doesn’t over analyse and complicate with words, he feels the bond he has with others and holds on tight... just because!

Mrs M

This was Published by Autism 15/10/15

Sunday 11 October 2015

How my child teaches me to think outside the box

I have been thinking a lot lately about how each and every person with Autism is so unique and different. My son included. They say if you have met one kid with Autism...well’ve met one kid with autism. And you can see why this can then lead to so much confusion for people, as there really is no one size fits all.

We have the ‘Triad of impairments’ as a guideline but even that can be interpreted differently as each person is somewhere different on the spectrum. Well meaning folks in the past have said to me things like “well I never knew he was Autistic  because he looks so normal”, or “he can talk well” or the worst one I ever had was.... “I had high hopes for your kids, what went wrong in the genes” (I know I know...don’t even go there with that one!!!)

You see I reckon that your average Joe’s understanding of Autism sadly is like that film...what was it again..... Rainman?

And that couldn’t be further from the truth really. Yes there will be some people who share similar traits to Dustin Hoffman’s character, but many won’t. Each person is different, unique and they have their own challenges and strengths.

Take imagination for example. Most people assume that if you have Autism you have no imagination. But for my son I would argue that’s not necessarily true. He has many strengths and faces many challenges, because he sees the world differently to me. But would I say he has NO imagination at all... No I wouldn’t.

 So maybe to understand this I just need to look at the world through his eyes.

We have two dogs  at home and they’re  always play fighting, one is a puppy so  as you can imagine there’s lots of tail pulling and growling that goes on. My son sees this, thinks it look great fun, and of course he wants to join in the rough and tumble. But every time he does they stop their rough play and lick him all over his face (much to his annoyance) because he wants to be a dog like them... and play like them ...not be licked. So his ingenious idea was to buy a dog suit so they will be tricked into thinking he’s a dog like them!! Logical eh! I mean it’s a very literal kind of imagination... But imagination none the less isn’t it?

His view kinda makes sense to me if I see it through his eyes.

Another example is when my son wanted to play finger football on the kitchen floor going back a few years ago now.  So he decided to draw the pitch (in permanent black marker!!!) you know like you do, across the whole tiled floor??
Hmmmm, I have to admit I wasn’t best pleased at the time. But, looking at the positive side of this as we mums often do, he had actually created his own game. He had then played finger football with his two teams playing against each other scoring goals into cereal boxes at either end of the room.  He was able to use his knowledge about football and make up a game using a  permanent pen, my floor and some screwed up newspaper and tape.
Could you argue that he has used his imagination there?

And more recently there’s been the gaming. At first I was concerned about how much gaming he was doing and the effect it was having on him. But the benefits far outweigh my concerns to be honest. It’s become what he does for his ‘down time’. It’s his passion, and you know what, it’s actually surprised me how imaginative he can be on it. The possibilities with Minecraft are amazing.  He struggles in everyday life to draw any ideas he may have, even to copy an image. And he often can’t and express himself verbally or in his written work at school..... But he can create a whole village with shops/ houses/ animals and theme parks etc. He has also made some online friends who he chats to whilst he's playing, again which has opened up a new world that he feels comfortable in.  

And the latest thing that we have seen is texts and Emoji's.
He sent me an Emoji cake via text for my birthday last week in the taxi on his way to school, when he had been unable to say it in person at home that morning. He’s exploring with the creativity of using Emoji's, and learning there are other ways to express himself, be imaginative and communicate in a fun way without the pressure of one to one conversation.

 So yes my son has the label of Autism, and yes he struggles with imagination because of that. But if we think outside the box a little with our kids often we can find a way in by using their strengths and interests.  I accept he’s never gonna do drama or even be the class joker confidently at the center of the ‘in crowd’. But I am OK with that now, because he is!

I have followed his lead, and I am learning to see that my sons’ skills lie elsewhere. He feels the joy in playing with his dogs in a dog suit, he can problem solve by making a newspaper balls to play footy, and he can create magical worlds on Minecraft.

Each and everyone of our kids is unique in their own imagination, and have their own challenges to face. It’s a spectrum of uniqueness and a different way of viewing the world. So sometimes all we have to do is use our own imagination to view the world through our kids eyes, and see the wonder in their ability to think outside the box.


Mrs M X                                      

Friday 2 October 2015

One Little Boy and His Three Superhero Pets!

One little boy and his three Superhero pets!

As a child growing up back in the day I took for granted the fact that I always had lots of pets around the house. We always had a family dog and I had my own Rabbit that was my responsibility to care for. Now I am older I realise how lucky I was back then, and actually how much my pets helped me learn about life.  A love for animals is something that I have always carried with me, and when we had kids it was a no brainer really that we too would have a house full of animals like I did when I was little.
So we have a bit of a mad house really now, there’s the three kids, two dogs, a goldfish, two chickens, oh and my son has his very own pet Tortoise!

Like I said we were always gonna have a house full of pets, but what we have found over the last few years is how incredible our little furry friends really are. You see my son has Autism and struggles with relationships, and can often prefer to be by himself most of the time.  But the relationships he has with his pets are simply incredible. He seems to bond with animals on a whole other kind of instinctive level.
They are like little ‘Superheroes’ opening up the world to him with no words required

Let me explain.....
Meet Charlie

Charlie is our old faithful family dog. My son has grown up with him, side by side, together all the time. Every day when my little man comes home from school and dumps his school bags on the floor, he knows that Charlie will always be there waiting for him. No matter what has happened that day in school. No matter how he’s feeling, or what he has done that day. And without fail every morning Charlie makes his way to my son’s bedroom and plonks himself next to his chair.  My son is always anxious about going to school. And it’s almost like Charlie is there to reassure him just by being there with him.  Like he’s saying “It’s ok bud.... I’m here for you.”
Charlie teaches my son about love, friendship and trust. Those are Charlie’s superpowers!

Now meet Besty

Betsy is the latest edition to the mad house and as you can see from the picture, she is a mischievous puppy! She loves nothing more than to play ‘tug of war’ with my son on the floor, and my heart could melt when he rolls around with her laughing and barking as he pretends to be a dog. Sometimes she’s a bit... well ...’naughty’ but we always forgive her cos we love her so much (she’s partial to a smelly old slipper or two). And sometimes she does things she’s not really meant to but it’s our job as her family to teach her the right things to do (like not doing your business on the bedroom landing!!) But we don’t shout at her ‘cos it’s not her fault, she doesn’t understand the rules of our world yet. My son is absorbing all this subconsciously. Betsy makes mistakes, but it’s OK. Sometimes Betsy does things without thinking, but no matter what happens we’re all family, and we’re here for each other. We try not to get cross. 
She is also a little bit anxious about going to new places like the vets and to the park. But my son takes control and scoops her up saying “c’mon Betsy it will be fun” He is learning through her that new things can be OK.
For such a little puppy her superpowers are pretty big I reckon!

And finally let me introduce you to Turbo-teddy (he has ‘moves like Jagger’ this tortoise; trust me he’s fast on his feet!)

Teddy is my sons very own special pet. He’s a bit different to the rest of the pets we have because he’s not at all cuddly like the dogs. And he doesn’t really like to be fussed over too much. But he’s really special in other ways. My son loves to care for him. He baths him feeds him every day, and talks to him with such love and care when he handles him. Teddy is teaching my son to think about someone else. He has his own unique Tortoise needs, and it’s important that we care for him properly, or he will become sad and unhappy.

What incredible superpowers hey... to teach someone how to care for others, to think about someone else first over and above what you want. That’s what Teddy is helping my son to do.
So you see something magical happens when my son interacts with animals, and I intend to do everything I can to nurture that. I can only imagine what a chaotic and confusing world my son experiences everyday and our pet animals help him understand and process that whole heap of craziness.
Children like my son have a lot to teach the world I reckon. Because he shows us that growing and learning doesn’t all have come from textbooks and classrooms. It can come from the most ordinary and unlikely of places; like family pets, chewed up slippers, or trips to the vets.
My son is amazing, because he can turn the mundane into something wonderful and magical, that we could all learn from!

Now that’s a superpower if ever I saw one.

This was published on Autism 2/10/15