Can everyone please give a warm welcome to @bubbleboo who is guest posting here at Mediocremum. I’ll stand aside now and let her take centre stage.
Ok. Having spent the best part of four days trying to figure out just what the heck to write about…I still have no clue. That doesn’t mean I’m dull. Really, it doesn’t. I promise. It’s just that I’m pretty random. If you ever read The Thought Bubble (shameless plug for my blog in the second paragraph, good eh?) you will know that there is never any rhyme or reason to my thought processes – and therefore never any rhyme or reason to my blog posts either! So I’m just going to type and see what happens. I think I’ve decided to go with what I know: Motherhood.
Now, that is not to say that I am any kind of expert on the condition. I am really not. At all. I’m also not your typical mum writing your typical mum blog – and that is why I have decided to write about this. To get some of my thoughts out on the page – well, screen actually, I guess – and to hopefully provide some sort of insight while I do so. At this point you are probably wondering what on earth I’m wittering on about and are fumbling around desperately for the escape key…Please, Stop! Allow me to explain. Then, if you really want out, I won’t stop you. *Quickly kicks the ropes and chains out of view*
Are we all happy? Settled down with a nice cup of coffee and a biscuit or ten? Excellent! Ok then, here’s my story (I’ll try not to bore you too much):
I am a single mum to one very lovely 7yo boy, affectionately known as ‘Chipmunk’. So far, so normal. Here comes the bit that’s a bit different… Chipmunk has high-functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder (also known as Asperger’s). When he was finally diagnosed, my whole entire life fell into place. It was as if I finally understood who I was and, more importantly, why I was that way. It turns out that I am probably an undiagnosed Aspie myself. Still undiagnosed, because nobody is going to bother to actually find out now – I’ve survived this long, why bother to test for it? seems to be the general medical consensus. *Sigh*
But anyway, getting the diagnosis was fantastic. I had known for a long time that there were issues, but nobody did anything about it. In the end, I referred Chipmunk to the school nurse myself and she then contacted the paediatrician. Chipmunk, it turns out, also has a few other major challenges. These include: Hyper-mobility (over-extending of joints and limbs which cause poor co-ordination and pain), retained primary reflexes, under-developed gross motor reflexes (so basically, he’s got no chance of co-ordinating his movements or being spacially aware), poor vision (he can’t see in 3D, so finds stairs a little tricky!) and asthma. And hayfever. I’m sure I probably missed something. It gets hard to keep up when I don’t have his file in front of me! An example of how this affects him: When playing catch, Chipmunk doesn’t catch the ball with his hands. He just relies on his face to stop it! I gave up my nursing degree to be his full-time SAHM.
Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not writing a ‘poor me, isn’t my life hard?’ post. That’s not what I’m about. I am well aware that there are plenty of people who have it much tougher than I do! My life is what it is, and I wouldn’t have Chipmunk any other way. He is the child he is because of, and in spite of, his difficulties. I just wanted to give you some background. I’d hate to have to tie you to the chair right now beg you to make you stay!
One effect of my constantly head-spinning life, is that my short-term memory has been pretty much shot to pieces. To understand the impact of this, I should tell you that my family used to refer to me as an elephant. No, not because of my size – cheeky! Because of my ability to remember pretty much every little detail – about pretty much anything! Now, nothing stays in my head unless it is something really important, or I am really interested in it – and even then it doesn’t always stick, but goes sneaking off somewhere else when I’m not looking. The other day, I lost my sunglasses. I distinctly remember taking them into the house and putting them on the dining room table. (This in itself is an achievement – I never usually ‘distinctly remember’ anything!) After that? It’s a mystery. I’m sure they’ll turn up…someday.
I’ll give you an example of how this affects me: I used to love reading, it was my passion. Now? Well, it took me a year to get through one book – ‘Twilight’ – which I finished a few days ago. I am ridiculously proud of making it through that book. Life is like that now. Little achievements. Things that, in my old life, would have been regular, everyday occurrences are now huge milestones. A cause for celebration. A reason to allow myself a smile. Chipmunk is the proverbial bookworm, just like I used to be. His physical limitations mean he is not at all a sporty child, but that’s ok. He loves to read. I love to read to him. It’s something we can do together, the same way other parents support their kids with sports.
I won’t lie – sometimes, it’s hard parenting a child with Asperger’s. The mood swings, the temper, the frustration he feels when he can’t do something, or gets something wrong. This is pretty much all directed at me. It’s hard talking to the school about behavioural issues that he doesn’t display when he’s there! But Chipmunk is also a truly beautiful soul. He is, in some ways, old before his time. Unlike a lot of autistic kids, he is very affectionate with those he loves and trusts. He is not afraid to say ‘I love you’ – and I know he really means it. And his sense of humour? It’s absolutely wicked! Chipmunk being differently-able takes nothing away from us, or our relationship. I won’t let it – and neither, actually, will he.
As a parent who probably has the same spectrum disorder as her child, I ache for him. I ache because I know what he goes through day-to-day. I ache because I know just how hard things are for him. I ache because I know what he’s thinking, and how isolated he could become. But because I know this, I hope – no, I know – that I can do something about it. I want to make life for Chipmunk as easy – as ‘normal’ – as possible. And if I have to walk through fire to do so, then I’ll be there ready with my flame-retardant undies and my bucket of water.
Wow, that’s it and I guess I did ramble on for a while there, didn’t I? Sorry about that – sorry, Chrissie, you can have your blog back now, I’m leaving!
Ok, those sunglasses must be around here somewhere…
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”