Autism in the news…

I’ve recently become aware of a website, Healthline News, which has printed several articles on autism. Which is good because they are the second largest health information site that’s aimed at regular people, not medical professionals. They have an audience of 60 million readers, which is almost twice as many people as there are Canadians. Their articles span a variety of issues, not just autism, but I’m focusing on their autism spectrum articles today.

One article that’s interesting is an article which looks at white matter in the brain in comparison with the severity of autism and ADHD. Another looks at both the employment rate of people with autism, which sucks by the way, and how autism is portrayed in main stream media, which is improving. They also have a list of phone apps that can help teach young children and can help busy parents stay on top of appointments and therapy sessions. I could have used several of those apps when Colin was little, that is if we actually had smart phones back then.

Searching their site brings up over nine hundred hits for autism so you’re sure to have a variety of articles to read and information to peruse when the kids are settled down and not interrupting you every 3.5 seconds. Plus there’s many other articles on a variety of topics, from sex to cooking to improving your memory.

So, if you’re looking for a free website, with more articles than you could read in a year, this site is for you. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Winter Blues…

For anyone who is thinking about giving up because they have nothing to look forward to.

Winter is a horrible time to make decisions like this. Depression lies and winter just eggs it on. Wait. Just wait.

spring blooms1Spring will come with new leaves and flowers and baby bunnies. Wait for the lilacs to bloom and the sun to fall, warm, across your cheeks. Wait for your first chance to head outside and go for a real walk, one with trees arching above you and flowers opening through the brilliant green grass.

Wait for that first gentle breeze. The one that drifts smoothly across your arms and wafts the smell of green and growing things past your nose.

Wait for the sound of tiny frogs peeping in the ponds and the singing of -spring birds. They aren’t quiet but every sound drips into your heart, relaxing it, telling you that all is right in this world.

Wait for every colour known appear in gardens and meadows. For bumbling bees to come out of hibernation and bobble along, wiggling and dancing into and around the flowers.

Wait for all of this to happen, then decide if you have anything to look forward to.

If you want help, this link includes a list of a variety of help lines from around the world.

Creeping out of hibernation…

The kittens were wild things all morning. I had to lift them out of the storage container cupboard, pull them off the hutch, and coax them out of the fine china. After that Smudge went on a major grooming spree while Lara chased her tail in the bathtub. Then they proceeded to chase each other all around the apartment and over the other cats. My senior cats were decidedly confused.

Colin stayed in his room offering commentary on different videos, interspersed with his braying laughter. I miss the giggle he used to have. Meanwhile I made vegetable soup then retreated to my room to chat with friends on Facebook and to try and calm down. It’s been two weeks since my schedule changed for Christmas break and I’ve come to realize I really need one. A schedule, not Christmas, although I could use another of those too. My anxiety has been revving up and it’s hard to concentrate or get anything done.

If you want an idea what anxiety is like, picture yourself in a car driving down the road. You go around a corner and there’s a transport truck right there in your lane! The crash is imminent and you can’t stop yourself from saying “holy hell, we’re going to die”. Except there’s no car, no road, and no transport truck. There’s just that “holy hell, we’re all going to die” feeling. And it keeps coming as waves washing over you. It’s been like that for me pretty much all day. And, yes, I’ve done my breathing.

It’s been much too cold to go out for any length of time. The temperature has ranged from the -20’s to -30s. We went next door on Thursday to help a friend and, on the way over, I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze. I didn’t even know your eyes could get cold. It felt really weird. The weather is rapidly rising today and it’s supposed to be 2C tomorrow, which is a decent temperature for a winter walk. Emma’s school starts tomorrow too and my groups start up again this week. I even see my psychiatrist and I’m planning on showing him my list of questions.

Up until Christmas break I’d been either walking to or from my groups. Thanks to the weather this week, I should be able to continue with the walks, hopefully indefinitely, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another cold spell. Disappointed but not surprised.

I was too anxious to go outside today but Colin had some things to buy and went out instead. He needed a battery for starters as our smoke detector’s battery failed last night. Why do they only fail at three am? I don’t think I’ve ever, in my whole life, had a detector start beeping at 8pm. Colin needs a box of envelopes too because it looks like he’s getting reimbursed for the money he was scammed out of. Which is amazing.

And now the sun is slowly setting and Colin’s back home, bubbling over about his purchases and how he got a Steve Jobs movie just to see what they got wrong. And it’s time for me to make dinner. Tomorrow’s another day and, hopefully, a warmer and better one.

Gratitude…

It’s dark outside, the snow still softly falling. I sit in my room, surrounded by sleeping cats, as my electric fireplace hums behind me. Dinner’s been eaten and the dishes, yet unwashed, will only take a few minutes to clean. Colin’s in his room, playing video games and laughing. In a few more hours we’ll be heading off to bed in our nice, safe apartment and clean, comfortable beds.

I wasn’t nearly so peaceful earlier. Colin had an optometrist appointment this morning and a mix up left me with a $105 bill. It turned out I didn’t need to pay it after all. Then there was an issue with the bank, which was solved in five minutes on the phone. Then Colin needed to go to the ER to get a new prescription because his old one was finished and his psychiatrist is away until July. That got sorted out as well. When I got home, I sat down wondering when the next shoe would drop and hoping it would be as easy to fix.

Then I woke my computer and listened to Colin laughing at a vlog, while my electric fireplace warmed my back. And I thought about gratitude.

We did an IQ test today, Colin and I, on separate computers. It was just for fun and obviously not on par with the ones done by psychologists, not that those are necessarily accurate either. We both started at the same time and kept pace with each other. I ended up with an IQ of 140, which is pretty much what I usually get and Colin ended up with an IQ of 120, definitely a respectable result.

I’m glad Colin’s out of the school system which labeled him developmentally delayed and in a program which lets him go at his own pace. A program he’s doing quite well at. He’s emotionally delayed, which is normal for autism, and has poor fine motor skills (anyone who’s seen his handwriting with agree with that) but he’s definitely not developmentally delayed. I can’t wait to see how he continues to do at his school.

I’m grateful for our safe, clean apartment in a decent neighbourhood. Our neighbours and quiet and generally friendly, holding open the elevator door and making small talk on our ways home. I’m grateful for the little things we take for granted here in Canada. The hot and cold running water, electric appliances, a flush toilet, grocery stores nearby.

I’m grateful for our health. I had a bit of a scare earlier this month when the optometrist sent me to a specialist to check for glaucoma but my eyes were fine and so are Colin’s and Kait’s. And our physical health is good too, for the most part.

I’m grateful for our cats, who fill the little spaces in our hearts. I wake in the middle of the night to find myself surrounded by four cozy cats keeping me warm, the fifth lies with Colin. They each have their own very distinct personalities and our home wouldn’t be the same without them.

I am thankful for my two daughters. Kait has my off beat sense of humour and it’s wonderful to watch her grow and thrive. Whereas Colin is more eccentric and runs experiments I would never think of. The two of them are more amazing than I could imagine and my life has been enriched by them.

And now it’s time to wash the dishes then settle into a warm bath with the bath bomb I made in my Wellness group. I hope you all have plenty of reasons to be thankful and may your joyous times outweigh any sadness.

Enduring winter…

Some days I think of Robin Williams and am sad he died so young. Other days I’m amazed that he lived so long. It’s all in my perspective at the time.

Depression and anxiety are separate illnesses but they feed off each other in a continual loop of fear and hopelessness, making even the smallest task seem insurmountable. I’ve found having a routine helps but that’s not perfect and some days find me rocking in the kitchen, too anxious to start dinner and too uncomfortable to leave.

I spent two weeks in the mental health ward of our hospital last winter. That’s something both my psychiatrist and myself want to avoid in 2018. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy. I’ve got two groups each week and they each do a variety of activities from bowling to making bath bombs to playing games (I love Headbands) plus a social worker from the Canadian Mental Health Association comes on Fridays to check in on me and make sure I’m doing okay. That still leaves the bulk of my days empty, which is good in some ways. I often need time to wind down and relax after an activity. But the time alone doesn’t help the intrusive thoughts or being thrown into an anxiety attack over a load of dishes. I don’t even know why I’d have anxiety over something so small, yet it happens.

One friend of mine and I have decided we need to get together more often. She lives in the building behind us so it’s not exactly a hardship to meet. She’s well aware of my anxiety as she got to witness it full blown the day she and her husband took me to Costco. I’d been there before but on a weekday morning, not a Saturday afternoon. From the crowds you’d think there was a massive blow out sale going on but there was nothing, just lots of people buying until their wallets exploded from the pressure. I have to admit, the jumbo sized container of laundry soap packets was a good deal but it was nothing I’d go back for. So now we stick to karaoke at the quietest bar I’ve ever seen. Like so quiet I’m expecting a “for rent” sign on their door any day now. My friend also goes to another bar but has informed me it’s way too loud and crowded for me to handle.

My other friends have social anxiety and get anxious and cancel at the last minute. Which is generally okay because I’m taking deep breaths and trying to avoid an anxiety attack at the same time. But none of us are scary so I’m going to make more of an effort to connect with them. I’m sure we can manage getting together for tea.

Then there’s just the general suckage of winter. It was -22C this morning when I woke up. That would be a good number without the minus but it’s horrid with it. That’s not walking in the woods weather, it’s staying at home weather. But I can’t sit at home for three months either.

Colin and I have disability passes to our local recreation centre so we can walk on the track, which is boring but doable… especially with an MP3 player. And hopefully we’ll get some -2C weather to go walking outside.

And now I sit, watching as the sky turns dark so early, working up the courage to go make dinner. The window beside me is emanating cold air but otherwise my room is warm and summery, comfy enough that all five cats are napping in here. I study them, sprawled bonelessly across my bed and mat then I look back outside and settle in to wait for spring.

my room

My safe space and sanctuary from winter. I think it’s cozy and the cats certainly agree. There’s a strand of white lights on the wall but they don’t really show up here.

The pause…

Our presents are opened and mostly put away. The wrapping’s been pitched and the gift bags carefully saved for another day. And we have just under a week until New Year’s Eve. But this week is empty. No school, no groups, and, depending on where you work, no shifts.

I like this week, it’s a pause between two major holidays, a time to reflect on the previous year and prepare for the new one, if only by thought instead of deed.

This year I’m going to serve healthy meals that I enjoy. Colin has a very limited palate and dislikes most vegetables and all legumes (other than baked beans). I’m tired of making bland dishes for him to enjoy. He’s old enough to cook and, while he’s ignored my multiple offers to teach him some basic cooking skills, he’s more than capable of trying to prepare a meal and asking for help if needed.

I’m going to keep up with my walking. I’m aiming for seven days a week but am happy with five. I’ve got my Fitbit to track my 10,000 and it’s making a difference. I want to encourage Colin to walk with me more. He’s gained so much weight in the past couple of months. I handed him a sweater of his to wear to his grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, a lovely black sweater with tiny sequins on it, only to find out he’s outgrown it. Luckily I had a tank top which fit. One of my favourites with red sequins across the top. It looked festive so that part’s good. And he liked it which was better. Hopefully he’ll forget that by summer because I’m not sharing it.

I’m going to spend more time with friends. Which is easier said than done because most of them have social anxiety, but I’m at least going to try. I have one friend who’s an extrovert *waves at Allison* and I plan on spending more time with her. Woo hoo… karaoke in a week.

I’m going to push Colin into bringing his dishes into the kitchen when he’s done eating, not when he gets a whim to carry in an armload or two. That’s way too overwhelming for both of us and gross besides.

I’m going to get back to writing, which is also easier said than done. I’m going to get back into reading too. I’ve got a $50 Indigo card from my parents and I’m going to buy ebooks for my phone.

I call Colin, Emma at home because she enjoys hearing it, just not in public where her masculine looking features contrast with her name. With family I tend to flip between the two names, depending on who we’re with. I use Colin and he/him on the blog so I don’t confuse everyone here by using two names. But I need to remember, despite my own confusion, to continue doing so. I’ve called her Emma on the blog five times so far and have to keep backspacing and writing Colin. Using one name would be so much easier but it’s his path and not mine.

And I need to be more gentle with myself. I look around at other people and think *I should be doing that* but I’m not them and I need to make sure I don’t overdo things. Otherwise I end up overwhelmed and the next day’s ruined too with high anxiety. I need to do the best I can, not the best someone else can.

Well my hot chocolate (in my new handmade mug from my parents) is done and it’s time to get Colin up to buy kitty litter and cat food (I’m telling you, my life is a font of excitement). I hope those who celebrate had a wonderful Christmas! And enjoy the pictures 🙂

Kait, Kathleen, and Emma

Kait, Kathleen, and Colin. Colin’s wearing the emergency top and you can barely tell he’s wearing it with his track pants LOL

Emma's new kitty ear headphones

This is one of my favourite pictures of Colin because you can actually see him smile instead of the usual half grimace he claims is a smile. And he’s wearing the kitty cat headphones I bought him. He’d asked for them but it’s nice to get verification that a gift’s enjoyed anyway.