Saturday, March 31, 2012

What I learned at DPCon

This morning as we were getting ready to go out, my 6 year old daughter asked me about my little fox.



I told her that my friend had given it to me.

A blogger friend?
Well yes, she's a blogger, but I knew her before that.

Do I know her too?
No, I know her from places on the internet, I hadn't met her in real life before yesterday.

Then why is she your friend?
Because she has shared a lot of things with me. Important things in both of our lives. Seven years worth, since before you were even born. Because I care about her, and she cares about us.

But why did she give you a fox?
Because last year she had a baby, and he died. It is to remind me of her baby.

Did her baby have an accident?
No, her baby was born not alive, but he had been alive in her tummy.

But why wasn't he alive?
Because sometimes very sad things happen, and we don't know why. It makes Mummy feel so sad, I'm very lucky to have you.

Does she have another baby now?
No, she has a big girl close to the same age as you, but she doesn't have another baby.

Will she have another baby?
I really hope so.

Tell your friend that I am sorry her baby died. I hope she has another one. The fox is good to remind you to think about her baby.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Every person who shares of themselves on the Internet has a story. Some are heartbreaking, some are mundane, some are inspiring. All are important.

Kristie told her story at the Digital Parents Conference yesterday. She is a powerful speaker and it was incredibly moving.

But yesterday I got to hug her. For the first time it wasn't only words I shared with her, but all the love and hope and sadness I have in my heart as well.

And what I learned at DPCon is that words carry a weight far beyond what we see on our screens. Words create connections, and shared histories, and friendships that can grow over time.

There are many people whose words have carried me through the past six months. Yesterday I held onto their hands as well as their words. And it was amazing.

And I walked out with a new direction. A new drive to create something that maybe, one day, may be the equivalent of a hand to hold to someone who needs it. My words are important, and so is how I use them.

That is what I learned at DPCon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fitness Friday: I'm not here!

I had grand plans for my post today, but as it turns out time has gotten away from me and I am madly throwing things together for the Digital Parents Conference and hoping that my Little Miss Thing lets me hear some of the speakers!

I'll be back with a proper post next week, but in the meantime if you've posted about fun and fitness this week please do join in the hop!






Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Keeping it simple today, because sometimes it is the simplest things that give us the most happiness even though we may not even realise it at the time.

Not always easy to catch a smiley photo of my beautiful big boy!
This amazing girl... she loves school. Her teacher told me so many wonderful
things about her at our interview. I knew them already, but it is always nice to
hear from someone else as well :)
Chocolate PaddlePop on a warm afternoon. What's not to love?
A little girl and her 'baby dolly'. Love love love.




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Autism Services - Guest Post

One of the great things to have come out of my little ranty pants episode a couple of weeks ago has been the commentary it opened up. I have had a number of emails since then from some amazing people. The following post has been written by one of them, a fellow blogger who wishes to remain anonymous in this instance. Some of the services are specific to Queensland (who from what I have read seem to have the best available in the country) but others are available across Australia. 


If you would like to contribute a guest post to continue this dialogue of helping other parents with children on the spectrum please email me.


- Kate



If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~ Albert Einstein

Imagine sending your child off to their first school disco in their school uniform with a bunch of textbooks in tow and the expectation that they return home having learned the basics of algebra.

The strobe lights would make it intolerably difficult to focus on the textbook.  The teacher's voice would be impossible to hear against the heady beat of the latest tween rock band.  Every explosion from the smoke machine would evoke a physical startle, distracting them from the task at hand.  The heightened emotions transmitted by those around them would make it impossible to sit still.  Wearing their school uniform and school bag would make them feel different and awkward.  They just want to dance like the others.  Instead they run away.

This is what life is like for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder at school.  The slight, background flickering of a fluorescent globe is like a strobe disco light.  A moth fluttering on the teacher's desk is like an explosion from the smoke machine.  The cheery chatter of classmates playing outside is like the heady beat of a rock band.  They feel different and awkward.  Sometimes, they just want to run away.  And do you blame them?

Therapeutic intervention doesn't cure these symptoms, it just makes them more manageable so that the child has a chance to learn.  Recent research has shown that intervention for ASD can be effective at any age, even into adulthood.  It's just that the earlier this intervention happens, the less behind the child will be in their learning and the greater their chances in succeeding in school and later in life.  And that's why early intervention for children with ASD is so important.  But it doesn't come cheap.  Or is it easy to find.  But for parents who have children living in Queensland, here are some services that I have personally found to be either partially or fully funded that may help.  I'm not an expert in the area…. just a mum of 2 beautiful children with ASD who wants to let other mums know of her experience.

We've been one of the lucky ones in terms of intervention.  My son started at AEIOU soon after he was diagnosed with ASD at 2.5 years.  This is a research based, not-for-profit, intensive early intervention service that includes all of the required therapy in one place.  My son attended for 2.5 days per week for a year, although full time placement is preferred to get maximum benefit.  You can use your Better Start Initiative funding through FACHSIA to cover part of the costs, and child care rebate may also be available although the out of pocket expenses are still substantial.  For us, it was worth it as the gains were extraordinary.

It is also worth contacting Disability Services Queensland (DSQ) to be put on the waiting list for assessment.  In any case, the website provides a lot of information regarding services available through them, including Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and respite.  After we left AEIOU, DSQ granted us a stream of Occupational Therapy to help our son deal with serious sensory integration issues and we are very grateful for that.  The benefits from this short stream of intervention have been maintained to this day. 

We are lucky enough to have a GP who has expertise in the area of ASD and it's a good idea to shop around to find a GP who has this experience if you haven't already.  GP's have the capacity to apply for Allied Health Care Plans on your behalf, which will give you access to 5 Medicare subsidised allied health visits per year, which is particularly useful after your Better Start Initiative funding runs out.

If you have private or government funds available but you're not sure of the best therapist to meet your child's specific needs, then contact Autism Queensland and ask to speak to an Autism Advisor there.  One of their campaigns to raise awareness of ASD is running this April and is called "Go Blue for Autism in April."  Go to the website and check it out! 


One of the services I found through our local Autism Queensland Advisor was AutismPro which is great for families in regional areas as it provides an individually tailored therapy program for you to do with your child at home, with the support of real therapists via telephone or email.  It isn't cheap, but it's a good use of Better Start Initiative Funding if you have it and don't otherwise have access to suitable therapists or early intervention in your area.


The decision to place your child in mainstream or a special educational facility is often a difficult one and is usually reached after consultation with the child's therapeutic support team.  The special schools in Queensland have a variety of fantastic programs that are designed to meet individual educational requirements, including those for children with ASD.  If you do decide to send your child to a mainstream school though, it is worth discussing the option of verification, which provides the school with additional funds to provide educational support as required.  The application process can start before Prep.  It is important to note that this funding is provided to the school for them to use at their discretion, so you will need to work with the school to discuss how this funding can be best allocated to support the additional needs of your child. 


One of my children is currently doing the SAS (Secret Agent Society) program, which is designed to teach social skills and emotions management for children with high functioning autism between the ages of 8 and 12.   Research shows that at the end of the course, 76% of participants have social skills within the range of their typically developing peers. At well over $2000 for the 12 week course it is expensive, but if you've already reached your safety net, Medicare will meet 80% of your out of pocket costs (you'll need to get a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP before you start the course in order to claim under Medicare).  Still, it is a big financial hit.  So if you are still very keen on the program but feel that you can't afford it, then contact Jennifer Silva at The School of Psychology at The University of Queensland who is conducting clinical research into the program and offering participants the opportunity to undertake the program for only $85.  This may be an especially good option if you are in a regional area as I believe the trial is specifically to trial the home-based version of the program. Contact Jennifer.silva@uqconnect.edu.au for more information.

I am very grateful to Kate for offering me the opportunity to write this guest post.  Firstly because it has taken me SO long to "learn the ropes" regarding the services that are available for children with ASD in Queensland that I wanted to let others know of just a few services to get the ball rolling if they have just started on this journey.   Mothers of children with ASD have enough to deal with, without having to deal with lack of resources to help their child achieve their full potential, so I have tried to focus on services that are subsidised in whole or in part.  And I know I'm not telling any of you anything new by saying this… but it is so worth the fight to get access to these services.  Worth getting access to as much therapy as possible.  Worth every challenging moment.  Because children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are a gift.  They think differently. They view the world and its supposedly "unsolvable" problems differently.  And once you can help them filter out what seems like smoke machines, strobe lights and heavy metal rock bands…. they have the potential to change our world.  For the better.


"For success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential" - Hans Asperger.

It's worth fighting for.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thou shalt not.

Thou shalt not swear (in front of the children, unless it can't be helped, you know if you stub your toe or get cut off in traffic).

Thou shalt not set 'Yummy Mummy' as the highest of all compliments. All Mummies are Yummy. Go ask your children.

Thou shalt not blatantly plagiarize blog posts, Facebook statuses or Tweets. We can SEE you!

Thou shalt not create false drama for the sake of increasing blog traffic. You will get caught. And it is insulting to the people who actually have to live with real and painful drama every single day.

Thou shalt not compare ones own blog to others and find it lacking. Your blog is awesome because it is yours. Own it. Be proud of it.

Thou shalt not obsess over stats. They don't tell you how much you are loved. The people who interact with you daily do.

Thou shalt not tell the children/partner/anyone that thou art 'working' when playing around on social media. It's called having a social life. You are allowed to. Truly.

Thou shalt not hide in the bedroom and eat chocolate. Or maybe thou shalt. Probably actually.

Thou shalt not write nonsensical lists on the internet because a song randomly appeared in your running playlist.



Whoops. Apparently thou shalt.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Metamorphosis

Source

Here are some things I have learned about myself, that I did not know just 6 weeks ago. 

I am a person who can run. I have never been a runner, not ever. I have always thought I just couldn't. But I can, and I am!


I am a person who can run (well jog) 3km straight, then just keep going and get to 3.5km. A week ago I was thrilled to manage 2kms. Amazing.

What this tells me is I am a person who can just keep going. Even when things are really hard. Even when I am exhausted and despairing. Even when things happen that are out of my control. I can just. keep. going.

I am rapidly becoming one of those people who bang on about exercise a lot and bore the daylights out of loads of people. I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not. In my whole life this is one of very few things that I do just for me. I am proud of it. And I feel fantastic.

I am a person who may not look noticeably different to anyone else, but who looks incredibly different in the mirror. It's not just the changing shape of my calves and thighs. Not just the definition that is slowly starting to appear in my shoulders and arms. It's the whole package. It is looking in the mirror and seeing strength. It is seeing a person who can do this one thing, and who can do anything.

I am a person. Not 'just' a Mummy, or a wife, but a person. A strong person. A whole person.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Fitness Friday: My Personal Trainer

Before & After: A PB this week. Rock On.
I seem to have lost my rhythm a bit this week. I'm jogging along waiting for that moment when I switch to auto... You know the one? And it just hasn't been happening. I have had to really push through to keep going, and at times have had to slow to a fast walk. I hope I find it again soon, I've developed a love of that rhythm where you are working hard and your heart is thumping, but you just keep going and going.

Treadmill running is not the most exciting thing ever I have to admit, but it is my only option and my little two are well used to me doing it now. It throws them when I don't jump on the tready on my rest day. And as soon as I hop off and switch it all off they jump on it and run on the spot, it is extremely cute!

My fave thing this week? I reckon my little mate would make an awesome personal trainer! He's been yelling 'Run Mummy, RUN!' at me for ages but this week has decided to assist my weights routines as well.

He has a thing for numbers has my boy. He absolutely loves them. He has started counting reps aloud with me but my gosh he works me hard. Keeps going backwards randomly and I lose track so I keep going to get to my set number!

He stands in front of me when I'm doing squats so I have to go lower and kiss his nose... Thighs of steel I am developing. And Little Miss Thing sits on my abs when I work them and insists on kisses at the top of crunches as well. I'd love to say I have abs of steel, but I really don't. Not yet anyway.

They both try to copy me when I do squats which is hilarious and gorgeous. I'm finding working out with kids around a lot more fun than I expected.

How has your week been fitness wise? Join in with Mummy Smiles and I in our weekly fitness Friday blog hop!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: In the style of...

For something a little different and fun, today's post is in the style of a very famous author. I'm challenging you to do the same if you are feeling a little creative and brave!


I have brains in my head
and feet in my shoes.
And my shoes will take me
where ever I choose.

I have four ace kids,
A great trucker too,
even though sometimes
it feels like a zoo!

I have a big boy,
he is eight years old.
He rides motorbikes
and is fearless and bold.

I have a big girl,
she is nearly seven.
She is sweet and kind,
her cuddles are heaven.

Little mate is special,
his smile lights my days.
He spins and he chats
in his sweet little ways.

Little Miss Thing
is a diva it's true,
outrageously funny
and beautiful too.

I have a nice home,
a car for to drive,
a family to cherish,
I love being alive!

I am full of joy
and gratitude too.
I'm Thankful, it's Thursday
so how about you?



Oh, The Places You'll Go! By Dr Seuss is available online 
or in any good bookstore.
It is a classic, we love it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A total houseperson post. Totally.

Ooh I'm all PC today aren't I?

Source. I deserve ALL of the Cadbury Creme Eggs. All of them I tell you.

So I did the groceries today, as you do, and I was thinking about the rituals that involves.

I shop at our local Coles. Have done for years. It is part of a shopping complex and with our little mate's need for routine if I can't get a park in the right section we go home again. Seriously not worth the fallout. Luckily today I scored one.

First we do the groceries. Little mate wanders off and calls out the numbers on every. single. pricetag. Little Miss Thing sits in the trolley and yells what I am pretty sure are obscenities at me. It takes a fair while.

Then we go to the coffee kiosk. I order a regular chai, a sipper for the boy and an overpriced cup of milk for the girl. Actually I don't even order, they know what I want and just take my money these days.

While the coffee is being made we wander to Bakers Delight and I get two loaves of white chia bread, sandwich sliced thanks.

Today we deviated a little as I went to the butcher as well to stock up for the next few weeks.
Then we pick up our drinks and head for the car.

This does not vary much at all week to week. It is just how we do it. And it struck me today that this will all change very soon. The closest supermarket will be at least 15 minutes drive away and I won't be able to do those random pop ins during the week like I do now. I will have to be super organised, but our new place has amazing storage so I plan to buy lots of stuff in bulk and store it too.

So where do you shop? Why? Do you change it up or are you loyal to a fault? And where in my new town can I get my well deserved coffee when I'm done? Also, why is unpacking groceries so bloody boring?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Secondary School Transition for Additional Needs Students - Guest Post by Twitchy


Last Friday, Kate’s post 'Too angry to think of a good title' highlighted her anger, frustration and disappointment about the chasm between the government’s Early Intervention scheme for children with autism and the inability to benefit from it within the eligibility time frame, due to lack of resources. Tragically, the wonderful theory does not always deliver in practice, leaving so many to fall between the cracks.

My comment on that post stated that High School transition is a similarly fraught experience.  I’m writing here today because after that comment, I received some strong feedback that more information of that sort would be of help to many.

Some background: I don’t write about my twelve year old son’s (two, borderline) conditions on my blog as a respect to him but I do comment on Twitter and other people’s blogs when there’s good reason. Sometimes I do feel that the urge to speak out, help others and help make a difference is greater than my ongoing decision to protect his privacy. This feeling is rising up within me once again as really, that comment on Kate Says Stuff is a post demanding to be written.

As a mother, I want to protect my boy. I’ve acted with caution until such time as he can make an informed decision for himself. The other day, I asked him and he said:
“Go ahead. I like who I am, let’s do it. Write about us to help people.”
 If only you knew how enormous that is for both of us. I’m so proud of him. Though I’m still not at ease (after all- he is only twelve), I’ll say what I can about our experience to forearm anyone else in a similar position.

We endured a great deal of mess at the end of last year, sleepless nights with deep worry on my part. I felt that with no truly suitable options, I’d be sending my socially na├»ve and highly guided son to the wolves. The time of approaching High School is an incredibly tense time for parents of additional needs students, because leaving the nurturing safety, community and supervision of primary school and one familiar teacher can feel devastating.

The following is an edited version of an email response asking please where do I get my information from and for more details:

I refer specifically to kids with High Functioning Autism, Aspergers or other additional needs where the student is not suitable for special schools, but will still struggle in mainstream schools unassisted.

"Hi H,

I’m a bit touched and a bit sad that you need to contact me. I’ll tell you whatever I can to help. Certainly I can comment on the Victorian situation.

The short answer, H, is word of mouth and doing the hard yards in talking to everyone.

Most has come through our Area Guidance Counsellors from the public system  (the same people who have your child assessed for funding from their first year) and other mothers in our municipality.  Unfortunately the whole situation can be like a black market of information which changes with the years and educational tides.

Finding a ‘good’ (as in suitable) school, is fraught because depending on the current culture and agenda  from the Principal down, determining  that school’s care factor. This can only be ascertained via others already attending who are happy with their situation. Or your hopefully very caring and involved, Grade 6 teacher already active in the transition process, liaising with the local Secondary Schools. Still this does not guarantee you an accepting student body! We’ve already had issues with name calling and worse.

We chose our school because private schooling and higher-demand academic schools were not for us. Due to harsher criteria your child’s funding will no longer be likely in Secondary, right when you need it most. There is no option to self-fund a private aide in a public school. Many parents consider putting all their resources into private fees PLUS private support. Insane, buredensome costs that affect the entire family’s future lifestyle choices.

Between the two schools we are zoned for, the reception we received was starkly contrasted. At one, only a single ‘Wellbeing officer’ (formally ‘Student Welfare’) met with us, took one look at his file* and said “Gotta be honest- gonna be a struggle…”  My husband and I looked at each other: Game over!

The second school we met with brought together our grade 6 teacher, the Year 7 Co-ordinator, the (excellent) Wellbeing Officer AND the Area Guidance Counsellor. They said all the right things about wanting to make our boy’s experience as positive as possible, utilising other incoming funding as best they can. They placed our son in a class with a fully funded other student. This was just pure luck- there’s an extra full time staff member in the class for that student.

When I refer to ‘black market’ I mean it. Once you find a place and the word is out, you meet with them and  invariably you hear:  ‘we didn’t tell you this, but…’ or ‘we can do our best to help in this case, but please don’t think of us as a specialist or ‘autism school…’ That is, ‘don’t tell all your friends, we can’t afford to be inundated by people in your situation’!

*Practically speaking, if your child does have funding for primary school from the initial assessment, there will need to be an ‘exit assessment’ report done by the Area Guidance Counsellor (Educational Psychologist) for the Education Department. This in turn becomes the ‘Transition File’ Secondary Schools want to see, sometimes before they’ll even meet with you.

These ‘exit files’ are not prioritised over increasing numbers of incoming Prep (first year) assessments and are often completed late in the year. That means you are left in the position of Secondary schools not being prepared to see you until very late in the game. This extra pressure does not help. Had I known this I’d have pushed harder.

One other thing we were pleased to do was attend an inaugural parent/Grade 6 teacher/Education Dept transition morning. The school alerted us to attend this in our area. In my feedback I outlined my frustration that it did not fit with my expectation of having my mind put at ease. I understand it needs to be covered, but the bulk of the presentation was aimed at educating teaching staff on the ins and outs of autism that we as parents are already completely exhausted by. There’s little most of us don’t know about what our CHALLENGES ARE, what of our family’s OPTIONS?

 I really and truly don’t wish to criticise their first effort, the staff are wonderful and helpful and I applaud and highly value the intent. It’s an early step in the right direction. But put bluntly- drawing so close to the reality, this nervous wreck of a mother learnt more about the practicalities of Secondary school afterward in the car park, talking to another mum who already had kids attending.

Regrettably, there aren’t really any schools set up for ‘in-betweeners’ like ours. We just have to make the best of it for the time being and lobby our education ministers to address this growing urgent need.

I wish you all the best in your quest, feel free to contact me any time and as they say, may the force be with you.

Hugs,
(Me)

The Vic DEECD has some information here on their commendable new Autism Friendly Learning Pages:  http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/directions/autism/default.htm
ASPECT Australia: http://www.autismspectrum.org.au
Autism Vic:  www.autismvictoria.org.au

There’s a non-profit autism association in most states and in some cases, private advocacy consultancies that can assist and keep you up-to-date.

I will be delving further and will pass on anything I learn. I encourage readers, even from overseas to share any helpful information on Secondary Schooling. Best of luck and above all, make sure you have a good group of supportive people around you for when you most need it.

Twitchy can be found over at the Twitchy Corner and also on Twitter.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

50 Shades of Grey: A Confession

I've confessed before to my love of the Twilight series.

What I have not confessed to is where that Twilove led me a few years ago.

I am doing so now because I have been in stitches reading all the 'squee' and 'OMG' and 'best ever' relating to the release of a trilogy of novels called '50 Shades of Grey' by E L James.

Many already know that 50 Shades did not start out in the form you will now find it. Some of the hard core (cough) Twifans have in fact already read it under another name when it was a work of Twilight fanfiction.

People like to denigrate fanfic in general and I understand that, but the fact is in the case of Twilight many of the fics out there are written far more eloquently (and without the frustrating fade to black) than the original series. Over the space of a few months I read probably a hundred different fics and found the majority of them engaging, well written and enjoyable.

50 Shades of Grey has been dubbed an 'adult romance' which seems to me a fairly apt description. Given the buzz it is creating clearly it is filling a void in the genre... my Twitter feed has been full of it the past few days. Interestingly I've found some very negative reviews around the interwebs, disgusted at the sometimes very graphic sex scenes within the books. I'm not sure why anyone would read it if they are disturbed by literature of that nature, unless it is purely to give themselves a reason to get angry? Some have referred to it as pornography and I guess everyone has different lines in the sand with their interpretation of that. If descriptive scenes including aspects of submission and domination are upsetting to you then please do not read the books, they will not make you happy.

I read the first 83 chapters of 50 Shades (in its original format) in a day or so, then waited impatiently for each new chapter to be released. It was an amazing and eye opening read and I learned lots of new things. Red Room of Pain anyone? It is no co-incidence that our daughter was born ohhh around 9 months later and in some secret circles is referred to as Edward's baby.

I'm very tempted to buy the 'real' version, in fact I probably will. I'd like to see if and how the storyline has changed and more importantly what on earth has she renamed all the characters?!

If you're thinking about reading it I say you should. Maybe you will learn some new things too! Unless you are my Mum in which case feel free not to tell me about it.

Also how great that a writer on the internet has turned a labour of love into something profitable. Well played.

If you do read 50 Shades of Grey come back and tell me what you think yes?

Laters Baby.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fear of the unknown.

My sister was over from interstate last week. We were chatting away and she pulled me up on something and it has been playing at the edges of my mind ever since.

I am blindingly optimistic. You may have noticed. But there is one area in which I am not as she rightfully pointed out, and that relates to this little mate.


I can rationalise just about anything into manageable chunks. Moving 120kms away from my family and hometown? It's a cup of coffee. But when it comes to dealing with the challenges that come with an autism diagnosis I am in foreign territory and it is hard to get my head around, let alone be positive about.

Do not misunderstand, I am eternally positive about my boy himself. How could I not be? He is a loving, beautiful child. But when it comes to dealing with my own emotions around what the future may hold for him I smack into a brick wall.

What it comes down to is this. I want to envision a future for him that is happy and fulfilled. And actually I can do that, he is by nature an easy going and cheerful soul. What I have trouble with is picturing what that future will be like at all. Will he be able to go to mainstream school? Would he be better off at a special school? How on earth will he transition to kinder next year when at the moment he gets upset if I so much as close the bathroom door? Will he ever attain the independence that all parents hope to prepare their children for? Who will look after him if something happens to me? Who will ever see the amazing person that he is, as I do, when so many see only the autistic traits he displays?

Having thought on this long and hard I have realised that I could easily come up with a list of similar concerns for my other children too. But I do not. I trust that we are doing the best we can to prepare them for the world. I have faith that their lives will be fulfilling. I know the best I can do is let them know that we are here for them no matter what happens, and provide a safe space both physically and emotionally for them.

I also realise that there are no answers to my questions. And time spent worrying about them benefits no one, particularly my little mate.

And so I will try to surrender this to the universe as I do so many other parts of my life. It is hard, but I will try. And even when times are difficult with him behaviourally as they have been of late, I will remember the moment I first laid eyes on him and wished for him the brightest of all futures. He can still have that. It may be different to other people, but it will be all his. And he is wonderful.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fitness Friday: Gonna make you sweat.


I've found it hard to get moving this week. The novelty has worn off and I'm not bounding out of bed and bolting for the treadmill so much. I've really had to kick my butt into gear a few times, but it has been worth it every time.

I'm finding the C25K much much easier now I've slowed down my running. On those days I'm doing the set intervals then staying on the tready until I reach 5kms, usually around 50 minutes or so. I'm often doing a couple more 500m jogs just for fun. I never thought I would live to see the day I would consider jogging fun. Seriously.

On the alternate days I'm doing 3km on the treadmill, mostly powerwalking with the odd jog thrown in as I feel like it. Focusing on distance rather than speed has really reinspired me to keep moving... I want to get to a point where I can do 10km one day and 5 the next. It may take a long time to get there but I will do it!

On the short distance day I'm doing a circuit type thing with handweights. Three sets which I am building up already. I'd hoped to share that today but time has gotten away from me, so look out for it next week if you are interested in what I'm doing in the company of two small children.

What has you sweating this week?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: One moment in Time

I asked on Twitter and Facebook yesterday is anyone might like to join me in some prompted narrative writing today on the topic of 'one moment in time'.

It would be really easy to write about the birth of one of my children. Or maybe my wedding day, or the day I met the Supertrucker.

But I'm taking a different tack and sharing another moment in time.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday afternoon, around 3pm. I've had a successful (Tupperware) party and am headed home to my husband and two children. It's a glorious early Autumn day and I'm feeling great about the commission I've earned today... well worth driving across the city for. I love meeting new people and they were a really nice group.

The sun glints off the bonnet of the Tuppertruck and I smile to myself. This is the first brand new car I've ever driven. I love it so much, even if the pink signwriting does get the occasional odd look. It's a constant reminder that I'm good at something. Years at home have whittled away my confidence, Tupperware has given it back to me and then some.

I've got the music cranking as I enter the tunnel. Love these moments of being alone, of listening to what I want and signing at the top of my voice if I want to.

As I exit the tunnel the light bounces off my windscreen and I experience a moment of pure bliss. The sunshine lifts my heart. I'm returning to my family and I feel great about myself. An instant of peace where my soul is filled with gratitude.

I drive on. The moment passes. But I will not forget it, nor the many others that assure me of my place in the universe. That sense of completion and connection. I am whole.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

It's Thursday, and I am so thankful for those moments in life that take your breath away for no other reason than the fact that you are alive.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Non Sequitur


Little Miss Thing has come down with a cold. She is the snottiest snothead ever. But ridiculously cute still.


This sign is giving me a happy. I will be happier when the new sticker goes up, hopefully later this week.


Backyard cricket is fun, especially when Aunty Kym and Uncle Josh are over from rAdelaide to join in.


Occasionally I make awesome school lunches. I bought some extremely cool stuff from Lunchboxes With Love and I am having fun with it. The big kids think it is a bit ace too.


The outdoor entertaining area at our new house is massive. We spent some time there over the long weekend and it was great, started planning where things will go. The owner is so lovely. They built the house 20+ years ago and it has seen three children grow up and fly the nest, as well as housing extended family. Her reasons for selling are a bit sad, but she is thrilled that it will be full of children again soon. She'd actually knocked back another offer in favour of ours as she knows about our little mate and she's also aware of the discrepancies in access to services based on location. We feel very blessed and that the house is already full of joy and love.

Tell me your nonsense non sequiturs?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dear Wendy

When I wrote this post last night I was feeling very angry and disillusioned. My child has autism. The government bangs on about Early Intervention and support for families and children then fails to provide it in a timely manner. I do not think my reaction was unreasonable.

I felt supported and bouyed up by the comments left by readers and fellow bloggers, many of whom are navigating the system themselves.

Then you left this comment:


Wendy· 8 hours ago
This is going to sound harsh but why do we all expect the gov to pay for our problems? There is nothing stopping you using private treatment options. The public system is overloaded because people expect them to be responsible for their decisions- like having four children. Essentially if u couldnt afford medical treatment for four why have them.


My initial reaction was one of anger, but I did not reply to it as I wanted time to collect my thoughts. I did however comment about it on Twitter, sparking a cascade of responses many of which echoed my initial reaction.

Because I try to assume positive intent in people I thought I would take your comment at face value.

I do not expect the government to pay for 'my problems'. I do however expect them to provide the services that they purport to. 'My problems' as you put it are that like all parents I had no expectation that my children would have disabilities that would require dedicated support. But far more importantly THEY did not ask for this either. 

No there is nothing stopping me using private services... oh aside from the fact that as I alluded accessing private therapists in this area is like pulling teeth. All therapists are not created equal. While there may be speechies and OT's with whom we can get an appointment, if they do not have a specific understanding of autism spectrum disorders (and many don't) then they are very little help to my son.

I am PRIVELEGED to be in a position to do so. I gather you have not run this gamut yourself so let me spell this out for you. A speech therapist weekly costs around $130. Occupational therapy a similar amount. Then there are the social skills groups, playgroups and other activities to up that cost a little. If those kind of funds are available to you without it affecting your weekly budget then lucky you... you are the 1% I guess. But I cannot think of one single family I know who would not be negatively impacted long term by such an assault. And let's not get into the fact that applied behavioural therapy (which has been shown to have some remarkable results with autistic children) runs at $50k plus a year.

Where you lost me though was your decision to pass judgement on how many children I have. My children are amazing. They are caring, loving and generous. It would seem there is not a lot of generosity in your own life so rather than get angry I will send you my sympathy. If you had the love in your life that I have in mine you'd not be capable of such ridiculous assertions.

Your further comment (which I will not even give airtime here) however truly exposed your trolly ways. And to you I must say if your intent was to cause anger and disharmony then bravo. You really did get me riled up.

I know I shouldn't feed the trolls. I do. But I just wanted you to know that I am sorry that despite your apparent enormous wealth (which allows you to not rely on the government for anything at all, yeah okay) you have such bitterness in you. It is a perfect example of what I am constantly trying to make my children understand... money does not buy happiness.

And to those of you who leapt to my defense thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you public/private school educated, self funded/employed/unemployed, private health/public health/no health people. I'm closing comments on that post now, but thankyou.

Oh and Wendy if you feel the need to comment here by way of reply feel free. And know that it will be deleted. You've had your five minutes, go back to your mansion and boss your butler around. I'm off to cuddle my kids.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Too angry to think of a good title.

I got a letter in the mail today. It was from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. I was a lovely polite letter telling me that places have been filled for Early Intervention for this year and it is unlikely my autistic son will get a place.

He has been on the waiting list since his diagnosis over six months ago. This 'early' intervention cuts out when children reach school age. So were we staying here he would receive less time in therapy than he would have spent on the list.

Everything we read about autism heavily emphasizes the need for early intervention, the sooner the better. And yet this government department has seemingly prioritised elsewhere and FAILED NUMEROUS CHILDREN in the process.

One of the key reasons we are moving is to enable better and quicker access to services for both of our sons. I fully understand my position of privelege here, and I have to say if it were not for the amazing generosity of my mother-in-law we would not be able to do so.

But what about the families who are stuck here? Who have no option but to patiently wait and pray that a place becomes available earlier? What about all those children who are being so desperately failed by this system? What about the fact that the lack of this intervention may well have measurable and long term effects on their ability to attend school, to be a part of the community, to function to the best of their ability in a society that often sees and treats them as lesser beings already?

With the autism diagnosis comes access to funding for private therapists. It is limited funding, and if your child is diagnosed over the age of 6 they are not eligible. Where I live the waiting lists for therapists who are registered to accept this funded payment are also depressingly long. So apparently where I live if your child has autism you'd best be getting another job quick smart and preparing for fork out some big bucks if you want them to have access to any sort of help at all.

I am furious and disgusted.

An autism diagnosis is a difficult thing for a parent to adjust to. And once you have done you need to wade through endless paperwork with no clear understanding of what to do or why. And then once you get your head around the various therapies and fundings, you find that unless you are independantly wealthy your child may not be able to access them for a long while anyway.

And every single day you watch your child's behaviour. His 'otherness'. And you might try to work with him yourself. You might use flashcards. You might have access to an iPad or iPod and download some of the great apps available for children on the spectrum. You might fill his days as best you can.

But you cannot escape one simple fact. Your government does not care enough to help you or your child. They offer platitudes of support and there are wonderful staff that you can talk to. There are programs that you can attend with and without your child. But the thing your child needs most is not available to them, and all they have is you.

And people wonder why more than 50% of parents with children on the spectrum need antidepressants. Why a diagnosis can literally tear a family apart.

It is heartening to me that where I live seems to be the exception in terms of waiting lists. But I live in a large community, and if even one child cannot access this intervention that is one child too many. And where I live, there are many many more than that.

Fitness Friday: Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

We're four weeks in to the 12WBT and I am starting to see lots of changes. I'd been 'feeling' a bit different, but with the fitness test this week it was awesome to have proof that it isn't all in my head.


Having not eaten breakfast in many years, I am living proof of the difference it makes to your daily wellbeing. That one meal changes my appetite and desires for food for the entire day. I try to work out straight after school run so I really need to have eaten earlier to have the energy to push through. And because I have eaten a good breakfast I am not all snacky and craving sugar at ten any more. I'm still having a snack but having worked my arse off really hard the last thing I want to do is eat rubbish anyway.

Working out every day is something I haven't done since BC (before children) either. Given that my eldest is 8 that is saying something.

I've been doing the C25K and have had a little epiphany this week too. I've been pushing myself so so hard on the run intervals and my joints and back have been really suffering for it. When chatting with Sara on Twitter earlier this week she mentioned that running is running, even when you are barely shuffling. 

I'd been on the verge of packing it in altogether truth be told. But the next day I did the week 3 intervals at a slower speed (6.3) and romped them in. I blasted the final interval at 9kph and felt amazing, and NO joint pain!

On alternate days I've been powerwalking on the treadmill and doing a weights program I've put together. I need to be able to exercise around my 1 and 3 year olds and this is working for us at the moment. I will say abdominal work with a child sitting on them is even harder than usual.

Anyway yesterday was a weights day and I thought during my walk I might try a little jog and see how long I could last. I managed TEN MINUTES - a full kilometre! It was not fast but it was steady and I have never in my LIFE been able to do that. 

I'm not in this for weight loss, but because I want to develop healthier habits for life. Four weeks in I could not imagine NOT exercising in the morning, it has become part of our routine and the little two now wait for me to get a toy box out as soon as the big kids have gone to school.

They are the greatest cheersquad too. My little mate of very few words has taken to standing next to the treadmill on running days calling out "Run, Walk, Good Girl Mummy. Run Mummy Run!". 

And the best bit? I am PROUD of myself. I feel good and strong in my own body. I am LOVING IT.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Inspiring Women

It is International Women's Day today and it seems fitting that on this particular Thursday I give thanks to some inspiring women in my own life.

Source

I am incredibly blessed to know so many amazing women. Women who raise children by themselves, women who run businesses and balance that with a family, women who have lived through the worst of circumstances and come out the other side stronger than ever. Mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, wives, partners. Women who make the world go around.

I could write endless pages if I were mention every woman who has inspired me in the past, or who does so now. Instead I am keeping it closer to home.

My parents raised four daughters. I am the eldest. My Mum spent our childhoods living in a different state to her family with a shiftworking husband. It is only now as a parent myself that I realise how very challenging that must have been.

I don't remember her raising her voice very often, if at all. She always seemed so calm. Almost irritatingly so once I was a teenager and itching for a stoush.

My Mum is fair and generous and loving. She works very long hours but still has time to listen to me whinge as she drives home. She is endlessly compassionate. If I grow up to be like my Mum I think I will be doing marvellously well.

My sister K has a wicked sense of humour. She has dealt with pain and heartbreak with aplomb. She does not know how strong she is, but I do. She makes me laugh so hard. She lifts me up. We are all so excited when she is coming to town. She lights up a room and reminds me that life is for living. I love her very much.

My sister A is a gentle and nurturing soul. When we were growing up we didn't have all that much in common. These days we text daily about the trials and tribulations of life with small children (and about running, lots about that these days). She is my rock. I know when I drop my bundle she will be there with sympathy and support. She is an amazing mother. I love her very much.

My sister S is a feisty one. She has a strong sense of justice and would defend any of us to the hilt if needed. She always takes our sides, even when we may be in the wrong. She is loyal and forthright. She is generous and caring, and is often helping raise money for worthy causes. She has a heart of gold and I am so proud of the woman she has become. I love her very much.

There are so many women in the media, on our screens and in our computers that inspire. People doing amazing things. But sometimes people do amazing things just by being who they are. My Mum and my sisters make me want to be the best person I can be. I am so lucky.

Who are the women in your life that inspire?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

A few weeks ago I was invited to take part in the filming of a special International Women's Day episode of 'Inspiration'. While there is every likelihood that my contribution will have ended up on the cutting room floor, if you tune in you can see the conversations with Louisa Claire from Brand Meets Blog, Alli Price of Motivating Mum and Kate Pickle of Picklebums fame. All incredibly inspiring women themselves.

If you are a Foxtel or Austar subscriber it will be screening at 8pm (EDT) on Aurora (channel 183).

For the Perthites you can see it at 8pm (WST) on WTV.

For everyone else it will be live online from 8pm (EDT) here.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Outside the ordinary.

I was bathing my little two tonight and marveling at the wonder of their little bodies.


Little Miss Thing has her sister's narrow upper body and small waist, but she still has the gorgeous chunky thighs of babyhood. She endlessly squats and stands in her daily adventures, my legs wouldn't manage that at all. She is perfect.


My Little Mate is very tall for his age, he's often mistaken for a much older child. He has a sizable noggin (full of brains you see) and as of late has become quite lean after a chunkier toddlerhood. He has very long strong legs and broad shoulders like his Dad. He is perfect.


My Big Girl is very lean indeed. She is tall for her age with a tiny waist and long limbs. It is very hard to buy clothes that fit her. She has phases where she fills out a bit, they are always followed by a growth spurt. She is like a little filly is my Big Girl. She is perfect.


My Big Boy was the chubbiest baby. His legs were like triangles for such a long time. He is incredibly strong and muscular. He is always moving, skating, riding, jumping, running. His energy is extraordinary. He is reaching an age where privacy is becoming more important to him. He is perfect.

One of these four was always well outside the 'acceptable norms' for growth as a baby.

One was spot on average.

One has always been out of synch in terms of weight / height / head circumference ratios.

One hasn't been to the health nurse enough for me to track it very accurately.

They will grow and change and their bodies may look different but I will always be amazed at how wonderful they are no matter the shape or size of them.

Do all parents feel like this? And if so, why can't we extend that wonder to ALL bodies, child or adult? Because truly, to have a working body is a blessing no matter how it looks. Bodies are beautiful.