I’m such a creature of habit and routine, it’s Saturday morning and I am so excited that there is NO school for the next 6 weeks.
I am also aware because I have this little voice in my head saying, “You need to plan and be disciplined with your time Lisa.”
I know that the days can go so quickly and before we know it, it will be September again and all the amazing ideas I had for day trips will have slipped away for another year.
This year seems different
*AJ has been with his lovely girlfriend *A for two and half years now and they are very much a couple. *CAL has three good friendships (answer to so many prayers) So I feel more like a Taxi service, but that is good because my kids are growing and becoming independent. It’s time for me to connect with me again and it’s quite a scary thought. I have quite a few ideas about how I will do this but that will be in future posts.
There is a seven year gap between my kids
It has been tricky trying to balance family activities over the years. Especially as both of them have that ASD quirkiness going for them. Also I lost my lovely Mom when *CAL was 4 and Mr Locoman has always worked long hours.
*AJ is a sensory seeker and *CAL is very much a sensory avoider
*AJ needs to run it out, he needs excitement and stimulation. He needs his body to have the kind of environment where he can be his happy, flappy, jumping, spinning, adventurous self. He is a pacer and is constantly on the move. Even when his body is still his mind and fingers are active. Now he is older one of the ways he has found of getting this release is in exercise. He has a gym membership and we have provided gym equipment for him out on the patio.
*CAL is a deep thinker she absorbs, she internalises, she studies, ponders and creates. She needs quiet and routine and doesn’t handle noise and movement too well at times. When overwhelmed she will cling to a wall, freeze and lose her words. Her release comes through music, art, reading, her imagination, writing and video games.
When *AJ was younger and *CAL was a toddler
*AJ loved going to indoor play areas, ball pools and slides were wonderful for him. The colours and movement stimulated him and he would be so happy just to be there. It would also help him sleep for longer than 3 hours if I could wear him out. But *CAL was terrified in those places. She would go into that baby shock look and shake from head to toe clinging to me like a little baby monkey. She never cried like *AJ did, she never cried much at all. I could just see that something was not quite right. The discomfort and complete fear she would show I could see instinctively. I knew with *AJ when he was unhappy or in pain because he’d scream the place down. With *CAL I have always had to watch her and try to understand what she is feeling by her movements and inability to answer.
I remember feeling so split in two
I didn’t know what to do for the best. I could see my boy had needs and I wanted to provide the environment and safety for him to have his hyper time. But my little *CAL just couldn’t handle it at all. She has always had fears with noise even vacuuming became a 2 man job. Mr Locoman always being at work was so annoying. I really needed his help but I also needed him to pay the bills so I tried to keep a lid on it, most of the time. wink wink
This is just one example from thoughts I had when opening my bedroom curtains this morning. I looked out onto my garden and remembered both my kids chasing the chickens. It’s a dry day here today in England and the school holidays have just begun. I don’t want to waste these precious days, I want to go out with my kids and make memories before they have grown even more and left the nest.
There are so many more moments that I can think on where I thought I would never find a way forward. Swimming, cinema, parties, bowling, indoor rock climbing, arcades, shopping centres even the local supermarket have all had their difficult moments. It doesn’t help that I have similar ASD traits and these places have sometimes been difficult for me too. But I think in a way my ASD did also help me to read my kids and to a certain extent predict what may or may not happen.
Asking the right people the right questions
I have found the hardest thing to cope with has been unkind advice from friends and relatives who just didn’t get it. Those who made it perfectly clear to me that they would treat this whole thing very differently if they just had them for a couple of weeks. I was a young Mom and my Mom was ill and then she died. I went to them for help and they pushed me to my knees but I am now grateful they did because God gave me my answers.
I’ll share a few comments that have played in my head and hurt my heart over the last 18 years because I know there are other ASD parents who can totally relate. These were all spoken to me by those I felt would give me support. Let’s just say, I was strong enough to cope without these people but it hurt so deeply at the time.
- *CAL will have to use a public toilet someday just drag her in there and stop being so ridiculous.
- *AJ just needs to sit still and be quiet, he needs to only speak when spoken to.
- Can’t you stop that child from talking about the same thing all the time.
- You make your kids worse by playing to their behaviour, they need to know their place.
- This is a party, why do you need to leave she’s not screaming, it’s all in your head.
- Children will eat what they are given once they are hungry.
- I have never heard of a baby crying itself to death.
- Do you actually think these star charts will work he is out of control.
- If you can’t control him now you have no hope of controlling him when he is a teen.
- Autism is an excuse that lazy parents use you’re making it more than it is.
- If you insist on being Autistic then I don’t want you in my house. I don’t want your kids behaviours rubbing off on my kids.
I stopped expecting anyone to understand, I stepped back and waited to see who stepped forward. Very few did, but those who did step forward and not let me totally withdraw I appreciate so very much.
I also found that being outdoors helped.
I used what I had in me to find ways forward. My own special interests (my love of animals, art, nature, photography and poetry) all brought some balance into our lives. Taking my kids and my dog to the hills and parks was perfectly perfect for all of us.
*CAL was happy with the quiet and gentle views, she’d sing and skip and take photos. *AJ could run and climb and be all that *AJ is, we’d sometimes take Zazzy and *AJ stayed with her making his adventures even more fun. At the hills and in the woods I could ponder, pray and be happy with just being me and being their Mommy in the way I understood. No pressure to conform but to just be.
The answers I have always found through prayer
Because once I am being still and listening or I am down on my knees feeling I don’t have a clue, God drops ideas into my head and places His unconditional love on my heart. I believe now that my kids were given to me because I am the best Mom for them. I know how much I love them and will always love them. Way down deep inside me is the answers I just need to always remember to be still and listen.