With Flying Colours

This image came up on my Facebook feed today. It’s the kind of list I like. As the parent of a child who gets measured against all kinds of lists of skills and then classified according to his deficits, this is my kind of list!
I’m happy to say that my little boy is doing very well in most of these areas.
That makes me very proud of him and his progress towards a life rich in experiences, relationships and wonder.

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All You Need Is Love & Laser Beak Man

Last weekend at TEDX Sydney at the Sydney Opera House, two people I love very much took to the stage and squeezed their inspiring and uplifting story into the confines of a 10 minute (or so) presentation.

Tim Sharp is a wonderful artist who created a superhero called Laser Beak Man at age 11. Laser Beak Man is funny, irreverent, cheeky, kind and so very loveable. Tim is all those things too, but he is so much more. He also happens to have autism.

Judy Sharp is a mother. She is also a survivor. She has singlehandedly raised both her sons to be good, kind, thoughtful and generous men. That in itself deserves a standing ovation.

Tim & Judy Sharp together are a force of nature. Undeniable and impressive. This will make your day. It is hopeful and it is powerful. Their story will get you through those dark days when your child is screaming and kicking and terrified and confused and overwhelmed.

Tim & Judy Sharp at TEDX Sydney (once you click through, go to the right hand arrow to find Tim & Judy’s presentation)

Tim & Judy TEDX Sydney

Tim & Judy TEDX Sydney

Laser Beak Man knows iT!

Laser Beak Man knows iT!

 

Nature Boy

Day 14
Such a great day today!
L loves to be out in the natural world. It seems that every sensory need is met in the open spaces. All the noise making, stimming & leaping about calms & he absorbs the energy of the enormous skies & wide horizons.
Plus (a big plus) his appetite explodes & he sleeps deeply.
All this makes me extremely happy.
It’s so beautiful here! Here’s our day in photos. Amazing to get so close to the wombats.

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Oh Mona!

Day 12
Today we found the best sensory room I have yet to experience. L loved it! We all did.
It was at MONA the museum of old & new art.
We called it the ‘pink & blue room’. Here’s why:

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We had so much fun there. We saw things we’d never seen, we were amazed, delighted and at times confused.
I love seeing kids experiencing art. They are so fresh & honest in their response. I felt like a kid too as we went from room to room seeing the unexpected & the unbelievable.
For an autistic kid there were many wonderful experiences – everything from jumping on a sky high trampoline overlooking the Derwent River to watching jungle book surrounded by some of the original character drawings to a large dark room full of old lounge chairs & old tv’s (screen heaven) to the fabulous pink & blue room.
Oh Mona!

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April = Autism Acceptance

It’s that time of the year again. Time to break out all those posts I’ve been working on in my head and actually write them down to share the with you. For the last few years I’ve done what I call my Autism Blogathon – a blog a day for the month. Brace yourselves for the onslaught!

Day One

It’s Tuesday. That means we’ve been up busting a move to get fed, dressed and out the door. I scoot through the morning traffic like a rally driver to arrive on time at L’s speech therapy appointment. Just made it today. I just make it every week.

Speech therapy has been a part of our weekly schedule for many years now. It’s also part of our daily lives as most of the therapy is done at home. Our lovely speechie Judith sets the tasks that we work on throughout the week. Over the years I think I may now have done almost as much study as her! I’ve done courses, learnt Makaton (a sign language), I’ve read and practised. I’ve repeated and slowed my speaking style. I know what a preposition is. I’ve perfected simple instructions. I’ve left space for processing and response. Years and years of it. Thousands and thousands of dollars.

It’s paying off.

It’s so exciting to hear the new sentences, the questions and the answers. L is following directions (miracle!! right there!!!). I can negotiate with him. I can help to calm him with words. He can wait, knowing what is coming next. We no longer live in the world where it’s instant gratification or the sky is falling. It’s a wonderful thing.

I was never certain that my boy would learn to talk or choose to use the spoken word as his form of communication. He is learning and he does choose. Every day.

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Catch Me If You Can

Another year has ticked over for my boy. This week he had his 7th birthday.

birthday candles

Yes, he’s still irresistibly drawn to heat & fire.

It’s been a big, big year and he’s come a long, long way. Today (after a bit of coaching) he was able to answer the question – whose birthday is it today? with ‘It’s MY birthday!’ Now to most people, this is not that amazing, but for my little darling…well, let’s break it down a little.

  • He was able to remember and respond consistently with an appropriate answer to the question
  • He is using pronouns – he can talk about himself from his own perspective, not it the third person (this is very new for him)
  • He was able to share his birthday with others (cup cakes at vacation care and later on at home with the grandparents)

In the last year his language & communication has taken a quantum leap. So much so that he took out the literacy & communication prize at his end of year school celebrations for the junior school. It doesn’t seem so long ago when I was not sure if he would ever become verbal. I don’t really care that he won a prize but the acknowledgement of the enormous effort he has put in is incredibly heartwarming. Mind you, he is still doing a LOT of screaming/noisemaking, but at least now, I can ask him to use words or tell him to go outside & annoy the neighbours and he may (or may not!) chose to follow my directions!

This year he has grown like a weed, eaten like a horse, stayed skinny as a rake. He’s lost teeth and made & friends. He’s had lots of fun and has also faced lots of challenges. He started reading phone books (I may be wrong, but he can’t read yet, he just really seems to like the look of tiny little print/text). We’ve also tried some medications but not found anything that actually helps him. He now has a total of four diagnoses (not that I’m counting!).

He has continued to explore and develop a love for music (this makes me so happy!) – yesterday he dragged the old house guitar around with him everywhere. When I played some chords for him – HE wanted to do the strumming and HE chose the song, by singing the words. I had never really heard him sing before, so this was a complete revelation for me. He’s definitely not one of those kids who has an extraordinary talent, but he has a real & genuine interest and that is a beautiful thing.

He’s picky about the music he listens to and he has an evolving preferred style – lyrical & emotive. He likes a variety of styles including early Elvis, Portuguese fado, romantic classical and believe it or not, kd lang. If I put some music on, he takes over and changes it to something HE likes. He knows the albums he likes and goes straight to the tracks he likes, then we listen to them on repeat, repeat, repeat…. He didn’t like the change to the new IOS because he wasn’t able to find his songs in the same way that he had been doing previously. Now, just to put that in perspective, this time last year he didn’t even want to touch the ipad.

He also has a developing interest in logos. His favourite is Target. He checks all his clothing labels and is very pleased indeed if they are from Target.

So my boy, happy birthday to you. This year we are learning about backyard basketball!

I love you.

Here’s your 20 questions and a photo that sums up that last seven years.

On Your 7th Birthday 2014

1. What is your favorite toy? Ball
2. Who is your favorite character? Peppa Pig
3. What is your favorite TV show? Waybaloo
4. What is your favorite fruit? Banana
5. What is your favorite lunch? Baked Beans
6. What makes you laugh? Tickles, being naughty
7. What is your favorite game? Chasey/running
8. What is your favorite snack? yoghurt
9. What is your favorite animal? Dogs
10. What is your favorite song?  Jericho (kd Lang)
11. What is your favorite book? DOGS (birthday pressie)
12. Who is your best friend? Madison & Ahmed
13. What is your favorite treat? milkshake
14. What is your favorite outside activity? Chasing waves at the beach
15. Where do you like to go for a holiday? Beach
16. What is your favorite drink? Ginger Beer or Cup of Tea
17. What is your favorite take away food? Don’t care
18. What do you like to have in bed with you at night? ribbon
19. What is your favorite breakfast? Pancakes/French toast with maple syrup, a mashed banana & a cup of tea
20. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? lemonade (sad but true)
photo by Carly Cain

photo by Carly Cain

Today

It’s almost midnight in this part of the world. It was my birthday today. Just another day in a lot of ways but I am one of those people who is enjoying getting older. I don’t regret the years going by or any of the things I have done in those years. I’ve enjoyed every single one of them, even the tough ones. So I’ve had a happy, uneventful day.

I watched this clip today. My big boy will get to participate in this program next year. Get the tissues ready.

 

 

 

 

The Mysteries

I’ve been busy falling in love with a little girl who is now 11 weeks old. We know each other much better now. She’s responding to the sound of my voice, smiling her big, squishy smiles at me, looking deep into my eyes for connection, love and delight and taking my every waking moment (and quite a few sleeping moments as well). She is growing like a weed, needs LOTS of cuddles and has the most amazing head of thick, soft black hair. While all that loveliness has been happening, there’s been a lot of other things happening as well.

A couple of weekends ago I spent the weekend up the coast in a beautiful lakeside location. A dear friend’s partner had passed away very suddenly and this was a chance for friends and family to come together to acknowledge him and to say goodbye. I didn’t know him well as for most of the years they were together, they lived in a remote location. But listening to the stories of his family, his close friends and colleagues, I was struck by how many things we had in common: we were born in the same year in the same small, north Queensland town, we lived a couple of streets from each other, we went to the same school and for the last 8 or so years, he managed an organisation that was established by my father. You can’t help but take stock of the things that are important to you when life’s tenuous fragility is once again made plain and simple: this is it, this is your life, live it now, don’t wait for later.

Don't wait

 

 

Lake Cootharaba

Good morning mothers!

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Happy Mother’s Day. Just one of my three are with me today, so I’m having a lovely relaxing time with my wonderful friends at the beach.
These photos are for Archie, my favourite surfer!
http://alifeunlimited.wordpress.com/

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