Having… THE TALK

There’s those big important talks we need to have with our kids. The birds and the bees, death, anti-racism….. neurodiversity.

I’ve always been a strong advocate of telling your children their diagnoses. It is a part of them. It is a sense of understanding. It is an explanation for how they see and experience the world it is not a negative to be hidden away. It is not ‘just’ a label. (I’m looking at you, Boomer parents).

In fact. My counsellor asked me today: how would a diagnosis have changed your childhood? Dude. That’s so hard. BUT, if my parents just told me. If they just said “hey, you are this thing they call “autistic”. It means you process everything a bit different”. Then. At least I wouldn’t have felt like an alien. At least I wouldn’t have felt unknown, unseen, like a fake…. At least I would have known their was a legit reason typical society didn’t work for me.

If I knew I was Autistic, maybe my teenage depression wouldn’t have run so deep.

If I knew I was Autistic, maybe I wouldn’t have struggled with weight loss as a way to gain a sense of control over life.

If I knew I was Autistic, maybe I could have given the nurses a heads up that I totally shut down in pain, and they would have believed I was in labour.

If I knew I was Autistic, maybe I could have sought out coping mechanisms instead of being thrown into the depths of infant-induced sensory overload.

So. I do not yet know how my own children’s brains work. I feel they are much more typical than mine. But, I also feel like 14 months into Covid regulations that they are potentially having any Autistic social tendencies forced upon them. Mommy’s brain however…

The girls and myself were all in the washroom. I just wanted to have my 5 minutes of face wash self-care. They were extra hyped up today. One shouted in glee and tried to slam the door. (If your auditory senses are anything like mine, you know how much a washroom reverberates noise. Uhg). I felt my anxiety spiking. And it was only 7am.

“Mommy has to tell you something important. Brains work in different ways. Daddy’s brain is something called ‘neurotypical’. That’s a big word to mean he feels comfortable with most of the world. He is great with people. He hears and feels things at a calm level.

Mommy’s brain is Autistic. That means it works differently. One way is that mommy has super senses. My ears and my eyes and my nose and my touch all work really really well. So I can see things other people can’t. And I can hear things across the house. And I feel things really big. Sometimes this is like a superpower! I can find little bits of glass or hear when you wake up. Sometimes there’s so much happening, my senses go AHHHHHHHH! and I need a quick break.

Now. I do not know how your or your sister’s brains work yet. They might be like Daddy’s or they might be like Mommy’s. Or, they might even be a little bit like both of us. Either way, it’s pretty cool.”

Who knows how much the 4.5 year old took in of that. But, she stayed surprisingly attentive. I’m sure a week or so down the road she’ll spew out some tidbit about mommy’s superpower eyes helping find missing lego pieces. That’s how I’ll know she actually listened.

Until then. I’ll brainstorm other differences to tell her about. Or over analyze where she may fall on the spectrum of all abilities. And keep telling her, “cause Mommy’s Autistic, that’s why”, whenever she asks me, “but WHY?!”

Functional toy play…

When I was a kid, one of my favourite set of toys was a collection of bouncy balls. Yes. There was great satisfaction on the repeated bounce and catch sounds and sensations. And it was totally awesome watching and learning about the different ways they would bounce by how you threw them, what the surface was, how dense they were….

My real play, though, created this huge imaginary world where the bouncy balls had names, roles, relationships, deep personalities, and ever-changing problems to overcome. It was a complicated world that I could happily play in for hours. I am sure there was a relationship that paralleled Rachel and Ross. I know it was a tragedy felt by all when the one brittle ball lost a chunk of himself. (His name was Bubba and he was never the same again).

Looking back on it brings a smile to my face. I can still see myself fully engaged in immense, visual, exciting play. Feeling as disappointed when a storyline ended as when one finishes an enthralling book. But, I had a huge wealth of plots and ideas to choose from. I had been reading since 3, after all, and had been enjoying my older sister’s teen novels and tv dramas for years.

However… Now that I’m an adult and surrounded by these ideas of “functional play”, I wonder what I looked like to an outsider. Sitting in my room alone for hours. Lining up bouncy balls, making them take turns rolling down ramps one at a time, reorganizing them in different locations constantly. It doesn’t look “fun” or “creative” or “normal” or…. “functional” from a neurotypical viewpoint.

Balls are for bouncing.

Balls are not for rescuing their long lost childhood friend from the lair of an evil sorcerer to only discover that the way they touch your hand sends sparks through your body and soul. No. That’s boring, repetitive, unimaginative non-play…..

Parenting suggestion:

Get down-right down- on the floor.

Watch your child play. What are they doing? How are their eyes, their face reacting? Could there be more happening than you are even aware of?

Gently try to join in by mimicking their style. Don’t change the play. Don’t make it ‘right’. Try to see it through their child eyes instead.

Be content to just observe if they do not want you interacting. That’s a great way to build trust and safety.

Please, just get in the car..

I hate mornings.. Like really truly do. If I could stay up until 2 am every day, but get to start the day climbing out of bed at 9.. 9:30, my life would be significantly better.

I hate waking up and having light hit my eyeballs for the first time. Ow. I hate cold floors. I hate food first thing.

But, what I really, really hate is that the deadlines seem so URGENT. We HAVE to be out the door on time, or else we are going to be late for daycare. If we are late for daycare we will be scolded because now they have to rush the kids for school drop-off.

Let me just add here, that it seems easier to just take the kids from my car and put them into the daycare van for the quick drive to drop off the older kids. Especially compared to having to get ALLLLLL the kids into the car as they continually shed their coats and shoes in the excitement of play.

And is there anything worse than to start your day being scolded? Let’s just add in some grief about the type of jackets I managed to put on my kids or whether I forgot yesterday’s lunch container in one of their bags.

Then, you always need to get from that drop off to your own work place. deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!

kids + work…..

Further, there are so many small things to organize and a long series of tiny tasks to complete. My husband, the lucky bastard, gets to leave ~20 minutes before I leave with the girls. He does what he can with the availability of awake or not children. But, my mind focuses on the needs of myself and the girls:

  • clothes for 3.
    • Don’t forget the bloody socks.. That’s 6 socks in total.. Naw screw it, I hate the things.. 4 socks.
  • Did everyone pee?
    • yes, that includes you, little miss potty trainer who probably does not need to pee until Mommy’s hands are full and she is 1/2 way to the car.
  • Any chance we brushed our hair? No? cool…
  • Food for at least 2, milk for 2, tea with oat milk for 1
    • Thank gawd the husband usually takes care of these items…
    • Otherwise the kids eat Eggos in the car
  • Lunches for at least 2
    • try to appear like a healthy and loving mom
    • try to appear like I know what type of food my children would actually consume that day
    • try to appear like I didn’t just throw a pack of crackers and a tub of cream cheese into a re-used gift bag
  • Ideally create an edible breakfast or lunch.. super ideally, BOTH! for myself.
    • likely eat the breakfast at work..
  • Backpacks.. where were they left, what was left in them yesterday, what is missing that needs to be in there
  • Shoes and Jackets for 3
    • Nevermind.. Make it 2.. I hate jackets anyway
    • I will wear shoes long enough to get to work.

And then… THEN… the herding of the wild cats. You would think it was a relatively easy job. I just need to take the above tasks, apply them to 2 delightful little humans- and sometimes to myself- and put it all together in the car. I mean the car is even in the garage so I do not need to deal with the constant rain or frosted windows or heated up seat belt buckles. The kids can walk. The kids can carry their own backpacks. The kids CAN climb into the car using their own limbs. You would think it would not be that hard.

So, tell me why I spend so long repeating “please go get in the car. No. No, do not take those out of your backpack to check which spare underwear I packed you. Clean up, get your jacket, go into the car. *sigh* please leave your sister’s bag alone. She wants to- yes I know you CAN carry hers and yours, but it is her backpack and her screaming suggests she is unhappy right now. Can you head to the car? Just.. To the car. you can bring your Eggo.. Yes, the plate, too. Please.. car.. go! Mommy’s hands are full of all the things.. Can you carry your backpack. Because it’s a daycare/work day that’s why.”

“please.. pretty pretty please just get in the car!”


My kids friggen love me and just want to be with me alllll the time

I didn’t have to make the Eggos, or the milk cups.

Tea is always tastier made by someone else

They Can get in the car themselves now

They canNOT get back out of their seats once buckled in!

Things that DO help…

making lunches the night before

checking backpacks the night before

Letting them pick their own clothes- EASY!

When daycare sent home a lunch meal plan for the week. (okay, I was irritated, but it was so helpful)

Not leaving their shoes in the car where they kicked them off

taking advantage of their buckled in selves to go back inside and scream at a pillow.

So, instead of targeting anything in the blue box. I wrote this post. Good luck, Morning Me.