A little bit of everything

I was flicking back through last summer’s photographs for something to brighten the place up. I think a bit of pink grevillea will do the trick.

It certainly makes me feel happier than listening to the Mad Monk, aka Tony Rabbit, aka the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. But since he and his party seem to be doing a rather nice job of slowly screwing up their chances with the independents, I’m not feeling as ranty as I could’ve been. Indeed, I’ve been rather pleased by the sudden appearance of European-style minimum winning coalitions and the shocking idea that federal politics and government may require cooperation. I suspect a Labor government supported by the independents since that would be the only way to ensure stable government when the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate. At any rate, it’s going to be very interesting for a while to come.

My crafty projects continue at a pleasing rate: reworking the lad’s beanie so it fits – I’ll do a separate post on that because I’ve used some interesting construction techniques to fit his design; my plum jacket is reading for sewing up this weekend; I’ve cast on for Acorns in a lovely heathery foresty green; crocheting away on the flower rug with crescent mesh; and about to pounce on a couple of wristwarmers and berets for myself. The lass’ car rug fails to inspire me so I’m going to see if I can persuade her to change patterns. Stripy treble is not my favourite form of crochet. And sometime next week I will cast on for Red Oak in a chunky burnt orange. There’s another trip to the Netherlands lined up, this time for late October/early November, so I get the fun of more winter knitting.

The lad is having some occupational therapy assessment as part of our Asperger’s management plan. It means another two questionnaires for us and I decided to photocopy one so I could fill it in for myself. It’s all about sensory integration – how we receive and respond to information about our environment through our senses. Typically, aspies have a profile of sensory integration ‘deficits’, particular stimuli that trigger an exaggerated response. The professionals are beginning to understand that if you actually take this sensory profile as a means of understanding the person rather than just a guide to behaviour management (for example, moving away from ‘let’s avoid loud noises so he doesn’t have an aspie meltdown’ to ‘tactile experiences are a really positive way he can learn’) then maybe quite a few difficulties can be resolved.

The lad and I have a few things in common here. Auditory processing difficulties (loud noises, trouble understanding speech in some circumstances etc); high sensitivity to touch – which explains a tendency to wear the same clothes because they feel ‘just right’; strong preferences for certain smells or tastes, that sort of thing. The lad is quite happy to play with icky gel kind of stuff, playdough and what have you. I avoid it like the plague. I refused point blank to ever make playdough for the kids – I hated the smell and feel of it. It’s a good thing my mother stepped into the breach.

But there are other tactile experiences I love – yarn and fabric, clearly. I love the feel of different types of yarn running through my fingers, manipulating fabric for fold and drape. It’s heavenly. When I’m drawing I prefer to use charcoal or pastels, materials I can feel in my fingers, rather than pencils. Embroidery seems to me a fabulous way to draw, getting colour and texture and swirling them around.

Maybe I’ve figured out my sensory profile after all.

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A little ragged

Since I last overloaded this place with evidence of my craftly activity, I’ve been at a bit of loss for words. Or, the kind of words I feel comfortable writing here.

The craftly activity continues, in doctor’s waiting rooms, in the living room watching over an ill or stressed child, through the footy game, and in the evening quietly opposite the bloke. I’m aware of reporting what’s happening to some others around me but I find myself thinking (always the aspie), I’m not sure what I think about this. Neurotypicals would probably ask themselves how they feel about it. They might even know what they feel about it.

The lad continues to be ‘a bit complicated’ which I think is the understatement of the year. I was speaking to a neuropsychologist at the time, setting up some assessment sessions. Juvenile bipolar has been confirmed, his occasional paralysing anxiety is something that needs our attention, the learning difficulties are sometimes manageable and sometimes not. I can look into him and understand so much and know so little. What I do understand is the mood disturbance that I have too; the aspie difficulties with organising and planning and doing (certain things!) and revisiting my school days through the lens of my own learning disability. I know I can’t fix it but I can understand it and sometimes that leaves you feeling ragged at the end of the day.

Through all of this, he is beautiful and sweet and generous.

The lass claimed our attention with a sinus infection, willingly shared it with me, so we had two weeks of illness and antibiotics as well. I think we can walk with these physical and mental illnesses but only with reminders to ourselves to accept help, slowdown, and listen. Sometimes I remember to do those things.

But I always remember my knitting.

Falling flowers

38 flowers. Not bad, eh? Being laid off work for an entire week with a sinus infection can be productive in other ways.

They’re still to be blocked out for proper shaping and I’m planning a crocheted mesh background for the actual blanket bit. Something similar to a sashiko stitch would be interesting if I can figure it out.

A few of the clover leaves are small enough to fill some of the spaces and lead the eye around the blanket. The larger leaves of the original pattern I found too distracting. Plus I would have heard that little aspie voice every time I saw the blanket: if there were leaves on the ground with the flowers, they’d have to be autumn leaves, wouldn’t they? Or else eucalyptus leaves and they’re too big to work with the design.

And that voice gets a little annoying after awhile.

Exoskeleton

The trip is coming up quickly and because I promised not to say this at home, I’ll say it here…this time next week I’ll be in Portugal (insert skip here).

Which means that all that summer sewing I didn’t get done six months ago suddenly needed to get done now. I took full advantage of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend: had Friday off to spend ‘quality time’ with the kids prior to the trip (and slip in some sewing…), invited other people’s children over for three days’ in a row so they could entertain my kids, and then hid in the study.

What did puzzle me was how I could suddenly find the time and incentive to do this sewing when I needed the clothes six months ago and should have done it then.

I figured out that sewing new clothes for an overseas trip was like building myself an exoskeleton.

At home, I don’t need to translate myself to family and friends all the time. If I do, language, shyness and hamburgers aren’t huge barriers. I know who¬† I am, I’m in context, and for the most part, I am understood by others. If I’m not, I’ve learned to navigate my way through an explanation or how to avoid it. Put me in a strange country on my own and I have just lost every external prop I have ever relied on.

This doesn’t necessarily scare me at all. The feeling of being a stranger in a strange land is quite freeing and since I am seen by others as a tourist or visitor, I am expected to observe, to stand on the sidelines, to wait until I am sure what’s expected of me. And all of that comes naturally to me since it’s the essence of Asperger’s. But I need someway of externally representing who I am since I can’t explain it (language) or it’s incredibly difficult (shyness/hamburgers). And I need to remind myself of who I am since I unconsciously rely on others to reflect me back at myself. Hence the work on the exoskeleton.

I’ll do a slow reveal over the next few days but I’ll give you a sneak peek of some of the fabrics used – a little bit of printed 1950s decorator weight cloth to get the creative juices flowing.

Flowers

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.