To the casual observer, this may just look like a picture of a slightly mismatched child – but to me, it shows 3 great achievements from the week!
Mr T has been making so much progress with dressing, in the last couple of weeks. It is only recently that he had no idea at all about this and wouldn’t even attempt, but he has put these shorts on all by himself!!! Okay, so they are swimming shorts not actual clothes – but I’m not complaining. He just went and took them from the cupboard and wore them, which is brilliant! I am quite surprised, and very proud!
Next is the shoes. In the past, we have not been able to take him to have his feet measured at all, he would get so upset by the whole process and just go into an uncontrollable meltdown. He wasn’t able to cope with the change of trying new shoes, or with having anyone in his personal space to measure the feet. The whole thing was a total nightmare to deal with. BUT there he is, with a new pair of shoes! These were not very easy to sort out, as his feet are so flat that they are off the scale in wideness, (I width) so Clarks had nothing at all for him! I managed to get him sorted in a local shop with more specialist experience and he has gone a size up in Hush Puppies which seems to do the job. He was so good through the whole shoe measuring and fitting process, and so happy with his new red shoes!
The last one is the socks. I put these socks on him and said “Rainbow” and Mr T has started to sing/hum the tune of the rainbow song from Peppa Pig “Rainbow, Rainbow – red and orange and yellow and green and purple and blue! Rainbow Rainbow, It’s a rainy sunny day!” – So sweet 🙂 As I recognised the tune, I sang it for him and he’s so happy I understood what he wanted to say. I know it can be frustrating for him that without words we may not always understand what he wants to communicate! Amazing too how sharp his brain works, from one word he so quickly links it to the song, my clever little teddy! 😀
These may be small insignificant things to others, but for Mr T this shows me so much progress and 3 real achievements! I am always really proud of him.
Well done Mr T! Masha Allah 🙂
Linking up to
I’m also linking this up to Whats the Story on PodCast
Because there’s so much more behind that first picture than you would ever know just by looking!
Also joining up with Magic Moments for the first time with this post!
One of the many lessons I have learned in my 5 years as a parent is to expect the unexpected and that being a mum makes you stronger. You have no choice but to deal with all the challenges that you face, for your child’s sake. Sometimes you will find strength and energy reserves from a space inside you that you never even knew you had.
When I was expecting my first child, I never thought that 3 years down the line I would be there with 3 little boys, and it never crossed my mind that I would have a child with Autism.
When I became a mum for the first time with Mr Z, it suddenly hit me that I am the one responsible for this little person, and that as he grows up the first person he is always going to turn to and rely on and expect to fix his problems will be me, his mum. I will admit that as a young parent to realise this for the first time was such a strange feeling. It’s overwhelming and surreal at first. Whatever your age, it is a major adjustment to suddenly go from mainly looking out for yourself to having such a small helpless (and of course very cute!) little being relying on you for their every need.
I remember saying to some of my friends that I would leave about 4 or 5 years between children so that I would have my first one off to school and then have the next one, to give me plenty of time to spend one to one, and to be able to relax and make life easy for myself. They reminded me of this when I ended up having my next baby within 18 months! We may make our plans, but we never really know what life has in store. Expecting a second baby while my first was only around 8 months was quite a surprise to me, but it was lovely. I really enjoyed having the two of them so close together, and that is why my next one has the same age gap because it was so happy with that age gap dynamic that I thought I would repeat it!
After having my first child, I might have thought that I will know exactly what to expect, being a seasoned mum by that time. I soon found out that was not the case. At the times I would have expected my second little one to be meeting his milestones, he wasn’t meeting them. So by the time he was one and a half and my third baby was born, he still was not able to stand and walk, and was not talking at all. We knew he was globally delayed but it took another year and a bit before he was formally diagnosed with Autism.
That time was quite challenging for me. At the time my husband should have been just finishing his paternity leave, he was unexpectedly hospitalised and I was on my own with a brand new newborn baby, a just turned 3 year old, and a one and half year old toddler with special needs. Just to add to the situation, at that time we were living in a mouldy damp flat with a leaking roof and a crazy landlady so we had to pack up and leave!
The gift my children have given me is to know that whatever life throws at us, I will deal with it and find the strength to make the best of any situation and always do the best for them. I sometimes feel like being a mum gives you a sort of super power – to deal with the unexpected and find strength to cope with whatever life throws at you. In a small child’s eyes, Mum knows everything and Mum can do anything. So when you see that look in their eyes, you know that you have to try!
I’m not saying it is all a struggle. On the contrary, it’s a joy. There have been so many laughs and smiles and special moments along the way. The words your child says unexpectedly for the first time; the steps they take, when you almost thought they were never going to get there. The last minute spontaneous trips to new destinations and seeing the joy in your children’s faces at seeing something new and exciting. So many special moments that I never knew to expect back when I was expecting my first baby, and so many more still yet to be experienced!
Maybe the unexpected is not always all that bad after all.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and the month of April is Autism Awareness Month.
Roughly 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and 1 of them is my 3 year old. He was diagnosed 6 months ago, but I had felt before he was 1 year old that he had some kind of special needs because he always had physical delays. Around 18 months I started to wonder about Autism and it took more than a year from then until he was diagnosed.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and makes sense of the world around them.
It is a spectrum disorder, meaning there is a massive variety in people with Autism. There is a saying that if you have met one child with autism – then you have met one child with autism. You can’t make generalizations.
People used to say to me “he can’t be autistic, he can make eye contact” “he can’t be autistic he is so affectionate” “he can’t be, he is very social” – but children with autism sometimes can do these things. In fact my little boy is overly affectionate, he does not have the normal social boundaries or inhibitions or any awareness of strangers, or any danger awareness. He would happily go with anyone. This is part of his autism, but it does not fit the stereo type some people have of children that will not look at or touch anybody and are very isolated.
People with Autism can often be either over or under sensitive to noise, lights, touch or other sensory issues which can make every day situations very difficult. My little boy tends to be quite sensory seeking and has a fascination with water, we are always having to stop him from trying to pour water all over the house, and have to be careful as he could flood the house if our back is turned. Obviously we do try to direct him to more appropriate water play and give him an outlet for it where possible!
Getting him to wear new coat or shoes is very difficult for him and he gets really distressed. Having his hair cut, which is a simple thing for many children is a massive achievement for him. He recently managed to do this, although with a lot of support and reassurance, but it was such a proud moment for us! The small things which are not a big deal to majority of children, can be real issues for children on the austistic spectrum.
In the shoe shop for example when a child is having a melt down as they can not cope with having their feet measured, or can not tolerate the feel of the new shoes, and are unable to understand the situation and the need for new shoes, and have become overwhelmed by the situation – to a casual observer they may start thinking how naughty the child is! But this is not the case, and we should not rush to judge. Of course children with autism can be naughty sometimes too, and we must guide them and support them and help them to cope, but it can be harder and what is needed is understanding and patience.
The amount of ignorant comments that families living with Autism come across on a daily basis can be quite disheartening.
This varies from people telling you that your child’s condition must have been caused by you giving the wrong food to them, must have been caused by giving vaccines to them, must be caused by cousin marriage, or caused by whatever else random thing people can think up!
Then you get those who try to be reassuring, by telling you “there’s nothing wrong with him” “he will grow out of it” “I’m sure its normal for them to do that” “so & so’s child didn’t talk til 5 yrs old then they just magically started talking”. It’s true that there is nothing wrong with my boy, he is perfect as he is, and this is who he is BUT he does have ASD and he will always have it. Having to deal with friends or relatives who refuse to accept a child’s condition is not helpful.
Then you also get the busy bodies who want to tell you what to do or just have their say. For example strangers, on seeing the children in the buggy come up and say “make them walk!” and I have also heard so many parents saying its sickening to see older preschoolers or children in a buggy, it can only be down to laziness of the parents – etc etc. My little boy is in the buggy the vast vast majority of the time, this is for his own safety as he has no danger awareness and coupled with a fascination with cars, that is not always the best combination! We do work with him on walking outside the buggy, in order to strengthen his muscles which is important for him too, but this is not safe for him to do all the time!
Then those who presume that if your child can not speak, then you must not talk to them, and of course their little darling has such a wide vocabulary because they are always talking and they read to them morning, noon and night. “Have you tried reading to him, and singing songs?” some people ask, as though it would not have occurred to us to do so, and as though it would make them talk over night!
My little boy is lovely, he is a joy to be around and he wins everyone’s heart – whoever meets him loves him! His name means perfect and complete, and he is.
I wish the world will become more accepting of differences, and I wish things were easier for him than they are.
Hopefully by raising awareness of Autism slowly we can change attitudes and help to make the future a little easier for my boy and others like him. So if you come across someone who does not know what Autism is, or has some misconceptions please do what you can to dispel them as every little helps!
Finally, I thought I would share this video which we watched in the Early bird course (a course for parents which children recently diagnosed with ASD). It is only 10 minutes and explains the experience of living and growing up with Autism, narrated by people with Autism themselves. It’s worth a watch if you have the time.
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