Friday, June 25, 2010

School's Out!

So here we are at the end of another school year. Where did that time go? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were worried about "Snow Days" and whether our little darlings would be able to get back to school after Christmas.

I always get a bit emotional around this time of year. Time, and the inevitable way it just marches on, can leave me a bit morose. I'm just not ready for Button and Belle to grow up and it's happening way to quickly for my liking! So while I'm thrilled and excited about the developments they are both making, I miss my babies.

Button's school year has been really good - at his recent parent teacher meeting we were told that he's really beginning to let hinmself relax, and trust his teacher. His anxiety has reduced thanks to all the structure and scheduling they have put in place for him and as his Teacher put it (more eloquently than I ever could, but then again she IS French!) "Our little flower is blooming".

As for Belle, well, what can I say? My baby girl is getting ready for big school and is approaching it with the same enthusiasm and joy that is the essence of who she is. The world will welcome Belle with open arms, because that's exactly what she expects! Now if only we could find a school uniform to fit her.....

Thanks to my wonderul new friends, I seem to have done what I never thought was possible and managed to get myself a life! I know! How mad is that? And I'm enjoying every minute of it!

When Button arrived home today he had a card for me from Teacher. It contained a quote from Henry Matisse - "Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir", which translated means "There are flowers everywhere for those who bother to look". Says it all really, doesn't it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tazzy is Grumpy

I was tagged by a very grumpy Jen over at the King and Eye to list 7 things that make me grumpy. Just 7?? Is that all???

1. Early mornings! Every now and then, Button decides that 5.30 is a perfectly reasonable time to get up, and invariably, these mornings fall on the day of the weekend that happens to be Mr Taz's lie-in. Then on my lie-in everyone will sleep until 8.30! It's sooooooo unfair!

2. Lack of sugar! I am a sugar addict - and if I don't get a fix I get very grumpy indeed. My latest indulgence is sherbet dib dabs - you don't get much more sugary than those!

3. People who get off escalators or travelators and don't move on when they get to the top- you know who I mean, they stand there, having a chat about which way to go now! MOOOOOVE!!!!!! I nearly took some old lady's ankles out this morning with the buggy, and bizarrely, I ended up apologising to her!

4. Checkout operators who read the cover of your magazines as they're scanning them through! I once had a girl actually flick through my mag while I was packing the shopping. Cheeky mare!

5. Losing things. This is a big issue for me. I get unreasonably upset over things going missing, whether it be toys, paperwork or even socks! You would imagine that this would inspire me to keep a very tidy house........

6. When I order a Chinese and it's not as nice as I thought it was going to be :o(

7. There's not much about Mr Taz that makes me grumpy (he's a fast learner, and I've been using ABA techniques on him!), but he has never learnt to hang out washing properly. He seems to think it's ok to hang everything from the middle, so I have to go out and redo it all when he's not looking.

That was (rather unsurprisingly) easy! Don't be fooled by the sunny, positive exterior - inside I'm a seething ball of grumpiness! Oh, and if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Belle rocks!

It's an interesting experience, this parenting gig! Especially when you have one child with Autism and the other with Attitude! Button and Belle are two such different characters that watching them together is always going to be fun, but in recent weeks it's taken a whole new turn. Let me explain......

Button has never (and I actually mean NEVER) had a conversation with another child (including Belle) without being prompted and guided, and having some big pay off at the end. Usually chips. He just doesn't "do" children - I think they're too unpredictable for him.

Two weeks ago, he arrived home from school and as usual ran in to the sitting room to jump in the window and wave at the bus. Belle was in there on her laptop. I was just about to enter the room when i heard the following

Belle: Hello Button! How was your day?
Button: Fine thanks!
Belle: Good. What did you do?
Button: I played Bingo
Belle: What else?
Button: I did photocopying for Teacher
Belle: Wow! Very Good! Anything else?
Button: Work. I was working for the iTouch

To say that my jaw hit the floor would be an understatement. I was immediately on the phone to everyone I could think of, and posted it on facebook. Proud Mama moment!!!

But since then it has happened nearly every day. My children are actually talking to each other. And not just about what Button did in school. Belle will ask him a question and he will answer her directly. Nearly every time. He is also beginning to look for her to interact with and if I ask him to go and check if she's ok, he does it willingly. I have always felt that he loves her in his own way, but now we're seeing the beginnings of an actual sibling relationship, and it's beautiful to watch.

She's some girl, my daughter. A lot of kids would have given up trying by now, there's only so much being ignored a 4 year old can take. But not Belle. She is such a good sister to Button. She accepts him exactly as he is, and understands totally that he needs some help with things that she can do herself. She holds his hand (tightly!)when we're out, answers his many repetitive questions and gives him his favourite keys or teddy if she finds them lying around. She really is Button's best friend and ally in this world and I'm so proud of her!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

15 things about me

I love being tagged! It saves me having to come up with an idea for a blog! So I was delighted to be tagged by both Jeanie and Lora to do this post! But once again - I'm showing how completely dull I am! You have been warned......

1.Things that scare me

- Not being able to find one of the children
-Something happening to me while the children are still small
-Rollercoasters - even the little kiddie ones make me really nervous!

2.People who make me laugh

- Mr Taz - every single day!
- Michael McIntyre -LOVE him!
- My brother - I can appreciate him now, but he drove me nuts as a child!! He once convinced me I had a talking bed by hiding underneath it and having a chat with me!

3.Things I hate the most

- Rudeness - there's just no need.
- Discrimination
- Pineapple

4.Things I don't understand
- Racism
- Negative people
- Quantum Physics

5.Things I am doing right now
- watching Belle blow bubbles :)
- listening to "Tom and Jerry - The Nutcracker" playing for the umpteenth time on the television,
- having a cup of tea

6.Things I want to do before I die

- grow very, very, very, old!!!!
- go whale watching
- learn to play the piano

7.Things I can do
- bake
- cross stitch
- touch my nose with my tongue! But I only demonstrate this after a few drinks - it's not an attractive look!

8.Ways to describe my personality
- positive
- fair
- shy

9.Things I can't do
- play the piano
- speak a foreign language
- sing - doesn't stop me belting out a few tunes in the privacy of my kitchen though!!!

10.Things I think that you should listen to
- good music
- your children
- your inner voice

11.Things you should never listen to
- people who start a sentence with "I'm not racist but..."
- rap music - I'm going to sound like my father here, but that's just noise!
- Barney - yes, the purple dinosaur! he's banned in our house.

12.Things I'd like to learn

- the piano
- Thai
- how to not worry about things that are outside my control

13.Favorite foods
- cake
- cake
- cake

14.Beverages I drink regularly
- hot chocolate
- coke

15.Shows I watched as a kid
Famous Five
- Wombles
- Hong Kong Phooey

So there you have it! I'm not going to tag anyone - but if you want to take up the challenge, feel free!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tazzy gets cross!

I haven't blogged for a long time. Mainly because life seems to have gotten in the way, and we've been busy with Easter holidays, house renovations and the general chaos that is my life, but also because nothing has moved me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case may be!). Until this.

The story of a Russian boy who was adopted by an American woman and then returned alone to Russia because his new mother basically changed her mind. My blood is boiling about this!! If I could get this woman alone, I don't think I could hold myself back. How dare she??? What was going on in her mind that made this course of action even remotely ok?

First of all, Artyom is 7. Not 7 months, or 7 weeks, but 7 years old. He has been removed form the care of his biological (allegedly alcoholic) mother, and placed in an orphanage. Two years later he is adopted by this woman, flown halfway across the world to live with strangers, in a country where everyone and everything is unfamiliar to him. Did it not occur to Ms Hansen before she adopted him that a child of this age may have a few "issues", that bonding and attachment would not happen over night, or even that he might be scared and overwhelmed?

Allegedly, Artyom displayed some worrying behaviours. If that is the case, surely sending him back to Russia ALONE, is a little extreme. One wonders what this woman would do if he had been her biological child? There is no return window in the parenthood shop! You get what you're given and you love your child unconditionally. If you run into problems along the way, you do your best to fix things, and use all the resources you can to help your child grow into a happy, stable, loving person. End of!

Adoptive families spend lots of time and energy reassuring our children that we are their "forever family", that we love them unconditionally and that we will never abandon them. So when a story like this breaks, we are concerned that our children will worry about it or that someone in the playground will tell them that their mummy can send them back anytime she wants. Ms Hansen has not just damaged Artyom, she has also caused heartbreak for hundreds of other families waiting to adopt children form Russia (all adoptions to America have been suspended), hundreds of children now have to wait longer in orphanages, while their forever families sit in empty bedrooms, and thousands of adopted children are questioning their place in their family. Shame on her.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Happy 10

The wonderful Jen, over at The King and I, has tagged me for a Happy 101 award! The deal is that I have to write about 10 things that make me happy every day. Never one to walk away from a challenge (unless it involves physical exertion) I am happy to oblige!

1. The obvious - my gorgeous, happy, healthy children. There were many years when I thought I'd never be able to have 1 child, let alone 2, with baby #3 (or Smallie as we refer to him) in the pipeline. Every day I look at them and count my blessings.

2. My lovely Mr Taz. He is a wonderful husband and father and he makes me laugh so hard that I'm glad my pelvic floor never went through the rigours of pregnancy and child-birth!! Through all the ups and downs of adoption, autism and parenthood, he's always supported me 100%.

3 My parents. I had the happiest childhood you could possibly imagine, and today my parents are healthy and as madly in love with each other as ever. They have set the bar really high for me and it's my ultimate goal for my children to have as many happy memories of their childhood as I do of mine.

4 Cake! I love cake! having recently gone back to Weight Watchers, I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like to. But a nice cake makes me very, very happy!! And a chocolate cake makes me positively ecstatic!!!

5 My facebook family. You guys and gals have been my comfort and support for a year now, and you are the nicest bunch of people I know. I'm a blow-in to the town where I live and making friends has never come easily to me, but now I have you all to chat with and a certain select few to have coffee with. You're all a little bit crazy too, you do know that don't you?

6 This is stretching the "every day" aspect of the challenge. But i do get very happy when my house is tidy!!!

7 That moment where the children are in bed, and you sit down in front of the telly to watch a programme other than Dora or Peppa Pig! Bliss!

8 I have a photo in the kitchen of Button and Belle laughing. It's impossible not to smile when you look at it, so I have palced it on the window ledge beside the sink. If I'm having a "moment" I look at it and all's right with the world again. I'll post it on Facebook later and see if you agree!!

9 Watching my children head off happily to school. Button hops on his bus every morning and Belle skips in to playschool as happy as larry. After the horrendous first year we had with Button in school, knowing my children are in the right educational placement for them, makes me happier than you could ever imagine. And it's not something I take for granted, believe me!

10. My bed. This includes my electric blanket and my new goose father and down duvet! Aaaaahh!!!!

Not a very exciting list, but these truly are the things that make me happy! Can I have my award now, Jen?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vote Early, vote often!

Abacus Drogheda Needs Your Vote: in the AIB Better Ireland

Abacus Parents Assocation is working everyday to maintain the additional services which are essential to the most effective intervention for our kids.

Abacus Drogheda is in the final 3 for the AIB Better Ireland grant scheme.

The group who comes 3rd gets €2,000,

2nd Place will get €3,000

But If we win we get €5,000 !!!

You can help simply by Texting:

DROGHED-B to 51303 as many times as you can. And by telling everyone you know to do it too.
Texts are charged at the standard text rate
Go to:

And then select: Louth in the County List and Drogheda in the Branch List,... See more

Then select B for Abaile

You can vote once per day per email address. So if you have several email addresses please place a vote for each one. And it costs you nothing. Nada. Zero.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Right so, I'm jumping on the bandwagon! Here's my "99".... I've "bolded" the ones I have done.

Started your own blog
(erm... helloooo?)

Slept under the stars

Played in a band

Visited Hawaii

Watched a meteor shower

Given more than you can afford to charity

Been to Disneyland (4th trip to Paris coming up, and twice to Florida! I get stressed if i don't get a regular Disney fix)

Climbed a mountain well, a small hillock in Connemara - but it felt like a mountain at the time!

Held a praying mantis

Sang a solo

Bungee jumped

Visited Paris see comment re Disney - never seen the Eiffel tower, though!

Watched a lightening storm loads - the most impressive one was from the 2o - something floor of our hotel in Thailand. Floor to ceiling windows, very impressive!

Taught yourself an art from scratch

It's a bit matronly, but I cross-stitch

Did this one while waiting for Button to come home

Adopted a child
2, and another in the pipeline!

Had food poisoning

Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

Grown your own vegetables a few straggly scallions, and some quite impressive carrots!

Seen the Mona Lisa in France

Slept on an overnight train

Had a pillow fight

Hitch hiked

Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

Built a snow fort

Held a lamb

Gone skinny dipping

Run a Marathon

Ridden in a gondola in Venice

Seen a total eclipse

Watched a sunrise or sunset

Sunrise on the morning we brought Button home

Hit a home run

Been on a cruise

Seen Niagara Falls in person

Visited the birthplace of your ancestors umm....Galway?

Seen an Amish community

Taught yourself a new language i tried to teach myself Thai - and learnt how to say "where is the toilet?" surely, that's all you need?

Had enough money to be truly satisfied

Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

Gone rock climbing

Seen Michelangelo’s David

Sung karaoke

Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

Visited Africa Egypt - wow!!!

Walked on a beach by moonlight

Been transported by ambulance

Had your portrait painted does a caricature done in Disney World count?

Gone deep sea fishing

Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

Kissed in the rain I think I mentioned Galway...... If i didn't kiss in the rain I'd never have been kissed!

Played in the mud

Gone to a drive-in theater

Been in a movie

Visited the Great Wall of China

Started a business

Taken a martial arts class

Visited Russia

Served at a soup kitchen

Sold Girl Scout Cookies

Gone whale watching

Got flowers for no reason

Donated blood, platelets or plasma

Gone sky diving

Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

Bounced a check

Flown in a helicopter

Saved a favorite childhood toy


Visited the Lincoln Memorial

Eaten Caviar

Pieced a quilt

Stood in Times Square

Toured the Everglades

Been fired from a job

Seen the Changing of the Guards in London before my parents moved us back to Ireland we did all the touristy things in London so that my bro and I would have some great memories. needless to say, we don't remember a thing!

Broken a bone

Been a passenger on a motorcycle

Seen the Grand Canyon in person

Published a book

Visited the Vatican

Bought a brand new car

Walked in Jerusalem

Had your picture in the newspaper

Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

Visited the White House

Killed and prepared an animal for eating

Had chickenpox my mum got out of doing jury service because of my pox - she's still thanking me!!!

Saved someone’s life Technically, if we hadn't adopted Button.....

Sat on a jury

Met someone famous Said hello to Gok Wan in London in November!

Joined a book club

Got a tattoo

Had a baby

Seen the Alamo in person

Swam in the Great Salt Lake

Been involved in a law suit

Owned a cell phone

Been stung by a bee

Friday, February 26, 2010

but...sometimes Autism Rocks!!!!

I want to apologise for my last blog. I know it was all true and written from the heart, but it was a bit depressing. I'm a really optimistic person, to a fault sometimes. My brother once told me that if he lost a leg, I'd say "Ah well, at least you've still got the other one!". It's not that I'm unsympathetic, I just can't help myself! Things can always be worse!

So I've decided to rectify the situation. Because, yes, sometimes autism sucks, but often it ROCKS!
I've been thinking a lot of the positive things that autism brings to our lives, and here's what I've come up with:

Button will never be embarrassed or think it's not cool to give me kisses and hugs. He could not care less about what others think of him, so shows no reluctance to throw his arms around me and kiss me as only he can! Usually by pressing his forehead into my face!

I will never have to worry about him keeping up with the latest trends. No peer pressure for my little man!

He doesn't want the latest game console or gadget (though he does love his/my iTouch). He is completely happy with his baby toys. If it makes a noise or flashes a light, Button is entranced. I stopped buying him the things I thought he should like years ago. This year Santa brought him squirty bath toys! Big success!

Every small achievement is significant and cause for celebration. We rejoice in him and never put too much pressure on him. His happiness is our ultimate goal.

He sees the good in everybody. He is not cynical or jaded or critical of others. To Button the world is full of good people.

He still thinks that Mr Taz and I are absolutely hilarious! We don't get the rolling of the eyes and the "Oh Muuuuuuuum!" that so many of my friends with children of the same age experience.

He has made me a better person. 'Nuff said on that really! No need to explain, you all know what I mean.

So you see, even though we have our down days and times when life seems unbelievably unfair, we also have so much to be grateful for. Time to count our blessings, I think! Oh, I can't believe I nearly forgot the most important one.....we get to skip the queues in Disneyland!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sometimes Autism sucks!

Recently we decided that Button would not be making his First Communion this year (or any other year, in all probability). It wasn't exactly a tough decision, but it did open up a bit of a Pandora's Box of emotions that I had thought had been firmly laid to rest.

As I have mentioned before, I am not particularly religious. I believe in a higher power, but I'm not a huge fan of organised religion. I think if you're a good person and treat others with respect and dignity, well, that should be enough for anyone's God. But Communion is more than a religious event. it's what 8 year old boys like Button should be doing! A rite of passage, that was part of my vision for the future for him in the days, months and years before he came home. I have very happy memories of my communion day, and quite simply I wanted the same for him.

In the run up to a child's First Communion, there are 5 or 6 special masses arranged where the children all sit together and do the readings and prayers of the faithful. Two weeks ago we went off to mass, fully prepared with his favourite small toys, sweets and the promise of the iTouch for being quiet. It was a disaster. He was poking the lady beside us, shouting and trying to escape from his seat. After about 10 minutes (that felt like 10 hours) we decided enough was enough and made a hasty retreat to the car, with Button kicking and hitting various members of the congregation as he made his way up the aisle.

As I sat in the car waiting for Mr Taz and Belle, I just knew that Button was not ready for this. He simply cannot cope with crowds, and having to sit still for any length of time. And suddenly I was sobbing, as it hit me just how much his autism affects him and us as a family.

We go through our daily life thinking that Button is doing great (which he is), basking in the lovely comments that have been coming home in his Book recently and loving his funny, quirky nature. We live in a little autism bubble. This is our world and we know no different. As Belle grows up, we're getting glimpses of the "other world", but for the main part we potter along thinking everything is going to plan.

Then Wham! one day something hits you, and you realise that you're not as ahead of the game as you think you are. The difference between Button and his peers is remarkable. I watched those little boys and girls sitting quietly with just the odd giggle and murmur of chat. Their hands piously joined in complete innocence and joy, fully aware of the importance of the day they were preparing for, and my heart broke.

I'm generally a very optimistic, positive person. but that day I grieved for all the things Button will never enjoy. Birthday parties, trips to museums, pantomimes, playing football on the street with his mates, these things that you dream about and imagine your little boy doing. They are not part of his life, and in all probability never will be. It sucks.

He is the happiest, most innocent little soul I have ever known. He doesn't care one bit about those things. And 99% of the time, neither do I. I am not at all bothered about the actual communion, it's just a very stark reminder that life with Button is always going to be different from how we had pictured it to be.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The not-so-invisible Woman!

I'm not the kind of gal who likes to be the centre of attention. I'm very happy to let others take centre stage and just enjoy their reflected glory. But I've discovered in the past few years that I tend to attract a bit of attention when I go out with my children.

All adoptive families have numerous stories about things that people have said to them about their children. It's all part of the territory. We cannot chose who we share the information that Button and Belle are adopted with. It's as plain as the nose on your face! Or in our case, as plain as two very cute, non Caucasian noses! But for some reason this seems to give people the idea that they have a right to ask us the most personal and intrusive questions imaginable.

Most people mean well, and I always assume that they are asking me questions because of a genuine interest. Often people will tell me that their sister /friend/neighbour/second cousin twice removed, has adopted or is in the process, and I'm always happy to talk about it in general. But I will not share my kid's personal stories with anyone other than my kids! Their stories are theirs alone, to share with whom they choose, when they decide.

I have had some great comments though! Like the lady who asked me if Button's "other mother" was young. Because, she thought, he looks like he had a young mother! As opposed to the knackered, worn out one he's been lumbered with, I guess! And the very enthusiastic young woman who came running up to me squealing "Oooooooh! He's gorgeous! What is he?" Ummm, a baby?

Only one time have I ever been offended, and that was by a mature lady who pointed accusingly at Belle and said "That's not your baby"! When I said she was, her response was "well her Daddy must be Chinese so!". Her face when I told her that he was, in fact, from Westmeath, was a picture. You've got to take your pleasure where you can in this life!

My children know where they were born, and that we adopted them. They know what their names were before they became Button and Belle, and they know that they grew in another lady's tummy and that she loved them very much. Surely this is enough for other people to know too?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Button finds his place

Button started in his new school in September 2007. His class consisted of 4 other boys, all of whom had Autism, his wonderful teacher and 3 or 4 SNAs. They also have a reading teacher. He travelled in and out of school on a bus, with an escort and 2 other children. The bus journey had been my biggest concern - but it turned out to be the highlight of his day! He was as happy as larry on the bus, hopping on without so much as a backward glance at me.

That first day Mr Taz and I collected him, and even though he had been aggressive and unco-operative for Teacher, she still gave him a hug as he was leaving and was very positive in telling us that it was nothing she hadn't seen before, and that we'd get through it. In the car he said "Mummy, I don't go to noisy school any more, I go to Happy School" and that is what we call it to this day. Happy School

The first few months were hard for Button and Teacher. His aggression was very ingrained by now - as far as he was concerned, if he didn't want to do his work, pulling hair or biting should get him out of it. It had worked for him for a long time by now! However, he had met his match with Teacher! She insisted that no matter what the behaviour the task would be completed. Her hair was pulled, she was kicked and bitten but she didn't give in. There would be no reward for bad behaviour.

Even though I wasn't collecting Button from school every day, thanks to his "Book" I knew exactly what he was doing during the day. At the end of every term, his classwork was sent home for me to see, and best of all, Button himself was actually beginning to tell me what he had done that day. He was engaged and excited about school, and the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.

Along with all the usual academic work, Teacher is very insistent that her boys learn important life and social skills. Every day Button has a job to do, some days he sets the table for lunch, or sweeps the floor. But his favourite is to deliver a message to another class. One day I had to collect him early for an OT appointment, and as we were leaving 6 or 7 of the mainstream children said good bye to him by name. I said to Button "everyone knows you", and one little boy overheard me and said "Everybody loves Button! He's so cool!"

And you know what? He is cool!! In Happy School he is respected and loved for who he is. His behaviour is improving every term. And we have gone from every day being a bad day, to maybe 1 or 2 a month. But even when the bad days happen he is cherished and loved. To them he is just Button - his behaviour does not define who he is.

Today Button's book read "Button had a very good day today. He paid very good attention and listened well. In PE he did one full rotation on his bike" Did I mention that they asked me to send in his bike to keep in the hall, so that they could teach him to ride? This is what teaching is all about! This is why when I hear such horror stories among my friends of daily struggles with principals and teachers that I thank the Good Lord (or whatever you believe in) for Happy School.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

School Days

Shortly after we arrived home with Belle, it was time for Button to start "big school". At this stage he had a "working diagnosis" of autism - basically enough to get him some services, but not all. I enrolled him in our local school, a relatively big, all boys primary. He had and SNA (Special Needs Assistant) in the class with him and was given 5 hours of resource teaching a week.

His first day was absolutely nerve wracking for me. When I met his teacher for the first time, I immediately got the vibe that we were not going to be singing from the same hymn sheet! She was very strict and intimidating, and didn't listen to me at all when I briefly ran through the issues Button had, especially his auditory sensitivity and behaviour.

On picking him up she told me he had not been "too bad", but that he wouldn't do what she asked him! Well, what did she expect? I explained again, that he worked very well for reinforcement, and that all she needed to do was to find something he liked (at this point he loved shape sorters, so anything shape related would engage him!) and tell him "First work, then...."

Her response was "Knowledge should be it's own reward"!

We were very fortunate that his resource teacher was a lovely, calm and capable lady. She took him for the last hour of every day, and he achieved more for her than he ever did for his teacher.
As the days went on, Button's behaviour got worse and worse. His SNA had her hair pulled often, he screamed and screeched his way through the day and threw and ripped his work.

Button's OT and Psychologist had both been in to see the teacher and explain the way to get the best from him. it was important that his behaviour got no reward, and that he knew that he had to finish the task, no matter what he did. I learned later that when he acted up, his SNA would take him out to the yard to have a run around! Teacher also was fond of blowing a WHISTLE at her class of 4 and 5 year olds to keep them in line! Auditory sensitivity obviously didn't mean much to her!

His teacher told me on many occasions that she didn't think Button had autism - that his problems were "behavioural". So she didn't implement any of the strategies suggested to her. I have to say at this point, that I collected Button every day from the Resource room, so rarely spoke to the teacher, and was therefore unaware of how bad the situation was. In hindsight I should have taken him out of there after week 2!

In the Spring of 2007, Button's diagnosis was confirmed, so we could finally look at getting him into a more suitable educational placement. We had heard great things about an Outreach Class in a school about 20 minutes drive away, and were delighted when he was offered a place there. Mr Taz and I went to see the class and were immediately bowled over by the teacher. She was exactly what Button needed, calm, firm and lots of fun! The school Principal was passionate about his little class of ASD kids - he had gone on training courses himself and was so enthusiastic it was infectious. I could imagine Button being very happy there. All we had to do was to get through the rest of the school year.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Seven

I was recently "tagged" by a fellow blogger Mommy to Two Boys (see her wonderful blog here) and asked to write 7 things people may not know about me and things I have not blogged about before! Never being one to refuse a challenge I am rising to the bait and putting Button and Belle's story aside for now!

So here goes!

1. I am a Londoner! I was born in Hammersmith, West London and lived there for just under 9 years. Moving to Ireland was quite traumatic for me, I remember clearly feeling like I was never going to fit in. I had a very strong English accent, and was painfully shy. It was a tough time, but something I am delighted my parents decided to do, growing up in Galway was a fabulous experience and I'm sure that I had way more freedom than I would have had in London.

2.I met Mr Taz when we were 20. We were in college together, but didn't meet until the night of our graduation (me from Social Studies and him from Business Studies). I knew from that first meeting that he was someone really special, and I was right! Another of those "meant to be" moments! He's a pretty cool guy, and an absolutely wonderful, hands-on dad!

3. When I was 20, my mother's friend entered me in the Claddagh Princess - a very early stage of the Rose of Tralee! I think I must have been the most reluctant contestant ever! It was an absolute nightmare. Thankfully I didn't win, but I did get a lovely little trophy that my mother still keeps in my old bedroom.

4. I am absolutely terrified of moths. Not quite phobic - but getting there! And following on from that, it pains me to admit - I'm scared of butterflies too! How embarrassing is that? They have a reputation for being pretty and dainty but it's all a conspiracy - they're just moths in brightly coloured jackets! All fluttery and unpredictable! Uuuurgh! My skin is crawling just thinking about them!

5. I have only one regret - and that is that I never learnt to play a musical instrument, particularly the piano. Anytime I go to an event where there is a piano in the room, I get an urge to sit down and play the theme for "The Muppet Show". I have promised myself that at some point in the future I will get lessons and someday, somewhere I fully intend to give in to my urge!

6. I'm still learning to drive. Yes, at nearly 40 years old I haven't yet passed my driving test. It's a bit of an embarrassment, really! People tend to assume that i can drive and invite me to places that I haven't a hope of getting to! I have a lovely little blue car sitting in my drive, and a couple of times a week I do a spin to Tesco, and if there was an emergency I'd be fine to get to doctors or hospital. But I hate it! I am so nervous that I even (I can't believe I'm actually telling you this!) had hypnotherapy to try and relax me! Hill starts freak me out!

7 Before I was a Mommy I worked for a building society, underwriting mortgages! This was back in the day when you could only get a mortgage you could actually afford to pay back! It sounds like a mega-boring job, but I actually really enjoyed it. I have also worked in a factory, testing printed circuit boards (now that WAS boring). But my qualification and experience is all mainly in the child-care area. I worked as a Nanny for a very wealthy Dublin family - and learnt that money is nice, but it certainly doesn't bring you happiness!

So there you go! My seven. Now can I go back to blogging about my kids? It's sooo much easier!

My good blogging friend, Jen (The King and I), has done a blog featuring her "7" too! Anyone else fancy a go? Go on - you know you want to!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


About a year after we adopted Button, Mr Taz and I put in our application to adopt a second child. We had always planned on having more than one child, and at that time, didn't realise that Button had autism. So alongside all the assessments and therapies that Button was having, we were also being assessed to see if we were suitable parents for another child.

Button and his issues were a major part of the assessment. And to be perfectly honest, I think the talking we did about it then, both with the social worker and between ourselves, is part of the reason we have handled his diagnosis so well. It was like having our own private therapy sessions. We talked through how his delays had affected us as individuals, and as a couple and how we would deal with situations going in to the future. Adding to our family seemed like the natural thing to do, and we decided this time to adopt from Vietnam. The wait was slightly shorter there, and the babies younger. We thought that Button would find it easier to adapt to a small baby than to a toddler.

When Button was 4, we got the phone call to say we had been referred a baby girl. Travelling to Asia can be stressful enough, but travelling with an autistic 4 year old was absolutely terrifying! The journey to Vietnam was uneventful enough and Button coped extremely well with the flights and airports. We were lucky enough to be travelling with a couple of other families who were great with him and very understanding.

The orphanage that Belle was living in was about a 3 hour drive from Hanoi. Luckily, Button loves to go for a drive, so he was very happy sitting in the mini bus, eating his jelly tots. Meeting Belle for the first time was an amazing experience. She was without doubt the most beautiful little girl ever. They placed her in my arms and once again i fell in love. She was amazing.

We had initially thought we would have to be in Vietnam for 2 - 3 weeks, but it turned out to be four. So there we were, cooped up in a small room, in the middle of a heat wave (and believe me, a heat wave in Hanoi is a REAL heat wave!) in a hotel with no swimming pool and nothing to do. Button did not cope well at all. His aggression got worse, he pulled everyone and anyone's hair. He ate hardly anything and was generally absolutely miserable.

We visited Belle in the orphanage 3 more times before we could take her home. The journey home started off well, but on the Amsterdam - Dublin flight all hell broke loose. My only guess is that Button was tired and jet-lagged and couldn't face the idea of getting on another plane. He kicked screamed and shouted for the whole flight. Mr Taz held Belle, while I literally had to sit on Button to try and prevent him from attacking the person in the seat in front of us.

As soon as we landed he stopped. Like someone had just flicked a switch. We arrived out to the small crowd of family and friends, with Mr Taz and I looking shell shocked, and Button happy, smiling and dancing! I swear that to this day they do not believe how bad that flight was!

When I look back to that day, it was one of the happiest and hardest day of my life. Autism was a reality, and it wasn't just going to affect me and Mr Taz, but Belle too. We were all in this together.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lightbulb Moment

The next year is a bit of a blur. Button's central line (or "Freddie" as we called it) was removed after 6 months and a CT scan of his chest showed that, rather miraculously, there was no damage at all to his lungs. We were told to keep up with his oral meds for another 6 months, just to be on the safe side. But to all intents and purposes, Button was cured of his TB.

He had been put on a special formula called Nutrini, which saw him put on weight and his growth chart showed a dramatic improvement. He went from 12.5 lbs at 13 months to 20lbs at 16 months! All in all, things were looking fantastic for our little man!

Or were they? Just as his health seemed to improve, a whole new set of problems began to rear their ugly heads. No-one expected him to be at the same developmental level as his peers, but as he approached his 2nd birthday, the gap seemed to get wider and wider. He rarely played appropriately with toys, preferring instead to spin wheels on his trucks and press the same buttons on the electronic toys over and over again. He developed the first of his obsessions - balls. We couldn't go into a shop without leaving with a ball. Yet he never kicked, threw or bounced one. Just carried it around with him. He was also becoming quite aggressive.

We had been referred to the early intervention team, and he was getting lots of physiotherapy and a small amount of speech therapy. But it was next to impossible to discern if his delays were due to his physical problems, his institutionalisation or something else. In general, we were all happy with the progress he was making considering all he'd been through. We still thought that with the right therapies, and a lot of patience and time, he would catch up.

My "A-ha" moment came in May 2004, as Button was approaching his 3rd birthday. We were on holidays in France, with my parents and my brother, his wife and their son. We had all rented little holiday homes next to each other on a gorgeous campsite, and were having an absolutely wonderful time. One day, Button was in Nana & Papa's "house", as I went in to get him I was greeted by gales of laughter, and Papa taking photos of Button sitting on the floor with 4 or 5 saucepan lids spinning around him. He was going back and forth making sure none dropped, like a circus performer.

It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. We had been to a safari park, a theme park, a zoo, many playgrounds and the beach, and nothing had captured his attention like those saucepan lids! Suddenly, everything began to fall into place -the obsessions, the lack of eye contact, the inappropriate use of language and his aggression. My darling, darling, boy had autism.