Don’t tell your kids to be polite and then have no manners yourself…

Have you ever stopped to look at how you parent? Ever snatched the toy your kids are fighting over in frustration and then told them off a few days later for snatching? Snapped at a cashier in the shop who you frustrated you, but ask your children to never be frustrated? As I was growing up my mother hated when I spilt things, I was accident prone and unaware of my surroundings ‘you better not drop anything and embarrass me today’ I would get scolded before we visited the grandparents. I would see her giving me the ‘look’ to say ‘No’ when I was offered any food or drink at their house. Yet my own Mother when I was just a few years old was so unaware of her surroundings she accidentally spilt hot coffee all down my back while pushing my pushchair. Essentially she wanted me to no longer be clumsy when she herself is clumsy.

I have this theory though that sometimes as parents we don’t want our kids to think we get it wrong, we want to be their example and this amazing role model to them, yet our ego sometimes gets in the way and thinks that this means we have to let them believe we have it all together, that when you get to an adult it all of a sudden makes sense. Now tell me adults when was the last time you actually felt you had all the answers? Or truly felt you had your whole world worked out completely?

My autistic child has a lot of meltdowns, she hates noise, she hates the oven being switched on, she hates change, she will only wear specific clothes or shoes, and she likes her crazy curly hair to be firmly left alone. On our wedding day this annoyed my Family that I was accepting of these boundaries and did not force her to wear what my other bridesmaids were wearing, I bought her a loose jersey dress, white leggings and her favourite pair of trainers along to the morning of me getting ready. I over heard the discussions of my family members at how outrageous it was that I accepted this and try to take over and get my autistic child into a different dress. Calmly I walked down the stairs into the crowded room of judgment and simply said ‘why does it bother you so that she wants to be different’ the silence was deafening, it made my family realise in that moment that actually it didn’t really matter, it was just their expectations that were causing the disappointment and stress. They had placed value in the way things look, and actually what the concern should be is how them harassing my daughter to wear something she didn’t want to was making her feel. Their actions and expectations were making her feel frustrated. The example I set to her by letting her keep her boundaries and standing up to the people around me is that we don’t move our boundaries for anyone.

I get told a lot that I am too soft on my children, my style of parenting is to get down on their level. I apologise when I get it wrong, and I don’t do times out. If my daughter is about to have an overload and lashing out, I pick her up, I take her upstairs and we have a cuddle, I apologise that I have caused her frustration, I am empathetic to her needs, I explain the importance of kindness. I say things like ‘we love each other’ ‘we speak kindly to one another’ a repetition of this has stopped her lashing out at her younger sister and getting frustrated when she cries to a ‘don’t cry baby we can make you happy again’ I led by example, I kept calm and in turn taught her to be calm. I don’t demand my children to say please and thank you, but I always say please and thank you. They follow suit. I don’t demand they apologise when they lash out or hurt one another, but I apologise if I have caused frustration, I apologise to my husband if we quarrel about something in the house. And so that teaches them the importance of apologies. Lead by example. Don’t demand your children to have values that you do not hold yourself. This has made parenting an Autistic child a little less frustrating. I of course get the rising feeling of anger when she is kicking and screaming and throwing things at me, and in those moments I take a deep breath, what is that feeling? Anger, fear of losing control, frustrated things aren’t going my way, adrenaline causing my blood pressure to rise and heart to pound. I understand what I’m feeling, I label it, it isn’t her behaviour itself but my reactions to it, my expectations of wanting to control a situation and the disappointment that my own expectation has been let down. So my own body reacts, I too am having a sensory overload in that moment but I understand it. I’m kind to myself, it’s ok to feel frustrated you’re only human, you’re dealing with a stressful situation, it’s not ok to act on this frustration though, let’s have a few deep breaths before we react. This way of thinking is incredibly hard and it takes a while for it to naturally occur but it has changed our family life tremendously. I urge anyone who is feeling overwhelmed with tantrums to give it a go. You won’t regret it.

I have so many regrets…

My husband always tells me I don’t read dangers in situations very well, I sometimes find myself getting a little offended when he says this. How dare he? Then I will go on a mini adventure with the dog walking and get lost, leave my phone at home and have to rely on the dog to help guide me back…usually after I’ve been trudging through country side for hours I will think ‘’maybe this is what he means’’ I’m in the middle of a wood with no means of communication and no one knows where I am, yeah I probably haven’t read the danger. He’s taken to now chasing after me with my phone being waved in the air and reminds me ‘’always have it incase of an emergency’’ he’s right, I should always have it, I am a bit of a hippy though and hate technology. When I walk I want to be at one with nature so I leave it at home so I can disconnect. That’s the idea, but we live in a world that isn’t particularly safe for women, and I don’t say that and mean that women can’t stand up for themselves because we can, what I mean is that women out walking alone aren’t particularly safe. I always say that my dog would protect me, he’s not the biggest but he’s got one heck of a bark on him and if a shady looking character does approach me he tends to stand across me growling until said shady person is well out of sight. He’s a much better judge of character than I am. I will talk to anyone, since having him though I recognise when he is uneasy about someone, he pulls me back, almost makes me aware that I shouldn’t be so quick to trust people. In reality though could he protect me? The Me Too movement had me torn, I was back in my day a women who was promiscuous. And I always said it was consensual. That I was happy with the life I was leading, it was my choice. If I’m honest I didn’t think I could say no because I blamed myself for getting myself in a situation like that. I must have led them on I would say. So when Me Too first started I would think ‘’well surely I have to take some accountability too right’’ ‘’ I did wear that dress with the low cut’’ ‘’I did bend over the snooker table’’ ‘’I led him on’’ ‘’I am promiscuous this is who I am, I’m happy’’ I remember sitting in a living room of one of these flings. I nicknamed him Golfer, and he told me ‘’people like you don’t have happy endings, this is who you are so enjoy it’’ so in my meditation a few weeks back when I started the course on regrets it was no surprise to me really that these encounters were the first few things that sprung to my mind. The first actually was my first time, and where I believe this thinking actually all started. I was 16 and had been seeing my boyfriend for a while, we were childhood sweethearts but waiting for the right time. Sure we had done other stuff but not the deed, so one Sunday afternoon in July we decided to well…do it. Only it hurt a lot more than I expected so I asked him to stop…several times actually. He didn’t. I laid there crying my eyes out waiting for it to be over, when it ended I was lost for words, I didn’t know what to say. Pore confusion engulfed me for weeks to come, I started to not be able to eat, and could no longer be around him, eventuality I plucked up the courage to confront him and the words he said still ring in my ears ‘’you asked for it’’ my behaviour became more erratic, I started smoking and drinking and one day when he came to visit I just ran. I didn’t want to see him anymore but no one was actually listening to me, my Mum came and found me…with him (eye roll) and tried to have a word with me about my behaviour ‘’what’s got into you’’ ‘’he’s a lovely boy and you’re being a right bitch’’ we went to bed a little angry with each other that night and the next morning I came down the stairs and sat on the kitchen side ‘’I don’t feel well’’ I said ‘’just go away’’ my mother replied, next thing I know I’m waking up to 2 paramedics. I remember him asking her if there was any change in my behaviour and she just said no. I eventually confided in my Mum and Dad what had happened and all my Mum responded was ‘’I didn’t even realise you were still a virgin’’ followed by a grumble from my Dad about how provocatively I dress. And here is where the downward spiral started. If you have teenage girls I implore you to NOT install this thinking in their minds. Needless to say me and him did break up and I went off to college, but the damage had been done, I would skip lessons to go and smoke and drink in the pub, or just hang out at parties. No shocker that when I met my next dead best boyfriend who was a shit DJ in a shit pub I started my pattern all over again of dating a person who was incapable of respecting me. He started talking down to me on the second date. I had 2 jobs but apparently I wasn’t good enough for him just working in retail. He dragged me round his university to show me how good he was going to make it and kept reminding me he was more intelligent. Girl you shoulda ran then. He wanted me to give up smoking and one evening when drinking in the pub he spotted me with a few friends light up a fag, he came over took it out my mouth and said ‘’light it up again I will put it out on you’’ a brazen and rather drunk me again didn’t spot the actual danger I was in so I sure enough took a cigarette…lit it up…and blew the smoke in his direction. He walked back over to me lifted up my arm and stubbed the fag out on my arm. Luckily I was drunk enough to not feel it too badly but the sight of watching it burn through my skin still remains, and so does the scar. The abuse didn’t stop there, my Mum would openly tell people ‘’he ruined her’’ and it is true I’ve never known a woman to date him who hasn’t left him and not been on anti depressants. He should not be allowed to date women, but these men are out there and do exist. Which brings me back to my previous question of how safe are women in today’s society? Should I take accountability for some of these actions? Was it my fault? Or am I a victim? Recently these questions have been echoing through my mind while I come to terms with the prospect that maybe I didn’t deserve some of the stuff I’ve been through. And maybe my husband is right that I really can not read the danger of some situations that I have been in.

So many opinions so little advice…

We have recently been told that our daughter is not ready for a school environment, and currently I have a lot of professionals either coming to the house, or at the setting or that I’m visiting all giving me a different range of things to do to help her along the way. Some refuse to give an idea on what her future education will look like, others like to put limitations on what she will be able to do. We hear a lot of ‘there’s potential’ and the word ‘control’ one thing I’ve realised is though that in this world as a parent where you’re completely out of your depth and you want to be pointed in the right direction no one is actually willing to really give an answer then. We know that we have a very short window of time to apply for a school place, we know that we need to to have a meeting to discuss this, and that she may have to be pushed back a year but whilst there are so many things that can be done there is not a lot of information on what should be done. I am not a professional in the terms that I haven’t studied Autism and the behaviours for many years, I don’t understand children’s psychology and behaviours and I’m certainly not medically trained or university educated, but I am the mother to an almost 4 year old that I look after round the clock, I see the warning signs of an upcoming meltdown, I understand what she means when she says ‘turn it off’ I understand her various grunts and facial expressions. And I know she is going to stop and cover her ears as soon as I hear the exact sound she does. My mind is becoming at one with hers, I know my brain works similar as I also am Autistic but it’s never the same as she is a different person. This leads me to my first gripe of the professionalism of some of the experts though if I can understand that simple thing that even though we are 2 autistic people we have 2 different needs, why is all the advice the same? We go to a session where we sit with other parents of children’s with the ‘same’ needs and as we wait our turn I overhear the same conversation over and over ‘Autistics love control’ ‘Autistics can’t read the room’ ‘Autistics need visuals’ ‘Autistics need structure’ the ‘Autistics’ you are referring too are sat in the very same room and they are not their diagnosis. They are boys and girls who happen to have a mind that see the world differently and they know exactly what you are saying about them, they hear every word regardless of whether you think they can understand or not. I also see in this same environment the professionals testing the boundaries of the child, one little girl was pushed to her limit and had an hour long meltdown for the entirety of the session. I was stressed the mum was stressed, the child was stressed to the max and the professionals laugh amongst themselves’I had to push her today to see’ my question is ‘why’ if we can assess that these children have different needs to us and needs a different learning environment why is the way that we tackle this issue to teach them ways to cope in a neuro typical school? Why do their limits need to be tested? Why do they need to change? Why do we have to say things like ‘they need to learn’ I was reading the other day that more children are being diagnosed with Autism and things like their memory can be affected so it is not a behaviour that is preventing them from being able to learn it is their brain that simply can’t process it, it doesn’t matter how hard you try if the brain isn’t developed enough to process it, it ain’t ever going to stick. I remember being sat in school and my head used to hurt, the noises would go fuzzy. My eyes would hurt and I would feel exhausted by about 1pm and nothing went in at school, I can’t physically remember anything from primary school…well I remember the bullies and getting told off ALOT. The actual physical learning though nothing at all. Everything I know now is from what I have learned as an adult, I constantly have my nose stuck in a book, this only happened though into my late 20s all of a sudden things started to make sense, the world around me wasn’t quite the fog that it was, and I didn’t find things like left and right and telling the time quite the task I used to. I still can’t pronounce Pneumonia but my brain works better, I feel it, I know it. As a mother knowing this and it finally making sense I desperately want to protect my child from this, I want her to be able to enjoy her child hood, not be like me…hate every second of her education because it forces her to act/learn in a way that isn’t natural to her. If she wants to stim and jump up and down on the spot then bloody well let her, who is she hurting, if she prefers to sit on the floor to eat her food rather than at a table who is that actually bothering? If she carries on being 2 and a half years behind all her life then cater to her needs, not force her to catch up because that’s what society wants us to do. I would love to hear from other parents if they have the same struggles or if I’m on my own here. I genuinely believe the system is flawed but I feel a one man army, and an army that is letting her child down by following along with what someone who doesn’t know her decides. We now live in a world that understands mental health more, why are we so unwilling to recognise that a lot of schooling is not catered for children who have a different way of learning?

We don’t all love trains!!

Let’s bust this assumption right open, I know there are some Autistics that love trains, but this is more because we are obsessive people, our minds become consumed with one particular past time or hobby. Mine is Yoga and playing Solitaire I am obsessed with doing these things on a regular basis and get annoyed when I am not allowed to participate in my daily Yoga Asana or my battery dies while I was on my 50th game of Solitaire. For others their love and obsession is with Trains, they love watching them, it is pleasing for them and their senses, they enjoy collecting the sets ans building them in straight lines, it pleases them greatly to fulfil in the past time. That is as far as the train loving goes though, with that particular individual having an obsession with trains. if you’re like me on the other hand and my daughter trains absolutely bloody terrify me. I can not stand on a train platform without freaking the hell out, I hear the train approaching, the hands get sweaty the knees start shaking, my body wants to move in all kinds of weird ways and I’m desperately trying to mask my right leg that just won’t stop fucking tapping. Then it comes in past you whizzing air past my face, I can’t breath my senses have gone wild, eyes can’t focus on the fast moving object that’s screeching to a stop in front of me and all of a sudden I just want to run home sit in my daughters tee pee and never visit the train station again. This is funny to a lot of people ‘you’re scared of trains’ that’s a funny thing to be afraid of. It’s not the train itself though, since attending all of these meetings back and forth with my daughter I have stumbled across the very reason that a train station is my worse unimaginable nightmare…Sensory. Processing. Disorder. Apparently you can’t get diagnosed with it, it’s just something that accompanied the traits of an Autistic, your senses are acute and feel things more intensely, to you the wind rushing past your face as the train arrives may be a pleasureable experience, it lightly brushes across your rosy cheeks and somehow makes you feel alive as it ripples through your hair. Someone like me though it is not pleasurable at all, if you stand too close to my space I will get agitated enough, a whizz of smells and air blowing in my face unexpected is enough to cause a sensory meltdown. The penny then drops…that’s why my leg taps and my body wants to jolt I am stimming without even realising it. If for me though a 30 something adult still can’t process the sounds, noises and textures of a train station still affect me to the point I have a job to mask, why do we expect a child to just get on with their day with just a pair of ear defenders on? My mouth dropped to the floor when the professional said ‘don’t stop going places just use a pair of ear defenders’ years of research and that’s the best advice we have? The attitude is we will teach our children to live in the Neuro Typical world, and teach them to communicate with us and live up to the expectations of Neuro Typical teacher and adults. My question is always the same, imagine if someone told you that everything you feel and do is not Neuro Typical so therefore you have to change and mask it to fit into a world that will never truly accept you no matter how much you mask because you aren’t being true to yourself. I never believe Autism should be used as an excuse to give the child limitations to their learning, I do believe though that the term Neuro Typical should be re considered. Let me know your thoughts. Peace out fellow bloggers xx

Those Kids Are Little Shit’s…

It’s amazing how we judge what we don’t understand. You walk down the street and see someone dressed differently to you and you’re instantly drawn to them, they stand out from the crowd.

We all do it don’t we? Why on earth is that girl wearing a sort skirt in this weather, she will catch a death, why is that bloke wearing leathers on a hot day he must be melting. In fact it’s in our subconscious to look out for and instantly judge, it’s part of our primitive brain, the survival instinct. Let’s face it though even though our brain wants us to judge and the urge may be there to judge surely if we could be a little bit more present in the moments and think before we opened our mouths we may not end up being judgemental on everything that we perceive differently? I when out and about today see a perfect example of this, as I have said before I have an autistic child, so I make an active effort to never judge another fellow mother who is dealing with a public meltdown. Or as we call them in our house ‘’sensory overloads’ I let her and her son have their space while he rolled around on the floor yelling he was bored and wanted to go home and carried on about my day. I overheard an elderly couple as they walked by and say ‘what a little shit that kid is’ she must of heard if I heard, and I felt for her, she’s having a tough day the last thing she needed was a complete stranger judging a snippet of that day and making her feel worse. I would have smiled her way but we are in Covid times and my unusually petite face is swamped by face masks so all you can actually see are my beady little tired eyes poking over the top so instead I said a word of encouragement ‘’you got this and don’t let judgemental people bring you down’’ this led me to my next thought though, why do we label every child who acts differently naughty?? What I have learnt in my very limited experiences on having a child with Autism is that they usually are just warning you they are uncomfortable in a situation, my daughter has a tendency to pull on my hair when she is saying ‘ok I have had enough of this situation now’ it’s that first warning sign and the countdown until the real shit hits the fan. As a parent I make the decision to listen or to test HER boundaries and keep her in that situation she really doesn’t want to be in. Test her boundaries you will end up regretting it, plain and simple. Before we knew about my daughters Autism we tried to go to the Christmas Light Switch on. We made 3 mistakes on this evening 1st one we broke the fucking ROUTINE!! 2nd The lights, the bright, neon lights were blinking and flashing everywhere. 3rd The Noise, the sound of Christmas music blaring through speakers, crowds of people laughing and talking, kids screaming, excitedly laughing on the ice skating rink, my god it must have been hell for the poor girl and so it resulted in one of the biggest sensory overloads we have had to date. And I’m not proud to admit it my judgmental primitive brain was in full swing as we trudged back to the car bickering over where we had parked and I turned and said to my husband ‘why can’t she just behave like a normal child’ don’t you wish you could go back and slap yourself sometimes? The truth of the matter was all the events that led to that meltdown were my fault and me not listening to my child, I tested her boundaries and upset her because my own expectations on how I wanted the evening to go clouded my better judgement. That’s it, so I come back to my original point, if we stopped judging and labelling children who act differently as naughty and instead listened to them, learnt what they are trying to tell us with their behaviours would we live in a world that judged less and understood more? Food for thought don’t you think? Xx

As a child I was….

I grew up in what was back in the 90s a really small village. Our house was semi detached and had a gate into the next door neighbours garden which we in turn treated as an extension of our garden, that old lady must of reeaaalllyyy hated us. In the front of ours we had this massive big bushy fur tree, my hips don’t lie it was taller than the house, obsessed with Disney me loved Pocahontas and would regularly run round bare footed in the garden hiding in the fur tree waiting to be rescued by my very own John Smith. And yes before you ask I got a lot of splinters. Our house was an old house and heated by 2 coal fire places which heated all the water and radiators in the house. It was quite literally freezing. Everytime the ash tray filled up Dad would empty it into the garden where I used to run around bare footed playing. I ran up to this fresh pile of smouldering coal ash and for some reason which I’m not even sure I knew myself …stuck my whole foot in it. Of course this then led to me running around screaming in pain and my Mother shaking her head wondering why on earth I would have attempted that. She would then shout which would then cause my Dad to step in and stick up for me which then caused arguments between them and there forms the pattern of my childhood. I would regularly hear the words ‘if you were my first you would have been my last’ or ‘why can’t you just behave’ ‘you’re too accident prone’ ‘you are embarrassing me’ each time we left the house to go visiting someone I would get the finger pointed at me and the mini lecture on how I should behave in public, I still don’t think I have quite grasped it if I’m honest. Make me anxious enough I may still make funny noises to calm myself down. I now of course know that is called a ‘stim’ but we didn’t know back then, I don’t think I even learnt the word Autism until about 3 years ago, I was simply just labelled as the naughty child or as my Mother loved to tell people ‘her worse one’ I lived in my own little world wondering around daydreaming and often falling over or spilling things because my mind was imagining something else. One Christmas someone farted and I was determined to find out the source of the smell I got down from the table and started crawling in between everyone’s chairs sniffing each butt to find the culprit of the dreadful stink that filled the dining room. My mortified Mother looks over to my Dad and gives him the look of ‘sort her out will you’ swiftly I’m carried away and shut upstairs never finding out who actually dropped the stink bomb and ruined my dinner. I don’t think they knew it but I would regularly be able to hear them talking even from upstairs in my room. I used to think good hearing was my super power. I tried to switch it off in times of being in trouble up in my room though their dissatisfied voices would travel up the stairs swirling round my ears and mind ‘she’s such an embarrassment’ ‘I don’t know why she has to do that to me’ ‘nasty child’ ‘always misbehaving’ my Nan said the worse one about me one time, I was getting older at the time and had picked up that if I was nice to people they reacted better to me, so I watched films and TV over and over again to learn the behaviours. Mainly Disney movies. I would imitate the softly spoken voice and try to be as nice as possible so people wouldn’t say nasty things about me anymore. This particular evening I had walked up to my Nan’s to visit her. I was trying out my freshly new skills I had learnt ‘Yes please Nanny’ ‘would you like me to get you anything Nanny’ ‘I love you Nanny’ genuinely I had thought I done really well. Said my goodbyes and went to put my shoes one. My Nan hadn’t realised I was still in her hallway and I overheard her say ‘she’s so fucking false I can’t stand her’ I remember being angry but not at my Nan for saying it…at myself for getting it wrong, I’d worked so hard how was I still getting it wrong. I slammed the door and took the long walk home, contemplating running away ‘maybe they would miss me if I went away’ ‘why am I so different to them’ ‘why don’t they love me for who I am’ I was just a child at the time I couldn’t have known I was trying to learn behaviours, that my own behaviours were not the neuro typical ones. It’s hard growing up knowing you’re different but never really quite knowing why, not feeling you’re good enough for the family you were born into….the complete misfit. Don’t get me wrong I own it now but back then I was so desperately trying to fit in. If only I could go back and touch that little 8 year old me hand and say ‘don’t worry kid there is a reason you feel this way and the problem is they don’t see it too not with you’ meditation would tell you not to live in your past and to breath in and let it go, on this occasion on the revisit to my past I believe it’s important to focus on the behaviours I was learning, because it explains so much why I made some of the terrible decisions into my adolescence. To be continued I suppose, peace out fellow bloggers XX