Tag Archives: family

Aspergerer – The search for the causes of Autism

causes puzzleI understand that people wonder and want to know.

After being a ‘rockstar’ toddler on the playground, my son – who used to get along with ANYONE – suddenly got into trouble through social awkwardness. He was ‘not fitting in’. He struggled to make any friends and it got complicated, to say the least. Of course I wondered if my parenting was to blame, my own difference as a foreigner. I am not exactly a people person, abuse ‘survivor’ and all.. So I do have a bit of baggage – was I passing it on ?

We moved on to prep when he was 5 and things got worse. I now wondered if the the fact that he had no real siblings closer to his age ( teenage step brother and sister were living with their mum) could have made my son too egocentric to function well with his peers. And maybe my own, sketchy set of rules at home had badly prepared him for the discipline in school?

When we encountered aggression and even more difficulties to mingle, I finally wondered if there was a possibility that he had purely and simply inherited the A..hole gene that could be present from the side of his birthfather’s (aka ‘the Mistake’)..
Yeah, even I know A..holes are complex beings and oh, they often have reasons (blahblah) but being not exposed to that type of behaviour, I had hoped, should have protected my child from becoming like that himself.. but, you know.. you STILL wonder! And genes work in mysterious ways..
But I have long completely discarded this possibility.

When I started looking more into behaviours of children on the spectrum, I felt, even before his official diagnosis, that things were making more sense. I was almost glad.

At this point, it is easy to get VERY distracted by reading/researching all these things on the internet that are – as science stands per today – NOT proven and completely irrelevant for dealing with the problems in your child’s daily life.

I have easily read 100 different theories about what *I* could have done to caus the autism of my child. Some I might actually have done with or without knowing. Environmental factors, food, drink, the vaccines.. well, you know the range is pretty wide.
Some of the causes are so obviously stupid and based on quacks and self-declared specialists, still, if you look, there will be a portion of people on the internet that follow this or that theory.

So instead of dealing with the NOW and the FUTURE of THEIR child, they get lost in the cause of XY and contribute to the cacophony of disinformation.
This is what makes it so difficult for anybody today to understand what we actually know about Autism FOR SURE, how we can help children and grownups with ASD and what research would actually be most beneficial in the fight not AGAINST Autism but for those of us who have a life WITH Autism.

Oh, I still wonder from time to time. I am back to thinking genetics play a big role (my father and my brother both qualify for what people usually call ‘autistic traits’ ) but I also have the advanced age birthfather, the temporary lack of oxygen at birth… So I still don’t know.

What I do know now, though, is that I don’t have to know.
Even without knowing exactly where his autism comes from, there is still an incredible volume of information out there and so many methods how to make our life with Autism work and allow my child to be happy. Finetuning what and how much should be done at home, at school and elsewhere, now and in the future, looks like a big enough task.

The causes of autism.. ? I’ll leave it to science to figure that out.

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life–just too hard. discuss.

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i need a new drug.

It’s kind of funny, hey..
My three favourite series all play in hospitals, and yet, I really could not find it entertaining at all to spend so much time in the emergency services of our local hospital. At this point, my husband is hospitalized with a severe condition from still unknown cause but at least they found something! and will investigate further. (House would have been able to figure that out a bit faster, I suppose.. )
I am not even blaming them, but I find it kind of ironic that my blokey husband went to emergencies immediately when he had the first symptom, but it took a full month and him having excruciating (chest!) pain for a doctor to finally come up with the right idea.  Or so it seems.

Not to mention that I realize that I now live in a country where getting rapid access to specialized health care (doctors/examinations) is a luxury, and with my self-employed (but not super-insured) husband out of work, we are pretty much facing an uncertain future when it comes to our finances anyway.

All this came parallel with the recognition that Tornado isn’t just ‘quirky’ at times but has definitively some “neurobehavioral[1] developmental disorder (yeah, chew on that!) that will have to be investigated at some point soon, before he is getting in more trouble at school or drives me completely mad at home. For the time being, let’s just say, he is ‘socially awkward’ at times.

So while I am battling my old demons, the exhaustion from this killer weekend and an increasingly pronounced anxiety about our somewhat blurry future with a wicked mix of caffeine, sugar, chocolate and valerian (might have to review that soon, it’s not really working) , I will probably not be able to be much of a fun mummy blogger. I guess.

I have been considering to start a new blog. that’s what I always do. But I kind of like my little ‘burp here. I still struggle with getting to personal, in public. And shit’s kind of getting personal here. My life just sucks too  much.
We’ll see. I just want those who did read to know that I am not just lazy. I am just too busy coping. Bear with me.

PS : the good news – we both have stopped smoking.
It comes kinda easy when your husband coughs up blood. Yep.

Queensland, Australia down under.

fintastique070700163 When the first floods hit Queensland at the beginning of what would be a very rainy summer, we watched the pictures of inundated homes and evacuated people and while we were feeling sorry for them, and there were first victims, we still felt this detachment you have when you know that a natural disaster can not hit you, and that it’s all very far away.

The regions concerned then had been struck by floods at the end of last summer, in March 2010. Now again! It was terrible. But yes, still so far away.
Summer went on, and we were disappointed that it rained almost everyday during the Christmas holidays. More regions were flooded.
MrAwesome was scheduled to travel for work in exactly those regions by mid-January,  they changed plans and I was just glad he was not stuck there.

Then happened the Toowoomba Flash Flood.
Those pictures went around the world.

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Why Toowoomba was once known as "Garden City"

We sat – shocked – in front of our TV and understood that the rain had swooped down the main road of Toowoomba in what was called an “inland tsunami” by many. The stories of the people surprised and lost in the powerful flash flood were incredible.
It was then that it became clear that something big was happening and it was on it’s way to the Brisbane catchment area.
Ipswich and Brisbane were bracing for what was predicted to be a higher flood level than the floods of January 1974.

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Before the Big Wet 2010/2011 : A monument in New Farm, Brisbane, commemorating the level of 1974.

 

A man saving a joey in Ipswich

The floods reached Ipswich and we held our breath. The pictures and stories of concerned areas were shown in loops on TV and became unsupportable.

 

Emergency services, evacuations, individual efforts of people frantically but systematically worked day and night knowing that Australia’s 3rd biggest City was on the way of this incredible amount of water moving towards the coast.

Over the last 2 days, Brisbane river swell and started to unstoppably leak over into the lower suburbs, gaining incredible speed, taking with it boots and pontoons, carrying debris and  tons and tons of washed up brown mud.

The peak level was reached in the early hours of January 13th and Brisbane, today, wakes up with thousands of flooded homes, businesses, infrastructure and parkland. While the peak of 1974 seems to not have reached, the destruction in a region that has seen so much development in the last 40 years would be far greater than back then.
We are all under shock.

I’m not born here and the flood from 1974 was a historic event I had only vaguely heard about. We live in a safe zone, near the coast, but in a different catchment area, and shielded by the Moreton Bay Islands from winds or water that could come from the ocean. I feel incredibly lucky, that my husband chose this area when he came to live in Queensland as he could have moved anywhere. We are not directly concerned (although my husband can’t work right now), but the impact of this flood can’t be estimated in cost and consequences as yet. We will all be feeling it.

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3/4 of the surface of Queensland covered by flood waters.

Even if the true dimensions of the damage are yet to emerge once the water starts to recede, it can already be said that the work by the different emergency service, the authorities in charge, the army, non-governmental and charitable organisations all over has helped make this disaster less deadly than it could have been. They are everywhere and and information is available. Individuals have shown great efforts to assist those that needed help to evacuate and we all know that Queensland and Australia as a whole will stand and show solidarity with the devastated regions and cities.
Because we have to.

75 % of Queensland are declared natural disaster zone. Already at the change of the year the flooded area was of a zone comparable with the surface of both Germany and France together. That was BEFORE the Brisbane catchment was concerned. Yesterday they were saying that the area concerned represents FOUR times what was under water after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005.

My heart is breaking when I think of the lives lost, destroyed homes, years of work annihilated, cattle, pets and wildlife perished, memories, artwork, gardens  disappeared under brown muddy water. It will take months to clean, years to recover. For all of us.

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Photo : My son is running ahead as we walk down our beloved Riverwalk from New Farm to the Brisbane CBD in 2008. This solid 850 m pontoon construction came lose in the night and went down the Brisbane River…

Queensland, Brisbane, my home in Australia, my friend, I am so sad today and I promise you I will be here for you to help you through these dark times and get back on your feet and shine with a new life.
Because that’s what you have done for me in the past.

Links:
– wiki on the 2010-2011 Queensland Floods
DONATE HERE
– Sign up to HELP HERE


Talk about depression : it’s ok to be sad.. sometimes!

I don’t know if it’s really appropriate to publish a link to a blog here, whose gifted and inspiring writer just suffered a heartbreaking tragedy in her family… Those who know who I mean will understand why I felt compelled to post this now. I had this ‘in a drawer’ for a while, obviously I have my own experiences with depression and related illnesses. Please read.

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You wake up in the morning and you want to hide under your blanket, wishing it was still night and you did not have to face another day. And.. people !
All you want is to be alone, right there, under your blanket.
What’s going on ?
Maybe you have had recent grief in the family, or you are dealing with a separation, with sickness or with financial problems. Maybe there is just no particular reason.
You just wake up and it’s there. The sadness. The worry. The fear. Depression?

vincent-van-gogh-final-paintings-1Many more people are concerned with depression and it’s related disorders than we usually think. It’s not just for 18th century painters an emos anymore.
Everybody can be depressive, or will suffer from the symptoms of depression, at least temporarily, once or several times in their life.

But wether you call it ‘your black dog‘ (like Churchill) or melancholy, wether you are blackdog (1)already fully diagnosed and labelled with bi-polar disorder or only have a vague idea of the symptoms and you think that this really has never happened to anyone in your family….
Just talk to someone about it! You are NOT alone. And you can get help.

Of course, we all know ‘problems are unsexy’ and sometimes it is hard to talk about something so confusing and overwhelming to people who are close to you and may already suffer along with you.  But you don’t have to! Talk to your doctor, ANY doctor really, because today, even the GP of a remote village will be somehow schooled in how to deal with mental disorders, depression and the like.

In any case, a doctor will be able to refer you to either more specialized care or organizations in your area that can help you to approach your personal black dog.

Because, you know, he’s not really evil. pic_70950(see?)
But, sometimes, sadness can make you angry, and many people concerned by depression push away others who just try to help. This causes a lot of distress in many families, and can be the root of more obvious problems, like alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence… The extreme fears and confusion felt by some depression patients is what sometimes drives them to do the really ‘insane’, the ‘crazy’ things. Our society needs to make it easier to prevent these things.

Today, we are also  more aware of how depression can affect children at an early age, and for them, just like the older generation, it can be very hard to grasp what their feelings could mean. depression_large
Children naturally just want to be happy and play, elderly people still fear the association with ‘the crazies’ that once stigmatized any mental disorder. It can be very confusing, scaring and very isolating. But times have changed! In the end we all have a little bit of crazy inside us. No should have to deal with their depression alone anymore. It’s ok to be feeling sad and you would be surprised to know how many people do !

Do you know someone who has that sad look in their eyes, even when everyone else is having a ball ? Has one of your friends or relatives more and more retrieved into their own little shell ? Talk to them about it.
Sometimes it’s hard to start a conversation about it. Don’t be too pushy, but show that you are there. Show them it’s ok.
It’s OK to be not OK.
We can’t all be clowns and entertainers everyday. Unfortunately, this is what our society seems to expect us to be though : Shiny happy people !  (not a feelgood song, i believe). Everywhere, indeed.

For some people, the key may be in a change of attitude. So some days may be a bit ‘overhung’ and black. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a happy, fulfilled live. There will always be sun too.
It needs sun and rain to make a rainbow, doesn’t it ?

The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. ~
Carl Gustav Jung (Swiss psychiatrist 1875 – 1961)

Counselling can often help to get through a hard time or deal with light chronic depression. There is no shame to see a “shrink”. Just make sure , that you find the person that is right for you, the one you can talk to, in confidence.
Don’t hesitate to change until you find the One !

For others, medication might just be the better solution.
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Oh, I know! No one wants to be reduced to a happy vegetable or get dependant and slide into drug abuse. But medication for mental disorders have changed a lot in the last decades. Doctors are more careful with doses and see to adapt these to the individual patient. We are talking about supervised, reasonable drug use here, not doctor hopping and pill popping!

Depression is an illness, it can chronic or temporary. You would not go and experiment on acute blood pressure problems with over the counter medication either, so leave it to the professionals. Science and doctors know so much more today about the mechanisms of depression, the chemicals of our brain: medication has improved significantly. Of course, talk to them about how they effect you  during the whole period that you take these pills. Side effects can be huge, but should only be temporary. Not all drugs work on all people, and you can’t just stop them abruptly, either, so listen to any advice.
Again, it may be for a lifetime, or only for a few weeks, but you don’t need to deal with it all alone, there, under your blanket.

The first step is always to talk.
TALK to someone if you are feeling down.
TALK to someone who seems to be down.
Do it Today.   You might even save a life.
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useful links :
just google depression, really. It’s as easy as that.
Add your country/town for local help.
– help to start a conversation “RUOK?”

Pancake Time Machine – Part 1

Today we made pancakes, and it occurred to me that I have been pan-caking a bit differently in every country I have lived so far. I am now very happy with my country of residence and also with my pancake recipe, but let’s have a look back with the pancake time machine :

Eierkuchen – My Childhood pancakes in Germany

002 Pancakes have many names and variations in Germany. In our family they were called Eierkuchen (literally ‘egg cakes’) because in Berlin we stubbornly call the “Berlin Donut” Pfannkuchen (pancakes) to the confusion of anyone who visits from the rest of Germany and calls them “Berliner” and well, pancakes simply pancakes..
Either way, the basic German recipe is indeed high on eggs and has less liquid and flour. The result is a rather dense dough that bakes to a somewhat elastic, rather filling cake. Eierkuchen also often have dark brown, even black patterns, this isn’t considered to be burnt, it’s their actual “look”.

My mother’s recipe went probably something like this :
50 g melted Butter,
100 g  sugar,
4 eggs ,
200 ml milk,
– beat until foamy and add 200 g flour.

Beat again. Fry!
Optional : Throw and tumble pancakes with verve to amuse the children, send them off to eat the first round in the dining room, then answer the phone in the corridor …and forget about the last pancake that turns into charcoal in the kitchen. Easy!

As toppings we usually had lots of sugar or strawberry jam, sometimes 001Nutella. My mother’s only variation, the simple apple pancake (acid type apple wedges thrown on the top of the pancake) was not popular with us then – not sweet enough!  My brother also liked the dark and strong sugar beet syrup, (must really try and get that here somehow). We loved mum’s pancakes, they averaged maybe 20cm in diameter, were 0.5 to a whole centimeter thick and after a single one, you generally felt like the only way to move was to go rolling around..  they were very filling indeed!

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Daddy Pig is obviously "a bit of an expert" in pancake tumbling.

To be fair, many German recipes aim for a lighter dough, as a teenager I found out that other families actually added a teaspoon of baking powder or – kinky!- sparkly mineral water or even beer to make the cakes a bit fluffier.
Today, thin and light French Crêpes and smaller, American style pancakes are very popular, too, including the runny acorn syrup (hopefully imported from Canada to be the real deal). Anything goes as long as it isn’t exclusively eaten during the morning hours of a certain fast food restoration chain (or two). Making pancakes is soo much fun:

(The photo links to one of our favourite PeppaPig episodes – Pancakes!)

Links :
wiki on pancakes and variations around the world
Peppa Pig – Pancakes – on youtube

Tomorrow : Young and chic  with Crêpes in France

New category : Cause of the month ! Public breastfeeding.

After my post in October, on the Domestic & Family Awareness Month, and after a bit of time-out I just decided to make at least one post about some sort of ’cause’ per month. Something that concerns me, or touches me and deserves to be out there. Maybe I can start a trend.

71055_155535221156710_6800447_n This month, I am inspired by two long-time blogging friends of mine, who are expecting a baby (yay!) and RSVP’ed today  an event on facebook that promotes public nursing by showing photos of breastfeeding moms with their kids. On their boob. Obviously, because that’s where it happens.

It seems that in the past, facebook with who I have, like so many, a love/hate relationship has flagged and deleted photos of nursing moms for “pornographic content”. Yeah, WTF? indeed.

This is obviously not a new issue. I was still breastfeeding when I heard for the first time about the ‘public breastfeeding‘ controversy after the cover of a parenting (sic) magazine had caused a riot in the US of A. I was shocked by the – indeed – perverted and twisted minds of people who see anything else in the pictures of nursing children than the most natural thing a woman would do with a child!

This is not a post about the pros & cons of breastfeeding. I am not joining that debate (as yet). I might post about my personal experiences sometimes this month. Raised in Northern Europe, I had my baby in a country where the breastfeeding quota – and public acceptance – was easily inversed and it wasn’t always easy. But as much as I am pro breastfeeding, I am against the raising millitantism on both sides of.. uhm, the boob. Not to mention the absurd bigotry of those who feel ‘offended’ by seeing it. Whatever!

Breastfeeding is natural. It’s healthy, hygienic and practical.
It’s not easy at times. Don’t make it hard for mothers who chose to nurse. That’s all.

Links :
– show your support with a nursing photo or change your facebook profile pic like me for the facebook “Nurse In”
– “the most intriguing nursing ‘scandals’ ever” photogallery in ivillage.com

And now for something completely different…

Thanks to all those who have read and/or commented on my FairyTales Post. You rock! Being featured in “Freshly Pressed” is an awesome encouragement for a blogger, I was really ‘chuffed and puffed’ all day.
…and also clueless about  how to follow up on something so (unexpectedly) big.  So on the off chance, that a few of my readers and commenters have subscribed to this blog, I want to use this attention and blog about something important, something I didn’t really intent to talk about in my relatively new, and – until recently – gently cruising little ‘mommy blog’ :

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No matter if you see, hear or suspect emotional or physical abuse;
no matter if it’s a child, a woman, a senior, a disabled person or a man –
talk about it to someone. If you are a victim – talk about it.
Don’t be silent. Talk!
Silence makes abuse possible, makes go on and will make it worse.
And HOME should not be where the HURT is. Continue reading