Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Some days I don’t have the energy to create full blog posts, and this is where you come in.

Love, Sawyer and Piper’s Mum x

 

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3 weeks ago

Autism Stories

When I started this blog I would have been happy if 5 people had read what I had to say.

But look. Just LOOK at the stats over the past 6 months, knowing that every click on my blog is by someone who is affected by autism in some way.

And my blog is just a drop in the ocean.

Message to everyone, no matter what you're facing:

- You are allowed an opinion.

- You can keep talking.

- You don't need to feel embarrassed.

- You don't need to feel ashamed.

Someone, somewhere, is listening.

<3
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When I started this blog I would have been happy if 5 people had read what I had to say. 

But look. Just LOOK at the stats over the past 6 months, knowing that every click on my blog is by someone who is affected by autism in some way.

And my blog is just a drop in the ocean. 

Message to everyone, no matter what youre facing: 

- You are allowed an opinion. 

- You can keep talking.

- You dont need to feel embarrassed. 

- You dont need to feel ashamed.

Someone, somewhere, is listening. 

Image attachmentImage attachment

 

Comment on Facebook

Wow fantastic job!!! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

In the horrible place that can be FB it's always nice to read one of your posts. I just hope that the way FB desensitizes you to horrible stuff, that one day it will do the same with Autism.

Wow that’s amazing x

3 weeks ago

Autism Stories

This summer has been the most difficult so far.

We've been battling with almost daily meltdowns, anxiety, upset and anger. Sawyer has reacted badly to the change in routine. Piper has been upset at Sawyer's behaviour, and in particular, his indifference toward her. Lloyd and I have felt frustrated and helpless.

Just because you know there is a reason for the meltdowns and behaviour, doesn't make it easier to cope with. (Autism parents, am I right?! 💙 )

I've cried a lot in the past few weeks. And I will tell you all the reasons why soon, I promise. I want to show you the many struggles we face, as well as the good days.

But today WAS a good day. And for now I just want things to be about that. I want to document it here so that I can look back on it tomorrow, and in a few days time when I feel like breaking down all over again.

Today I took Sawyer to Thomas Land.

And I think his face says the rest.

X
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Comment on Facebook

😘😘

😘

James had a bad week last week,Mum and Dad on holiday doing different things most days.Also he is changing schools ,this doesn't help .Each day he asks about new school ,no idea of time.

1 month ago

Autism Stories

Sometimes people look uncomfortable as hell when I talk openly about autism, and the fact that Sawyer is autistic.

Sometimes people want to pretend like his unusual behaviours don't exist, or hope they'll go away? I'm not sure which. Possibly both.

But I WON'T stop talking about it. Because I'm not ashamed of it, and he should never be ashamed of himself.

I try to give Sawyer the tools he needs to be able to survive in a world that might not understand him, but that certainly doesn't mean asking him to be someone he is not.

I could try to coax him away from Thomas the Tank Engine. I could replace his trains with Super Heroes and try to help him fit in with his peers, but what sort of message would that send?

Sawyer will have to live with himself for longer than many of his peers will.

So who is it more important to please?
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Sometimes people look uncomfortable as hell when I talk openly about autism, and the fact that Sawyer is autistic.

Sometimes people want to pretend like his unusual behaviours dont exist, or hope theyll go away? Im not sure which. Possibly both.

But I WONT stop talking about it. Because Im not ashamed of it, and he should never be ashamed of himself.

I try to give Sawyer the tools he needs to be able to survive in a world that might not understand him, but that certainly doesnt  mean asking him to be someone he is not.

I could try to coax him away from Thomas the Tank Engine. I could replace his trains with Super Heroes and try to help him fit in with his peers, but what sort of message would that send?

Sawyer will have to live with himself for longer than many of his peers will.

So who is it more important to please?

 

Comment on Facebook

Fed up of people and their age appropriation rubbish!!! It was years before my son was even interested in anything. He's going to be ten this year and loves the tellytubbies. I will be buying him something Po inspired. 😉😉😉

As long as he’s happy that’s all that matters 😘

I love him and he's an amazing little fella xxx

1 month ago

Autism Stories

Oh Sawyer, my darling, you do make me laugh!

💚
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Oh Sawyer, my darling, you do make me laugh!

💚

 

Comment on Facebook

I love this! Bless him x

Loving it ,bless him xx

Loving it ,bless him xx

Brilliant

Bahahahaha!!!! How very clever, and hystericlly funny!!!!! Smart boy!

+ View more comments

2 months ago

Autism Stories

The face of a boy whose Classic Thomas Mini just arrived in the post.

"This is the greatest day of my life!"

💙
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The face of a boy whose Classic Thomas Mini just arrived in the post. 

This is the greatest day of my life!

💙

 

Comment on Facebook

That’s a pro Thomas! 😍 xxx

2 months ago

Autism Stories

Dear Sawyer,

Today is your 8th birthday. And what a year you have had!

At school, this year has been a real turning point for you. You have gone from not wanting to go to school at all, to winning an award for effort in the end of year assembly! You seem to have found a way to unlock all the subjects that were stuck inside your head, and you now access them and use them to do your schoolwork. Everybody has been incredibly proud of you.

You are such a funny boy, Sawyer. You make everybody laugh with your cheeky expressions and different accents. Your choice of uncommon words is mesmerising, and we love the way you are learning to choose words that will surprise and impress people. Occasionally some of those words are a little… unsavoury. But those are few and far between… and probably Dad’s fault…

😉

At the moment you are very interested in Thomas the Tank Engine again, and you play with trains a lot of the time. You watch Thomas episodes on YouTube, and you even make your own videos to upload to your very own channel! You tell me that you still like Super Mario and Spongebob, but that your Thomas trains are very precious to you – and that there will be a tiny bit of your heart that will love Thomas forever. I hope that is true, Sawyer. Because he will always be in my heart too.

You are beginning to understand how to enjoy time spent with friends now, although you still prefer time alone. And that’s OK. I’ll be honest – at this point you’re generally not a massive fan of your sister (poor Piper – she idolises you!), but I know that will change over time. And although you find her annoying sometimes, you do love her, and you want to protect her. Recently when she told you that somebody wasn’t nice to her in school, you told her to point them out in the lunch hall so that you could tell them to be nicer! You are a very kind-hearted boy, Sawyer. And that part of you continues to grow.

Sawyer, I hope the years that come for you will be as amazing as this past year has been. I hope you continue to enjoy subjects in school (and perhaps beyond), find hobbies that give you joy, and that your relationships with those close to you remain as strong as they are today. You are so well loved, Sawyer. And you love freely too. I have a feeling that no matter where you go or what you do, you will bring light and laughter to the lives of everyone you meet.

Sawyer. Many parents hope their children will one day change the world for the better, but I don’t wish that at all. I don’t need to.

Because you already have.

Love,

Mum xxx
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Dear Sawyer,

Today is your 8th birthday. And what a year you have had!

At school, this year has been a real turning point for you. You have gone from not wanting to go to school at all, to winning an award for effort in the end of year assembly! You seem to have found a way to unlock all the subjects that were stuck inside your head, and you now access them and use them to do your schoolwork. Everybody has been incredibly proud of you.

You are such a funny boy, Sawyer. You make everybody laugh with your cheeky expressions and different accents. Your choice of uncommon words is mesmerising, and we love the way you are learning to choose words that will surprise and impress people. Occasionally some of those words are a little… unsavoury. But those are few and far between… and probably Dad’s fault…

😉

At the moment you are very interested in Thomas the Tank Engine again, and you play with trains a lot of the time. You watch Thomas episodes on YouTube, and you even make your own videos to upload to your very own channel! You tell me that you still like Super Mario and Spongebob, but that your Thomas trains are very precious to you – and that there will be a tiny bit of your heart that will love Thomas forever. I hope that is true, Sawyer. Because he will always be in my heart too.

You are beginning to understand how to enjoy time spent with friends now, although you still prefer time alone. And that’s OK. I’ll be honest – at this point you’re generally not a massive fan of your sister (poor Piper – she idolises you!), but I know that will change over time. And although you find her annoying sometimes, you do love her, and you want to protect her. Recently when she told you that somebody wasn’t nice to her in school, you told her to point them out in the lunch hall so that you could tell them to be nicer! You are a very kind-hearted boy, Sawyer. And that part of you continues to grow.

Sawyer, I hope the years that come for you will be as amazing as this past year has been. I hope you continue to enjoy subjects in school (and perhaps beyond), find hobbies that give you joy, and that your relationships with those close to you remain as strong as they are today. You are so well loved, Sawyer. And you love freely too. I have a feeling that no matter where you go or what you do, you will bring light and laughter to the lives of everyone you meet.

Sawyer. Many parents hope their children will one day change the world for the better, but I don’t wish that at all. I don’t need to.

Because you already have.

Love,

Mum xxxImage attachmentImage attachment

 

Comment on Facebook

Wow tears to my eyes that was lovely Nic Mann . Sawyer has achieved so much this year and we all hope it continues . I’am proud of him time xx

Beautiful. Happy birthday Sawyer! He and Piper are very lucky to have you as parents. X

Happy birthday Sawyer x

2 months ago

Autism Stories

Today I'm thanking autism for bringing us 8 years of this amazing little boy.

EXACTLY the way he is 💙

Happy Birthday, Sawyer.

YOU ROCK!!

xxx
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Today Im thanking autism for bringing us 8 years of this amazing little boy.

EXACTLY the way he is 💙

Happy Birthday, Sawyer.

YOU ROCK!!

xxx

 

Comment on Facebook

Happy birthday little man ❤️

Happy Birthday Sawyer! Lots of love from us and your friend Matilda xxx

Happy birthday Sawyer x

Happy birthday little man...

Happy 8th Birthday Sawyer 🎂Hope u have a fantastic day xx

Happy Birthday Sawyer! We’ve been hearing lots about your birthday plans recently and I hope it’s everything you have wished for! 🚂 🎂 Xxx

Happy birthday dude!

Happy Birthday Sawyer, from Erin and I ! Have a great day xxx

Happy birthday Sawyer xx

Happy birthday x

Happy birthday xx

+ View more comments

2 months ago

Autism Stories

Just your average Sunday afternoon spent systematically photographing every Thomas toy in Sainsbury's.

💙
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Comment on Facebook

Cheaper than actually buying them all 😉

2 months ago

Autism Stories

Hello Number 3, what's your name and where d'you come from?

My name is Nic. I'm a 34 year old mum of two, married to Lloyd.

I've got crazy curly hair, a freshly-pierced nose, shoes with flashing soles, a one-eyed cat, and an incredible ability to make myself sound more interesting on paper than I am in real life... 😉

I am a working mum and spend my entire life running from one place to the next, with a firm motto of 'work hard, play hard'. If I'm not at work, in a school meeting or writing, you will find me in the pub.

Our story with autism began about a year after our eldest was born, when I started to realise that his behaviour was unsual compared to that of his peers. A hefty speech delay cemented my concerns, and after a long and drawn out process he was diagnosed with ASD.

Our youngest (and final) baby is the amazing 5 year old Piper, who is neurotypical. Lloyd and I often wonder how different our journey might have been if she had been born first and Sawyer second. Hindsight is an incredibly useless thing...

So that's my bit over I guess!

How about you? What brings you here?

I'm so glad you came x

.
.
.
.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #neurotypical #nhs #mystory #allaboutyou
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Hello Number 3, whats your name and where dyou come from?

My name is Nic. Im a 34 year old mum of two, married to Lloyd.

Ive got crazy curly hair, a freshly-pierced nose, shoes with flashing soles, a one-eyed cat, and an incredible ability to make myself sound more interesting on paper than I am in real life... ;-) 

I am a working mum and spend my entire life running from one place to the next, with a firm motto of work hard, play hard. If Im not at work, in a school meeting or writing, you will find me in the pub.

Our story with autism began about a year after our eldest was born, when I started to realise that his behaviour was unsual compared to that of his peers. A hefty speech delay cemented my concerns, and after a long and drawn out process he was diagnosed with ASD.

Our youngest (and final) baby is the amazing 5 year old Piper, who is neurotypical. Lloyd and I often wonder how different our journey might have been if she had been born first and Sawyer second. Hindsight is an incredibly useless thing... 

So thats my bit over I guess!

How about you? What brings you here?

Im so glad you came x

.
.
.
.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #neurotypical #nhs #mystory #allaboutyou

 

Comment on Facebook

Hello my name is Steph. I follow your page because I am your friend and a huge fan of Sawyer. Your blog regularly educates me about Autism and I try to educate my son #autismawareness #breakingthestigma

Blame: The Husband Diaries

As Lloyd’s story starts to unfold between us, I am surprised by how easily he can access his emotions when I ask a direct question. It occurs to me for the first time that although he rarely offers out his innermost thoughts, they are in fact very close to the surface.

The conversation continues to flow between us as I begin to steer away from denial and into deeper waters. I ask him if he remembers how he felt once he finally came to terms with Sawyer's diagnosis, and accepted that autism was here to stay. As he pauses for thought, a vision of Sawyer screaming in a highchair appears in front of me. And I’m almost certain Lloyd is looking at the same thing.

“I suppose I started to blame myself”, he manages. And he looks the other way.

When Sawyer was around 18 months old, Lloyd was made redundant. He very quickly moved in to different employment, but initially the new job was only available for 2 days per week, which meant we suddenly found ourselves reversing the roles we had established since becoming parents: I increased my working hours to counteract the financial shortfall, and Lloyd became Sawyer’s primary caregiver.

It is difficult to explain how it felt to be around Sawyer when he was that age. Taking him out was rarely fun because all he wanted to do was run as far and as fast as possible, putting yet another spotlight on how unusual his behaviour was compared to his peers. But staying home alone with him was difficult too. Sawyer didn’t play with toys, or clap along to music. And he didn’t want you to play, laugh, or sing songs with him. In fact, Sawyer barely interacted with us at all. Because Sawyer was in a world of his own.

Long, silent days at home with him would be broken up with scream-filled mealtimes. Sawyer was unable to sit still at a table and therefore we used a highchair, which he hated with a vengeance. He also hated food, both texture and most tastes. Airplane sounds and elaborate motions with spoons were pointless because he had no idea what we were doing or why. All he seemed to be sure of was that he needed to escape. And his need to escape became the theme of every single day.

I can’t begin to tell you to what extent all of the above makes you feel like a terrible person, let alone a terrible parent. There aren’t enough words to describe the sense of failure that suffocates you as you sit in complete silence, not engaging with the child who sits just in front of you.

Silence.

Because after a while, you just stop bothering to speak.

After a few moments, Lloyd looks back at me and takes a deep breath. He tells me that Sawyer’s diagnosis had made him question the time they had spent together, wondering if things could have been different if I had been the one to stay at home. For a moment he looks sad, but then out of nowhere he smiles, and I recognise it. It is the smile of someone who has overcome an anxiety and is able to look back on it as fiction for the first time.

I put my hand on his knee and mirror his smile, realising that it has taken up to this very moment for us both to accept something so vital to our future happiness.

It was never anybody's fault.
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Blame: The Husband Diaries 

As Lloyd’s story starts to unfold between us, I am surprised by how easily he can access his emotions when I ask a direct question. It occurs to me for the first time that although he rarely offers out his innermost thoughts, they are in fact very close to the surface.

The conversation continues to flow between us as I begin to steer away from denial and into deeper waters. I ask him if he remembers how he felt once he finally came to terms with Sawyers diagnosis, and accepted that autism was here to stay. As he pauses for thought, a vision of Sawyer screaming in a highchair appears in front of me. And I’m almost certain Lloyd is looking at the same thing.

“I suppose I started to blame myself”, he manages.  And he looks the other way.

When Sawyer was around 18 months old, Lloyd was made redundant. He very quickly moved in to different employment, but initially the new job was only available for 2 days per week, which meant we suddenly found ourselves reversing the roles we had established since becoming parents: I increased my working hours to counteract the financial shortfall, and Lloyd became Sawyer’s primary caregiver.

It is difficult to explain how it felt to be around Sawyer when he was that age. Taking him out was rarely fun because all he wanted to do was run as far and as fast as possible, putting yet another spotlight on how unusual his behaviour was compared to his peers. But staying home alone with him was difficult too. Sawyer didn’t play with toys, or clap along to music. And he didn’t want you to play, laugh, or sing songs with him. In fact, Sawyer barely interacted with us at all. Because Sawyer was in a world of his own.

Long, silent days at home with him would be broken up with scream-filled mealtimes. Sawyer was unable to sit still at a table and therefore we used a highchair, which he hated with a vengeance. He also hated food, both texture and most tastes. Airplane sounds and elaborate motions with spoons were pointless because he had no idea what we were doing or why. All he seemed to be sure of was that he needed to escape. And his need to escape became the theme of every single day.

I can’t begin to tell you to what extent all of the above makes you feel like a terrible person, let alone a terrible parent.  There aren’t enough words to describe the sense of failure that suffocates you as you sit in complete silence, not engaging with the child who sits just in front of you. 

Silence. 

Because after a while, you just stop bothering to speak.

After a few moments, Lloyd looks back at me and takes a deep breath. He tells me that Sawyer’s diagnosis had made him question the time they had spent together, wondering if things could have been different if I had been the one to stay at home. For a moment he looks sad, but then out of nowhere he smiles, and I recognise it. It is the smile of someone who has overcome an anxiety and is able to look back on it as fiction for the first time.

I put my hand on his knee and mirror his smile, realising that it has taken up to this very moment for us both to accept something so vital to our future happiness.

It was never anybodys fault.

 

Comment on Facebook

Love you guys. No it isn't anyones fault but it took me a long time to accept that.

It was good to read your story it gave an honest view as to how a day with a child with autism can be hope your acceptance will help you cope in the future

2 months ago

Autism Stories

I'm not going to lie, autism pretty much ruined our day.

But in between the chaos, these moments were amazing.

#autism #asd
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2 months ago

Autism Stories

The local outdoor swimming pool was so warm today that the experience quickly became too much for Sawyer.

After a short while he became frantic, uncontrollable and upset. It is always difficult to know what to do in those situations, especially somewhere like a swimming pool when a meltdown can quickly turn dangerous.

Shout out to the other mums and dads for not being judgemental, staring or whispering (you'd be surprised...).

On the way home, Sawyer soothed himself by reciting Thomas the Tank Engine lines in his head.

What does your autistic child do to self-soothe after a sensory meltdown?

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #thomasthetankengine #thomasthetrain #swimming #summer #heat #britishsummer
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The local outdoor swimming pool was so warm today that the experience quickly became too much for Sawyer.

After a short while he became frantic, uncontrollable and upset. It is always difficult to know what to do in those situations, especially somewhere like a swimming pool when a meltdown can quickly turn dangerous.

Shout out to the other mums and dads for not being judgemental, staring or whispering (youd be surprised...).

On the way home, Sawyer soothed himself by reciting Thomas the Tank Engine lines in his head.

What does your autistic child do to self-soothe after a sensory meltdown? 

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #thomasthetankengine #thomasthetrain #swimming #summer #heat #britishsummer

 

Comment on Facebook

Lots of role play (with teddies, characters etc!)

James likes business cards ,train tickets and often find him having some of these to hand can divert a melt down.He flicks them thru his fingers

That's an interesting one, Gay. Amazing minds aren't they x

Hamish talks to himself about planets

2 months ago

Autism Stories

When it comes to autism, some things will simply never change 💙

#autism #asd #thomasthetankengine
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When it comes to autism, some things will simply never change 💙

#autism #asd #thomasthetankengine

 

Comment on Facebook

James my Grandson still love his trains,from Thomas and friends he has developed a passion for visiting the local Station just sitting watching trains come thru .We take him on train journeys he enjoys also he loves the underground ,something we never though the would cope with.

3 months ago

Autism Stories

Denial: The Husband Diaries

I sat on the end of the sofa and blinked slowly as my tired eyes followed Lloyd around the room.

It had been only a few hours since Sawyer was given a formal diagnosis of ASD. Both of our children were in bed and my mind was still buzzing with it all – filled to the brim with an odd mixture of relief, sadness, confusion and exhaustion. My head ached. My heart felt heavy.

Our son was autistic.

I silently waited for Lloyd to sit down so that we could go over the day’s events and talk about what had happened. Maybe cry a bit? I didn’t know. I rolled my own thoughts and feelings around in my brain, trying to put them in some sort of order – trying to understand them. It was the first time either of us had been through anything even remotely similar to the situation we found ourselves in – but we were at least, in it together. We could support each other, I comforted myself.

After what seemed like an age, Lloyd sat down adjacent to me. He briefly felt around for the TV remote, and as he picked it up he happened to catch my eye. He smiled a familiar smile.

“What’s up?” he asked.

As if nothing had happened at all.

~


When Lloyd and I sit down to discuss how we should begin telling his story, I have no idea how the conversation will flow. I know he is keen to get his story out in to the world, but he has never been much of a talker, and his feelings are often difficult to extract. Frankly, he finds these types of conversations incredibly uncomfortable. I suggest we start right at the beginning, we both take deep breaths – and we jump right in.

I start by asking Lloyd if he can remember the first time autism was mentioned in relation to Sawyer. He looks around as though he is searching for something, and although I don’t look, I can see in my peripheral vision that he is wringing his hands. He thinks more deeply than I expect, and when he eventually starts to speak, his voice sounds cracked and awkward. He carefully admits that he can’t remember the first time autism was mentioned, but that what he does remember is that when Sawyer was very young, I would call him crying, sobbing down the phone telling him that something wasn’t right and that I didn’t know what to do.

Sawyer was less than a year old when those phone calls started, he tells me, and again, he looks sad. After a short pause he then makes the incredibly honest and brave admission that he thought I was overreacting, and that I was trying to draw too many comparisons between Sawyer and his peers. He explains that Sawyer was his only frame of reference, adding that if Piper (our youngest) had come first, he would have seen the differences in Sawyer’s behaviour very early on. He tells me he feels guilty about that now, and wishes he had been more supportive.

We sit in silence for a while, taking in everything that has just been said. I think he surprised himself with his words. I suggest we talk a little bit more about denial and ask him when he thinks he fully accepted Sawyer’s autism. He knows immediately, without pause, and he tells me it was the summer of 2017, which was 4 years after Sawyer was given his formal diagnosis.

In the summer of 2017, while the rest of us hid away from the stresses of everyday life in a luxury Spanish villa, Lloyd felt unable to do the same. It was no secret that he had been going through an incredibly difficult time, but we hoped a holiday would do him good, and Lloyd had hoped the same. Alongside many personal struggles, it was coming up to the 1-year anniversary of his good friend’s untimely death, and it had affected Lloyd in a much bigger way than any of us had expected. The grief was as strong as it had ever been, and time away in the silence had backfired, forcing him to think about things with more clarity than ever before. Included in this, was Sawyer’s challenging behaviour. Which suddenly stared him directly in the face, in a situation he was unable to escape.

Back home, Lloyd explains, he only saw snippets of Sawyer’s unusual behaviour – both before and after diagnosis. He saw the same issues and problems day in and day out, and had learned to cope with them as if they were normal. But suddenly, secluded, spending 24/7 in a villa with Sawyer, he could no longer pretend that autism didn’t exist. It was everywhere. In the noise of the airport, in the heat of a hotter-than-usual country, in the unfamiliar food, in the temperature of the pool, and in the mattress he slept on. Autism had followed us.

And that, Lloyd tells me, is when he realised autism was part of our family.


And that it would never go away.
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Denial: The Husband Diaries

I sat on the end of the sofa and blinked slowly as my tired eyes followed Lloyd around the room.

It had been only a few hours since Sawyer was given a formal diagnosis of ASD. Both of our children were in bed and my mind was still buzzing with it all – filled to the brim with an odd mixture of relief, sadness, confusion and exhaustion. My head ached. My heart felt heavy.

Our son was autistic.

I silently waited for Lloyd to sit down so that we could go over the day’s events and talk about what had happened. Maybe cry a bit? I didn’t know. I rolled my own thoughts and feelings around in my brain, trying to put them in some sort of order  – trying to understand them. It was the first time either of us had been through anything even remotely similar to the situation we found ourselves in – but we were at least, in it together.  We could support each other, I comforted myself.

After what seemed like an age, Lloyd sat down adjacent to me. He briefly felt around for the TV remote, and as he picked it up he happened to catch my eye. He smiled a familiar smile.

“What’s up?” he asked.

As if nothing had happened at all.

~
 

When Lloyd and I sit down to discuss how we should begin telling his story, I have no idea how the conversation will flow. I know he is keen to get his story out in to the world, but he has never been much of a talker, and his feelings are often difficult to extract. Frankly, he finds these types of conversations incredibly uncomfortable.  I suggest we start right at the beginning, we both take deep breaths – and we jump right in.

I start by asking Lloyd if he can remember the first time autism was mentioned in relation to Sawyer. He looks around as though he is searching for something, and although I don’t look, I can see in my peripheral vision that he is wringing his hands. He thinks more deeply than I expect, and when he eventually starts to speak, his voice sounds cracked and awkward. He carefully admits that he can’t remember the first time autism was mentioned,  but that what he does remember is that when Sawyer was very young, I would call him crying, sobbing down the phone telling him that something wasn’t right and that I didn’t know what to do.

Sawyer was less than a year old when those phone calls started, he tells me, and again, he looks sad. After a short pause he then makes the incredibly honest and brave admission that he thought I was overreacting, and that I was trying to draw too many comparisons between Sawyer and his peers. He explains that Sawyer was his only frame of reference, adding that if Piper (our youngest) had come first, he would have seen the differences in Sawyer’s behaviour very early on. He tells me he feels guilty about that now, and wishes he had been more supportive.

We sit in silence for a while, taking in everything that has just been said. I think he surprised himself with his words. I suggest we talk a little bit more about denial and ask him when he thinks he fully accepted Sawyer’s autism. He knows immediately, without pause, and he tells me it was the summer of 2017, which was 4 years after Sawyer was given his formal diagnosis.

In the summer of 2017, while the rest of us hid away from the stresses of everyday life in a luxury Spanish villa, Lloyd felt unable to do the same. It was no secret that he had been going through an incredibly difficult time, but we hoped a holiday would do him good, and Lloyd had hoped the same. Alongside many personal struggles, it was coming up to the 1-year anniversary of his good friend’s untimely death, and it had affected Lloyd in a much bigger way than any of us had expected. The grief was as strong as it had ever been, and time away in the silence had backfired, forcing him to think about things with more clarity than ever before. Included in this, was Sawyer’s challenging behaviour. Which suddenly stared him directly in the face, in a situation he was unable to escape.

Back home, Lloyd explains, he only saw snippets of Sawyer’s unusual behaviour – both before and after diagnosis. He saw the same issues and problems day in and day out, and had learned to cope with them as if they were normal. But suddenly, secluded, spending 24/7 in a villa with Sawyer, he could no longer pretend that autism didn’t exist. It was everywhere. In the noise of the airport, in the heat of a hotter-than-usual country, in the unfamiliar food, in the temperature of the pool, and in the mattress he slept on. Autism had followed us.

And that, Lloyd tells me, is when he realised autism was part of our family.

 
And that it would never go away.

 

Comment on Facebook

Really hard for N's Dad to talk about anything but he and N appear to have many similar autistic traits. Just means the emotional connections aren't there. Awesome work on getting the words and thoughts out there Lloyd.

....... Part of a beautiful family, big hugs 🤗 xx😘🌸💞

3 months ago

Autism Stories

Fathers of autistic children are often lost and forgotten. Their feelings are not regularly discussed, their voices not heard, and their stories never told. If you were to google the words ‘autism blog’ you would discover pages and pages of words written by mothers, but there are comparitively very few that tell stories of what life is like to be the father of an autistic child.

Over the next few posts, and with his permission and guidance, I am going to start telling my husband’s story. Exposing the ups and downs of living life as Sawyer’s daddy, hoping to initiate discussion, incite questions and tear down barriers of communication.

If you are an Autism Dad reading this post and feeling lost, anxious and unable to speak out, hang tight. Drop me a message.

I see you.
... See MoreSee Less

Fathers of autistic children are often lost and forgotten. Their feelings are not regularly discussed, their voices not heard, and their stories never told. If you were to google the words ‘autism blog’ you would discover pages and pages of words written by mothers, but there are comparitively very few that tell stories of what life is like to be the father of an autistic child.

Over the next few posts, and with his permission and guidance, I am going to start telling my husband’s story. Exposing the ups and downs of living life as Sawyer’s daddy, hoping to initiate discussion, incite questions and tear down barriers of communication.

If you are an Autism Dad reading this post and feeling lost, anxious and unable to speak out, hang tight. Drop me a message.

I see you.

 

Comment on Facebook

Jordan Greene

4 months ago

Autism Stories

It can't be easy being Sawyer's little sister.

So, we made today ALL about HER.

And she has gone to bed a very happy little girl.

<3
... See MoreSee Less

It cant be easy being Sawyers little sister.
 
So, we made today ALL about HER.

And she has gone to bed a very happy little girl.

 

Comment on Facebook

Oh bless her heart how lovely xx

She looks just like you nic xx

4 months ago

Autism Stories

After a lazy morning spent inside on gadgets and laptops, we decided to head out in to the woods, which is a family favourite of ours.

It can be difficult to convince children to step away from the screens and venture outdoors. Especially these days, when most households have multiple gadgets and we as adults don't tend to lead by example...

Sawyer certainly wasn't happy at first. It was humid, the grass was teasing his ankles, and as usual he walked in to stingy nettles within seconds of arriving.

But after a tangy tangerine (sour tastes often help to override Sawyer's other senses), he declared that 'Nature is awesome!'.

A (successful!) walk in the woods with your family really is the best therapy. 💚

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #mothernature #bearhunt #family
... See MoreSee Less

After a lazy morning spent inside on gadgets and laptops, we decided to head out in to the woods, which is a family favourite of ours.

It can be difficult to convince children to step away from the screens and venture outdoors. Especially these days, when most households have multiple gadgets and we as adults dont tend to lead by example... 

Sawyer certainly wasnt happy at first. It was humid, the grass was teasing his ankles, and as usual he walked in to stingy nettles within seconds of arriving.

But after a tangy tangerine (sour tastes often help to override Sawyers other senses), he declared that Nature is awesome!. 

A (successful!) walk in the woods with your family really is the best therapy.  💚

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #mothernature #bearhunt #family

4 months ago

Autism Stories

Sawyer is an incredibly endearing and often hilarious 7-year-old. He is kind, inquisitive, outgoing and incredibly handsome. He faces the challenges autism throws at him with admirable determination. The meltdowns, the sensory overload that fills his days, and his lack of special awareness are an example of the threads that tie Sawyer and autism together. Forever. They are traits that have always existed, will always be there, and that he simply cannot help.

But that doesn’t make them any less annoying.

I know I know, but hear me out.

Someone recently said to me that Sawyer is lucky to have a mummy who understands him so well, and who does so much to make him as happy as possible, despite his disability. And to an extent I suppose she was right. I do educate myself. I take time to think of what is best for Sawyer, and I never, ever stop fighting for him. I write about the battles we face, the obstacles we overcome, and my hopes for his future, because I want to spread awareness and contribute towards building a more inclusive future. But what I haven’t ever written about is that just because I work hard to understand my son’s additional needs, doesn’t mean I always get it right.

On Monday of this week, Sawyer suffered autistic meltdown of catastrophic proportion. It isn’t something I’ve seen in many months, but a change to his normal school routine sent him into a spiral of confusion and mistrust that we are still feeling aftershocks of today – 5 days later. I understand the reasons why he found school difficult this week, and I certainly did as much as I could to limit the damage. But let me tell you this: Just because I understand the reasons behind it all, doesn’t mean it can’t fuck up my day.

Just because I fully sympathise, doesn’t make it easier to face. In fact the opposite is true, because when you understand the reasons fully, and you still can’t suppress the feelings of frustration and annoyance, what follows every single time – is guilt.

As a treat for both children today, we planned a family day out to a local animal rescue shelter. Our daughter is desperate to get bunny rabbits. She’s named them, knows where to buy them, has decided which type of hutch they need, and has very matter-of-factly told us that our cat will be fine with it because we had a bunny rabbit before (“And once, he even slept in the cage because Mummy didn’t know he was in there and she locked him in!”).

Yes, thank you, Piper.

It was clear Sawyer wasn’t coping from the second we got out of the car. The weather here in the UK at the moment is sweaty and close. It isn’t something we are used to (as you’ll find out from any chatty cashier) and for Sawyer it is even more of a discomfort. Whereas I wipe the beading sweat moustache from my upper lip and fan my face with random pieces of paper, Sawyer starts to spin in circles. He starts to get clumsy, drop things, seek out sensory stimulation by getting as close to me as possible, even if it means standing directly in front me whilst I’m walking in a straight line, just so he can feel the resistance when we crash. Today, the smell of animals was too much. The sounds were all too much. The heat was too much. And it is always, always heartbreaking to see him like that.

But yes, you guessed it, sometimes it is annoying.

I am a mum of two small children, with an ever-evolving career, a busy schedule, and only so much patience. I work hard to understand autism, and I certainly do my best to make Sawyer as happy and comfortable as possible, but in day-to-day life there really is only so much you can do. You cannot have all the answers. You cannot think about autism every second of the day and block all other experiences to deal with just one. I have another child. I have other responsibilities. I have other thoughts. And sometimes, I’m just fucking knackered.

So this post goes out to all parents, whether their children are autistic or not. If you’ve poured yourself a massive glass of wine and are currently sat telling yourself what a bad parent you are, and wondering if maybe your kids weren’t that bad after all:

You’re doing your best.

And they probably were.
... See MoreSee Less

Sawyer is an incredibly endearing and often hilarious 7-year-old. He is kind, inquisitive, outgoing and incredibly handsome.  He faces the challenges autism throws at him with admirable determination. The meltdowns, the sensory overload that fills his days, and his lack of special awareness are an example of the threads that tie Sawyer and autism together. Forever. They are traits that have always existed, will always be there, and that he simply cannot help.

But that doesn’t make them any less annoying.

I know I know, but hear me out.

Someone recently said to me that Sawyer is lucky to have a mummy who understands him so well, and who does so much to make him as happy as possible, despite his disability. And to an extent I suppose she was right. I do educate myself. I take time to think of what is best for Sawyer, and I never, ever stop fighting for him. I write about the battles we face, the obstacles we overcome, and my hopes for his future, because I want to spread awareness and contribute towards building a more inclusive future. But what I haven’t ever written about is that just because I work hard to understand my son’s additional needs, doesn’t mean I always get it right.

On Monday of this week, Sawyer suffered autistic meltdown of catastrophic proportion. It isn’t something I’ve seen in many months, but a change to his normal school routine sent him into a spiral of confusion and mistrust that we are still feeling aftershocks of today – 5 days later. I understand the reasons why he found school difficult this week, and I certainly did as much as I could to limit the damage. But let me tell you this: Just because I understand the reasons behind it all, doesn’t mean it can’t fuck up my day.

Just because I fully sympathise, doesn’t make it easier to face. In fact the opposite is true, because when you understand the reasons fully, and you still can’t suppress the feelings of frustration and annoyance, what follows every single time – is guilt.

As a treat for both children today, we planned a family day out to a local animal rescue shelter. Our daughter is desperate to get bunny rabbits. She’s named them, knows where to buy them, has decided which type of hutch they need, and has very matter-of-factly told us that our cat will be fine with it because we had a bunny rabbit before (“And once, he even slept in the cage because Mummy didn’t know he was in there and she locked him in!”).

Yes, thank you, Piper.

It was clear Sawyer wasn’t coping from the second we got out of the car. The weather here in the UK at the moment is sweaty and close. It isn’t something we are used to (as you’ll find out from any chatty cashier) and for Sawyer it is even more of a discomfort. Whereas I wipe the beading sweat moustache from my upper lip and fan my face with random pieces of paper, Sawyer starts to spin in circles. He starts to get clumsy, drop things, seek out sensory stimulation by getting as close to me as possible, even if it means standing directly in front me whilst I’m walking in a straight line, just so he can feel the resistance when we crash. Today, the smell of animals was too much. The sounds were all too much. The heat was too much. And it is always, always heartbreaking to see him like that.

But yes, you guessed it, sometimes it is annoying.

I am a mum of two small children, with an ever-evolving career, a busy schedule, and only so much patience. I work hard to understand autism, and I certainly do my best to make Sawyer as happy and comfortable as possible, but in day-to-day life there really is only so much you can do. You cannot have all the answers. You cannot think about autism every second of the day and block all other experiences to deal with just one. I have another child. I have other responsibilities. I have other thoughts. And sometimes, I’m just fucking knackered.

So this post goes out to all parents, whether their children are autistic or not. If you’ve poured yourself a massive glass of wine and are currently sat telling yourself what a bad parent you are, and wondering if maybe your kids weren’t that bad after all:

You’re doing your best.

And they probably were.

 

Comment on Facebook

Right on!!! Well stated. Cheers!!!

Honey, you are doing your best and you are smashing this (whether you think you are or not) and because of that Sawyer is AMAZING. He teaches us all so much about life. He is the most incredible boy I’ve ever met and I’m so proud to be able to love him x

I love and don’t love this at the same time, you know what I mean, keep on keeping on love - you’re smashing it the same way we all are - it’s the hardest job in the world being a parent especially when it’s not simple and like you said you have allllllll the other things and people in life to think about - he’s a lucky boy as he has two loving parents and beautiful sister to be around him - 😘😘

All the admiration and love for you being one of the best humans by showing us all that you're still human. Guilt is a fucker. Love you all xx

Don't know how you do it but you always write about what I need. We are on holiday at the moment and due to awol cat the journey did not go to plan. N and his dad came down a day later than planned. As soon as N got here I could see he was struggling and he took himself off to his room. Fuck you autism - I work hard, I train hard, I learn all I can about autism and support my son the best I can. So just this once let us have 5 minutes if a normal family holiday. I know that is not going to happen so I have had a few indulgent tears, will put my big girl pants on and get on it again. Love to you all 💜

❤️❤️❤️❤️ xxx

i'm with you 100% ,i feel what you feel on a regular basis x

+ View more comments

4 months ago

Autism Stories

No deep caption.

Because under it all? I'm just a very proud Mum.
... See MoreSee Less

No deep caption. 

Because under it all? Im just a very proud Mum.

5 months ago

Autism Stories

This post is a little bit different to our usual stuff, and I hope you will forgive me for that. I am nervous! But I couldn't stop myself sharing this amazing video that Sawyer made earlier today.

Sawyer has loved Minecraft (on and off) for a long time. It allows him to explore his imagination, be creative, and incorporate all of his current obsessions, which keeps him engaged.

As you will see....

Enjoy!7-year-old Sawyer gives a quick tour of his island in Minecraft.
... See MoreSee Less

Video image

 

Comment on Facebook

He has done a good job, not just on the buildings but doing a YouTube video too x

That is a great tour and what a brilliant video, well done Sawyer! I love the creativity and layout of the island, so much cool stuff to explore.

5 months ago

Autism Stories

A quick trip the nursery for some plants!

As soon as we entered the greenhouse-like space I had a feeling it would be too hot for Sawyer, since it was uncomfortable already for me.

He looked over and said 'Mum, I think I'm going to get too hot under here. I feel like I can't breathe a bit already. It's pretty stifling. Can we sit in the car please?'.

And so here we are. Another sensory win.

Well done, Sawyer! Xx

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #sunshine #plants #Summer #heatwave #britishsummer #britsdontdoheatwell
... See MoreSee Less

A quick trip the nursery for some plants!

As soon as we entered the greenhouse-like space I had a feeling it would be too hot for Sawyer, since it was uncomfortable already for me.

He looked over and said Mum, I think Im going to get too hot under here. I feel like I cant breathe a bit already. Its pretty stifling. Can we sit in the car please?.

And so here we are. Another sensory win.

Well done, Sawyer! Xx

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #sunshine #plants #Summer #heatwave #britishsummer #britsdontdoheatwell

 

Comment on Facebook

Nice one Sawyer. N still struggles with this.

5 months ago

Autism Stories

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Image attachment

6 months ago

Autism Stories

My gorgeous boy has almost got his energy back! And I couldn't be more grateful to have my house back to some sort of normality.

Today, Sawyer was complaining that he was hungry, but simultaneously refused to eat. It struck me as odd, because from what I could work out he didn't have a tummy ache, and usually after a bug comes the urge to eat an entire WORLD of food.

After hearing his tummy rumble from across the room, I suggested he try a little nibble of something just to see how it felt. He agreed, and when I asked him what he would like to try, his nervous reply was 'something healthy'.

Sawyer is such a cheerful and generally agreeable boy that it is easy to forget the complex anxieties that bubble just beneath the surface. He often, silently, takes things literally and stores them away in his brain as truths.

Sawyer blamed himself for being unwell, and I had no idea. He knows that healthy eating and exercise promote general wellbeing, and had assumed that he was therefore an unhealthy child because he had been so unwell.

We have now spoken about it, corrected his thought process, drawn pictures, laughed, and he has eaten dinner early because he was so hungry.

Autism is silent, and it isn't always obvious.

But when it is there - it is always, always there.
... See MoreSee Less

6 months ago

Autism Stories

Sometimes Sawyer's sensory issues make complete sense to me, and other times I just don’t understand at all.

Minutes after I hit publish on my last post, suddenly and without warning, Sawyer started to throw up. Sensory Processing Disorder means that he often doesn’t display the same warning signs that other children do when they are starting to feel poorly. Sawyer finds it very difficult to distinguish the sensation of discomfort/pain/nausea among the blur of other senses he battles with every day.

This particular part of Sawyer’s sensory issues I can understand and make sense of. And sometimes - I can help. If I see that he looks uncomfortable I can ask him closed questions to try and pinpoint exactly what might be changing his behaviour and making him seem prickly, upset, angry or confused.

Sawyer has been poorly with this nasty bug since Sunday evening, and as you can imagine, severe sensory processing issues + throwing up, does not = happy and plain sailing. Again, I understand – no-one likes to be sick. And I can help. I can reassure, I can explain and I can comfort.

Today, thankfully, he is feeling a lot better. He woke up with colour in his cheeks and he asked for a drink of water. He nibbled some toast and he asked for ice-cream. All the typical actions you’d expect of a child recovering from a stomach bug.

Except he has also been asking to suck on a lemon since 9.30am. Repeatedly. Anxiously. Desperately. As if it were the only thing he could possibly think of that would fix the way he was feeling, even though he couldn’t explain what that feeling was – or how the lemon would help.

Finally, reluctantly, I cut open a lemon and handed it to him. He retreated to the stairs and sucked on his lemon – face wincing and contorting as the sour taste filled his mouth.

And when all the juice was gone, he handed it back to me with a massive sigh of relief.

"That’s much better now”, he said.

And I don’t think either of us know why.


#autism #asd #autismawareness #autismawarenessweek #sensory #sensoryprocessingdisorder
... See MoreSee Less

Sometimes Sawyers sensory issues make complete sense to me, and other times I just don’t understand at all. 

Minutes after I hit publish on my last post, suddenly and without warning, Sawyer started to throw up. Sensory Processing Disorder means that he often doesn’t display the same warning signs that other children do when they are starting to feel poorly. Sawyer finds it very difficult to distinguish the sensation of discomfort/pain/nausea among the blur of other senses he battles with every day. 

This particular part of Sawyer’s sensory issues I can understand and make sense of. And sometimes - I can help. If I see that he looks uncomfortable I can ask him closed questions to try and pinpoint exactly what might be changing his behaviour and making him seem prickly, upset, angry or confused. 

Sawyer has been poorly with this nasty bug since Sunday evening, and as you can imagine, severe sensory processing issues + throwing up, does not = happy and plain sailing. Again, I understand – no-one likes to be sick. And I can help. I can reassure, I can explain and I can comfort. 

Today, thankfully, he is feeling a lot better. He woke up with colour in his cheeks and he asked for a drink of water. He nibbled some toast and he asked for ice-cream. All the typical actions you’d expect of a child recovering from a stomach bug. 

Except he has also been asking to suck on a lemon since 9.30am. Repeatedly. Anxiously. Desperately. As if it were the only thing he could possibly think of that would fix the way he was feeling, even though he couldn’t explain what that feeling was – or how the lemon would help.

Finally, reluctantly, I cut open a lemon and handed it to him. He retreated to the stairs and sucked on his lemon – face wincing and contorting as the sour taste filled his mouth. 

And when all the juice was gone, he handed it back to me with a massive sigh of relief.

That’s much better now”, he said.

And I don’t think either of us know why. 

 
#autism #asd #autismawareness #autismawarenessweek #sensory #sensoryprocessingdisorderImage attachment

 

Comment on Facebook

My face winced too just the thought of sucking lemons. Glad he’s feeling better!

Poor Sawyer. 🙁 Jessie seeks strong flavours, apparently it's one of the quickest ways to get such a strong, calming sensory input.

Although I am not happy Sawyer has been poorly I am happy that you have shared this. Nathaniel is the same - no warning of when he feels ill to the point of him throwing up all over his Sunday dinner; no warning what so ever. It is comforting to know that others have the same reactions. Glad he is on the mend x

Amie, this lady’s page may be of some help for you and Dan. Xx

6 months ago

Autism Stories

Family meal, probably being judged by those around us for allowing our children to have gadgets at the dinner table (can you relate?).

Once I would have felt like a failure. But these days I'm relaxed and happy. Both of our children are sitting at the same table, and these smiles prove we must be doing something right 💙💙
... See MoreSee Less

Family meal, probably being judged by those around us for allowing our children to have gadgets at the dinner table (can you relate?). 

Once I would have felt like a failure. But these days Im relaxed and happy. Both of our children are sitting at the same table, and these smiles prove we must be doing something right 💙💙Image attachment

 

Comment on Facebook

You are doing an awesome job. Look at those smiles x

Wonderful happy faces! Happy Easter! xx

❤️ these 2 so much x

U are doing a great job . Just look at there smiles xx

Happy bunnies. A very Happy Easter hols to you. X

+ View more comments

6 months ago

Autism Stories

After school one day, I drove my children to our local Macdonald’s as a special treat. There was a time not long ago when I didn’t think Sawyer would ever feel the childhood elation of a random trip for fast food, and so each burger they consumed was as much a delight for me as it was for them. Not wanting to risk the bustle of a busy restaurant, we took the drive-thru option and I listened to them rifle happily through the boxes as we made our way home.

When we arrived at the house they scampered quickly inside, leaving me trailing behind with a multitude of bags, books, lunchboxes and jackets, as standard after-school procedure. I made my way through to the kitchen and put everything down, cleared paperwork from the table and helped Piper open her orange juice. A few moments later I looked around and wondered what was taking Sawyer so long to make his way through to the kitchen. I called out for him twice, but as Sawyer often doesn’t hear me over the volume of his thoughts, I went to check he was OK. I walked through to the hallway and as the stairs came in to view so did my gorgeous son, sitting on the fourth step still smartly dressed in his school uniform, with his shoes neatly placed by his feet. He didn’t notice me arrive, even though I was stood directly in front of him, and he didn’t look up. His new toy was sat to his left and he was staring intently at it, whispering something rhythmically under his breath before taking the last couple of mouthfuls of his burger. I asked him if he wanted to come and eat with us at the table but he politely declined. When I explained that he might feel a bit more comfortable at the dinner table, and that we would like to eat with him, he eloquently expressed his thoughts in a way that left me both sad and happy. Bemused and yet completely sympathetic:

“I just please want to eat my dinner alone in the peace and quiet” he said, without looking up.

There is no instruction manual to tell you which autism-parenting battles to choose and which to quietly step away from. But in that moment I knew that I should leave him alone to eat.

It wasn’t the first time Sawyer had expressed a strong desire to be alone. There have been countless times when he has chosen to sit at a different table at softplay, in restaurants and pub gardens. And I suppose to the outside world it must be a perplexing sight, to see a young boy sitting on his own, with his family seemingly ignoring him from the next table. But don’t get me wrong – when he does want to integrate with us, and join in the family meals and games – we celebrate it thoroughly and hope each time that it’s the start of a new way of life for us. But equally, we are raising Sawyer to be aware of how autism affects his own ability to function, and above all else to be able to ask for help. When Sawyer refused to eat with us that day, he wasn’t being rude, disrespectful or deliberately unkind – he was simply expressing his instinctive urge to be alone, and it would have sent him the wrong message if I had denied him that right.

I kissed Sawyer on the head and I went back to the kitchen to digest what had just happened. I was proud of him for his words, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t saddened that he felt that way to begin with. It can be difficult not to take these things personally, even when I know he means no harm. I wanted to eat dinner as a family, and watch my children enjoying the treat I had bought for them, and once again I found myself angry at autism for taking away a simple family pleasure.

I sat at the dinner table, chatting with my daughter, trying hard to ignore the feeling of guilt that had started to build up in the pit of my stomach.

After all, I had just left my son to eat his dinner alone on the stairs.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #thomasthetankengine
#autismmum #autismlife #autismsupport #breakthestigma #symptoms #firstsigns #diagnosis #macdonalds #mcdonalds #fastfood #family
... See MoreSee Less

After school one day, I drove my children to our local Macdonald’s as a special treat. There was a time not long ago when I didn’t think Sawyer would ever feel the childhood elation of a random trip for fast food, and so each burger they consumed was as much a delight for me as it was for them. Not wanting to risk the bustle of a busy restaurant, we took the drive-thru option and I listened to them rifle happily through the boxes as we made our way home.

When we arrived at the house they scampered quickly inside, leaving me trailing behind with a multitude of bags, books, lunchboxes and jackets, as standard after-school procedure. I made my way through to the kitchen and put everything down, cleared paperwork from the table and helped Piper open her orange juice. A few moments later I looked around and wondered what was taking Sawyer so long to make his way through to the kitchen. I called out for him twice, but as Sawyer often doesn’t hear me over the volume of his thoughts, I went to check he was OK. I walked through to the hallway and as the stairs came in to view so did my gorgeous son, sitting on the fourth step still smartly dressed in his school uniform, with his shoes neatly placed by his feet. He didn’t notice me arrive, even though I was stood directly in front of him, and he didn’t look up. His new toy was sat to his left and he was staring intently at it, whispering something rhythmically under his breath before taking the last couple of mouthfuls of his burger. I asked him if he wanted to come and eat with us at the table but he politely declined. When I explained that he might feel a bit more comfortable at the dinner table, and that we would like to eat with him, he eloquently expressed his thoughts in a way that left me both sad and happy. Bemused and yet completely sympathetic:

“I just please want to eat my dinner alone in the peace and quiet” he said, without looking up.

There is no instruction manual to tell you which autism-parenting battles to choose and which to quietly step away from. But in that moment I knew that I should leave him alone to eat.

It wasn’t the first time Sawyer had expressed a strong desire to be alone. There have been countless times when he has chosen to sit at a different table at softplay, in restaurants and pub gardens. And I suppose to the outside world it must be a perplexing sight, to see a young boy sitting on his own, with his family seemingly ignoring him from the next table. But don’t get me wrong – when he does want to integrate with us, and join in the family meals and games – we celebrate it thoroughly and hope each time that it’s the start of a new way of life for us. But equally, we are raising Sawyer to be aware of how autism affects his own ability to function, and above all else to be able to ask for help. When Sawyer refused to eat with us that day, he wasn’t being rude, disrespectful or deliberately unkind – he was simply expressing his instinctive urge to be alone, and it would have sent him the wrong message if I had denied him that right.

I kissed Sawyer on the head and I went back to the kitchen to digest what had just happened. I was proud of him for his words, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t saddened that he felt that way to begin with. It can be difficult not to take these things personally, even when I know he means no harm. I wanted to eat dinner as a family, and watch my children enjoying the treat I had bought for them, and once again I found myself angry at autism for taking away a simple family pleasure.

I sat at the dinner table, chatting with my daughter, trying hard to ignore the feeling of guilt that had started to build up in the pit of my stomach.

After all, I had just left my son to eat his dinner alone on the stairs.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #thomasthetankengine
#autismmum #autismlife #autismsupport #breakthestigma #symptoms #firstsigns #diagnosis #macdonalds #mcdonalds #fastfood #family

 

Comment on Facebook

Never thought there would be a day that Sawyer would eat Maccy Ds!

Heart breaking when they want to be on their own, even though you know the reasons. N went round a friends after school today; 1 to 1 socialising and new food. He coped well but has spent the last hour on his own desensitising and does not want to interact with us. BUT he did something outside of his comfort zone, he coped and he had a good time = result ❤️

6 months ago

Autism Stories

Sawyer started walking independently when he was 1 year and 1 week old. He ticked all the boxes of all the milestones until around that time. And then suddenly everything changed.

When Sawyer found his feet, so did autism.

He has always been hard to catch.

But I'm so grateful to be the one who catches him <3
... See MoreSee Less

Sawyer started walking independently when he was 1 year and 1 week old. He ticked all the boxes of all the milestones until around that time. And then suddenly everything changed. 

When Sawyer found his feet, so did autism. 

He has always been hard to catch. 

But Im so grateful to be the one who catches him

7 months ago

Autism Stories

Always a blur 🤠

#worldbookday #autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #toystory #pixar #disneypixar #woody
... See MoreSee Less

Always a blur 🤠

#worldbookday #autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #sensory #amwriting #autismspeaks #autismlife #breakthestigma #autismsupport #bodypositive #toystory #pixar #disneypixar #woody

7 months ago

Autism Stories

The emotions that run through me when I watch this old video are so conflicting.

I'm filled with love. It seems like forever ago and also like yesterday. I remember those pyjamas, the new baby smell, the sleepless exhilaration that came with becoming mother of two children.

But I also remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing that something in Sawyer's behaviour wasn't quite right. That somehow my journey through motherhood was going to be a little bit different.

This video encapsulates the struggle we faced with Sawyer's diagnosis. He was adorable, funny, happy and energetic. His sensory-seeking quirks were endearing and lovable. And weren't obvious all of the time.

This snapshot of our life shows a happy and excited boy who loves his baby sister. And that was how the health visiting team and the GP saw him. They saw these individual moments and could not see the bigger picture. They had all the jigsaw pieces but they couldn't see the puzzle.

If you are at the beginning of your journey with additional needs, stay strong. You aren't losing your mind.

I believe you.
... See MoreSee Less

 

Comment on Facebook

He was a beautiful baby and is a beautiful boy. ❤️ you sawyer x

Awwww lovely

9 months ago

Autism Stories

New Beginnings
31st December, 2017

I’ll never forget the first time Sawyer dropped a mince pie, picked it up, dropped it, picked it up again and placed it onto Santa’s tray.

By the time his sixth year rolled around I was finally able to tell people that Sawyer was starting to get excited for Christmas. Although it happened far later than most of his peers, eventually Sawyer's concentration began to improve, his ability to understand instructions developed, and he started to speak in short, sharp sentences. With all of those things came his understanding of Christmas. But autism is a fickle sod. And often as we begin to see developments in one area, further difficulties arise in another.

Back when Sawyer was 2, the holidays (although hard work for both him and us) were cushioned by afternoon naps, and softened by early bed times after tiring days. When he was overwhelmed he could be convinced in to a buggy and taken for a very brisk walk in the cold. He could be given a cup of milk, distracted with chocolate, or thrown up in to the air for giggles. At the time those processes still felt like hell, since everyone else’s angels seemed to be sitting nicely on laps and watching The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, whilst Sawyer was sticking his finger in to the Christmas candle and running headlong in to the patio doors. But we had obvious solutions, and temporary quick fixes. Sawyer never seemed to be in distress back then, he just seemed... well... hyper.

Although Sawyer’s love for Christmas has grown rapidly over the past 2 years, at the same time so have his intense sensory issues. Now 7, we can no longer distract him with a brisk walk, and we certainly can’t throw him up in the air. Finding ways to help him cope with Sensory Processing Disorder is a long, difficult and ever-changing process that we will continue to battle with over the next few years and beyond. High-functioning autism takes away with one hand, gives back with the other, and then kicks the chair clean out from under you.

After a lovely quiet Christmas Day at home, on Boxing Day we packed our bags and were ready to visit family a short drive away. Knowing that Sawyer finds large gatherings difficult, Mum and Dad cleared an entire room in their house for him, so that he had his very own safe space - somewhere for his trains, and somewhere to retreat to if he felt overwhelmed. In that room was a cracked window so he could stay cool, his IPad so he could indulge, snacks to save him from running out of energy, and water to remind him to drink. To our delight when we arrived, Mum and Dad had added a sign to the door that said ‘Sawyer and Thomas’, and within a few moments the room was filled with exactly those things.

I have learned so much over the past few years living with my autistic son. I have learned to plan everything I physically can, and let the rest unfold as it will. During the holidays that means accepting it is okay to do things our way, even if tradition dictates otherwise. Sawyer did not eat roast dinner with us on Boxing Day. Instead, he sat in the room next door, with the lights low, his ear defenders on, eating a meal of his choice (turkey dinosaur in a bun) and watching Thomas tutorials on YouTube. It is something I fight with every day, finding the balance between keeping Sawyer involved in our daily lives, whilst also understanding that being alone is often his happier and safer option. Yes, it makes me a bit sad when he tells me he wants to be by himself instead of joining in with us all, but shouldn't we all be given the opportunity to feel safe and content during the holidays? Screw the old traditions, we're starting our own!

I’ve never really bought in to the idea of a fresh start for a new year, but today I’m practically waving £50 notes at it. 2017 was not the easiest year for us. We lost family members, and we mourned the loss of friends. Sawyer’s EHCP process took more of an emotional toll on me than I had expected, and all of this happened alongside the normal busy schedule of working parents with two young children. But today is New Year’s Eve. We survived the year, and we are still strong. Tomorrow will mark a fresh start for our little family.

And thanks to autism I will be able to see in the new year with my restless son snuggled up by my side.

......

Wishing you all the happiest adventures for 2018.

Happy New Year.
... See MoreSee Less

New Beginnings
31st December, 2017

I’ll never forget the first time Sawyer dropped a mince pie, picked it up, dropped it, picked it up again and placed it onto Santa’s tray.

By the time his sixth year rolled around I was finally able to tell people that Sawyer was starting to get excited for Christmas. Although it happened far later than most of his peers, eventually Sawyers concentration began to improve, his ability to understand instructions developed, and he started to speak in short, sharp sentences. With all of those things came his understanding of Christmas. But autism is a fickle sod. And often as we begin to see developments in one area, further difficulties arise in another.

Back when Sawyer was 2, the holidays (although hard work for both him and us) were cushioned by afternoon naps, and softened by early bed times after tiring days. When he was overwhelmed he could be convinced in to a buggy and taken for a very brisk walk in the cold. He could be given a cup of milk, distracted with chocolate, or thrown up in to the air for giggles. At the time those processes still felt like hell, since everyone else’s angels seemed to be sitting nicely on laps and watching The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, whilst Sawyer was sticking his finger in to the Christmas candle and running headlong in to the patio doors. But we had obvious solutions, and temporary quick fixes. Sawyer never seemed to be in distress back then, he just seemed... well... hyper.

Although Sawyer’s love for Christmas has grown rapidly over the past 2 years, at the same time so have his intense sensory issues. Now 7, we can no longer distract him with a brisk walk, and we certainly can’t throw him up in the air. Finding ways to help him cope with Sensory Processing Disorder is a long, difficult and ever-changing process that we will continue to battle with over the next few years and beyond. High-functioning autism takes away with one hand, gives back with the other, and then kicks the chair clean out from under you.

After a lovely quiet Christmas Day at home, on Boxing Day we packed our bags and were ready to visit family a short drive away. Knowing that Sawyer finds large gatherings difficult, Mum and Dad cleared an entire room in their house for him, so that he had his very own safe space - somewhere for his trains, and somewhere to retreat to if he felt overwhelmed. In that room was a cracked window so he could stay cool, his IPad so he could indulge, snacks to save him from running out of energy, and water to remind him to drink. To our delight when we arrived, Mum and Dad had added a sign to the door that said ‘Sawyer and Thomas’, and within a few moments the room was filled with exactly those things.

I have learned so much over the past few years living with my autistic son.  I have learned to plan everything I physically can, and let the rest unfold as it will. During the holidays that means accepting it is okay to do things our way, even if tradition dictates otherwise. Sawyer did not eat roast dinner with us on Boxing Day. Instead, he sat in the room next door, with the lights low, his ear defenders on, eating a meal of his choice (turkey dinosaur in a bun) and watching Thomas tutorials on YouTube. It is something I fight with every day, finding the balance between keeping Sawyer involved in our daily lives, whilst also understanding that being alone is often his happier and safer option. Yes, it makes me a bit sad when he tells me he wants to be by himself instead of joining in with us all, but shouldnt we all be given the opportunity to feel safe and content during the holidays? Screw the old traditions, were starting our own!

I’ve never really bought in to the idea of a fresh start for a new year, but today I’m practically waving £50 notes at it. 2017 was not the easiest year for us. We lost family members, and we mourned the loss of friends. Sawyer’s EHCP process took more of an emotional toll on me than I had expected, and all of this happened alongside the normal busy schedule of working parents with two young children. But today is New Year’s Eve. We survived the year, and we are still strong. Tomorrow will mark a fresh start for our little family.

And thanks to autism I will be able to see in the new year with my restless son snuggled up by my side.

......

Wishing you all the happiest adventures for 2018.

Happy New Year.

 

Comment on Facebook

Reduced to tears. You are all amazing x

Beautiful as always - Happy New Year to you all x

Happy new year you amazing guys. Sawyer, keep kicking arse into 2018, we love you x

Dani Groom Is this the page you were telling me about ? X

'High-functioning autism takes away with one hand, gives back with the other, and then kicks the chair clean out from under you.' - yup!

Thank you, your words have helped me understand a lot better.

You are one brave and understanding family l wish you all the best for 2018.

Heartfelt words. Amazing too. Happy New Year to you and yours lotsalove xx

+ View more comments

9 months ago

Autism Stories

Stolen Christmas
30th December, 2017

When I was pregnant with Sawyer and I looked forward to the experiences parenthood would bring, Christmas was high up on my list.

Growing up, I loved Christmas. I remember racing home from school on December afternoons, desperate to be the first one through the front door so that I could switch on the fairy lights. I remember sitting on the top step on Christmas morning, waiting for Dad to put on his dressing gown, pleading with him to hurry up so that we could see if Santa had been. If I really stretch my memory, I can still remember unwrapping my very first Girls World, which I promptly drew all over with a brand new felt tip pen (honestly, Mum - it came like that!). Of course it wasn’t just about the presents. My younger sister made that abundantly clear one year as she unwrapped a brand new set of Scooby Doo threads, thrust the box in to the air above her head, and squealed with glee "OH YESSS! I GOT WIRES!!!!!”.

The magic of Christmas stayed with me well in to my adult years, and I was impatient to pass it on to my own children. Sawyer was only a few months old for his first Christmas, but it didn't matter because I was already busy planning his second in my mind. I imagined taking him to see Santa at the local garden centre, reading him festive stories, and teaching him all my favourite Christmas songs. But what I hadn't planned for was autism. And what I didn't know was that for us, those simple Christmas treats wouldn't happen for many years to come.

Every year in the run up to Christmas I would be asked if Sawyer was excited, and every single time it felt like a jab to my heart. Because as much as I wanted to say yes (and mean it), it simply wasn't true. Sawyer wasn't excited for Christmas because he had no idea what Christmas was. He could not yet speak because he could not yet understand, and he wasn't interested in books or songs because he could not yet focus on either. As I watched the annual wave of grotto pictures wash over my social media I told myself again that next year would be our year.

By the time Sawyer's fourth Christmas rolled around, his little sister was a year old. She spent most of the festive period clapping along to Christmas songs, smiling at her own face in baubles, and unwrapping presents from beneath the tree, particularly if it was 4.50am. On Christmas morning, textbook fashion, she threw her new toys to one side and sat playing intently with the boxes. Meanwhile, Sawyer gave his still-wrapped presents the side-eye and proceeded to run in circles around the kitchen table. I began to wonder if he would ever understand Christmas, and if we would ever be able to show him how magical it could be.

In our house, it wasn’t the Grinch who stole Christmas. It was autism.

To be continued.
... See MoreSee Less

Stolen Christmas
30th December, 2017

When I was pregnant with Sawyer and I looked forward to the experiences parenthood would bring, Christmas was high up on my list. 

Growing up, I loved Christmas. I remember racing home from school on December afternoons, desperate to be the first one through the front door so that I could switch on the fairy lights.  I remember sitting on the top step on Christmas morning, waiting for Dad to put on his dressing gown, pleading with him to hurry up so that we could see if Santa had been. If I really stretch my memory, I can still remember unwrapping my very first Girls World, which I promptly drew all over with a brand new felt tip pen (honestly, Mum - it came like that!). Of course it wasn’t just about the presents. My younger sister made that abundantly clear one year as she unwrapped a brand new set of Scooby Doo threads, thrust the box in to the air above her head, and squealed with glee OH YESSS! I GOT WIRES!!!!!”.

The magic of Christmas stayed with me well in to my adult years, and I was impatient to pass it on to my own children. Sawyer was only a few months old for his first Christmas, but it didnt matter because I was already busy planning his second in my mind. I imagined taking him to see Santa at the local garden centre, reading him festive stories, and teaching him all my favourite Christmas songs. But what I hadnt planned for was autism. And what I didnt know was that for us, those simple Christmas treats wouldnt happen for many years to come. 

Every year in the run up to Christmas I would be asked if Sawyer was excited, and every single time it felt like a jab to my heart.  Because as much as I wanted to say yes (and mean it), it simply wasnt true. Sawyer wasnt excited for Christmas because he had no idea what Christmas was. He could not yet speak because he could not yet understand, and he wasnt interested in books or songs because he could not yet focus on either. As I watched the annual wave of grotto pictures wash over my social media I told myself again that next year would be our year.

By the time Sawyers fourth Christmas rolled around, his little sister was a year old. She spent most of the festive period clapping along to Christmas songs, smiling at her own face in baubles, and unwrapping presents from beneath the tree, particularly if it was 4.50am. On Christmas morning, textbook fashion, she threw her new toys to one side and sat playing intently with the boxes. Meanwhile, Sawyer gave his still-wrapped presents the side-eye and proceeded to run in circles around the kitchen table. I began to wonder if he would ever understand Christmas, and if we would ever be able to show him how magical it could be.

In our house, it wasn’t the Grinch who stole Christmas.  It was autism.

To be continued.Image attachment

 

Comment on Facebook

My Alfie is five in April. This Christmas has been hard cos Alfie couldn't understand why he wasn't going to school. We also moved not long before Xmas and he got his presents Xmas day. Since then the Xmas holidays this year have been a sensory overload and he has done nothing but scream, fight his sleep. like Sawyer Alfies brother Jack was well into his pressies and Alfie ran round in circles just looking at them not responding to his name. Thank you for this post cos I have been feeling pretty useless xx

It is so difficult isn't it, particularly when you can see other people enjoying the very things that you want to experience, and want your child to experience. And blimey, moving just before Christmas - you've had your work cut out for you even without autism, let alone with! I am glad this has helped you feel a bit less alone. As Sawyer has got older we have been able to find ways to make the festivities a bit easier for everyone (although they don't always work!). I'll speak in my next post a bit about that. Merry Christmas to you all 🎄

Thank you. You too. Least Alfie enjoyed the snow 🤗

My little boy has no diagnosis yet but i feel u pain. He didnt really enjoy seeing father Christmas he didnt go to the Christmas party cos too many people he woukd have not managed it so therefore he didnt do the christmas songs..but some how he did sing a bit of rudolph too me that made my christmas. Xx

Another one who feels your pain. In order to stop the sensory overload Christmas has to be signposted weeks in advance. It is better now N is at secondary school. Hugs xx

Can totally relate! Makes you so sad to see other families enjoy the festivities 😰

+ View more comments

9 months ago

Autism Stories

Thomas the Tank Engine goes wherever we go 💙💚 ... See MoreSee Less

Thomas the Tank Engine goes wherever we go 💙💚

9 months ago

Autism Stories

Floodgates
December 9, 2017

By the time Sawyer started school, most of my anxieties were fuelled by a fear that he would be misunderstood.

He had not long since turned 4 years old when he went in to reception class, and had been verbal for only a few short weeks. Sawyer’s inability to keep still remained his overarching characteristic, and despite a significantly increased vocabulary, actual conversations were off the table, and an attention span of any kind was virtually non-existent. I remember being particularly worried that he would be unable to do something as simple as sit with the other children. I knew there was no hope of him joining for assembly, and little hope of him sitting on a carpet for story time. I was scared that Sawyer would be seen as disobedient, naughty and spiteful, when in fact he was simply unable to follow instructions, unable to stay still, and unable to distinguish between people and objects.

I used to think that once Sawyer had his label – his official diagnosis of autism – that his behaviour would make more sense to people, and that they would begin to understand. What I failed to comprehend was that many people simply don’t have a grasp on how autism affects individual children. And it was never anybody’s fault – why would you know, unless you had a reason to find out? Nonetheless, by the time Sawyer went in to his second year of school, there were many things I wanted to scream to world about his behaviour. I was desperate to explain that actually, that ‘tantrum’ that was a sensory meltdown. I wanted to show people that he was clever, despite the fact he was unable to tell you what he had for lunch. I wanted to explain that he was sensitive, even though he couldn’t express his emotions in a way that most people could recognise.

I suppose if I am completely honest with myself, my anxieties are still fuelled by a fear that Sawyer will be misunderstood, and it is partially why I decided to start writing this blog.

Writing is therapy to me. It always has been. At the darkest points of my life I have turned to writing to make sense of things, and I suppose as a way to take back control of situations I’d lost sight of. As I continued to write my blog posts I realised that not only were other people responding to my thoughts and feelings, but that I was actually processing many of them for the very first time myself. I began to understand things that hadn’t ever occurred to me before, and I slowly started to feel like it was all going to be okay. The more I wrote, the more people responded. Parents of children with additional needs started to feel part of a community – finally they didn’t feel alone anymore. Friends of mine who have known Sawyer since the day he was born began to understand what our life is like behind closed doors, and even our close family members started to get a better understanding of how Sawyer operates. Readers started to ask me questions, and I started asking questions in return. Suddenly, none of us were alone anymore. We were all joined together by autism. We were all joined together by Sawyer.

Recently I saw an article called ‘10 ways to help the parent of a child with autism’ and at first sight I knew I was going to have a hard time reading it. I have seen countless articles that detail in neat, numbered points, what people should and shouldn’t say to parents of autistic children, and that concept in itself makes no sense to me at all. How can those 10 neat and tidy points possibly apply to all parents of autistic children? My husband and I are parents of the same autistic child and even we aren’t affected in the same way by the same things. Why should we be? We have our own thoughts and emotions, our own way of brushing things under the carpet dealing with things, and our own way of communicating our needs with others. Similarly, I have friends who have autistic children, and they are far more sensitive about some related issues than I am, where I feel completely delicate about situations they don’t even consider more than once. I worry that those ‘what not to do’ articles only block communication, rather than encourage it. I would hate to think that people around me might feel nervous to have a conversation with me about Sawyer, or about the fact that he is autistic. I would rather that someone could approach me and ask me a question even at the risk of triggering my feelings, because I want us to have the opportunity to discuss it. Freely. Without a silent blacklist dictating where the conversation is allowed to go.

Autism is not a dirty word, and autistic isn’t a word we should quieten our voices for, and say beneath our breath. I am not ashamed of the fact my son is autistic, and I certainly don’t ever want him to be. So let’s be progressive, even though the current political climate is trying to make us take a step back. Let’s keep lowering the barriers of communication, and let’s give ourselves the opportunity to understand and empathise with each other, and more importantly than that, to give our children the opportunity to speak out too. If Sawyer is able to express himself as he grows older, then he stands a much better chance of forming good friendships, positive relationships, and surrounding himself with understanding people. Sawyer will never grow up to think that autism is taboo, or that his sensory issues are wrong. He will grow up knowing that he is autistic, and that he is loved FOR it, not despite it. As he gets older I will try to encourage him to rely on himself to ensure he is not misunderstood – to be able to tell people when he feels uncomfortable, and why. And to educate those around him about how autism affects him.

Six months ago I took Sawyer to the dentist, and she asked him if he could try to sit really still for her while she counted his teeth.

“I can’t sit still very easily” he said. “I have some autism!”

You tell them baby boy. You tell them.
... See MoreSee Less

Floodgates
December 9, 2017

By the time Sawyer started school, most of my anxieties were fuelled by a fear that he would be misunderstood.

He had not long since turned 4 years old when he went in to reception class, and had been verbal for only a few short weeks. Sawyer’s inability to keep still remained his overarching characteristic, and despite a significantly increased vocabulary, actual conversations were off the table, and an attention span of any kind was virtually non-existent. I remember being particularly worried that he would be unable to do something as simple as sit with the other children. I knew there was no hope of him joining for assembly, and little hope of him sitting on a carpet for story time. I was scared that Sawyer would be seen as disobedient, naughty and spiteful, when in fact he was simply unable to follow instructions, unable to stay still, and unable to distinguish between people and objects.

I used to think that once Sawyer had his label – his official diagnosis of autism –  that his behaviour would make more sense to people, and that they would begin to understand. What I failed to comprehend was that many people simply don’t have a grasp on how autism affects individual children. And it was never anybody’s fault – why would you know, unless you had a reason to find out? Nonetheless, by the time Sawyer went in to his second year of school, there were many things I wanted to scream to world about his behaviour. I was desperate to explain that actually, that ‘tantrum’ that was a sensory meltdown. I wanted to show people that he was clever, despite the fact he was unable to tell you what he had for lunch. I wanted to explain that he was sensitive, even though he couldn’t express his emotions in a way that most people could recognise.

I suppose if I am completely honest with myself, my anxieties are still fuelled by a fear that Sawyer will be misunderstood, and it is partially why I decided to start writing this blog.

Writing is therapy to me. It always has been. At the darkest points of my life I have turned to writing to make sense of things, and I suppose as a way to take back control of situations I’d lost sight of. As I continued to write my blog posts I realised that not only were other people responding to my thoughts and feelings, but that I was actually processing many of them for the very first time myself. I began to understand things that hadn’t ever occurred to me before, and I slowly started to feel like it was all going to be okay.  The more I wrote, the more people responded. Parents of children with additional needs started to feel part of a community – finally they didn’t feel alone anymore. Friends of mine who have known Sawyer since the day he was born began to understand what our life is like behind closed doors, and even our close family members started to get a better understanding of how Sawyer operates. Readers started to ask me questions, and I started asking questions in return. Suddenly, none of us were alone anymore. We were all joined together by autism. We were all joined together by Sawyer.

Recently I saw an article called ‘10 ways to help the parent of a child with autism’ and at first sight I knew I was going to have a hard time reading it. I have seen countless articles that detail in neat, numbered points, what people should and shouldn’t say to parents of autistic children, and that concept in itself makes no sense to me at all. How can those 10 neat and tidy points possibly apply to all parents of autistic children? My husband and I are parents of the same autistic child and even we aren’t affected in the same way by the same things. Why should we be? We have our own thoughts and emotions, our own way of brushing things under the carpet dealing with things, and our own way of communicating our needs with others. Similarly, I have friends who have autistic children, and they are far more sensitive about some related issues than I am, where I feel completely delicate about situations they don’t even consider more than once. I worry that those ‘what not to do’ articles only block communication, rather than encourage it. I would hate to think that people around me might feel nervous to have a conversation with me about Sawyer, or about the fact that he is autistic. I would rather that someone could approach me and ask me a question even at the risk of triggering my feelings, because I want us to have the opportunity to discuss it. Freely. Without a silent blacklist dictating where the conversation is allowed to go.

Autism is not a dirty word, and autistic isn’t a word we should quieten our voices for, and say beneath our breath. I am not ashamed of the fact my son is autistic, and I certainly don’t ever want him to be. So let’s be progressive, even though the current political climate is trying to make us take a step back. Let’s keep lowering the barriers of communication, and let’s give ourselves the opportunity to understand and empathise with each other, and more importantly than that, to give our children the opportunity to speak out too. If Sawyer is able to express himself as he grows older, then he stands a much better chance of forming good friendships, positive relationships, and surrounding himself with understanding people. Sawyer will never grow up to think that autism is taboo, or that his sensory issues are wrong. He will grow up knowing that he is autistic, and that he is loved FOR it, not despite it. As he gets older I will try to encourage him to rely on himself to ensure he is not misunderstood – to be able to tell people when he feels uncomfortable, and why. And to educate those around him about how autism affects him. 

Six months ago I took Sawyer to the dentist, and she asked him if he could try to sit really still for her while she counted his teeth.

“I can’t sit still very easily” he said. “I have some autism!”

You tell them baby boy. You tell them.

 

Comment on Facebook

💗💗 xx

9 months ago

Autism Stories

Throwback to summer time when the heat played havoc with Sawyer's senses, and we discovered that ear defenders and sunglasses helped him cope with the unusual sensation of a hot British summer! 💛 ... See MoreSee Less

Throwback to summer time when the heat played havoc with Sawyers senses, and we discovered that ear defenders and sunglasses helped him cope with the unusual sensation of a hot British summer! 💛

 

Comment on Facebook

And he got to look super cool ❤️

Cool dude x

He is a cutie pie. Just like mumma.

He's such a dude! X

10 months ago

Autism Stories

When you find a wobbly paving slab, sometimes you just have to put Thomas on the floor (with protective tissue underneath him so he doesn't get germs) and give him a good old wobble! ... See MoreSee Less

When you find a wobbly paving slab, sometimes you just have to put Thomas on the floor (with protective tissue underneath him so he doesnt get germs) and give him a good old wobble!

 

Comment on Facebook

His face 😍

Oh bless him he looks so happy with himself xx

Shake Shake bridge of course! My son, also on the spectrum and a HUGE thomas fan, would have done very near the same thing 🙂

10 months ago

Autism Stories

Sawyer was SO excited to come home to a delivery of tiny Christmas hats today!

It's the simple things 🎅🤶
... See MoreSee Less

Sawyer was SO excited to come home to a delivery of tiny Christmas hats today!

Its the simple things 🎅🤶

10 months ago

Autism Stories

Haircuts. We all have them. Many of us even enjoy them.

Not Sawyer.

Not Autism.

Not Sensory Processing Disorder.

Snip, snip, snip, right next to his ears. Sharp, shiny metal. The feeling of having his hair pulled. The sight of something that belongs to his body falling down and on to the floor. The itch of teeny, tiny hairs all over his face and neck. Trying to wipe them away, but only making it worse with each swipe.

The boy is a hero <3
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Haircuts. We all have them. Many of us even enjoy them.

Not Sawyer. 

Not Autism.

Not Sensory Processing Disorder. 

Snip, snip, snip, right next to his ears. Sharp, shiny metal. The feeling of having his hair pulled. The sight of something that belongs to his body falling down and on to the floor. The itch of teeny, tiny hairs all over his face and neck. Trying to wipe them away, but only making it worse with each swipe.

The boy is a hero

 

Comment on Facebook

Beautiful boy ❤️

Handsome x well done Sawyer

Let it grow for longer Nikki? Feel for him

My son has this doesnt like his hair cut bless him xx

So handsome

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10 months ago

Autism Stories

Childhood Sweethearts

Before we received Sawyer’s diagnosis of autism, I struggled to explain his unusual behaviours to other parents. I desperately wanted them to see how sweet and loving he was, but often those traits were masked by his inability to keep still, his fondness for running headlong in to walls, and his exceptional talent for breaking anything that wasn’t glued down.

I fought hard to get Sawyer’s diagnosis in place before he started school, and although there were many reasons that it was so important to me, the word that always stuck firmly in my mind was acceptance. I wanted, needed Sawyer’s condition to be acknowledged, in the hope that with acceptance would come understanding.

In the first two years of school, Sawyer’s unusual traits were camouflaged by his age and those around him. Those of you who have been inside a reception-stage classroom will have a pretty good visual of the utter chaos, excitement and noise (fucking hell, the noise), and those of you who haven’t will probably now get the picture. So when Sawyer first started school, he sort of… fitted in to the chaos. But fast forward to his third year in school and things had definitely started to change. Other children had started to leave their frenzied enthusiasm behind, and had started to form close friendships, and become interested in school work and learning. And although Sawyer had started to slow down a bit, the other children had already veered off together on the same path, whilst Sawyer skipped in the woods alongside them. Alone.

It was around that time that one of the children in his class told me very innocently that ‘Sawyer is a little bit weird, isn’t he.’. I looked at her, and she looked back at me, and in that moment I could have given her the biggest hug in the world. All the time I had spent explaining to other mums, and the complex conversations I had had with teachers, and finally, FINALLY someone understood. Yes, Sawyer comes across as a little bit weird. Amazingly, beautifully, excitedly, I-could-pinch-myself-hard-because-I-can’t-get-over-how-a-child-can-be-so-lovely, ever so slightly…. weird. That night I realised that his friends needed to know that Sawyer has autism, and that some of his strange mannerisms and reactions to things are because of that condition. If his peers were ever going to accept and understand him, they had to know. And Sawyer would need to know too.

Fast forward to July of this year, and Sawyer had 3 friends over for an unofficial birthday party. Birthday parties in the usual sense are overwhelming for Sawyer, and since he showed no interest in having one, it seemed silly to push it. He and his friends played games and ate their lunch together, and for a while it felt like a normal play date that most parents are able to host. But about 45 minutes in, Sawyer became overwhelmed at the unusual situation and inability to find peace, and he started to edge his way toward meltdown. As he retreated in angst, his friends followed him half way up the stairs before they went quiet. Sawyer slammed his bedroom door, and as he did, his friend said ‘We just need to leave him. He needs time to calm down’. I watched them, mouth open and in awe, from the corner of the living room as they returned and resumed the games they had been playing minutes before. Sawyer rejoined them about 10 minutes later. Just like that. Just like that, his classmates understood him.

Last week, Sawyer was at an evening karate class (that’s another post, for another day!) and he is lucky enough to have one of his schoolmates in the same group. At the start of the session the children were all lined up at the edge of the room, waiting patiently to start. Waiting. Waiting is difficult for Sawyer, and it takes every last drop of his concentration to just sit still. During those few moments of waiting, a little boy next to him was asking him a question that Sawyer clearly did not want to, or could not answer. I watched from the opposite side of the room as Sawyer started to twitch and cover his ears. My body pulsed as it fought with my mind over whether or not I should intervene, but before I had the chance to stand up, his classmate very calmly leaned over and said ‘He has autism and sometimes needs to be left alone’. Again, mouth open, I stared in awe. And disbelief. Not only are these kids able to grasp the fact that Sawyer has autism, they are able to help him by passing that knowledge to other children.

That evening as I downed, ahem, sipped a glass of wine, I thought about how proud I am of Sawyer, but for the first time I started to realise that I am proud of his peers, too. The children in Sawyer’s class show much more understanding and acceptance of autism than most adults are able to, and that gives me so much hope for the future – not just for people with autism, but for so many things. If you can teach 7-year-olds to be inclusive and understanding and empathetic, you are already building a generation of inclusive, understanding and empathetic adults. And if they can be understanding and accepting of disability, then it shows how we can teach our children to be accepting of everybody, regardless of disability, sex, sexuality, race, religion, and body size.

There is hope for the future, and that hope starts with what we teach our children.

Whether they have autism or not.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #amwriting #disability #race #religion #bodypositivity #prejudice #future #hope #sexism #racism #neurotypical #acceptance #understanding #inclusion
... See MoreSee Less

Childhood Sweethearts

Before we received Sawyer’s diagnosis of autism, I struggled to explain his unusual behaviours to other parents. I desperately wanted them to see how sweet and loving he was, but often those traits were masked by his inability to keep still, his fondness for running headlong in to walls, and his exceptional talent for breaking anything that wasn’t glued down.

I fought hard to get Sawyer’s diagnosis in place before he started school, and although there were many reasons that it was so important to me, the word that always stuck firmly in my mind was acceptance. I wanted, needed Sawyer’s condition to be acknowledged, in the hope that with acceptance would come understanding.

In the first two years of school, Sawyer’s unusual traits were camouflaged by his age and those around him. Those of you who have been inside a reception-stage classroom will have a pretty good visual of the utter chaos, excitement and noise (fucking hell, the noise), and those of you who haven’t will probably now get the picture. So when Sawyer first started school, he sort of… fitted in to the chaos. But fast forward to his third year in school and things had definitely started to change. Other children had started to leave their frenzied enthusiasm behind, and had started to form close friendships, and become interested in school work and learning. And although Sawyer had started to slow down a bit, the other children had already veered off together on the same path, whilst Sawyer skipped in the woods alongside them. Alone.

It was around that time that one of the children in his class told me very innocently that ‘Sawyer is a little bit weird, isn’t he.’. I looked at her, and she looked back at me, and in that moment I could have given her the biggest hug in the world. All the time I had spent explaining to other mums, and the complex conversations I had had with teachers, and finally, FINALLY someone understood. Yes, Sawyer comes across as a little bit weird. Amazingly, beautifully, excitedly, I-could-pinch-myself-hard-because-I-can’t-get-over-how-a-child-can-be-so-lovely, ever so slightly…. weird. That night I realised that his friends needed to know that Sawyer has autism, and that some of his strange mannerisms and reactions to things are because of that condition.  If his peers were ever going to accept and understand him, they had to know. And Sawyer would need to know too.

Fast forward to July of this year, and Sawyer had 3 friends over for an unofficial birthday party. Birthday parties in the usual sense are overwhelming for Sawyer, and since he showed no interest in having one, it seemed silly to push it. He and his friends played games and ate their lunch together, and for a while it felt like a normal play date that most parents are able to host. But about 45 minutes in, Sawyer became overwhelmed at the unusual situation and inability to find peace, and he started to edge his way toward meltdown. As he retreated in angst, his friends followed him half way up the stairs before they went quiet. Sawyer slammed his bedroom door, and as he did, his friend said ‘We just need to leave him. He needs time to calm down’. I watched them, mouth open and in awe, from the corner of the living room as they returned and resumed the games they had been playing minutes before. Sawyer rejoined them about 10 minutes later. Just like that. Just like that, his classmates understood him.

Last week, Sawyer was at an evening karate class (that’s another post, for another day!) and he is lucky enough to have one of his schoolmates in the same group. At the start of the session the children were all lined up at the edge of the room, waiting patiently to start. Waiting. Waiting is difficult for Sawyer, and it takes every last drop of his concentration to just sit still. During those few moments of waiting, a little boy next to him was asking him a question that Sawyer clearly did not want to, or could not answer. I watched from the opposite side of the room as Sawyer started to twitch and cover his ears. My body pulsed as it fought with my mind over whether or not I should intervene, but before I had the chance to stand up, his classmate very calmly leaned over and said ‘He has autism and sometimes needs to be left alone’. Again, mouth open, I stared in awe. And disbelief. Not only are these kids able to grasp the fact that Sawyer has autism, they are able to help him by passing that knowledge to other children.

That evening as I downed, ahem,  sipped a glass of wine, I thought about how proud I am of Sawyer, but for the first time I started to realise that I am proud of his peers, too. The children in Sawyer’s class show much more understanding and acceptance of autism than most adults are able to, and that gives me so much hope for the future – not just for people with autism, but for so many things. If you can teach 7-year-olds to be inclusive and understanding and empathetic, you are already building a generation of inclusive, understanding and empathetic adults.  And if they can be understanding and accepting of disability, then it shows how we can teach our children to be accepting of everybody, regardless of disability, sex, sexuality, race, religion, and body size.

There is hope for the future, and that hope starts with what we teach our children.

Whether they have autism or not.

#autism #autismawareness #asd #sensoryprocessingdisorder #amwriting #disability #race #religion #bodypositivity #prejudice #future #hope #sexism #racism #neurotypical #acceptance #understanding #inclusion

 

Comment on Facebook

Lovely....

Love this ❤️

It still amazes me how accepting and great Nathaniels friends are with him. So chuffed that Sawyer too has exceptional friends.

Fantastically written Nic Mann 👌🏻🌟🌟

Kristie Gibbons Marie Supan Ison

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10 months ago

Autism Stories

Some things don't change.

For the past 7 years, Thomas has been both my greatest ally and my worst enemy.

There was a time when I could see Sawyer disappearing further and further away from us, toward Thomas Land. Into a fictional world he had created - a place that none of us were able to go. If you called him, he would not hear you. If you handed him something, he would simply take it and put it down next to him, without acknowledging what it was.

For now at least, we seem to have struck a balance between Thomas Land and our world. As Sawyer has got older, we have been able to set (some!) boundaries, with consistent limits for when and for how long Thomas can be featured.

I hate that bloody train.

But I guess I kind of love him, too.
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***If you want to read more about obsessions and autism, visit www.autism.org.uk/…/obsessions-repetitive-routines.a…***
#thomasthetankengine #thomas #thomasthroughtheages #autism #autismawareness #asd #amwriting #sensoryprocessingdisorder #happysawyer #toysrus #obsession
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10 months ago

Autism Stories

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Our website has had a mini-makeover! What do you think?

Comments and suggestions are very welcome.

Is there anything in particular you would like to read about? Any ideas for extra pages?

Let me know!

www.happysawyer.com
... See MoreSee Less

Our website has had a mini-makeover! What do you think?

Comments and suggestions are very welcome. 

Is there anything in particular you would like to read about? Any ideas for extra pages?

Let me know!

www.happysawyer.com

 

Comment on Facebook

I especially love ‘Sawyer Says’!

11 months ago

Autism Stories

Sawyer and I have been nominated for the #UKBA18 blog awards!

Public vote starts Dec 4th. Watch this space!

#autism #blog #amwriting #asd
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Sawyer and I have been nominated for the #UKBA18 blog awards! 

Public vote starts Dec 4th. Watch this space! 

#autism #blog #amwriting #asd

 

Comment on Facebook

How wonderful for you both x

Very deserving you both are

Fantastic!!!!! Well done xx

Eeeeeeeek. Love this. Also love this picture xx

Excellent well done x

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11 months ago

Autism Stories

Even Egyptian-Jamaican Mummies can suffer with sensory overload issues....

Happy Halloween 🎃
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Even Egyptian-Jamaican Mummies can suffer with sensory overload issues....  

Happy Halloween 🎃

 

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