Cheerfully thankful!

I have been pondering over what to write for my last blog post of the year. So much has happened this past 12 months. Lot’s of excitement over planes, suitcases and adventures. Lots of brag fest material for both my sons. For those of you who have never read my blog before….. I have a 17 year old who is extremely academic and a wonderful young man. I also have a 13 year old who just happens to be autistic and the sweetest gentlest boy to behold.

My own personal growth has made me a more understanding and patient person. I feel grounded and more positive about the future than ever before. In a few days time I will have been married for 18 years. My marriage has had its ups and downs, although I am fairly sure that this is pretty normal, especially when you throw a special needs child into the mix!

I do try to look on the bright side of life, hence the name of my blog. Mind you, I also try to keep it real and write about anything that may be causing me angst. My blog is my therapy and its loads cheaper than visiting a therapist!!

I follow a lovely blog called 'Mummy from the Heart‘ and each week she has a blog hop where her readers share their *reasons to be cheerful*.  This week the theme is... A simple Christmas. I happened to read her latest post this afternoon and decided that participating in the blog hop would be a great way to end my blogging year.

My following reasons to be cheerful may not be specific to Christmas day, although they do revolve around our holiday season.

1. I have really enjoyed catching up with family and friends who now live overseas. In one week, we have had family from Zimbabwe and lunch with old friends who now live in Sydney, Australia. I was also fortunate to have a couple of visits from a lovely London friend. 

2. I am extremely thankful that our second son (you know, the one with autism) has become so flexible and resilient. Our social calendar has been full and we have been without a sitter. Therefore, we decided to just bite the bullet and take our boy with us. For the first year ever, we have enjoyed outings as a complete family and our boy has handled it exceptionally well. This is a HUGE achievement!

3. At times I can be impetuous and do something crazy that affects the whole family. This time I bought a dog, without putting any thought into how it would change our family life. We then took on another dog (they are brothers!). I am so grateful for our canine friends. They get us out of the house, give us a lot of joy and we receive unconditional love. 

4. I am very grateful that my husband likes to cook. I love that he plots and plans and chops and dices. As I write this, he has put a chicken in the Weber, has potatoes roasting in the oven and is cooking up a carrot and cumin concoction! I should be cleaning up his mess but this blog post is far more important!!

5. Thanks to my husband for parting with some of his precious air miles, I have just booked a flight to Ireland to attend an Autism Conference. The conference is being held in Dublin on the 3rd and 4th of April 2013 and I am beyond excited.

On that note, I wish you all a very Happy New Year! 

See you in 2013! 

A few words....

In a rush and a flurry
The house fills with friends
Talking and laughing
Kids running amok

Crazy puppies
Loving attention
Ball throwing
Again and again

The clink of ice against glass
A cracker dipped 
Into cream cheese and sweet chilli
Mum busy in the kitchen

Hey, where is my boy?
My teenager
Who is autistic
Has autism

He hid away fast
Too many people
Horrible noise
Can't cope, won't cope

Retreated to quiet space
Computer escape
No noise
No people

Oh my boy
So not fair
Life is harsh 
And unkind

I want you with us
I know you cannot
I want to be with you
Sometimes I cannot

It's a circle of emotion
Do I cut myself off
and give you my all
One hundred percent

Do I let you be
So that I can be free
For just a few hours

Your withdrawal
Saddens me
Fills me with guilt
Can I do more?

I see your progress 
Am part of your progress
Such tiny steps forward
but forward all the same

Our visitors don't see it
The progress made
You are not to be seen
and no one goes to see

Special needs is hard
for you
everyone who has

I get tired of the fight
The work
The treadmill
Keep going, keep going

I adore you my boy
But sometimes
I need to escape
Just as you do

I want to be normal
Just a mum
With everyday issues
Not the dread of "what it?"

You are doing so great
But so far behind
A million light years
From the kids today

It is so bloody unfair
And autism is growing
There are more kids like you
More mothers like me

A multitude of issues
Autism and more
A forever concern
For parents alone

I checked on you 
Again and then more
You were happy
But not me

I want you with us
I know you cannot
I want to be with you
Sometimes I cannot

Thinking about thinking!

Its school holiday time and the weeks stretch before us. 

Think....  S.t.r.e.t.c.h.i.n.g   and   G.o.  S.l.o.w.

For sure, the thought of filling the days with meaningful content is a bit daunting to say the least, especially when my child DOES NOT PLAY! However, having the time to just go with the flow and take advantage of moments to make them meaningful is great. Stress free great....

I also like the fact that I can plan some productive engagements with Nick and then have the whole day to play around with my plans.

It takes some time to think about choosing an activity to do with Nick. In reality it is not the activity per se, it is the thinking that is required behind the activity. It is the thinking that takes the time. I am constantly assessing and then reassessing: What is my goal for the engagement? Where is Nick at? Are his motor planning issues going to hamper the engagement? What is his level of competence within the activity? What is the next step that I can take with him? When he is competent with that step, what is the next step? 

I am always thinking about that *edge plus one* concept. This is been a big AHA for me! What is Nick's edge? What is the next step? I am not talking a big step. I am talking a tiny wee step; and when that step has been achieved, then I think about the next tiny wee step. It is a continuous process... but, hey... it works. It has worked for Nick. For the last two years he has moved forward. Mr Joe Blogg on the street may not be able to see the progress but I can, as can all the people who know Nick personally.

I am also thinking about my parenting: How am I going to guide Nick? What type of regulatory pattern should I choose? I need to decide on our roles. What type of language should I use? Should I be completely non verbal? Perhaps I should throw in some declarative comments? Do I need to self talk in order to help scaffold the engagement. How long should I pause in order to give him processing time? How long should I spend on the planned engagement? I need to remind myself that what we are doing together is not about the activity but about the engagement.

Moving right along....

Now that I have my plan in place and I know where Nick is at and what our next step will be. Now that I know how I am going to approach our engagement and how I am going to be an effective guide for my boy. 

NOW I need to think about my thinking! 

Phew, sounds a bit hectic..... right? Thinking about my thinking! I must admit to feeling a little overwhelmed and I have pondered over the reasons for the 'why bother' thinking about my thinking! It all sounds a bit deep and a lot of hard work (which is so not me!). However, in order to help my son, I need to fine tune my thoughts and decisions and also appraise them as I go along!

Anyhow, here is a little example of my appraisal of a situation that I had with Allan and the decisions that I made within the situation.

Allan and I had just walked through the most beautiful park, the weather was cold yet the sky a brilliant blue. We were wrapped up warmly in our winter coats, although I remember my hands feeling so cold and I had them jammed into my coat pockets. We left the park and started walking in the general direction of the local high street... or where we thought the high street might be! We reached the junction of the street and pondered over which way to turn.. to the left or to the right. I looked to the right and didn't see much happened. I looked to the left and there were two people walking towards us, both carrying shopping bags. Aha, I thought... we need to turn left. But, hang on, wait a minute... Allan interrupted my thoughts and said that we need to turn right, as he is fairly sure that is where the high street is! Of course I then offered my opinion of turning left. However, my husband was adamant that we needed to turn right! I appraised the situation and thought to myself.... let it go, let the man think he is right (even though I know that I am!!). I then saw a man walking towards us (from the left!!!), so I quickly reappraised the situation and decided to get another opinion. Sure enough, he confirmed that we should turn left. I, of course couldn't refrain from reminding my husband that he should always listen to his wife!!  Wink  

On that note, I am going to end with this blog post. However, I am thinking that I have so much more to write about. My thinking about thinking is only just beginning.......                                                                                                                                                                 

I am over at Hopeful Parents!

My latest blog post is over at Hopeful Parents. I am stressing a bit about the upcoming holiday, although I am thinking of ways to get through the days!!

Just click on the following link: Eeek, it's holiday time!