My survival kit…

If I had £1 for every time I’m asked how I cope with having a child with Autism, I think I’d have enough money for a private concert with the Counterfeit Stones (yes I’d rather that than the real deal).


There are things that make it easier. Some of them are not exclusive to being the parent of a child with special needs. We all need alcohol to cope with mother / fatherhood from time to time.


1) The afore mentioned alcohol. Fairly self explanatory. Fortunately I have every other weekend child-free to really give my liver a good workout and forget what an EHCP even is.




2) Make-up. My god, I love it. I could spend every penny I have in Boots. The nights that Owen decides that sleep is for the weak mean that heavy duty concealer is required the next day. My ‘no makeup makeup’ is the most expensive and extensive collection I’ve ever had. I was fairly insulted when  my boyfriend commented that I looked ‘very natural’ then I remembered that it was perhaps the point of the ‘no makeup makeup’  ⬇️


It takes a lot of makeup to look this natural…

3) A slight attitude problem. I’m a ‘nice’ girl (albeit slightly bizarre). I even won a trophy at high school, purely for being a nice girl. But when it comes to Owen, I’ll tell anyone and everyone to Foxtrot Oscar if need be. I’ve even been known to show people some very special grown-up Makaton signs. Granted, this is something a lot of parents of ‘normal’ children need to be like but the point is that those of us with children with additional needs have to deal with the stares and comments for a lot longer. Yes, my son is perfectly entitled to use the disabled toilets. He is after all, disabled and absolutely terrified of hand dryers.


4) A large drawer or box. As Al Pacino said in ‘Stella Street’,

‘I need a bookcase to store all of the screenplays that I’m not going to do’.

When Owen was first diagnosed, I had a folder with coloured tabs and a contents. Everything was filed away carefully. Now it gets dumped in a drawer that has ‘OWEN’ written on it in Sharpie. A ‘one pile filing system’ if you like.


5) Other ‘special Mums’. My ‘mum’ friends are great. You need each other to talk about nappies and later on, schools etc. The thing is, as your child heads off to a totally different school to his pre-school friends, you kind of drift. It gets difficult to talk nappies with someone who hasn’t had to change one for a good couple of years. Mum friends who have children with special needs are amazing. We completely understand each other and a morning with them is a brilliant tonic. (NB – I still have some brilliant ‘normal’ Mum friends for dog walks and coffees).


6) Non-Mum friends. Friends who can take you out and remind you that there is a life beyond motherhood. Normally involves alcohol and Fat Man Scoop.


7) A general support network. I’m not doing this alone. I have amazing parents, Owen’s dad, his teachers, a wonderfully supportive boyfriend, friends, teachers etc.


8) A sense of humour about it all. Having being brought up on a diet of Rik Mayall, Jackie Mason and Rowan Atkinson, I’d like to think I have a fairly robust sense of humour. As I said to my friend yesterday when she was told she’d probably need a cast, if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry.


NB – if you haven’t seen ‘Stella Street’, look for it on YouTube.


Can you see alright? No…that’s why I wear glasses.

I think we’ve had a successful half term. Having Owen at home for a week can be a daunting and somewhat terrifying situation to find onself in but we did it. Ten points to Gryffindor.


Owen’s behaviour before half term was not fantastic. (Definitely not a trait inherited from his Mother – Miss ‘0 Detentions and a trophy for being a nice girl 1987’). Everyday when I picked him up, they told me he had been a ‘bit of a monkey’. As a former primary teacher, I know this is top secret code for ‘little shit’.



This week however, he has been the perfect child. He’s eaten, slept well, played with his toys, his speech disorder has improved, he’s, played with his friends and we’ve even managed to get him completely out of nappies during the daytime. It took a fair amount of bribery and some ‘tough love’ but another ‘great success!’ I’m almost sad that’s it back to school tomorrow. Almost.


A huge relief for everybody this week has been his discharge from the eye clinic at the hospital; particularly me because his consultant (who resembles The Master from Doctor Who and is actually rather easy on the eye) is terrifying.



Three years ago, Owen caught conjunctivitis. It wasn’t so concerning because to me, it was something that loads of children at school get. Easily solved with drops.


Owen’s resisted all of the antibiotics and suddenly looked like he had been punched. We raced him to the hospital and we’re told that we had got him there just in time. A few more hours and we could have been looking at meningitis, a stroke, blindness or death.


‘Orbital Cellulitis’ is when the nasties from the conjunctivitis get around the back of the eye and the danger is that it then gets to the brain. Fortunately a few nights on IV antibiotics sorted him out but nobody was sure if his eye had been damaged.


The good news is that no, it clearly hasn’t! Discharged and no need for glasses or a patch. Another appointment we don’t need to worry about.


I wish the same could be said for me. My eyesight gets worse every year (I’ve got my ‘Dame Edna’s on now) and as the big 3-0 approaches, I’m concerned that I’m going to end up with some very Eddie Hitler-esque ones soon…



If it’s got Ben Affleck in it, I’m watching it.

This weekend was a bit of a washout, so my boyfriend and I decided to make the most of our Owen-free weekend (he’s with his Dad every other weekend) and do absolutely nothing but eat and watch films.



My attempts to get him to watch the latest instalment in the Bridget Jones series with me have been fruitless (so far) and so we stumbled across ‘The Accountant’.  I wasn’t overjoyed about watching another ‘boy film’ but seeing as it started the lovely Ben Affleck, I was willing to give it a try.



It turns out, that the lead character of this film has (very high functioning) Autism. I normally actively avoid anything along these lines. The Undateables? Nope. Rain Man? No thanks.



I find them unsettling to watch. I know ‘The Undateables’ is meant to be a heart-warming program, promoting inclusiveness but it’s just not for me anymore. I appreciate that companies such as Channel 4 have done a heck of a lot of good as far as inclusiveness goes. So many people I know enjoyed the program ‘The A word’ as well.


‘The Undateables’ is, from what I’ve heard, brilliant for showing the reality of Autism.



It gets a bit frustrating because a lot of films and television programs portray Autism in a stereotypical way. Generally they go down the ‘genius’ route and everybody hates loud music and can’t have any food that isn’t beige.


He’s got Autism but he’s a millionaire because he can card count!


He’s got Autism but he managed to hack into the government’s computer files and change the password to ‘govesmells’.


Oh come on Gove, we all know you stink


She’s got Autism but it’s ok! She draws crime scenes from her amazing memory.



Most of us who have children who have Autism, don’t have prodigies on our hands. We have children who also have issues such as ‘global delay’ and who will probably have to live at home with us forever.



I stuck with ‘The Accountant’. The flashback scenes to childhood were done very very well. The adult ‘present day’ stuff, despite going down the ‘maths genius’ route, were good too.



Stimming, echolalia, sensitivity to light and sound, monotonous voice, difficulty reading emotions, a need for routine and order, a need to finish everything and difficulty socialising were all covered. Well worth a watch!



‘Mercury Rising’ is another film that does a fairly good job of A realistic portrayal of having a child with Autism. Granted, it goes down the old ‘genius’ route again but it does make up for it in other areas.



Maybe I could make my fortune being an ‘Autism advisor’ to directors?


Or maybe I should just teach Owen how to count cards and head for Vegas…


Or we could just watch ‘Bridget Jones’ Baby’, Mr Davies? 😁