Friday, March 26, 2010

Strange Fruit

I really have to stop doing housework, as I'm on a bit of a roll with it lately.
The laundry's done, the dog is polished and the outstanding bills are alphabetized on the notice board.
The only fly in this blissfully domestic ointment is that I keep having goddamn Deep Thoughts.
They're a bit of a pain in the arse, truth be told.

The bubble that keeps rising to the top of my mental morass is a question, and it is this;
"What motivates us???"

It's been bugging me, as sadly there seems to be very little nobility in what forces me to go through my daily motions.

I gave up my job as a Practice Nurse a couple of years ago as my juggling skills (mum, wife, autism expert, supermodel etc etc) were not as stretchy as I would have liked.
I have had an on-going love affair with  Depression, which I find difficult to abandon, despite my best efforts with some good pills and  clean living (pah!).
Depression and I have a deeply dysfunctional relationship, where mostly we can leave each other alone, but occasionally the tempest overtakes us and we ROCK.
But, to wander back to the point, my life's direction veered waaaaaaay off course due to Bob's autism and things are not as they were...
(I feel a 'ship-being-blown-off-course' metaphor coming on, but I am manfully resisting)...
...but I wonder if what motivates me to Do What I Do has changed because of it?

With all my heart I want a nice, clean home where I can raise my kids and love my husband.

The husband bit is easy, the raising kids bit "challenging" (this is a Really Stupid word we are supposed to use in interviews to describe something that sometimes is really shitty)...but my motives behind wanting a nice, clean home are less clear.

If I was to do one of those brain-storms we used to do as students, the words shame, duty and defiance bubble to the surface.

Shame, because I would hate people to think I'm a lazy article, but even worse that I (heaven forbid!!!) couldn't cope.

Duty, partly due to the 1950's annuals my aunts gave me when I was a gal, when Proper Wives were married to a set of pipe-and-slippers, wore aprons (eeeeeeeek!!!), and martyrdom was a goal to aspire to.
Yeah, right.
Hate it, but the crumbs of it are still there.

And defiance, because (see above) I would be LIVID if someone thought "God help her, she can't wash the floor because Bob has Autism".

I guess Reason gives me comfort, and even though it's probably my peri-menopausal clock ticking, I get a kick from letting the odd bubble rise and exposing it to sunlight.
Most of the bubbles are just too painful to look at and are best left where they are (there's nothing like a bit of Irish Catholic Repression, but goddamn it we're so good at it).
But that's what housework does to me folks...and even though the tedium of it is like mass on Palm Sunday, it does seem to agree with my temperament on some level.
I guess it's like an Irish version of meditation, with the added bonus that the loo doesn't smell like an Oasis tour bus.

Love, shame and defiance are an uncomfortable mix, but I've drank weirder cocktails.
What's shakin' in your cocktail maker???

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Week In The Life Of....

Earlier this week Bob had his IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting at school.
This is the regular meeting we have with Bob's teacher to review his progress and set new, measurable goals.  Properly done, it's a great opportunity for dialogue and real teamwork between parents, teachers and The Child.
It was a roaring success.  Bob and his teacher are a match made in heaven.

 This was in the middle of a couple of weeks that took off from the starting blocks with a visit to the ENT  clinic in Beaumont with The Teenager, a trip to the A and E Dept in Drogheda with the same Toad but a different malady (followed by review the next day at the fracture clinic) and several dental and Speech Therapy appointments in between.
Life was then catapulted into warp speed by Himself having laser eye surgery which necessitated two days of Nervous Wife negotiating motorways, and much juggling of children.
The juggling is a metaphor, of course (I love a good metaphor...goes very well with a nice Shiraz).

Interwoven into this manic tapestry were threads of a small child painting the town a queasy shade of brown with materials best flushed and forgotten about.  Lets just say that Hunt The Poo has become a much loved game in our house.
This prompted the launch of  my new Facebook page called The Bears In The Woods Club (coz we all know what they do best), which I proceeded with great haste to completely ignore, as I tried to salvage some small part of sanity into the whirlwind that has settled over Planet Bob.
Seriously though, I have great hopes for this page as so many of us struggle with our autie kids being incontinent and problems can be shared, halved and maybe even solved here.

My Forgotten Child (aka Ellen) felt that this would be a good time to develop phantom pains in her knees, earlobes and eyelashes as this seemed to be the only way for her to grab a few paltry crumbs of attention.  An emergency  trip with Bob's Dad for hot chocolate and bling-buying in 'Claire's Accessories' ensued (probably condemning her to a life of searching for fulfillment by flexing the plastic), but for the moment she's happy with her glittery hairbands and a nice afternoon alone with her Dad.

So, I decided to not so much fall off the wagon, as drift gently from it.  
A nice glass of red really helps my tired eyes to view the laundry monster as a Tracy Emin-esqe work of art, rather than a fermenting mass of moth food.
By this logic, my life has descended into a veritable art gallery.

I have a 14 mile drive home from Bob's school, which gave me plenty of time to reflect on the meeting. 
It struck me that we are in the fortunate position of being able to embrace the goals of Bob's IEP, without living in the future, because the danger of living in the future is inherent in setting yourself any goal ("I'll be happy when Bob is toilet trained/ I'm a size 10/ Eddie Izzard becomes Taoiseach" know the drill).
Therein lies the clear and present danger of missing what's in front of you Here and Now. 
We gotta love our kids just the way they are
This is not to say that we surrender and refuse to move means finding your comfortable stride, while stopping every so often to jump on the trampoline (Bob Dad's job, due to my bladder's disagreement with gravity) or just have a cuddle.
Life can sometimes stink of poo, but we can always use it to fertilise the roses.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Do It With Style

I  have bursts of illumination when I'm doing the ironing.
I don't know if it's the combination of electricity and steam jolting my brain into (temporary) lucidity, or if my thoughts are lulled into a hypnotic (...oh, OK, bored then) trance-like state, allowing Deep Thoughts to rise to the surface.
Luckily, I don't iron often.  My brain might melt.

Anyway, the Deep Thought I had was that I finally feel comfortable with the way I am helping Bob along his path.
We have the luxury of being almost 3 years post-diagnosis, so I am well past the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes stage.  These days Autism is such an integral part of our lives that we don't even notice that sometimes it's Really Really's just the way it is.

So Bob was in the bath, while I was ironing on the landing beside him.  We were "chatting" and I was getting him to pour the water from a jug to a cup, partly to stop him drinking it (no need for laxatives in our house) and partly because our OT said it was a good way to develop fine motor precision.

And I thought "Wow! OT and ST have become such an ingrained part of our lives that we just do it informally all the time".
This was a really big light-bulb moment for me.

Three years ago I was almost demented trying to find a space in my house to transform into a sensory/education room where information would be magically absorbed by osmosis into Bob's brain.
Well, it would have to be magic, because I realized that even if I did have all the coolest equipment and the best education programme, that I didn't have the skills to actually teach my son.
Oh, and I wasn't a Speech Therapist, or an OT or a psychologist either.
Silly me.

And even if I did have all the cool stuff,  that I would need to staple gun my child to a desk to get him to sit for any longer than 15 seconds.  (I never did find that damn staple gun...I think my Social Worker recognized the crazed look in my eye and hid it).

At the time, I was desperately trawling the net for something, anything, that would help me help my child.  My head was a swirling mess of floortime, ABA, Teacch, diets and all the other stuff we cram into our consciousness in those first awful months.  I was paralyzed by the belief that everyone else seemed to have strict teaching schedules and nifty educational programmes.  I was convinced that I was failing my son because everyone else was doing important stuff, while I was doing the funky headless chicken dance.

As the months and years moved on, and Bob progressed from preschool to Outreach, I was being drip-fed the skills I needed in a way that I could use them.
One week the ST might say "hold the biscuit up to your nose so that he has to look at your face" , and I would do that so often that it became normal.
Then the teacher might write in Bob's journal that he works really well when his reinforcer is clearly visible, as he understands that he can't have it until his work is done.  So we do that without even thinking now, and it works like a charm.
The OT might mention that working on his upper body strength is a vital part of developing writing skills, so while we're playing I'm aware that it's helping his penmanship.

I'm not a quick thinker, and it takes a long time for understanding to crystallize in my head.  I'm not being critical of myself, it's just how I'm wired up.
Now I finally understand that I can tackle Autism Bob-Style, and that there is no right or wrong way to teach our children.  I don't need to beat myself up anymore.

My style is informal, slow and fun. Sometimes it means a little desk work, but mostly it's making him hand me a PECS strip to ask for  peanut butter on toast, or coaxing him to say "ready, steady....GO!" before pushing him on the swing.
If my Autie style was a person, it would be Samuel L. Jackson.

It took me a long time to reach this point, but I invite you to consider what your Autie Style is, and above all to remember that your style is your own, and you and your child and your personal set of circumstances have created it.
Gucci may suit you, but Prada might be my thing.  Ain't we looking good on it???

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vote for ABACAS to help them win €5000 from AIB

With the compliments of Andra, I have copied her blog to try to get as many of you good people as possible to vote for ABACAS school for autistic kids in Drogheda.  €5000 would go a long way to help provide essential equipment and services for our kids.

Abacus Drogheda Needs Your Vote: in the AIB Better Ireland

Abacus Parents Assocation is working everyday to maintain the additional services which are essential to the most effective intervention for our kids.

Abacus Drogheda is in the final 3 for the AIB Better Ireland grant scheme.

The group who comes 3rd gets €2,000,

2nd Place will get €3,000

But If we win we get €5,000 !!!

You can help simply by Texting:

DROGHED-B to 51303 as many times as you can. And by telling everyone you know to do it too.
Texts are charged at the standard text rate

Go to:  by clicking here

And then select: Louth in the County List and Drogheda in the Branch List,... See more

Then select B for Abaile

You can vote once per day per email address. So if you have several email addresses please place a vote for each one. And it costs you nothing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

99 Things About Me

I decided to do my 99 things ala  JenMaddie and Hammie.

From the list of 99, I highlighted the ones I did (embarrassingly few) and have posted them for your viewing pleasure....point and laugh as you will.

                                                         99 Red Balloons (or something...)

Started your own blog
erm, this is it

Slept under the stars (as long there's a roof between us I'm OK with that)

Played in a band

Visited Hawaii

Watched a meteor shower

Given more than you can afford to charity
I gave £20 to Children In Need when I was a student, and that was good drinking money

Been to Disneyland

Climbed a mountain

Held a praying mantis

Sang a solo

Bungee jumped

Visited Paris

Watched a lightening storm
they scare the bejesus outta me, but I love them

Taught yourself an art from scratch
marriage, parenthood, working-motherhood, full-time mammydom...oh, and knitting

Adopted a child

Had food poisoning
wanted to die

Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

Grown your own vegetables

Seen the Mona Lisa in France

Slept on an overnight train

Had a pillow fight

Hitch hiked

Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

Built a snow fort

Held a lamb

Gone skinny dipping

Run a Marathon
(erm, I may have walked/hobbled the women's mini-marathon many years ago)

Ridden in a gondola in Venice

Seen a total eclipse
(I sang total eclipse...)

Watched a sunrise or sunset

Hit a home run

Been on a cruise

Seen Niagara Falls in person

Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
yup...been to the Lourdes Hospital in Drawda many times

Seen an Amish community

Taught yourself a new language

Had enough money to be truly satisfied
(are you insane???)

Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

Gone rock climbing

Seen Michelangelo’s David

Sung karaoke
(not even when pissed...I sound like a cat in a bag)

Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

Visited Africa

Walked on a beach by moonlight
with James a couple of years ago...we walked along Rossknowlagh Beach from our hotel to the restaurant on our last was lovely

Been transported by ambulance
never as a patient...I'm cheating here as I used to be a nurse and did a good few patient transfers between hospitals...I've hankered after a blue light on my car ever since

Had your portrait painted

Gone deep sea fishing

Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

Kissed in the rain
lots of times...I live in Ireland for feck sake

Played in the mud

Gone to a drive-in theater

Been in a movie

Visited the Great Wall of China

Started a business

Taken a martial arts class

Visited Russia

Served at a soup kitchen

Sold Girl Scout Cookies

Gone whale watching

Got flowers for no reason

Donated blood, platelets or plasma
(they won't take mine as I lived in the UK... apparently they fear I may be a Mad Cow)

Gone sky diving

Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

Bounced a check
yep (*hangs head in shame*)

Flown in a helicopter

Saved a favorite childhood toy

Visited the Lincoln Memorial

Eaten Caviar
(the stuff that looks like sheep poo??...ehm, no)

Pieced a quilt

Stood in Times Square

Toured the Everglades

Been fired from a job

Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
I lived in London for 10 years so I've seen it a few's really impressive.  They have very shiny shoes and fluffy hats.

Broken a bone

Been a passenger on a motorcycle
Not quite sure if it qualifies as a motorbike, but James and I rented a  motorised hairdryer years ago on holiday in Crete and scooted around the island.  Was a great way to travel, if not for the maniac drivers and the hairpin mountainy roads (with NO crash barriers!!!)

Seen the Grand Canyon in person

Published a book

Visited the Vatican

Bought a brand new car

Walked in Jerusalem

Had your picture in the newspaper
"Have You Seen This Woman....?"

Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

Visited the White House

Killed and prepared an animal for eating

Had chickenpox

Saved someone’s life

Sat on a jury

Met someone famous

Joined a book club

Got a tattoo

Had a baby
I'm a professional baby machine...OK, then I had 3

Seen the Alamo in person

Swam in the Great Salt Lake

Been involved in a law suit

Owned a cell phone
my 1st one looked like a brick

Been stung by a bee
yeah, but he regretted it