Author Archives: claudiarachel

I’m not a morning person…

But I am a night owl. Shame that doesn’t work with the parent thing, huh?

Sleep and parenting. Parenting and autism. How many conversations have we had around these topics. Nobody gets enough sleep. And if we try and talk about it the one-up-manship starts. And believe me I know that Little A’s solid seven hours every night is more than a lot of people get if their child is on the Spectrum. And if I didn’t know I’ve been told! But this isn’t a moan about that again just a comment that early mornings suck. But they particularly suck if you are me and a night owl.

Yesterday was a good day because I got enough sleep. It may have been accidental but Little A read his clock and didn’t come into our bed until 6 (that’s a lie-in btw). I also took an afternoon nap (sorry housework) because I have a week off from work and why not. I need to take care of myself right now.

The benefits of this sleep and home made food I had the energy to make was a productive evening of writing. When I say that I mean 3 hours writing, editing, feeling inspired. The sparks between the synapses were palpable. The energy I get from writing and being creative reminded me a little of myself. Think Oprah calls it being in your “flow”. It’s a magical force and something that needs to be, that must be and it felt good.

Reclaiming the night owl may take some effort. I’ve thought for a while I need a retreat to write or may be just the occasional night away. A more realistic step might be to ignore the sofa and television a few nights a week. Whatever it is I know that I need more of it in my life.



Apparently children aren’t expected to sit and write until 6 because so many things have to be in place – shoulder strength,  core strength, hand strength – not to mention the ability to concentrate and sit still. The Early Years Team told us all about it at a recent talk and encouraged us to use “Mark-Making” as more important at this stage. They gave us some jelly beads to have fun with and set us on our way.

Well Little A must have been listening. He has been mark-making in the bathroom this week – this time in the middle of the night. He has decorated both the mirror and sink. He used my lipstick on the sink – sure the red and white contrast were very satisfying. He has been writing numbers in his toothpaste by spreading it on the mirror and using his fingers.

This is the little man who refuses to do anything on the homework book, would never draw a picture, is forced to write a card (poor thing). He loves his Megasketcher but does not like to keep work on there for long, he does not let me take a photo and there’s no chance I could get him to do homework on there. That would be me trying to take control which he would find upsetting. Anyway as currently he is obsessed with foreign alphabets he writes Arabic on there more often than not (nobody else here speaks it). Certainly no “Dear Grandma, Happy Christmas” yet. which would come in handy.

So I have a dilemma now. Do I encourage sensory play with my ruined lipstick and some toothpaste? Or will this just make the spontaneous acts of creativity worse? It’s a lot to deal with before 4 in the morning, I’ll let you know later.

Feeling Christmassy

We are big into Christmas this year. My little man is now 5 and fully on board with the “Christmas Countdown” (sorry we don’t do Advent, not religious just appropriating the traditions)

Highly recommend this classic Alfie’s Christmas (thanks Grandma) Being a very literal being, Little A wants to replicate the book. He wants a red scooter under the tree just like Alfie. We also have to make Christmas Tree biscuits. So that’s what we are doing this afternoon. I use the term “we” in the loosest sense.

Challenges we face:

  • Not eating all the batter
  • Love/hate the mixer. Love to watch it. Hate to hear it.
  • Oven on is scary because Mum made the smoke alarm go off before
  • Mum is not great at baking (see last point)

Despite this, we did cutting and baking and we might decorate once Little A has eaten a few.

Stickers and awards

My heart soared today as my son came out of school – I thought he had won a medal. It turned out to be his chewy that he insisted on bringing home (it’s supposed to stay in the classroom as we have them at home already)

I shook off the silly thought and the sting of tears. It’s not like he accepts stickers or praise. In fact I have been reading that demand avoidance makes it very hard for some people to accept praise because it is quite stressful to feel someone else is giving you that recognition. But still, I see other children rewarded with stickers and certificates and for a silly fleeting moment I thought this was his day.

And really that just says that I like that praise. It’s a very social practice isn’t it? One unlikely to motivate or excite him. But it’s just another way life is a bit different for us. And let’s face it being five in a confusing classroom environment, you probably do deserve a medal!

Dreading a call

I can’t be the only parent whose stomach plunges when the name of their child’s school comes up on your phone. My school helpfully prefaces every call “it’s nothing to worry about but…” This means I don’t panic he’s come to harm, but I do worry about these calls in fact I would say I feel more than worry. Dread is that peculiar mixture of fear and over-active imagination that pervades your day and doesn’t let you forget them for a minute when they’re not with you.

Sadly I have had a few of these calls recently. Incidents have occurred at school. Behaviour they want me to explain or manage. It’s a battle: understanding they have to discipline him like any other child (welcome to the mainstream, kid) and communicating all the reasons why I think things have gone wrong. And then right at the bottom of all these calls real source of the dread: he’s so vulnerable, I don’t know if he can cope and is he in the right place at all?

As the SENCO has said to me, unfortunately they’ll never call to say he’s had a good day. Is this just a low that we have to live with, always an uncertainty about what has happened today?

To the man in the playground who looked down on us…

…because my son is wearing shorts, on a cold day. My advice to you is don’t judge first because you never know.

Whether it’s because Little A doesn’t like change or because he finds cotton irritates his legs, he will be wearing shorts to school rain or shine. I thought I was mean for a little while too but my husband reminded me he wasn’t ALLOWED to wear trousers at Prep school until he was 11. And indeed I wore a skirt and long socks to school throughout Primary School.

He also won’t wear a hat or gloves or scarf. Given his tactile sensitivity he is probably too disturbed by the feel although he may gradually be desensitised. I never wear a hat either so maybe not! There is also the possibility that he doesn’t feel the cold like other people. All his other senses are underdeveloped or maybe just processed differently so why shouldn’t his sense of environment be different from you?

Next time you tell your friend about my child in shorts who must be cold, why don’t you ask the parent if you really can’t keep quiet about your concerns?

Finally, you’re in a freezing cold playground wearing just a scarf with jeans and a tee-shirt, aren’t your arms cold?!

Clock changes

Blurry thoughts from another 4am wake up. Changed the clocks again, didn’t they?

As much a I am enjoying my evenings back with pre-8pm sleep (haven’t seen that in a few years), I am not loving second 4am wake up in a row. Then the other “night” discussing where the universe is at 5am. You know because the moon is still up and so we have to look at it and discuss it. At least I could do that with my eyes closed.

It’s not that my struggle is unique. We frequently get 8 hours of sleep straight from little man which is more than other ASD kids I know. However it is unique in effecting me in this household. Little A is wide awake now. His behaviour may suffer when he sleeps less but he doesn’t. He just feels awake. His dad goes back to sleep like a dream although will be up in a few hours for work. Just me who doesn’t like waking early and who doesn’t get to go back to sleep.

Maybe if I change my clock to the old time? Been woken before 5am might feel slightly better.

Here’s a buzzfeed post so you can yawn in solidarity YAWN