Occasionally, things in life don’t turn out the way you planned. Dreams of becoming a doctor and aspirations to travel overseas and assist those in third world countries suddenly seem unreachable following the birth of a first child, especially when you become the proud parent of a special needs child.
Personally, and in line with dreams and aspirations, I had always hoped to provide the perfect life for my daughter. This perfect life consisted of a big house with her own room, an unlimited amount of toys, and the best therapists and early intervention services being available to her. I wanted to surround her with unconditional love and nurturing from a happily married mummy and daddy. Unfortunately, and for unforseen reasons, the latter never eventuated and mummy and daddy ended up separating. Was my daughter’s diagnosis the reason for the separation, or was the separation due to irreconcilable differences? I guess we will never know.
Nevertheless this separation left a very young girl on the autism spectrum relatively confused about why she suddenly had to move to a new home. It left her confused about why her mummy was so upset all the time, and made it difficult for her to understand why so many significant life changes were unfolding over such a short period of time and before her very eyes.
Separations are a very stressful time, not only for the parents, but for the children as well. Here I want to share with you some of the struggles that I faced following my separation, the obstacles I have faced as a single parent, and how I have committed myself to overcome such various obstacles in order to become the best parent and educator that I can possibly be to my autistic daughter.
Finding a new home.
The first step following the majority of breakups is, well, finding a new place to live. My daughter and I were relatively upset that we had to move away from the home we had spent so many memorable years living in, but unfortunately I couldn’t afford to pay the rent for the unit on my own. It was a little unit in a larger complex and came complete with a swimming pool. I had established many supportive friendships with other parents who resided at the complex, and my daughter had also made many new friendships with other children living there. It was a great little set-up, and my daughter would have her friends over to play with some nights after school and occasionally of a weekend. Most people knew of my daughter’s condition and it always gave me a sense of security knowing that if my daughter was to ever pull a Houdini and escape out the door without my knowledge, somebody in the complex would know to bring her back home safely.
However as I was struggling survive on government benefits it was time to look for a much cheaper rental property. Although I had many fond memories of the apartment and wish we could have stayed there longer, the thought of moving into a new place and essentially starting a new life was also rather appealing.
However I had three major issues to deal with… I had no job, had not worked in three years due to taking care of my daughter, and was living on Centrelink benefits. Those three factors alone did not make me a good candidate for a rental property. Following rejection after rejection from real estate agents, and after spending an unlimited amount of time driving around and inspecting properties, I was about to give up hope of ever finding a new home. I remember applying for one unit that was located on the corner of a busy road. It was so run-down that the kitchen stove looked like it was about to fall apart, and the carpet was so filthy and stained you would be too scared to ever walk on it with bare feet. I chatted to the real estate agent about the property and explained my situation to her. She seemed very empathetic and considerate about my situation, and I was certain that I was going to get this particular rental property. But as nothing in my life at the time seemed to be going to plan, I missed out on the run-down property with filthy carpets too.
Finally a friend of mine who was renting privately suggested that she talk to her landlord on my behalf, and hinted that I may be able to move into her property. It was good timing as her and her partner had recently purchased a new home, and as soon as they moved out, I could move straight in. The landlord approved and a wave of relief spread over me. Finally my daughter and I had a roof over our heads, and a roof that I could manage to scrape up the funds for on a weekly basis… or at least until I managed to find work.
The tedious task of searching for work.
Looking for work is a tedious task at the best of times, especially when it comes to searching for a job that flexible with its hours. Unfortunately there aren’t many positions out there that will allow you time to drop off your child at preschool and collect them at a reasonable hour… and this is still an ongoing issue that I’m working through with my current position.
Initially I searched for months upon months for a job that would cater for my limited hours of availability, but nothing eventuated. I applied for full-time professional positions but was rejected on the basis that they required interstate travel and this was not an option for me as I needed to be home every night to take care of my daughter. I applied for more casual roles including retail sales positions, but was rejected on the grounds that I was “over qualified”. In frustration, I deleted many of my qualifications from my resume and re-applied for causal retail sales positions, but was again rejected on the basis that I lacked any retail or sales experience.
I think the hardest thing for me throughout this time, apart from watching my bank account fall ever so heavily into debt, was being aware that my ex-partner was out working whatever hours he wanted and earning an income that he could spend entirely on himself. He was able to purchase brand new motorbikes and cars for himself, and go on overseas holidays, but I was struggling to afford food and pay for my daughters early intervention school fees. He was partying most weekends, living the ‘single life’ to the fullest and meeting new people, whilst I took care of his daughter and did everything for her. It just didn’t seem fair.
Further, I was desperate to work and support my daughter in whatever way possible, but lacked the support and resources to even get a job in the first place. When you are struggling to make ends meet, both emotionally and financially, it is a really tough time for a single parent (or any parent facing similar circumstances). Really tough! But nevertheless, just as I was tearing out my last strand of hair and selling the last of my possessions in order to afford to pay rent, I finally found a position in optical sales which complimented my educational background. Although advertised as a casual position, I still find myself working ‘full time’ hours which can become rather stressful at times.
There are many days where my daughter is the first child to be dropped at school, and the last child to be picked up at the end of the day. I hate dropping her off at school so early that often the teachers haven’t even arrived on the premises, or they are still consuming coffee in order to wake up. I hate picking her up so late in the day that the cleaners are pretty much the only people left in the venue as everybody else has packed up and gone home. I hate the fact that I’m constantly exhausted from working long hours and trying to please everybody else, and my child’s needs get pushed aside as a result. Although I have been working on some strategies in order to prioritize and put my daughter’s needs before anything else, it is still hard at times and after a big week at work combined with lack of sleep, cracks do begin to show. I just have to remind myself that this is completely normal and that, in time, things will gradually become a little easier.
Prioritizing and putting my daughter’s needs first.
As mentioned above, cracks did begin to show throughout my early stages of work which resulted in me becoming rather snappy at times, especially in my home environment. My once fun-loving and energetic self-turned into a lethargic and sloth-like emotionless robot (and that’s the perfect way to describe what I was like). Rather than spending quality time with my daughter of an evening, reading her stories and playing with her like I normally would, I found myself becoming preoccupied in the kitchen trying to prepare meals for the following day. There were days where I was too exhausted to even cook dinner, relying on microwaveable macaroni cheese to fill our bellies throughout the night. Some evenings, after I had completed the ’night routine’ and finally managed to get my daughter to sleep, I would be so tired that I couldn’t even find enough energy to eat my own dinner. This resulted in me losing quite a bit of weight rather quickly, and combined with the stress of it all, also caused some of my hair to fall out (which thankfully has started growing back now).
Being a highly organised person, I have always managed to keep my home relatively clean and tidy. I don’t like leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight, and I hate seeing my washing basket filled to the brim with dirty clothes. Prior to leaving the house, I always like toys to be packed away and things to be neat and tidy. Recently I’ve had to teach myself to relax a little when it comes to cleaning the house and not be so anal about it all. This is because all of these chores were once again being prioritized before my daughter’s needs, and I was becoming hyper-focused on maintaining a neat and tidy home more so than focusing on the tasks I should be doing at home with her.
I’ve now learnt that you can walk out the door without the need to pack each and every toy away. I’ve learnt that the dishes can sit in the sink throughout the day- they’re (unfortunately) not going anywhere. I’ve learnt that a few specs of dirt on the ground doesn’t warrant for the entire house to be vacuumed. After all, the cat is the only living thing at home throughout the day, and I’m pretty sure a few scattered toys and some dishes aren’t going to bother her!! Through prioritizing and pushing all of these mundane tasks aside, I now find that I’m a lot less stressed at home and a much happier person. Spending just 10-15 minutes of quality time interacting with my daughter of a morning and afternoon makes all the difference to her development and our relationship. It is amazing what a little quality time can do.
I barely have a social life… and I’m ok with that.
In terms of my social life… well… I really don’t have one. I can’t remember the last time that I caught up with my close friends for dinner and a movie, or the last time I went on a ‘girl’s night out’. To be honest, I don’t think I would be able to afford to go on such outings anyways. These days, whenever I can find someone to look after my daughter for the day, my main priority is getting the grocery shopping done and catching up on sleep. If I’m lucky, I may even be able to fit in a session at the gym to get the endorphins flowing, or curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and a DVD.
Although I do miss out on a lot of social functions such as birthdays and the like, at the same time I’ve come to realise that sometimes you have to sacrifice such things in life in order to be the best parent that you possibly can be. My daughter is at an integral stage in her life where she needs all of the early intervention `that she can get in order to prepare her for her first year of primary school.
Although she currently attends a preschool that offers early intervention services, I am still her most important and influential educator and am determined to do the best I can in order to expand her skills level and prepare her for the ever so daunting first year of ‘big girl’ school. As a parent, I would hate to look back in ten years’ time and think “I could have done so much more with my child”. The best time for her to learn is now, and if I have to sacrifice a birthday party, or possibly a few friendships due to people thinking I’m ignoring them and not spending enough time with them, well so be it!
Coming to terms with the fact that life will never be the same… But things will all work out in the end.
Parents of special needs children have many things in common; we are strong, we fight for our children, we are natural born leaders and yell at anybody that tells us otherwise, we put up with our children waking up at 4am every morning (or not sleeping at all), we toilet train our children until they are 5 or 6 years of age, we spend hours upon hours doing speech therapy sessions and showing them PECS pictures which they never seem to be interested in, we put up with comments and snide remarks from other parents about how our children are being naughty and inattentive, we are forced to listen to inappropriate parenting advice from other parents, we struggle to get our children to eat, we struggle to get our children to keep their pants on in public… the list goes on and on…
But although sometimes life isn’t fair and things don’t go the way we planned… we always manage to crawl our way back to the top and overcome whatever obstacles are placed in our path. It’s what parents of children with autism are made to do! We CAN do it!!
For days, Chloe and I have been discussing a simple yet exciting event… having a photo taken with the Easter Bunny at the local shopping centre. For most children this is a relatively simple task with the hardest part usually being able to make the child smile in order to get a great photo. However for a child with autism, things are a little more difficult than that.
Bright fluorescent lighting, loud and strange noises, swarms of people, and people that smell offensive… these are triggers which can turn a visit to the shopping centre into an overwhelming experience for a child on the spectrum. Additionally, it is also an overwhelming experience for their parents at times who try so desperately to prepare their children for each and every outing they attend. Although we do our best to make our children feel comfortable and safe, sometimes we cannot control all of the variables and stimuli around them, and meltdowns occur. Meltdowns are different to tantrums, and although the child looks like they are being naughty and seeking attention, they are actually not.
So to cut a long story short, Chloe and I had 5 attempts at lining up to get a photo with the Easter Bunny…. And 5 fails. Each fail resulted in a meltdown. At the end of 5 meltdowns, both of us left the shopping centre in tears and drove home, embarrassed by the comments that other parents had made as a result of my daughters seemingly ‘attention seeking’ behaviour. Heads turned and people laughed at my screaming daughter who was struggling to get out of her pram- nobody understood why she was behaving that way. Nobody was aware that Chloe had autism, and although we tried our best to line up patiently amongst the swarms of people, things just didn’t go to plan.
At home I explained to Chloe the reasons why we had to leave the shopping centre without getting a photo with the Easter Bunny. As I was desperate for her not to miss out, I decided we would try again later in the afternoon in hopes that the shopping centre would be a little quieter and more bearable for the both of us.
Unfortunately things were not much different in the afternoon and again we became overwhelmed upon entering the shopping centre, amidst a buzz of people hurrying around trying to complete their last minute Easter shopping. Chloe spotted the Easter Bunny and quickly made her way over, trying to push in in front of the other children that had been waiting in line to see him. I grabbed her hand and pulled her back in order to stop her from pushing in, which resulted in her getting rather upset. I carried her to the back of the line and again explained that we had to wait our turn. She kicked and screamed and tried scratching me on the face, and I did my best to calm her.
Not long after, a lady that had been selling hot-cross buns at a stand nearby approached us and said “I’ve seen you here a few times today… either you want lots of photos with the Easter Bunny, or you’re not having much luck waiting in line”. I explained why we had been back so many times and why we had still not received a photograph. The lady was more than willing to help and spoke to the photographer, who graciously allowed us to head up to the front of the line amidst glares and smirks from other parents.
Finally, Chloe was able to meet the Easter Bunny and get a photo with him. She was overjoyed and wouldn’t stop flapping her arms after he gave her a hug. All of the stress and feelings of overwhelming emotion seemed to disappear after seeing the sheer delight on her face from spending just 2 minutes with the Easter Bunny. I can’t thank the lady at the hot-cross bun stand enough for helping us out, and allowing us to ‘jump queue’. As they say, “good things come to those who wait”… and we definitely waited a long time!!
Happy Easter Everybody.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Throughout April many organisations and committees will be hosting special events and fundraisers in order to raise awareness of autism. World Autism Awareness Day is on the 2nd April and is a great day to celebrate all of the wonderful achievements that people on the autism spectrum have achieved in their lives. If you would like more information about how you can go blue for autism and participate in autism awareness month, visit http://aeiou.org.au/blog-view/shine-the-light-on-autism-april-marks-autism-180
Following on from my earlier posts ‘Top rated iPad 2 apps for toddlers and preschool children: Music, Puzzles, Animals and Games’ and ‘Top rated iPad 2 apps for toddlers and preschool children: spelling and counting’ , I now present to you a selection of my favourite educational apps for toddlers and preschool children.
ABC MAGIC 2
By: Preschool University
This is a very user-friendly app which is great for teching your child the letters of the alphabet, words and phonics. It presents very clear images and sounds, displaying four images per letter. This is truly one of the nicest apps for teaching phonics to children thus far.
3D Storybook- The Wrong Side of the Bed
By: See Here Studios LLC
Written by Wallace E. Keller, this is a great storybook for all children with amazing illustrations and animations. There is an option to view this book in 3D, however it requires you to purchase 3D glasses in order to do this. I’m not sure how much the glasses cost, but nevertheless, the book is great to view in 2D.
Potty Time with Elmo
By: Sesame Street
This is possibly one of the most interactive and fun toileting apps ever created. Potty Time with Elmo features bright illustrations and lots of activities to teach toddlers about using the toilet, including stories, songs, and puzzles. There is even a sticker rewards chart to keep track of your childs toileting success.
Timmy’s Number Tracing
By: Pearson Education
Just when I thought counting couldn’t get more exciting… along comes the Timmy’s number Tracing app. It features everybody’s favourite little lamb ‘Timmy’ from Timmy Time which airs on ABC for kids. When your child has traced each number successfully, short clips from the popular TV show appear as a reward. Unfortunately the numbers only range from 1-10, but nevertheless, it is a great app to encourage your children to not only say the numbers, but learn to write them as well.
My First Tanagrams HD – A Wood Tanagram Puzzle Game for Kids
By: Alexandre Minard
This is a great puzzle in that it is so different to the other types of wood puzzle games currently available through the iTunes store. Each puzzle involves arranging shapes in a way that they create various images, such as a flower or person. The background music is relaxing and nice to listen to, and there are approximately 32 different tanagrams for your child to complete. If your child loves puzzles and you are searching for something a little different, definitely give this app a go!
Canimals Sticker Book HD
By: VOOZCLUC Co.,Ltd
Based on the popular TV series The Canimals, this cute sticker book features nicely illustrated pages which require your child to drag and drop stickers to their appropriate places on the page (similar to a drag and drop puzzle). There is cute and catchy background music and various animations to keep your child entertained.
Music Sparkles – All in One musical instruments collection of Sound , Vocals and Fun Entertainment HD
By: Kids Games Club
Such a great app for teaching children about musical instruments, the different sounds that they make, and rhythm. The sound quality of each instrument is amazing and nearly sounds like the real thing. The app is fun and easy to use, and is something that the entire family will enjoy.
Best Kids Songs·Stories
By: Samsung Publishing Ltd.
This is one of my daughter favourite music apps at the moment, so I had to add it to the ‘best of’ list. This app is free to download from the iTunes store, however payment is required if you want to download music (AU $2.99 for eight songs). There are three free songs to download to get you started- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Old McDonald had a Farm, and Christmas Melody. The bright and colourful animations will keep your child entertained for hours.
This is yet another app that is free to download but requires payment in order to unlock songs (there is one free song to get you started). My daughter is a big fan of the Lazy Town TV show so naturally took a liking to this app straight away. It features clips of the best songs from the Lazy Town TV series, including ‘Bing Bang’ and ‘You are a Pirate’. Each song costs AU $0.99 to unlock, and there are a total of eighteen songs. Yes, I spent AU $18 on this app alone but it was worth it, especially considering it entertains my daughter for hours and she’s beginning to sing along to the songs!!
Bugs and Buttons
By: Little Bit Studio, LLC.
This truly is a great children’s game and has some of the coolest graphics and sounds. There are 18 educational games featured in this app, and every one of them is fun to play. Some of the games featured include letter train, tic tac toe, connect dots, and more. This is another game that the whole family will enjoy.
Toca Kitchen Monsters
By: Toca Boca
This would have to be one of the funniest educational games I have downloaded in a while. The aim of the game is to feed some particularly fussy monsters, but in order to get them to eat certain foods (such as broccoli), the food must first be prepared a certain way (steamed, blended, friend, chopped, etc). Not only does it help teach children about different foods, but it also introduces them to the principles of cooking food in different ways.
Paint My Wings
By: Toca Boca
This is a really cute drawing app for children, featuring nice background sounds and bright animations. The butterflies say the names of the different colors that are being used, and various effects can be made by selecting different types of brushes. Both sides of the wings are colored symmetrically, and images can be shared with family and friends via an email option. Toca Boca has some other fantastic apps including ‘Toca Hair Salon’, ‘Toca Store’ and ‘Toca House’. Be sure to check out the other iPad apps that Toca Boca has to offer through the iTunes store!!
Does your child have a favourite iPad app? Feel free to suggest other great childrens iPad apps in the comments section below
App Review: Crayola ColorStudio HD
By: Griffin Technology
Upon hearing about this app I was super excited and rushed to our nearest Dick Smith Electronics store to purchase the iMarker for AU $39.95. It is the only app that I have discovered that employs the use of an iMarker and encourages development of handwriting, drawing and colouring (fine motor skills).
I rushed home and downloaded the Crayola ColorStudio HD app directly from the iTunes store and prepared the iMarker for use. Preparation involves inserting a battery into the iMarker (you will need a screwdriver with a tiny head to do this).
The next step is to unlock the app by tracing a zig-zag pattern with the iMarker, making sure not to go step outside the lines. After approximately 20 attempts of tracing the zig-zag pattern with absolutely no success, I felt like throwing the iMarker at the wall. This step was extremely frustrating and I ended up performing a Google search about how I could get the iMarker to work.
I discovered that screen protectors result in the iMarker not functioning effectively, with users having to press down on the screen significantly harder with the iMarker if a screen protector is used. Additionally, the iPad should also be removed from any casings as this can also effect the functioning of the iMarker. Once I had done this, I was FINALLY able to unlock the app.
The colouring pages are fantastic and there is wide variety of pictures to choose from. Various mediums can also be selected such as crayons, paints for brush effects, pencils, pens, and textas.
However I still found myself pressing against the screen quite hard in order to get the iMarker to work effectively, and found it so much easier to simply use my finger to colour the pages. You can turn ‘finger mode’ to ‘on’ in the settings menu.
Overall I would give this app 4/10, mainly because I spent so much money on the iMarker only to discover that it doesn’t function as
effectively as it should, which is rather disappointing.
If you are experiencing trouble with the iMarker you can contact Griffin Technologies Customer Service at http://www.griffintechnology.com/support/crayola-colorstudio-hd
I recently discovered that there is a baby gymnastic class in my local area that caters for children aged between 2.5 and 3.5 years. “Wonderful” I thought to myself, and hastily booked Chloe a spot for Thursday morning’s class. After all, what 3 year old child wouldn’t love jumping on trampolines, swinging on rings, and doing somersaults on soft mats? To me, a gymnasium is just like an oversized sensory room, filled with all the equipment my daughter needs to calm her senses and have loads of fun in the process.
Chloe looked a gem on the day, sporting a black leotard and shiny black leggings, topped off with a cluster of pink ribbons in her hair. She looked at herself in the mirror and smiled at her appearance and I could tell that she looked pretty pleased with what she was wearing. “Chloe, mummy is taking you to gymnastics this morning” I said in a cheerful voice. “Nastics Morning” Chloe repeated with a smile.
When we arrived at the centre we were greeted by the instructor who was very excited that Chloe would be participating in the class, especially after hearing that she has autism. “We have lots of different activities for the children to participate in, including those that focus on gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Chloe should have a good time; you can let her explore the gymnasium first if you like”.
Chloe immediately made a v-line for the trampoline and started jumping as high as she possibly could, occasionally jumping so close to the edge that my heart skipped a beat. One of the requirements at the gymnasium is that parents must supervise their children at all times, so I made sure that I was almost on top of Chloe the entire time as she is very much the daredevil with no sense of fear or pain.
I tried to pull Chloe off the trampoline when the class began, but she started screaming as soon as I tried pulling her off. She threw her head back and kicked her legs up in the air, and dug her fingernails into my arm. “OK you can spend a few more minutes on the trampoline” I said to Chloe. Thankfully the instructor didn’t seem to mind.
After 10 minutes Chloe spotted some of the children swinging on the rings that were set-up as part of a circuit and quickly made her way over to that activity. There were three children waiting in line for their turn but before I knew it, Chloe had pushed the children out of the way and was attempting to pull another girl off the rings while she was still swinging on them. “Chloe NO, you have to wait your turn” I shouted, trying to pull her away.
The next thing I know, Chloe is clawing at my face and arms in frustration. All she wanted to do was swing on the rings, but didn’t understand that she had to wait her turn. After throwing herself on the floor a few times and screaming for 5 minutes, she finally began to calm down. By that time the rings were free and she was able to have a go. I noticed that my arm was bleeding from her scratching me, but I quickly wiped the blood away and helped her with the rings.
The rest of the class was pretty much the same. Chloe’s main focus was the trampoline and rings, and she ran backwards and forwards between the two activities, with me frantically chasing her and making sure she didn’t fall off the apparatus, or try to push any children off the equipment she wanted to use. I could feel myself working up a sweat. My arm was sore, my head was throbbing from where Chloe had head-butted me on the forehead, but I persisted until the end of the class.
“Chloe did really well today; it looks like she had fun. You are welcome to come back next semester if you like”. I could tell the instructor was being reassuring and I was very grateful for her kind words, but unfortunately we weren’t going back to the gymnastics centre anytime soon. She handed me an enrolment form and I thanked her sincerely, as I struggled to carry Chloe out of the gymnasium and into the car in a fireman hold, with her clawing at my neck and kicking me in the stomach in protest.
As we drove out of the car park I couldn’t help but burst into tears. I looked in the rear-view mirror and noticed that I had a massive scratch down the side of my neck which was bleeding quite badly, and another set of fingernail marks on the other side of my neck. The back of my arm was bleeding. I had a bruise above my right brow where Chloe had head-butted me (accidentally). I couldn’t believe that Chloe had managed to leave those marks on me. I know that she didn’t mean to hurt me, and she didn’t mean to make me upset, but I still felt the need to burst into tears and let it all out. I cried all the way home- a 30 minute drive.
After dropping Chloe off at school, my partner could see I was still upset and took me to my favourite café for lunch (and a bottle of wine). A waitress that we see regularly waited until my partner got up to use the bathroom before approaching me and asking “Are you OK… what happened to your neck?”. I couldn’t help but laugh, because it really did look as if I had been strangled by the hands of someone much larger than me. I reassured her that my partner is a gentleman, and the marks were a result of my (nearly) 3 year old daughter getting upset at her first gymnastics class. She too had a bit of a chuckle, and offered me a free glass of wine. I graciously accepted.
All I can say is that we tried. I know now that any sport involving waiting around and turn taking possibly isn’t the best thing for my daughter. She is doing brilliantly in her dance class, so we’ll just stick with that at the moment. In addition, I think that as a parent I need to remind myself that Chloe likes routine, and taking her to new classes and getting her to participate in new activities is possibly taking her out of her comfort zone. As a parent, I think I need to take a step back and focus on one thing at a time.
Do you agree? Have you had a similar experience?
For the past year (or thereabouts) I have been attempting to toilet train my daughter with failed results. At first I tried to sit Chloe on her potty whenever I spotted her making her ‘poo face’ and small grunting noises, however she never associated her potty with doing poo’s or wees. Rather she would sit on her potty whenever she was reading her books, or use it as a storage container for her toys.
I tried reading her social stories about going to the toilet, showing her the ‘Elmo’s Potty Training DVD’, making storyboards and visual schedules, showing her various images of children going to the toilet, and downloading every toileting app on the iPad. But nothing seemed to help.
However, recently Chloe came home from school with a toilet training DVD entitled ‘Are You Ready?’ Her teachers informed me that Chloe had watched the ‘Toms Toileting Triumph’ section of the DVD in class and absolutely loved it, so they passed on a copy for me to keep at home. Suddenly the heavens opened up and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel… could this be the key to our toilet training success?
When I sat down with Chloe to watch the DVD at home for the first time, I was both stunned and amused. I wasn’t expecting to see such in-depth examples of going to the toilet, and hearing the words “penis” and “wee hole” made me cringe ever so slightly. Here is a small extract from part of the DVD;
Emily: “I’ll be back in a minute Tom, I need to do a wee”
Tom: “How do you know Emily?”
Emily: “Because it feels full of water down there, like it’s going to burst out of my wee hole”.
I glanced over at Chloe to see her reaction. She was staring at the television intently with a massive smile on her face. Clearly she was enjoying every moment of the DVD, and started calling out “weeee, weeee” as Emily sat down on the toilet and relieved her bladder. I couldn’t help but have a chuckle to myself.
Further into the DVD Tom needs to do a poo…
Emily” It looks like you have a poo wanting to come out”
Tom: “How do you know?”
Emily: “Tell me what it feels like Tom”
Tom: “It feels like my bottom is going to blow up and I have to squeeze myself to get it down there”
Emily: “Well if you start squeezing you’ll probably poo in your pants. I think you should go to the toilet”.
As Tom sat down on the toilet to do a poo, Chloe became so excited that she began flapping her arms and shouting “poo, poo, poo”. I was so proud of her for recognising what Tom was doing, and even more proud that she was so enthusiastic about it all, especially considering that for the past year I had been trying so hard to educate her about going to the toilet and felt like I was getting nowhere. Yet here she was, putting two and two together and absolutely loving it.
We have had the ‘Are You Ready?’ DVD for almost a week now, and in that time I’ve been subjected to watching the movie more than 50 times. Yesterday Chloe watched it approximately 20 times in a row, and wanted to keep watching the poo section over and over again, saying “more poo, more poo”. The first thing she said to me this morning when I got her out of bed was “more poo”. Clearly she enjoys watching the DVD.
As far as toilet training goes, Chloe will now sit on the ‘big girl’ toilet and go through all the actions such as wiping, flushing, washing hands and drying hands, but has not yet used the toilet properly. Nevertheless I think it’s a great start and a brilliant achievement, and it’s all thanks to ‘Are You Ready- Tom’s Toilet Triumph’ DVD.
For anybody that is interested, the Are You Ready DVD is available for purchase from the Service SA online shop for AU $28.60. Here is a brief description taken from the website:
Are you Ready? DVD (PAL – Australia, NZ and UK)
“This DVD includes the popular animation ‘Tom’s Toilet Triumph’ and an ‘Are You Ready?’ short film for parents/carers. A frank and humorous look at what happens in ‘the smallest room’, ‘Tom’s Toilet Triumph’ is suitable for all ages. The short film discusses issues faced by parents/carers when toilet training an older child.”
As I sit in front of my computer, wanting to write but having absolutely no idea of what I want to say, I can hear my daughter jumping up and down on her bed in the next room.-
This happens EVERY time I try to put her down for a nap. Although she appears tired and sleepy, as soon as I put her to bed it’s like she automatically recharges her batteries and has a sudden and explosive burst of energy. She jumps up and down, starts singing and yelling, picks up her toy laptop and throws it against the wall, and pulls all of her clothes out of her bottom drawer. I know that if I were to walk into her room right now, I would likely be hit by a rogue toy and almost faint at the sight of everything being scattered across her bedroom floor.
In saying this, I must give my daughter credit. She recently upgraded to a toddler bed from her original cot bed, which was a big enough change to initiate a meltdown in itself. However Chloe loves her new bed, especially the part where she gets to jump up and down on it. When she has completely exhausted herself she manages to sleep really well and I’m extremely grateful for that.
In addition to the bed, the other objects that my daughter enjoys jumping on include:
Mum and dad
Any food that is left on the floor
Tables and chairs
The laptop (when it’s accidentally left on the floor)
The iPad (when she gets frustrated with it. This device also regularly gets thrown against the wall)
Mobile phones left within arms reach
So I guess today’s post is all about my little monkey jumping on the bed (and other objects). I just hope that she doesn’t fall off and bump her head… because I’m ready to sit down and have a glass of wine! Cheers!!
To top off my already shitty week in which ignorant people have pissed me off to no end, I now sit down at my computer to read two of the most ridiculous articles I’ve encountered in my life, and another which shocked me!
The first article is entitled “Pregnant women struck down by fever twice as likely to have autistic child’. If you click on the link, you will be presented with a lovely colourful image of a perfectly groomed female looking rather sorry for herself. I think she’s meant to be sick, either that or she can’t find her way back to the Playboy Mansion.
We are presented with terms such as ‘researchers’ and ‘scientists’… it all sounds very above board and legitimate. But where was the study conducted? How many participants were there? Who are these researchers and scientists? Were the mothers-to-be all affected by the same ‘virus’ at the same time during their pregnancy? Were they all administered the same medications? How did researchers know they had a ‘virus’ in the first place? Were participants monitored during pregnancy, or are these findings based on results of a questionnaire 5 years after mothers gave birth to their children? Oh, so many unanswered questions…
The concluding paragraph notes “since an inflammatory state in the body accompanies obesity and diabetes as well as fever, the natural question is: could inflammatory factors play a role in autism?” Clearly they had to throw in a few more bullshit excuses prior to the conclusion of the article.
After banging my head against the wall a few times, I was then forced to read about how “Autism could be triggered by very low doses of anti-depressants or other chemicals found in water supply”. So now it’s the waters fault. We’ve moved from viruses, inflammation, obesity and diabetes… to water!
Thankfully I’m not the only person that believed this article to be a load of rubbish. Neuroskeptic has published a fantastic rebuttal to these absurd claims, in a post entitled “That Antidepressants in the Water Cause Autism Study”.
If researchers are blaming ‘water’ as yet another cause of autism, then surely breathing oxygen can be implicated too? Absolutely! Here is a post entitled “New Study Shows Autism Linked to Mums who breathe During Pregnancy“ (This post is really funny- it’s written by @Jillsmo who is a great blogger).
After reading through the first two articles, I have come to the conclusion that some researchers in the field of autism have obtained their degrees from the Playboy Mansion. That is the only reasoning I have for scientists and researchers publishing absurd data, resulting in the rustling of feathers amongst some members of the autism community. I’m not the only parent that’s sceptical either… here is another great post from Jillsmo entitled “Autism and anti-depressants”, discussing results of earlier publications that have claimed medications such as Prozac ‘cause’ autism.
Now I understand that some people believe various findings and scientific publications to be true, and that’s fine. This post is my opinion and my opinion only. In my opinion, I think many of these findings are absolute bullshit.
In addition to these bullshit articles, here is a list of just some of the other bullshit causes of autism I have read about online over the past year (presented in alphabetical order):
Mums (any reason)
Finally I present to you the third and final article that I read. Now the article itself isn’t bullshit, it’s actually quite good and presents some very valuable opinions from people that actually matter! The article is entitled “In their own words: Adults on the spectrum speak about bleach treatment”.
To give you an overview of what bleach treatment consists of, here is a brief description; “Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), when prepared according to instructions, is chlorine dioxide, a chemical used in treating wastewater and in bleaching wood pulp for paper. It is an industrial-strength bleach”.
WHAT??? Who in their right mind would experiment on children with bleach, claiming that such a harmful chemical relieves symptoms of autism? Who in their right mind would put their hand up and say “Hey, I’d like to try some industrial strength bleach and see how it reacts in my body”. Oh but wait… “Jim Humble says that the product has been successfully tested on prisoners in Malawi (although the Malawi government denies knowledge of this)”. Suspicious much?
Now, don’t even get me started on the other bullshit “cures” that are being peddled by money making organizations to parents simply wanting to help their children. This topic has recently been discussed on Twitter, with great concerns circling the famous ‘Dr.Boobies’ who obtained her PhD from the Playboy Mansion. If you would like to read more, click here. If you scroll towards the end of the post, you will see a lovely photo of Dr.Boobies sitting on the toilet doing her research (unfortunately it appears as though this photo has been removed, but you get the idea of where her professional expertise comes from).
Ok I’m going to stop there, because a fantastic new friend of mine that I have recently connected with on Twitter has come up with a brilliant idea for a post discussing these “miracle cures”, in particular Dr.Boobies and her magical ways. I won’t give away my new friends name just yet, but I must warn you that she is exceptionally intelligent and capable of achieving great things.
In conclusion, I just wanted to say that I don’t care what “caused” my daughters autism in the first place. She is who she is, and if I tried to change who she is or ‘cure’ her, she wouldn’t be the same little girl that she is today!
Rant over. Angry mum needs a glass of wine now!
Acdx. Prozac Pills. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prozac_pills.jpg
Castique. Clorox. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clorox.jpg
DROUET. Virus rezon. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus_rezon.gif
Mk2010. Medication potofen(ibuprufen). http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Medication_potofen(Ibuprofen).JPG
This is a forewarning- I’m currently very angry. Like red in the face angry. Like Ren and Stimpy angry. Like Daffy Duck angry (although he has underlying anger issues). Needless to say, this is going to be a very angry post!
Yesterday I went handbag shopping with my daughter. Well, I looked at handbags and my daughter tried to chew on them. As we were walking around the tiny store that consisted of the narrowest aisles that I could barely fit the pram in, I heard a comment. A rude, spiteful and terrible sentence that I hope never to hear again.
“THAT’S THE REASON I’M NEVER HAVING CHILDREN”.
I looked up, feeling overwhelmed with shock and disgust, to view the bitch that made the comment. There she was standing in front of me, pointing at my daughter, with a smirk on her face, hand on her hip, flicking her professionally straightened hair, and tapping her new leather heels on the ground. She looked very proud of herself for making this snide remark, and once more, looked even happier that I had heard her say it.
I couldn’t believe my ears, and still cannot understand why someone would say such a thing. For once, my daughter was being relatively well behaved. Yes she had pulled a few handbags off the shelves and was trying to sing ‘Old McDonald had a farm’ to herself, but she wasn’t screaming or being annoying. As hard as I tried to ignore the lady and brush off her nasty comment, it really upset me, and still makes me angry whenever I think about it.
I will never forget this ladies face, including the tone of her voice, her ignorant facial expression, and the sound of her heel tapping on the ground. I sincerely hope that I never have the opportunity to bump into this lady again- and I use the word ‘opportunity’ as a chance encounter will allow me to tell her what I REALLY think about her nasty comment, and stand up for my daughter!
I know we have discussed ‘ignorant facial expressions’ and other ‘looks’ in the past, but has anybody ever had rude comments said to them directly? Please feel free to share any other bitchy remarks you’ve heard when out and about…
Oh… and last but not least, this is who the bitch pointed to… my beautiful daughter!!