Autism is.....

At a recent workshop I was given a piece of paper and asked to complete the following sentence;

'Autism is...............'

My first thought was to write down, 'Autism is a neurological condition and is characterised by the following......'

How dull. I scrapped that idea.

I decided to let my mind relax and wait for the words to appear. Interestingly each word that popped into my brain was positive, although 'challenging' did make an appearance.  I found the experience to be beneficial so thought it a great idea to have another go. For this particular exercise I chose to use each letter of the alphabet (me and my lists!). I wrote down the first word(s) that came to mind and then added my thoughts that came from that word.

Alarming:  The thought of what is going to happen to Nick after my death. My only worry.

Bloody hell:  What have I let myself in for. Tongue in cheek!
Cheerful:  Sometimes that cheerful smiley face of mine is fake!

Development:  I feel that Nick's development is an ongoing process and one that I wish to nurture.

Exhilarating:  I am so excited about the possibility of taking Nick on future travels.

Frustrating:  To be honest, this word rarely appears in my vocabulary.

Good grief:  Not sure where this came from. Perhaps a sign of exasperation!

Health:   I am very conscious of staying fit and healthy because I have to live forever.

iPad:  I am aware that Nick has too much screen time. End of story.

Joy:  I cannot lie, it has not been an easy journey, yet this boy makes my heart sing.

Kiss:  My boy may not show love in the conventional way, yet his regular requests for family hugs are the bomb.

Love:  He is my kid and that's that.

Mindful:  RDI has shaped the way I parent and has increased my awareness of being mindful.

Nicky:  Has the most awesome big brother.

Open:  I am open to sharing our life in order to help others.

Parenting:  This journey is going to be a long one, therefore be that 'glass half full' person.

Quiet:  Nick is a gentle soul and a bit of a couch potato, like the rest of his family! :-)

Restful:  Life for us is calmer, more peaceful.

Special needs:  All I can say is, thank goodness for my friends who walk a similar path.

Time:  Time heals angst.

Uncertainty:  We don't know what the future holds, although we plan to live, love and laugh.

Victorious:  Perhaps not the correct word, however, am happy dancing over every achievement

Welcome:  My home and school have an open door policy. Feel free to visit.

x:  No word comes to mind!

Yes:  I find it hard to say no.....

Zigzag:  We don't ride a rollercoaster, there are no highs and lows. It's all about changing direction and moving forward.

If you were to do a list, what would it look like?

The Cook's Assistant

Nick is going through a stubborn teenager phrase. He only wants to do what he wants to do. When invited to join me in some form of interaction, he makes the sign for 'finished' quicker than you can say, "let's....."

Thankfully, I am a veteran RDI parent and know how to get around his resistance without making him feel pressurised to perform.

The easiest way to explain how I parent Nick is to look at how I approached our latest cooking experience.

1.  I plan what needs to be done for the activity.

     *  Collect the ingredients and utensils
     *  Preparation of ingredients
     *  Cooking

2.  I decide on our roles.
     *  I talk about the items I need for the recipe. Nick collects the items.
     *  I prepare the ingredients. Nick places the ingredients into the saucepan.

3.  I plan opportunities for Nick that encourage him to think for himself.

      *  I choose a saucepan that is in a very low cupboard and under another saucepan.
      *  I leave the mince in the fridge and he has to figure out how to find it.
      *  I open the stock cube wrapping just a tiny bit and Nick has to remove the cube.
      *  I don't open the tins of tomatoes. Nick needs to figure out the next step.

4.  My methods for engagement

      *  I do the majority of the cooking and invite Nick to assist me.
      *  I don't rush through the activity and am mindful about how I approach Nick.
      *  If Nick refuses to join me, I wait patiently without saying a word. #workseverytime
      *  I do not tell Nick what do to.
      *  I use declarative comments to encourage independent thinking.
      *  I am mindful and give Nick plenty of time to think and respond.
      *  I talk aloud, thus letting Nick know about the process and what is happening next.
      *  I keep Nick's role manageable yet with a little challenge. Edge+1
      *  I pause what I am doing and wait to see if Nick jumps into help me.
      *  At times I am non verbal and I wait for Nick to reference me for information.
      *  I spotlight moments of success.

5.  My thoughts

      *  I don't expect Nick to stay with me for the duration of the cooking.
      *  A minute here, five minutes there... they all add up.
      *  I am very aware that the activity is about our interaction with each other.
      *  I endeavour to not let the activity become all about the task at hand.
      *  I don't beat myself up if the activity doesn't pan out how I want it to.
      *  It is always helpful to plan what I would like to achieve.
      *  My mindset is such that I can be spontaneous with Nick and instinctively make a plan.

50 Random thoughts from a SN mother

1.    So what if he loves watching Mr Bean. Every day.

2.    I will be singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' forever. 

3.    I must get off my butt and introduce some new food.

4.    Smile and wave, people. Smile and wave!

5.    It is okay to have down days.

6.    Chocolate helps.

7.    Friends who walk a similar path also help.

8.    Life is an adventure. 

9.    Seriously, do not take life too seriously. 

10.  Toileting. Shit happens!

11.   Puberty. Just go with it.

12.   Where there is a will, there is a way.

13.   It is always possible to make a plan. 

14.   Missed milestones are really hard.

15.   His laughter is the best sound in the world.

16.   Damn, that kid is hairy.

17.  Why does he always post my book under my bed?

18.  Seriously kid, the teaspoon does not go into the rubbish bin!

19.  Sigh, the rubbish does not go in the sink.

20.  Life is random.

21.  Suck it up.

22.  He said 'oh shit'. Woohoo, he said 'oh shit'.

23.  "Nick, don't point at people, it's rude." Oh, the irony.

24.  It's great that he loves to point out things of interest. A wee bit tricky while I am driving.

25.  Why is it that I get called to the bathroom the second I sit down to eat my lunch?

26.  I love this child so much it hurts.

27.  Do all autistic kids ask the same questions again and again and again?

28.  I am patient, I am patient, I am patient.

29.  Joint attention with this kid is the bomb.

30.  Eish, I can be so static at times!

31.  He has way too much iPad. #badmum #timeout

32.  It's okay to acknowledge chronic sorrow.

33.  Parties are hard.

34.  Comparing Nick to his peers really really sucks.

35.  Damn, he should be in his last year of school next year. #sadmum

36.  Moving right along....

37.  Hey, at least I still get to see Pixar movies!

38.  I love that we can take Nick anywhere.

39.  Life is much easier now that we can be spontaneous.

40.  I need to ramp up Nick's non-existent exercise routine.

41.  Hang on a sec..... the husband needs to ramp up Nick's non-existent exercise routine!

42.  I now wake up as early as Nick!

43.  He brings me grief, yet also brings so much joy.

44.  Some days I want to run away.

45.  When I am away from him, I want to be by his side.

46.  He was certainly born into the right family. #lovestraveling

47.  When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

48.  Embracing our slow way of life.

49. Don't worry, be happy.

50.  My heart is full.