Posted in Emotions

Understanding and accepting

Before acceptance must come understanding.

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.

Much love, The Buckley’s Xxx

Posted in Reference

Welcome to… Holland

By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987.  All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Posted in Emotions

Fathers and Sons

Watching the fireworks for the first time…

I have always worshipped my Dad. I always wanted to gain his approval. It’s not that I didn’t already have it but I didn’t want to risk losing it.
I waited until I was married before we started trying for a baby, You know the ‘right’ way.

I spent summers walking around garden centers with him as he picked out new plants for his pond, I spent nights listening to Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash and he used to let me stay up late unless I yawned… as soon as I yawned it was time for bed. This was a great trick I planned to use in the future.

My dad was the only boy out of three. He had an older sister and a twin sister.
His eldest sister had a daughter, His twin had 2 daughters and he had Me and Helen.
Helen then had my beautiful Niece.
When we finally fell pregnant I was desperate for a boy. I had always wanted a little boy, I’m not sure why but deep down I think it was secretly for my dad.
I tried to convince myself we were having a girl so that when our 21 week scan came round I wouldn’t be disappointed.

12 week scan

Now I don’t know if you have ever seen a baby scan at 21 weeks but they dont look anything like a baby. In fact William looked like an alien πŸ‘½ the print out we received was a close up of his terrifying little UFO face. As you can see he was cute and peanut shaped in his 12 week scan above and developed into E.T over the following 9 weeks.
We didn’t even need to ask what sex he was because the little exhibitionist that he was had his legs open the entire time, every time the sonographer tried to obtain measurements of different areas he moved to once again show us his little todger. 😲

Holy shit we were having a boy! We were having a William Graham (my dad’s middle name and Dave’s dads first) and not an Alyson Rose. We immediately went shopping and purchased every blue baby grow we could find at Next, Matalan and Asda πŸ’Έ

I called the Hobmans and dad had said he knew one of us would break the curse eventually πŸ™ŒπŸ» I was so glad it was me.

I had visions of my dad taking him fishing, Dave taking him to watch Hull FC and eventually enrolling him a rugby club. πŸ‰

At least they all got the checked shirt memo.

Throughout our journey so far I had avoided discussing it with my dad, I don’t know why. Would he blame me? would he treat William differently? would he even understand?
My mum had always been the one to give him any updates before I shared anything publicly as I wasn’t ready for that conversation until it appeared in black & white and she asked me if I was telling him myself… and I did.
I made that phone call and held it together long enough to tell him what we knew which even though it wasn’t alot, was still enough.
I don’t remember the exact conversation but my dad, who has never been a man of many words simply said something along the lines of ‘Well it doesn’t matter does it. He’s happy and that’s all that matters and has two parents who are doing a great job’ conversation over.
There was an immediate relief that rushed through me and I sat a cried. Not silent tears but loud, snotty, messy ones. I couldn’t even explain why I was crying and Dave just held me.

My dad has always had William few hours each week until I get home from work. They both seem to really enjoy this time together as they are always snuggled up when I get home as you can see below.

On Wednesdays we cuddle Grandad

Tonight I took a leap and I went to see my dad and for the first time we spoke face to face through Williams next steps. He was so positive and encouraging. I’m not going lie, It took all my strength to hold it together and not cry.

I feel guilty about thinking he would be any different. He had never done anything that indicated he would be but in my head we were letting him down. Even though I am now 30 I still need him to be proud and tell me everything is ok.

He treats William the same way he always has because his difficulties don’t change anything. He is still our son and his grandson and if my mum voiced her suspicions to him like she did me then he probably knew William was struggling long before I could admit it to myself.

They can still go fishing 🎣 or do anything else a grandad does with their grandson; They can kick a football in the park, walk Rusty together (as long as William picks up the poop πŸ’©) or as time goes on, go to the pub where my dad can hustle him at pool like he did with Dave and my Father in Law 🎱

I think a lot of my fears are down to my own insecurities which I then project onto others in an attempt to appear stronger than I actually am but I think as time ticks by I am getting better at being more open not only about Williams needs but also my own emotional ones.

Posted in Emotions

Friends in Low Places

‘Why haven’t they done something sooner? It’s obvious there is something wrong with him. He looks real dopey in all his pictures’

β€” Anonymous.

It was the above comment made by a ‘friend’ and this spurred me on to publicly post Williams journey on my private facebook page.
The main reason was to stop people talking about us without knowing the facts but now I want people to know every aspect of our journey so that should they be going through something similar they know where to start on their own journey or even feel less alone.

For the first two years of Williams life it was easy to ‘sugarcoat’ the things he couldn’t do which was a defence mechanism against those awkward questions.

“Is he not walking yet?”
“Why doesn’t he acknowledge me?”

We became so used to answering these questions that our responses became very rehearsed.

“Well let’s face it, he has a moon head like his mummy and because of that he struggled to sit up until he was 10 months old. He just needs to build his neck muscles because it’s a big weight to carry”
we would laugh it off because when he born the doctor measured his head 3 times to check he had it right. His measurements were all in the 25th percentile except his head which was in the 91st and in all fairness the Hobman side of the family do all have massive noggins 😜
“He is just ignorant bless him. There’s nothing wrong with his hearing he can hear a packet of crisps being opened from three rooms away”

William was 26 months old when we decided to send him to nursery for the first time, one full day a week away from us to help with his socialisation and communication skills. We should have done it sooner and believe me people mentioned it. BUT have you ever tried to find an extra Β£190 a month?! We work almost 65 hours a week between us but with bills to pay its a lot of money but we managed to find it.

Williams 2 and a half year check up wasn’t with his usual Health Visitor; Sarah, it was with a stranger in a health centre we had never been to before which immediately put us on edge.
We had received the usual questionnaire about what he can and can’t do and when we sat down as a family to complete it we had to remind ourselves not to exaggerate and be brutally honest about which areas he was struggling in. Dave found this exceptionally hard as he was more in denial than myself and at that point wouldn’t engage in the ‘What if?’ conversations.

Looking back the lady who carried out this development check was lovely but on that day she was the devil πŸ‘Ώ
She stopped what she called ‘the assessment’ and in my head she said “You’re sons a fucking retard so there no point in this” however what she said actually said is something along the lines of “I think we should stop as I don’t to want to upset William but…”
We sat on the wall outside the health centre in full view of the main road and cried; we cried for the dream of a normal child, we cried because why would this be happening to us? We had tried so hard for a baby and done everything right! How would we tell people? Is it our fault?

The health visitor came to our house within a week after our meeting with the devil and continued the assessment. I always feel much more at ease with Sarah than other professionals. She has that reassuring way about her that people’s mums and grandparents have that just comes naturally to some people.
She spoke through Williams development and what he was and wasn’t excelling in and said ‘the devil’ had told her she had referred him to a speech & language therapist and Sarah agreed it was the best step and she too would refer him on top of speaking to his nursery about his needs. At this point she had no concerns that he could be on the spectrum.

It was the Easter whilst waiting for the next step that the above comment was made and it really hurt as it was a big step for us admitting something wasn’t right for a close ‘friend’ to then say something like that. Especially as said ‘friend’ had known me almost all my life. She has never spoken to me about what she said or about anything else to be honest since I found out. She has defended herself to others. This person had attended or been invited to such big events in my life that I missed who I thought she was for a long time but she was obviously never that person.
As time has passed I often think I should thank her for been the kind of person that would say things like that about a child because it made us become more open about what we are going through not only to ourselves but to a much wider audience.