Tag Archive | Asperger’s

Dream: Pink Beetle

I dreamt that I was watching a video in my room (I’m not sure where, it reminded me of the room we once had at my mother-in-law’s before we had children. Apparently the video was about fertility, and how to maximise your chances of pregnancy, so you can guess what’s weighing on my mind)

Then I noticed there was a fairly big beetle scurrying towards me on my floor, which looked black on its underside but then it flipped over and was like a ladybird (I know it doesn’t make sense that it was scurrying along on its back, it was a dream!), in fact I thought for a moment that it was a ladybird but instead of red it was pink with black dots, and it increased in size until it was the size of a side plate or a 45 rpm single record!

I ran in to the living room to tell my Dad, and he asked me if, by the way, I would like to take over his bureau (an old fashioned wooden desk with a pull-down leaf). I said I would love to, and he followed me in to my room to look at the beetle, but it had disappeared in amongst my papers and I couldn’t find it.

At the end of the dream, I was sorting out my papers into my Dad’s bureau. The pink beetle never turned up again, but the television suddenly started playing and I was embarrassed that my parents had a look at what I was watching.

Notes: I did once own a baby pink Beetle Volkswagen car, which I never drove for various reasons. But I gave it away because I was told it couldn’t be fixed, and the people that came for it actually fixed it on the drive and drove it away, so I was always very sad about giving it away. Does the pink beetle represent my car that I lost? Does the car that I lost represent my lost babies?

I often dream about my Dad, and I usually wake up sad, realising that he is gone. I feel like there is a lot of unfinished business there. I’m still angry with him for dying on purpose, and I miss him terribly.

I am embarrassed, because I am 47 now, 48 later this year, and yet I still desperately long for a baby. Why? I feel so stupid. Everyone I know my age was happy with the size of their family as far as I know, and accepted that that was that. Why can’t I? I have 3 teenagers and a 23 year old who is still not independent due to Aspergers. My middle child has Type 1 Diabetes. All of this seems like pretty good reasons not to have any more children even if it were possible. My brain knows that. Why can’t my heart get it? 😦

The other question is, why am I suddenly having so many weird and upsetting dreams? Well, I have had a pretty bad to the year health-wise, probably all related to food allergies and intolerances, I’m probably not being as careful as I could be, which could be a form of self-sabotage (although in my defence, it mostly hasn’t been my fault – our finances got so bad that we had to rely on food bank handouts, and honestly although I am super grateful for the kindness of strangers, all the tinned food made me super ill.)

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Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid

This is the first post I have managed to organise this year.

I have started 17 separate blogs and websites just on WordPress, and I haven’t posted on any of them for months. I thought amalgamating them all here would help but I think it might possibly have made it all worse.

It isn’t due to my life being horrendously empty and boring. It’s quite busy but in fact this is the problem – I have an irresistible impulse to create and start things, but I get overwhelmed really easily and end up doing nothing at all instead.

It’s the same reason why I buy and keep multiple diaries and planners but end up not writing anything in any of them. I can’t even promise I won’t buy any additional ones.

But after a lifetime of believing that I was just a little bit rubbish at everything, “lazy, crazy and stupid”, I finally got confirmation from two counselor/ therapists that in fact I have ADHD. My GP agreed, but she cannot make an official diagnosis.

Sadly, I was told by the same people that “there is no NHS pathway in Cornwall for adults with ADHD” (and the same would appear to be true for Asperger’s, since my eldest has been struggling for over a year now to get the official NHS rubber stamp on that diagnosis.)

What this means in practice is that we have no access to meds unless and until we are in a position financially to pursue a private diagnosis. Well I guess we will just have to start saving our pennies.

In the meantime, it’s a case of muddling along in the mess, physical, mental and emotional, repeating to myself daily, hourly, “I’m not lazy, crazy or stupid, I have ADHD.”

Aversion Therapy

aversion

I wrote this post once already, but the evil internet ate it up and it disappeared without a trace, so instead of the beautifully crafted original post, you’ll have to make do with what I can cobble back together from my memory.

A few weeks ago, my mother and brother came to visit us from that London, and on the Saturday they wanted to go to the cinema and the only thing that seemed remotely worth watching was Bridget Jones’ Baby, so we went to see that.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Well this isn’t a review. In a nutshell, it’s a perfectly good and funny film (although I have to say it scandalised my mother! I forgot how rude and sweary Bridget Jones was!) But it is a stupidly inappropriate film for anybody who has recently had any kind of baby loss! I should have realised that, but I guess I felt ok – until the part in the film where Bridget goes for her (first) ultrasound scan, from which point, I was a complete wreck. I managed to contain my emotion outwardly until I got home and promptly locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

I told my little tale of woe to my Recurrent Miscarriage group, and lots of people said they wouldn’t even consider going to see it, one lady wanted to see but couldn’t face it and another watched it like I did and had a good cry afterwards, but she said she was glad she watched it anyway. I wish I hadn’t seen it.

On another note (but somehow related – I couldn’t tell you how my train of thought connected the two), I decided to take a proper break from facebook (it’s all baby photos and happy boasting announcements that make me want to vomit – maybe that’s the connection) and I noticed that an old friend, somebody I had known for years and with whom I had shared life’s traumas and troubles over and over – not just mine, but hers (she was evicted at the same time we were, she has a child with a chronic health condition that took ages to diagnose, as I do etc) had unfriended and blocked me, and not only on facebook but on Twitter as well (all my accounts!)

I was really ticked off because it seemed so petty. But apparently we had had what amounted to a fundamental disagreement.

I don’t actually remember exactly what she had posted but it was something along the lines that Trans people being allowed to choose the appropriate toilet for themselves was an outrage to public decency and a danger to all God-fearing girls.  As I recall, I tried to explain to her that being Trans was a little bit more complex than she probably realised. But she was so determined that she was right that she started making very unkind and wrongheaded personal judgments about one of my children (who happens to identify as Trans) and obviously that was not acceptable. I presume that she deleted me as soon as she realised I wasn’t prepared to let her do that.

Whatever.

Well. I’m prepared to say “good riddance” – that sort of ignorant attitude is not really what I want to surround myself (or my children) with.

But it hurts, to be judged, and to be summarily cut off in that way. And of course it worries me that these kind of attitudes are so prevalent, and I hope that my children can be safe and un-persecuted, whatever their personal choices that don’t hurt anybody else.

So just for the record I thought I would clarify some points about being Trans. I hope I’m not misrepresenting anybody, this is just my take on it all, as a parent.

  1. Being Trans – having gender dysphoria – is not a sin.
  2. Being Trans – identifying with a gender other than your birth gender – is not the same thing as being attracted to or having sexual relations with another person of the same birth gender. That can be the case, but it’s a separate issue. Still not a sin, even if you’re conservative enough to believe that all same-gender relations are inevitably sinful, with no exceptions.
  3. Being Trans does not automatically mean having a sex-change. (And frankly, having a sex-change is not necessarily a sin either!) ed.: I’m wondering what circumstances would make it a sin, actually?!
  4. Being Trans inevitably includes a range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear and confusion. Please don’t add to it. Just be kind! Always.
  5. Being Trans is often seen in teenagers associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (in my own child’s case, gender just does not quite ‘compute’, and the whole idea of any kind of sex is disgusting). Not a sin.
  6. Trans people are not known for violence. The argument that allowing M to F Trans people use female toilets would lead to more rape or attacks on female children would seem to be deeply flawed on so many levels, and wholly without basis. The kind of people who desire to make those sorts of attacks are going to do it anyway, regardless of the law.
  7. Gender identity and sexuality are actually a little bit complex. Not the simple black and white, fixed boxes you might assume. It’s not just a matter of physical gender – it’s genetics, it’s hormones, it’s mental, it’s culture. It’s complicated. Take a step back before you jump in and condemn.
  8. And finally, who the (((bleep))) are you to judge? Get that plank out of your eye, people!

That is all.

Plans for September

After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! 🙂

I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

My kids are just bright, late starters 🙂

The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

coreD

So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

heart-of-dakota-world-geography

For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

300

And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

Parenting Choices

Over Christmas, I had what almost amounted to an argument with a very old friend, on facebook (of course). I could rant and rave how facebook is the spawn of the devil and brings out the worst in everybody – which it does, but that isn’t the point I’m wanting to make this time.

Our almost argument was essentially over parenting styles.

Another, even older friend had re-posted a photo of a monkey with words along the lines of “I can’t wait until the monkeys go back to school (and I pity their teachers)”. Personally, I found the whole sentiment sad (what an indictment on society that mothers can’t spend two weeks’ holiday with their children without wishing them away) and bordering on offensive. (Perhaps I’m easily offended – maybe that’s the topic for another post…)

I re-posted it with words to the effect that “I find this really quite sad and offensive, and if you feel like this, I feel sorry for you.”

I had several mothers chime in with comments agreeing with me, and a couple from abroad who mentioned that the UK seems to be a very anti-child culture and the openness with which mothers speak so negatively about their children, even in front of their children, is really quite shocking.

My friend, however, posted a snarky comment to say that she did feel that way, and that it was quite normal for ‘normal’ parents to feel that way, and if I thought she was a bad parent, it was my problem.

Hmm.

I had never to my knowledge suggested that she was a bad parent or had made bad choices, so I suspect that there is a little bit of a conscience-prick (or cognitive dissonance?) happening to make her feel defensive, but here is the thing. We made very different and opposite choices.

We both have children with special needs. We both have a child with ADHD and very difficult behaviour. My friend sent her child to school and encountered enormous difficulties including suspensions and permanent exclusions, psychiatrists, CAMHS and medications, and getting the help she needed involved an enormous amount of fighting against the system to force the system to address the problem so that he could cope with the system. Actually I admire her tenacity and determination. It is not so much my friend’s parenting or parenting choices that I dislike so much as the system itself.

The choices I made involved avoiding the system altogether.

Special needs were not the initial reason that made us choose to home educate (my eldest son’s special needs were of a quite different nature) but by the time our third child came to ‘school age’ it was obvious that there was no way he could be squeezed into the box that the system required.

When his behaviour started to become difficult to manage, we did try to deal with GPs and CAMHS, but without success. But since he was home educated, I concluded, as I had done with my eldest (who has suspected Asperger’s but for whom we also failed to obtain a diagnosis or a Statement), that we would just continue to find solutions at home. For the most part, I believe that was the right decision for the children and learning at home has been a much calmer and better choice.

There is a ‘but’ though.

For me though, for my health and sanity, home education has possibly not been the best choice. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest choice. I have no doubt whatsoever that the stress level has contributed to my overall ill health and in as far as adrenal exhaustion may play a part in ME, I think that stress has broken me. Really. I am certainly not the person I was  – either physically or mentally / emotionally – as I was when I started out on this journey just over 15 years ago.

So my choice has come at a rather high price.

I have wondered seriously whether I am well enough to go forward with our plan to adopt. Right now, I do not feel that I am, and that feeling of failure just adds to my overall state of mind. My Plan A, to have more children, failed spectacularly, but now I wonder if my Plan B will fail. I don’t have a Plan C. Just be sad indefinitely?

However, would I do it again, even knowing what I know about how hard it is? Yes, I would. For my children’s sake, I would. I am glad I did. Would I home educate an adopted child? I have to say, despite everything that I know now, that I absolutely would.

From my observation, school for the most well-adjusted children is tough and often comes at the price of impacting the child’s personality and character negatively. For adopted children, who have already been through trauma, loss and worse, it has the potential to be downright abusive and even in the best cases seems to add another layer of trauma which inevitably adds to their overall difficulties.

Please don’t get me wrong. This is not intended to be a judgement on parents – especially adoptive parents – who choose school. I’m only looking from the outside, and I know that I don’t fully understand the special stresses that come with adopting a traumatised child. Home education is not the norm, and for most people, it can seem like an extreme solution. It involves one partner giving up their job, or a very difficult financial struggle. There is no ‘respite’ from home education, and I wouldn’t even suggest anybody try it unless they have a very supportive husband or extended support network. You will need a break, you will need support, and you will need a very strong sense of humour to be able to laugh when life and the state of the house is just so awful it’s ridiculous.

But for me, from a list of imperfect possible choices, home education seems to be the least bad, least damaging option, especially for children with special needs.