The teenager.

The thing about raising autistic children, is you can’t expect things to happen quickly, from waiting for therapies to changes in your kids abilities.

But occasionally they will surprise us.

Our big autie boy has hit puberty, and while he doesn’t say much his happy singsong noises are starting to crackle a little. His laugh is that of a teenage boy, all squeaks and pitch changes. I find myself wondering what kind of teenager he could’ve been, and should I be counting myself lucky that at this age he still wants to be by my side?

Then last week I was in his room cleaning his window, while he was bouncing away happily on his bed (this is why he needs a new bed every couple of months). He began laughing quite a lot, which he usually does when he’s done something he shouldn’t and then he shouted “By self! By self!” I asked him if he wanted to be by himself, the response was cheeky laughter but I heeded his request because how often does he actually ask for something with words!?

So there is a teenage boy in the house after all, and he wanted mum out of his room :)

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Filed under Autism, Changes, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Moments, The Kids

To do: Annoy Mum – check.

Mum I’m bored. Yes of course the go to person for fun ideas, would definitely be the lady you find sorting laundry, she is having loads of fun. It seems that the plethora of toys and games strewn about the place, are unable to hold their attention for more than the time it took them to drop it on the floor, and leave there. My planning for these coming school holidays isn’t going so well, ok it hasn’t happened at all. I don’t think my nomination for parent of the year, is going to come through anytime soon.

It is clear that my time management skills need a serious review, so let’s examine them shall we?

The cornerstone of a good time management plan is the To Do list, and I have plenty on mine. The much touted essential, for getting stuff done. You can create a daily list of the things you’re never going to get around to, and you know why? This is because creating lists, and remembering what it was you were supposed to be doing, takes up time. The plus side is that creating lists, makes us feel like we’ve achieved something. Then comes the prioritising, and this is tough. What needs doing first? This can take up even more time, because it has to be absolutely right, right?

Once I have my finished to do list, I then need to find exactly the right kind of way to present it. Be it on paper or electronically, seriously the medium matters. Otherwise how will people know I’ve got a to do list as long as your arm, if I can’t show it off proudly on all forms of social media, for friends to gasp at and ask; how do I do it? I think we all know the answer to that one. I need to outsource.

I need a parental personal assistant, not just my spouse because he is as busy as me, but someone else. Someone impartial to create those lists, and tick things off after they’ve given you a little nudge to do so. Your own personal cheerleader, like we are for our kids, this would be the ultimate in motivation. This just might help us deal with some of that mother guilt too. Model parenthood here we come.

The thing is, our kids don’t care what is on our to do lists, they have their own set of priorities. Sure a lot of the time it may seem that their priorities are set at; eat everything, make mess and annoy mummy, but you know what? These are all cumulative towards their one and only goal, and that is having fun. I like a list with only thing on it to do.

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Filed under Holidays, The Kids

The Autism Poster Child

A thought occurred to me while catching up on a bit of Autism reading, which I don’t really read much of anymore because 1; it’s depressing, 2; there isn’t much I haven’t already read years ago, and 3; none of it has worked with my kids. But I looked today because you never know, someone may have come up with another miracle diet ;)

Anyways, I realised that most peoples idea of autism is vastly different to the autism we live with. For those just tuning in, we have four children on the spectrum. Thankfully two of them are mild, one moderate sometimes mild depending on the day he’s had, and then there’s Tom. Tom is severe, so severe I’ve only encountered one child with autism like him. He is so severe that they’ve looked for other afflictions, trying to find a reason he is so impaired.

The public face of autism is a beautiful one, often featuring wonderfully intelligent little people who need a hand coping with the outside world. This is great, cuteness gets people putting their hands in their pockets, getting awareness out there.

I don’t have the autism poster child living in my home, and I think that there is a lot of people around us that have no idea what the real face of autism is for us. It often easy not to see it. I’m not saying they choose not to, it’s just that you can form an idea about people by all that they let you see, and few get to see it all. It’s hardcore parenting around here, that means not many house guests.

Quite often I will meet someone who tells me that their autistic child put their clothes on backwards today, and would only eat noodles for dinner, and it drives them crazy. In my head I grab them and scream into their face “your child dressed and fed themselves, that is fucking awesome”. But I don’t act on he urge, because I appreciate that everyone has different levels of crap they can deal with, and no one knows how much they can cope with until it comes along. So I let them tell me, because I know they need to, they figure I get it and I do.

Always smile, listen and respond. You never know someones whole story, that small thing you do may a big thing to them. They don’t need to hear that it could be worse.

For me however it doesn’t work both ways. I rarely let on about what life is like having to change a nappy on a fourteen year old boy, or dealing with the onset of puberty and epilepsy in a boy who will never understand what’s going on with his body, and cannot tell you. Who do you know that would get it? Occasionally I might tell people about the latest thing Tom did that was startling, and I always get this face O_o

Yesterday he ate a pencil.

So if your chatting to me and I looked like I have zoned out, don’t worry about it I’m just smacking you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper in my head. Like I said we all have our own way of coping, this is mine. This doesn’t mean I don’t love you ;)

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Filed under Autism, Complaints Dept

We have a new Dark Overlord.

I thought there was nothing a child could throw at me that I couldn’t take, if there is a mum that can probably take on anyone with combat training it’d be me.  Oh yeah, I reckon I’m a hardcore mum.  Crap on the carpet and vomit on the wall, plus dinner to get on the table and all at the same time, oh yeah I got this – totally all over it.

But then there was Charlie.

Our youngest is beginning to exhibit behaviour that leaves us wondering, if not somewhat nervous (and hiding the matches).  We thought we’d seen it all, after all Henry did once blow up our kitchen.

Charlie is adorable.  Clearly this is all part of his cover.  The signs were there, I just didn’t pay attention… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take last summers holiday for instance, I had decided in my wisdom to take the six kids over the coast on my own (because I’m totally a combat mummy right?) the Hubster was going to come later when he was on days off.   We arrive at the holiday house and Austin (the town crier) let the neighbourhood know he wanted a drink, I was about to remind him how to ask politely when I heard Charlie tell him “Don’t worry Austin I’ll get you a drink”.  I wondered how Charlie would get it, since he is too little to reach a tap yet.  So I decided to check.  There he was cup in hand, his little willy in the other peeing in the cup and about to hand it too his brother to drink. HOW DID HE EVEN THINK OF THAT?! (I’m fairly sure we haven’t let him watch any Bear Grylls).

Part of me nearly didn’t stop him, and I hear you judging, but come on you can’t tell me isn’t there just a little part of you that is thinking it would be SO funny if he actually took a sip.  I fought off the temptation to laugh my arse off at my child’s expense, and stopped the drink being handed over.

I now regard anything given to me by the small one with suspicion and a good sniff.

Little brothers, evil incarnate.  They’ve sat and watched their elder siblings, and while they were still figuring stuff out and getting in trouble, little brothers are taking notice working out the loop holes.

And then there is Charlie… you never know when he’ll strike either.  I took him to the loo at the shops recently, and on this day I had chosen to wear a skirt, a mistake I won’t make again.

Sharing a public toilet cubicle with a small child is always a bit interesting at the best of times, Mummy are you doing poos?! (He sticks head under the gap to look at your neighbour) Are they doing poos? Or they open the door while your pants are halfway down, being the helpful little people that they are.

On this day Charlie had done his thing and then I needed to do mine, and while he observed the proceedings he noticed I was wearing a skirt.  Clearly in his mind this observation had to be made in the form of a public announcement “Mummy you ain’t got no pants on!”  I hear a stifled giggle in the cubicle next to me and I explain loud enough so I could be heard by my neighbour “No honey, mummy has a skirt on and here are my pants SEE?!”  Nope, not good enough for him “No, you ain’t got no pants on!”  As I try to convince him otherwise, people in the toilets are just laughing out loud now, and I realise that at some point I’m going to have to go out there and face women who think I’ve gone shopping sans panties.  Maybe I’m more of a commando mum than I thought?

So I wait until I think everyone is gone (“What are you doing mummy? Can we go now? What’s in that bin? Can I play with it?”) and sneak out, but oh no there had to be someone still at the sink.  She laughed and said how funny little boys are, but I could tell she was checking me out for visible panty lines.   I drag the boy out to his father who was waiting near the food court, and there was a brief lull in which Charlie decided was the best moment to tell his father “Mummy ain’t got no pants on!”  Fifty heads turned simultaneously and looked at me (agog, food halfway to their faces), all of them clearly wondering if I had indeed gone shopping without pants.  To which the Hubster responded, with a glimmer of surprise/hope in his eyes “Really?”  Yeah sure Hun we’re how old now?!

It seems I have a challenge before me.

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Filed under Kids Say the Darndest Things, Moments, The Kids, Too Much Information

iMax-ed out…

Everyone always asks me about my car. What do I drive that can carry all these kids, it must be a bus? Until two years ago it was, we had a Toyota HiAce minibus, a huge beast that could fit nowhere but could carry a dozen people. Upgrade time came along and we decided we needed a safer vehicle, given the travel we do. Now remember I am writing about my particular model of iMax which is a 2012, they may have changed a few things by now with the newer ones.

The good stuff about it…

It is safer, air bags in all the usual places, and an engine and bonnet between me and the world. Because previously the engine was under my seat. The size of the boot (or trunk) is massive. It looks nice, everyone comments on it. It seats eight, and I’ve seen some models with a ninth seat in the front. It can fit in most car parks, mini bus drivers will appreciate that. You don’t have to get out of the car for mcdonalds, yay drive through lanes I can fit in! Reversing sensors are great and probably compulsory when driving a rectangle vehicle.

Technology, it talks to my iPhone, love that. I can make/answer calls from the dash without touching the phone. I can listen to my playlists, and get siri to do my bidding. Separate climate control for the rear if you want, or you can flick it over and the kids can’t change it. The front row of seats are comfy and lots of leg room, there is two glove boxes and cup holders. Huge pockets in all doors which hold a lot of crap, I mean books/drink bottles/toys. Cup holders for the back row too. It’s price isn’t bad for the size of vehicle you get either, especially compared to similar vehicles at the time. Servicing only has to be done every 15,000kms instead of ten.

And the bad stuff…

Big big HUGE blind spots, you can lose a whole intersection behind the windscreen pillars. You will need to lean forward and look around them at roundabouts. And don’t get me started on what you can’t see behind you.

Baby seat anchorage points are limited to the middle row, a pain in the arse given the new laws mean more kiddy carseats for longer. And its very hard to do the seat belts up once you have the carseats in place, I am still swapping my kids seats around trying to work out a good configuration a year later. Oh and you enter the rear seat by moving the whole middle row, so if you have a few seats that the seat belt goes through as well as the anchor, be prepared to have to redo the belt through the back of the kiddy seat every time.

While not a big deal, colours are limited. We had a choice of silver, silvery blueish, black and white. I am still yet to own a red car. If you are thinking of getting the fitted floor mats, don’t bother because they catch up under the chair runners which are constantly in use, even though they velcro to the floor. You will get the shits with them and take them out in a week trust me, so glad the car yard threw those in because at two hundred bucks a set I’d have been annoyed. The petrol version is a bit gutless with a full load, and can’t tow anything bigger than a trailer. The rear window openers, a pop and prop open deal, which cracks them open well just a crack. Which is what I expected on a van as we’ve had them before, I didn’t expect them to rattle so much I’m scared to drive with them open, the dealer says he fixed it. Uh huh. I know I know a rattle isn’t a big deal, but it does sound like the window is going to fall off. And another reason we went for a van instead of another mini bus was noise, you simply cannot have a conversation in a diesel mini bus, this means children get louder too.

There are so many tiny things that irritate me about this car, I could write pages, little things like there is no handle for the front passenger to pull themselves up into the car as there is for the driver. The aircon seemingly has only two settings, hot and cold. But even though I’ve said all this, I still love the car, simply because it is decidedly better than any other car we’ve ever owned, but remember we owned a Kia that the engine died in before getting to 100,000kms. So you know, for comparisons sake I’ve got some low starting standards.

UPDATE: Come November 2013, I smashed it. My beautiful black mummy van with the dark windows was no more. I now have a silver one, the same colour everyone else in town bought too, last week I stood in the supermarket car park trying to open someone else’s van. Children have accidentally jumped into the backseat at school pick up, thinking it’s their mums van, I think I need some kind of big sticker down the side of it.

You will be pleased to know it took the head on hit very well, I wasn’t injured nor where the small men in the back. Written off, our insurer gave us a new one. So, we now have a new model and it has only a few differences (a few buttons inside are different), but the squeaks remain and here I was happy about finally sorting that rattle issue. And this particular van has more glitches (more than the old one, my reversing sensors don’t work in the cold weather) that again nobody can find on service days, can you believe it ;)

So in a couple of years we will part with this van, hey Toyota have you got a 4WD people mover on the cards anytime soon?

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Filed under Complaints Dept, Kid Safety, Rants & Stuff, Reviews