Being content with ASD

Hi! Good morning. It’s not morning, but I think the phrase ‘good morning’ is full of possibilities and is rather cheerful, so Good Morning! Sorry, it has taken me a while to post. This one has been harder than I thought to write.

I have two sons that have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are currently aged 5 and 4. They are beautiful boys with lots of potential. And as their mother, it is my job to help them reach it.

World Autism Acceptance Day

Two of my sons, A and R who both have Autism.

This puts so much pressure on mothers today. There are so many possible ways to reach that end destination. There is a lot of judgement over what is seen to be the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way. As difficult as it is, we need to step back and simply say that we are different, not better or worse. And differences should be encouraged.

My first son was diagnosed at 2 years and 8 months old. He was a difficult baby and a horrible toddler. I never knew how to handle him. I always knew that he was different, but no one else could see it. Or at least, they were unable to talk to me about it. There is a risk that in critising the child you critise the mother.

I felt relieved when A was diagnosed with Autism. It was confrmation that there was indeed something wrong. Listen to your instinct, people! Plus it allowed us to access early intervention. And so the long road of therapies started. We did a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, dance group, music therapy, social groups tailored for autistic children and attended a special developmental school.

As parents, we always knew A was intelligent. And, we believe that this has helped his development. At the time of diagnoses, he was completely non-verbal. A couple of months later, within a week of starting speech therapy, A said his first word. It was ‘finished’ and absolutely music to my ears.

A’s development has been a long, weary battle. His every improvement has been months of work, behind the scene. And to keep every small gain, we must continue to practice his skills so that he doesn’t regress again. It breaks my heart every time, he regresses.

So when my third son began to show signs of Autism, I simultaneously both ignored it and throw myself crazily into more therapies within the home. I didn’t want to have two children on the Autism Spectrum. Who does? No one whats a harder road for their child, and an ASD is certainly a hard road. For us, defiantly, but for the child it is excruitatingly painful.

These children do not understand so many basic rules of human socialisation. My sons end up so frustrated will being unable to follow a conversation, at not understanding body language, at not being sure of what facial expression is most appropriate to use. On top of that, they are also aware of this difference between themselves and others, and are often angry that these simple behaviours do not come to them as easily as to their friends.

So I first took my third son, R for my second ASD diagnosis when he was 18 months old. My paediatrician told me not to worry, it was simply copied behaviour. I knew inside that this wasn’t true. I knew my children. But at this time I wasn’t strong enough to fight for it. I felt capable of meeting the needs of all my children without a offical diagnosis. I feel it is very important that as mothers we do what is best for us, when we are strong and ready. If the mum cannot cope, no one can.

However, when these two boys were aged 3 and 4, my world as a stay at home mum suddenly got soooooo much harder. The elder boy had started are a mainstream kinder program and was feeling very anxious under the weight of expectations on him. A’s coping mechanism has always been to try his hardest in front of others and then come home and meltdown. Mum’s always get the best behaviour! Added to this, the 3 year old, R was contantly butting heads with A. It was horrible. Sibling rivalry, gone turbo! Can you imagine two children with poor to no language skills having an argument? It very quickly turned physical.

I became drained under the pressure to continue to help my children to thrive. All my children, not just my two autistics. I was literally running all over the house trying to teach my children, keep them happy and separated from their siblings. I had lots of play pens organised around the house! But of course, children do not like to be left in a play pen. I would be leaving one child to pacify anothers screams, only to leave the first in tears.

Emotionally, it was draining.

Physically, it was tiring.

Finanially, keeping up all our therapies, was hard work.

So, I calapsed under the weight. This was almost 18 months ago now. And I think, now I am beginning to climb out of that hole.

I am doing this by trying to see that what I am doing is enough. This is hard. I am currently tearing up writing these words, and the pause, before I did was loooooong!

I am trying to breathe. To stay calm. To be content.

Living within the world of an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be isolating and demanding. To survive, I think you need to be confident that you are doing your best, that you love your child and that it is enough. With an ASD, as with  many other developmental diagnosis’s, it is difficult to fight your way through the mountain of information around what you should be doing. Sometimes it is easy to believe that you are a ‘bad’ parent for not allowing you child to participate in a certain therapy, or for not going down some other alternative path.

I am trying to listen to all those well meaning people in my life telling me how wonderful my children are, how well they are doing. I need this ego boost right now. I need to feel confident once again in my parenting. It’s a slow journey, one perhaps without any definitive ending, but I am going forward. Just keep swimming!

Our R has now been diagnosed for two weeks, at 4 years and 8 months. And it has been such a relief. I WAS RIGHT. I wanted to shout it from the roof tops, but I settled for posting it on Facebook! And with his official diagnosis, we can again move forward. We can access help, funding, support and therapy. And that is what is best for R. Already he is improving, so amazing.

And you know what? I think I am ok, too.

here’s to contentment

x Sarah

White

I have recently been re-inspired by a blog I follow called nesting place, check it out. The nester, as she calls herself, wrote on finding the purpose of your home in her 31 Day series called Home. On Purpose. She did this by asking her readers to think of the words and phrases that your home should conjure up. Most people said things like comfortable, fun, to be yourself, to not be perfect and so on. My word is calm.

My world is busy and full and I want to be able to come home and calmly complete my chores and then relax and be calm. I want my children to have a ‘safe harbour’ away from the full on demands of school, sport and therapy.

So, I am trying to make my house feel more calm. I plan to do this by removing all furniture and objects that are excessive. Do we really need so many colouring in books, toys, clothes and glassware? I hope not!

My husband and I are currently moving (very slowly) through our house and repainting everything. And I mean everything!

I have long dreamed of living in a home that is all white: ceiling, floor, walls, trim, furniture, textiles, everything! Follow me on Pinterest and you will see. But due to our current circumstanses (which I will share in due time), this cannot be done now. This meant that I fell into the trap of thinking, “oh well, I’ll do it in the next house”. Do not full into this trap! Our next house is likely to be much the same just further along in time and somewhere else. And really, why wait? The waiting and frustration of not trying to make our home feel like me has been debilitating. I find it depressing to look around my home and not see any evidence of me. So, no more, my friends! I have made the decision to change and to act now!

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See!!!

The colour white has always equalled a state of clam in my mind. White implies a cleanness and an emptyness that at the moment is lacking in my house. The white of choice is Dulux Vivid White Wash & Wear Semi-Gloss Eco Choice. It is their base white, and it makes me very happy. For much of  today I painted things white. As I push a roller or stroke the paintbrush along, I can feel the tension drain out of my body. My breathing deepens and my head clears. Maybe it’s the fumes, I don’t know. I think the actions of painting is repetitive and any action that is repetitive is calming for me. Plus the bonus of turning a dark, grotty room or bringing an old cupboard back to life, into something that is clean and bright is amazing. I love it! Notice the very yellowed cream of the existing walls in comparison to the bookcase in front. How bright is our new white!

I hope that with a calmer surrounding will foster feelings of calm in my family. It can’t hurt!

After painting each room, I put back in an edited amount. I am going through clothing, sorting it into reuse for fabric, passing what is unliked or doesn’t fit onto charity or if it is beyond wear I throw it out. I am only putting back in the painted rooms, the furniture that is essential to that rooms function. And I am really questioning each rooms function as the nester suggests, and how it can possibly improve, whereby somehow also making our life better. So far I have completed two rooms, though I hesitate to use the word completed, as I am still painting and building furniture to add back in.

The room we are currently painting, will be our daughters room. She is 22 months old and is so precious. Her room will also function as her older brothers dressing room. Strange I know, but I really hope this will make our family function better. I also like the aesthetics of creating an entire wall of storage. To do this, I am painting all our inherited and charity found cupboards and chests of drawers. I hope that this will create a streamlined look. I hope that the white furniture will blend into each other and the wall, helping to visually make the clutter smaller. What do you think? Am I going in the right direction? It is just paint, I can always change it later, if I change my mind or it doesn’t work. In the photos you can see lots of various pieces in different stages of painting, as well as all the tools required.Image

This has been my day, and will be for a long way into the future. I hope that you follow me in trying to make my home reach its potential for functionality.

Here’s to Contentment,

x Sarah

content

My dictionary defines contentment as a state of happiness and satisfaction.

To me the word ‘content’ implies a calmness and a quiet that I yearn for. It is being able to find whatever I am looking for. It is a tidy, comfortable house. Content, to me, is a home that provides security from the big, wide world. A place that is safe to be yourself, even if yourself is angry and stressed. Yet, I think a content home, would balance out these feelings of frustration and anxiety, to create calm and quiet. Not a physical quiet, or a literal quiet. I want an inner quiet. I want the noise and tension within to calm.

Contentment is calm and happy children, and more importantly a calm and happy mother living within a calm and happy marriage.

I’ve alway thought that happiness is more akin to elated. I don’t wish to be in a permanent state of bliss or happiness. I believe that this is unattainable, and can only led to disappointment when it is unachieved.

Instead, I want to feel content. Content is a peace and an acceptance of how things are now. But this does not mean you should not attempt to make your life better. I believe I can be both more accepting and be willing to change.

I think we need to create contentment in our lives in a way that is meaningful to ourselves. Here I am going to chronicle my attempts at creating contentment. And to me, content means a house that functions the way my family needs it to, with spaces that adequately meets our demands. It means participating in activities that encourage a feeling of content, and for me that means making my spaces feel prettier and organised. A pretty and organised space makes me feel calm, and thus content. It means feeling content with in myself. Content with my body and how it functions, rather than wishing for more. I need to accept the now.

I want to share with you the painting of furniture, the crafting of pretty things, the organisation of banal spaces. I want to document my experimentation with simplifying my life by decluttering, removing chemicals from my home and gardening.

I want to learn to live with less. And be content.

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the nester

So, I’m looking forward to the journey and the conversations we’ll have on the way.

here’s to contentment

x Sarah

<a data-pin-do=”buttonFollow” href=”http://pinterest.com/pinterest/creatingcontentment”>Creating Contentment</a>

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