Tag Archives: autism

Weekend Coffee Share -2nd December, 2018.

Welcome Back to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

While some weeks you’re lucky to get a tea or coffee at Beyond the Flow let alone something to eat, this week you’re being spoiled. I can offer you a slice of virtual Hazelnut and Raspberry Gateau, which I made for the Church Christmas Party. These cake experiments of mine don’t always work out and can be rather catastrophic. So, when this cake looked like something straight out of a bakery, I was so chuffed. I even managed to position the raspberries neatly around the edge and created a hazelnut praline pyramid on top. That was actually quite simple and yet it looked very dramatic and so clever. It was more a situation of good luck, patience and a few trips back to the supermarket as the recipe evolved but that hasn’t stopped me for feeling particularly chuffed and excited that I could get something right.

I think I speak for many of us when I say that I’m often just trying to stay out of trouble most days. A few weeks ago, I had a really bad run with the car and really felt I should stop driving or at least cut back. I scraped the car badly in the supermarket car park and then drove into a concrete lane divider in the multi-storey car park at the local hospital when I was taking our son to Emergency. I cracked the radiator and goodness knows what else. I felt really bad about it for a few days. However, as I started speaking to various friends, it turned out that the turning circle was very tight and they’d struggled to get around and weren’t at all surprised. That was reassuring. Anyway, the insurance company ended up writing off the car and we’ve gone out and bought an older Subaru Forrester at auction to get by and will get another good car once the dust has settled. However, we like the Forester so we might get a more recent model. We’ll just see.

Last Friday, I went down to Sydney for a medical appointment and in typical fashion disappeared on one of my excursions afterwards. This time I headed over to Elizabeth Bay on Sydney Harbour, which was quite a way from the hospital and the opposite direction to home. The appointment was late in the day and with all the end of year stuff going on, I knew going there wasn’t the most sensible thing to do. That I should be conserving energy and being a good little Vegemite. However, sometimes I get sick of being good. Being that Mum person who is straight-laced and driving kids from A to B and is supposed to have everything sorted. Stick to the routine and all that. Sometimes I want to go back to being a backpacker and going off the grid exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies without having to rush home to pick anyone up. I just want to escape all those time pressures and having to be somewhere and just be nowhere for a bit. Get off the leash.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I found out that my grandparents used to have a flat at Caversham Court in Elizabeth Bay and I wanted to go and check it out. Walk the streets they’d walked. There’s something quite amazing about trying to squeeze into someone else’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes. Walk along the very same streets they walked, and feel a sense of timeless magic which knows no bounds. Just around the corner from their flat, I came across a park on the waterfront with a few seats looking out across the harbour. I’m not sure bout whether you’re familiar with that concept of an empty chair representing an absent friend, but I photographed two of the empty park benches side-by-side and thought of them. Clearly, I didn’t know them as newlyweds. However, young love hasn’t changed and I could sense the love in the air. More than that. I could feel them sitting there in the park behind me enjoying a picnic and a glass of wine beside the harbour. How I wish it were true!

I shared more about walking around Elizabeth Bay Here.

_DSC7402

It was well and truly dark by the time I reached Central Station but not without it’s own photographic opportunities.

 

Thinking about other posts I’ve done this week, for Thursday Doors I wrote about Building 30, Royal North Shore Hospital. I came across Building 30 on the way to my medical appointment on Friday. It’s one of the older Federation-style buildings on the hospital grounds and it must be being renovated because it had these fabric sheets with fake Federation style windows printed on the sign which hid all the scaffolding and building site paraphernalia. I was quite intrigued by it all and could help wondering why and how much it cost, but took photos of it in the meantime. It was quite interesting and I did managed to find an old dilapidated door in there to keep our host happy.

This coming week is concert week at our place. My daughter’s dance concert is on Saturday. It’s a big deal. She’s in dance team and with something like eight costume changes, there’a a lot to organize and she could use her own Personal Assistant. They each have their own portable wardrobe, and look like the Queen of Sheba although with so many quick costume changes, they make good sense. She was talking to me tonight about all the steps she has to remember, and I was blown away. Unlike music, dance doesn’t seem to have a written score. The opening number is the highlight of the show and is every bit as challenging and dazzling as you’d expect. I saw a sneak preview at the recent nursing home concert, but can’t wait to see the final thing on stage and under lights… as well as her other dances. Indeed, I love watching the entire show. It’s brilliant and it’s amazing to see the students’ progression each year and how far they’ve come. Dance is much more complex and mentally challenging, than I’d ever realized  and then there’s also the physical side of things which completely blows me away, especially considering my own physical limitations.

Rowena Violin

Violin Concert 2015.

However, my daughter isn’t the only concert performer this week. Next Sunday, yours truly will be taking to the stage and playing a duet of Danny Boy on my violin with my teacher at the end of year concert. These concerts are held outside on a pecan orchard, which makes for a very relaxing, lush green environment. I’ve ramped up my practice for the last month and it’s coming along well. So, fingers crossed it’s going to come off well on the day. That’s always a bit of an unknown. I bit like making a cake for a special occasion, you can put in all the same ingredients and one day it works out perfectly and another time disaster beckons at every turn. At least, the violin has a dubious reputation and is well known for squeaking and making horrible noises. So, if my violin suddenly emits an ear-piercing screech right in the middle of Danny Boy just when the emotions are rising and the tears are starting to swell, my audience will more than likely let me off. It was the violin’s fault, and well beyond my control.

Lastly, while I was catching multiple trains halfway across the universe on Friday, I was reading Kathy Lette’s The Boy Who Fell To Earth. This is about a Mum who gets arrested for trying to procure a prostitute for her son with Autism, so he can lose his virginity before his 21st birthday. I’m still not quite sure what to make of the book or Lette’s excessive use of similes and puns, but I’m still reading it. It also seems a bit far fetched, which you might say goes with a standup comedy approach to writing a novel . However, for me, it still needs to be credible and I’m not quite sure this is. That is despite Lette writing from personal experience. Her 26 year old son Julian  was diagnosed with Autism when he was three. You might like to read a bit more about it in this review by the Australian Women’s Weekly Here

Have you read any good books lately?

Anyway, the night is no longer young and indeed the clock has accelerated past midnight and taken me with it. Another week begins in just a few short hours, and like Cinderella I’ll be back to the real world and needing to look responsible.  I guess that’s what makeup and a good choice of lipstick are good for.

Well, on that note, I’m heading off. I hope you’ve had a great week. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

A Special Child…Friday Fictioneers.

“Tilly! Tilly!” Jane screamed, frantically trudging through the bush trying to find her lost daughter. Mind, body and spirit on the brink of collapse, Jane laboured up the hill, powered by a mother’s love. Worried out of her mind, Jane almost forgot that hundreds of locals had joined the search. That she wasn’t alone.

Then, she saw Tilly’s boots perched on the edge of the cliff. Empty. She was too late. Her anguished scream flew over Echo Point and across the Megalong Valley on the wings of a white cockatoo, while Tilly splashed in the creek chasing tadpoles in the sun.

…….

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT (above)  submitted by  Courtney Wright © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous. All other photos are my own.

Three Sisters

The Three Sisters’ At Katoomba, West of Sydney.

Megalong Valley

While we were standing here, white Sulfur-crested cockatoos were swooping across the Megalong Valley. Unfortunately, I was too slow with the camera.

This story is set in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney which is the home of the Three Sisters, a rock formation located on Echo Point overlooking the Megalong Valley. This is a rugged bush land setting where quite a few bush walkers have got lost and big search parties have been launched.  This is not the sort of place you want your child to get lost, or to disappear when they’ve had a meltdown and have special needs.

sulphur crested cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cocktatoo at Katoomba.

 

Newton Family 2011 Katoomba

Our family at the Three Sisters’ Lookout at Echo Point, Katoomba in 2011.

Like so many others, I am gravely concerned about the isolation of the individual in the modern world. While in so many ways the Internet has opened up new communities like Friday Fictioneers, we still need those connections on the ground. I wasn’t the most popular kid growing up, but I had quite a few people around me I could turn to and came from a close-knit family. My Dad was one of seven and there was always somebody at my grandparents’ house, and not just members of the family. The front door was never locked and that was symbolic of a general welcoming of the flotsam and jetsam which came and went.

These community connections still exist, and it’s often only in times of crisis that they come out of the woodwork. I guess I wanted people like the mother in my story to know that they’re not alone. At least, I hope not. I don’t want the village to become a myth.

I also wanted to share a song which has stayed with me all week. Mum was watching Britain’s Got Talent when she came across Irish priest, Father Ray Kelly, singing REM’s hit:  Everybody Hurts It’s incredible and he concludes with a heart wrenching cry “You’re not alone”.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

When it Takes the Village…Friday Fictioneers.

There was no reason why he couldn’t ski off the edge of Mt Kosciusko. Fly across the valley with the crow. Not even for the smallest nanosecond, did he actually consider his human form. That while his spirit soared, that he was made of flesh and blood and belonged to the Earth.

“Joshua! Joshua!” The crow was calling his name.

“Joshua!” His mother’s scream echoed across the valley. Only the power of prayer could save him now.

The stranger could almost sense his skis mysteriously turning under foot, then spotted the troubled young man and understood. His time had come.

……..

100 Words

This story is dedicated to families who love and cherish children with special needs and the constant vigilance required to keep them safe. An 11 year old autistic boy was run over and killed by a train in Sydney last week after escaping from a care facility.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

82 584 18 – Friday Fictioneers.

The numbers were etched onto the back of his eyeballs. Glued to his brain. Black numbers on a sunny yellow background. William was fixated on number plates. He knew no one by name, only their number plate.

“What about the boy?” The detective asked. “Must’ve seen something. Wasn’t he at the scene when his sister went missing?”

“Autistic…non-verbal. Not a hope. Just sits there rocking, banging his head.”

“Shit.”

His mobile rang.

Dinner By Heston? Sorry, babe. Birthday can wait. Missing kid.”

“The mother’s asked for a sketch pad, Boss.”

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioners hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a photo prompt. Click here to go through to the Linky. Photo Prompt © Kent Bonham

xx Rowena

More About Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes. https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

 

After the Flames…Friday Fictioneers

Her studio guttered, Pixie peeled the charcoaled canvas off the concrete.

She’d been burned to death.

That painting was the culmination of every single heartbeat, every flicker of shadow and light. Her soul pulled inside out, spurted in thick acrylic, bleeding and raw.

Art was her voice. Her only exit from the labyrinth.

Pixie covered her ears and started to scream…a scream without end.

Axel wrapped a blanket around the shattered nymph. He’d seen her waft in and out of the warehouse before, lost like a leaf in the wind.

That,” he beamed, “Is how I met your Grandmother.”

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

 

 

Parents Saying Too Much!

Should there be tighter laws governing what parents write and publish about their own about children?

“Loose lips sink ships”and loose lips also sink kids.

Yesterday, I read a paid post over at Mamamia, where a mother wrote about her son’s Asperger’s and how she ended up spending $1000 on his birthday party in an attempt to “buy” him some friends. Her son was named and photographed, leaving no doubt about who he was and the duck’s guts of his struggles were exposed, detailed and publicised.

Was that okay?

I don’t think so and I wasn’t the only one:

“As a painfully shy child and now introverted adult, I would have been mortified as a child to find my (well meaning) mother making all my vulnerabilities so public. Children and teenagers can be so cruel and I feel it is quite insensitive of the author to lay all his social awkwardness out in the open.
It may take him a lot longer than most but he will eventually develop his social skills. His mother micromanaging every tiny detail will only make this boy more anxious and paranoid something is “wrong”with him.”

This mother clearly loves her son and would do anything for him but did she have to do this?

I don’t think so and you don’t need to be Einstein to wonder about the consequences both now and down the track. Children aren’t always loving cherubs. Indeed, they can be brutal. Bullying is rife, particularly involving kids with any kind of even perceived difference. While people are all very encouraging of kids with special needs in theory, when it comes to the competitive world of kids’ birthday invites, it gets brutal. Kids don’t even need a diagnosis to be excluded. Not being flavour of the month is enough…no invitations! That can hurt. Depending on your personality and outlook, it can really hurt.

So why draw attention to her son’s troubles? Does EVERYBODY truly need to know?

From me, it’s a resounding: “NO!!! DEFINITELY NOT!!!!”

Indeed, I asked my kids what they thought in the car today and they said: “That’s private!”

Jonathon sunset

If it was only one parent writing uber-personal details about their child, that might excuse it.

However, there’s a plethora of parents doing it. Is it so they can get a paid to write? Have the kudos of being a published writer? Or, to boost traffic to their site?

Or, have the lines between public and private become so blurred that people are forgetting to keep some of themselves and their children back? That is doesn’t all have to be out there? Indeed, much of it shouldn’t be!

Many of these parents, at least in my opinion, go too far.

amelia heart painting

Being a blogger, I’m hardly what you’d call a private person. I routinely post photos of my kids on my blog but nothing too embarrassing. While I might refer to their ups and downs, there’s nothing that personal. Moreover, I don’t use their names and call them “Mister” and “Miss”. Maybe, even this is going too far and I know parents who don’t put their kids’ photos on any form of social media. I haven’t had any haters on my blog and even though it’s all out there for the world to see, the reality is that I don’t get THAT MUCH traffic. My blog is more of a community and it’s almost like having coffee in a cafe, even though I haven’t met these people in person.

However, I don’t believe any parent has the right to disclose private personal information about their child, just in the same way it is illegal to post naked photos of your child (At least, I hope it’s illegal!!). I personally do not see the difference. In one instance, the body is exposed and in the other, it is them…their self. This is just as private.

We teach our children the importance of the Golden Rule and the need to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Yet, these parents flagrantly invade their own child’s privacy seemingly without any consideration …children who have no way of fighting back.

Why are they doing it and why are media outlets buying and publishing these stories? These are children. Precious children who need protecting, sheltering…NOT exploitation!

There are a lot of wonderful bloggers raising awareness of Aspergers, Autism and all sorts of other conditions anonymously without exposing their child in the process. These bloggers often form supportive communities where no money changes hands…just good will!

As a writer working on a memoir, privacy is a serious consideration. I’m very conscious that once you put your stuff out there, you can’t take it back. No amount of money or fame is worth selling your self. Or, even worse, throwing your self away.

What about your child? Are you really happy throwing them to the sharks…especially without their consent?!! What are you going to say to them when they grow up?

I’m sure I’m not the lone voice in the wilderness.

What are your views about these privacy concerns? Do you feel too many parents are exploiting their kids through their writing? I’d love to hear your views.

xx Rowena

Photoshopping the Future

While I was was frantically cooking dinner with my head poised over a hot pan, my daughter approached me with this statement…this wish:

“I wish I could Photoshop the Future!”

Miss, Aged 9, Monday 22nd June, 2015.

Photoshopping the future…I’d never thought about that.

Sure, all of us have photoshopped the past, more particularly OUR past, in some way or another…a bit of a snip here deleting the past from a photograph. Journals burned. Moving to another city or even country to start over.

Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that.

However, photoshopping the future had me thinking…What did she mean?

Of course, she’s at school while I’m trying to nut this out and perhaps my musings and interpretations are more profound than her intentions but we do use photoshop at home. Usually, it’s just to give an image that lift that you used to get in the photo lab back in the day. However, we also have a bit of fun changing the colours and upping or downing the hue and saturation. This is where you can totally alter your reality and end up in a world of lurid fairy floss, dazzling skies and it seems anything is possible!!

Is this what she meant? Did she want to live in this way out, psychedelic world of the imagination where anything was possible with the touch of a mouse? A world that is creative, fun and stretches (if not breaks) all the rules?

Or, was she perhaps seeking a perfect world where there is no sickness, no death, where everyone is nice and there are no bullies and everyone is your friend? Knowing her and how she also wants to be Queen of Australia when Australia finally becomes a republic, she probably wants all of that and I’ll put my order in too.

Why shouldn’t we photoshop the future and start turning the world into a safe and happy place for everyone, despite those old divides of gender, race and class?

I’d also like to add a new divide: difference. “Difference” embraces all those who don’t easily fit into any box and struggle to find a friend or a soul mate. This also includes those who could well be perceived as part of the group and yet keenly feel that sense of difference. Even though they might fit in on the outside,they don’t fit in on the inside. They’re extremely conscious of being on a different wavelength and not fitting in, not connecting with the herd. They might not want to fit in either…or just now and then but in some way that doesn’t involve completely selling out.

Feeling the need to blend in and conform to a set of rules and ideals, is something I’ve experienced myself. Like trying on a new pair of jeans, I’ve felt the rules restrict and constrain as I try to squeeze in and force the zipper shut against the odds. On the other hand, the jeans have also been too big and they’ve fallen down, swimming by my ankles. Yes, we do need social rules, the law and some sort of social boundaries, but we also need to love and offer acceptance to a broader concept of what it means to be human, “one of us”, part of the herd.

At best, the alternative is a dull grey or poo brown world where all the diversity and colour has either been mix in so much it disappears or it is left out entirely.

That’s not a world I want to live in. How about you?

We, therefore, need to become the change, stepping out of our comfort zones and building bridges towards those we have perhaps ostracised in the past and look for what we have in common, instead of what divides.

After all, right around the world, we have already experienced evil at it’s ugliest worst.

It is up to us to be the spark which creates, or indeed, “Photoshops” a new, much brighter future.

Love & God Bless,

Rowena

PS I have Photoshopped the rainbow painting used in this post in keeping with the theme. The original photo had a bit of glare and so I started Photoshopping that out as well but before I knew it, I was also Photoshopping out the brushstrokes, which gave it character and individuality as well as imperfection. So, after doing the blue, I stopped. This gives you an appreciation of the effects of conformity and using the machine to standardise and perfect whereas the other colours show a more “slapdash and expressionist” approach. Indeed, when it comes to describing my painting style, that’s actually a perfect description!