Does It Matter If Your Child Has High Or Low Functioning Autism?

Does It Matter If Your Child Has High Or Low Functioning Autism?

What’s the difference between high and low functioning autism – and why does it matter? Like many of you, I am a member of several different Facebook groups which relate to my role as a carer – in my case, groups related to autism. I saw a post the other day, written by a distressed mother of an autistic child. She wanted to know why we kept referring to our children as ‘high’ or ‘low’ functioning – she felt that the way it was used meant that if your child wasn’t classified as ‘high’ it made them not as good somehow… What followed were over 200 comments of what ‘high’ and ‘low’ functioning meant to everyone – and the range of responses was astoundingly varied. So, what is the difference? A quick Google search revealed the following top response: “People with autism are often described as being ‘high functioning’ or ‘low functioning’. But there are no such diagnoses in the diagnostic manual. This means that the difference between high and low functioning autism can, in many cases, be based on the personal perspectives of a practitioner or teacher”. Source: https://verywell.com Not exactly helpful, is it?! Let’s consider children on the Autism spectrum The general consensus from my research, is that children who are able to communicate well, are more aware of social conventions, can manage well in academic settings, and quite often appear ‘normal’ are considered ‘high functioning’; whereas children who have limited or no spoken language, look and sound different to their peers, and are less likely to be included in typical classes or activities in an academic...
Mama You Are Not Alone!

Mama You Are Not Alone!

You are not alone. Being a carer as well as a parent has got to be one of the loneliest jobs in the World. I lost it this week. Completely. Totally. I’m talking crazy-person, screaming type of losing it. I’d finally hit rock bottom and knew with certainty that I’d failed as a mother. I couldn’t do it anymore. I have tried so hard, fought so hard for my kids, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had completely and utterly failed. I’ve never felt so alone. How could I reach out for help and admit that at this very moment, I hated being a mother? I could barely believe that I had thought it – let alone admit it to anyone. The fear of judgement and the hatred of myself was tearing me apart. I crawled into bed and didn’t move for hours. How had it gotten to this point? Sure, my kids have special needs and require a lot of patience, help and support… but others seem to handle it with aplomb. Why is it that I can’t handle it? Why do my kids manage to trigger my anxiety and send me into a depressive state, in just a single moment? Why was I the only mother who couldn’t cope with what I’d been dealt? Why was I such a failure? I finally got the answer to my question the next morning. In a heartfelt conversation with my ex-husband, I admitted how I felt. I let it all out – and braced myself for the judgement that was sure to follow. Instead, he admitted that he...
8 Reasons Why You Could Be In Overwhelm & How To Overcome The Trap

8 Reasons Why You Could Be In Overwhelm & How To Overcome The Trap

The Overwhelm Trap! Often as parents and carers, we are so busy coordinating and caring; that we aren’t mindful of our own behaviours and emotions. Or if we are, we attempt to suppress and ignore them. With strict care regimes and the necessities of treatments, medications, appointments, specialists, therapies, endless paperwork and advocacy; there just doesn’t seem to be much time left for anything else! Over time, we inevitably come to accept the emotional ups and downs and take them as a ‘given’. We convince ourselves that this is just ‘life’. We find ourselves putting our needs last and accept the fact that what we want and need doesn’t matter anymore; or that no one understands.  It’s so easy to arrive in this place, and it can sneak up on you without you even realising it. Are you caught in the trap? Have you been struggling with any of the following? Decline in physical or mental health Trying to be everything to everybody Uncertainty over the future Little or no support from family and friends Adjusting to the perceptions of your role as a carer Guilt over trying to find time for yourself, or not finding any time at all Financial difficulty, or Finding the right care, resources and support? If you have answered “Yes” to any of these, then you could be headed down the road of overwhelm and heading straight towards burnout. But, here is the good news: it doesn’t have to be that way! Be aware of the signs and symptoms In my experience, characteristics of overwhelm and burnout are different for everybody, but can include: Tiredness/lethargy...
Why self-care is not about you!

Why self-care is not about you!

“…okay if I don’t have space in my cup then I’m not actually able to serve these people, my children, the people that I’m caring for, the way that I want to and I need to” Emma, Tree House Family Counselling     Personally, I believe that the term “self-care” is thrown around so much in the health & wellbeing circles that it has, for the most part, lost its meaning and impact. If I were to ask you to think about the following questions “does self-care mean anything to you” or “what does self-care mean to you?”  What conjures up in your mind?  Does your mind wander to bubble baths, glasses of bubbles, massages, long lunches and day-spa’s?  OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?! What conjures up in your mind?  Does your mind wander to bubble baths, glasses of bubbles, massages, long lunches and day-spa’s?  OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?! OR Do your eyes glaze over and your mind shut off?! Do your eyes glaze over, roll into the back of your head and your mind shut off?! As much as those luxuries would be super welcome in my life, are they realistic and achievable every day for most of us? NO. The term “Self-Care” by its nature suggest’s it is about “self” but in a caregiving context and even as a person who has responsibility for nurturing & caring for other humans it is anything but. As a carer or parent, you are on call 24/7.  The responsibility is enormous and the stakes are high. What happens...
16 Ways To Support Carers & Families In Crisis

16 Ways To Support Carers & Families In Crisis

What is it that carers need when they are in crisis? TO BE HEARD | TO BE SEEN | TO BE HELD A few days ago I needed to go to the hospital, an hour away, to collect medicines and drop “samples” off for testing. Normally I would have had spare supplies at home, but with my son’s admission last week being cancelled I was left a little behind the 8 ball… unusual these days but of course I am human. It took longer than expected, but I was pleased to have been granted time to listen to a few podcasts, have a conversation on the phone with my mum, have a cuppa and some breathing space… As I finally walked out of the hospital and back to my car, my name was called out by a gentleman on a phone who I did not recognise. He definitely knew me. He rapidly hung up the phone, introduced himself as “X’s Dad” and the penny dropped. He is his child’s full-time caregiver. This is a man in my private Facebook community, Carers Connect.  I had met him briefly by chance at a local fundraiser for a prominent member of my local community. I stopped and sat down with him and asked how they were all going (son is 15, same age as my boy). He recognised me from the box I was carrying – his son had been on similar medications over the past couple of weeks.  I was shocked however to find out his son had a cardiac arrest just 4 days earlier.  He was in the ICU, he fell and...