Is it time to return to routine yet?


‘Mummy, it’s 3 past 6 o’clock.’

They don’t do lie in’s, my children. They don’t do early nights either for that matter. And my 5 year old number fixated daughter has just discovered a little alarm clock. In true autism style it has become the latest thing to be carried everywhere. And thus we must be informed of the time at every opportunity. Except she can’t tell the time yet so the results are funny, cute but incredibly annoying all at once. Does the speaking clock require a stand in for a day or two?

‘Mummy, it’s 4 and 6 o’clock. That’s breakfast time you know.’

Sigh. I guess I should be happy she wants food when she is such a fussy eater. Chocolate spread sandwich it is again. Oh to try cereal just once.

‘Mummy, the clock moved again! Look it’s 8 o’clock and 6 now.’

‘I’m sure that must mean it is wash and dressing time honey.’
‘Don’t be silly mummy that is 11 past 1 o’clock. It is numberjacks DVD time of course.’

Strange that. Always seems to be numberjack time. Maybe I should change the battery in that clock sometime.

‘Mummy come quick, did you see the clock move again. Look it’s on the 5 now. That’s my favourite number. That’s my number. I think it will go to the 6 next. Yes, I think that. Did you know 6 comes after 5 mummy?. Look it’s 5 o’clock and 6 now isn’t it….’

Oh yes, that means shower time for mummy. Quick check that twin brother is settled on google earth travelling into oncoming traffic on the motorway and mummy is out the room.

And breathe. Surely one has to be safe in the bathroom….

Was that a little voice I heard over the noise of the running water?

‘Mummy, I just had to come show you this. Guess what? It passed the 6 and I missed it. Fix it mummy. It can’t move to the 7 if I missed the 6 can it? Fix it mummy, please. Oh mummy, Isaac is screaming down stairs too. He wants mashed potato again for breakfast but he can’t have that because that was at 6 and I missed the 6 mummy. Fix it now mummy!’

Now I know I have eyes in the back of my head. I know I can cook up a meal for four on just half used bags of all sorts from the back of the freezer, I know I can wipe noses, fix iPads, change T.v channels and catch an escaping child all at once…but turn back time because she missed the six while still dripping wet and naked in the shower? A quick turn of the clock and all is well. Now surely that means 5 minutes to get dressed and ready? You kidding! Remember her brother is screaming for mashed potato down stairs…

So towel tied around me, hair dripping, and glasses still on the bathroom windowsill, this is what I face in my return downstairs.

Now if only that turning of the clock could mean a rewind of everything for 5 mins! A quick turn on of a lift door opening on you tube and a run upstairs to get ready. Passing the ‘talking clock’ on the way of course…

‘Mummy, it’s passed the 6 now. That means almost 7 o’clock you know…’

I used to take my time dressing, choosing clothes, drying my hair, even stopping to check myself in the mirror. Now I break world records getting ready only checking the mirror to make sure I didn’t accidentally put talc in my hair instead of shampoo.

While dad has returned from hanging out washing in the garden (I am sure this is just an excuse to escape) and little miss talking clock is happy resuming her watching of numberjacks, I check the fridge to make sure nothing got eaten by Isaac in his search for mashed potato, and make him a drink and snack while I am at it. It really will only be a matter of time before he once again screams for that illusive mashed potato. So I offer mr lift door watcher a biscuit. Aghhh, how could mrs asd super-mummy not have known that all said biscuits were indeed broken. Cue meltdown once again.

Time for escape plan A. Trip to the shop. Who cares what time that little clock says this mummy needs a cup of something full of caffeine and we are either buying the shop out of mashed potato or biscuits…but we are NOT buying anything, I repeat anything, number related! At least the boy won’t bleed my ears in the car other than with screaming.

And then he did it. Maybe he wanted out from the constant number and time talking. Maybe he realised this mummy was on a mission. Maybe he actually understood he was getting biscuits. Either way he was just utterly amazing. Walking right through his beloved automatic doors, right to the biscuit aisle, picked up some biscuits and then went to the checkout to pay. Actually if only I could pause time right now. Because this was something incredible. My non verbal, global delayed, classically autistic son just held my hand and walked into a supermarket with me to buy biscuits. He even put them in a bag and walked back to the car with me. And carried them into the house.

‘Mummy you missed the 9. It went past the 9 and you missed it. I think we should have biscuits at 12. Yes, that can be biscuits time. 12 is after 11 but we are not at 11 yet. Because they are really big numbers. You have to wait a long tome for the big numbers….’

Too late, the boy had eaten three biscuits by then anyway.

‘Mummy, daddy dressed me. But he did it wrong again. He did it at 10. But I wanted dressed at 3 o’clock. I told you that. And he didn’t pause the DVD. So I missed the good bit. You know the bit with 3 launching out the sofa. Where’s my number 3 mummy…’

So in between the clock watching, the never ending time talking, the screaming for mashed potato, the full volume videos of lift doors opening and closing, trips to soft play and parks, we have also somehow managed to squeeze in two visits from the children’s different speech therapists, a visit from the health visitor, a visit to the eye clinic and a meeting at the daughter’s nursery. How did we find the time…

Actually just talk to Naomi about that one. She’ll tell you what number on the clock they all came at, left at and everything else in between.

I love my children. I love being a mummy. But is it time to return to routine yet?

Give me time…

I am a great believer in that one of the best things you can give anyone is time.

Time is a gift that is irreplacable. Life passes by so quickly and children grow up in the blink of an eye, but thier most precious memories will be of time spent with loved ones and our most precious memories will be of all the things we did with them.

But the reality of life is we have so much pressure on our time. I only have two children and I am a stay at home mum/carer but yet my time is in so much demand. The children need to be at nursery on time, they need picked up on time, hospital appointments, finding time for family and friends, keeping the house clean and tidy, time to cut the grass and tidy the garden, cooking, shopping, filling in forms and keeping up with paperwork. But my children want my time and my daughter is constantly saying ‘play with me mummy’ and my son screaming for attention. And in the priorities that compound me each day I need to give them that time.

I have been taking the time this week to complete some paperwork on my son for his transition to school in just 4 weeks time. He has classic autism, neurofibromatosis type 1 and global delay. At present he is non verbal. So I am completeing a booklet entitiled his ‘communication passport’ to give the school as much insight into Isaac as I can. And in doing this I have come to realise that Isaac needs so much extra time. Yes, he clearly needs extra time and support to meet milestones other children take for granted and extra time to adjust to new settings and people. But most of all he needs extra processing time.

When I say he struggles with transitions I do not just mean he struggles with moving from nursery to school or going into a new hospital room to be examined. Isaac struggles with the simplest transition like being asked to come to the kitchen table and eat a meal. He knows the food is infront of him, and he knows it is time to eat but give him time to process all that information. He will make noises, flap, look around and generally look like he has no idea why he is there but this is his way of taking in and processing what is required and where he is. So I am asking the school to give him time.

And if you give him time he can amaze you! Last week he carried the same book around with him for days. He even took it to bed, on the nursery bus and in the car. He turned the pages, stared at it for ages and scanned the edges across his eyes. But he was processing something. One day he sat on the couuch and stared intensly at the same page for almost 10 minutes. And then he screamed. When I went over and asked ‘what do you want Isaac?’ he grabbed my hand and put it on this page:
‘You want ice-cream Isaac?’ This was the first time EVER he has used a picture to communicate a want! He ran to the freezer. So the first ice-cream I offfered was pushed away and then I re-looked at the picture and put a chocolate flake like he had seen in the book. And he took it and smiled. It was way closer to dinner than I would have prefered for having ice-cream but I just HAD to reward that communication. He had just needed extra time to make the connections. So perhaps I should be telling him it is bedtime an hour or two before the event? I might need to try that one!

Both my twins are really pushing the boundaries just now with temper and tantrums. Some days I feel I am correcting them, sending them to the naughty step and dealing with screaming all day. Even given thier challenges there are times when they are both just being naughty. But disipline takes time. If they seem a bit selfish, a bit grumpy, very loud and screamy or you see my son banging his head off the nearest surface in temper, bear with me. I am on it. I am training them. But please…give me time! Give them time to be children and give me time to correct naughty behaviour. Children are not born little angels and learning right from wrong takes a very long time. Even us adults could do with time on the naughty step to think some days!

Time is a great healer. Time can bring answers and results and restore lost confidence.

Naomi still isn’t talking in nursery. And she still really struggles with anxiety. But she is slowly gaining more and more confidence. She recently let me video her reading a book. And she loves watching herself back. If you speak to her at first she will blank you because of her anxiety. But take the time to get to know her and she will eventually whisper to you and then talk. Be patient. I really believe in time she will speak publicly. That is one of the reasons why we have kept her in nursery another year. She just needs a little extra time to gain confidence and skills that others take for granted. Her toileting will come in time too. She had a bladder and bowel scan this week and hopefully the results will help us know where to go from here. But it all takes time.

So I’m thinking of getting my kids some t-shirts with ‘give me time’ printed on them. I could really do with one too!

The world is so fast paced. Seasons and times change so quickly. So take the time to enjoy your family and friends. Take the time to enjoy life. Judge less and give people time. But most of all give your children time. Time to be children, time to play and time to enjoy life.

I really hope you have the time to listen to Naomi read to you. It has taken her such a long time to get the confidence to do this. Enjoy ‘Shaggy dog and the terrible itch’. I have enjoyed reading it to her so many times!