Musings

Musings on life, adoption, trauma, autism, and anything else that comes to mind.

The Christmas Ratio

Over the Christmas holidays so far, I reckon our ‘nice bits’ to ‘hard bits’ ratio is probably about 70:30. Possibly slightly better, if you take in to account the fact that the hard bits are no where near as hard as they used to be. Last year’s Christmas ratio was about 20:80 at best I reckon, and looking back at the blog from this time last year it seems T was going through a bitey phase as well. The worst we’ve had this holiday is hitting, and even then I think it’s only been once or twice. Gosh, it’s so weird writing that, when I think back to posts I’ve written in the past describing the aggression and violence that was happening multiple times per DAY, for anything up to a couple of hours at a time.

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Christmas

This year was my 39th Christmas as an autistic person, but the first Christmas that I have known I’m autistic. It’s been interesting. One of the things I have found a little weird about exploring my autistic brain is that I keep getting these little moments of “Oh, that’s why I’ve always done this…”, and this Christmas has been no different. I had a big one today. I’ve been reading lost of posts from other autistics on Twitter talking about coping with Christmas – the sensory overload, having to be social, and how they survive it all – all the while thinking that I’ve never really had issues with Christmas. I did have a little weep yesterday (Christmas Day itself), but that was because I had a stinking cold and didn’t get enough sleep… wasn’t it??

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Stimming for mental health

Yesterday was tricky. I was doing a new thing that I’d never done before, and which necessitated me being around lots of noisy children for a prolonged period of time. (Tap dancing in a showcase, if you’re interested.) When we got home, I told my husband that he was not allowed to talk to me until I came out from under my duvet. Up until now, my duvet has been pretty much my only coping strategy, and as life is going through a difficult phase I feel like I’m using it all the time. Often I get home from work and go straight to bed. I’ve been eating meals in bed. I’ve been working in bed. It’s good, because it does help me feel better, but it’s quite limiting, and it’s affecting my relationships with my family, particularly my children.

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Reflections on the year

I know it’s a bit early for the traditional ‘looking back over the year’ post, but I’m in a reflective sort of mood this evening, after randomly deciding to re-read a blog post which I wrote just after Christmas last year. Something strange and unprecedented happened this week in our therapy session; the therapist asked us to consider whether we could stop sessions for the moment, because we seem to be – touch wood – doing alright. Unfortunately Tickle hasn’t managed therapy for some weeks now, and it seems that he really isn’t ready for it at the moment, but as his behaviour at home is more or less OK our therapist seems to think that we should just get on with life for a bit, and then maybe come back later when he’s ready. It’s a strange idea, having fought SO hard to get in to therapy, and particularly because we both know that without it our family would have broken apart in a rather spectacular fashion… could we let go of this security blanket?

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Birthdays

Tickle understands birthdays much more than he used to. We met him for the first time on my birthday; we’d brought cake, and we shared it, and he sang Happy Birthday to me. That’s what birthdays were: cake and singing. Tickle moved in with us about a week before his sixth birthday. I still remember we had to practically drag him in to the toy shop to choose a present, and he literally pointed at the thing right in front of him. (He wasn’t that interested in the presents on the day itself, but he did sing to his cake quite a lot.) It’s my birthday tomorrow. Tickle is quite excited about that, because he knows there will be cake. I’m working early tomorrow, so as there won’t be time for presents in the morning we decided to do them this evening instead. Tickle was *extremely* excited about this, so much so that the excitement tipped right over in to getting really cross that he wasn’t allowed to open anything, and WHY NOT I GOT ANY PRESENTS??

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Grief

We had to have our cat put down yesterday. She was only two years old, so it came as a huge shock to all of us. We are all coping with it in our own ways; Fairy is distracting herself with books and writing stories, I am crying buckets and welded to my duvet, Husband is musing about getting a memorial wind chime for our apple tree. Tickle, however, has been the biggest surprise. Tickle, is demonstrably and unashamedly sad. Tickle doesn’t spend much time interacting with the cats, but I know he does love them, and considers them part of the family – whenever we go on holiday he tells me he misses them, and he’s still not quite sure why they don’t come with us. But that’s not why I am surprised by his grief. I’m surprised because it’s a really big emotion, and he is allowing it to exist in his body without feeling the need to block it out or run away.

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I say what I mean and I mean what I say

Autistic people aren’t supposed to be any good at communication. It’s this word that is always used – deficit – like there is something wrong or something lacking from the way we choose to communicate. Granted, autism is a spectrum, and some people on the spectrum do find communication difficult, and aren’t very good at it. But then, some people who aren’t on the spectrum also find communication difficult, and aren’t very good at it. I am *exceptionally* good at communicating my feelings, thoughts, opinions, and desires to other people. I say *exactly* what I mean, no more, no less. The trouble is, I have realised as I’ve got older, that most people don’t like this at all.

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A day in the life

My alarm is going off at 6.40am. I’m awake enough already to switch it off; not quite awake enough to hit snooze instead. Luckily, I have anticipated this and set a second alarm for 7am, which is when I absolutely HAVE to get up. I think I only woke once last night, to get up for the loo around 2am. I’m not sure if it’s my sleep apnoea or my age, or just stress, but I don’t often manage to get through the night these days. It’s unusual for me not to have woken again around half five, dragged to consciousness by the shouting in the next room. Perhaps Husband has done well at keeping Tickle quiet this morning, or perhaps I’m so tired I just don’t remember. We have been trying out something new lately, trying to teach Tickle that morning really doesn’t start at 4am, that his bedroom light stays off until 6am whether he likes it or not. We’re having mixed success. Well, I say ‘we’, but I really mean Husband, as he is the one who sleeps on a mattress in Tickle’s room. It’s been almost a year since we regularly slept in the same bed.

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Sensory issues?

I thought I couldn’t be autistic because I didn’t have any sensory issues. Then I remembered how much I hate stickers. Thin, shiny bit of paper that stick to your skin. Urgh. And then they peel up at the edges and when you brush up against them they make a flicking noise… it makes me cringe. I hate going on training courses where they make you wear name stickers. I have learned to tolerate it, but I will take them off as soon as I can. The trouble is, taking them off involves touching them, and then when you try to throw them away they get stuck to your fingers…

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Stimming

So here goes, the start of a self-exploration of what autism means to me. In this first blog I’m going to talk about stimming. The term ‘stimming’ refers to self-stimulating behaviours that are often used by people with autism or other developmental disorders. The most common one you’re likely to think of is flapping your hands – my son does this a lot when he’s excited! Some people rock, some people jiggle, hum, bang their head, make noises; there’s really no end to the variety of stims possible.

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