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Eight things

westycentral

I was scrolling through my Face book feed yesterday and I came across a post via a like page. It read “the one thing tetris has taught me is that mistakes pile up, and the accomplishments disappear.” While that initially rung a bell, I did not like that thought, that so many people choose to focus on their mistakes, that mistakes matter so much. Sure, it’s great to learn from our mistakes, why do we have to focus on them so much, and why is it that some of us, especially we Mums tend to not acknowledge accomplishments? So in that vein, I decided that it was time to highlight the eight great accomplishments and victories that have come to pass.

But why eight, I hear you ask? Well, eight weeks ago, our dog delivered nine little bundles of furry joy, yet one died within the week. And the point…

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Eight things

I was scrolling through my Face book feed yesterday and I came across a post via a like page. It read “the one thing tetris has taught me is that mistakes pile up, and the accomplishments disappear.” While that initially rung a bell, I did not like that thought, that so many people choose to focus on their mistakes, that mistakes matter so much. Sure, it’s great to learn from our mistakes, why do we have to focus on them so much, and why is it that some of us, especially we Mums tend to not acknowledge accomplishments? So in that vein, I decided that it was time to highlight the eight great accomplishments and victories that have come to pass.

But why eight, I hear you ask? Well, eight weeks ago, our dog delivered nine little bundles of furry joy, yet one died within the week. And the point there is, by not dwelling on that one loss, she has raised a quite healthy vibrant litter of pups. We really can learn a lot from animals.

Eight is also very positive number. It signifies infinitely. We should be looking at our potential to achieve in life as infinite, as i myself will put my hand up for being guilty of limiting my own potential, via self-doubt, fear, poor time management, blaming stress, the kids, the dogs, whatever is  handy actually and plain old procrastination.

But enough of that, this is supposed to be a positive post, so here we go.

  1. Here’s a big one, my youngest son, TB, was diagnosed with Classic Autism at age three. Our primary concern which prompted us to take him to the doctor, although he was otherwise healthy and alert, he simply would not talk. For the first five years of his life, his primary interest/passion/obsession was Bob The Builder. He would only sing the Bob the Builder theme song. When he could not communicate his needs or desires, he would look for the solution himself or end up acting out, or having a meltdown. Even though his speech and communication is still significantly delayed, he has moved on to being able to order his brother out of his room (a very important tool), ask for food, point out his current interest, engage his brother and sister in play and express his own unique brand of humor.
  2. Still on TB, we can go on outings! Before you say “big deal”, yes it is a big deal! While at times he still finds shopping stressful, his tolerance for a shopping outing is greater. We can actually sit in a Cafe with him and he can enjoy a hot chocolate while the rest of the family can enjoy a treat. We have also noticed that his ability to calm himself, or to be calmed while in a stressful environment has increased. I will provide a recent example. The children’s’ recent visit to their Nan and Pop’s ended with me meeting up with my parents and driving them home. They had already been in the car, for two hours before I had picked them up, and I had driven in heavy rain so we were all keen for a break. So to do this we stopped at a large shopping centre, which due to being school holidays, was exceptionally busy, to say the least. There was also a fashion parade, complete with booming music, right next to the food court seating in the food court was limited. After managing to get the kids fed, we headed towards the car, then I threw a curve ball by spying something at a stall, adjacent to the parade and crowd. TB was looking good, so I went ahead with waiting to be served, which happened to take a long time as the customer in front of me had a complex means of payment and wished to chat afterwards. The stall holder was also slow in serving the customer, as she wanted to promote her company. About halfway through waiting to be served, signs of stress were being involved, the hands were over the ears, the eyes were darting around looking for escape, and TB’s body was tense. We managed to keep him calm by acknowledging his anxiety and reassurance. We eventually got away with the prized purchase, but my main point is, one year ago, I would have had to give up  on that purchase or deal with a meltdown..right there!
  3. My daughter Space Cadet has many attributes which has come forth as she has grown to nearly her eleventh year. Her creativity is a strong one, which she has used to make clothing for her dolls out of clothes she has outgrown, or scraps of materials (that includes things like string foil, anything she can get her hands on really) and her creative flair also extends to creating visual patterns, and she also has a strong flair for creative writing, particularly poetry (something I never got the hang of ) which has earnt her positive praise and feedback from her teachers.
  4. Space Cadet also used to be morbidly fearful of speaking in front of groups, which was disappointing for us and her teachers, as when she was called on to read aloud her classmates and teachers would be quite impressed with her oral presentations. For quite a while, when she was to be part of a performance, she would become so distressed that she would have stomach cramps and be vomiting the whole night and the next day, only to miraculously feel better afterwards. Thanks to her teacher from last year who encouraged her by putting her in front of groups repeatedly  and building her confidence, she can now confidently speak in front of the school.
  5. The other thing i must say about Space Cadet is her diligence in improving her performance level in her weakest subject, maths. At times she would encounter a confronting mathematical problem which her peers would be able to solve much easier than her, and she would find herself stuck in the incorrect path of thought, until she ended up in tears and would have to leave the problem. Through extra time on maths in a smaller group setting, she has now been able to adopt appropriate problem solving strategies and then move on with far greater less unease.
  6. Our chattering Magpie, although he never stops is always able to quieten himself when it comes to his school work so he can learn more at school. This is because he is an avid learner and is constantly seeking knowledge to stimulate his mind.
  7. Our children, while like most children have a very “relaxed” attitude when it comes to house work generally get along with other quite well, are usually willing to resolve disputes before they escalated to too dramatic level, and most importantly, have each other’s back. They are always willing to stand up for each other when one of them is in trouble, and will often  go to comfort each other or talk about an issue when in trouble,  and when they see TB doing something that will get him into trouble do their best to discourage him or come to me to deal with him. Importantly, if we are out, they also will ensure that TB remains safe and calm, and lookout for signs of distress or imminent meltdowns.
  8. To focus on myself, two years ago I was thirty kilograms heavier than what I am now today. My initial wakeup call was my appearance, then I looked to my family’s health issues to encourage myself to pursue a healthier lifestyle. While I have problematic knees which prevent me from running, I have managed to integrate an exercise program to accommodate my needs. While there are still bugs and flaws in my lifestyle, I only need to look at my comparative well-being to know what I have achieved.

The accomplishments that I have listed are not material, and they are not about ranking or power. While these things can make us comfortable in life, I think it’s what’s in our thought processes which make us feel good or inspire us to do more to improve and enrich our lives which really matter.

westycentral

It’s all about finding that bargain, the beautiful outfit for you catchup, maybe get your hair done, or on the mundane days the done groceries, and also the screaming? the running?? the stares from
other people when it all grinds to a screeching halt??

I have many different personas when it comes to shopping. So I’ll now go through the different personas that turn up when i go shopping, which many of you readers may be familiar with too.

The fun shopping trip: It’s that new gadget that you’ve been eying for a long time, or an outfit that you have to scour the shops for. you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, but when you see it you’ll pounce on it. this is the persona that likes to spend!

The grocery run: A boring but necessary trip if we don’t want to starve.

Shopping one child: Am still…

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Apologies for the delay..

It’s that time of year again, Wimbledon, school reports, tax time, birthdays. As I sit here watching the player I support rise and fall I am reminded of the pressure that is thrust upon us, or the stress that  we put ourselves under and how we respond.

Many of us will say that our response to pressure is innate, that “flight or fight” response is something we are born with, but it is worth taking a closer look at our responses. In no particular order I will attempt to convey my understanding of responses.

The Rallyer: These are the people who get on with business, gather their sources and support, and build up a support network, inspiration great awe and admiration amongst their peers. These people need to be careful to be mindful of their health and well-being.

The Martyr/Drama Queen: It could be argued that this behaviour is innate in the individual from the age of toddlerhood, life is “all about them”. You know the type, one minute you’re discussing your own woes, to suddenly hear about their own circumstances, seemingly infinitely more dire and consuming than your own. While we do not want to dismiss their plight, it would be lovely to discuss your own.

The Rock/Salt of the Earth:  They take it all in their stride, they’re calm, they’re rational, you look to them for support and sometimes would like to trip them, just to make them less perfect (or is that just me?)

The Crumbler/Jellyfish: They find it immensely hard to cope, and are often overwhelmed and require immense support from family and friends, can come across as flighty or nervous

The Ostrich:

ostrich head in sand

Enough said? Perhaps not, if you look at the reason for the Ostrich behaviour

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/02/1777947.htm

..Fast forward six months or so and you come to me:

The Procrastinator:  You know the ones..they love their games, they have great intentions and even get started on a task. A clean out becomes a shuffle of stuff from one section pile in the room to the other, usually right beside it. Or we get stuck with indecision, and we hardly ever finish our task. Or  we procastinators somehow get diverted by something..anything. And our stress levels are compounded by the fact that nothing ever gets done, creating tension in the home and the cycle of stress escalates.

This unfortunately can happen quite a lot in a busy family life, but unfortunately it’s happened more than i care to admit over the last year  with Mr. Westie working in Canberra, and having whatever daily routine I attempt to establish change for the three days of the week he was able to be home with the family. We never really know how much we rely on our partners until their presence is limited. Which has meant that i have fallen into most of these categories listed above.

But don’t think that spectrum of  types ends right there, as we humans seem to have an infinite amount of reactions to stress, and often many of us will not speak out and seek help or support until it’s too late. How can this be any good for us, or especially our kids, who look to us to learn how to get through life? This is an especially important point to make in the case where you have an autistic child to care for, as their reactions to stress are quite dramatic, and often times destructive. If not to their environment, but their siblings, or worse yet, themselves.

There are many different approaches to relieving oneself of stress, for example, a relaxing bath, pampering your self with a nice manicure, indulging in your favourite hobbies or music and having a good get together with friends or family (provided you get along well with them.

At this point may I offer this last solution:

Well I tried..

Shopping around

It’s all about finding that bargain, the beautiful outfit for you catchup, maybe get your hair done, or on the mundane days the done groceries, and also the screaming? the running?? the stares from
other people when it all grinds to a screeching halt??

I have many different personas when it comes to shopping. So I’ll now go through the different personas that turn up when i go shopping, which many of you readers may be familiar with too.

The fun shopping trip: It’s that new gadget that you’ve been eying for a long time, or an outfit that you have to scour the shops for. you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, but when you see it you’ll pounce on it. this is the persona that likes to spend!

The grocery run: A boring but necessary trip if we don’t want to starve.

Shopping one child: Am still feeling pretty reasonable about this, even if it’s just the groceries. With Chook Whisperer, there’s a different feel, but I’ll elaborate soon.

Shopping with two kids: Always lively. usually starts out pretty well, but by the end it all gets quite hectic and I’m happy to be making the trip home

Shopping with three kids: of the least desirable scenarios, and often results in me leaving the shops with tension in the back of my head, and me snarling at kids the whole way home

Shopping with Mr Westie: Pleasant, much like the “fun ” category, nice and uncomplicated, usually involves a chance for a pleasant coffee

Shopping with Mr Westie AND the three kids: In theory, it should be pleasant enough, but tends to be like driving a car with limited steering and brakes, and monkeys at the wheel

Ok, I know I sound like any other stressed out mum out there trying to balance home, work and family life balanced with shopping. What makes my experience so different? One of those three kids is Autistic, and another, we have made an appointment with our Pediatrician to discuss the possibility of Aspergers, on our school’s recommendation.

to the readers out there not familiar with Aspergers or Autism, I will provide a brief run down on what this means

Autism: A disorder of neural development, characterized by limited social interaction and communication, by restricted and repetitive behaviour. this is a lifelong disorder, although it has been argued by some members of the medical community that this disorder is “curable”

Aspergers: His is also a development disorder, and is a form of autism. individuals affected by aspergers are still impaired in their social interactions and communications, but have developed their language skills.much like children with autism, kids with aspergers will exhibit limited interests, and repetitive behaviour. for example, if that child was interested in cyclones, the child is quite likely to have an extensive and detailed knowledge base, in opposition to the child who does not fit into the Autism spectrum. This knowledge is tends to be demonstrated by the child, verbally, in one constant, steady stream of information.

For the first few years of my children’s’ lives, my primary concerns were the typical mum concerns, hope the he/she does not have a messy accident, or cry/throw tantrums while out or take too many things off the shelves. While our eldest child Space cadet was behaving as you would expect for a typical child, Magpie proved to be a handful. We put this down to differences between boys and girls, as my mother in law had always been keen to point out how different boys are to girls. While I agree to a certain extent that there are some general differences, in hindsight there were clues in Magpies behaviour even back then, for example, when we would get into an elevator, he would scream in fear, inconsolably.

But if I thought Magpie was a handful, then Chook Whisperer was a revelation. If I wasn’t preventing him from pulling suck from the shelves, it was tackling the fallout when he became overwhelmed by the crowd, holding his hand, tightly, so that he would not rum off, becoming lost in the crowd. Or running onto the road.
This was a thankless task as he craved the independence he was not ready for yet, and on more than one occasion I would look up ti see the stares from other people. Thankfully most of the time I would see sympathy, but on other occasions, I would see shock. And them there were the people who would intervene, often critiquing without knowing that I was dealing with a meltdown. I saw this as an inevitable fact of life, until my son was able to adjust to going out shopping, I would have to make my trips short. I would have an action plan when taking Chook Whisperer: You to shop get, items go home, hanging on to my son like my life depended on it, and be ready to embrace my son in a controlled, comforting hygiene until he would calm down long enough to go home. This would often happen at any time, but more so at the end o f the trip when the exposure to all the chaos had reached his limits, and there you go, I would be scooping him up from the floor, right there in front of everyone, or holding his head so he couldn’t bash it on the floor. And yes, if you didn’t know any better, it would look like I was doing the wrong thing.
It wasn’t just hard on me. Yes, I would come home from shopping and exhale in the relief that it was over, it was also hard on his siblings who often would be called upon to help me to supervise or calm him. This, they did out of compassion
and lover for him and their mother. They also did this because a stressed out mother is a miserable mother to live with indeed.
Yet for every critical stare or interfering bystander I was met with, I was comforted when I was able to talk to a receptive stranger who was able to accept my explanation behind his uniqueness. Even more encouraging, they were comfortable enough to relate their own personal experiences. Some of them would have a sister with an autistic child, or a family friend, or perhaps knew someone who worked with autistic individuals.
But as we continued working with Chook Whisperer, as he progressed with his therapy and early intervention program at school, I began to see a child who would be more receptive to my strategies to help him cope. This would often include rewards such as getting to go on the ride when good, or getting a snack. His other reward, which he would receive after therapy would be the opportunity to pick out a Thomas the tank engine train, or bob the builder toy(his two favourite choices at the time). I was able to employ this reward strategy when it wad no longer needed, so now like any other child he would get occasional treats. But a lot of the time, the best thong I could do to help him would be to reassure him that I understood that he was anxious, upset or starting to feel overwhelmed,stop. and take him somewhere quiet to calm down. I have learnt that another good approach to shopping is to ensure that would get to have brief stops, to sit on a ride, or have a little drink. Yes it does sound like something we all need, but how many of us actually become so overcome that we cry or scream uncontrollably, or bite our arm to the point of drawing blood? How many normal people do you see walk up to a wall and bang their head or charge down an escalator and hurl them self onto the ground regardless of who’s in their path?
However I am now pleased to say that he actually finds shopping tolerable, and this is due to repeated exposure to shops and the strategies that myself and Mr. Westie have employed. He actually has floored me by asking to go to the shops. Like many other kids there would often be an ulterior motive eg. this Christmas just passed, he desperately wanted an Angry birds space game, so once going into the shopping centre a beeline would be made to where that game would be shelved. I cannot say the same for Santa, however, so we had to give Santa photos a miss.

We still spend a lot less time when shopping with Chook whisperer, but that’s not a bad thing, right?

*It should be noted that what was then diagnosed as Aspergers is now DSMV. This was apparently done so that there would be greater consistency in identifying the needs of the child. This is my understanding of  it, I am still getting my head around it I am simply stating my own understanding of it, not saying that this is how it is.

*I also wish to say that without the comments of  one particular aquaintance, who felt the need to question why people blog about shopping experiences, I would like to say that an experienced shared, means that we get to communicate our experiences from out own perspective. There are many of us out there who do not experience autism in the same way as we the carer does, and by telling our own story, I am offering some insight into our own lives. Perhaps this will offer some form of connection, to the carer who feels isolated or alienated with their own personal experiences. Thank you to that person who inspired this post

hunger

To deny our hunger, or to have it denied is a terrible thing indeed. We all do our best to avoid it, so our drive to satiate that hunger is strong.  And food companies world-wide have definitely capitalized on this. Then there’s the hunger in its different forms, that I see in my family.

For our youngest, Chook Whisperer, first and foremost, the main form of hunger that drives him is food. This is fair enough, as he is seven, and what seven-year old boy is not hungry? However, we have had to deal with meltdowns after telling him after his second bowl of cereal (which consists of five wheat bix and milk) that this should do him for now. And he does love his snack food as well. So to take his focus away from him eating the weeks supply of snack food, he is allowed fruit as an alternative. This means that it’s rare to see a banana go off, but at least he’s not eating so much of that processed junk! His other form of hunger comes in the form of the computer, where he will spend as much time as he’s allowed finding You tube clips to amuse him. Some examples of these are the Thomas the Tank engine clips, or game demonstration clips. It can be quite interesting to look at the computer screen to see that he is watching a Thomas the tank engine episode, in German, for the tenth time! He has also found some clips which show some social stories, which he has learnt from, and we have heard repeated at certain times.

Space Cadet, the oldest member of the junior Westies, always had a desire to read. Since going to Pre school, and learning her alphabet, you would often encounter her with a book in her hand. As a matter of fact, prior to that, she could quite often be seen looking through her story book, reading aloud. With her high competency in reading and her knack of reading a story aloud, she was rewarded with recording the school story, which was used to introduce newcomers who were just starting kindergarten to the school. Her reading aptitude reaped her the principal’s award in kindergarten, and has also provided opportunities for her to apply what she has read to presentations, which she has enjoyed.

Lastly, we have Magpie, our little chatterbox who was chattering away in his crib ten minutes after his birth, as if to enquire to himself what world he had entered into. He was always a bright-eyed and inquisitive baby and toddler, whose inquisitive nature had to be constantly monitored, in spite of any consequences that came to him.  He would demonstrate problem solving skills beyond his years, due to a need for stimulation, and it was no surprise to us that Space Cadet was quite successful in teaching him to read well before starting pre school. On one occasion i recall his pre school teacher informing me that he told her he was going to watch her do a task on her computer so he could learn from her! Magpie’s hunger for knowledge stretches across a broad range of topics, there is literally nothing he is unwilling to explore, there is no such thing as a mundane topic of conversation. If we do not have the answers he requires to answer his question, he is quite willing to look it up.Magpie is also quite happy to have his knowledge base challenged, as a matter a fact, on the weekend just past, our nearly nine-year old fledgling learnt how to upload a clip to You tube, then how to add annotations, simply because he did not know how to! He was also quite pleased when the time came for him to sit for his NAPLAN testing, unlike many other children who either found it boring or nerve-wracking. So it did not come as a surprise for me to hear that our Magpie would be receiving an Academic award, which indicates his broad knowledge base, which he was quite proud of. But knowing my Magpie and his insatiable hunger to learn, I am sure he will be focused on learning something else or adding more knowledge to his growing repertoire.

 

Just a little nudge..

As would be the case for most of you with families, it’s been a busy time of the year. For those of us with school aged kids, the school events seem to all come at us at once, the teachers and staff at the school have their eyes on the finish line. the teachers start packing away some of their material and school work starts getting handed back to the kids in big bundles to take home to their parents. For the organized parent, there’s a place for some of the kids work, so that we could lovingly gaze at it at a later point.  Then there’s the westies, who are doing their best to make the most of the space they have and usually look at it for a while, then send it on it’s way to the bin.

We also have Christmas to consider, and for the time poor and not so well funded parent, that is a dirty word. Fortunately, i suppose the retailers were considerate enough to put Christmas stock on the shelves mid November so that we have plenty of time to stock up on much needed (or perhaps not so much needed) Christmas decorations and supplies. As stated earlier,  we have the related social events, both in the work environment, or the school environment  and the much needed catch ups with families and friends?

But where does it all fit, when you’re working part time and bringing up the kids? If only our routine was as simple as eat, sleep, 50/50 work and party (or less work depending on your role/preference). We also place importance on other needs, such as upgrading our homes, (or rearranging the stuff in our homes arrghh) our facilities and services.

If we’re not careful, our health slides, or at least we get tubbier than we would like. We’ve all heard about that last one too, there’s an obesity epidemic, don’t you know? Unfortunately the answers to that problem have become so muddled by conflicting information that it’s easy to compound that problem. So to negate that, i have devoted time to my personal health and fitness, toggling my exercise routines to accomodate that pesky body and it’s quirks. Oops, i should be “loving my body” right? Well i am, aren’t i? i’m giving it the time to exercise, despite the fact that i’m tired, and i’m cutting back on all the nasty processed foods and meats. So now all i have to do is to keep up the work and hopefully i’ll be able to wear that bikini…next year!

With all this going on, i have to remember the kids, and their own individual needs. My daughter, not unlike many 10 year olds, will if left to her own devices, turn her rooom into a place of doom! She has had to be pushed a little more firmly to start attending to her own belongings, so they do not turn into a pile of junk. For her to have a well maintained room, she needs gentle reminders, throughout the week. Magpie is a little more attentive to his room and we can remind him less often and chook whisperer often needs prompting, but in most cases when prompted will tidy his room. His attention to the job often wavers as he is autistic, and this is often the case in autistic children.

This is the case for most aspects of Chook Whisperer’s life. Even as an infant, when he was settling in he would not cry often. As he got older, we noticed that he was slower to pick up on self care skills, requiring more assistance and prompting. This was also the case with interacting with his family. He was reluctant to form physical contact with myself, and would be happy to play in his own space, lashing out on his siblings often in frustration. This meant that we had to as or encourage his siblings to include him in their games, although they found this a challenge, so we would try to take the time to play also. Chook Whisperer was also non verbal, so we would have to take him to speech therapy, where at times he would be uncooporative, and we had to be firm in our encouragement. Our efforts at Speech therapy would later be rewarded, as he would get his flash cards out and read his flash cards without prompting. I am happy to say that our efforts have been further rewarded with much more progress with his speech in the school and at home. While he does not speak at the same level as a normal child, it has meant far less meltdowns borne out of frustration. We have also been able to push the tolerance levels for outings to longer periods. For a long time, we would find it challenging for him to go out for half an hour, but we can now extend outings for periods on par with his siblings’ tolerance levels. He has actually started to ask to go to shops!

This tolerance for outings was particularly beneficial when myself and the three kids went to a Variety Children’s Charity Christmas party. This is an event where a number of special needs children and carers are given the opportunity to participate in an area or environment where they can enjoy rides or experiences that in a normal environment would

be testing for them and the carer. Having said that, this event attracts quite a lot of children due to it’s populartity and the event often becomes loud, and tests the patience of the children with it’s ques. Fortunately, i was able to take the children to the event early, get them to participate in their rides, claim their free lunch voucher, treats and presents and leave the event before they became exhausted..

As we were able to  leave quite early, we decided to visit the Sydney Aquarium, as myself and Chook Whisperer have always enjoyed looking at the fish displays as we pass by them.

How to not present an argument.

Protection

It is hard to say the first emotion we experience when we make our first arrival into the world. Many of us would say, love, euphoria, but when we think about those first moments of our arrival, and all the sensory bombardment we experience for the first time, I would put forth that the first thing we feel in our new life is fear. After all, who would expect after emerging from our dimly lit, warm safe haven where we don’t have to even worry about inhaling and exhaling it is quite a shock to our system.

With any luck, most of us will be brought in a secure loving environment, where our exposure to more extreme or harrowing experiences will be minimal, and we will be encouraged to cope with our experiences in a positive manner. Unfortunately, us humans are quite good at coming up with our own fears, whether they are based on rationality, or come completely from left of field. To name a handful, many children are fearful of dogs, (this was the case in many of the children that came to my mother’s house who did not own a dog) or insects, or heights. Speaking for myself, I have no idea where my fear of spiders come from, but to this day they will not be welcome in my home..ever.

It’s also those emotional fears that we learn as we grow, these manifest in different forms,  for instance that fear we feel when we witness our family argue, or the anxiety we feel when we face our peers at school, that they will not accept us or single us out for being different.

As a parent, this anxiety is particularly deep-rooted in regards to TB, as he is Autistic. Although he has communicated in quite a limited fashion, it is still unclear what how he sees his world around him and his peers. When he feels the desire to make friends, will he attempt this in a reasonably appropriate fashion, and if so, will they accept him? Or will he ever feel the need for friendship? Fortunately from what i have seen of him, i feel that he will feel that desire. And then there’s the transportation issue.

I can never predict accurately if  he will be cooperative, as some days he will be fueled by a supercharge of energy, and i will have to super power walk to have any hope to keep up with him. I have actually had to run to catch up with him, so he would not run onto the open car park with little regard for the other parents taking their kids home from school. If you think i am exaggerated this possibility, this did happen one afternoon in which he was feeling particularly agitated, and bolted to my car, screaming leaving me and the other two kids in his wake. This anxiety and fear regarding my son extends to taking him out to the shops. While many mums will avoid taking Autistic children out in anticipation to how they will cope with the experience, I have always seen it as a necessity to expose him to the experience of shopping, as hectic and stressful as it may be. (believe me, many mini breaks, time outs and hugging/restraining has been incorporated into this!)

There are many other questions i have briefly pondered regarding the future of my children, but for now they are quite confronting for me to focus on, so for now i feel that my best option is to build from the ground up, periodically review our position and base our strategy for the future from there.

I have had to as myself the question, “How will I cope with my son, (now seven) ten to fifteen years from now?” especially if the circumstances arise that he is not independent enough to live alone, and i end up caring for him? The biggest question relating to myself regarding this issue was “will i actually be physically able?” This question that I asked myself was one of the questions that led me to making a change in my lifestyle and to lose weight.

That was not the only fear that spurred me to lose weight. I have attempted to lose weight on numerous occasions, the first major motivation for me to lose weight was me looking in the mirror envisioning myself trapped on a bed pleading “help me” and requiring a crane to transport me out of there.  That first time, that fear motivated me to lose twenty kilograms, which I regained after having children.

The second fear motivator was based more on reality. Before I had my first child my paternal Nana lost her battle to bowel cancer. She did not get to meet her first grandchild. Then my Uncle from my mother’s side was diagnosed with bowel cancer and had to get his bowel removed. There was no way i wanted to face the situation where my waste was collected in a bag. Thirdly, shortly afterwards, my maternal grandmother succumbed to complications of bowel cancer and passed away, while TB was still quite young. This was all spaced over a five-year period, so it took a while to recognise the warning signs.

Adding to that, my paternal Aunt having quite problematic knees required knee surgery, as did my father, and my mother also has quite arthritic knees. Looking at the problems they faced with their knees forced me to take stock of the risk factors that would affect my health and capacity to care for my children, and so far I have managed to lose a substantial amount of weight.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to use my treadmill at home, which alleviates the possibility of missing out on my exercise due to circumstances, weather patterns and timing, although my knees are currently showing signs of presenting delays in reaching my goal. I am more fearful that I will become to injured to continue on with my weight loss journey. Although I enjoy swimming, which alleviates the pressure from my knees, with my husband working away from home throughout the week and me working, I simply do not get to the pool. This is why after this week, when my knees were presenting me with considerable warning signs, I have had to purchase some gym equipment as a means to exercise with less pressure on my knees. Yes the timing is not great, it may have presented a great inconvenience to some people, but unfortunately, the human body does not factor timing and convenience, which is why I have made the move to continue to take protective measures in regards to the progress I have made so far, and so I am not compromised in my physical capacity to care for my family.