As a parent this is something, we always ask ourselves until our child reaches an age in which their own decisions can be trusted. As a parent of a child with special needs not only do you question your choices but you over analyse every decision you are forced to make but what do you do when that spills out into your own life? When the simplest of decisions can be agonising because you try to predict every possible outcome which proves impossible and life just becomes too overwhelming. When every decision comes back to haunt you?
The pressures of being a single parent to child with additional needs is immense, every choice reflects upon your child from simple things like buying a different brand of chicken nuggets by mistake or choosing the wrong school. They both seem like such opposite ends of the scale, but both have a massive impact on Williams life and the responsibility of chicken nuggets is a big one on its own without the other factors.
What if they stop making his chicken nuggets, when is the right time to introduce new chicken nuggets? I am aware it sounds crazy, but I need to think of these things and try to find a solution before they happen.
Sometimes things do happen in which there was no way you could plan ahead for. Somethings happen and take you so much by surprise that you do not know how you will recover or if you ever will but in some circumstances you thrive.
How do you deal with those situations? I feel like I have become more guarded. I feel like I have to step up and become super mom, I feel like there is a constant battle to ensure William has the best support, the best family, the right environment and so on… I don’t know if that’s a natural part of being a parent, a single parent or a special needs parent but it’s exhausting. I am exhausted! It so hard to maintain a good balance between being mommy and being Marie and I feel like I am losing myself. It sounds daft because you don’t get a break from being a parent, it’s not a job; it’s a privilege. You don’t get sick days no matter how poorly you are or how much pain you are in, being a parent is just who you are on a fundamental level. With this pandemic its difficult to find the time to stop and take a breath. It’s not as if William can go to his Nanna and Grandad’s so that I can…🥁… have a nap. (not very rock and roll of me I know) It’s those kinds of things that I think we all took for granted, I don’t think any of us really appreciated how much we benefited from the everyday interactions we had with our family and friends.
Did you know there are around 1.8 million single parents in the UK – they make up nearly a quarter of families with dependent children. 1.62 million of these are women. I never really thought about this until it happened to us.
I could lie to you all and say we have had an easy ride of things recently but I think you probably know that’s not the case. This is a big adjustment period for me and more importantly for William.
My main focus is to continue to ensure William has a good solid routine in place which is pivotal to him. He is keeping me extremely busy as he seems to be struggling with this huge change in his life, bed times and mornings are now only ever with me and I don’t think he enjoys them very much. He fights and kicks me when I try to change his clothes, runs away from me and screams but we get it done.
We take the dog for nice little walks (well he walks us🐕🦺) which William seems to really enjoy even though he is in the comfort of his stroller and flat of refuses to do any walking. I’m tempted to stay at home and just tie the dog to the stroller and let him pull it arpund the street like a sled 🛷 but I think that would constitute as child cruelty or animal cruelty. Maybe neglect? So I best continue to go with them 🤣
We are eating healthier (as healthy as a boy thats half chicken nugget will eat anyway🍗) and trying to turn this into a positive thing for our lives and look to our future.
We’ve had meltdowns and shutdowns (from both of us😭) but we’ve come through it and these are getting less and less frequent on both parts. He is slowly adjusting to his new routine and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel but its hard. Harder than it ever was before but we are doing ok. In fact we are more than ok, we aren’t just surviving like I thought we would. We are actually living thanks to our amazing support network of family and friends.
We can not thank everyone enough for reaching out to us, the doorstep visits, dropping off shopping and just being there for us. It means more than you all could ever know 😘 Much love M x
It is with an exceptionally heavy and broken heart that I write this today, going forward I will be the sole contributor when it comes to sharing William’s journey with you all. This isn’t what I wanted for my family and I am personally going to need some time to adjust to being a single parent, to adjust to not being somebody’s wife and to spend a little time getting to used to being alone for the first time in almost thirteen years. As you can understand this is a very difficult time and I need a little privacy to get my head around things.
David is Williams dad and will continue be involved in Williams life as much as possible and any decisions that need to be made on Williams behalf will continue to be made jointly but sadly that is where it will end.
I want to talk about why we now own these two DVDs
I used to love DVDs, movies are a big passion of mine and had over two thousand DVDs not including TV box sets or Christmas films. About two years ago we realised like many other people that they were just gathering dust because we had become more reliant on streaming services which made me a little sad as I had been collecting them since I was about thirteen and finally decided to get rid of my VHS. When I met Dave he too shared my passion for movies and our collection just grew. I remember the last DVD I bought was for Dave for Christmas 2014 and it was The Guardians of The Galaxy. We gave almost every single DVD away, Big Nan got first dibs of the chick flicks, I kept the Disney classic in a DVD folder and the rest went to our close friends.
We don’t even own a DVD player but yet yesterday Dave bought these two DVDs 😕
Yesterday was Williams 6 month eye check at the Eye Hospital and as I was working and only one parent is allowed to attend due to Covid-19 restrictions Dave went on his own… I’m getting better at trusting anyone other than myself to ask the right questions now… sometimes. They always struggle to do his eye check as he isn’t fully cooperative, They have told us at the last two checks that everything seems fine but they can’t be 100% sure because he won’t let them check as thoroughly as they would like. Because of this we keep going back, waiting for the day they will discharge us as a patient. William didn’t get to see his Auntie H either as she was super busy.
As a treat afterwards for being a good boy Dave took William into the town centre to get him a treat for his dinner. This usually results in copious amounts of cheese straws and sausage rolls from Cooplands. The boy is an absolute savory fiend.
Anyone that knows Dave knows that he loves his Playstation. Not as much as he love William or Rusty but I think it’s on par with me 😂😂😂 so he popped into CEX in Prospect Centre to look at some games. This is somewhere that when at the height of my DVD addiction I used to frequent on my lunch break when I worked in the offices above. 💿 The staff have always been pleasant, helpful and friendly. William is a sneaky bugger when he wants to be, we’ve been in shops when he has grabbed something random off the shelves because it caught his eye and I’ve nearly left with it or when he has started trying to eat a wrapped chocolate bar and ‘ve had to pay for it knowing full well he doesn’t like turkish delight (It’s a good job I do… keep up the bright wrappers Frys 😉)
Dave got shouted at by a woman in CEX. I will repeat that… shouted at by a woman in CEX. That’s CEX the most relaxed shop in the world. ‘You’re not allowed to touch!’ ‘He can’t touch that!’ ‘Covid!’ Now I’m not sure if I am overreacting here but William sits in what is in my opinion clearly a disability stroller. There is a hidden disability lanyard hanging from one handle and a large disc on the other. I’m really angry that they chose to address this by shouting and for anyone but Dave, this could have caused upset or major embarrassment, I speak from experience when I say that on some days life as a special needs parent is one comment, look or cough away from a breakdown. She at this point had no idea if he was planning on purchasing the items or not. I understand that in the current climate you have to be so careful but these DVDs are wrapped in plastic and could easily be wiped down, We carry antibacterial wipes in our change bag and could have wiped them down ourselves. I’m also not saying that because William has additional needs that he doesn’t need to follow the rules but there should be at least some modicum of understanding. or a better way of going about it. Dave bought the DVDs and basically told the woman that was his intention all along despite not knowing William had hold of them as a way of saying fuck you. Mr however I think I would have shamed her, told her loudly all about Williams needs and difficulties and made her feel like an idiot, offered to wipe them down or to buy them if that wasn’t feasible. She could have gone about it in a much better way; she could have walked over and explained to Dave who would have apologised and explained but she didn’t… she chose to berate Dave across the shop floor. I’m not sure if i’m being oversensitive but I do feel in the year 2020 people should be more understanding before jumping to conclusions. William wasn’t running amok in the store he was confined to his stroller clearly displaying he had additional needs. If you aren’t allowed to touch the DVDs or Games how are you supposed to read the back to ensure they are suitable? They’ve all been wrapped in the clear plastic, for what reason?
On a positive note… Last night William had just had a bum change (not the positive bit 🤮) and he reached his arms out to me like he wanted to be carried and when I reached down he placed his arm around my neck and put his head on my shoulder. He wanted to give me a cuddle 🥰 He has never actively cuddled before. He will climb up next to you and snuggle in but he initiated a cuddle for the first time. I cried and ruined the moment because he then pinched my glasses and ran away laughing but it was so worth it!
I want to talk about shame and I don’t mean the shame I have spoken about previously in which we blamed ourselves or where we weren’t willing to admit anything was wrong. The kind of shame I want to talk about today is the type others try to inflict upon you for the decisions you make.
And in what I can only describe as in true Cersei Lannister style I am not sorry!
When you open yourself up like we have you kind of expect everyone to have an opinion and believe me the internet isn’t full of sunshine and roses. Its a place were someone can remain annonymous, write hurtful things and suffer no reprecussions.
Our first instance was within three months of setting up the blog, we had no social pages other than our personal ones in which we shared the blog to our friends and family, we were never the type of people to add strangers on our accounts. Within those months things went really well and we gained a few followers, a few subscribes and it felt like we made difference by sharing our story. It was maybe December/January time when I recieved a message. ‘nobody cares’ ‘Maybe you arent trying hard enough to teach him’ ‘you feel guilty coz it id your fault’ (actually spelt coz, are we 12 and limited to characters again?)
By this time we had grown stronger in our acceptance and I deleted it and haven’t given it a seconds thought until now but could you imagine if that was to someone more fragile than us? Someone looking for reassurance or hell even guidance!
Fast forward to May and the wonderful Beth (Check her out here) designed a logo for our blog and our newly established social media pages. A lady commented to tell me about my use of the puzzle piece and how it is a hate symbol for autistic people. I appreciated being educated but I also felt like I was being told off. Like I was doing wrong so far into our journey and I should know better. The puzzle piece implies that they don’t fit in, that there is something missing or that they are a puzzle to be solved. Due to the juvenile type of picture commonly used it can also lead people to believe it is something that only effects children. Like its a bad haircut they grow out of.
I absolutely love the puzzle piece symbols which is why it was incorporated into our logo, I see it as a beacon of hope for William. He is a piece of this world that fits perfectly but we just need to find the right place for him. Its not about changing him but how the world sees people like him. To try and make it a better place not only for our autistic children to grow up into but for all children and that message I can imagine is very important to a lot of people.
The infinity symbol is supposed to represent math and a love of numbers, something shared by many people on the autism spectrum (I do think this statement is a massive sweeping generalisation) but not all, so far William has no association with math of any kind so to me this one isn’t as personal to us as the puzzle piece. It is also used signify inclusiveness and the integration of people with autism into general society, since there is no beginning or end to the sign. I just don’t feel anything towards it like I do the puzzle piece. I look at it and think of tattoos loads of people in their 20s and 30s now regret (mines a tramp stamp 🤣)but I don’t look at it and feel hope, I feel nothing.
And now I bring us to present day….
As a family we have always been open and honest which is why it hit us hard when we struggled to open up about William’s difficulties because it was so unlike us. There are pictures and stories about me online that I have no shame in sharing and same goes for David. I have always been willing to share my dark days, my good days and days in which I’m just an absolute airhead and say or do something that is just inconceivable for someone of my age and education.
for example here is me in a pair of pyjamas (which at the time I felt were wholly acceptable as an adult) trying to frighten Dave by being a bear 🐻 GRRR
I love and hate twitter with equal measure. I shared an anecdote about how our little boy laughs uncontrollably if you tell him to stop touching his diddle, this was accompanied with a beautiful little gif (check it out on our Facebook page here) Twitter always opens up the floor for trolls and/or unsolicited advice and 2 men decided to tell me that I should not post these kinds of things because I would damage him when he is older, because facial recognition is soo good now that he will be identified putting a risk to any future employment… Let me tell you something, there are pictures of my passed out drunk in a field at 14 years old and I still have a good job. There are pictures of Dave in drag (as a work event for one of his Saturday jobs?) and he too has a very good job. When William is able, I expect him to take over our pages and continue to share stories of his life just like we have our own for years with Piczo sites, Myspace, Beebo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others that have been and gone.
I want him to continue to tell the world and show them how he has grown and how he navigates life, the good and the bad. Funny anecdotes a plenty! If he decides he doesn’t want to or wants it deleted then I am happy with that too.
In the words of Akon ‘I am so Lonely’ or in words of puppet Kim Jong Il ‘I’m So RonerySo ronery. So ronery and sadry arone’
Having a baby is very misleading; when the baby is born everyone wants to know you. they visit, bring gifts and make promises they don’t intend to keep. As your baby gets older people start to fade away and are only occasionally spotted at birthdays or christmas time. People stop asking you if you want to meet up for a coffee or lunch because you would have to bring the baby or because you have said no a few times due to breastfeeding or lack of childcare.
Your circle continuously gets smaller as your child gets bigger.
If your child has special needs this circle practically becomes a dot, a little bit like a reversed ripple.
I’m not sure why this happens but slowly even the people who had previously part of your lives now even fail to ask about your child on the rare occasions they speak to you. I’m not sure if its because they don’t know how to react when you say ‘Not good…’ or because they are scared the will say the wrong thing like referring to a meltdown as a tantrum or saying things like how all children do that and will grow out of it etc. I would accept things like that as I would happily share Williams story and experiences with everyone and educate people about ASD, GDD & SPD so that those parents that come after me have a slightly larger dot.
It’s a very lonely life as a parent of a special needs child. It becomes harder to spend time with your partner and you begin to realise why separation rates are higher for parents in our situation. Its hard to maintain that spark especially when you both work opposite shifts for childcare reasons and it can be near on impossible to get a sitter (not even mentioning COVID) due to William’s behavior which can be challenging to say the least.
Exhibit A. That isn’t chocolate! 🤮
I think its sad. Actually no, that’s isn’t right. I think it’s disappointing. I know it’s disappointing that we lose what we thought would be our forever circle. People who were strangers a year or two ago became those we confide in not because we upgraded or chose to leave people behind but because they understand that aching pit of despair we often feel.
I know when William goes to school we will meet parent in situations similar to ourselves and extend our circle. I’m not saying that we will bond with all his classmates parents but even one or two would be a bonus.
As always I’m not sure what my motivation was for this post but wanted other parents to know that it’s not just them and we are here for you to be part of your circles if you need us 😘
I said we would post as much as possible now we are both working and out of furlough, aiming to post once a week and unfortunately last week it just wasn’t possible. I would love to fib to you all and say I didn’t have time but to be honest I just didn’t have the emotional strength and need to pull myself through how I felt about the genetics results.
So first I’ve had my little pity party and it’s time to pull myself together – or at least that has been what I’ve told myself since the last post and I do feel a lot better, I needed to process and understand but unfortunately I was too quick to blame myself and wallow.
I thought I had gotten past the blame game but obviously it only takes one letter to put you right back there again, back in that pit of guilt and anger. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to crawl back out and I managed to do it naturally without having to fall back on the medication I once took for depression and anxiety. It shows how far I have grown in the last 18 months.
I know that there is nothing I could have done differently which would have stopped William having special needs.
I know also know that the additional material he has may not be the cause of his needs and delays.
It doesn’t matter that the additional material came from me, what matters is that anything more sinister has been ruled out.
I can hand on heart say that I love William more than life itself, not in spite of the challenges his needs bring but because of them. I think they make us as a family appreciate each other more. They make us look at the world in a different way and seek out understanding for other children like William.
God only give us what we can handle, its not always going to be easy but it is possible. He knew how hard we would fight for William and how much love we would have to give him. Its hard to have faith sometimes but I know my purpose is to nourish and love that little boy who I am honoured to call our son.
P.s William has his vaccinations today and tried to punch the nurse 💉🥊 but a cheeky trip to the polish bakery made it all better.
P.ss Vaccinations are also not to blame for Williams needs!
Males inherit the X chromosome from their mothers, the Y from their fathers.
Williams results from the genetics testing came today and its a bit of a mouthful but… there was a variation from the normal pattern wirh interstitial hemixygous copy number gain Xp22.33. The test states there is additional genetic material.
Chromosome 22 is the second smallest human chromosome (21 is the smallest) including more than 51 million DNA sectors (they’re in pairs) and represent between 1.5 and 2% of the total DNA in cells.
There is no defined link between this and autism but there are a few case studies referring to it and those with learning difficulties but not enough research has been carried out. Its is classed medically as having uncertain clinical significance.
If it has come back as nothing detected that would have been shit but manageable.
If something would have been detected on his Y chromosome I wouldn’t have blamed Dave but I am sat here now blaming myself. After all the X chromosome came from me.
Have I done this to him? To us? The paediatrician will be booking in a consultation to discuss the results in more detail and establish if further investigations are needed but now I’m terrified of what they will say… will further investigation point the finger at me even more?
I just feel like I’m back at the beginning of our journey, like all the progress we’ve made in our acceptance and grieving over a child we thought we would have hasn’t mattered and I’m back to looking at him and crying because this could all be down to me.
People often struggle to differentiate between a child with autism and a child who is being naughty.
As a parent who suffers with anxiety it is very difficult to go to certain places and deal with other people who don’t know William like we do.
Something as simple as a journey on a bus can set me into a tailspin, a small journey can lead to an argument due to the fact other passengers look at William as see what they deem as an ablebodied 3 year old in stroller taking up a space they feel someone else needs more. Not all disabilities are visible and what give you the right to assume!
A trip to a supermarket can lead to a full meltdown due to the hustle and bustle of different people, a different environment, bright lights and loud noises. One the rare occasions he will walk, he will often end up laid on floor and go floppy because he can’t handle the stimulation and lack of familiar surroundings and comfort. This is not a toddler having a tantrum because he can’t get sweets or doesn’t want to walk, its because he is in pain.
When we go to a restaurant, cafe or bar he will beeline for any food he can see, we will stop him before he takes it but it can lead to awkward conversations, dirty looks and whispered remarks. This isn’t because he isn’t fed at home or because he is rude. This is because food is such a high motivator for him and that the fact it doesn’t belong to him doesn’t even register.
I shouldn’t have to apologise for my son for being himself but I find it becomes a more frequent occurrence as time goes on. I shouldn’t have to explain why he is the way he is, there should be a wider understanding of the autism spectrum leading to acceptance.
I truly believe that autism awareness and understanding should be educated in schools so that future generations don’t make the same mistakes and assumptions. There are no definitive figures of those with autism as no record or register is kept but based on recent surveys 1 out of 100 has autism.
Think of the children in your child’s year at school, think of the children who you went to school with. I wish I had been more aware, more educated and a better person.
I want that for the future, for children like William and for parents like us who often feel we should apologise on behalf of our son when maybe, just maybe they should be apologising to us for their small mindedness.
Its nights like these I really wish autism was a physical being so I could kick the shit out of it. I fucking hate you autism you son of a bitch!!!
Its 11:30pm and William is still awake. He is calm and comfortable watching TV in his room. Before anyone jumps on the too young to have a tv in his room please remember that the only thing that can soothe William is the wonderful invention that is BabyTV and even then that’s only works some of the time. Could you imagine my neighbours during his frequent 4am screaming fits without it?
A little while ago it was a completely different story. William had spent the last half an hour or more hitting himself. Believe me it felt like a fucking lifetime. He doesn’t have a massive amount of strength in his arms so one little slap wouldn’t necessarily hurt anyone but he continuously slaps his stomach or legs with both hands until they are red. It’s really difficult to watch and if I try to restrain him he will lash out and bite me or become even more upset. And believe me when I say this he has the strength of a pitbull in those jaws.
Its these moments in which I feel like a huge failure as a mother.
I have tried everything to pull him out of these self harming states but nothing works so I tend hover in the hall or in his room and try to distract him but often just watch him and cry.
It makes me feel like an absolute failure as a mother. I’m supposed to protect him when someone hurts him… what am I supposed to do when he hurts himself?
The worst thing about this evenings episode was the reason he was hurting himself, it was something as simple as needing a poo and then the discomfort of needing changing afterwards. This has never been a cause before tonight and he is on medication to help him go but for some reason tonight it was an issue for him.
I need someone to blame. Someone to shout at. I write often about accepting that we are not to blame for William having autism but it was easier when we did think it was us because it was easy to direct hate at ourselves.
Who do I hate now? The diagnosis we still don’t officially have? The genetics that he may have inherited? The fluke that may have caused it? God? I just need something or someone to be mad at! I just need a reason… Why?