Tim

Photo a day in april for autism acceptance

It’s the last day of April. So, my final post in this series.

There are many things that i like about living in Brisbane, Australia. I love that we are not in the biggest or most famous city. I love the architecture, the music scene, the arts community. I LOVE that I live in a city where we have a bridge named after a band (the go betweens).

I especially love that Brisbane is also home to Tim Sharp. Tim is a wonderful artist and also has autism. Tim is so loved by our community here that he was named in our top 50 happy list – for the joy and happiness he brings to so many.

In the first week of April one of his art works was projected up onto one of our beautiful old bridges. It really speaks for itself – it looks absolutely amazing.

Thank you Tim for all that you do for the autism community. You and your incredible family give so much hope and happiness to the autism families here and around the world.

And with that – April is officially over!

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Photo credit: Mark Pitt

Hands

Photo a day in april for autism acceptance
In the last few weeks I’ve seen more and more hand biting from my lovely boy. Why? It’s not entirely clear.
From what I’ve read, I need to collect information on when he is doing it, what happens before, during & after. But I can tell you right now he’s doing it all. the. time!!
So often that he has given himself big callouses on his hands. This weekend those callouses have split. This kid has a high pain threshold (obsession with hit things anyone??) So I’m trying to do what I can to care for them while he does what he can to destroy them. So hard to watch.

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Swings & Roundabouts

We went to the local school fete today. It’s a big event. My boy doesn’t go there, he goes to the special school, but this is where my niece & nephews went, where friends kids go – it’s a familiar, friendly place.
And it was humming! So many people! It was a bit overwhelming for my big 6yo. He hit the bitumen a few times, needing some warm cuddles and gentle encouragement to push through his anxieties enough to acclimatise to the high levels of sensory input. But he made it.
We stayed long enough to see the baby animals, walk around the various rides, buy a cupcake for N, then have a drink & a sausage with some friends on a perfect autumn day.

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Pinchy Playgroup

On Saturday mornings we go to an ASD playgroup. It’s a small but important part of the Australian government’s program of support for children with autism and the families that care for them.

A while ago N who is 3 and neurotypical (NT) started calling it Pinchy Playgroup, because our asd boy L is a bit of a pinchy boy. Not half as pinchy as he used to be, but you know how these things go – a name like that sticks around.

It’s a lot of fun and some days (like today!) it’s just what we need. The boys get to have lots of fun and I get to hang out with some lovely parents.It’s only for a couple of hours, but it makes a nice dent in Saturday morning and the boys are beautifully tired out afterwards.

The playgroup facilitator – Sarah – is an autism mum and has kids all over the spectrum and a few step kids on there as well. Recently she commissioned some of our local aerosol artists to paint her vehicle. Now that’s a bit of autism awareness for you!

the autism awarenessmobile, outside our beautiful little playgroup venue

the autism awarenessmobile, outside our beautiful little playgroup venue

En Route

Photo a day in April for autism acceptance

I gather the many and varied bags and food and water bottles and shoes, and spare everythings that I need to carry everywhere for my three little boys. I get the actual boys and all this stuff downstairs to the car. Negotiate like a professional to get them all into their appropriate seats and seatbelts. I open the driveway gate, back the car out and head off to whatever our destination may be.

Beforehand I have told them all, but in particular my eldest L (who is 6 and has autism): where we are going, who we will be seeing, what we will be doing, if we are going anywhere else etc. Not all that info is absorbed, though I am surprised how some is and some isn’t. There is often a running commentary from L – go in car, go in car soon, go downstairs, hop in chair, sit down L, seatbelt on, and so on. The phrases he has heard many many times are flowing freely these days.

As we head off there are a few direction options. If we go in one direction, we may be going shopping, another may mean we are visiting Grandma & Grandpa. Recently though, it seems that, depending on the direction we go, L makes an assumption about where we are going. He makes his view known. Screaming and kicking and crying if he thinks I’m going in the wrong direction or taking him somewhere I shouldn’t (like school – he goes to school by bus!).

To me, even though I could do without the aural assault, this is a pretty exciting development. It means he is actually taking note of where we are going. He knows the route we are taking and he can see and comment on landmarks as we go. That is so awesomely cool.

from the car window

Double U

Photo a day in april for autism acceptance

Early on I was warned by the physio that i needed to discourage any W sitting. Huh? This is what they meant.

It’s been one of those things I just haven’t been able to do. The kid is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to how he sits. I know that sitting this way gives him a broader base and therefore greater stability, which is helpful when you don’t have much in the way of core strength.

The problem is that it puts enormous pressure on the knees and can cause arthritis later in life. I feel bad that he won out on this one, that I gave up, that it was just one of the things where it was easier to just let him get on with it. But parenting is all about choosing your battles.

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Cupacake Monsters

cupacake monsters

cupacake monsters

Photo a day in April for autism acceptance

I took these in to N’s day care today. It was for a very special little celebration – his last day at this centre.

On the days that the two little boys are at day care, I have about 45 mins or so in between L (my beautiful ASD 6 year old) coming home and having to go and pick up these guys. I try to make this one on one time with him special. I get him a drink – today he had 2 cups of tea – and a snack and I work on engaging him in conversation. Generally though, there’s only one thing on his mind.

‘Go in car. Get N & J’

So we did just that!

 

 

Circular Motion

Photo a day in April for autism acceptance

My boy has always enjoyed circles & circuits. I have a back deck with two sets of doors opening onto it, one from the kitchen, one from the lounge room. This makes a nice little circuit and all three boys love running round & around, squealing their little heads off! Sometimes I just sit & watch them run past me.
Other times, when I am stressed out and up against some tight timeframe – it’s so incredibly annoying to have this set up. I have been known to chase one or more boys around the circuit, trying to get them to do something or other. It’s a funniest home videos moment, believe me!
My boy is a skinny little redhead. Perpetually on the move holding tight to his trusty green ribbon. This photo pretty much captures that.

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Small Details

A photo a day for autism acceptance in April

I was looking through my recent photos looking for something to show you today when I noticed a small detail within a larger shot.

The photo was one that I took while we were at the respite centre yesterday. The larger shot shows my boy in a joyful dance, playing with his ribbon while the afternoon sun shines through the sliding doors that he loved so much.

The detail I noticed, was that his feet were not touching the floor. His face is happy, I know he was letting loose one of his squeals. It was just a sweet moment.
Tonight I’m celebrating for a friend whose little boy has taken a giant leap. He is a beautiful kid with many complex needs and had shown no sign of becoming verbal. Till now! What a game changer! All expectations blown to smithereens. Small details can make such a big difference.

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Tissues Finished Now

My boy and I had an appointment this afternoon. Yes, on a Sunday.

We went to visit Autism Queensland’s Respite home – Birralee.

It’s taken quite a while for us to get to this point. Lots of paperwork and referrals and form filling, but when I got a call during the week to say that we could take this first step and go to have a look – I was pretty excited!

From the outside it looks like a regular suburban house, but I was was very happy with all the various security measures they had in place. L had a great time exploring the house and found a couple of things that sparked his interest – tissues and a sliding door. While we were there, he would have said ‘don’t touch tissues’ or ’tissues finished now’ about 50 times (every couple of minutes!). He does like to completely unpack a box of tissues, one by one into a nice little fluffy white mountain. So I generally keep them out of his reach, but there were a couple of boxes in easy access – woooooooo! However, he was very self disciplined and managed just to TALK about them, not to touch them. I was pretty impressed by that.

He’s always been a bit of a door guy. From very early on he was interested in doors and how they opened and shut. One of the very first comprehensible things he ever said was ‘shutthedoor’ (a three word phrase, mashed into one sing-songy word). He doesn’t like an open door. It’s as though it’s untidy or unfinished, and he is compelled to close them. Then open them. Then close them…etc. So he really enjoyed doing that with the sliding door – something we don’t have at home.

He also sat down and had a lovely cup of tea and ate a muffin. So, I would say that it was a pretty darned successful introduction. Next step won’t be for another two months when he’ll get to stay there (without me) for a day. Once you are ‘on the list’ they match him with other kids on the list, so that there is a complimentary group. There’s only ever four kids at the most and two staff members. Then he/we will be offered a respite weekend once a quater. I’m notorious for my optimism, but this is looking pretty good to me. I’m excited!

tissues are finished!

tissues are finished!

 yes I know…this is two photo’s. Stop complaining!!

On the wall at Birralee

On the wall at Birralee