Autumn & Autism43

Posted on March 7, 2014 by ChristieAutism, Northern Rivers Stories, Web Favs

me n pop

You are going to learn a few new things about me today. I suggest you go and grab a cup of tea, cos this might take a few minutes.

As you know, I don’t often share deeply personal things on this blog, it is mostly just pretty food and occasional baby pics. But that is going to change, and I hope you are OK with that.

My life has changed dramatically in the last 12 months and I haven’t shared any of it here. For my blog friends and readers all over the globe, I’m sorry for that – because after all, that’s what blogging is all about. Sharing.

I have just been conscious about keeping this a ‘food blog’, but it’s now going to evolve into more of blog about my family and life on the northern rivers. Don’t worry, there will still be food, lots of it, so don’t click away just yet.

Since the title gives away the two topics, let’s get stuck in:

1. Autumn is my favourite season.

Autumn is the underdog of the seasons, and I love a good underdog. It’s not as bone-chilling as winter, as fragrant as spring or as popular as a long hot summer. But it is beautiful, graceful and full of magic.

It’s a transition season, where things are constantly in a state of flux; leaves are gently turning, the weather isn’t here nor there, yet there are amazing things happening all around.

I’ve been thinking about transitions a lot lately and in particular, the way I have come to grips with some recent(ish) news and how it has changed me, almost completely for the better. More on that in a minute.

I used to think that transition phases in life were meant to be done quickly and without thought, it was where you came from and where you were going that was important. But I was wrong. The in between bits are sometimes the most amazing transformative experiences of your life. They are times to savour, reflect and use to their full advantage to make yourself a better person. Experiences that make life enjoyable.

Now, before I go off on a tangent and get too heavy, I’ll explain myself in point #2.

2. My three year old daughter has Autism.

Poppy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) last year in June at 2 years 8 months – when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. I had concerns about her from 12-15 months old, so it was a long journey to finally get a diagnosis. I won’t go into that journey today, that’s a whole other blog post for later.

If you are not sure what Autism is, that’s OK, lots of people don’t. Actually, let me correct that. Most people say ‘oh yeah Autism. Like Rainman, right?’. Well, technically, yes. I really can’t be annoyed with that response, that would probably have been me about 5 years ago before I started reading blogs by women who have children with Autism and being absolutely fascinated by the way the disorder manifests so differently in each individual.

They say if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. It’s seriously that different from person to person. Reading these blogs and seeing the amazing efforts by the mums doing everything they could for their children to reach their full potential was so touching and fascinating to me. Fate, much?

Just quickly while we are on the subject of those blogs, may I give a shout out to my pals Seana and Kelley who I immediately emailed in my foggy, grief-filled daze in the days following Poppy’s diagnosis, asking them to please let me know it was all going to be OK. They reassured me no end. You are both inspirational, lovely women. Thank you times one million plus infinity.

So, ASD. What is it?

The official description is:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

An estimated one in 100 people have ASD; that’s almost 230,000 Australians. ASDs affect almost four times as many boys than girls.

source (click the link for a great 2 min video explanation too)

It basically means that individuals experience all five senses differently (taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision) which means they have trouble in everyday situations because things feel very overwhelming (and sometimes underwhelming). Things that others might find easy, such as making eye contact or reading facial expressions, are difficult or confusing for those with ASD.

That’s a pretty basic description, but I’m not an expert, so I don’t think I need to say more than that to give you a decent idea. I am going to do another post soon sharing how ASD is experienced by Poppy, but for today, let’s talk about me…

How has this changed me?

I say ‘me’, but I really mean ‘us’ – as my husband has been an absolute star partner, dad, friend and confidante. Our relationship has always been solid, for which I am thankful in this situation, because I can totally understand how having a disabled child can strain a relationship to breaking point. He is a very measured, calm person and even though he has been rocked to the core with this news, he remains grounded and patiently talks about any issue I want to until the cows come home. And yes, we can actually hear cows mooing in the field nearby – country living rocks!

But back to me. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am a super positive person. I can find a silver lining in the most dark of places, people and situations. But I have been tested to my limits with this. And sometimes I have caved in. I think I’ll talk more about that another day.

Some good news (see, there I go!) is that I have become so much more patient, calm and tolerant. You see, I was a bit of a live wire when I was younger, and with all that energy came a bit of intolerance, judgement and stubbornness. Most things were black and white. Things now are greyer, and by that I mean more complex. It’s easier to see things from different angles when you slow down and don’t try to please everyone.

Poppy has taught me that slowness, to live in the present, notice simple things. It’s a lovely way to live.

This is getting a bit long – if you’re still reading, hi! and thank you – there’s more I want to say but I’ll leave it for another day.

I am a bit worried about putting this out into the world, but there are great things happening at our place everyday that I want to share. Some of them are Autism related, so I needed to explain this to you first.

I am excited about how this blog is moving forward and evolving and I hope you are too. Do you know someone with autism? What are they like?

Christie x

ps. There’s a really yummy homemade jam recipe tomorrow, see you then and bring your sweet tooth! :)

  • Amanda McInerney

    Brave girl, Christie. Our kids have much to teach us and with all the love in your house, I think you are one very lucky family. xxx

    • Hi Amanda, you are so right about kids. When we stop and see the world like them it becomes an even more beautiful place x

  • christinekt

    So brave of you Christy. I have three girlfriends who have sons on the spectrum – one has two sons both with ASD. Watching them raising their children has been eye opening, heart breaking and inspiring. Looking forward to reading more of your journey. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Thanks Christine. Yes, parenting becomes a whole other ball game – some things are harder, while others are easier. I hope to properly articulate the ups and downs for those who are not in the same situation in the coming months :)

  • Aspen

    Looking forward to your blog transitioning into family life as well as food! Beautiful shades of grey, colour our world. This quote comes to mind ” Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

    • Thank you Aspen, that quote is oh so true. As you know, children really help you notice the most important things in life x

  • Hello Christie, it’s good to be honest and to share, I think…. and this blog can be about all of life… with lots of food cos that IS a big part of life.

    You’ve survived the first year after diagnosis, and that’s a big thing in itself… it’s the worst, worst, worst. I still shudder when I remember the year 2000.

    Last night was my monthly dinner with the mums I met when my son was 3 and starting EI… 8 of us stillmeet up monthly and we have SO much to discuss… and we love and support each other and each other’s kids a lot. Last night’s topics were the horror of work experience, the joy of non-ATAR HSCs, 18th birthday parties, learning to drive (or NOT) and psychs who specialise in relationships and sex for young people with an ASD…

    My son has taught me a great, great deal… patience, discipline, love… and he turns 17 this Sunday. I don’t write about him very much at all as he doesn’t want me to: ‘It’s cyber-bullying if you write about me without my permission.” He’s so right! But I still talk about him ALL the time… with other mums and dads who understand.

    • Hi Seana,

      It’s not even a year yet, but it feels longer than that! Early intervention therapies are hard core if you do them to the letter (and being a perfectionist, I do!).

      That is so awesome about your son, what a star he is and what a star mum you are!

      I do not want to think about teenage hood yet, we are still at the preschool stage.

      Self care is so important, that is another blog post I will be publishing, so it’s really great that you have that regular meet up xx

    • Hi Seana, that cyber bully comment made me laugh! I look forward to Poppy saying funny things like that. You have done so well to get through and I definitely take on board your suggestion of a support group – I am putting one together. Thanks again for all your kindness. Christie

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  • I love the new direction of your blog. I am touched to know you and Poppy personally, and see first hand what an amazing mother you are. xxx

    • HI Zanni,

      Thank you so much, I am grateful for your friendship as it is hard for people to understand and it is so wonderful when you meet people who try to, and are so accepting.

  • Hi Christie, my now 7 year old was diagnosed on the spectrum a few years ago now. It’s hard to feel positive all the time but the wins you have are huge and remember to celebrate the good days so you don’t focus on the hard ones. I recommend finding some support if you can – that is what I find the hardest. There isn’t another child like my son Hayden in 100km.

    Take care Annaleis

    • Hi Annaleis,

      You are so right! I let myself get overjoyed with the wins, because it is such a battle to achieve them. As you know, the good days are so, so good – it makes it worth the work. Funny you should say about the support network – I agree. I have just started up a regular local meet up in our area for under 5s on the spectrum so that parents can meet and share stories – and hopefully make some firm friends. I’m sorry you are so far away from people in the same situation, that must be really hard. Thank goodness for the internet! :)

  • Caroline McCallum

    Hi,
    I am an old school pal of Seana’s and I also have a daughter on the spectrum. She is now 16 and has just had her yr11 ball. She is hoping to study drama at WAPPA one day and we are having a shot at doing TEE to get into uni that way…… I tell you this because it sounds like a success story, but it has taken a lot of really hard work,high expectations and emotional energy to get us here.
    Our biggest issue has been friendships . We have had our hearts broken so many times but she does finally have a real friend who cares about her as much as my daughter cares for her. Despite what you hear about people on the spectrum being unemotional you will perhaps find the opposite to be true especially when it comes to friendship . Girls are definitely different from boys.
    Also you may hear that girls on the spectrum are not interested in how they look. So true about each person with ASD being different as my daughters passion was princesses rather than dinosaurs or trucks….she now has the most sophisticated wardrobe thanks to a job she got in our local fashion wear shop.. I was at a seminar inPerth with Tony Attwood who said that most girls with ASD wore dungarees, my daughter would be horrified!!( on most other things Tony is good except about ideas about separate schools for ASD students which as a passionate inclusionist I am against )
    Mums of girls on the spectrum are few so please if you want to know more about our journey and what I would have differently or what was worthwhile , contact me privately.

  • Oh, Christie. All our love goes to you and your family. Your post is amazing. You are amazing. Your children are amazing.
    Not so long ago I understood that we are given only those lessons which we need to learn. I also believe that before we come to this planet we chose ourselves our challenges because we know what our soul needs for development. Therefore, you know how they say “accept your situation as you have chosen it yourself”? Freaking hard to do. But you can do it otherwise you wouldn’t receive this challenge.
    I don’t like to think about our illnesses in terms of diagnoses. Doctors still know so little about human body, and even less about our mind, they like to put our problems in a box, but all children are unique and incredible in their own way. I honestly believe in this.
    I know a few people from Russia and Ukraine who come to my blog in search for a diet to help them with autism. There are almost no resources over there. I believe the doctors are more educated about this issue in Australia and the level of support offered here has to be incredible. I know it doesn’t make it easier for you but I guess I am trying to make you feel better by saying that in other countries the mothers are so lost but they are still fighting for their children, never losing hope. You have an amazing family. You have friends. Please never feel that you are alone. Tell us if you need anything.
    Thinking about you, beautiful soul. Lots of love. Xxxxx

  • Hi Christie… life takes us on twists and turns that we don’t expect and it’s wonderful that you have a positive attitude… though as the mother of a grown child with a chronic mental illness, I can well imagine the initial shock and grief. Sounds as though you have a very strong and loving family here and I wish you all the very best. xox

  • Love your face off, you gorgeous thing.

    And Autumn is my favourite too, we are like twins ;)

  • Hi Christie, thank you for sharing this, and your family’s journey.

    In a previous job, I worked at a disability services provider and though I didn’t work as a support person, I had the chance to meet many many people with various disabilities including all points on the autism spectrum. They were all wonderful, unique, people.

    From the very little that I know of you on this blog, I am sure that you and your husband will continue to be the wonderful parents that you are, and help Poppy find the path in life that best suits her.

    Best of luck over the next few years as you build the support networks around you and family that can best support Poppy as she gets older.

    xx

  • InTolerant Chef

    Hi Christie,2 of my nephews and one of my daughters are aspergers. It can be challenging, but they are gorgeous, intelligent kids, who are turning into great adults. I wish we had found out much earlier with my daughter, and had access to the many resources that are available now- so you are so lucky to have such a head start for Poppy. Every child, regardless of diagnosis, is a unique challenge anyway, so enjoy the journey of motherhood and I’m sure you’ll take any speed bumps in your stride :) xox

    • Thanks ITC, that is very comforting. I agree that all children are unique challenges and I’m taking it all as life learnings and growings :)

  • Thank you to everyone who has left a comment using the regular functionality when Disqus was briefly down. I am working to get your comments appearing again. Apologies! I really appreciate your comments. Christie xx

  • Di

    Hi Christie…. I followed you from my blog ‘Bright Side of Life’. Thank you so much for coming to visit and I am really thrilled to meet another RDI parent. For your info, we have an RDI facebook group…. let me know if you would like the details. Raising a child with special needs is like a rollercoaster ride!! :-)

    • HI Di, That would be great to get the facebook group details! That video of you and your son was so inspirational – congrats to you for an absolutely amazing effort. I know how much work went in to achieve that and you should really be acknowledged for your fantastic work. Hope to see you around, Christie :)

  • It is really a great challenge. But whatever God allows it is for good

  • Amanda @ Gourmanda

    Hi Christie, thank you for sharing this, and your family’s journey.

    In a previous job, I worked at a disability services provider and though I didn’t work as a support person, I had the chance to meet many many people with various disabilities including all points on the autism spectrum. They were all wonderful, unique, people.

    From the very little that I know of you on this blog, I am sure that you and your husband will continue to be the wonderful parents that you are, and help Poppy find the path in life that best suits her.

    Best of luck over the next few years as you build the support networks around you and family that can best support Poppy as she gets older.

    xx

    • Thank you Amanda. I am in awe of people who work with people with disabilities, it must be so draining but so rewarding. We are doing the best we can, and letting her teach us many things along the way :)

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • magnetoboldtoo

    Love your face off, you gorgeous thing.

    And Autumn is my favourite too, we are like twins ;)

    • Ditto sweet lady xx

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Lizzy (Good Things)

    Hi Christie… life takes us on twists and turns that we don’t expect and it’s wonderful that you have a positive attitude… though as the mother of a grown child with a chronic mental illness, I can well imagine the initial shock and grief. Sounds as though you have a very strong and loving family here and I wish you all the very best. xox

    • Lizzy, thank you! Yes, you know how it feels, for sure. I am sorry to hear that. It is hard to accept the path that life hands us sometimes, but all we can do is make the most of it and learn from it as much as possible. That’s how I see it. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share, it is great to connect with you on a personal level.

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Alina @ Thinking Creature

    Oh, Christie. All our love goes to you and your family. Your post is amazing. You are amazing. Your children are amazing.
    Not so long ago I understood that we are given only those lessons which we need to learn. I also believe that before we come to this planet we chose ourselves our challenges because we know what our soul needs for development. Therefore, you know how they say “accept your situation as you have chosen it yourself”? Freaking hard to do. But you can do it otherwise you wouldn’t receive this challenge.
    I don’t like to think about our illnesses in terms of diagnoses. Doctors still know so little about human body, and even less about our mind, they like to put our problems in a box, but all children are unique and incredible in their own way. I honestly believe in this.
    I know a few people from Russia and Ukraine who come to my blog in search for a diet to help them with autism. There are almost no resources over there. I believe the doctors are more educated about this issue in Australia and the level of support offered here has to be incredible. I know it doesn’t make it easier for you but I guess I am trying to make you feel better by saying that in other countries the mothers are so lost but they are still fighting for their children, never losing hope. You have an amazing family. You have friends. Please never feel that you are alone. Tell us if you need anything.
    Thinking about you, beautiful soul. Lots of love. Xxxxx

    • Beautiful Alina! Thank you. I am definitely a big believer of food being a type of medicine, and that you should really nourish your body for best results both physically and mentally. Thank you for your support, it is so very much appreciated xxx

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Caroline McCallum

    Hi,
    I am an old school pal of Seana’s and I also have a daughter on the spectrum. She is now 16 and has just had her yr11 ball. She is hoping to study drama at WAPPA one day and we are having a shot at doing TEE to get into uni that way…… I tell you this because it sounds like a success story, but it has taken a lot of really hard work,high expectations and emotional energy to get us here.
    Our biggest issue has been friendships . We have had our hearts broken so many times but she does finally have a real friend who cares about her as much as my daughter cares for her. Despite what you hear about people on the spectrum being unemotional you will perhaps find the opposite to be true especially when it comes to friendship . Girls are definitely different from boys.
    Also you may hear that girls on the spectrum are not interested in how they look. So true about each person with ASD being different as my daughters passion was princesses rather than dinosaurs or trucks….she now has the most sophisticated wardrobe thanks to a job she got in our local fashion wear shop.. I was at a seminar inPerth with Tony Attwood who said that most girls with ASD wore dungarees, my daughter would be horrified!!( on most other things Tony is good except about ideas about separate schools for ASD students which as a passionate inclusionist I am against )
    Mums of girls on the spectrum are few so please if you want to know more about our journey and what I would have differently or what was worthwhile , contact me privately.

    • Hi Caroline,

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment! It is hard to find other parents of a girl with ASD – and it’s great to have people I ‘know’ with older girls so that I can chat about future challenges! You sound like you have done a marvellous job with your daughter, I just love that she is a fashionista! Thank you for the offer of private chats, I will take you up on that :)

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Annaleis @ teapotsandtractors

    Hi Christie, my now 7 year old was diagnosed on the spectrum a few years ago now. It’s hard to feel positive all the time but the wins you have are huge and remember to celebrate the good days so you don’t focus on the hard ones. I recommend finding some support if you can – that is what I find the hardest. There isn’t another child like my son Hayden in 100km.

    Take care Annaleis

    • Hi Annaleis,

      I know exactly what you mean. It’s very hard when you don’t have a support network of peers that actually understand what it’s like. I run a meet up for parents and kids under 5 with ASD so that we can all meet people in the same situation. Invaluable for your mental health! As is self care, which I am sure you know about. Thanks for sharing about your son, I am surprised how many people have children on the spectrum that I know, now that I have revealed it. Email me anytime to chat x

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Zanni @ MyLittleSunshineHouse

    I love the new direction of your blog. I am touched to know you and Poppy personally, and see first hand what an amazing mother you are. xxx

    • HI Zanni,

      Thank you so much, I am grateful for your friendship as it is hard for people to understand and it is so wonderful when you meet people who try to, and are so accepting.

      ps. Have just added this comment back on – something funny happened when I posted this and the comments crashed! I really appreciate you leaving a note :)

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    I loved reading this post about you Christie after meeting you at the high tea yesterday. The positivity that I saw bubbling over in person in you yesterday shines through in this post. It was really lovely to meet you and I hope that the few months that have passed since you wrote this post have brought more clarity and hope for your family life ahead with your gorgeous daughter.

    • HI Kathy, thank you – was really lovely to connect with you too. It’s always exciting to meet like-minded souls. Stay in touch :)

  • RainbowMama

    Hi Christie,

    Congratulations for taking the big step of realigning your blog to your life. I’ve only just read this post for the first time, but I already know that your outlook, your energy and healthful food will make a positive impact on many families; both those affected by autism and not. My beloved nephew JJ is autistic; and he is such an awesome kid. Big Hugs.

    Amber at Adventures of a Rainbow Mama x

    • Thanks Amber, really appreciate your kind words. It was so great to meet you in person at the high tea, hope to see you again! :)

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