Dear Amy

"Your son has autism"

Is that what they said?  Was anyone with you? Were you expecting it?

I am so sorry that you feel devastated, but it's okay to feel that and other things, and please believe me, you will be okay too, and feel better soon.  Take a deep breath, this is not the end, it is just a new beginning, in a new place.

Your son is the same adorable little boy that he was last week.  Before his diagnosis.  He has not changed.  His diagnosis does not change him, it's just a label that explains the way he is.  It will give him access to help and services that he may need to become the wonderful little person that he is destined to be.  When you are ready, his diagnosis means that you can find support, help, advice and understanding.  He's only four, he has a whole wonderful childhood ahead to enjoy and experience, even though it may be different to the one you were expecting.

This is what I want you to know..

...Google is not your friend.  Try to stay away from it for now.  Yes, there is inspiration and hope out there, but also a lot of fear and misinformation.

...I can't promise that it will be easy, but it will get easier. You find strength you never knew you had and feel joy that you never thought possible.  Every achievement will be a celebration.

...Try not to think about the future.  Just enjoy the here and now, and help your son to enjoy every day too.

...Be sure to listen to your instincts and gut feelings. If in doubt, don't do it.  Thanks to The Bright Side of Life for this one.

...Many of the cliches about autism are true and important:

"Every child with autism is different" -- so what works for other families may be wrong for your son.  Sometimes the experts aren't right either.

"All behaviour is communication" -- so if your child is upset and uncooperative, there is a reason for that, he is not being difficult.

...There is a whole community of autism parents out there waiting to welcome you.  All you have to do is reach out your hand.

You are not alone.



For information

The National Autistic Society:

For support from other Mums



Blogs for information, support and therapies

Living with Autism (ABA):

Bright Side of Life (RDI):

Sing a Rainbow Too:

Facebook Pages

Hearts and Minds:

Irish Autism Action:


I wrote this (names changed) in response to a plea from a friend of mine in the UK.  If anyone has anything they think I should add, please put it in the comments, thank you x

Bear Grylls and other Reasons to be cheerful

Well the mid term break is over, and while I ended up exhausted, the kids had a great time, so I've plenty of reasons to be cheerful for this week..

Bear Grylls and other friends

My son got to see not one, but TWO friends during the week.

One visited our house, but I got them both outside for a walk too, so that was all good.

The second was a lovely day spent at a friend's house in Co Kildare: her adult son took his younger brother and my boy out into the woods to teach them 'manly' things like chopping branches and lighting fires.  The arrived back at the house hungry, dirty and happy.  My son loved it, and best of all, he wants to do it again!

A champagne celebration

On the very same day that Angel announced that she had passed all her mid year College exams, I found a bottle of Pink Cava in the wardrobe!  We had a lovely evening celebrating.  Huge apologies to whoever I bought it for...

Back in the Tots 100

Yes, I write for myself, and no, I don't do much to boost the popularity of this blog.  In fact I often hide posts if I don't think that people won't like them!

In case you don't know, the Tots 100 is a monthly index of 4000 or so parent blogs in the UK (and also Ireland), so I am always thrilled if I manage to sneak into the Top 100.

Lovely comments

This made my day earlier in the week ...

Ojos World

Silent Sunday 23.2.14

Beyond Tired

What shall I do today..

Do you ever wake up thinking that?

For me, it's been a very long time, maybe ten years.  I'm thinking of a weekend away in Cambridge with friends from the UK.  I cried on the way back to the airport.  Somehow I knew that it was not going to happen again.

The breaks in Wexford have stopped too, and with them that heady sense of freedom from real life as I headed south towards sun and sea, even with three kids in tow.  At home you can never escape the 'to do' list.  The cobwebs, the repairs, the therapy, the letters, the phone calls, the emails, the pressure that never ends.

Mid term has been fairly quiet, you would be shocked at how little we've done.  I've slept for almost 8 hours some nights.  Yet I feel exhausted.  Visiting a friend with the kids, I found it almost impossible to peel myself off her armchair, but I couldn't relax into it either!

I'm looking forward to school starting again next week, but the pressure won't go away.  It will just be different.  Instead of catering to the needs of my kids I will be:

Fighting the flab, finishing the plans for the wet room, removing the cobwebs, tidying the garden, sorting out the finances, attending appointments with the kids, cooking , cleaning, caring and plenty more things that are so far back in my diary that I've almost forgotten about them.

My tiredness is like my shadow, it's always there now, it waxes and wanes, but never goes away entirely.  I try to pace myself, I take an hour off here, 5 minutes there, but it doesn't make much difference

And yes, I'm going to meet a couple of friends for coffee this week, but my shadow will still be there, reminding me of what I could be doing, what I should be doing next.

That's why it's been mostly fun stuff on the blog, it's a place I can escape.  Proper writing again soon, I promise.  It's on my 'to do' list after all...

Still.  I can't get rid of my shadow, and I'm in a place called Beyond Tired.  I doubt I'll be leaving any time soon.

A cool or groovy Mum? Your decision...

Do you ever wonder what your children think of you?  Perhaps you don't want to know.  But despite our difficulties here, we do love each other, so I decided to ask them what - if anything! - was cool and groovy about me, after seeing the idea on Kate on Thin Ice (see below).   To cheer up a dullish midterm break dontcherknow.

If Smiley could talk, she would only say nice things.  I just know that.  You see she learned long ago that a winning and persistent smile is usually more effective than whinging or screaming if you want to get your needs met long term by people who care about you.

So I asked my two speaking children, and luckily they were able to come up with a few things....

1. She is 'sweet'.

2. She went on a rally car driving course for her 40th birthday.

3. She is smart.

4. Living in dodgy areas for 'the experience'. With money in her socks and walking home carrying bottles.

5. Helpful: she lets me wear her thermal socks.

6. Cool 1980s clothes that she lets me wear.

7. Good at baking, especially Brownies!

8. Running the London Marathon.

9. Always supporting the big decisions I've had to make.

10. Lots of enthusiasm when she get excited about something, and then she can't stop talking about it.

Can you guess who wrote which?

This post is inspired by the fab Groovy Mums initiative by blogger Kate on Thin Ice to help Mums to find and feel better about themselves. 

A not so Silent Sunday

This stopped me in my tracks when I saw it, and I whipped out the mobile.  I was quite excited!  Finally I had an interesting photo for Silent Sunday.  I think it looks like a shot from the polluted landscape of Mordor.  But it's not pretty, is it?  Or funny.  Nor does it include cute children or animals.  So perhaps it's better if I just quietly write about it here.

Have you guessed what it is yet?

It was taken yesterday.  I was feeling meh, and not at all like socialising.  So I took Smiley into town as a treat, and skipped the Rainbow Junior Arch Club where we normally go on a Saturday afternoon. There was shopping that needed to be done, the sort that you can only find in the odd little shops in the city centre, like feather dusters.  It was a success, and my gaffe will soon be cobweb-free.  Especially if I can persuade the children to get involved!

I'd parked in a residential street, just yards from where the shops begin.  It was dusk as we returned to the car by a different route.   But as we rounded the last corner, this is what lay between us and getting home:

I felt like Frodo and Sam, tired and hungry and trying to navigate around the potholes, but with a wheelchair too.

Another traffic calming scheme that has succumbed to terminal extreme weatheritis I think!

I love Dawn

Why do I keep doing it?  I don't have a camera, and I certainly don't have the time during the mad morning rush.  But I love dawn, and every time I glimpse a sky that is not grey or black or dull, I  grab my phone and run up to the attic to catch the moment.

It's also a sign that I'm feeling better about life.

When I was feeling low, I stayed up really late.  I didn't want to see the dawn, I didn't want a new day to begin.  I didn't want to be faced with the same set of problems and no solutions.  Now I've (mostly) accepted that my problems are not going to go away, and I've just got to deal with them.

I'm not quite ready to embrace each new day.  But I can face it fairly calmly, and deal with things as they are, not how I'd like them to be.

Who knew that you could see so many spectacular skies from over the Dublin rooftops?  Yet one day I hope to escape from the house while it is still dark and watch the sun come up over the sea.

I love Dawn.  Do you?

Better the devil you know and other reasons to be cheerful

It's been a humdrum kind of week, if you ignore the weather.  But we slept through the storms, and the house appears unscathed.  The best bit was the few flakes of snow we saw through the window, there was jumping up and down and clapping of hands, and that was just me!

But anyway, I've thought of a few reasons to be cheerful, and here they are:

Hot showers

Wonderful at the best of times, but even more enjoyable in freezing cold weather when the shower been almost unusable for months, as the flow slowed to a trickle, for the second time in the past year.  I was seriously thinking of replacing it, since I'm trying to get a wet room put in for Smiley.  I'll probably write about the saga of the wet room another time.  I bet you can't wait!

You see it's supposed to be a 'good' shower.  Or so everyone tells me.  And as I get older I get more and more suspicious of change, and always suspect that new things will be worse.  Better the devil you know, eh?  So I whipped out the cheque book, and spent an obscene amount getting it fixed again.  But oh it is so worth it, showering is a pleasure once again!


That's one of the things I miss about paid jobs.  You had the illusion of being appreciated.  Doesn't really happen at home as a mum and general drudge.

But it did the other day!

My son's precious gaming laptop developed a fault.  He googled it, of course, and tried a few things, and then gave up to despondency and started counting the days until his birthday.  So I waited until he was asleep, crept back downstairs and tried the most obvious solution.  Next day he couldn't believe it, and for at least five minutes I was up there in the superhero league along with Zelda, Link, Batman et al.  A proud Mammy moment of a different kind :)

The perfect leggings

I know, I know, I'm too old and fat to be wearing leggings.  But just imagine that I'm still a sveltish 25 year old, which incidentally was when I last owned a pair of amazing leggings, and I wore them until every seam was darned and the original colour was impossible to guess!  Anyway, I've found some more, in M&S of all places.  You know the kind, they're mega comfy, and still manage to improve on Mother Nature.   The idea is that - like a superhero again - I can leap into exercise mode any time I have time, or whenever my son gets an unexpected urge to do something active....

Finally, if you live in Dublin, keep an eye on the blog Facebook page, cos I've a very special giveaway to announce in the next couple of days :D

Ojos World

An Asperger's Diary for #AutismSunday

Today is Autism Sunday and there will be lots of posts about how awesome autism is, but for many children it can also be a daily struggle.  Here one Mum shares her diary of a few weeks in the life of her 9-year old with Asperger's...

(The diary has been edited with the author's permission and some details have been changed)

October 9th

As soon as he woke he said he didn't want to go to school.  That he deserved the day off after the weekend he'd had.  He said the school is lying, that he is under stress and is being naughty in school.  He tried to bargain with me, and say that if he went in today then he could have Thursday or Monday off.  But I kept going and giving him clothes and telling him when to get dressed and when to make his breakfast and I got him out the door.  My only concession was that I let him take him game boy with him on the bus.

October 10th

I didn't hear him the first time he called me this morning, so he went straight into anger and aggression mode.  Using every swear word he could think of.  I asked him what would calm him down.  A day off school was his reply, but I said no.  He said he'd do anything and continued to be angry and aggressive.  Kept the bus waiting and left for school with no breakfast.

October 11th

Today was a much better day.  He called me at 6.20am.  He got dressed, had breakfast, and even cleaned his teeth before going out to the bus.  No anger, no angry voices, nothing.  He did have trouble going to sleep though.

October 12th

He woke at 5.30, but at least he seems content and even happy.  I had a proper two way conversation with him over lunch and about music not computer games!  After dinner I had to go out for a few hours, but he refused to go to bed for the babysitter, so was still up when I arrived home at 11pm.  Tomorrow could be a bit tricky!

October 13th

He called me in for a cuddle about 6am and then we slept and chatted until about 7.30am.  He was on good form for most of the morning but got very angry for a few minutes when he crashed into a chair. "Why do I have to get hurt EVERY day!"

October 14th

This morning he called me wanting to get up and then the doorbell rang and I told him that I had to answer it.  He told me not to, and when I did, he swore at me.   He seemed happy enough coming in from school but then suddenly started to tell me how much he hates school.  He said that he wasn't going in tomorrow unless I went with him and asked for a meeting.

October 15th

He went to school today but only because I promised to go in too.  I did, but the Principal wasn't free to see me.  His teacher said again that he is fine in school and his behaviour at home is just a control thing.  I don't know what to think.

October 16th

He was very directive this morning.  "I want my hot chocolate."  "Where is it?"  He visited friends in the afternoon and came back very happy.  I was even able to give him a hug!  But when I said it was bedtime he went straight into meltdown mode with no warned at all!   I got him upstairs eventually, but there was lots of swearing and him telling me that I needed to see a therapist.

October 17th

Not too bad during the day, but all he did was play computer games.  He got angry at bed time even though I had agreed the time with him.

October 18th

I organised for him to see a friend tomorrow as he requested.  But then he said he wanted to move his consoles into the living room as the telly was better in there.   I said no way, and got a bit upset, asking him where did he get his sense of entitlement from?  Then I checked out a game he wanted to get and had to say no as it had so much inappropriate content.  He was not impressed.

October 19th

Instead of being grateful that he is finally getting to see his friend after about a year, he is angry because it's only for 2 1/2 hours!  He was on better form when I went to collect him and even said thank you and good bye without prompting.  Then when I went shopping later he helped to bring it in without being asked :)

October 20th

He came in from school after a run in with another boy who has apparently threatened to hurt him. I told him to talk to his teacher preferably when the boy is not watching.  He had a mark on his hand and said his wrist hurt, which needed lots of plaster tape and Nurofen before he would use it. It seems he refused to do school work on the strength of his sore wrist and was given extra homework as a result.

The school provides lunch to stop the boys eating rubbish, but he is now refusing to eat it saying it's horrible and while I put a drink in his bag he often forgets to drink that too.  So he is usually hungry and thirsty when he comes in, but getting to the point of forgetting what he is feeling.  So I asked him to finish the drink in his bag, and then I made him a very late lunch and he sat in the other room on his own for about 20 minutes to calm down. Then he came into the kitchen, but it was another 55 minutes before I could get him to start the homework.  It took him 45 minutes to do and I had to supervise it all, to keep him on task.   After dinner he went back into the other room.  About 8pm I went into him with a drink and a piece of dark chocolate.  Then it's bedtime.  I have to go with him while he does his teeth etc, then it's up to his bedroom.  I read him a story but he kept forgetting to listen, and tried to engage me in conversation about his games instead.  Then I said good night and sat on the end of the bed, waiting for him to go to sleep, so he is afraid of the dark.  This can take from 10 minutes to one and a half hours.

October 21st

I had to wake him up at 6.30, cant leave him any later or he gets angry.  I only had to wait 10 minutes this morning for him to get up though.

He came home in a bad mood from school, and refused to see his Dad following a half hour of arguing.  He seemed especially anxious and demanded that I go upstairs with him several times while he went to the toilet.  Once again he rejected the first dinner that I cooked so I had to make a second one.  But he was asleep by 9.45pm, which was good!

October 22nd

Now he needs me to tell him when I go to have a shower!  Because he gets scared if I don't answer when he calls, and he can't find me.  Got angry this morning and didn't want to go to school.  He said "Fix it, or I'm leaving."

October 23rd

He says that he is 'eternally depressed' and wants to stop eating and drinking, and not go to school, or so he says.  But he says he has to eat/drink to stop me taking him to the hospital.  It seems he saw something on YouTube.

October 24th

I watched the YouTube video and I still don't know why he is so upset.  This morning he is still saying that he will not eat today.   And I have school refusal to deal with again.   An hour of screaming this morning as he tried to get me to go into the school and tell them how terrible it is :(

October 25th

He's still trying for school refusal and threatening suicide in the morning :(   He chose to go to his Dad's this evening, and when he came home he told me that he wanted to call me but his Dad wouldn't let him.   He said that if he decides to live he doesnt want to see his Dad again either.

October 26th 

A massive meltdown before school.  I got hurt.  He doesn't want to go to school.  But he did and I promised to ring his psychiatrist to see if I could get some help.  I really hope that I can.

This diary did result in help from local autism services and things improved in the following months.

The door is not rotting and other reasons to be cheerful 6.2.14

Life is fairly quiet and dull chez blue sky right now.  The days are passing by.  Stuff happens that is annoying and frustrating, but nothing really newsworthy.  My 'blank mind' version of CBT is helping, as is the occasional glass of wine.  Life is okay, so some good thing must have happened, right?

This is what I've come up with for Reasons to be Cheerful this week....

A driving licence.

No, not for me, for Angel.  She only applied back in December when a new 'efficient' computerised system was introduced.  Or something like that.  Well her provisional licence finally arrived yesterday.  Once we have the 'L' Plates, I will have someone to share the driving with!  Am actually looking forward to it.

An escape attempt.

No, not really, but I did get out of here for quite a few hours on Tuesday, when myself and Angel went to see The Wolf of Wall Street.  Loved it, and my huge tub of Ben and Jerry's :D

My doors are not rotting

I have a lovely home, I know I do, but as someone who doesn't understand that internal working of houses (I do try), the slightest sign that something is amiss sends me into a tailspin of worry.  So when I saw this, I thought the worst.

Rot.  In windows that are only 13 years old!  Frantic checks of the bank balance to see how much was in there, would there be a choice of a wet room for Smiley or new doors?  It seems I overreacted.  Not for the first time!  Apparently all it needs is a little sanding and varnishing.  Sure I'll just add that to the 'to do' list....

Thanks to Ojo's World for hosting this month.

Ojos World


You lean against me, heavy limbed and droopy eyed.

Quiet, so quiet, too tired even to grind your teeth.

Slowly and gently your day clothes are removed, your comfy pajamas put on with hugs.

I roll you carefully into your sling.

And you greet the slow descent of the hoist arm with a slight smile.

Thanks Mum, it says.

The final proof that bedtime is here.

Up and down you go until you're resting on your pillow.

Pink of course.

I pull and push the foam sleep system until you relax in its snug embrace.

The duvet is up to your chin.

But wait.

What's that I see?

A little hand sliding out from under the covers to rest on your chest.  It's always this way.  Always the right hand.  

Another slow smile as I kiss your cheek.

Your heavy head rests softly down on the pillow, following the lead of your hand.  Everything goes to the right.  

Like a young sapling bent by the sea breeze.

My windswept girl.

Night, night.

**Wind-sweeping means the legs go over to one side - in Smiley's case, everything does!

Empathy, Teachers, Punishment, Education, Choice..

My son came in from school yesterday feeling sorry for one of his teachers.

(Note aspergers + empathy)

There was a different teacher taking one of the classes. She was lovely, he said.  But some at least of the boys spent the class shouting and running around the room.  Nothing she said would make them sit down and attend to the lesson, he said.

I don't recall this happening at my grammar school in the 1970s, but I imagine that it is the kind of thing that prompted a populist call by UK Education Secretary Michael Gove at the weekend to reintroduce old-fashioned punishments into schools.  The very idea makes my insides shrivel up.

He is reported to have said that "People need to understand that there are consequences if they break those rules and that teachers have the power to enforce them."   He suggested community service and even "appropriate physical intervention" to separate fighting students or to restrain unruly pupils.  I can't see many teachers or parents being happy about that idea!  Does Gove really think that an angry and resentful teenager will get up early for a pre-school detention?  I can't see my son doing it.  And who would supervise them picking up litter?  Any volunteers?

Of course it was all about generalisations and sound bites.

What is 'bad behaviour'?  And what do punishments actually achieve?

Before my son, I rarely had to think about behaviour that I found difficult, or how I would respond to it.  

If you're punished as a child what happens?  Here are some possible outcomes, feel free to suggest others.

1.  Nothing.  You learn to behave.  But are you behaving for the right reasons? Or just out of fear, not because you believe that it is the right thing to do?
2. You avoid conflict, and feel resentful and angry towards those who punished you.
3. You feel it is acceptable and necessary to punish others when you are big and strong enough to be able to do so.
4. You feel that the whole world is against you and see no point in even trying to conform to a society that gives you no breaks.

Should all parents bring up their children to be well-behaved and well-mannered and respectful?  Of course, but they don't or can't.  The parents may have problems, the children may have special needs, the family may be coping with enormous life pressures that take priority.  

So what should schools do?  Well if they are committed to providing a supportive environment where children can learn, then I believe that they have to - somehow- look at the individual needs of each child.

My son hates studying but loves learning - and scores of more than 90% in his favourite subjects show that I think.  He's back in school and enjoying it, but I'm under no illusions.  If he starts being punished once again, then I am afraid that things will slide.

I have huge sympathy for teachers.  And even though OFSTED say that most schools do not have to deal with these problems, apparently behaviour is the number one concern for the majority of teachers.  They do one of the most important and misunderstood jobs in the world, yet they are no longer respected by so many people.  It must be an impossible task at times to teach in a classroom of children with a variety of personal difficulties, many of whom would benefit from different teaching styles, and other accommodations, but I am not aware that most schools are able to achieve this.

Which brings me on to issue Number Two.  Why if there are lots of out of control children in classrooms up and down the country was Gove's next suggestion that they spend more time there?

45 hours a week in fact.

In an ideal world the idea of a 45 hour week for kids would be irrelevant.  Child rearing would be valued, Government and employers would willingly support the needs of families, and both parents would have the chance to fit their work around the needs of their children.

But we don't live in an ideal world.  So long as this is a choice, and not compulsory, this idea could be a life saver for many parents and some children too.  And remember, life changes, you may hate the idea now, but if you become a lone parent who has to work, you may long for something like this to make your life just a little easier.  This is who it could help:

1. Children who come to school unfed and unwashed because their parents are too sick or struggling with addictions or other problems to be able to look after them.  For those children, school is often a safe, warm place where they are fed and feel cherished.  I've seen it.

2. After school activities - once they are not coercive - may give many children opportunities to try things that would not otherwise be available to them.

3. Families headed by one or two parents who HAVE to work, perhaps because they are not entitled to benefits, or have huge mortgages, or are in debt to moneylenders, or are trying to fund expensive therapies for their special needs children, or are paying for nursing homes for elderly parents, or any one of a number of other reasons.

4. Parents who are afraid to stop work, who are in abusive relationships and need to know that they can support their kids if they have to leave.

5. Parents who cannot source good quality reliable childcare: I had to send my 6 year old son to a creche for July and August when the summer camp he was booked into was cancelled with 3 days notice.  Weekend days too.

The sad part of this whole debate is that the needs of the children are probably not uppermost in Gove's mind, as others have's all about the economy, stupid.

So what are the answers?  I've been too busy fighting for the educational rights for my own children with special needs to look closely at the bigger picture.  But I do know that too many children are being failed by the current system, and these proposals are not likely to help.

Some other blogs on this topic that I really like are:

The Alternative Blog Awards

You may have noticed that I'm rather partial to blog awards, I love nominating my favourites, though sadly they seldom win.

One of the problems is that most blog awards have very similar and rather dull categories.  

The alternative blog awards are different.  The brainchild of the wonderful @they feature some categories that you really wouldn't expect at all.

Sadly nominations close later today, but here's the link if you're interested:

So here are my nominations:

  • Blogger with the Snuggliest Boobs - boobie snuggling is not a big thing in Irish blogging circles in my limited experience.  Unless you're a bloggy baby of course!  So I'll have to pass on this one...
  • Best Bearded Blogger - has to be @datbeardyman.  He's currently vanished off social media and is writing his first novel in the wilds of Co. Kerry dontcherknow.  He blogs at
  • Blogger with the Hottest Arse - well I'm not sure how she will feel about this, but I'm thinking that I should nominate @ValOD1 for showing just how fabulous women of my age can look.  It takes work and discipline you know!  You can find her fabby blog here:

  • Most Boring Post on a Blog - I'm sure I've read some....but they were too boring to remember!
  • Blogger you'd most like to take home - too many to mention.  I'd really like to meet Heather from because she seems so genuine and lovely and I can see us flopping on a sofa for an evening with a large bottle of wine and not noticing the time passing at all.
  • Blogger that made you cry laughing in 2013 - has to be Jane at  No contest.
  • Angriest Blogger - this was difficult. I can think of one blog I read that has become annoyingly angry over the past 12 months, but maybe I won't go there.  Instead I will nominate the wonderful Sue March for which is angry in a good way about the targeting of people with disabilities for Government cuts.
  • Most Positive Blog/Feel Good Blog - What makes me feel good?  Often it's beautiful photos, and don't get better than these
  • Blog with the best life advice - I pick up life advice from all over, but one blog that I'm reading more and more is The name says it all...
  • Blog that doesn't fit into a category but it's a Blog and I like it - well I think I should nominate mine, as I DO like it, and that's why I'm still writing. It's at in case you hadn't noticed.

May the best blog win, even though there are no prizes :)

UPDATE - I've just discovered that there are badges and voting too!  So you may want to ask your friends if you've been nominated to head on over here:

Random Ranting of a Tattooed Mummy