Monday, April 30, 2012

The gift of Autism.

Alternate Title: Kate Says Stuff to 'I wish I didn't have Aspergers': #AutismPositivity2012


Sometimes the reality of living with children who are on the autism spectrum can be hard. I caught myself the other day watching the four of them play and imagining what their futures may hold. And then I caught myself, because I was envisioning a future for four neurotypical children. And two of my children are not neurotypical. For just one moment I felt like I'd been punched in the guts, such was my shock. It catches me unawares now and again. My little mate is just my son, I forget who he is to the rest of the world.

But then, I took a moment to look at them. Really look at them. And I did not see a child with autism, a child with Aspergers and two neurotypical girls. I saw the gift of my children.

Little Miss Thing simply dotes on her siblings. She chases them around calling out to them, desperate to keep up. She adores our Little Mate. If he is lying on the ground she will creep up and cover him with baby kisses. She is one of very few who he will allow to touch his face and head in that way. If he sits on one of the kid couches she will plonk herself next to him, almost on top of him, and they will giggle like mad. This girl will grow up understanding that her brother is different, that both of them are. She will also grow up knowing that they are her brothers who love her. Her gift will be compassion and sympathy, the gift that autism gives her.

My Little Mate has the most infectious laugh. He smiles readily and is affectionate and loving with his siblings and with us. He can count up to 100 and recognise numbers that no other child his age that I know of can. He loves to watch how things work. The washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher... they are fascinating to him. When he wants to do something he will stick with it until it is done. And while I cannot know for sure that he would not have had these traits regardless, I suspect this is the gift autism has given him.

My Big Girl fights endlessly with her big brother. They are like cats and dogs. And yet, they are so protective of each other. She has such a loving heart. On the odd occasion she has been present when someone has commented on Little Mate's behaviour, she looks at them like they are a bit daft and says 'but he has autism.' Just like that. Matter of fact and no emotion involved, other than that she loves her brother and doesn't understand why anyone else wouldn't. She will grow up with an understanding of difference that many other children will not, and it will serve her well. She is accepting and kind. This is the gift autism gives her.

My Big Boy has many challenges in his life. He has a quick temper that he finds hard to recover from. But he also has so much love in his heart. He is loyal to a fault, a friend is a BEST friend for life. Even though he finds it difficult being the eldest he is so protective of his younger brother and sisters. He is proud of them. And I am proud of him. He is tactile and artistic. He is highly physically skilled and can do things that make my heart leap into my mouth. His logic and problem solving skills are impressive, and while this may have been the case anyway, I believe this is part of the gift autism has given him.

And me? I am blessed with four amazing children. The diagnoses of two of them have opened up new paths of communication and given me ways to understand them better. To support them and help them be whoever they want to be. And this is the gift that autism has given me. The gift of understanding.


Post publishing I discovered there is a beautiful uplifting flashblog event taking place today. You can find out more about it here.






This Autism Positivity Flash Blog Event is the brainchild of Thinking About Perspectives, a group of bloggers committed to increasing autism awareness and acceptance via open and respectful dialogue.  We are:  30 Days of AutismOutrunning the StormThe Third GlanceAspie KidFlappiness IsQuirky and LaughingLife on the SpectrumFairy Tale ForgottenThe Aspie Side of Life, and Inner Aspie.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Final Countdown

After months of bitching and moaning fairly stressful events we are at the endgame.

Two more sleeps in this house.

Two sleeps at my parents house.

Then we sleep at our new house happily ever after.

Good plan right?

Would be an even better one if there wasn't packing to finish, removalists to deal with, cleaning to be done, and four children who are showing signs of stress.

This time next week the beds will be made, the necessities unpacked and hopefully a lot of the non-necessities as well.

Last night I had drinks with my awesomesauce friends for the first time in far too long. My tension lifted and my heart was light. I had SUCH a great night, and when I got home realized how very much I will miss being near these people, that in all the excitement I'd overlooked the fact that actually I am likely to feel quite sad this week too.

I've lived in this town forever nearly. Little Miss Thing was born in this house. We've had so many happy times and sad ones as well here.

But more than the actual place, I will miss my parents and my friends. So much.

And will be counting down to the inaugural Kate in the Country pissup get together.

Also, Europe. You're welcome.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Fitness Friday: End of Days (12WBT)

I can't believe we are in the last weeks of the 12WBT! Where have the past 3 months gone? Oh that's right, in house selling and packing in my case.

I confessed last week that the impending move has fairly literally been taking up every minute of the day, and that I'd not been exercising (beyond lifting boxes, shifting furniture and herding children).

This week has been more of the same, and now we are at the point of running down the fridge and pantry so our regular whole food diet is not looking as flash as usual. 

But we do what we need to right? 

Yesterday I was so sick of myself that I forced myself onto the treadmill. I was more than a little scared. Two weeks of no running and it was like I had forgotten how to. I envisioned a huge struggle but was pleasantly surprised to manage a 3km jog without falling over! Sure it was hard work, but I was stoked to find that my fitness hasn't dropped into the ocean just yet. I'm hoping to get a couple more little runs in before the actual move next week and then start back into daily training once the kids have started school again.


With the end of the 12WBT in sight I feel like it's a good time to start thinking about future goals. Next week I will be posting a final review of the program as a whole, as well as sharing my future fitness goals and where I will be sharing them (intriguing right?). I'd love you to think about doing the same.

There's only a few hours left to enter my awesome Blackmore's giveaway as well, so quick hop over and do so!!

This is the second last Fitness Friday blog hop, so please be sure to check in on the other hoppers and say hi to Mummy Smiles who has been my co-conspirator all this time too :)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: And we're set for liftoff!

Tomorrow marks the official launch of Autism: In Our Own Words.


For the past little while I have been working very hard along with Suz from The I Love You Song, Marita from Stuff With Thing, Renee from About A Bugg and Twitchy from Twitchy Corner.

We have a dream. A space for other parents with children on the autism spectrum to find support and friendship. The kind of support we ourselves have experienced courtesy of the interwebs.

So I'm keeping it brief today, as there are still a few loose ends to tidy up. But I want to express my thanks to these women for their friendship, their support, their creativity and their desire to help others travelling the same journey. They are amazing and I am blessed to count them among my friends.

It is Thursday, I am thankful. And more than a little excited!

Please do check out our Facebook page too, and join in the conversation.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Calling in the experts.


My big boy has not had a great time at school this year. Actually truth be told he has not had a great time at school ever.

His diagnosis last year of Aspergers Syndrome and ODD goes some way to explaining why. When a person is misunderstood for as long as he has been, sometimes it is just easier to write them off as 'naughty'. It is not OKAY to do that, but it happens.

We've had some issues with behaviour at home as well, to the point that I have simply not known what to do. It is so hard not to engage at their level when they are pushing your buttons again and again and you are parenting solo a large amount of the time.

So I called in the experts.

Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids came out last week and spent some time with him, and returned today with some strategies he can employ when it all gets too much.

I love that she saw the beautiful, caring child that he is underneath the rough and tumble exterior. I've known Nathalie via the interwebs for quite a while now and she is an amazing woman herself anyway, but the way she spoke to my son made my heart happy. She is one of those people who can truly see the strengths of a child and work with that rather than focussing on the negative. I love that.

I also love how accessible she has made herself both to him and to me. He loved spending time with her and we're both looking forward to showing her our new place down the track.

Once we're settled I will be investigating other appropriate therapies for him as well. Our experience with Nathalie has reminded me that parenting in isolation is unnecessarily difficult and does no justice to either of us. I'm as capable of martyring myself as anyone, but when it comes to support for my children there is no point in beating myself up over not coping alone.

I'm excited to see where his fresh start at his new school takes him. We met with the principal and had a look around last week and I was blown away. They just get it. In an hour there I felt more support and understanding than I have in years at his current school (which is a fine school so long as your child is neurotypical, my daughter loves it there).

New beginnings. Can not wait.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving house while keeping the kids sane.


So as you all know, we are moving house soon. Very very soon in fact.

We've been packing madly and have another week and a half of upheaval here before the move itself.

It has been an incredibly trying time for my little mate in particular, but the stress is showing in all the kids (as well as the adults).

I'm so lucky to have some amazing friends who have been through this with their own children, and have given me some excellent tips to help make the actual event less stressful for them.

I'd also LOVE to hear from anyone who can add some more ideas, we really need them right now!

The inimitable Magneto Bold Too suggested we make a video for our boyo of the new house. We've been really lucky in that the current owner is just lovely and when the Supertrucker went to pop some stuff in a spare shed last week he did indeed make a lovely little video for the boy.

It is on repeat here often now... On the 'Daddy Movie' the Supertrucker narrates where he is and tells our boy about what he is seeing. Little mate repeats a lot of it back and at the end says "Byebye Daddy". Very sweet and I think incredibly helpful as he has really seen the property now. He may not grasp the concept that we are going to live there yet, but it will not be completely foreign to him when we get there.

She also suggested we set up the lounge and the little mate's bedroom first, so he has the comfort of the familiar while we're unpacking. Excellent advice and I would not necessarily have thought of it myself.

So what are your tips for moving with kids? How can we get through the next month with our sanity (and sense of humour) intact?



Friday, April 20, 2012

Fitness Friday: Confession Time

Source
I have a confession to make.

I have not been near my treadmill for over a week. Mostly because it is getting lost amongst the boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. 

That's a lie actually, if I pushed myself REALLY hard I could probably get on it. But to be honest when every minute of the day for the past week has been spent packing, sorting, packing, doing the same old everyday stuff that still needs to be done, packing and working in the evenings... I haven't pushed myself really hard to.

I've had a little epiphany this week. It has not been a happy one to be honest. I am turning it over and around in my mind, and I will share more about that next week when I post a wrap up review for the 12WBT overall. 

In other news, I promised to come back with a review of the Blackmores protein products. This is not a happy one either, eek!

I am allergic to avocado. It gives me what we refer to as 'avocado belly'. It does not make me sick in the upchuck sense, but it makes my tummy ache for hours on end.

I tried the Pro-Power shake with the intention of leaping on the treadmill and running for my life late last week. Instead I ended up curled up in bed for hours with a nasty case of avocado belly :(

I do intend to try it again, as well as the Pro Definition shake because there is every chance that the belly ache was unrelated... but I'll be honest and say as an unintentional trial of aversion therapy it was very successful. Hopefully once I'm back on the tready and training again I'll be able to come back and say hey, it was something else!

I am giving away two Blackmores Packs valued at $120 each, you can find out more and enter here, and rest assured chances are it is my delicate system that is at fault here rather than the products!

So, it's a blog hop! Hop along and tell us how awesomely you are doing this week? Oh and I can highly recommend lugging boxes for weight training... ouch!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: New Beginnings

This Thursday I'm feeling thankful for new beginnings.

I could be referring to our new house, but I'm not.

It could be about a fresh start for our family, but it isn't.

It could even be about my little mate finally being able to access early intervention therapy after the move... But nope, not that either.

Along with some women who I admire enormously, I have been working REALLY hard on a new project. A project which we hope will prove to be highly valuable to many families.

We've been focused on pulling it all together for weeks now (because of COURSE I'm taking on something new in the weeks prior to a big move, of COURSE I AM). And we've reached the stage where everything is falling into place.

Keep an eye out around the (social media) traps next week... We're set to launch on April 27th and all will be revealed very soon!

I'm thankful to know these women and share this vision. And I cannot wait to share it with all of you as well!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Barenaked

So, there is packing going on at my place. Lots and lots of packing. The days are flying by and while I know we'll get it all done in time there are little things here and there making me sad along the way.

Today I took down our many framed photos and canvases from the walls and boxed them up.

Aside from the fact that many of them hid marks that I'd forgotten about and need to touch up, it was a hard thing to strip the walls bare like that.


I love our photos. They are mostly of the kids, along with a few wedding photos and a pre-kids collage just for good measure. I love taking a moment as I walk past them during the day and reflecting on those times gone by.

The house is a nightmare of boxes and piles and sorting at the moment, which the systems junkie in me is not finding easy to cope with. But the clutter doesn't make my heart ache like the photos being packed does. It feels so final, even though we still have a couple of weeks and then they will be up on the walls at our new place anyway.

We've lived here less than three years. Nowhere near as long as our last house, the one I brought three babies home from hospital to.

But our Little Miss Thing was born right here. Right in what is currently our dining room. And I guess in all the stress and excitement and busy-ness of it all I've not really taken the time to feel sad to be leaving.

I've lived in this town for around 30 of my 35 years. A fact that only struck me today. My parents live around the corner. Many of my friends are nearby. It is a life changer this one. And while I know it will be fabulous in oh so many ways, I'm taking a moment to reflect too. I will miss this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Experiences of Zambia - A guest post by my sister

I've mentioned my three sisters around these parts before. My sister Adele and I were speaking recently about Eden's incredible journey to Niger and what an amazing thing it has been in terms of raising awareness and garnering support for people who desperately need it. Adele shares here her own experiences of Africa and how it changed her life.

Once upon a time, before my life revolved around breastfeeding and nappies, I had the enormous fortune of being given the opportunity to visit an AIDs orphanage in Zambia.  The orphanage I went to is located in a remote village, and is supported by the school I attended and later taught at. I made two self-funded trips, in 2005 and 2008, as part of a group taking over a number of resources and working with members of the local community to build and teach together.
 Each of my visits was for a little over a week at the orphanage itself, with some sightseeing at the end. I saw some amazing things, and when I came back home in 2005, my perspective on the world and my own life had completely changed.
 I met people who had lost so much in their lives, whose lives were so much harder than my own, who had nothing they could call their own. I heard stories of children dying on the way to see a doctor because the nearest clinic was many hours away and there was only one vehicle for transport. On my first visit, the carers were looking after a small baby who had to be fed ground maize mixed with water because its mother had died and there was no-one able to feed it, the baby became ill and died not long afterwards.
 Amazingly, while the people I met were surrounded by what I would see as tragedy, they were happy. Happier than I was in my own life. They were living in a community where there was hope. They were working hard to become self-sustainable through farming and education. They were grateful every day for food in their stomachs and a roof to sleep under.
 The orphanage itself was set up by a local man with a vision, and an Australian man who wanted to give something back. The Australian has since gone on to build other orphanages and create relationships between other third and first world communities. Sadly, the Zambian passed on in between my two visits. I was fortunate enough in my earlier visit to hear him talk about his vision and the issues they are facing, and in my later visit I could see how some of the things he had envisioned were becoming a reality, such as the building of a medical clinic within the village.
 One of the issues being faced by remote African communities is that while large aid organisations are doing fantastic things, their reach doesn't seem to get far beyond the city limits. The community I visited could only get to where it is today by seeking help themselves. The perception they have of international aid is that they come into the cities and drive around in big cars, but they don't reach the people who need them the most- the communities that take many hours to reach, where there are no doctors or nurses and no cars or buses to reach them. Where a failed crop means that nobody has food to eat.
 Also, the bigger the aid organisation, the greater the cost of administration. Not to mention advertising.  There are groups that are run completely by volunteers where 100% of what they raise goes directly to those who need it, but you won't see them on billboards or on TV.  If you are lucky, you might see them in a local paper, or hear about them from a friend.
 I guess, the thing I would like you to take away with you is that there is more than one way to make a difference. Giving money to big multinational aid organisations is a wonderful thing to do, and they absolutely do good things in the world, but I would ask you to have a think about whether you could support some of the 'littler people' as well. The less visible organisations. The community groups. Read your local paper. Look at community billboards. Spend a few minutes on Google. Talk to the people around you. If you want to go with one of the larger organisations, ask some questions first. Find out where exactly your money is going. Look at what types of programs they are providing. Find something you can feel good about supporting, whatever that might be. Then enjoy the good feeling you get from it.        




Friday, April 13, 2012

Fitness Friday: Pushing Through

I have been working my body hard. Harder than it has been pushed (aside from childbirth obviously) since before I had children.

Some days I wake up and cannot wait to get moving. Many days I have a long internal argument with myself until I just do it. Every day I feel great for having achieved something.

I've been running a shorter and a longer day and adding some weight bearing exercise on the shorter one, but now the I am actually running more of the 5k day (4.5ks actually, and aiming to try 5k straight next week!) I'm slowing to a powerwalk on the 3k days to let my body catch up with itself a bit.

I have days where I feel invigorated and fabulous, and I have days where I am absolutely exhausted. Two wakeful small people overnight of late have left me really struggling some days and my muscles are fatigued as well.

As I mentioned last week, I've been given the chance to trial some new products from Blackmores. Protein powders in fact.

Admittedly when you say protein powder to me my mind goes to muscle bound neckless men. An unfair stereotype I'm sure, but I bet I'm not the only one. But having read a bit more about the need for protein to support muscle development I was quite keen to give these a go.


I have fallen off the breakfast wagon of late, partly because I run in the morning and often whatever I've eaten just kind of sits in my gut and makes me feel a bit blech, and partly because I am lazy. Anyway my plan is to have a Pro-Power shake in the morning before I run and see if that feels better in my tummy, then chase it up with the Pro Definition afterwards. Please do note these aren't meal replacement shakes or anything like that... but for me I figure it is better than nothing at all!

I'll report back next Fitness Friday and let you know what I think!

In the meantime I have two great packs from Blackmores to give away valued at $120 each. Each pack includes a sports bag, workout towel, the two protein products and a shaker in which to make your shakes. Nifty yes?

One pack will be going to someone who joins in our blog hop as I mentioned last week. To qualify you need to have linked up last week, this week and next week. That's it. Easy right?

The second pack is for one of you lovely ones reading right now (and yes blog hoppers are welcome to enter for this one too!).

To enter please use the form below and leave a comment telling me your BEST fitness tip.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Haiku

Source
My friend challenged me
to be thankful in Haiku
How could I say no?

I am thankful for
open fires and pyjamas,
and for cuddly kids.

It has been so cold!
Winter is my nemesis,
but my heart is warm.

My big girl has been
at my sister's for a week
where she has been loved.

My big boy has spent
quiet evenings with his Dad
and with his Mum too.

I am thankful for
chances for my big kids to
feel special and blessed.


It is Thursday, yes.
Will you Haiku with me please?
You know you want to!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you cannot see it...

Source
Do not assume it does not exist.

My kids look the same as any other kids. They are bright eyed, energetic, mischievous and funny. At a glance, we are a typical Aussie family.

What you do not see at a glance, or even sometimes a longer look, is that my sons are different.
These differences become apparent fairly quickly with my little mate these days. The sidelong glances, the fluttering fingers and flapping arms. The spinning, looking away if you try to catch his eye and bouts of gibberish tell you fairly quickly that this boy is different. Most people (strangers) see these differences, hear how I speak to him and try to hold his attention, and are kind to us.

Most people may not immediately understand that he has autism, but they see something is not the same and make allowances for his behaviour accordingly.

The trouble with Aspergers is that it is not apparent in such a way. My big boy has been judged and judged harshly from as early as kindergarten. He is the 'bad' kid. The 'naughty' kid. The 'agressive/troublemaking/difficult' kid. These are not terms I would ever use to describe a child, but they are terms that have been used to describe him.

He doesn't display any obvious outwardly different behaviors. But he does fall apart after the effort of behaving in socially acceptable ways at school or other places, and that falling apart can look like violence, a tantrum, or depression. It is HARD for him.

Something that makes me very angry is when people talk about him just being a high needs, badly behaved kid. Do not get me wrong, his behaviors can be extremely challenging. I know there are days where I wonder how on earth I can cope with them. But his behaviours do not define him.
Denying his diagnoses turns those behaviours into something that is within his control. Turns him into that 'naughty' child. It denies the fact that he tries VERY hard to fit in and behave appropriately. It says to me that you have written him off as a person, and that is not okay.

Unless you are a trained professional and have spent a great deal of time with my son, do not presume anything. Do not bang on about 'overdiagnosis' or how you know better. When you do so you expose only your own ignorance and your bias towards my child.

Just because you can not see it, does not mean it is not there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Martin, Bartin & Fargo

When I was little my Dad used to tell a joke about Martin, Bartin & Fargo. Actually that may be the entirety of the joke. My memory is not so flash right now.

There was another one about a peanut gallery... I was young enough to think it meant a literal gallery of peanuts and did not find it so funny.

My big boy loves knock knock jokes. Interrupting cow is the red hot fave. Which my big girl then repeats inserting every other animal imaginable. Good times.

I have a long time favourite joke too.

Why was the sand wet?























Because the seaweed.


What's your favourite joke?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sticks and stones.

Source

I've been called names recently. It has taken me by surprise, because it does not fit with my self view particularly well, and it's a word I'd ascribe to many other people before myself.

A couple of people have had the nerve to call me 'inspiring'.

Shocking right?

Flattering? Absolutely! Uplifting? For sure!

Accurate? I'd not have thought so, but I am grateful that someone does.

Like many at home Mums I suspect, my daily grind can be just that. A grind. Washing, hanging, folding, tidying, cooking, cleaning... All the stuff that goes into keeping a household running and that can wear you down if you let it.

Throw into that mix the fact that recently our challenges with the little mate and the big boy have been huge. I'm sure it is related to the almost palpable levels of stress surrounding the house sale and our upcoming move, but knowing that doesn't help in the day to day coping with foul tempers, lots of meltdowns and plenty of tears (many of which are mine).

The one thing I do just for me is run. Five days a week I get on that treadmill, pop in my earphones and tune out. At the moment I need that time desperately, sometimes it is the only part of the day where I feel like I can think straight.

But this running it would appear is inspiring some other people too! And that makes me happy. It gives me an 'all in this together' type feeling. I know I have been so inspired particularly by Naomi from Seven Cherubs and it spurs me on. It is awesome to think maybe I'm spurring someone else on as well.

So thankyou SO much to those who have commented on my incessant tweets and Facebook updates. Thankyou for making me feel fantastic about myself! Thankyou for telling me what you are doing too, I love it!

Who is inspiring you this week?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fitness Friday: The Numbers Game

I have a *thing* for numbers. And a *thing* for time. So having settled into a strong exercise routine my *thing* for both is working to my advantage.

It's week 8 of the 12WBT, which means fitness test week.

I've been doing the weigh ins each week and am nearly back at my starting weight, which is actually a good thing in my case.

I did the measurements this week and was astonished that they have not changed one bit, not one centimetre from four weeks ago. I'm not surprised in a disappointed way at all, just in, well, a surprised way! Mostly because my legs particularly are becoming a visibly different shape. They look like the legs of a woman who runs. My mummy tummy is hanging in there but I can feel the muscle beneath. My shoulders are becoming more defined. I have a bum! And if you're of the pancake bum variety as I am you will understand why that excites me!

But the numbers that are THRILLING me at the moment are these ones:


See how the runs are getting quicker? I've managed a straight 4k jog once so far, and plan to keep building up on that. I try to beat my best time every day, push just that tiny bit harder. And it IS hard. But I am doing it!

And check these numbers!



The first lot are from 8 weeks ago when I started the program. The second from four weeks ago. The week 8 numbers are this week.

Can I get a HELL YEAH?! There are not words for how stoked I am to be able to run a kilometre in 7:22!! I can't wait to see how fast I can do it in another four weeks!

Its these numbers that keep me moving. I've been so tired with some very very rough nights with the small people of late, and nearly every morning I think 'oh I will just have today off.'

But I don't. I get my runners on. I plug in the music. And even on the days that my legs feel like lead and my whole body is working against me, I run. I just do it.

And you will know when I finally make that 5k run. I will be tweeting it and facebooking it and screaming it from the rooftops. That day, I will call myself a runner. And going by the numbers that day is not far away.


I have a fantastic giveaway coming up next Fitness Friday for all you fellow fitness crew! I'll be offering one prize to one of my lovely readers, as well as one especially for someone who joins in our blog hop. To qualify for entry you need to make sure you link up today and the next two hops. So hop to it!! Tell me about your numbers game! Don't make me get all Bridges on your butt!


The blog hop is brought to you by myself and Mummy Smiles, so make sure you head over and show her some love too!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Reality Check

I have been waiting for this particular Thankful Thursday for what feels like months. The one where I get to show you this.


After dramas and stress and contracts that took over a month to become unconditional we have finally officially sold our house, and will be moving in less than a month's time.

Cause for celebration right? Right!

And then as I was cooking pancakes for the kids I found I was having this odd dialogue with myself in my head.

If you haven't read about it yet, the amazing Eden is currently in Niger on behalf of World Vision, to learn about and share with us what is going on with the food crisis there.

So here I am, a privileged white woman, cooking pancakes with a pantry and fridge full of food in my gorgeous kitchen, bemoaning the fact that my new kitchen doesn't have a dishwasher.

It doesn't have a dishwasher.

Seriously.

There are children starving and I won't have a dishwasher for a short time.

Could I BE any more entitled?

And then I started wondering how aid workers cope with that. The disconnect of leaving countries where they have seen humanity at its lowest ebb and returning to their comfortable lives.
And I decided that they must be amazing people for starters, and that they must be heavily counselled and supported as well.

Then as I gave my kids their food, worrying about my little mate who isn't eating much at all lately, I thought about the fact that he is doing it by choice. The food is there. He chooses not to eat it. So many children don't even have that choice.

Then I wondered if there are children in Africa with autism. Are there? I have no idea... But then behavioral differences could be put down to so much else and really surely would be the least of a parent's concern.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't think becoming depressed and miserable about what I do have is any solution. I don't think feeling guilty that I live a life of privilege helps either.

But I do know this. I can help. I can sponsor one child. I can do that.

It is Thursday. I am thankful for all that I have. So thankful.

You can follow Eden's journey at her blog Edenland, and via the #EdenInNiger hashtag on Twitter.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Light It Up Blue: April is Autism Awareness Month

Last April I watched a number of my friends highlight their Facebook and Twitter avatars in blue on the second of April. I knew it indicated World Autism Awareness Day and took a moment to appreciate those families and the differences they experienced in their lives.

Little did I know that a year later autism would be something that dominated my thoughts on a daily basis. That my little mate's speech delay was in fact indicative of something else and not just 'third child laziness'. That some of the issues we'd had with our big boy weren't just 'naughtiness' but related to the fact that he simply does not process information in the same way as other children.

This year my understanding of autism comes from a place in my heart.


This year, autism means sleepless nights. It means spinning and jumping and weeks with no words and endless counting. It means watching the gap between my son's development and that of his peers widen by the day.

But it also means revelling in every single gain. It means my eyes filling with tears when my son says "Luff oo nice Mummy". It is the tightest of cuddles and a huge toothy grin smushed up against my face. It is appreciating my child and being grateful for him every single day.

The overwhelm that came with both my boys' diagnoses was incredible. It took a long time to really be able to 'see' them again. To understand that the diagnoses did not define them, but the behaviours would always be a part of them.

I will forever be grateful to the people who held my hand and helped guide me, and who still do. And I am at a point now where all I want to do is try and do the same for anyone else dealing with a similar situation. To create something of value and give something back. Plans are in motion... watch this space.

And in the meantime, if you love someone with autism take a moment today to say thanks that they are in your life. There are hard days it is true, but my goodness they are worth it.