Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Fighting for Autism

While we all fight “autism” itself, some of us by some mix of drive and circumstance take that fight further still.

I’m taking this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who takes that fight, well outside the cirlce of their own family.

Weather that is to a local community organisation, business, school, or to the community at large – it is a massive fight and it benefits us all.

For all of you fighting right now – all the best with the challenges you are facing, remember why you’re there, and keep the focus of your life where it needs to be.


Transport Tuesday

This week I’m on my “N+1”, cycling talk for “spare bike”.

This is because my main ride is having some issues holding onto tyres, and I guess I’m not the all-star bike mechanic I need to be to sort that out. I really need to have a look at the thing when I’m not in a rush.

We’ve had the first really warm night for the 2011/12 summer – even though it’s still spring – but as I stumbled out of bed there was a heavy shower and I was thinking “Oh crap I’ll be riding in the rain today.” Thankfully, it didn’t work out like that – I stayed dry and had a peaceful bike ride, and a peaceful train trip.

The thing is, I don’t have an issue with riding in the rain – it’s just commuting in the rain is really tedious. Maybe it would be different if I was going far enough to have a fully set up commuting bike but at my distance I’m just jamming my clothes into a backpack, because I currently commute via bicycle, train and foot!

A few steps closer to getting somewhere with the Trek1000 that’s in the shed: it seems I have all the parts I need to fix the front wheel, possibly I have the front derallieur, and as of yesterday I think I now have the cable needed to restore all the shifter and brake cables.

Via the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group, I’ve been put in touch with a bloke from Blacktown City Council who is conducting a meeting on Wednesday, but unfortunately it doesn’t look good for me going to it as I would need to take a whole day off work.

Westie Central – Success Lives Here!

Some things happen, and we don’t notice till after the event.

While others are in our face and we see them happening and improving, bit by bit, day by day.
Reading and counting (or possibly even “all things numbers“) are pretty much in the second category around here. Shown by ever increasing ability and willingness to count all sorts of things, and read “anything and everything.

More and more though, we are getting clear signals of “success” as the year progresses. We’re measuring it a bit differently to a lot of parents with Kindergarten aged kids.

When the other two were growing up, if anyone told me I would celebrate the word “No!” coming out of my childs mouth, I would have had to pick myself up off the floor. Yet this word is one clear symptom of “success” around here.

Another clear sign is our son recieving an award from school, “Worker of the Week“, for “Sitting longer during reading group.”

So to the number 1 Bob the Builder Fan in Westie Central. Well done, mate – Mum, Dad, Princess P and Magpie are all proud of you and so happy that all the hard work you are doing is showing through so much.

Starting a blog, and “getting it out there”

A great web community I hang around on quite a bit is Whirlpool, well mainly in the forums section – other people do a lot in the wikis there and so forth but so far that hasn’t had any appeal for me.

Scubaseven, who is about to go on a scuba trip, asked the question “How to start a blog?“:

Keen to do this.
I am travelling across the US at the moment after swimming with Great White Sharks last week.
Figured some people might find that interesting.

I would be ok with paying for anything that would be worthwhile.
ie hosting the blog myself.

Any tips on how to go about this?
What sites to use, etc?

scubaseven, Whirlpool forums member.

While I answered the question directly on the forum I figure quite a bit of the answer could easily be interpreted as against the rules of the site, so I’m going to reiterate my response here. I used myself as a bit of a case study in how to start a blog, and then, how to promote it using readily available internet resources. I have refactored this a little bit, but it’s still pretty much a forum post rather than a blog. Sorry about that!

The suggestion of joining free blogging communities had already been made by several community members, referring to several websites including WordPress. However, none of them had really addressed this question:

Also, where do you “advertise” your blog? ie how do people find out about it?

My suggestions to this are:

1. Join readily searchable communities that don’t require registration to view or search:

My profiles on the following sites are readily viewable and searchable by anyone online:!/imawestie

This helps the issues I write about to be found by a large number of people looking for information regarding the issues I discuss.

2. Seek out and join niche communities that do require registration, but anyone who registers is quite likely to be interested in what you write:

3. Every time you blog, tweet about it. Have your tweets automatically find their way to your status feed on any site you are in that supports being fed via twitter.

If anyone tells me how to do that and have it linked to my real name account… equivalent to my facebook page linking to my facebook user account… I’d be very pleased!

4. By using a combination of “tags” or “categories” your blog will show up in google.

This search is just for my blog name. But by using that same blog name all over the place… well, you’ll end up in a circle of web links which is all me anyway which all refer you onto my blog

although, you will want to have the topic of your blog work not your blog name unless your blog name is some very generic term – in which case it’s probably already gone

I’m not particulalrly at the top… but you can see how it’s heading

Add “autism” to what might be a search for “does Collingwood run any programs for autistic people“… and you end up at my blog

5. Find people with facebook feeds like yours, link them to your facebook page. Some will link to you, if you’re producing something worth reading.

6. Create a box for your blog, to put on your facebook page.

Also, create a “like me” box for your facebook page, to put on your blog.
The same thing will happen if you start reading & commenting on blogs. You leave your comment as your blogging name, people back-link to you.

You refer to someone elses blog in your work. it creates a back-link. That blogger gets interested and reads your work. If it piques their interest they might link back to you.

If you get really lucky*, then something like this happens:
(that is the Disney Land blog back linking to a friend of mine)
and your readership goes through the roof.

Which makes you look hard at going from to

* You “get really lucky” by working hard and writing really interesting blogs that lots of people enjoy reading. “The harder you work, the luckier you get”.

Living by moments

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Here at Westie Central there seems to be one significatn difference to a lot of homes where life features the word “spectrum”: We seem to live a lot more moment by moment then a lot of other autism families.

Our son seems to not really have the concept of sequence nailed down really all that well. While he might know that events happen in a sequence, telling him anything beyond the event that is happening next seems to make the day worse, not better. Talk about going to the shops – he will be off getting the shoes on to go. Don’t worry that it’s 10am and you were talking about going at 4pm. Yet he does know that to go to the shops, certain things happen in order: you have to have clothes on. You have to have socks and shoes on. HE has to get into the car, and put his seat-belt on (without any help at all thank you very much). “Someone (else)” has to opent the gate, and Mum or Dad have to be ready to drive the car. SOON dammit!

And so it is with bike-riding. If anyone mentions the word “bike” when he would rather be riding his bike than staying at home, well, they had better be ready to take him for a bike ride.

So that’s what happend just after lunch today. On the spur of the moment we went from chillin’ at home (because school is tomorrow) – to all of us having to go for a bike-ride.

At least the bees left me alone today.

Lessons in life

New life. It doesn't get much newer... without being yuck!

While Princess P might be the only one to have really noticed the start of this life lesson – the boys are going to notice the next few weeks.

Guitar Hero Addict has shown himself to be very well behaved around kittens and other young life in the past, and it seems he is something of a “chook whisperer”.

So we are hoping that BTB Fan will find that the new lives coming into our home (briefly) to be a joyful experience.

Transport Tuesday

The more bikes on the road, the less cars - which means more room for yours!

While I’m not setting out to replace the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group, I’m going to again mention how annoying it is that the cycleways in Blacktown don’t go anywhere.

It seems each one was built at the time the local subdivision was made, to get people around within that subdivision to the school within that subdivision. Which is nice.

Unless you’re going to the shops, or to work, or “anywhere other than school”.

The whole issue came up in all places on the Whirpool technology website, where there is a cycling discussion. Chris mentioned that he thinks ” a lot of people won’t ride to work because they are scared of getting on the road among the traffic, and the stories (and increasingly HD video) of angry encounters with irate motorists only makes this worse.” I’ve certainly experienced this around The Druitt, and it makes it difficult to choose between “keeping my kids active” and “keeping my kids safe”.

Yet, apart from “up and back”, the cylceways don’t take my kids anywhere. Even the one to get from my home to the pool involves, riding across a street which is quite busy, where the sign for “bikes crossing” is too close to where the bikes cross the road.

Chris goes on to say ” Once the cycleways are built, dedicated ones – you’ll see more people using them. And those people will encourage others, and there the cycle begins. But they have to be useful cycleways, not pipedreams like a cycleway to nowhere that is not properly connected – or built in a hurry to satisfy a promise. They have to be properly thought out.

For the kids to ride to school, even though it’s no that far – that would be outright irresponsible given the road they would have to ride along, which even though it is a “overwidth” single lane, does not have a cycle lane marked. If it did have a lane marking, my kids could easily ride their bike to school in dedicated cycle lanes. Which would help my son in arriving at school, having had some exercise already in the day – making his morning at school that much more productive (do you remember spending at least half an hour in the playground before school? “It’s too dangerous” for special needs kids to do this apparently). This one road would join about half of the suburb to the wonderful cycleway along the M7 – which runs from Liverpool through to Castle Hill!

Long Time No Post

Well it doesn’t take too much to work out i haven’t been writing much lately.

I’d like there to be at least an excuse, or even better a reason – but no, I’ll have to come clean and admit i just haven’t made writing a priority like i had planned to.

Since my last blog, i have now been to New Delhi in an effort to gain some certifications. I’ll leave myself a bit of scope to write more later – flying with Air Malasia, the confronting nature of poverty in New Delhi, and studying with Koenig Solutions.

While the Autism Marathon continues, I’m very happy to point to success – we all attended football presentation and there was nothing which happened to make that a bad idea. Regardless of my early concerns, my son is tackling reading with grate enthusiasm, and is currently loving Suess classics such as “The Diggingest Dog” and “Go, Dog, Go”. Family life presents us with the same type of challenges i recall from my own childhood, and does not seem vastly different to what I have watched my brothers going through with their own children.

So, red-faced and feeling sheepish, all I can suggest is I’ve written again today. And I’ll be aiming to do more, soon!

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