Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kathy Lette, Asperger Syndrome and my New Girl Crush...

Yes, back after my early morning brain fart moment. Slowly crawling out of sooky la-la land back to my normal snark world.

I WAS going to write a really heartfelt review of the article in this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly about Kathy Lette and her son, but instead I am going to write something far more appropriate considering the target of my latest stalking obsession girl-crush.

Seven Reasons Why Kathy Lette Should Really Pick Me as her New BFF:

  1. And this is indeed Number One! I not only have an intravenous drip to a bourbon bag, I also at numerous times have been hooked up to wine, liquers, port and even, under really strained circumstances, the odd cocktail. But here is the heart of the reason you need me Kat... the real why of this point. Hell girlfriend, ain't anyone ever told you that GIN and VODKA are depressants? The last paragraph of her interview mentions gin is her lifeline of choice. Do you really think you need something that aids the darkness? Like fuck you do! Alcohol is your therapy, remember the ASD Mummas' code: wine for the whine. Man, whomever was keeping this bestie spot warm for me seriously fell down on the job. Kathy, you NEED me. You know it.
  2. We are on the same page with those ASD dilemmas. So much so that if I didn't know better I'd swear you've been reading my written works all these long years. In fact, reading your interview was a little worrying, as many of the examples, phrases, attitudes and expressions were uncannily similar to much I have vomited purged articulated in my blog, on parenting sites, and in published pieces. Okay, one published piece. Well... one internet competition published entry if you want to be specific. But a person of lesser self confidence could be threatened by this apparent coincidence. I am not. It just shows to me how well we fit as besties, m'kay? And who would ever accuse their No. 1 girlfriend of plagiarism anyway. That would just be nasty.
  3. Puberty Blues. Whilst you may have been referring to some south Sydney beach culture, my youth on the Mid North Coast of NSW was eerily similar. Hey, I have been in the front of a shaggin' wagon only to overhear my bestie and her paramour discussing "is it in yet?" Gag. Also, the term "going slops" was not an unheard expression echoing from the sandhills at those random beach parties. And I usually was the one defending, dragging away, fighting for those who did not have the self-respect to say no. Not even going to mention the brawl at the 24 hour servo on the night of my 21st which started from my guns-blazing, white-horse charging, heroine to the rescue bravado, okay? But believe me, those puberty novel years? I lived it. 
  4. Photo opportunities and the great publicity machine! We look good together, need I say more? Oh... I do? We both have that certain something, call it chutzpah or spunk, passion or fire. Man, we are so hot from the inside out, it sizzles! Just check out this photo - it works, don't you think? You may have more polish and style, but I bring a certain something to the table too. And I can honestly say without a doubt, in a battle of wits and one-liners I am more than capable of holding my own. Especially after being hooked up to the lifeline for a bit (refer reason 1).
  5. Handbag, Kathy, Madmother
  6. Age. Not much separating us here my lovely. You are a 1958 chick, I'm a 1963 babe. Both baby boomers, both holding those years well. Refer photo above. What better for a bestie, than someone who gets the jokes, remembers the culture, can relate on the same wave-length. And why would you want someone NOT of our generation, who you waste much time in lengthy explanation to. Becomes very tedious. Whereas moi - well, I have no doubt that frequent hilarity will be had from merely a look, no words necessary when you are on the same wavelength!
  7. We share a love of our rainbow swirl sons! Boy 1 wrote this when he was 7. Screw Black & White - only looks good on zebras. Or me. Actually black and white really suits me... as does red. But my son is technicolour, even though his opinions may be black and white - HE is not. And apparently neither is yours, Kat. In fact, he sounds very much similar to Boy 1 and I do think as you and I are heading into this bestie thing, your boy should seriously, as the older, 21, think about mentoring my younger man. Just as Boy 1 does for those younger than he. All together now - AWWWWWW. Bucket please.
    2010 - Madmother Derby Dame
  9. Roller Derby. Who doesn't want a roller derby chick as their bestie? Come ON! Great street cred, whole new cache of story ideas, and I can madmother splat any other stalkers crazies. Sorta like a bodyguard and bestie all rolled into one (get it... rolled? Bahahaha. Okay. Not funny. Little too desperate maybe?). And don't tell me you never picked wheels over heels back in the 70's, K. We both know better! Oh, and I can even sub as a waitress for dinner parties and the like! Cool, huh?

    I was going to continue, but as this post is getting pretty damn long I'll stop here. Because we both know this is inevitable, eh K? I could use same lamo terms like two peas in a pod, or sister's under the skin, but that would be tragic.
    And that, I am not... merely a

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Sitting here at 4am in the morning. It is hot - 24 degrees at this early hour, in the midst of a torrential storm downpour, atop our mountain... rare. I have my youngest in my bed, my restless sleeper. With the blackouts (power on, power off, power on, power off), a rogue spa which makes a high pitched squeal as every power outage bizarrely switches it on, and the heat, I have slept little.

My post of yesterday brought a leap in my stats, and yet no-one commented. It was linked by a few wonderful friends on facebook and other sites, and yet... no-one commented. I put myself out there, open the rawness afresh, try to help in some small way... and no-one responds.

I am in the midst of a self-pity week. My health is sucky (yes, am onto it), my life is still stressful (as it will be for a while yet), and my husband is heading away for a few well-desrved nights fishing with the boys and I will be alone. Normally not an issue, but when my usual zing has pinged, I am dreading it.

I have been reading posts. And looking at blog lists. Lists I was once on, and yet seem to have dropped from?

I am not commenting much at all. I read blogs and go to comment, then stop, disregard, figure "why bother, my opinion is not needed, I am not relevant in the scheme of things anymore."

Gradually I am looking at less, following fewer, pulling more and more into my blog self.

Everyone, no matter how big or small, how cool or not, needs to feel valued.

And right now I don't.

So, smaller and smaller I curl. Until one day I will be invisible. Or am I already? And I ponder, do I bother to post or just delete? And does it matter either way?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Art of Friendship... Or How To Make a Friend in an Autistic World.

Friendship. Something a lot of us take for granted. Something we all want, but for those on the autism spectrum, something that seems, at times, impossible.
It seems this topic is a hot one this week.
One of my favourite blogs, the crack and the light, addressed it a little ago.

Autism and Empathy, only a few days later.

And then Parenthood had a massive reaction to their episode: Tough Love (not available in Oz yet).
More discussion on this episode, and a great article, here.

One of the diagnostic requirements to be assessed on the autism spectrum is (as per Autism Spectrum Australia) :
Impairment in social interaction
May include:
  • Limited use and understanding of non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, facial expression and gesture
  • Difficulties forming and sustaining friendships
  • Lack of seeking to share enjoyment, interest and activities with other people
  • Difficulties with social and emotional responsiveness

Friendship does not come easily in an autistic world. Social skill impairment and obsessive interests make it hard for the child to connect and make friends. Add in language difficulties and self-focus and *boom*,  you have a nearly impossible friendship cultivating experience.

And it is, as parents, our deepest desire, OUR obsession, our dream for these kids, for whom life is already far more challenging than your average joe, to have a friend.

We do not, like some, want the most popular. We do not yearn for the cool group acceptance. We just yearn for them not to go through life alone, lonely, isolated from peers.

It is why that episode of Parenthood has hit home for so many people.

A friend.

A lot of my regular followers may be sitting here going: "WTF? HER son has a friend! Her son has more than one!"

And they are right. We were lucky in a way, we were well on the trail of diagnosis when Boy 1 was very young. We also were blessed to be able to think outside the square of those days. We were given little guidance, and no information. One of the few things recommended to us by our paed was to foster one-on-one friendships. So we did.

To get to the bone, the advice I would offer to others today is this.
  1. Encourage friendships outside of group settings. Arrange playdates (for the young) or social excursions (for the older) ONE_ON_ONE.
  2. Be open to parents of other children. You may be surprised at how supportive they may be of a friendship. Fear comes from ignorance, we chose to be loud and proud, open and informative, all questions welcome and answered.
  3. When a connection/friendship is made, enforce "friend" free days at school. The very intenseness of these friendships (and let's face it, our wonderful spectrum kids are VERY intense) can be what burns it out. The pressure on the other child, hell, on both of them, can be massive! We instigated this at least once every few weeks. This was more in the younger years, as they get older they manage it themselves if given the skills to see and acknowledge the need for personal space. Make sure you also explain to teachers and parents why you instigate these. We always found they not only understood, they appreciated these actions. And to watch the two run to each other the day after, pure joy. (I always found it refreshed and strengthened the bond in our case).
  4. Teach social skills. This is a big one. We actively, in every situation, explained to our son what the expected/accepted social norms were. Still do today at 14. Most of them he has retained (but they need to be reinforced - apparently, a lot of children with ASD regress in behaviour during teenage years. This is not only due to hormones, puberty and typical teenage angst... it is also because we, as parents, go "Phew, he's got those ones, now we can breathe!" Uh-uh. It is  proven that kids on the spectrum do not keep learned behaviours until their EARLY 20's! Yikes! But yeah - keep on drilling 'em in), some of them he is still working on getting. Small talk is a big one he struggles with ("What? You don't want to know all the details of string theory?").
  5. Do not be disheartened if at first you don't succeed. It is hard to find another they click with. This goes for ALL kids, on the spectrum or off. It is just a little more limited a pool for those on the spectrum.
  6. Realise that kids are accepting. If you work on them understanding when young, the odds are they will still understand when older. Boy 1 has many peers who, whilst not friends, are not enemies either.
  7. Breathe. And do not cast your social expectations and beliefs onto your child. Hard, I know. But important. It is their journey, not ours, and all we can do is cheer from the sidelines no matter what or with whom they are playing.
As I write this Boy 1 is at a sleepover at one of his best mate's houses. HE is finding High School hard. He has had this friend by his side since Grade 3, to laugh with and relax during break times. To support and be supported. Now they are at different schools, and whilst Boy 1 likes his new school, it is the social side that is suffering. I see it in the tenseness of his body as he treads carefully through the school week.

But the nice thing is that his mate feels somewhat the same. The last two weekends these friends have been together. This friendship, like his other mate C, is strong enough to survive the different schools. But it is hard for both of them right now, finding their feet. And I think they appreciate each other that much more.
S, Boy 1, C, Boy 2 - January 2012

We know we cannot force him to make new friends. At this teenage stage, we can only guide carefully, and support him. It is harder to meet new people and make new friends when older. And we have to allow him to take his own path. In his own words (as we gently push him to unfold those beautiful dragonfly wings once more), "I am taking things from a more observational perspective for a while." Fair call. For now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Totally Blatant, Completely Unsponsored Promotional Post - The Little Village.

I have a friend. Well, I have a lot of friends, but this is a very old friend. Okay, maybe the old won't be appreciated... a very *ahem* long-term friend.

She has started a business in the Sydney suburb of Chipping Norton. Now, she has no idea I am posting this, and in fact the only thing she has asked of me since she opened her doors is to *like* her facebook page for the business.

Little Village : A fabulous store in the heart of Chipping Norton, Fabulous Flowers, Gourmet Food, Picnic Hampers and Gorgeous Gifts.. No artificial Flowers, Foil Balloons or Fluffy Bunnies to be found here.. It's a gorgeous Little Village.

BUT, all the little bits and pieces that make it onto my facebook page have me drooling with hunger, dribbling with desire, or just plain out peeved that I live in another state and cannot get in to drown my senses in whatever the most recent experience on offer is!

The latest is this:

I LOVE relish! And the temptation is so great with this promo that I have looked at affairs and obligations, and all sorts of crazy schemes to fly in. Of course, the temptation to shock the pants off my friend by strolling in unannounced enters into it somewhat... but I. JUST. CANNOT. SWING. IT.

Shop 7 /94 Childs Rd, Chipping Norton NSW 2170

So if you are in Sydney, pop on in. And don't forget to tell the owner (Libby), that Madmother put you onto this. 

Hours of Trade: Mon - Fri: 10:00 - 18:00
Sat: 09:00 - 12:00

She'll either laugh, or get a bit creeped out if the numbers overwhelm her. Let's go for the latter. I owe her one!

Now I'm just going to make you lot drool too...

Note: All photos copyright The Little Village - I stole them
from her Facebook page!

Now I better go 'fess up to her. Hoping sense of humour still intact now she is big business woman entrepreneurial type.

Just in case it is not... I do have OTHER photos from many moons ago, Lib. But I played nice and didn't include those.

Oh, and


Disclaimer: this is a totally unsolicited post. I have not been paid, nor offered any gratuitous reward, in fact I have not been to the store (as yet), and the owner may well slap me one when I do get there.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Your Funeral of Choice - Eden's Fresh Horses Hop

Death. The final frontier... Sorry. should be more respectful and serious, shouldn't I?

Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

Death. Something I have personally seen too much of not to be allowed some gallows humour.

~It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living. ~(Terry Pratchett)~

Death. Whether you believe it is the end or merely another journey, it is hard to think about and deal with when you are the one left behind. I do not fear death, I fear leaving this life and those I love. I worry it may happen too soon, and my children will be left without their mother.

But that is not what this link is about. The question asked by Eden is:
 "Tell Me Your Funeral Song."

If my mother were alive my choice would be different, for I truly believe that funerals are for the living not the dead. It may be a celebration of someone's life, but it is for those attending and the memories they shared and need to be reminded of.

When we buried Wise Woman, the funeral director asked me if I wanted music played as the coffin was lowered into the grave.

I have mentioned this before, I am sure. For a moment there, a song flashed through my mind. The song my mother and I danced to like drunken marionettes around her lounge room. A song that was playing on the radio as I drove into her home only a few weeks before she became ill, a couple of months before we lost her. A song for which I cranked the car radio up full blare and rolled down all the windows. Her neighbours thought I was nuts, but she was laughing as I came in the door. A song of great joy, and wonderful memories full of laughter.

A song that my delicate, refined, gentile mother with her hidden, warped, ironic humour would have appreciated... fleetingly. (Appearances, MM, you are still my daughter and we must keep up the standards of decorum...)

Can you imagine the solemn faces changing, my elderly relatives gasp of horror, the minister's look of disbelief if belting out of the cd player, as her coffin slowly lowered was... wait for it...

"Working in a coal mine, going down down. Workin in a coal mine, whoops I mighta slipped now..." ?????

But, again, this is not about that, but my choices.
I want the biggest party. I want them to play "Back in Black" as the people walk in. I want them to play "Don't Worry, Be Happy" as my coffin is taken out.
I want there to be a big mothafucka screen on the wall where my pre-recorded message can be played.
And my first words...
"BOO! Well, that scared ya, didn't it?"
I want memories and joy, and laughter and tears...
and I want my boys to go: "That's our Mum... she was always a Madmother"
And I hope they are old, and I am older and have done all I need to keep them whole.
That is all.