The Promise.

“So what’s going on Fi? You’re nowhere to be found on social media lately and I KNOW what that means with you. How are you really doin? What’s the go”?

Crap. I knew she had my number and I wasn’t going to get away with my standard ‘everything’s going great guns’ answer because she would’ve seen straight through it. I took a long sip of my coffee and considered my answer carefully before replying.

“Well, it’s like this. I see that I have two options: I either run away and start a new life somewhere else, or I stay and continue fighting the system until my boy gets the help that he so desperately needs.”

She nodded in understanding but the scepticism was written all over her face. So I continued:

“There simply are no other choices here, and my son deserves much more than a mother who flees because it’s all too difficult. He deserves a mother who will knock down different doors and follow different leads until she finds the one that eventually leads us to success.”

She looked at me and smiled before replying gently:

“That’s all very well Fi, but what about you? How are you going to continue fighting when you’re this exhausted and this beaten down? Who is going to take care of you when you hit rock bottom and can no longer function. You can’t be everything to him when there’s nothing holding you together”.

I laughed resignedly and said:

“This is not about me. This has never been about me. “

She nodded again and waited for me to continue.

“Right now, I don’t have the brain space to think about anything or anyone except my next move when it comes to helping Harley. I’ve had to let friendships slide and social engagements pass. And lately, I’ve not had the ability to plan anything past the next ten minutes. And to be completely honest – I really honestly don’t even care what people think of me right now. None of that stuff matters when your sole focus is on helping your boy to survive in a world that seems determined to ruin him”.

I looked my friend square in the eyes and I challenged her:

You’re a mother too, you get this right? You get that this is consuming me and that I just can’t rest until I start to see some progress with the horrible and relentless demon that is his mental health? Surely you get that I can’t just walk away from this, I can’t give up on him because if I give up on him, he has no one. I just cannot and will not walk away”.

She nodded and sighed.

“This really sucks . Another wine?”

And then we both collapsed into a ridiculous fit of unrestrained laughter. I mean – what else could we do but laugh?

*************

I made this precious baby boy a promise that I fully intend to keep.

I made this precious baby boy a promise that I fully intend to keep.

This afternoon I had a flashback. I was transported back into a hospital bed when I was handed the most wonderful little package 10 years, 11 months and 19 days ago to be exact. I remembered looking down into my arms after spending six hours in the worst pain imaginable. I recalled the moment that I realised that the pain was but a distant memory because in that moment – nothing else mattered.

I knew that I was deeply in love. I remembered looking down into the vivid blue eyes of my newborn son as time seemingly stood still. I remember the hope and the excitement that filled me as the dreams that I held for my son overwhelmed me and filled me with a compassion that I couldn’t explain or contain.

I made a promise that day. I promised my little boy that I wouldn’t allow anything to hurt him and that I would be his number one supporter no matter what.

Ten years on – I’m being held to that promise and I mean it as much today as I did back then.

I will not give up on him.

I will fight this until the bitter end.

******

Today I managed to secure an appointment with a new doctor for next week. I am trying a completely different tactic and have decided to go private and pay whatever it takes for the best help that I can possibly afford. So fingers crossed that this route turns out to be more successful than the nightmarish waste-of-time health professionals that have let us down time and time again in the past.

I would also like to thank those of you who have reached out to me recently via text, messaging and phone calls, I sincerely appreciate the support while I weather yet another storm in this mental health/autism/anxiety roller coaster ride and I apologise to those whom I have let down or not given enough attention too.

Please forgive me and know that I am doing the best that I can.

Love you all muchly. x

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5 reasons that autism has made me a better mother.

boys and Fi StairsSince today is Mother’s Day, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share this post that I’ve had in my head for a while.

I’ve written many times about how you feel as a parent when you first receive that autism diagnosis and about having either an accompanying sense of relief because you finally have answers, or the overpowering grief at the loss of the dreams that you one held for your child and their future.

I discovered that when you become an autism parent you are left with the choice to either allow it to drown you or make you a better person. I drowned for many years. Far too many years actually – and even now – I still have days where I’m treading water and struggling to stay afloat but I’m not going to write about that stuff now. Tonight my post is going to be focused on all of the ways that I have noticed that autism has made me into a much better mother.

 Autism has made me a better mother because:

 1. It has caused me to slow down, to have patience and to be thankful for the little things that other people often take for granted.

I have always been an impulsive person. I like to live in the moment and I don’t like to plan ahead. My personality likes to make things up as I go along and you could describe me as someone who ‘wings it’ a lot of the time. I get agitated when I have to wait as I am incredibly impatient and my attention span (or lack thereof) often causes me to miss the finer details and skip over the boring stuff and I just want to get to the final destination having as much fun as I can along the way.

But then autism entered my world and turned it on it’s head.

I clearly remember a day many years ago when Harley was very small, probably about 4 or 5 and we were going for a walk to the park together. I just wanted to get there already and turned around every few minutes to tell him to hurry up. He was dawdling and was frustrating me because he kept crouching down and looking at the concrete path. He would stop every few steps and stare at the ground completely oblivious to my voice and my directions.

He was in his own world and his little face was etched with wonder and delight so eventually I crouched down beside him to see what was fascinating him so much.

He grabbed my hand and squeezed it and pointed (he still had very little discernible speech at this age) and then touched my cheek to turn my head to look at him. Then he smiled broadly and said: “Anz Mummy. Anz are cweeping an dey cawwy food to da hole”.

And my gaze was directed to the line of hundreds of ants who were all carrying crumbs from a sandwich – that was discarded on the side of the road – into their ant’s nest about half a metre away from where we knelt.

In that moment I realised that maybe going to the park was MY plan and that my little boy was having just as much fun watching these ants as I had imagined he would have at the playground. So we sat down and watched these stupid ants for probably another hour or so until he became tired. We never got to that playground that day but my boy was happy.

I learnt that day that my kid was never going to be like all the other kids. I learnt that he didn’t care much for playing with other children at the park but that he was able to find his happy place on a cracked footpath in the middle of suburbia with his Mama sitting right there beside him waving at the passing cars.

We have MANY moments like this in our house. The boys often being hyper focused on one small detail and become absorbed by whatever has taken their attention. Their autism and attention to detail has helped me to slow down and appreciate the beauty in everyday life that I would otherwise miss because I am always in too much of a hurry.

2. Autism has given me given me a deeper compassion for those who struggle in life.

It is often said that autism, like many other disorders such as ADHD, ODD, OCD etc are “invisible disabilities”. Meaning that unlike a child in a wheelchair, it’s not always obvious that the child has an impairment.

So these children are often expected to be like ‘every other kid’ and are told that they’re making excuses or being lazy when they are unable to conform to society expectations or when their sensory system is playing havoc because of their surrounding environment.

And that is rough.

I have experienced it first hand by hearing nasty comments aimed at both me as a parent and at my melting down child. I have also heard it from friends of mine who are now adults on the spectrum and this makes me sad.

They are frequently misunderstood and judged unfairly because they “look” just like everyone else and they are overlooked and labeled as ‘freaks’ ‘weirdoes’ or ‘attention seekers’ because of the massive lack of awareness and understanding for their struggles and the impact that it can have on their daily lives.

And I wouldn’t have the insight that I do into these difficulties and challenges that these guys face every day if I wasn’t privileged enough to experience autism first hand and see that there is always a lot more going on than what the naked eye can see.

Since becoming a mother to children with autism, I have learned to ALWAYS give the benefit of the doubt and to extend compassion in situations that I may have been judgmental towards previously.

3. Autism has helped me to stop and see the bigger picture instead of getting stuck on the ‘hard’ that’s directly in front of me.

 

I’m trying to write a positive post here but it kinda goes without saying that often autism is ROUGH. Not just on us as a family but also on my children when they are thrust into unfamiliar or frightening situations.

It can be very tempting to wallow (and I still do) when one of my kids is having a hard time but I’m learning (albeit slowly) that progress is what I should always shift my focus to when times like this hit.

I have learnt to cast my mind back to when Harley (particularly) was a lot younger and the mere thought of entering a supermarket would send chills up my spine. Back in those days he wouldn’t be able to manage more than a few minutes inside before the head banging, the screaming and the crying would begin and I would beat a hasty retreat defeated and depleted.

But those days are no more.

Sure, we still encounter public meltdowns, but these days I am more equipped, he has learnt better coping mechanisms and I have learnt to read his vital signs and know when it’s time to leave and on most occasions – either redirect him or get out before the explosion occurs.

By mentally giving myself a talking to and choosing to look at the progress, I am able to see just how far we’ve all come instead of allowing the current “hard” to overwhelm me.

4. Autism has shown me than I am stronger that I would have ever believed and a lot tougher than I ever gave myself credit for.

I have experienced very high highs and extremely low lows. I have watched my child struggle to talk, to breathe, to eat, to sleep, to socialise, to learn, to ‘fit in’, to dress himself and to just survive and that does something to you.

That destroys a part of your heart. It is SO HARD to watch a piece of you battle constantly and be unable to take their pain away.

I have fought the government, schools, teachers, doctors, specialists, other parents and friends and I haven’t always won but through these challenges I have learned that I AM ENOUGH.

Because enough doesn’t mean that my house is always spotless. Enough doesn’t mean that I will always keep my cool and never yell at my kids.
Enough doesn’t mean that my marriage is perfect. And enough certainly doesn’t mean that I have got it all together, but enough means (by definition) “as much as required.”

‘Enough’ means to me, that though there’s rarely any of me left over at the end of each day – my kids are fed, they are healthy and for the most part – they are happy. Taking on board the concept that ‘I am enough’ has brought me such freedom and peace.

And lastly;

5. Autism has allowed me to grow into the mother that I am today.

I had to make the decision years ago to either sink or swim because autism clearly wasn’t going anywhere. So I threw myself into learning whatever I could about how my boy’s brains are wired so that I could approach mothering them from an educated and informed position. I came into this knowing nothing about autism and had to make the choice to either be an involved parent, or leave my ill-equipped kids to navigate this scary world on their own. As I wrote earlier; I am not motivated or organised by nature but autism has given me the opportunity to develop these skills and become a better and less selfish person. You cannot be a good parent of any child if you continue to put yourself first and this was a hard lesson for me to learn but I am SO glad that I did.

 

Starting Again

image via morguefile.com

image via morguefile.com

I know I haven’t blogged regularly in over 18 months and that my posts on my FB Page have been few and far between. And I’m a long way from the twice-daily blogger that I used to be on my old (no longer existing) blog, and whilst I miss it – I realise that my life is no longer where it was back then and that I needed to do what I needed to do to look after myself and my family.

I (we all) really needed to heal more than anything else. Autism has continually kicked all of our butts in a big way and my son went (and continues to go through) some pretty major struggles with his mental health that meant that blogging and sharing about our life was not even do-able let alone wise.

Not only did the blog suffer – I also deleted my personal Facebook profile and laid low because I simply wasn’t able to be what people expected of me (or what I had imagined they did) so it was much easier to just hide than deal with the questions and the digging.

In the past 2 years, (especially) I’ve experienced quite a lot of personal hurt and heartache that still smarts occasionally, but I now understand that I needed to go through it all in order to grow and develop my character. It completely sucked going through the mill but for me to begin to deal with the severe and major depression that I had fallen into – it was a necessary path because it has showed me that I’m a lot tougher than I ever thought I was and I can cope with more than I ever thought possible.

I don’t let people intimidate me as much as I used to and I have decided to use my experiences as a lesson in what NOT to do from now on when I blog.  So many other autism parent blogs have disappeared lately because of the spike in online trolling and name-calling, but I refuse to small allow a group of outspoken, judgemental autism parents steal away my voice. Especially when I gain so many therapeutic benefits from writing.

I have such wonderful kids who continue to challenge me to be a better mother and who teach me far more than I could ever teach them and my boys have ben showing such wonderful progress and I just can’t wait to share it all here.

I am no longer angry, nor am I seeking revenge and I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was this time 12 months ago and I have so many good things to write about.

But not tonight. Tonight I must SLEEP!

Sunflowers

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 4.05.15 pmRecently a close friend of mine lost her brother in a tragic car accident, which is a terrible thing for anyone to have to live through.

There will never be any words that I could say to her to make it hurt any less and the only thing that I could ever do for her is hug her, be there for her and pray for her. I really wish I could do more. I can’t speak from experience but I imagine that her pain would be very different to mine because of the shock factor and the sheer sudden-ness of it all.

Because when we lost my Dad, he was already very sick so even though I didn’t allow myself to think “what if” very often, it was always something that hung around in the back of my mind. Then when the cancer started to grip him more and he became noticeably sicker – that thought then started to creep further and further into my conscious mind, which was – in a sense – some kind of preparation I suppose.

Sadly, my friend simply wasn’t afforded any of that. She was given no time to say goodbye, no warning and her brain wasn’t given months (or weeks) to mentally prepare for the shock. Her world changed in an instant and her heart, emotions and brain were literally thrown in the deep end and told “COPE” or else.

I caught up with that friend last week, it was the first time I had seen her since the dreadful passing of her brother. On my way to the restaurant, I was praying for her (like I do for all of my friends) and the thought occurred to me that I should buy her some flowers for no reason other than to say: “You are loved”.

It was also exactly 2 months since losing her brother and I didn’t want to make her focus too much on that but wanted her to know that she means something to me and flowers seemed like the perfect way to do it. So I walked into the shop and started chatting with the florist as I admired the many bunches of bright colours that surrounded me. I was clearly overwhelmed for choice so the lady then asked me if she could help me to make a decision.

She asked me what the occasion was so I told her that it was an anniversary for my friend and left it at that. The florist got to work bringing me bright bunches of gerberas and carnations and roses, which were all pretty but none of them felt “quite right”.

Then suddenly my eyes went to a bunch of sunflowers that were wrapped in red paper over in the back corner so I walked over and picked them up excitedly. Noticing this the florist said: “They’re nice aren’t they but they’re not really what you’re looking for. How about this bunch they are $5 cheaper too and much more cheery”. I glanced at them and agreed that were certainly more exuberant but I was still strangely drawn to the sunflowers and just couldn’t explain it?

Maybe it was the red paper around them that I liked, or maybe it was because I LOVED sunflowers when I was 18? Maybe it was bringing back memories of the quilt cover and curtains that I had appliquéd with sunflowers to decorate my very first flat when I left home?

Whatever it was – I KNEW that the sunflowers were the ones that were coming with me that day. I HAD to have them and there was no talking me out of it. So I paid for them and starting walking toward the restaurant where my friend was waiting.

I walked in and handed them to her saying: “I’m sorry if sunflowers aren’t your thing but I really needed to get these for you and I just can’t explain it any better than than that. It was more of a compulsion that anything but you know how impulsive I can be so I figure you’d understand.”

I waited for her response CONVINCED that she was going to laugh at me and tell me what a loon I was but instead, she smiled and thanked me.

The after we’d sat down at our table, she pulled out her phone to show me a photo that she just needed to show me. It was a photo that she took the day that she arrived home from her brother’s funeral and she told me that it would blow my mind.

She was right.

This photo was the evidence of something that she’d begun before receiving that phone call that changed her life forever. It was a photo of the sunflowers that she’d planted in her front garden that she thought she’d never see but they had bloomed in memory of her brother whilst she was attending his funeral and they were standing proud and tall waiting for her to get back home to admire them. I was almost lost for words. Amazed.

But I will say this: I refuse to put this down to mere coincidence because I simply wouldn’t have gotten to the place where I am right now if it weren’t for the knowledge that God is present even in the seemingly small and insignificant details of our lives both lately and even when I refused to acknowledge it.

With all the hurt, pain, lies and backstabbing that I’ve experienced in these past few months I can honestly say that He has brought me through just like He promised He would when I had thrown myself down at his feet in desperation. Never will He leave me, never will He forsake me and for that – I am truly grateful.

Neon signs and Eyebrows.

image via morguefile.com

image via morguefile.com

Today I got my eyelashes stuck together with hot wax and also somehow managed to wax off almost half of one eyebrow. All because I got momentarily distracted. It turns out that having poor eyesight and trying to do this with my glasses off wasn’t my smartest move!

I’m quite clever I know, and anyone who knows me well will attest that I am not known for my attention span, but today was a particularly bad one and I have one and a half eyebrows to prove it.

After I’d googled “how to remove wax from your eyelashes without pulling them out” (yes I really did) and I had read hundreds of ridiculous remedies, I eventually decided to try cutting it out with manicure scissors.

Yeah, that wasn’t my finest moment, either – so now, not only am I missing half an eyebrow, I also have only got a few small eyelashes on the opposite eye!

Oh my goodness I look quite a sexy beast I can tell you!

Then after I’d spent another ten minutes laughing at myself in the mirror, I jumped in my car and went down to the pharmacy to buy myself a set of fake lashes and an eyebrow pencil and I plan to google “how to draw an eyebrow” next.’

So I was telling this story to Paul tonight, and after he’d picked himself up off the floor from laughing he said: “Wow Fi, this would have devastated you only a few months ago. It would have had you in a total mess”.

He was right.

If something like this had have happened only as recently as a few months ago, I would’ve been a complete basket case. It would have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and would have pushed me over the edge because I was already standing on a very thin balance beam between coping and completely losing my mind.

But a lot has changed here recently and it takes ridiculous mishaps of the grooming variety like this for me to be able to realise just how far not only *I* have come, but how far all of us have come.

Many of you know that my boys started at their new school last week.

It was something that I knew in my heart of hearts had to happen but I kept putting it off because I was so incredibly afraid of change. But the story surrounding my final decision to move them is actually quite remarkable and I now feel ready to share a little bit of it here with you guys; my loyal readers.

It was back last November when I finally realised that things had reached a point with Harley’s OCD and anxiety disorder when he was referred to see a psychiatrist after saying some very troubling things to us. I won’t go into details of what he told us but suffice to say that it was enough to warrant immediate attention and enough to cause me to draw a line in the sand and look for a new school for him.

My Mum was visiting at the time and we spent literally hours researching schools, visiting campus after campus and making phone call after phone call, when one morning as I was I sitting opposite her in a cafe I said to God aloud: “I’m tired of chasing dead ends and I’m exhausted from trying to figure this out. Please give me a neon sign because I’m not in a place where I can pick up on subtle hints, I need something obvious. Give me a neon sign answer”.

I had no idea how powerful that prayer would turn out to be.

A few minutes after asking God for a sign, I got a phone call from my sister and she asked me why I hadn’t considered sending the boys to the local public school? I gave her the same stock standard answer that I gave everyone who asked me that question: “Because I’m afraid that the boys won’t get the education that they deserve”. Amongst other things that I really, really didn’t want to tell her.

But the truth was – I was probably just being an uninformed and clueless snob. It’s not that it is a bad school that my children are zoned to, it’s just that, ok yeah – I WAS being a snob and I clearly had my head so far up my butt that I just couldn’t see any sense.

So I told my sister that I would at least consider it because I knew deep down that she had a point and I was fast running out of options.

She then asked me to tell her exactly what it was that I didn’t like about the public school so eventually; I told her what else had been troubling me.

I could hear the loving smile in her voîce as she pointed out that the two main reasons that I gave her were actually both already happening at the Independent school, and she then pointed out that we were paying bucket loads of money for it! So in her words: “It can’t possibly be worse, and even if it is – at least you’re not paying for it”.

{I couldn’t argue with that logic and it turned out that this particular conversation ended up being the catalyst for several other decisions that I was able to make straight afterwards}.

So Mum and I finished our coffees and she suggested that we drive past the local school on our way home ‘just to have a look’ so I agreed. We talked in the car on our way there and I had started to reach a point where I was willing to give anything a go because I just didn’t have any peace about any of the schools that we’d visited.

I pulled up out the front of the school and climbed out of the car and started walking toward the administration office when I stopped dead in my tracks because out the front of the school was a flipping NEON sign with the words:  “Enrolling for 2014” and I started laughing.
I’d driven past this school countless times and never once had I ever noticed that sign before!

Mum and I looked at each other grinning ridiculously and I knew right then that I had my answer. It was unmistakable and I knew that there was no denying that God certainly had a sense of humour and that this was the place the boys needed to go.

So I went in and filled out the application forms on the spot and had a meeting with the Principal and Learning Support Head Teacher only a few days later.

At that meeting, they looked over all of the boy’s paperwork and put plans in place to transition them into the school almost immediately. They told us all about the programs that they ran for children on the spectrum and assured us that they would do everything in their power to bring Harley’s grades up where they needed to be.

They also told me that several of their teachers had just completed autism specific training and they promised to place each of the boys with one of the teachers.

And they did!

It’s now been almost 2 weeks since they started at their new school and both of the boys are absolutely loving it there. They are both coming home at peace, happy and the aggression and anger that we had become so accustomed to has vanished completely.

The stress and angst and anxiety that was permanently etched on Harley’s face has disappeared and he has become the gorgeous little boy that I knew was always hidden behind the agony that he had learned to live with.

He didn’t know that school could be this great and my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.

And me. Well, I have been able to wean off the anti-depressants that have been my constant companion for years because these days, I just don’t have the same levels of stress that my poor body had become used to.

Things certainly aren’t perfect in other areas, but I am now able to look in the mirror at my one eyebrow and laugh at the lack of eyelashes because I KNOW that in the grand scheme if things that this is really no big deal.

I can see now that things are definitely only going to get better and better. And that my friends: is HUGE!

But even after watching several tutorials on youtube, I still look like a bit of a circus freak so it looks like I’ll be sticking to the LARGE framed sunglasses for a while whenever I’m in public. If you know what I mean 😉

Addendum: psst – I got a job today too.
YAY!

Midnight Musings…

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 2.42.39 pm

 

 

 

 

1. Sometimes, it’s nothing you have or haven’t done that cause grief and heartache to enter into your life.
They just do.

2. There will always be some things in life that you will never find answers for, and you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure them out. Learn to be satisfied with not knowing everything.

3. Trying to work out the intentions and motivations behind other people’s words and actions is virtually impossible and turns out to be a massive drain on both time and energy.

4. One of the hardest things in life is pushing through depression and continuing to put one foot in front of the other when all you want to do is curl up into a tiny ball under the covers and cry.

5. You can preach autism awareness until you’re blue in the face but there will always, ALWAYS be those who will never ‘get it’ , those who REFUSE to ‘get it’ and sadly – a group of people who just don’t give a crap and you’ll never ever change them no matter what you say or do.

Making peace with this last group of people is vital for moving on and making progress. Cutting toxic people out of my life seemed harsh at first, but you can’t grow beautiful flowers in polluted, murky water.

And a bonus point:

6. Writing out my inner most thoughts at midnight may not turn out to be my best ever idea  😀

Life Lessons from 2013

I was thinking today, that I’d like to sit down and write a little about what I’ve gained in the area of life-lessons from last year
So what did it teach me? Here are the top 3 things.Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 2.45.44 pm

1. God is everything.

Not religion, not church, and not just “faith”. I’m not talking rules and regulations here, nor am I talking legalities and requirements to do or say anything but a personal and truthful relationship with God.

With all that has gone on in my little family, He has remained a steadfast and strong rock for me to collapse on to time and time again. And this year I have collapsed a lot. Mentally, emotionally and even physically I have been pushed past my limit many times but through all my personal trials: God has been a constant source of strength and comfort.
I’ve had far too many friendships and relationships go pear-shaped this year and I have been baffled by most of them. I have found myself treading water on many occasions, but every time, EVERY TIME He has caught me and set my feet upon solid ground.

2. I’ve learned that I am enough.

I, (like the rest of you) will probably never be able to successfully juggle three kids, special needs, keeping house, working and studying all at once, but as long as I continue to do my best in all of those areas – that is enough.

Because enough doesn’t mean that my house is always spotless. Enough doesn’t mean that I will always keep my cool and never yell at my kids.
Enough doesn’t mean that my marriage is perfect. And enough certainly doesn’t mean that I have got it all together, but enough means (by definition) “as much as required.”

 

So ‘enough’ means to me, that though there’s rarely any of me left over at the end of each day – my kids are fed, they are healthy and for the most part – they are happy. Taking on board the concept that ‘I am enough’ has brought me such freedom and peace.

3. I don’t have to be like everyone else.

This last one is similar to the above point (I am enough) but refers more to me personally. It refers to the fact that I am owning the parts of my personality and character that are unique and unusual and not following the crowd and I am starting to be ok with that. I’ve spent far too many years worrying that I am not like the rest and beating myself up for what I once considered to be character flaws.

For example: I admit that I am more emotional than your average Joe. I cry more, I take more things personally and I react to things that other people can just let slide. I take longer to get over things than most people, I get hurt more easily and I try to make everyone like me. I don’t cope when people are mean and I over-analyse EVERYTHING inside out and back to front until it turns my brain to mush and I end up in a crying soggy mess on the floor.

But on the flip side- I am extremely loyal to those whom I love to a fault. I forgive more times than people deserve it and I give second, third, fourth and so on chances when other people would have just written someone off. Even if I cut contact with someone to protect myself, I will always let them back once the dust has settled. It’s just who I am. And because of this, I will probably continue to get hurt time and time again, but this is me and this is how I’m made: and God doesn’t make junk.

I am learning to shake off what some people close to me have said and have started to see myself as God views me.

And the lastly: (3a if you like?!)

Autism is always going to be a part of my life.

It’s true – my boys won’t magically lose their diagnoses but they will continue to learn where they fit in this world. Slowly I am learning to embrace it and let it shape me. Autism can be a really huge pain in the butt, be heartbreakingly difficult and can rob my boys of so much but it is a part of who my boys are. I can dislike the difficulties that it brings them and my family but it doesn’t change my love for them at all.

Autism is no longer the big scary “A” word that it once was and for that I am grateful.