Autumn & Autism43

Posted on March 7, 2014 by ChristieAutism, Northern Rivers Stories, Web Favs

me n pop

You are going to learn a few new things about me today. I suggest you go and grab a cup of tea, cos this might take a few minutes.

As you know, I don’t often share deeply personal things on this blog, it is mostly just pretty food and occasional baby pics. But that is going to change, and I hope you are OK with that.

My life has changed dramatically in the last 12 months and I haven’t shared any of it here. For my blog friends and readers all over the globe, I’m sorry for that – because after all, that’s what blogging is all about. Sharing.

I have just been conscious about keeping this a ‘food blog’, but it’s now going to evolve into more of blog about my family and life on the northern rivers. Don’t worry, there will still be food, lots of it, so don’t click away just yet.

Since the title gives away the two topics, let’s get stuck in:

1. Autumn is my favourite season.

Autumn is the underdog of the seasons, and I love a good underdog. It’s not as bone-chilling as winter, as fragrant as spring or as popular as a long hot summer. But it is beautiful, graceful and full of magic.

It’s a transition season, where things are constantly in a state of flux; leaves are gently turning, the weather isn’t here nor there, yet there are amazing things happening all around.

I’ve been thinking about transitions a lot lately and in particular, the way I have come to grips with some recent(ish) news and how it has changed me, almost completely for the better. More on that in a minute.

I used to think that transition phases in life were meant to be done quickly and without thought, it was where you came from and where you were going that was important. But I was wrong. The in between bits are sometimes the most amazing transformative experiences of your life. They are times to savour, reflect and use to their full advantage to make yourself a better person. Experiences that make life enjoyable.

Now, before I go off on a tangent and get too heavy, I’ll explain myself in point #2.

2. My three year old daughter has Autism.

Poppy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) last year in June at 2 years 8 months – when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. I had concerns about her from 12-15 months old, so it was a long journey to finally get a diagnosis. I won’t go into that journey today, that’s a whole other blog post for later.

If you are not sure what Autism is, that’s OK, lots of people don’t. Actually, let me correct that. Most people say ‘oh yeah Autism. Like Rainman, right?’. Well, technically, yes. I really can’t be annoyed with that response, that would probably have been me about 5 years ago before I started reading blogs by women who have children with Autism and being absolutely fascinated by the way the disorder manifests so differently in each individual.

They say if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. It’s seriously that different from person to person. Reading these blogs and seeing the amazing efforts by the mums doing everything they could for their children to reach their full potential was so touching and fascinating to me. Fate, much?

Just quickly while we are on the subject of those blogs, may I give a shout out to my pals Seana and Kelley who I immediately emailed in my foggy, grief-filled daze in the days following Poppy’s diagnosis, asking them to please let me know it was all going to be OK. They reassured me no end. You are both inspirational, lovely women. Thank you times one million plus infinity.

So, ASD. What is it?

The official description is:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

An estimated one in 100 people have ASD; that’s almost 230,000 Australians. ASDs affect almost four times as many boys than girls.

source (click the link for a great 2 min video explanation too)

It basically means that individuals experience all five senses differently (taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision) which means they have trouble in everyday situations because things feel very overwhelming (and sometimes underwhelming). Things that others might find easy, such as making eye contact or reading facial expressions, are difficult or confusing for those with ASD.

That’s a pretty basic description, but I’m not an expert, so I don’t think I need to say more than that to give you a decent idea. I am going to do another post soon sharing how ASD is experienced by Poppy, but for today, let’s talk about me…

How has this changed me?

I say ‘me’, but I really mean ‘us’ – as my husband has been an absolute star partner, dad, friend and confidante. Our relationship has always been solid, for which I am thankful in this situation, because I can totally understand how having a disabled child can strain a relationship to breaking point. He is a very measured, calm person and even though he has been rocked to the core with this news, he remains grounded and patiently talks about any issue I want to until the cows come home. And yes, we can actually hear cows mooing in the field nearby – country living rocks!

But back to me. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am a super positive person. I can find a silver lining in the most dark of places, people and situations. But I have been tested to my limits with this. And sometimes I have caved in. I think I’ll talk more about that another day.

Some good news (see, there I go!) is that I have become so much more patient, calm and tolerant. You see, I was a bit of a live wire when I was younger, and with all that energy came a bit of intolerance, judgement and stubbornness. Most things were black and white. Things now are greyer, and by that I mean more complex. It’s easier to see things from different angles when you slow down and don’t try to please everyone.

Poppy has taught me that slowness, to live in the present, notice simple things. It’s a lovely way to live.

This is getting a bit long – if you’re still reading, hi! and thank you – there’s more I want to say but I’ll leave it for another day.

I am a bit worried about putting this out into the world, but there are great things happening at our place everyday that I want to share. Some of them are Autism related, so I needed to explain this to you first.

I am excited about how this blog is moving forward and evolving and I hope you are too. Do you know someone with autism? What are they like?

Christie x

ps. There’s a really yummy homemade jam recipe tomorrow, see you then and bring your sweet tooth! :)

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