Everything that I am and can hope to be is because I am autistic.
All of my traits are autistic traits.
All that is good about me, everything that I have, can and will achieve is because I am autistic.
There are so many incredible autistic traits that make me who I am and who my little boys are.
I was going to write a long winded post about autistic traits but the reality is, we are all so different.
One blog post could never tell you in enough words how proud I am that I am autistic, that my autistic traits make me who I am and have helped me to help thousands of parents, professionals and most importantly children just like my own little puddins all over the world.
Having spent almost 40 years trying to fit into a mould that was not meant for me, I am so incredibly thankful to have been identified as autistic and am now able to retrospectively look back over my life, my triumphs and my foibles, with a kinder eye.
I want my gorgeous boys to grow up knowing they have so many positive autistic traits.
Conor’s ability to communicate without words with just a look that feels as though it goes straight into my heart.
Jack’s ability to name just about every dinosaur that has ever existed and tell me if they are a carnivore or herbivore.
Max’s gentleness and memory. He never forgets, he will always find exactly where he has left his toys and know exactly how to put the most intricate toys together after just being shown once, his memory is incredible.
He is the first to put his little hand on my face to say “are you okay mama”.
Autistic traits; they make my boys and I who, we are.
We need to think about the language we use and it’s implications and impact.
I remember growing up always trying to be “normal” and trying to get it “right”.
The word “Normal” to me was so vast and immeasurable it preoccupied my thoughts, trying to fit myself into this word that dominated my world .
If you weren’t perceived as “normal” and didn’t fit within the clearly defined boundaries it commanded, then you were “other- odd -weird-strange” – a social outcast, always on the periphery.
I spent most of my young life chasing “normal” around trying to catch up with her, trying to be what she said I should be, trying to copy what everyone else did, always trying so hard to please “normal” so I could fit in and I ended up burnt out, with low self esteem, not sure what was “wrong” with me and why I couldn’t do or be what everyone else seemed to get so easily.
I guess what I’m trying to say in a long winded post, is we need to think carefully before we speak, before we influence and before we irrevocably change how our young feel about themselves, how they grow up feeling and how they perceive themselves.
For my gorgeous Hailey and her little brothers, we celebrate difference and WHO they are.
Not who I think they should be or what I want for them. Who they are matters.
They weren’t born to follow anyone, they were born to be themselves and that matters, a lot.
Celebrate diversity, change the conversation and stamp out the compulsion of trying to be “normal”.
There’s a spectrum of humanity in our house and I am incredibly proud of each of my gorgeous puddins, and hope they growing up being exactly who they want to be.
From one parent to another – my advice to the new parent of an autistic child.
You can land.
From the moment my beautiful Conor was born almost 12 years ago, I have been hovering.
Like a Rescue helicopter I stay close, just ahead, watching from above, always on call, preparing and planning to instinctively act and react when the moment would most assuredly arise.
Even when almost out of fuel, I stay ahead, holding my position, on guard.
I have hovered, trailed, tracked, observed, anticipated, prepared and planned for my lovely Conor and his two little brothers.
Almost 12 years ago my life as I knew it changed irrevocably in an instant.
With Conor’s first intake of baby breath in our world that night in March 2010, everything I had ever known or felt I understood changed so immediately I did not have a single second to prepare for what lay ahead.
My life as I had known it was wiped clean of everything and everyone I had ever known.
My new life was one of land mines, blank maps, unexpected twists and turns.
There was no General or Commander in Chief, just me; a new recruit to the world of additional needs and my compass didn’t work just yet.
I had no logistical guide, just my heart and soul.
I had a little boy who needed me to be the mother he deserved but I was falling short of the planned route of what I felt a good mother should be.
I ran for cover and braced for the judgement that was abound.
I stayed undercover, on the outside, smiling when asked if I was okay, falling apart on the inside, so lost and unsure of how to help my little boy or where to even start.
Then one hot sunny August day over a decade ago in Mayo General Hospital, the word Autism marched gallantly into Conor’s hospital room and commanded my attention. It held out a map. I took it and look down at my beautiful Conor.
It was the first day in such a long time that my lovely Conor had smiled. I took out my phone to capture his huge grin that spread from cheek to cheek.
Conor didn’t speak with words anymore but in my heart, I could hear him clearly.
A New Life
He was saying – “I’ve been trying to tell you for so long mom, we were never lost we just needed some directions”. I still have that photo of my lovely Conor smiling as he lay in his hospital cot looking up at my face with pangs of love straight into my heart.
In the years since, Autism has been my guide, my compass, my roadmap and it has been transformative.
Autism has told me what to expect and when the unexpected happens it shades and colours all my and my little boy’s life experiences.
It has helped me learn who I am and who my little boys truly are.
It has taught me as a parent, you can land.
Advice to the new parent of an autistic child
You don’t always have to hover.
Be kind to yourself.
What you are doing right now to support your child is enough.
You can rest, you can take a break and it will be okay.
You are doing your best and that is MORE than enough.
Support your child with the best of your ability and THAT is enough.
It is time to land.
Rest and when you are ready, begin again.
It is time to land.
For more advice on parenting autistic children go to my Instagram.
If you are an autistic adult or feel you may be autistic go to this article.
I have created the social narrative in a page by page format, so you the parent can include or exclude whatever information you feel is pertinent to you and your family.
It is highly probable at this juncture (11/03/2020) that schools will close so I have allocated a countdown box within the social narrative. This will help your son or daughter to understand in a concrete sense when school will reopen (if known).
Update– due to the overwhelming demand for the Coronavirus Social Narrative I have updated the link with a visual to help you locate it. I am receiving a great many messages requesting a copy to be sent directly. If you click on the above “Click to download visual”, you will receive an instant download.
I have also been in contact with many schools around the globe this morning seeking to print off multiple copies of the aforementioned social narratives to give to students. You absolutely have my persmission to do so. Absolutely no need to request permission. It is expressly given here.
For additional FREE printable downloads, go to my family blog www.littlepuddins.ie by clicking on the image below.
Update December 2020
I have been overwhelmed these past almost 10 months with the response globally to the Social Narrative I designed and released for FREE on the eve of Ireland’s premier lock down in March 2020. The Social Narrative has been recommended around the world by academics and professionals I have long admired who work in the field of autism. It has been recommended by charities and organisations renown for their progressive advocacy on behalf of autistic individuals and their families. I have been contacted by families, by parents, by teachers, therapists, by so many; each offering thanks for my helping their family member, student or friend understand what was happening in the world at that moment in time when we as a global community stood still and stopped what had been our normal daily lives. It overwhelms me now to think of those moments back in March, April, May.. even now online, weekly I am thanked by a member of our global community who has found their way to The Autism Educator in search of a social narrative to help their loved one understand.
I owe thanks to the creative genius that is Smarty Symbols. I have long been a subscriber to Smarty Symbols Communication System, as they have really helped me connect with my sons who are non-speaking, they have helped my speaking son, Jack make sense of his world, every day. We would be lost without Smarty Symbols and it is a testament to how magnificent and effective Smarty Symbols are, when I think of all the children who have read my Social Narrative and it helped them to understand what to most, at one time or another, has been incomprehensible.
To name but a few organisations, government bodies and charities who recommend my “What is the Coronavirus”? Social Narrative I attach their logos below.