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

Tag Archives: language

Getting sick. It’s never “a good thing”

I’ve read today a story in mainstream news that has given me the horrors.

Given the weather and fires we are facing in Australia, and the fact that there is world class tennis happening in Sydney, there should be no shortage of topics to make me horrified. However, the issue at hand is “kids health.”

I’m specifically going to stay well away from naming the author, publisher, book title, or even the newspaper which has written the article about the book I disagree with. However I will talk about the premise that the newspaper article quotes from the book: “for most children it is a good thing to get measles.”

If enough children get measles for it to be a good thing for most of them… then far more of those children will suffer tragic complications, compared to if that same number of children were vaccinated against measles.

The worst possible complication for either the disease, or the vaccination, is one of two outcomes: death, or a debilitating disability that lasts the rest of the childs life. If 100,000 children have measles, then one of them will be expected – in first world countries – to suffer subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Which is fatal. The parents of most children, though, won’t have to worry about that – because it’s only about 375 times more likely to happen to them than winning Lotto Strike (a state-run lottery in New South Wales where I am from). Given how many people are happy to buy a “lotto ticket” I’m surprised that many would be willing to gamble on something that is 375 times more likely to kill their child.

This compares to the MMR vaccination. The best source of data – which yes I am a strong fan of – for post vaccination health is from Finland, due to the structure of their health system and records. The UK NHS report that studies of post vaccination outcomes from patients vaccinated between 1982 and 1993 – with a sample size of 1.5 million vaccinated – showed zero long-term negative outcomes (“sequelae“) as a result of the vaccination.

I don’t doubt that there are people who are predispososed to have negative responses to all types of medications.

But all of us are predisposed to having negative responses to virii such as Mumps, Measles and Rubella.

On that basis my own opinion is – unless you can show that your child is more likely to have an advers response from the vaccine than the disease the vaccine is intended to protect your child from. You should carefully consider any decision to not vaccinate.

Vaccination programs prevent more lifetime disabilities and death, than vaccination avoidance campaigns. Regardless of which option you are chosing for your own child – base it on real information.


Success in 2013

This year the 21st century becomes a teenager.

The teens are typically troubling times in most of our lives, with a lot of change and that’s how I’m feeling at this point. I’ve turned 40, and I’m looking at a year ahead with some uncertainty about how I will be able to measure my success.

I have some aspirations, but if I look closely at them they are routes to success not success in themselves. I need to look more closely at why I want these things, and identify what it is about them that marks them as signs of success. Many of the things I am striving for are intangible, which exacerbates my issue.

The whole SMART concept seems to be heading out of vogue

Maybe. Maybe my success will be achieved when I can drop the whole SMART attitude to my personal life? It seems to result in more concrete results, results that I know when I have achieved, results which I can help my family to celebrate.

I am very outcome focussed in my career. I really enjoy jobs where I have targets identified and where I can look to some kind of scorecard and confirm that “yes, I’m doing my job.” Yet, it seems I may be on a path to deviate away from that kind of work at the moment.

So what might be the outcomes rather than the indicators of success for the Westies for 2013?

  • Continued increase in the range of situations where Bob the Builder Fan can resolve the issue through verbal communication
  • Complete the assessment process for Magpie, to either confirm there is a need for a treatment program… or not?
  • Ensure that Princess P completes primary school ready for high school – both intellecutally AND emotionally. Given that she will be amongst the youngest students in Year 7 at the start of 2013.
  • Support Bec through training, work experience, volunteer work, so that at the end of 2013 she has a clearer understanding of what her future direction should be
  • Have a house that is market ready. But given what’s across the road, whatever I do to my own house might not mean I have a great circumstance to sell it in (honestly, clik that link and see on A Current Affair what I have across the road from my house).
  • For myself… be in a job which is covering my cost of living – with a better idea of what that means if it is another contract role – with a suitable buffer to allow relocating my family out of this suburb if that’s what makes sense in 10 months time.
  • And again for myself, have committed to commencing (if not completed) additional study which will help my future career. At this stage, Business Analyst or Project Manager certification, or possibly an MBA.

I think those things are still specific enough, without being so carved in stone that there is no room for an alternative solution I haven’t considered yet.

Food for future thought.

Bullyed out of the blogoshpere?

As I mentioned the other day, there has been some controversy regarding “the R-word” which reverberated around the sepecial-needs-blogosphere quite quickly. Some woman seems to be the female American television equivalent of Australia’s own Alan Jones. All this in way of background to what has occurred since.

I find it ironic that a bunch of parents of special needs children – including say children who are on the Autism spectrum – have such difficulty in understanding that many of the parents of children with similar needs to their own children, themselves potentially have limited communication skills. Limited empathy. Limited perception in language. All of this is on top of the usual issue that in writing down our verbal language, nuance of intonation can be totally lost.

This issue has come to a head during a Presidential election campaign. Which means, feelings are running high enough. So that when one person with a particular political persuasion comes head to head with another person of the opposing political persuasion, the opportunity to misunderstand or misrepresent goes through the roof.

I have found it really challenging to see how quickly people take their interactions from discussing the words of a political candidate, to their opinion of the effect of those words, to swearing at each other or using terribly derogatory names about each other.

Considering that all this started with one person using the R-word as a term of derision, that’s pretty ironic.

And when it reaches the extent that people “take a break” from Twitter, or Facebook, or writing a blog. It’s pretty terrible.


The Internet is a big place. If you disagree with me, feel free to tell me politely, then move on. I’m too busy to engage in a shit-fight.

How to not present an argument

For those who ignore politics, the USA is in the midst of a presidential campaign. Unfortunately I’m giving oxygen to a tweet from a person I’ve never heard of due to the totally inappropriate method used to attempt to sway opinion: attempting to degrade the person Coulter feels the least positively of.

My understanding in life is that if I feel positively about something, I can provide the world with the great benefit of telling everyone how wonderful that positive aspect of my life is. It’s irrelevant what it is that I like; simply by talking about what I like I will spread knowledge about that issue to those I come in contact with.

In this regard, both presidential candidates have a range of policies. Some of those policies on each side, any person could find a reason to agree with – surely, most people could agree that one of these guys would like to ensure that affordable healthcare is available to everyone. The other guy, would like to regain control over the countries spending habit.

Both of those are positive statements which I could easily build on as an argument for why a person should vote one way or the other.

Stating that one of these people seems to have a disability, is not. In fact, stating that one of these people seems to have a disability, and that’s a reason to not vote for them, would just highlight the ignorance and intolerance of the person making the comment. If the most positive thing you have to say, is negative, then probably you should do the world a favor and keep your comments to yourself.

This person has “mild mental retardation” according to DSM-IV – or in lay terms they are retarded.

My youngest son

If you think about using the word “retard” to describe something, think of this person before you use that word. This person loves life, and puts everything he has into what he does: learning to talk. Learning to read. Engaging with his brother, sister, and parents. Exploring exactly how much he can do with his body. He lives and loves without boundaries or limits.

That is what retarded people do. And just like people who are not retarded, they do a lot of other things, too.

If you’re not a doctor or a mechanic, you’re probably using it poorly. It should also be noted that as of DSM-V, the term “retarded” won’t even have a medical connotation – because it has become such a negative term it is being excised even from medical use.

If you use this word. Please stop. Unless you are a mechanic and you are discussing the operation of an internal combustion engine, and really know who you are talking to.

Yet another milestone


It’s a small thing, but it’s a thing, but I have now passed 500 “likes” here on this blog.

I will keep writing. My inspiration won’t always be great. I don’t always drop in quotes about the massive challenges we all face on a daily basis. I might not talk about the same thing every day. I will talk about the boring and mundane, along with the wondrous – to me, my wife, daughter or sons. I will talk about movies. I will talk about parenting, my kids, my pets, and my home, and I hope my wife!

I will also over the next year talk about how I am continuing my plan to relocate my family from Sydney to Canberra, what specifically I am looking for in a school, a location to live, and indeed a family home.

I hope you stay along for the ride, and chime in at any time with your comments or feedback.

More success!

Here I am at post number 140. Quite a few of those were directly copied from a now closed community.

And I now have 50 followers here on my blog on WordPress.
Thanks to each of you for following me! I’d love to see you drop along to my Facebook page or my Twitter feed if you aren’t already “liking” of “following” me on each of those. I’d also love to hear from more of you about what you think I could post about. I know some of you invite guest bloggers, or ask your followers to pose questions to be answered on a blog post, I’d be happy to hear any of your questions, or requests for a guest blog post – particularly if you would like to blog about your definition of “success”.

Ten day challenge day five

Today is all about six songs that I’m addicted to. I have a few so here we go:

1. I was only 19, Redgum.
A classic Australian post-Vietnam war protest song.

2. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Slim Dusty.
An anti war song.
Hmm, see a theme here? I listen to these songs on the way from Sydney to Canberra every Monday, and back again every Friday.
3. Bat Out of Hell, Meatloaf.
4. The Marching Song of the Covert Battalion, Billy Bragg.
5. Epic, Faith No More. Poor fish.
6. Wake Me Up When September Ends, Greenday.

Gee, notice a theme here?

Ten Day Challenge Day Three


Todays challenge is a bit against a current ethos to not “whinge“. But I will do my best. At least it hasn’t happened on a “Whinge-free Wednesday“, right? Nor even a “Whine-free Work Week”.

So: Onto todays theme thanks to Tezza at MyTeeFine.

Eight things that annoy you

  1. No matter how many channels are on the TV, “there’s nothing on
  2. That right now, I work so far from my family.
  3. That because of #2, I don’t get to eat dinner with my family as often as I would like to – I only eat with them Friday (if I’m lucky), Saturday and Sunday nights.
  4. People who smoke clogging up all the outdoor tables
  5. Having to explain myself to idiots. I’m fine with explaining myself to people who simply don’t know something, but having to do it to idiots is annoying.
  6. That Bureaucracy turns so slowly. I work within it so much and have done for so long, I should just get over it, right?
  7. People who have no idea, judging things they should accept.
  8. People who substitute “complaining” for “attempting to change a situation.” Yes there is some irony there, but the thing is, most of what I like to complain about – I enjoy complaining.

Nothing there

100 Club

Finishing the puzzle… 100th post
Image thanks to Techpedia

Crack the champaign, I’ve hit the Hundred Club of blogging.

Back a long time ago, ImaWestie posted his first comment on Sacha Molitorisz’ blog Whose Your Daddy at the Sydney Morning Herald. In those comments I record my earliest concern:

¶ on a totally seperate note, my wife and I are at a point where we would be delighted to hear our youngest swearing, if only he would talk.

At what age should we be how worried about our son pretty much being non-vocal?

SM, if anyone sensibly wants to contact me on this please pass along my details to them.

Posted by: ImaWestie on April 26, 2008 9:36 PM

So as early as April of 2008 – four years ago, just before his third birthday – I was already concerned about my son’s development.

I think my fully bogan alter-ego appeared as I had already had about enough of being concerned about who I was, where I worked, and who my kids are, when I was looking to talk about a range of topics online.

Since that first appearance, I’ve sprouted up on News Limiteds comments section, the Whirlpool technology forum, on a range of games websites, and continued to appear on the Sydney Morning Herald website from time to time.

I also wandered along to the Autism United community, where I learned so much, and was inspired to record my thoughts, experience and emotions onto blog format. Some of what I wanted to write didn’t fit in amost such a well defined community, so here I came to WordPress.

That puzzle there remains extremely relevant. Tonight, with our dinner, my wife and I celebrated as we used bribery to tempt our youngest son with yoghurt, to get him to eat one (!) pea and one tiny carrot stick. Absolutely smothered in red, tangy, sugery, terrible…. tomato sauce.

But it was a win.

Four and a quarter years down the track, Westie and Mrs Westy are continuing our adventure, hoping we continue to challenge all three of our children, learn more than just what we have to, and expand not just our own horizons but the horizons of our children, too.

Hope to hear more from all of you who like to drop in and “like” my posts without leaving more to let me know what you think. If you have something to add to my writing, to what I know about Autism, being a father or husband, a coach to a junior AFL team, a cyclist or an IT Professional. I’d love to hear it. Because while I might be at my 100th post, that puzzle is far from complete.


How great is my wife

I don’t say it often enough, truly.

My wife. Is absolutely fantastic.


If you don’t believe me, go check out the blog she just started on WordPress, some of her tweets, or her facebook page.

I’m going to spell out all the things she is awesome at:

  • Obviously, she picked me, and has stuck with me for a LONG TIME
  • She is the mother to our three wonderful children
  • Some of the things I do would drive the most forgiving of people absolutely insane
  • She has learned so many things about Autism over the last five or six years it would make your head spin
  • The number of times she has helped out her friends I have lost count
  • The things she cooks are absolutely amazing
  • Every time I look, she is learning about some new way of helping her friends, or her children, or me… and sometimes, herself
  • Over the last little while, she has been smashing away at Weight Watchers, Zumba, 50 Days Sugar Free Challenge, and a few other tools, to get herself into the shape she wants to be
  • Every week I leave the house at some stupid time on Monday Morning. I stress and worry, but she does not give me any reason to, she does not add to it, she is making my life as easy as it could be given our current lifestyle

I’m sure there are a lot more that I have forgotten. Maybe you can remind me of some?

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