Category Archives: Love

The Picklehead Comedy Show


Sometimes I have to take a moment to sit back and feel very proud of myself. I have somehow managed to produce a beautiful human of a boy who is very bloody funny. 

He has a brilliant sense of humour, creates his own games and jokes, and when he gets the giggles, so does everyone else in the room. You have to see it to believe it. He doesn’t let a little thing like autism get in the way of having a good laugh. 

The best moments though, are the ones that he doesn’t even realise. When autistic logic and the mind of a 5 year old collide, you can really get some little gems. 

Now these might only be funny to me, because, well.  I’m his mum!… We all think our own kids are the funniest. But here’s a few of my favourites that I wanted to share with you: 

Counting ducks

We were practicing counting in the bath. (The Pickle was in the bath, I was kneeling on the cold floor with a warm glass of wine! Such is motherhood glamour…)

I put 5 ducks in front of him and ask him “how many?” 

Pickle says “1,2,3,4…”

I say “Can you count in your head?”

Pickle looks at me with an ‘ok whatever’ expression, then calmly gathers up the ducks, balances them on his head with a deadpan expression, and says “1,2,3,4,5!”

Gotta love that literal thinking. 

Santa

Last Christmas, the Pickles school had a cheery Christmas fete. The normal sort of thing. Raffles, tombola, and the opportunity to meet FC, the big man himself. Now last time the Pickle met Santa, he was 2 years old, screamed the whole garden centre down with the mother of all meltdowns. But we figured, hey why not. Let’s try again. So we queue up, pay our pound, and take the Pickle in. We’ve prepared him for this over the last week, told him all about Santa, and his understanding is good enough that we thought he might understand and maybe even enjoy it. 

We obviously prepared him very well indeed, as he sprinted ahead of us, into the grotto at 100mph. It’s all dark, and as I walk in, I jump out of my skin when a ridiculously loud “HO HO HO!” booms from Santa’s tent. 

I walk in to see the Pickle frozen to the spot staring at Santa. He looks horrified! It’s really dark, the only light is coming from the rave worthy, offensively flashing plastic Christmas tree, next to the big fat figure sat in the dark chair behind a big felt beard. Just some creepy eyes and a nose poking out. Jesus, I would have been scared! 

So Santa starts yelling at Pickle… “WHAT’S YOUR NAME? HAVE YOU BEEN A GOOD BOY??” Poor Pickle is still frozen to the spot, wide eyed at this monster. So I do what an autism mum does… lean down gently next to him and tell him quietly and gently what to say. This tiny, quiet, mouse like voice comes out of the Pickle, as bless him, he tries to answer the noisy questions as best he can. His body is completely stiff, and I’m wondering if now is the time to wrap him up under my scarf and start running. 

Suddenly, in the middle of “AND WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMA… ”

The Pickle stands up tall, puts a finger to his lips, and crossly shouts “SHUSH!!!!”. 

I have to give the boy credit. It was even louder than Santa. And it shut him right up too! It shut up everyone in the tent! There were a few seconds that felt like an eternity, where nobody said anything. Everyone just waited… Then Santa very quietly and meekly said “here’s some chocolate for you then. Merry Christmas.”

The Pickle took his chocolate, said “Thank you Santa” (yes!) and walked out of there like he owned the goddamn grotto. Like his army, we marched out faithfully behind him, leaving the tent of doom behind us. I overheard someone on the way out say; “well you can’t really blame him… he is a bit bloody loud!”

I was very proud of the Pickle. And noted to myself to slip his speech and language therapist an extra fiver! 

Nice one little man! Even when you’re scared, don’t take any crap from a big, fake Santa that shouts at you. 

That’s my boy that is! 

If you want to be strong…

If you had asked me 6 years ago how I would cope having a child with special needs, I probably would have said “I couldn’t do it”. 

If you asked me 3 years ago how I was going to fight for my child’s every educational and social need for the rest of his life, I would have told you “I don’t know. I don’t think I could do that.”

If you had asked me 12 months ago how I would feel about becoming a single mum, I would have told you, “I couldn’t do it. There’s no way I could cope with autism on my own”. 

Well here I am. 

I parent a child with autism. I’m not perfect, but I do it. I get up every day, and give it a shot. I even enjoy it! Somebody said once, that you don’t have to be the perfect parent; you just have to show up. That’s very true. And even though I often mess up, I always do show up. 

I leaned how to advocate and fight for his needs. It didn’t happen overnight, it was a process. And I’ve made mistakes. I’ll no doubt make more… but I do it. I listen to people around me. I watch. I figure things out and gather information. I’ve taken officials to tribunal and written letters to MP’s. I’ve connected SEN parents with one another. I information share, arrange meet ups. I network. There’s power in numbers. And knowledge is power. I would never have thought I could do any of these things. But here I am. 

Now… the single mum thing. It turns out that 2017 is the year of dizzying change for me. I’m about to embark on my first ever solo adventure. Just me and the kids. I’m going to have my own house, my own bills, my own rules, my own company. And I’ll be looking after two very small, vulnerable people. 

To be honest, I’m used to shouting for help if the Pickle is having a meltdown. Or he won’t stop sensory seeking and I need some time out. Or when my younger daughter is screaming at me and hanging off my clothes, and I’ve reached the end of my patience! It’s going to be a new and probably lonely experience dealing with this stuff alone. I’m used to having company, someone who’s coming home at the end of the day to fall back on. Someone to tell all my crazy stories to. 

Although I spent a LOT of time doing things for the Pickle, I’ve become lazy with certain things. It kills me to admit it… but over recent years, we’ve grown apart. 

I’m there for all his appointments, I dress him, feed him, bath him, look after him when he’s ill, make sure he’s warm, comfortable, happy etc… but the human moments. The closeness…. Let me explain.

I spent 9 months carrying him, feeling him kick, hiccup, turn around in my belly. Then when he was born, I spent every single waking hour with him. Feeding, cuddling, snoozing, and loving him fiercely. We were inseparable. I felt like I was the first person to ever have a baby! He was my complete world. I idolised him. 

But then things changed, and it happened so quickly I didn’t even realise. Between the ages of 2-4, the fuzzy, warm happiness had changed to concern, worry and fear. Second guessing all the time why he was so behind, trying to get somebody to listen and help us. He received his diagnosis age 3. He was becoming more difficult to handle and we hadn’t yet learned the skills / techniques to cope. It was a difficult time. Add in my own personal struggles with the permenance of our new future, and then add in 2 rounds of IVF, a house move and a new baby. 

Me and Pickle accidentally became distant. Daddy P would often take him out, they would do things together at the weekends, and I would stay home and take care of the baby. I felt exhausted. I was stressed. I was happy to have the responsibility lifted for a while. 

Soon habits and routines were formed, which meant that things between us, never quite got back to how they were. And I knew that it would never ever really would be the same. Life had changed. The Pickle and I did lots of lovely things, and we still spent time together, but usually as a family. The one to one time with always with Daddy. We would still occasionally get those moments together, it was just much less. When we did share a moment, my heart would burst, and I would cuddle him tightly, realising how much I missed him. But then we would fall back into routine. Me with the baby, Daddy P with the Pickle.  

I know it’s going to be challenging being alone, but there’s a real opportunity in this. Being alone will force me to stop being lazy. We will get that time together again.

I know things will be far from perfect, and some days I’m going to tear my hair out. I’ll make a ton of mistakes. And he is going to drive me mad. But he’s my first born child, and he needs me. And I really need him. I want to get that closeness back. I miss him so much. 

Like everything else that I have done in my life, that I honestly though I couldn’t do; I’m going to do this too. And I know I can do this, because I believe in myself, and I believe in him. We’ve got this. 

I’ve got this. 

Mummy Guilt

I’m surrounded by amazing mums. They are some of the most brilliant, funniest, bravest people I know. When it comes to caring for their child, they are like soldiers. They spend time searching the internet, reading books, attending talks and speaking to others around them to find any method they haven’t already found that might help their child. Any way that they can change or improve what they’re already doing. They spend hours with their child, trying to find the methods that work. They work tirelessly every single day, to help their son or daughter connect with the world around them; and then they tell me that they feel like they’re not doing enough.

This is what I call the mummy guilt.

Mummy guilt gives us a good old battering on a daily basis. It tells us that we are not good enough. That we should be doing more. It makes us doubt, causes us to worry and makes us scared of our responsibilities. It tells us that we’re not doing our job properly, and it tells us to do better. It keeps us up at night worrying over the things we didn’t get right that day, and berates us for the times we completely messed it up. 

Continue reading

The 7am Meltdown

You probably know it, you’ve been there. The first wake up call was around 5am, the Pickle wandered in to announce his day had started, but this was one of the mornings he went back to his bedroom. Thank goodness I thought, I can sleep again. At 7am, the meltdown began.

I’m not too sure exactly how it started, I think he knocked over his marble run. And then we couldn’t get it right. Then nothing was right, and it felt like nothing would ever be right again as the screams of a crazed banshee ran out through our house whilst two bleary eyed, tired parents tried to fix the situation; knowing full well that we could never fix the situation. Continue reading

It’s time for the sun to shine!

Hello! Long time! To be honest, it’s been a real drag to sit down and write this post after the last few, but I think I’m ready now!

My last couple of posts came from such a sad, tired place. I’ve been struggling massively over the past six months, with the diagnosis, with family life and with pregnancy. And I’ve had such low energy levels that has made it difficult to move. I’ve been depressed. I’d stopped going out. I wasn’t seeing my friends. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything. I could barely crack a smile. I felt really lonely and isolated.

Things are a bit better now. I’ve been having some therapy for my anxiety problems which has helped me to evaluate a few things and get a better relationship with my husband, so I feel more supported; and towards the end of my pregnancy, I’ve also got a little bit more energy (amazingly!) which has made life more enjoyable. I’m feeling motivated. The puppy has stopped using the living room carpet to relieve herself, and has calmed down a lot. All of this stuff has helped massively.

And the Pickle… well he’s doing really well! He played his first game of ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ at nursery the other day! They showed me photos. He was standing confidently right in the middle of the photo holding hands with all the other children and smiling. He’s become really good at taking turns, and for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I said “I love you Pickle” and instead of repeating it back to me word for word, he said “I love you mummy”

The diagnosis was harder than I thought it would be. I felt it wouldn’t change anything as I had already figured out that he had autism and I thought having it written down on paper would just give him any extra support that he needed and would encourage others to take things more seriously when I explained his needs. But it has been like a giant rollercoaster. Good days, bad days, terrible days, selfish days, easy days, days that were good and then went bad at the last hour, days that felt they would never end. I never really knew what kind of day was coming. And it got on top of me. It really did. But I’m feeling stronger now.

So I took him out at the weekend, he really likes trains. So we took him on London Underground to a few places, and got the cable car from Emirates to the O2. Sounds like a normal thing to do with your child, tame almost. But it was a big deal for me as we’ve been hiding away for months and I get scared taking him out. But here we are! And here he is:

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Something that has really not helped with my anxiety over the past few months, is there have been a couple of incidents where we have been out on playdates or at softplay centres, and other children have gotten frustrated with him and have hurt him. (one scratched his face, the other pushed him and tried to strangle him!) He didn’t seem to mind too much… but it really upsets me. And it makes me really scared and angry. Other mums know their children will run up to them and tell them when something’s happened, but if I hadn’t suddenly got up to check and caught that child doing that to my son, I would never have known. How many things do I miss? I can’t be with him all the time when he’s playing. And all the other mums are “chat chat chatting” and drinking their coffee, knowing that their children will come and tell them if there’s a problem, whilst I’m trying to chat and drink coffee and appear normal, but my anxiety levels are steaming, not knowing if the Pickle is ok, if he’s stimming too much and bumping into other children, if he’s getting himself into a situation that he has no idea is even happening, let alone be able to deal with. Then he can’t even come and tell me afterwards.

He’s not ill, there’s nothing wrong with him, he’s got a different processing system to the rest of us. And he has to live in our world. It’s overwhelming, and confusing. He is the one that needs all the love, help and support he can get. He’s so small. He can’t help having autism. And I’m his mummy.

I promised him last week that no matter what, from now on, we will stick together. I won’t be absent anymore. I will be the Pickle’s spokesperson whilst he can’t speak for himself. I will back him all the way and be his voice. I will educate people around him about his differences and show them how clever he is and how far he has come.

I will tell every day him how special he is and how much I love him. Even more so when he is tired, angry and confused and being difficult to understand. I will always be a firm (but hopefully fair) mum because that is who I am, but ultimately, I want him to think of me as somebody he can go too when he needs help, advice or is simply overwhelmed and wants a familiar face. He can’t see me falling apart anymore, he just can’t. This is his life. It’s too important to waste.

And in a matter of days, he’ll suddenly have a new little sister in his life and everything will be thrown into a new type of chaos. But you know what, I think we’ll all be ok. Because we all going to stick together.

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F**K OFF AUTISM!!

Warning to any readers of a sensitive disposition – multiple uses of the F word have been used in this blog…. and they may be used again. And again.

So yesterday, another difficult day in Pickle-land. I got the Pickle into bed after he had been trying his hardest to climb into the toilet for the past hour. He thought it was absolutely hilarious and was giggling his head off. Beautiful, twinkling child music that went on and on and on. My husband popped his head around the door and said to me “he really does have the most wonderful laugh”.

And I nodded slowly and agreed. Because it is very beautiful. But I wasn’t laughing. I didn’t have the energy. I just wanted to get the Pickle to bed. I wished he’d stop laughing and just get in the bath.

Afterwards, my husband had taken the dog to puppy training classes and I ran myself a bath (I didn’t try to climb into the toilet like the Pickle…) and as the water was running, I thought how sad it was that I hadn’t been at all charmed or endeared by the Pickle getting the giggles. And at that moment, with total clarity, my mind just went “Autism…. I wish you would just FUCK OFF”

Just. Fuck. Off.

Autism, take your inflexible, rigid, stupid little arse and go run off a very high cliff. and whilst we’re talking….

– Fuck you for taking away the joy of my son giggling.
– Fuck you for leaving my son unable to communicate his needs
– Fuck you for forcing me to change the way I parent my child
– Fuck you for making me feel so frustrated with a small, defenceless little boy, when it’s YOU I hate
– Fuck you for leaving him unable to form friendships and bonds with other children
– Fuck you for making my family have to fight for funding, support and therapy
– Fuck you for making me feel utterly alone with my child in a room full of mums
– Fuck you for making my son meltdown and hit me because he doesn’t know what else to do
– Fuck you for creating a future where nobody can tell me how he will be or who he may become
– Fuck you for making me so frustrated with others who don’t understand, even though they have no reason or need to understand!
– Fuck you for taking away all the age-appropriate playgroups and activities that I would love to take my son to.
– Fuck you for making us different
– Fuck you for making our lives a very un-funny version of ‘groundhog day’
– Fuck you for stopping my son understanding that he’s about to become a big brother
– Fuck you for making me scared about having another baby instead of joyful because I cannot work out how she will fit in around YOU!
– Fuck you for making me feel depressed, anxious and giving me panic attacks
– Fuck you for the total finality of it all. Nothing I can do or say, will ever make you fuck off. You are here in our lives forever. Living among us. Always. And I don’t remember inviting you.

Autism, quite frankly, today you can kiss my arse. You have taken away so much joy, laughter and happiness that I should have had with my little boy. I love him so damn much and you have stolen our early years together. You have changed our relationship from what it should have been to what it is. You have made me change all goalposts and expectations, and whilst most days I can totally accept that and get on with life, today I fucking hate you and I want you to know it.

So yeah…. why don’t you just fuck off autism. And whilst you’re at it, give me my little boy the life back that he should be living. You utter twat.

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Autistic? Or Naughty?

The Pickle is growing up. He’s a very handsome young man! I look at him sometimes and wonder how I managed to half create such a good looking little guy.

The older he gets however, it’s becoming MUCH harder…. it’s hard to control what’s going on and what he’s getting away with everyday. He’s getting so big now. (he’ll be 4 in July). It’s like having a little person with a very young mind, in an older child’s body. And I’m quite fat and pregnant at the moment.

On a bad day, he screams at me and hits me in the face when he’s frustrated. He fights me on the stairs (one day we will both fall down them for sure and how will anyone get in to save us? The house is locked up to stop the Pickle getting out!), he jumps on me (and my baby bump) with no idea that he can cause any harm, and the hardest one of all…. he does not listen to a word I say.

He doesn’t stop, wait, listen or eat when I tell him too. I can’t get him to sit at the table for more than 10 seconds. I have to bribe him with chocolate, biscuits and ipads and all the things you’re not supposed to give to your child when you want them to do something for you! Most days, I fell totally and utterly powerless in my own home. I’m redundant as a mother. Nothing I do makes any difference to what he’s doing. Add to that, a crazy puppy (who also doesn’t listen) and 8 month pregnancy exhaustion, I have been known to just burst into tears randomly and in front of the Pickle. Another terrible thing to do with he’s the child and I’m the adult. And perhaps it’s a good thing, but the Pickle can’t actually comprehend that either. Because he doesn’t understand that other people have feelings and emotions. He just looks at my snotty, red face in curiosity and will sometimes laugh or copy me.

Yesterday somebody said an innocent comment to me that I secretly took quite hard. We met for some lunch and she asked me if the Pickle was a good eater. I started to explain that he only eats dry food, usually bland colours, and that sometimes there were exceptions to the rules, but he hadn’t let a vegetable pass his lips in over a year and I was trying to fix that but it’s difficult to keep offering foods when you know it will be rejected and you’re just throwing money into the bin. She said with a smile ‘wow he’s really got one over on you hasn’t he?’ I laughed and said ‘yeah’.

But it totally hit a nerve, because I feel like he really HAS got one over on me. A 3 year old child that has total control over his 32 year old mother. A 3 year old that laughs in my face when I tell him off or try to stop him from destroying something. A 3 year old that never, ever, ever, EVER listens to me.

I find that really hard.

And I keep telling myself, it’s just his autism. It’s just his autism. He doesn’t understand. But I do wonder sometimes, his behaviour is getting worse. At what point, is it autism, and when is it naughty? How do I tell the difference? Are the two mixed in together sometimes? And shouldn’t I know as his mum when it’s down to social communication issues, or when he’s just being a 3 year old who doesn’t want to be told what to do?

He also seems to save up all the really challenging behaviours just for me. When I take him out, I can’t get him to sit anywhere for long (coffee meet ups are becoming a thing of the past) but he is generally very well behaved when he’s in public. I think he’s shy when he’s out. He barely speaks, he just holds my hand and walks to wherever I’m going, and when we get there, he’ll go find a door to open and close or a car to run back and forth for an hour until it’s time to go again. Then we’ll get home and he’ll become loud, stimmy, thumpy and door slammy. Or he’ll shout at me and I won’t be able to understand what he’s saying and it frustrates him even more and makes me sad.

At the weekend when my husband is around, I’ve been known to actually hide! I’ll lock myself in the bathroom or slip quietly off to the bedroom just to sit with my eyes closed for a while. I’ve been dealing with the Pickle’s challenging behaviour all week, and I take the occasional opportunity to run away from it sometimes. I probably shouldn’t…. but my husband does deal with him very well and he’s not as worn down as me. He gets to sit in an adult environment for 40+ hours a week dealing with a whole other type of high pressure. (again this doesn’t make hiding right, but it does mean I know his tolerance is higher than mine when I just need a break!).

And the humbling thing is that, I know that I’m lucky with the Pickle. Compared to some of the things I’ve read about, or seen for myself, he really isn’t that bad. He is a sweet natured little boy who doesn’t meltdown every day, or have any major behavioural issues with other children. If you can get past the door opening/closing obsession, the slamming, the fixations and the routines, he is very easy to get on with and to love. So if I’m finding his older preschool personality so difficult to cope with in the afternoons, how on earth do other parents cope with some of the things I hear about?! I take my hat off to all of you. You are all bloody amazing!

In the meantime, Pickle is going to preschool 4 mornings a week, and I can have some quiet time then to get on with things. Oh my goodness, I love my quiet time. Then it’s off to pick up the Pickle and start the afternoon hometime fun all over again! But is it autism? Or is it sometimes naughty?

And will I learn to tell the difference and be able to parent my son properly before it’s too late?