Trying to co-exist as a productive adult with my kids because long gone are the days I could put them to bed early and get my own shit done in peace lol #thestruggleisreal
Trying to co-exist as a productive adult with my kids because long gone are the days I could put them to bed early and get my own shit done in peace lol #thestruggleisreal
No parent ever wants to admit that their child has development issues, is slower than the norm or ‘special’. We want our kids to be healthy, happy, and able. But sometimes it turns out that they need that extra bit of support and TLC to achieve their milestones.
Autism, however mild or severe, is one of the scariest words for a parent to hear.
When Etienne (2.5yrs) was younger, he did not like affection or people very much. If you got in his face you were met with an open palm slap. And if a stranger acknowledged him and said ‘Hi’, he would scream at them as if to say ‘get away from me’. We took it as normal for that time as our other son, Chance (4) also went through a ‘stranger danger’ stage previous “Stranger Danger” blog here . It seemed to drag on however, so David and I decided that we would make extra effort to teach our child to be more affectionate and be ok with eye contact. We purposely got in his face, we cuddled him regularly (even when he was blowing up about it), we put him to sleep making eye contact and used his hand to touch our faces embracingly. It took a little while but our efforts paid off and now our little man is great with eye contact, affection and social situations with new people. We also put him into the best school (pre-primary) that we could find that catered to smaller classes and the individual attention and found that he was slowly adapting and interacting with other children.
While making great progress, he’s also missed a fair few developmental milestones. 2.5 years and not pointing, only a few inconsistent words and only just started chewing his food properly, are probably the ones I worry about the most. David and I sought out help from a paediatrician who sent us to an ENT. At first they thought it was a hearing issue. 2 weeks of tests later, they told us his hearing was perfect. Etienne was just really good at ignoring people and sounds.
No hearing issue meant they had to look at the other side….the spectrum side of things. The speech therapist suggested we started to do some therapy to help him with the communication side of things, hoping that once he could speak, some of his other odd behaviour would fall away. By odd behaviour, I mean hand flapping and funny blinking and hand gestures which we have identified as ‘self-stimulating behaviour’ or ‘stimming’.
See sometimes kids ‘stim’ to entertain themselves and when they are bored they make up games for themselves. This becomes habit and their ‘go to’ reaction to some things and feelings. Sometimes kids (and adults) stim because of anxiety, excitement or for comfort. (nail-biting, doodling, pen clicking are common forms of stimming0. And sometimes it’s a sensory issue. The latter is the more serious. Anyway our kid was stimming and we needed to know why, because it felt like he was so distracted by these actions that he failed to notice us or situations that he should have been learning from and mimicking.
Speech therapy was progressing really slowly. I felt that I was driving him to the other side of town for a short controlled play session with a speech therapist and that until we could tackle the stimming problem he would not have the attention to learn to speak anyway. So after doing some more research I sought out an Occupational therapist to assess our little man.
The OT came over to our house to observe Etienne in his own comfortable environment. After spending a couple of hours watching, (Etienne pretended the OT wasn’t there the whole time), He told us we might be dealing with some mild sensory issues do with the vestibular and oral systems. The vestibular system relates to the child’s sense of under or over stimulation to movement (can explain hyperactivity). And the oral refers to mouth sensory processing (which may explain sensitivity to food textures and delay in chewing, speaking).
The OT gave us a questionnaire to fill out. The questionnaire that assesses your child’s development against the normal milestones of other children his age, and based on the results would determine how behind he was or how far on the spectrum (mild, moderate, high, severe) he would be classed as. An intervention plan is then derived from this information. “The good old questionnaire”: like many, I’m a big fan of ‘Dr Google’ and had taken many questionnaires similar to this one, so I already knew they would tell me that he would be mild to moderate… David and I have filled the questionnaire and have handed it back for scoring and are waiting for the OT to come back to us with results and action plan so I will keep you posted in the next blog.
The thing is, if we had taken this questionnaire 3 months back, there would be a whole lot of milestones that we would have ticked ‘not achieved’ and if we retook the test in 3 months time I’m 100% sure some of those answers would be different. I see the progress that my son is making, but it’s just a lot slower than other kids his age. David and I decided that the label that we put on him based on those results would be reserved for this current stage that he is in right now and not carried out forever. We will be reviewing those questionnaires often to keep the diagnosis accurate and current.
I find myself wishing that it is a behavioural issue or ADHD or just a social delay for which he can play catch up on, because as far as I have read and understood, Autism and ASD and sensory issues don’t go away or get cured, we can only learn how to manage them so it doesn’t affect everyday life and development. I find myself asking what I could have done better as a parent and sometimes the guilt is overwhelming…
So there it is, my last 6 months of anxiety summarised into a few paragraphs, in hopes that other parents, professionals, friends and therapists dealing with these kinda issues may offer their stories, advice and reassurance.
The biggest thing is: I’m here on an island (Mauritius) that has minimal support for these kind of issues, (parents here almost are in denial of children’s behavioural and sensory issues, because they are embarrassed and scared of being judged), and I know that if we want the best chance to turn it around, we need to intervene early. It makes me want to pack up and run back to Australia as fast as I can, but then, with the cost of living comparison, I might have to work so much that I may not have the time to dedicate to develop my child the way he needs there, like I have the time here. And what about how all this will affect my older child? Will all this time dedicated to Etienne mean we might overlook Chance’s progress or unintentionally make him feel neglected? And what if we can’t afford treatment?… So what do I do? Take things one step at a time and educate myself as much as possible… Fuck parenting is challenging sometimes…
Thanks for taking the time to reading my story so far… Please share and comment as you wish Xx
Today my son Chance had his half year assembly and presentation day. It was his and my first.
His class of 3 year olds came out and sang and recited a poem for a big audience of parents and friends. My son being my son of course, came out and went straight for the microphone and hogged it for the whole performance! I had to go up on stage to hold him back from taking the mic over from the other kids. It was hilarious. But the best part of it was when he looked out to the audience and saw me there. His face lit up and he shouted “Mum!’ and my heart was full.
It was optional but I attended. And I attended because I remember what it was like to be a kid and not have anyone show up to watch. My family couldn’t always make it due to work, lack of transport and other commitments and sometimes they did, but they were late. Even though it wasn’t them being intentionally nasty, as a kid, sometimes it felt very disappointing and even embarrassing.
So today I showed up for my kid. On time. And I was proud and happy for him and for all the other parents that I saw there showing up for their kids. I think that it is so important for them to know that there is someone there rooting for them, always, no matter how young or old or popular they are. It’s such a great confidence booster and builds so much trust.
So if you can make it. Show up. It might be boring. You might hate it. It might be an effort. It may be out of your way. Show up. And be early. And clap and be proud and excited for them. They’ll remember it for a long time.
Today my son showed me all of his work that was displayed on the walls at school, including the below drawing of the kitchen? He’s a creative one 🙂
I have 2 of them. Active little monkeys. 3 year old Chance and 2 year old Etienne. I actually don’t know where all of their energy comes from. Always touching, climbing, jumping off or destroying something! Sometimes I think they are on a mission to kill themselves. As parents of small children we barely have any energy left for ourselves at the end of the day, when we take our boys out, David and I get asked how do we keep up with them? Truth is we are pretty relaxed with our boys, often we let them figure it out for themselves. I mean that in a non-neglectful way of course. We give our boys the freedom to run, jump, dance, throw, wrestle, climb as they please. The rule is if its not gonna hurt them or put them in direct danger or destroy someones property, let them do it.
Children are meant to be seen AND heard. Every action and sound that they make in these first few years helps them to develop and learn. They are supposed to know how to climb — if you don’t let them they won’t learn. They are supposed to touch and feel objects to learn about textures and for mobility. The more they use their hands the better they get at it. They need to jump off things to practise landing on their feet. They need to fall to be able to learn to brace and pick themselves up. And sometimes they need to feel pain to learn how to cope with it. They are constantly creating new rules about what they can, can’t, should and shouldn’t do.
If you are constantly hushing your child every time he or she opens their mouth, your child may struggle with vocalising opinions and standing up for themselves in the future. If you don’t allow them to make mistakes they will assume that life is easy and naive. If you don’t let them take small risks now they will not learn to assess risk at a later stage. If you give them everything, they will expect it from everyone else. If you shelter them away from disappointment, rejection, loss and fear, they will struggle to create strong coping mechanisms.
So let them live. Let them play in the dirt, let them get dirty, let them hang from a tree, jump off the ledge. Just be there. Be there to make sure they are ok and safe, then be there to pick up the pieces.
Don’t worry too much about mess till the end of the day. Create a fun, safe and active environment for them at home. We like to cook, draw, play chasy, soccer, wrestle and dance with our kids. The whole family gets involved, even grandma! We take them to the mall, the park and the beach often because they need to get out. And when they are well exercised, they sleep better at night. And so do you 🙂
I’d love to hear about how other parents deal with active kids, so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Ok so I’ve spent the last 10 months on this tiny island of Mauritius with my family, after spending the last 30 years in Australia. I think that Sydney is massively over-regulated and do like that there are far more freedoms offered to us here on the island, but one thing I think is a massive issue is that people do not seem to risk assess very well. It particularly annoys me when it affects the safety and well being of children.
The ridiculous risk taking that I have seen here in the last few months is beyond me. Especially on the road: Carrying full gas bottles or a plastic tub of kerosene on a motorbike, massive rice sacs flopped over a pushbike – riding in traffic, people who choose not to use a blinker, or a seat belt or shoes and a bunch of workers riding unsecured (standing) in the back of an open truck.
I drive Chance to school every morning and pick him up every afternoon. The amount of parents that let their kids ride in the car without a seat belt or an appropriate car seat is crazy. It is not law to have to wear a seat belt in the back seat here. But why the Fuck wouldn’t you? Why the fuck would you let your child stand on the passenger or back seat of your car whilst driving. I’ve seen this twice this month. Where are your fucking parenting skills? How do you not see the risk in this and why don’t you know better? As parents we have the responsibility to appropriately assess any situation and make sure our kids are safe before anything. But its like some people have the “It won’t happen to me” attitude and that is how they are navigating through life. Until that unfortunate day that your child flies through the window-screen. No one wants to see a child injured or worse. So parents, For Fucks Sake, take extra precautions to ensure their safety, even if the cost is a litte higher. You can always make more money, but you will never be able to replace a child you’ve lost.
I’m going to list a few points based on the things I’ve seen here in hopes to enlighten some people (maybe education is what is lacking):
On the road
Out and About
In the Kitchen
Around the house
This is just a start of a list. There is so much more I could add. Above all, Parents, teach your children how to be safe, play safe, and look after themselves and others. Teach them how to identify risk. And when you ask them not to do something, explain why. They are sponges to information and will learn quickly how to keep safe if we put in the effort into teaching them.
Do you ever look at your kids and think “I can’t believe I made that”? I think that to myself almost every day. My question to other mums & dads is : Does that feeling/thought ever go away??
There are so many opinions circulating when it comes to potty training your kids. My mum told me that I was out of nappies at 9 months! 9 Fucking months!. At 9 months, I was just happy to have kept my baby alive and well fed (lets just say I wasn’t too good at looking after my plants). So I put my son Chance on the potty for the first time at 8 months old. A picture says a thousand words:
Yep, that right there is a mortified ‘What the fuck is happening?” face on my baby. They say potty training at a young age is more like training adults to look out for when your kid needs to go, rather than you training them to go to the potty. I’m sure there are a lot of parents (including mine) that are successful getting their kids out of nappies that young, however I wasn’t going to sit there all anxious and wait for a wee (which can happen every 15 mins in a baby) or a poo to arrive so I can catch it. I really do want more out of my life.
So after a few tries, I hung the potty up. I read somewhere that waiting for your child to be able to communicate with you can be more of an effective way to potty train. And also waiting for him to show signs of wanting to potty train would be a good idea. That sign might be baby doing a shit and then taking his nappy off himself and throwing it on the ground. Every. Time. (So much fun for mum and dad!!).
So I actually ditched the potty altogether. My cousin said to just put him straight on the toilet (getting a smaller training seat to put on the toilet so he doesn’t fall in helps too). At 2 years old I put him on the toilet as much as possible. He wasn’t afraid of sitting on the toilet and it made clean up really easy. Nappies were out and Nappy pants were in. These are the 3 brands, that I recommend:
Problem is my son was late to talk and so he was unable to let us know when he needed to go so we were still watching for the poo faces (which is like sweaty fear & shame expressions). Regardless, we had a good go at 2 years old where most of the time we took him for a wee he went, and poos, maybe 50%. We celebrated wee wee and poos with stickers and stamps. YES PEOPLE YOU MUST CELEBRATE/REWARD THAT WEE/POO IN THE TOILET. This makes your child want to go there again.
It’s may now and Chance is 3. He started at pre-primary and I’m really happy to say that he’s in his final stages of potty training. It was so much easier with the support of his school. He went to school with undies on (no nappy) and pretty much shit his pants everyday for a whole week. Poor teachers. But he was wee-ing consistently in the potty or toilet when we took him there. The one day, he just got up and did a wee in the potty on his own. This has been one of the highlights of motherhood so far!. Afterward, he came to me and said “wee wee in the potty”. Yes he did! VICTORY!! And since then he’s been good with the wees.
The poos were a little more difficult. It was like he didn’t really know when he wanted to go until he had already started, and then he would hide or say ‘poo’ with full undies – SO NASTY… But I messed up a little. And so I will tell you guys so you might learn from my mistakes. I got really stroppy with him a few times when he had a poo accident. “Why did you poo in your undies? I told you to poo in the toilet. NO MORE POOS IN YOUR UNDIES” I would snap. And then one day with tears in his eyes, he said to me “I’m sorry”. My 3 year old child was sorry that he let me down. I felt like the worst mum in the world. So now when those accidents happen I try not to show my frustration. I get down to his level and say ‘it’s ok’, clean him up and point out how poos are yucky and need to go in the toilet. I repeat ‘poos are for the toilet, not for your undies’ calmly. And when he goes to the toilet he still gets lots of praise from all of us adults at home.
And there it is peeps. It’s not rocket science to potty train your kid. Consistency is everything. My hot tips are:
Chance is out of nappies now, except for when he goes to bed. Even with nappy pants on, he gets up to go to the toilet. I’m so proud of his progress and I can’t wait till we can axe the nappies altogether.
If anyone else has any potty training tips to add, please comment below. I would love to hear your experiences.
Good luck with it!
Let’s be honest. Kids are grotty. Their hands have touched and poked random crap out of curiosity, they sweat buckets from playing, the are professional nose pickers (he literally handed me a booger yesterday), and most have yet to grasp the idea of covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing.
My 3 year old started school 2 weeks ago. In 2 weeks I’ve kept him home 3 days, 2 separate infections, the first, fever and sore throat, and the second, a cold/cough… Both times he’s almost lost his voice.. Apparently I’m getting off easy… I haven’t experienced ‘Attack of the school gastro’ yet. (And I’m heavily crossing my fingers).
I started to think that maybe schools and other kid areas are dirty and gross and aren’t well kept. I send my child to a private and brand new (newly built in December last year) school with a small amount of students. There are only 10 kids in his class and still he has picked up the germies. He also got sick in the small time frame I sent him to childcare in Sydney. Surely they (all schools etc) cant be germ infested holes.
I’ve been reading up this stuff and have come to the conclusion that:
Kids are just gross (including mine) and germy
They soak up infection and bacteria like sponges
They have low immunity if they don’t mingle with the rest of the world.
So what to do?
Apparently, not much. I can boost my kid’s immune system by feeding him veggies or if he doesn’t like a variety of them, get him on some chewy kid vitamins. I can teach him to regularly wash his hands (which is no problem, Chance doesn’t like his hands dirty anyway). I can show him to cover up when sneezing & coughing and I can shower and clean him regularly (at least once a day).
Also I’ve heard the more he interacts with other kids and gets sick, the better immunity he will have to infection later on.
So let your kid be social, don’t stress too much if they eat a bit of dirt and roll through those minor infections, it is said to be good for them.
And for Fs sake, if your kid has a contagious something, please don’t send them to school to infect mine…The attack of the school germs is not fun!
I’ve added a guide below
Lastly, if anyone has any tips on how we can battle through this please comment below. I would love to know how you have coped with the germ factor.
I started this blog awhile ago in hopes of sharing some of my thoughts and opinions on being a new mum and creative parent. The truth is I’ve been so busy being a mum and a creative the time got away from me and the posts… well I just looked at the last on and gosh…3 years ago!!
Ok so. I’m sorry for going MIA and I’m really happy to say that I’m back on track with it all. So how have you been going?
Chance is 3 now and has a baby brother Etienne who is 2 years old (yes David and I have been busy) And we’ve made a pretty big change. We’ve taken our family out of Sydney and moved to the tiny and beautiful island of Mauritius to spend more time with them and pursuing our creative passions. You see, Sydney became all about working to survive and things got tough for us. I realised that my inspiration was suffering and that to keep us afloat I would have to work full time and miss out on time raising my boys.
The hardest decision of my life was to leave my home and friends and family in sydney for the islands. We’ve been here 8 months now and although sometimes I miss the big city and my friends (mostly my friends), I feel as though we made the right decisions.
So here we are now, a completely different environment and a completely new life. I spend my time here gigging, writing music, online (skype) teaching and managine artists. And recently I’m back on the blogging. The Boys are doing great. They love the sun and the sea and get lots of attention here.
In another post I will formally introduce my son Etienne because, well let’s just say he needs a full blog for his special self. We’ve been through so many challengers and wins over the last few years and I can’t wait to share some experiences with you. I’m trying to work out where to start actually, so I will ask the question to the readers out there: What would you like to know?
Leave me a comment 🙂
Here we are (]left to right) Chance, Etienne, My tribe and our new island home.