Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Normal Is Just A Cycle On A Washing Machine (Part 1)

As part of the Ambassador Program that Brodie & I were doing we were asked to share our story. We did lots of little exercises/tasks to record all of the things we have done over the years. Things like family, school, achievements, hopes & dreams for the future that sort of thing. The thing is everyone has a story to tell. We may not think that it's much of a story but it is ours and its special.

While I was sharing my story I said the following sentence: Normal is just a cycle on a washing machine*. They (the group and its leaders/co-ordinators) loved it. They loved it so much that they are using this sentence/quote as the title of a DVD that they are making about the Ambassador Program. We were recorded during some of the sessions. The DVD will be made available for groups such as councils, carers of people with special needs who might be interested in the program and Our Stories. The participants of the group will also receive a copy. I'm not too sure that I want to be seen on a DVD so I may not watch it (but that's a whole other story!)

Here's MY STORY that I shared with the Ambassodors Program group. I have added extra info that I've remembered since I originally shared it. It's rather long but I don't apologise for it. This has helped me a lot by writing it all down. I just thank you for reading my story or at least getting as far as this paragraph (~_~)



Hi I'm Jo-anne. I'm Brodie's Mum. Well not just his mum I am me. I'm a knitter, a crocheter, a sci-fi and fantasy lover and a yarn/wool addict.

When I found out that I was pregnant with Brodie his father & I were so excited. When Brodie was born he was the perfect baby. He had all his fingers and toes. He was quiet, happy. The kind of baby you had to wake up for a feed & would go back to sleep soon after.
I had all these dreams for how his life will turn out. How well he would do in school. How one day he would get his perfect job. Meet someone special. Get married. Have a family of his own. Life was perfect. Brodie was perfect. Our little family had grown.

Although Brodie was the perfect baby things started changing as he became a toddler. He took ages to learn to sit up, to talk and to walk. My Mum said that all babies develop in their own time so I didn't worry. Brodie also had these little cute little behaviours like when he was playing with his toy cars. He would hold it by the wheel and spin it for hours. He wouldn't go outside unless he had socks and shoes on his feet. I didn't realise at the time that these were some Aspergers traits. I thought it was perfectly normal. I had nothing to compare it to especially since Brodie was my only child at the time. It wasn't until much later that I learned there is no such thing as normal. Normal is just a cycle on a washing machine.

When Brodie started school he flourished academically but socially he was lacking. I had wanted him to repeat grade 2 but the teachers said that he would fall behind academically if he remained in a younger class. So reluctantly I agreed. I had wanted him to learn and practise his social skills and to give him time to learn how to get along better with others.

Brodie's father and I split up when he was almost 8. Once this happened Brodie's behaviour became more difficult. I thought he was acting out because his father & I had split up. He was constantly ignoring me. He was getting into trouble in school and frequently running away from home. He attended the school I was working at for a while but when my boss asked me not to bring him back I was shocked and hurt. They thought he was just a naughty little boy. We had no idea that he had ADHD or Aspergers at the time.

Things were becoming very hard at home. I was working full time and had the working Mum's guilt. Both of my boys were being looked after my Mum and Dad before & after school until Mum passed away. Their father was helping for a while but the day after Christmas one year he rocked up around midnight. He was drunk and said goodbye and that he was leaving Adelaide. Eventually I ended up hating my job and detested going to work. I was extremely depressed and totally addicted to ICQ chatrooms (which is where I met my hero, Mark) My online friends begged me to see a doctor and get help. Which I did. I am so thankful to them for making me promise to go.

The stress of working full time and being a single Mum made things very hard. Talking things over with Mark and his g/f at the time I decided that it would be good for us to move interstate. Mark wanted to help me and I let him. I needed it. So we moved. We moved to a caravan park in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by farms. Brodie had no where to run away too. I got my wish for Brodie to repeat a year at school. The Principal placed him in the same grade as other kids his age. I hoped that it would give him time to improve his social skills since he would have an extra year in primary school.

Things improved for a while. I had contacted GCAMHS (Gippsland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). We had been referred to them in Adelaide but we had moved before we had our first appointment. We saw a lovely lady called George. She helped us so much. We focussed on things to help Brodie succeed more in school. After working with George for a year she recommended that we see a paediatrician. She through Brodz had ADHD. So we met Michael. Within 5 minutes of meeting us Michael said that no only did Brodie have ADHD he also had Aspergers. I knew a little about it because when I was teaching one of the kids in my class was being tested and I had gone to some training workshops to learn about it. Other than what I had learned there I didn't know all that much about Aspergers.

......... to be continued .............

* the quote is not one of my own. I read it many years ago while chatting with a friend online. It's something that has stuck in my head ever since.
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