Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Archive for February 2012

L is for Love

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I told you she loved me- I just had to wait!

I know a lot of parents worry that an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis might mean their child will never know love.  All those challenges our children experience seem to thwart love and romance.  The communication challenges, both spoken and non-verbal.  The sensory challenge of being caressed.  Gazing adoringly into a loved one’s eyes.  They are barriers, for sure.

But I know my kid, and I know how she likes to hurdle her barriers, in her own way, at her own pace.

And I know love.  Love likes nothing more than overcoming the seemingly insurmountable.  Just ask the quirky English woman who met the odd American mere weeks before he left the country.  We had our problems of distance and communication challenges.  Rather than breaking us, it helped us to learn a different way of communicating, of being open and honest and prioritizing each other no matter how far apart we had to be.  Whatever directed us together, be it fate or pheromones, Love knew we’d find those lessons useful.

I don’t doubt Pudding loves me.  I know it though I’ve only had one spontaneous kiss on my cheek in five years.  I know it though she has voiced those words only a handful of times.  I know it when she makes me a Valentine’s Day Card, but I’m not allowed to touch it.  I know it when she’d can’t stand to be touched, and when being held isn’t close enough for her.  I feel her love.  I know her love.  Just like I knew the moment I saw her that no distance could ever break that bond.

When she was diagnosed, I learned that there would be challenges, but love won’t be an obstacle for her.  It will find her, if she wants it to.  All it will take is for somebody to see the magic of my girl, and if they are the luckiest human on the planet, she’ll see the magic in them too.  Love won’t weaken in the face of those challenges, it will teach her lessons she can’t learn any other way.  Just like it did for her parents.  I’m sure of it.

You know how I’m so sure?

When she showed me the Valentine’s Card that I may not touch, we were at her school, and her crush walked by.  I mentioned that she could have made a card for him.  Before Pudding even responded, Jimmy* spun around and agreed with me!

Somebody already sees the magic in Pudding, though he is going to have to wait a couple of decades to get past her daddy.  She’ll have plenty to learn about love during that time.  Like whether the barrier is Asperger’s or the Atlantic, she can overcome anything that comes her way, and Love will be with her always.

This is the long overdue L installment of my A-Z series.  If you think I’m a little hypocritical for writing a love post on Valentine’s Day, just remember that my only constancy is how fickle I am, but I really do love you every day of the year!

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Away

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It was beautiful in the Drakensberg mountains.  There was a stillness I wasn’t used to.  A calm to our days.  It was about peacefully breathing fresh mountain air, rather than rushing around to schools and therapy appointments.  You know what I wanted to do when we first got there?  Tell you about it.  But being all the way up in those mountains, we were far away from an internet connection.  And a sensible, forward-planning kind of person might have stocked up on credit for her own wi-fi hotspot, but I’d left that woman back in Johannesburg.

The funny thing about email, Facebook, Twitter and yes- this blog- is that I hadn’t realised how long a week would seem without them.  Little did I know when we first arrived and I was unable to check in, that a storm would take out our internet at home for the week after we returned.  I was already feeling antsy.  Still, it wasn’t going to hurt me to be offline for a week, after all, there were other things to be doing.

My parents, both confirmed Facebook fans, were also feeling the disconnect.  It didn’t help that their business calls weren’t getting through without Skype to route them to their phone.  Spectrummy Daddy had no such luck in escaping work- his Blackberry was fully functional, and kept him in the the throng of one of those crises that always seem to happen if we go away.  The grandparents got to busy themselves with Pudding and Cubby, giving me lots of free time in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Unable to write, I turned to my other special interest: photography.  It was the perfect place to practice different techniques, and almost every direction I looked in I found something I wanted to snap  Then some strange things started to happen with the camera.  Maybe if we’d been back home, I’d have just stopped using it.  No doubt I would have taken it to a camera shop to look at.  But I didn’t.  One day we went to a wildlife reserve, and the first time I picked up the camera, the shutter mechanism broke.  Really broke.  Beyond repair broke.  Gone and we can’t afford to replace it kind of broken.  Sigh.  All this was going through my mind as I was taunted by an adorable giraffe scampering right by our car, and image after image I was desperate to capture.

Now, I’ll be living in South Africa for another two and a half years.  There’ll be ample opportunities to go to reserves, game parks, and safaris.  But I couldn’t get out of the frustration I was feeling, try as I might.  I couldn’t just enjoy the moment.  I was angry with myself because I couldn’t just enjoy the moment, when everyone else was managing to do just that.

Not the first time, I’m reminded of how similar I am to Pudding.  I feel all the frustrations of not being able to communicate easily, and not having things go my way when I try to escape into my own world.  But I’m the lucky one, this kind of situation occurs rarely for me- it is the way my girl experiences this world.  And she manages to do it with a whole lot more grace than I can even begin to muster.

I was glad to get back home, even if it has taken until now to get reconnected.  The funny thing was that Pudding was all happiness and ease in the mountains.  We had a week with improved communication and far more relaxed interactions, including lots of cuddles with the grandparents.  I’m curious about whether it was the altitude that had such a positive effect on her.  Or perhaps she just needed to get away from it all.

At least I got some photos for future Wordless Wednesdays before my poor camera went to the great developer up high.  It was great to get away, but I’m so glad to be back.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

The End

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There is something pretty sinister about disappearing from my blog for a week, only to emerge with a post entitled “The End.”  Anyway, we’d been in the Drakensberg mountains for a week.  For some kids on the spectrum, a change in routine can be hard for them to handle, but Pudding was spectacular for the entire week, which of course meant that her brother had to be the one acting out.  A week without internet access was quite isolating for me, but obviously something about the area suited her well.

In fact, she was doing so well throughout the week, that I began to get concerned about how she might react to returning home.  I had a couple of talks with her about the fact that her holidays were coming to an end, but she didn’t seem too perturbed.  Finally we got to Saturday: the day we were driving home.  I’d already packed her toys away, so Pudding was busying herself by drawing pictures in the condensation on the windows.

Before long, she became frustrated.  What she sees in her mind’s eye never translates well enough to paper, or glass in this case.  She so loves art and drawing, that her fine motor difficulties are at odds with her perfectionist tendencies.  Several times she drew something on the window, only to rub it away moments later.

Pudding: Mummy, help me!

Normally I love that she will actually ask for help instead of getting angry about something that is challenging.  Normally.  But not when it comes to drawing.  If she finds it hard to translate an image, it is even harder for me to decipher.  I’m neither an artist nor a visual thinker, so my efforts rarely turn out the way she wants.  A week earlier she’d been trying to draw a shower, or a series of showers for different people (Hello Kitty’s shower, Cubby’s shower, Jimmy’s shower) and it had taken a while to produce something satisfactory.  n the end I’d drawn a very similar shower with different colours to denote the ownership.  I was glad that I got there in the end, but it took repeated efforts.

On the morning of our departure, I didn’t have sufficient time to devote to the craft.  I hoped against hope that she would ask for something simple that I could easily reproduce.

Me: Okay, quickly- what would you like for me to draw?

Pudding: The End.

Oh.

I racked my brains.  Was she referring to the end of her vacation, in which case some suitcases and a car might depict her commission.  Or, picking up on her inflection, does she really mean for me to draw The End?  And what in the universe would that look like?  Why is my five-year-old an existentialist?

After a few seconds of looking like a goldfish, I thought of a solution.  This wasn’t so different from Hello Kitty’s shower.

Me: Okay, but you have to tell me- what colour is The End?

Her turn to be the goldfish.  What was I doing talking about colours when we were drawing with our fingers?  In fact, she still hasn’t answered me, and she let me go about my business of getting our things together.  I’m not fool enough to think this is over yet, but I do have a reprieve.  At least until she comes up with a colour for me.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 7, 2012 at 9:00 am