The Finale

Day 30: Autism Awareness Blogathon (Final Post)

I made it! 30 days and 30 posts for autism awareness and acceptance. It has been an amazing experience for me. Most of the time it has been easy. I’ve known what I wanted to write about and the words have just flowed. Other times, it’s been really tough. I’ve fallen asleep and woken up with a startle hoping I have enough time to write and publish before midnight strikes. Some nights the babies just won’t go to sleep, so I’ve been holding them in one arm and doing the fastest one handed typing I could with the other.

My domestic duties have suffered (ummmm where IS that vacuum cleaner??? and I think my mop may have died sometime around mid-April), but I was on a mission and I would not be deterred! I tried to think of the people who read this blog, there’s a very broad mix of folk and many of them have nothing to do with the world of autism. Could I keep them entertained and interested while opening this window on my life? I also worried a bit. Am I now officially the world’s most boring and relentless blogger? Oh no! Not another post from Rose… enough already!

So now that I’ve made it to the end, I want to say thank you. Like any good speech, there’s some people who need to be mentioned. The blogathon has consolidated a group I call my ‘bloggy pals’. They are present and accounted for online. They are all wonderful writers themselves and they seem to get me.

So a heartfelt thanks to:

George from Coalescence. What a faithful and thoughtful friend you are. I know you have read and commented on every single post this month. You have cheered me on, encouraging me to feel that my writing has purpose and meaning to others. You are such a great find.

ProfMomEsq – I can’t quite remember who discovered who, but I am so glad that it happened. I love your heart, your humor and your smarts. You’ve got a way with words and a lot to say that needs to be said.

Thanks Cynthia at That Cynking Feeling for all the shares and the links and especially for the co-blog we did on the senses (yours and mine). That was fun to do.

Sarah at Crazy Antelope and I have a lot in common – 3 boys who are brothers by pure genius luck and brought together by love. Also autism, crazy neighbours, Australians and so much more.

Ruth – my IRL friend and dedicated reader of my blog. I love our late night chats. Thank you for your encouragement, inspiration and big, big heart.

Judy – I feel like you are shining a light in the darkness and beckoning me forward, telling me to be brave, that it’s going to be OK. Thank goodness for you.

For all my lurkers and likers – I know you’re out there and I’m glad that you are. Thank you for reading and for your silent approval. I figure if you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t come back, so thanks for coming back.

Family and friends – you help me laugh through my tears and well up when the good times roll. I may be a single parent, but I couldn’t do it without your love and support.

Officially signing off on the blogathon. Regular services will resume soon.  Here’s some pictures.

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Similar But Different

Day 29: Autism Awareness Blogathon (the penultimate post)

We had a lovely morning in the park today. It was the annual AEIOU fundraiser Paddle For Kids. Even though L no longer attends AEIOU, they still consider us a part of the family.

We needed to get out, after a Saturday of very rainy weather and having to stay indoors, the kids were restless and itching to get outside. It was still quite damp and muddy out and no guarantee it wouldn’t rain on us, but we headed out regardless.

The Paddle for Kids involves some racing on the river by sponsored teams from all the different early intervention centres in the Brisbane region. Our team put on a great show dressing up and ultimately coming last in the final.

The boys had a great time – jumping castle, sausages, cupcakes, running around in the mud and lots of friends who were so happy to see us – especially L’s teachers, learning facilitators and therapists. It was lovely to see and catch up with some of the other families.  The fresh air and running around did us all good.

I had my hands full and despite pulling the camera out several times to get some photos, I didn’t get a single one – hopeless! I will update this post with some photos once they come through from other sources.

While I was standing around the jumping castle waiting for the kids an older woman came up beside me and asked if I had a child with autism. ‘Yes, I do, he’s in there having fun jumping around.’ The woman turned to her left and introduced me to her daughter. I turned around to say hello properly. The woman told me that her daughter also had autism and was now 42 years old.

We had a lovely chat about names and about music as she has a special interest in musicals & films. She was able to reel off a few musicals and films that had characters with my name. Her mother said ‘It doesn’t get easier’. I laughed and said ‘Don’t tell me that!’ I really felt for her though. She had raised her daughter in the years when there were very limited services for the autism community – certainly no fun days in the park where we can gather and celebrate our kids.

A lifetime of togetherness. It’s hard to really imagine. You just have to live it to know it. Then tonight I got a message from another autism mum. Her son is in his 20’s and she has told me many times ‘It gets better’. I chose to believe my friend, but in no way dismiss the woman’s statement this morning. My friend and her son are about to head off on an international holiday – what an adventure!

We are generations of mothers, dealing with similar but different issues, joys and challenges.

Disclaimer – I have no alliance with The Autism File and I’m not really sure what ‘we will win’, also not really a big fan of big soppy anthems, but it fit, so here it is.  

AEIOU

This year my 4 year old L has been attending an early intervention centre for children with autism – AEIOU. For me, it was the big push to help him to progress as much as possible before starting formal school in the new year.

AEIOU is a non-profit set up to provide the best possible practices in early intervention. The people who work there are passionate about their work, amazingly patient and caring not only of your child but of the whole family.

This week will be L’s last attending the formal program. He’ll do a couple of weeks of the holiday program and then it’s over and out. It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to the people who have been helping me to give him the best possible start, sad to lose the community we have built up in the time he has been there. I’ll miss the mum’s on a Wednesday morning where we can say anything, laugh like fools at the crazy situations we find ourselves in, shed a tear if necessary, and support each other to keep looking forward with hope for our kids.

I’ll miss some of the kids too. I usually spend about half an hour in the playground each morning when I drop L off for the day. My other two are with me of course. N at 21 months, just loves to hang out there. Some mornings when we arrive, the energy in the playground is absolutely electric – 40 pre-schoolers demonstrating the breadth of the spectrum they are on can be pretty dynamic. But N just waltzes in there like he owns the joint and has a whale of a time playing on the equipment, jumping on the trampoline with the big kids, digging in the sand pit and hitching rides on the back of a trike.

The baby gets a huge amount of attention from a small group of kids, all acting independently, but extremely interested in him and his pram. We’ve all become good friends over the year, I’m lucky enough to get lots of cuddles and the occasional kiss from these little darlings.  Baby J shows what a bit of motivation can do for language development – those kids can’t stop yakking about him! Anyway, we will miss this morning ritual.

I know that next year, there will be new rituals, new Mum’s groups, new teachers, new kids and we will fall into a new rhythm, but till then I’m going to miss what we had this year. So a big, enormous thanks to the wonderful teachers, therapists, facilitators and admin staff at AEIOU. They’ve made a world of difference for my little man.

This is the AEIOU Christmas card – it’s worth having a look at.