When I look at you

What does Autism look like to you….What does normal look like to you. Here is what it looks like to me

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When I look at you what do I see

I see a boy, born to be free

Free from stares, or funny looks

Included in games or reading books

I see a boy, who plays alone

whether in school, or at his home

A boy who knows when to ask

even though, it can be quite a task

A boy born special, with words in his head

If only they’d come out of his mouth instead

A boy that is patient, handsome and kind

Yet all too often, we have to remind

those that don’t know you, or understand

non verbal is not the definition of you

There are many things that you can do

I see a boy, so clever and brave

inquisitive of mind, you don’t misbehave

I see a boy who gets frustrated and sad

Sometimes with the world you may feel mad

I see a boy who defies the odds

gets on with the challenge and carries the rods

I see the boy willing to learn

no matter the difficulty, knowledge you yearn

I see the boy watching and waiting

hoping the people will stop their berating

Not all people are born the same

I see the boy who will change the game

of life how we see it, being ‘normal’ and all

it depends on whether, you throw or catch the ball

Normal to you is to watch and observe

hoping someone will have the nerve

to stand beside you and see the boy

not the Autism, that’s just a decoy

Look beyond the stims and the unique ways

sit with him, make his day

I see the boy who doesn’t want to pretend

Like, you and I, he just wants a friend

Don’t be afraid to look inside

No need to ignore, walk away or hide

He is just a boy to be understood

His heart is full of all things good

He may be shy or a little afraid

but please don’t exclude him

ignorance is man made

I see a boy, who is often alone

like the heron waiting, yet he never moans

in silence he sits, amusing himself

The kindness you show him, is worth all the wealth

so please be ‘normal’ and show your good grace

it will be worth it, to see the smile on his face

What’s normal for you is different than mine

and kindness will win, time after time

 

 

for Joseph, with love……. (and everyone else on the spectrum)

Photo Authors own, taken by the River Slaney, Enniscorthy

 

© carrie sherbourne and Relay shun sips – itsjustnoteasy.com Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carrie sherbourne and itsjustnoteasy.com Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

want to break free ?

from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?

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We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships.  We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to.  Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest.  Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied.  We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends.  We learn from each other.  We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing.  We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat.  To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open.  To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations.  After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.

Sometimes though, it can all become too much.  We are but one person.  In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED  relationships.  We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value.   We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete.  This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed.  As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’.  One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’.  It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed.  We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves.   It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.

Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo,  it can adapt to his new surroundings.  He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time.  Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured.  He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence.    His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct.  They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out.  Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.

We are the same.  We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met.  We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society.   We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own.  Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive.  However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’.   Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours.  We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be.  For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose.  We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to.  We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy,  our peace, our inner calm and ourselves.  If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!

 

Picture authors own taken at Fota Wildlife Park.

 

 

For love nor money!

When people are in crises, when they just can’t cope or chose to put their lifestyle first, who pics up the pieces, who takes care of the children caught in the crossfire and why?

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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

It really grieves me to see so much antisocial behaviour, manifesting itself, usually through, but not always by, alcohol or drug abuse. Sometimes it is just a lifestyle choice, beginning perhaps as a dare, to seek a thrill, to feed a habit, to be cool or to fit in. Sometimes it’s learned behaviour, if a child grows up in that type of environment and knows no better. Sometimes a child will ‘act out’ because of the environment that he/she comes from. Whatever the reason, there is often a ‘child’ involved, affected or impacted, somewhere along the line.

Often these children find themselves in the #foster care system, either because they are out of control or they have been neglected, due to various different circumstances or that their parents, simply cannot cope. It is not an easy job being a parent. I would say it can be one of they most difficult and demanding jobs ever. I speak from experience. It is a job that requires 100 percent commitment. There is no day off. It really is a 24 hours per day for 365 days per year, for at least 18 years, but in reality, beyond the 18 year old thresh hold. Being a parent means, to a certain extent, you put your own life on hold. Your children come first, meeting their needs, come first. They depend on you to be a good role model, they depend on you to keep them safe, they depend on you to reel them in, when they go too far. The need that, even when they think ‘they know best’. They depend on you to guide them, they depend on you for everything!

Throughout the ‘children years’ there are different stages of challenges, between the sleepless nights, the teething, the terrible two tantrums, the stamping of the feet, and of course, the ‘piece de resistance’, the teenage years. None of it is easy, but we do it, we do it the best way that we can. Along this path of parenthood, there are other challenges we have to deal with, such as if our children have friends, if they are good friends, if they are kind and caring individuals, if they are easily led, if they have any health issues, if they have any special needs, if they are prone to being bullied, if they are a bully. The list goes on and on and on. Still, as parents, we do the best that we can, to love, protect, advise and keep them safe. It can get pretty messy at times, it is not all plain sailing. There will be arguments, tug of war, a battle of the wills and an outright hatred (particularly during the teenage years). Parents are supposed to be hated during this time, right? Parents are supposed to hate the back chat, the disrespect, the laziness, the moods etc etc. Still we carry on. We plough through the sea of emotions, we battle on and mould and shape our off spring to be good responsible people, to set them free into the world, and hope we have done a good job, prepared them well and have them ready for adulthood.

Being a ‘foster parent’ requires all that listed above, plus you have many other tunes to dance to. The children are not wrapped up in a blanket delivered by the stork. They often come in the shape of a 2 year old or 10 year old or 15 year old. Full of fears. I would too, if I had to go live with a bunch of strangers. They come with uncertainty. They come with behaviours. They come with attitudes. They come with attachment issues. They come with all sorts of challenges. They come with social workers. They come with family of origin, somewhere in the picture. They come with spite. They come with attitude. They come with someone else’s genetic makeup.

Taking a child into your home, into the heart of your family is not always easy, for anyone. Your own biological children may not want to share their home, their parents, their siblings. their toys, their friends, their everything. There may be a reason the child doesn’t like you or your children or your home, your pet, your food. You may not particularly like them after a while, a behaviour they are displaying or something deeper that you cannot put your finger on. This is all within the realm of taking care of a child that is not biologically yours. What do you do?

Thankfully, in my own case I have ‘liked’ all of the children I have looked after. Thirteen in total. I have even loved them. Don’t get me wrong, there were challenges, there were sleepless nights, there were clashes with my biological children, there were attitudes. There were scary moments of self harm and mental health issues. There were flight risks, as in running away. There were schooling issues, there were issues of dishonesty, there were issues of spitefulness. There were times I feared I could not continue to do this any more, it was all too much to deal with. So what did I do. I prayed. I prayed to God to give me strength to carry on. To find a way to manage everyone. To manage behaviours. To help me to continue to support all the children. To help me to mind myself in amongst the madness that it could often be. At the end of the day, they needed to be loved and supported. Some children come for just a short time, a few months, a year or two and then they get to go home. I consider that a success. I am happy for them, even though they take a piece of my heart with them. They are where they belong.

Others stay longer, sometimes forever. They can never go home. They are the ones that you hope you can mould more, support more, because you have more time with them. More time to help unravel them, soothe them lead them, love them, advise them, show them. Be a role model for them. There have been times, that it was very difficult, but here I am, still doing it, still loving, protecting, supporting, advising, hoping above hope, that I, and the rest of the family, have helped to make a difference.

The children become part of the family, bit by bit, challenge by challenge, pulling and tugging, laughing and loving, they fit in, they belong. Some people wouldn’t do it ‘for love nor money’. Why did I do it? I didn’t do it for love nor money either. I did it because I felt someone needs to help look after the children that need taking care of. I guess it feels a little like asking a priest or a nun or a doctor or nurse, why they do it. It is kind of like a vocation. I think if people did do it for money, they would soon give it up, because, well, there is no money to be made that could compensate for the time, the effort, the highs and the lows that go with being a foster carer. If you think you would like to do it for the money, think again, become a child minder instead. Those children go home at the end of the day. You don’t have to deal with their families, their worries, their behaviour, social workers, police, doctors, teachers or other such challenges. Being a foster carer should be considered because you are committed to genuinely helping and supporting a child during a very difficult time and help transition them, either back home, or into adult hood, a much stronger person, than when they first arrived on your door step.

There are some children that are lucky enough to be in foster care with their extended families, this makes it less terrifying for them. Unfortunately, not all families will do it for love nor money. I can tell you it is challenging, but it is rewarding and if you feel you have the time, the commitment and the determination to see it through, to help make a child’s life better, to help steer them from anti social behaviour, to help get them onto a good path, so that they can have a good and reasonable life, full of hope, responsibility and dreams, then go for it. Do it, and if you are doing it, but finding it a struggle, pray. Pray to your God, to help give you the strength to carry on. The children need YOU.

http://fostercare http://children
http://family

Moving ?

A time comes in our lives when, at some stage, most of us move home. For others we move many times, which can be very moving

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There are many different reasons why people move.   To leave home, to move in with friends, to move in with partners, to move to a bigger house, to downsize, to move into a residential home, to move in with foster families, even to move onto the streets.  Some of it is planned, some of it is circumstantial and beyond control, but whatever the reason, there is an impact – good, bad or indifferent.

I am hoping to move, to downsize, to sell my family home and I have no idea where I will buy, yet!   I feel that the time is right.  I feel there is a new beginning waiting for me and I want to explore it.  Some could say its a mid life crises, others will say it is risky or selfish and some may say it’s brave.  whatever it is, it is my choice to make and therefore my consequence to to accept.

This garden of mine was nothing but a field 19 years ago and together, my husband and I build a home, literally.  We sourced and ordered materials, tradesmen and craftsmen and mucked in ourselves and assisted in the building of our house.  We planted every tree, every shrub and bulb that have now created a beautiful mature garden.  There are oaks, beech, laurel, italian alder, cordyline, magnolia, lilac, phormium, scotts pine, apple, pear, dogwood and many more trees and plants in our garden.

I particularly like this time of year when the bulbs are poking through and out pop the lovely daffodils, the crocus, the hyacinth and peony.    From my kitchen window, as I look down the garden, it is bursting with colour in amongst the fiery red dogwood and it makes me smile.  Soon the forsythia and cherry blossom will show off in the front garden and give a spectacular display and year after year, it never disappoints.

Not only did we grow build a beautiful home and grow and a lovely garden, we grew a family and it has been home to many more children, other than our own.  The walls of this house have seen and heard alot, of tears and laughter, of joy and sadness, of hello’s and goodbyes of ups and downs.  It is only 19 years old, but it holds a great history of all those that have lived here.  All but two of them have moved on to their own homes, their own journeys, but not necessarily their final destinations.  This is not my final destination either and I don’t think my next move will be either.

Will it be moving (as in the emotional sense) ?  Yes of course, there are so many memories here, from the laying of the foundations to  the erecting of the boundary fence. The nurturing of the children and grandchildren and watching them grow.  However, the foundations we laid in them, is far more important and powerful and  the boundaries of memories, know no bounds, so will stay with us all, no matter where we are.

I hope therefore, whomever buys my home, will love it as much as the love that went into it and be happy here.   For me, it has served it purpose and it is time for me to try something else new.  To lay some new foundations and plant a new life, with all my memories tucked safely away and  where some new memories will be made.  Whether I am crazy, or selfish, taking a risk or being brave, it matters not, what matters is that I am moving, moving forward and exploring the next stage of this thing called Life !

 

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Photo by Vicky Tran on Pexels.com

 

Do you Smoke?

Going for a check up ‘down there’ is never a pleasant experience and always embarrassing, but unfortunately it is necessary….

 

 

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

We have had a terrible amount of tragedy here in Ireland in relation to the Cervical Smear Scandal.   Tragedies, which could have and should have been avoided.  Women who have or are dying of cervical cancer, which needn’t have and shouldn’t have.  Human error.  Human mistake.  It has and is costing lives.  Taking women away from their families, husbands, children, friends, THEIR life,  THEIR  future.

If anything has come out of the ‘massive blunder’, it is that more women are heading to their G.P surgery for the dreaded smear test.  Others are still waiting in anxious anticipation that their results will be good news.   My own adult children have attended recently to get their smear test done.  There is a 5 MONTH wait on expected results.  That is a long long time to be worried, particularly if you have any sort of ‘symptoms’ going on ‘down there’

Symptoms can include, spotting, soreness, painful intercourse, increased discharge, unexplained back pain…….  My personal experience, years ago, when I did indeed have ‘symptoms’ and begged for a smear, was told I was too young.  Too Young….    I was 23.    I was planning my wedding.  I experienced painful intercourse.  I was told to go to a sex therapist, that there was nothing wrong with me, it was all in my head…. I was too young.

Long story short, I went to the sex therapist…. It was still sore……   I badgered my G.P again and again to do more smears…. I wanted a baby once I was married, but  thought if I can’t get anything in, how the hell can I get anything out!

I changed my status from single to married, endured painful intercourse and  also changed G.P.  after several ‘clear’ smear test results.  Roll on a couple of years I finally found a G.P that LISTENED to me.  Sent me to see a Gynaecologist.  As he was about to examine me, and I was totally mortified with embarrassment, he asked ‘Do you smoke’.  My first reaction was to look where he was probing, to see how could he tell.  Were there tell tale signs down there!!  I felt doubly embarrassed then.

Finally,  after listening to my tale of clear smears for the last couple of years,  sex therapist sessions and still painful intercourse, he arranged for me to have a  colposcopy, where a scan of the ‘area’ is done and a biopsy is taken.

‘Oh yes my dear, there is definitely something wrong here’ were his exact words as he was ‘scanning’.   Relief, was my first emotion, that I was not indeed mad or frigid!  Terrified was my next emotion.   I had to wait 2 weeks for the results and I can tell you it was 2 weeks of hell on earth.

My cells were at precancerous stage.   Any longer and it would have developed into cervical cancer proper and I would not be here to tell the tale.  My point is this.  Had I not insisted and badgered and kept going back to my G.P by the time I had other ‘ symptoms’ it would probably have  been too late.  It took me several clear smears, over 2 years and a colposcopy and all the embarrassment that went with it to find out, there was indeed a problem.

I was treated almost immediately in hospital and stayed 5 days for them to blast and burn the cells, in 2 areas ‘down there’ and was followed up every 6 months thereafter for a couple of years..  At age 30 I had a hysterectomy due to other reasons, but the fear of Cervical Cancer had now been totally eliminated.

I still have no idea why the gynaecologist asked ‘Do you smoke’.  I’m still hoping there is no way of telling by looking at said region, but I was too embarrassed to ask him, why did he ask me that, so I will never know!

So for all females out there, get over the embarrassment and get the test done.  If you are not totally happy, even with a clear result, go badger your doctor for a Colposcopy…. it may just save your life.  Lets not have any more Mistakes!

 

That’s me in the Corner

When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……

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I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.

As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.

Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.

It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!

At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!

Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-

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Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.

So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.

Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!

When it rains…..

Is it too much to ask for sunshine everyday? Is it too much to be ‘happy’ every day? If it never rained, then the grass would never be green and if it wasn’t green, we wouldn’t try to get to the otherside…. right?

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It’s raining outside, in fact there has been another weather warning! Status yellow, gusty wind and heavy rain. No hurricanes, no real structural damage predicted, just drive with caution, take it easy, keep your distance from the cars in front, for to be too close you will surely skid into them if you need to suddenly break!

A similar warning could be or perhaps should be announced for stormy relationships. After all, they are not always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes they are thunderous and and miserable. Sometimes it may only be a ‘status yellow’ where a little ruffling or prickling of just ‘uncomfortableness’ rears it’s nasty head

The weather, unfortunately, we have no control over. We have to wake up and hope for the best. The ‘best’ depends on what you are hoping for. If you are a farmer for example you may welcome the rain. If you are a sun worshiper you may always hope for sunshine. To always have rain or sunshine is not realistic or healthy, so mother nature gives us a measure of both, this side of the hemisphere anyway, to try to keep the ecology balanced, lush and green.

We do, however, have control over our relationships, but it does depend somewhat intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, needs and wants. It also depends on our patience, tolerance, and level of self worth does it not? Some may think grass is greener on the other side, no matter what type of relationship they are in…. Whether it parent/child, peer to peer, siblings or a romantic relationship. Far away fields often look greener.

The thing is, should we try to cross the fence and see, just how much greener it is, how much better it is, how better life would be? I heard a piece of advice last week during the Wexford Literary Festival, where an author said ‘if we were in a room full of people and we were all to put our disabilities, struggles, stresses etc into a magic bowl in the center of the room, and were asked to take one out, we would probably all take our original one out.

Think about that for a minute, then answer honestly, would you take the same ‘thing’ out of the bowl? Better the devil you know sort of thing, OR, would you chance it, would you edge your bets, would you risk taking a risk? Would you check out the potential of the lush green grass in the far away field or would you hide under the duvet?

It depends! It always depends on many different varying factors, on motivation and other things. Isn’t it exciting though, like when a weather alert comes, it can be somewhat ‘exciting’. The anticipation of what is going to happen! Yes we prepare, we batten down the hatches, we stock up on essentials and we wait it out. We may see something spectacular or extraordinary in the storm, like flashes of fork lightening brightening up the skies. We may see or hear something devastating too. The thing is, we see or hear or feel something, something different. Something out of the ordinary. Something that takes us out of our comfort zone.

What we do after the storm is up to us. We can go on as normal like nothing ever happened and continue with life as we know it, OR, we pick up the pieces, rearrange them, re build them and begin again.

Sometimes to remain is the scariest thing of all, because, what if, what if we miss something, something truly magnificent in taking the risk to not only learning to dance in the storm, but to embrace it, to throw caution to the wind, to be flung from one place to another, without a safety net and to take the risk of trying out that greener grass.

Better to fail by trying than to fail by not trying at all……..

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