About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

My Complete Profile

Recent Posts
A Sign
Say Cheese
The Means With Beans
Take A Peek
A Grate Adventure
The Operation
The Dark Recesses

1001 Dinners 1001 Nights
A Few of My Favourite Things
Abstract Gourmet
Apellation Australia
Becks and Posh
BurgerMary ATX
Cook (almost) Anything at least once
Cooking Down Under
Cook sister!
Cooked And Bottled In Brunswick
David Lebovitz
Deep Dish Dreams
Chef Paz
Chubby Hubby
Eating Melbourne
Eating With Jack
essjay eats
Food Lover's Journey
Grab Your Fork
I Am Obsessed With Food
I Eat Therefore I Am
Iron Chef Shellie
Just Desserts
Kalyn's Kitchen
Kitchen Wench
Matt Bites
Melbourne Gastronome
My Kitchen in Half Cups
Nola Cuisine
Not Quite Nigella
Nourish Me
Seriously Good
Souvlaki For The Soul
Stone Soup
Syrup and Tang
Steve Don't Eat It!
That Jess Ho
The Elegant Sufficiency
The Perfect Pantry
The View From My Porch
Thyme for Cooking
Tumeric & Saffron
tummy rumbles
What I Cooked Last Night
where's the beef
Vicious Ange

Food Blog Resources
Food Blog S'cool
I Eat I Drink I Work
Kiplog Food Links

Food for Thought
Autism Victoria
Autism Vox
forget me now
Lotus Martinis
MOM - Not Otherwise Specified
St Kilda Today

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
A View From The Hill
Autism is a dual condition in that it affects not only those born with it, but also those who are in close contact with it. Siblings can feel left out because of the extra attention that must be afforded their brothers or sisters, parents can feel that they are not doing the right thing either, by not paying enough attention to their neuro typical* children in the effort to bring out the potential of autistic offspring, or even by their autistic children for whom it seems you have to throw away the child rearing manual as everything appears to be turned on its head.

Sometimes parents can also feel like they are not doing the right thing by each other. I watched a program about two parents that had not one but two autistic boys and the effort required had virtually stopped them from having thoughts and desires about each other. It wasn’t that they didn’t love each other anymore, rather they were worn out by it all. In the mother’s case she also felt that she was hopeless at raising her boys.

It seemed autism was insidious rust eating her from the inside out.

Now autism is a benign word that means neither good nor bad, it simply describes a medical condition with no rhyme or reason to it that strikes randomly. To think it is bad or give it any other negative connotation, colours your thinking about the peoples affected with and by it. Autism is what it is, no more, no less. Mom-nos wrote a moving post about how it felt when someone carelessly used the word autism as if it meant idiot. Judging by the comments she received, all parents of autistic children have had similar experiences, I know we have - sometimes it’s not even a word, just a look can convey disapproval.

There are times we have all witnessed the badly misbehaving child and wondered why the parents seemingly have no control. If the child was neuro typical it may be a fair question, but what if autism was involved? What is acceptable behaviour for such a child reacting to painful stimuli, like noise for instance, or some other stimulation over which they are powerless to control? What is difficult for the outsider to grasp and also the parents of that child, often the stimuli is invisible and can suddenly unleash a meltdown from nowhere that makes sense to only one person. Imagine what it would be like for you if the very act of hearing was painful.

But the point is, if you saw an out-of-control child do you automatically label the parent, even subconsciously, as poor? What would you think if you witnessed my Friday afternoons when I pick up M from school and every week without fail, she would tell me to go away, that she hated me and only mummy could pick her up, with all the passion she could muster, crying real tears? Once it took me half an hour to actually drive out of the school grounds with her. Does that make me a bad parent? Have I somehow mistreated my daughter so badly that she doesn't want to be with me? You might just think that. If you were I, you might think that too. But I don’t. What M is railing against is the change in her routine, not me, it's just that as the embodiment of change her tantrum is directed at me. But it's all too easy as a parent to believe that somehow it's your fault that your own child is behaving like that and as days become years it can become part of your core belief system, rust eating away at you.

For three years I endured M's Friday afternoon anger. I understood what was going on and that M was not yet mature enough to deal with changes that weren't to her liking. But slowly, painstakingly, the wheel turned. Last Friday I was walking towards the school gate when M spotted me and bounded towards me and instantly wrapped her arms around me in a giant hug. I have never loved her more than I did at that moment, kissing her on the head and returning her hug. But what if the rust had eaten so much of me away that I was unable to respond? How would that affect my daughter and how would it have looked to the casual observer seeing a cold and distant father, not knowing the previous history?

One of the best things I ever did was a better parenting course. My wife D did the course first and I would have to admit that I was skeptical when she suggested that I do the course as well. After all I had raised three other children, parenting didn't seem that difficult that I would need a lesson and how could it relate to our autistic daughter? Don't autistic children need special parenting that can't really be taught by a stranger. A sort of learn-on-the-job deal. Earlier I mentioned throwing away the child rearing manual as if it only applies to neuro typical children. What is that saying saying about those with autism, that they are somehow different in a way that they don't respond like other children? Nothing could be further from the truth. In most cases, children with autism respond exactly like all other children to parenting, it's just that it takes longer to get them around. Sure my daughter is different, but not in any way that doesn't respond to parenting.

Autism will affect M for her whole life in ways that I probably won't fully comprehend, but autism hasn't affected the way I see her as a normal, loving child of whom I'm quite proud. Yesterday she was quietly drawing pictures and I was gazing at her. She looked up and I smiled at her, the return smile was everything that I needed.

*Neuro typical is a term to describe those without autism or other neurological disorder.

Edited to add: If you want further information about the Parent Program that I attended, email me and I will give details of new courses as they begin.

Labels: ,

  posted at 7:20 am

At 10:56 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The beauty of your words, wring my heart. I really loved sharing the hug with you and M. Every loving parent lives for those moments.
All parenting is a learn-on-the-job deal. And all parents whatever their child is like, would benefit from some class room work.

At 11:12 am, Blogger MOM-NOS said...

Beautiful, Neil. Just beautiful. You and M are lucky to have each other.

At 2:29 pm, Blogger Kalyn said...

Very touching. I can tell you're a wonderful parent. I always tell the parents of my students "It's the hardest job you'll ever have to do for 24 hours a day."

At 4:22 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What other job is there that's 24/7?

At 1:53 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, you've got that right, it was really a great moment.

Hi mom-nos, thank you for your encouragement.

Hi kalyn, do you tell them that right after class? Lol.

At 10:16 am, Blogger gigi said...

Thank you for this window into a world I know very little about. The love that you and your wife share for your daughter, and the will it takes to maintain all the relationships within the family while nurturing a special needs child is really inspiring. The hugs say it all. Every family should be so loving.


Post a Comment

<< Home


Recipe Categories
Cakes & Desserts

November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
May 2009
June 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
July 2012

Prev ~ List ~ Random ~ Join ~ Next
Site Ring from Bravenet

Site Feed

counter easy hit

Blog Design by:

Image created by:
Ximena Maier

Powered by:

Photos, Original Recipes, and Text - (C) Copyright: 2005-2010
At My Table by Neil Murray, all rights reserved.
You may re-post a recipe, please give credit and post a link to this site.

Contact Me
Neil Murray

Follow messytable on Twitter