Some flowers from Mum and Dad to help cheer me up. And that was before the doozy of an aspie meltdown on Sunday morning.

Things did improve Sunday afternoon – he and a mate (also with a hamburger) – spent time at the Senior Citizen’s Centre for a Warhammer Club. This is their shared ‘special interest’, a hobby of all consuming focus. This had two benefits: he was out of the house and I wasn’t with him. We got together a few hours later and everybody felt a little bit better.

I invited L over for tea, mother of the lad’s friend for tea. Their diagnosis is only a little earlier than ours, much other life crap has happened, and the two of us figure we also have hamburgers.There’s a frankness that happens – apart from having a great deal in common – when two aspie people chat. We don’t have to feel our way around a conversation. I’m not on guard to make sure that what I say is as appropriate, tactful and indirect as might be expected outside of close family.

So between the flowers and the conversation, I did begin to feel better. And these other flowers from the lass are pretty good for looking at, too.


I remembered the sashiko

It’s made all the difference to the skirt. Just enough contrast and detail for my liking. Leeetle bit close to that hemline but I’m not picking it out now.

Various dramas continue to unfold. I joked to the Bloke the other night that most mums scrapbook different sorts of firsts and memories for their kids. I’m starting up a folder with My First Mental Health Plan, My First Mood Chart and My First Anxiety Workbook. I’ve got to say, there’s not nearly the same number of photos with this kind of folder.

There are appointments scrawled all over the calendar for the next two months and I swear I am this close to giving everyone their own ink colour. The Bloke thought that then you could go with varying shades, according to ailment: GP, BP, hamburgers, optometry, occ therapy…but we don’t have that many pens to choose from.

We’ve not yet revealed to the lad the full extent of what’s happening; more precisely we’ve stuck with dyslexia and anxiety because we’re quite sure of those and the treatment strategies and teaching remediation start immediately. The dyslexia label at the moment is covering all of the processing disorders that are commonly associated with Asperger’s – difficulty writing (apraxia), dyscalculia (to maths what dyslexia is to spelling/reading), working memory problems, and difficulties prioritising and organising work. The anxiety workbook will help deal with some of the consequences of mood instability and we’re really working on giving him a stable routine at home and school. Once the diagnostic process is completed with the child psychiatrist, then we can handle full disclosure and any further treatment like therapy or medication.

And with all of that, we’re trying to be as open and gentle about it as we can be with the kids. The lad declared quite matter of factly last night that he didn’t want to have dyslexia. Fair enough, we reckon. So we had a bit of a chat about it, which appointments are happening in the next week or so and why, and assuring the lass that it wasn’t contagious. That concept was a little tricky to get across. We said that you’re born with it but from a seven year old’s point of view that doesn’t automatically make it not contagious. In what I thought was a bit of a brilliant, on the spot analogy, I said it was like being born a boy or a girl: you can’t change from a girl to a boy just because your older brother touches you.

Yes, a vigorous game of tag over the dinner table ensued just to see if it might work.


We’ve calmed down a bit in the last few days. Well, I know I have because now I have some textbooks and I’m the kind of person who feels better with a textbook in hand.

In the last few years, the bloke and I have started collecting things called mental illnesses. I was originally signed up for depression and then it turned out six months ago that I should sign up for the bipolar class as well. The bloke took a short detour through depression before going into bipolar in a pretty big way. You sign up for life you know, which takes a bit of getting used to. And then you look back on your life and think, Oh, that’s what it was? Quite a few things get explained that way – what happened in high school, various screw ups, and the good things like hyperfocus and creativity.

Then the kids start growing up and you remember the bit in the textbooks about genetics. And that’s why February was the month from hell. Dyslexia has now faded into the background. Not because it’s insignificant but because it’s defined, has treatment strategies and off you go. Compared to what came after the dyslexia confirmation, it’s easy. Anxiety was clearly a problem and we started reading up and the bloke and I agreed to start a cognitive behaviour management program with the lad based on some really good resources from Macquarie University. We could do that while we waited for the educational psychologist’s report and recommendations.

Then the lad went through a classic bipolar cycle over ten days and is slowly and bumpily recovering. It’s been a long time since I felt such rage and sadness. I don’t want my ten year old son to start sobbing on my shoulder, explaining he doesn’t know why he’s so sad. And I really don’t like sitting in our GP’s rooms as we’re guided through a mental health plan. And I don’t like listening to the ed psychologist gently explaining that dyslexia doesn’t seem to explain everything and that she’s seeing soft signs of Asperger’s Syndrome. And I really don’t like reading through the literature to find out the Asperger’s is usually associated with an underlying mood disorder. And I don’t like reading that textbook on Asperger’s when it describes my inner life as a child, adolescent and adult.

Which is why it’s really, really important for us to get a nickname and start laughing at it as much as we can. We figure the lad probably has plain hamburgers, while it sounds like I have hamburgers with bacon and eggs. The bloke reckons the academic department he works in may as well be a fast food outlet.

Rice stitches

I rarely find retail clothing that I like. OK, I rarely find retail clothing that I like AND I can afford. So, as happens in life, compromises often need to be made. A ‘latte’ coloured soft linen skirt from Eco Wear doesn’t involve much compromise as far as ethical trading and low environmental impact goes. The design is okay, with false wrap layers at front and back. But even I had to admit that latte is very easily boring.

So I picked up a book on sashiko and started off on this:

I’ll warn you now and say that tear away fabric stabiliser is the worst thing you can use for this. Tearing it away took three times longer than the embroidery did. But I got impatient, my op shop carbon paper didn’t work, and I just started stitching. With sashiko, the idea is that you’re quilting at least two pieces of fabric together in a form of decorative mending. That explains why the stitches are fairly close together – a 3:1 ratio of top stitch length to under stitch length.

Sashiko thread is very soft and pliable with the same thickness as mercerised crochet cotton. Kimono House (in the Nicholson Building, cnr Swanston & Little Collins) has a good supply in quite a few colours, even tweed. I guess you could substitute embroidery floss but I think the finished textural effect would be less smooth and polished.

I finished it and I’ve forgotten to take a photo (but I promise I will). It’s quite cool, adding a decorative touch in a minimalist style. I’m very happy with it.

But I’m never using the tear-away fabric stabiliser again.