Thursday, 10 May 2012

My 'other' life

In November 2009 both my sons were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Duncan was given the diagnosis of 'Aspergers' and younger brother Tristan 'atypical autism'. It didn't upset me at the time. It was a relief really. Finally I had an explanation for Duncan's lack of empathy and interest in other people. But more importantly why my youngest son was not managing with the basics of everyday life and having 'meltdowns' multiple times a day.
I know that I was sustained by a higher power and good friends during 2009, but also by my own ability to shut myself off emotionally and just go into the 'war zone' everyday. I used to say that "Mummy was putting her army boots on." And it really did feel that way. There was no relief from it. I just had to soldier on and become an advocate in every sense of the word. 
Never mind that I also had a 2 year old daughter to take care of as well. She has become such a blessing for me. And had I 'known' that my boys would both be on the autistic spectrum, I would not have had her. But I am sooooo glad she is here. She makes me realise that I am a good parent and what my parenting life would look like without ASD. She is social, independent, interested in other people, aware of how other's might be feeling and she looks me in the eye. And she frequently tells me that she loves me.
I do think that I am up for the challenge of parenting two boys on the spectrum though. I've had good training. I was a primary teacher for 15 years. My work colleagues always remarked upon how structured my class was. But probably, just as importantly, I have had 40+ years of Asperger's interaction from my own parents and brothers (undiagnosed). 
I haven't written too much about this aspect of my 'other' life. It is complicated, messy, emotionally draining and at times overwhelming. My escapism has been to sew. I am thankful for my first 'real' hobby in 43 years. I am thankful for my three children and an even-keeled husband of nearly a decade. I am thankful for my friends past and present. I am especially thankful for my best friend and the other parents who are also on this journey of autism. And recently I am thankful for Karen who has been able to put into words some of the stuff I have not wanted to write - yet!

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad you did write about it, as I've wondered about the reference in your blog header. Also, isn't there something so cathartic about blogging as an escape mechanism? I'd guess that sewing is only one hobby; and that blogging fully qualifies as another. I hope publishing today's post brought you a sense of peace.

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  2. Great post! Sometimes it's nice to read things about people other than just the sewing related aspects. My younger brother has Aspergers too, he's a handful, but it's been interesting learning about the condition =D

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  3. Love your post Fiona. Definitely a tough journey but I am always impressed by how willing you are to share your story and offer advice :)

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  4. Beautifully written, Fiona. Thanks for sharing XX

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  5. Thank you for sharing Fiona xx

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  6. Glad you decided to share Fiona. Children change your life in so many ways, some expected and some not. By the way, those strawberries look wonderful and what terrific strawberry pickers you have!

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  7. I am the Mother of a special needs child. They are a blessing and yet trying at the same time! But we both know we would have them no other way! Thank you for shring your kids with us!

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  8. Lovely post Fiona. One of my friends has both children with special needs and her husband has just been diagnosed with autism at 40+. Another friend has 6 boys, her youngest 3 are all on the spectrum. She also has been diagnosed at 45. It's a lot to deal with, but they do it with such grace and spirit. I love that your little girl is there to look you in the eyes. xx

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  9. i too have a son with a diagnosis of Asperger's and sensory processing disorder. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Again, it's me. I know now that you were a primary school teacher----what a wonderful background for a mom with spectrum kids!! I see also that you have looked around your family and realized the truth of the old saying "the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree". To my knowledge, my siblings and ALL my first cousins have at least one kid on the spectrum and/or ADD. (I think ADD diagnoses are often mistakenly made for spectrum kids!) Anyway, I'm here to say that a support system including doctors, therapists, and friends has been utterly ESSENTIAL for me. Even with all that, there have been some very tough days for me over the years. Again, hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. I have complete faith your kids will be fine, and you will look back at this crazy time in your life and wonder how you did it. Then you will be able to sit back and wait for grandchildren. I'm getting my first grandchild this November from my certain Aspie daughter-in-law and my undiagnosed Aspie son! I can't wait!

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