Deflated. Defeated. Down.

It’s been a while. My radio silence is a reflection of how little to zero “me time” I get. I have all these stories and thoughts I’d love to get written down and share. But, I just don’t get time to stop. Or when I do it’s about mentally winding down and coming to my own baseline calm internally.

We were pretty excited to celebrate Poppy Trev’s 60th birthday yesterday. Excited to feel a little bit normal for once. Lunch at a beautiful place and to see friends who we haven’t seen in a while.

We don’t get out much because we have to go out for so many appointments for the kids. They get so tired and that’s all we can muster is the absolutely must do things.

Actually when we took Heath to the shop after an appointment last week I realised it’s the first time he’s been inside a grocery shop this year.

I don’t expect to have quality time with others when I have young kids.

But the meltdowns that happened during our lunch our for Poppy Trev from mister two was overwhelming for us all. But most importantly showed me that he wasn’t coping and he needed to leave. So we packed up and left.

Miss two bawled her eyes at leaving too which resulted in her wailing and screaming for about 45 minutes. She had also entered her next phase prior to this of being at her end – when she gets this adorable, yet slightly concerning laugh as she tries to antagonize and upset (eg hurt) those around her.

And I know we are doing what’s best for all of our children. I wouldn’t change my kids for the world. I love and appreciate their beautiful autistic qualities. I’m not looking for any sympathy because I adore my kids and there’s simply no room for that stuff here.

I am feeling defeated.

Just one lunch out.

In a country location.

Yet it was still too much.

As I sat in the car after packing the kids up and getting them into the car and calmed down, I struggled to hold back the tears.

I just wanted to be, dare I say it, normal, for two hours. Myself included. Probably talking more about me really.

Living outside of myself and masking, aka acting so incredibly well for 38 years. Yeah it’s exhausting. I have amazing qualities that I’m finally starting to realise, learn and accept in new light, to love and appreciate; however it’s still a struggle for me. Anything social is so exhausting anyway but now added to is 3 (quite possibly 4) autistic children with varying needs.

I wish for just one lunch I could feel normal.

(Note I’m not saying I want to change any of us; I just wish we could *feel* like we fit in with the rest of the world – inclusivity.)

And for my children to feel relaxed.

To participate like our neurotypical peers and families get to.

I feel bad that I let my children down. That mister two felt so overwhelmed that he had such a meltdown. That miss two felt so sad she wailed. But I’m not perfect and can’t be everything to everyone. I only have two hands and a half-working body.

Autism. It’s not something that can be switched on or off. It is who someone is. It is their identity. Because it is how they think. And how we think is who we are.

When people have said things in the past like, “oh wow what’s up with ____ today.” (I’ve heard this more times than I can count over the five years parenting number one and then the following three.) I just want to reply, “it’s not today but everyday. It’s every second of every waking and sleeping moment. It’s this struggle that anyone who is neurodivergent has on a daily basis to fit into a neurotypical world.” It’s all throughout the night too. The lack of sleep is so common in autistic individuals especially those coupled with ADHD too.

Before we went yesterday, I had already downloaded the menu, picked out what would most likely work for each person and whatever changes we’d need to make.

Does a neurotypical person do this? I’m not sure but this is usually the first thing I do when we are going anywhere is look ahead and see what could work and any contingency plans. Because this is so needed. I can’t take in the menu in a busy and crowded place while trying to protect my children.

The kids weren’t coping inside so I’d taken them outside. Then mister two ran off. Mister 5 tried his best to contain him. Eventually I admitted defeat and asked Scott to come help me. And when miser two ran off again and collided with others, that’s when I just knew things were going from bad to worse and it was time. Time to leave. Time to admit defeat and go home.

As we drove home, I couldn’t hold back the tears, although I managed to let them fall without anyone noticing.

We went home and put the kids to bed. They were so tired.

We played after they woke up and tried to reset everyone.

Lots of hugs and cuddles.

And then eventually bed time through their screaming and hitting again.

The struggle is real.


We are their safe place.

If an autistic child doesn’t behave at their most relaxed (aka also their worst) in front of you when they are with you – they aren’t as comfortable yet with you and they are still masking. Take the meltdown as a sign that they finally trust you.

(I want to add here that with covid many people might mistake this for physically wearing a mask, those compulsory ones everyone had to wear. I’m talking about autistic masking where the person basically acts or holds it together in front of others, tried to blend it, and then usually has a meltdown when they are in their safe space.)

Think about a time you had to mask. Perhaps someone close to you passed away (be it a human or animal companion). Remember that pain you felt inside? Remember coping on the outside. But when that one person who asked how you really are, and that one person is the one you felt safe with, and you collapsed in a crying ball with them?

That is how it is when the mask is taken off and the autistic child can let go of how they have been feeling.

Anyway, this morning I thought let’s try church. Prior to kids we used to attend regularly. Since having four kids someone is always sick. So today I thought let’s just try.

We took the headphones. We told the kids about the playground they could play in after church.

But we didn’t make it that far.

The twins lost it near the end (even being in the Children’s room with the toys, able to play and talk). Scott made an exit with Justin. I stayed with the other three in the kids room. I couldn’t even leave them to go get a tissue for a running nose because Lorelai’s screaming and wailing as I tried to do so.

As the last song began to play, my heart longed to sing along with the kids but my body did the best I could to exit with the three kids.

I sent Scott back to take Jeremiah for a quick play because he had done his absolute best to behave in a socially acceptable way – knowing the playground would be at the end. He asked many times about it. So it was something he needed.

I stayed in the car with the younger three and fought back my own tears.

This gig is hard.

That’s not a complaint by the way. I begged God for these children. They are the best blessings I’ve ever been given. That doesn’t change the fact that this is hard.

Yes all kids are challenging. Often people say this. I’m not sure why. Because telling that to a mum of children with significant additional needs is like saying to someone unable to walk (like when my Nanna could no longer walk) “everyone finds it a bit hard to walk at some point.” Um, what is your point? Apples and oranges much? Ableism much? The aim is probably to help the mum feel less upset but it does the opposite. It makes us feel like our situation isn’t as overwhelming as it actually is and that we are the ones that cannot handle things well.

On a side note. I’ve watched four adults try to look after my children and still need my help when we tried to access some respite a while ago. I was then looking after four children and four adults. Totally respite for me, not. So we haven’t tried that again.

Everyone says motherhood can be lonely. Isolating. You lose friends. Blah blah blah. It is all of that. Maybe one of my pre-kids friends still check in on me/keeps in touch, as I do with her too. I’ve stopped pouring my time into friends who aren’t there for me and who never were there for me through all of this.

So motherhood is all of that, but it’s heartbreaking too as we grieve the friends that we stood by though everything, but as our lives became complicated with our beautiful children and their needs, those friends became the painful radio silence that burned the ringing in my ears.

I see them out and about with other pre-kids friends. They have families now too. Their kids hang out. They hang out. We aren’t invited. They don’t visit. We are too complicated for them. That’s okay. I’ll take my kids any day. They have brought me more joy and purpose than absolutely anything or anyone ever has. My family is my absolute joy and remind me of the fingerprints of God daily.

I know this is a common theme with mums of children who have additional needs. I read it in our online groups all the time. A few years ago I never thought that would be me. But it is.

While I’m trying to hold back the tears in the car after church or after the lunch out, my heart cries for the fact that there’s simply no one to talk to anymore about this.

Perhaps it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming if there was someone. That friend who could laugh about it with you and giggle until they pee themselves as I tell them about how the other night during bath time Heath pulled out (yes with his hands!!!) a massive and long poo from his bum under the milky water and I belly laughed and removed the kids so fast from the water and as the water disappeared down the drain so did that massive poo. I have no idea how but it went out too. I laughed so hard.

If you’ve read this far, please be the person in the restaurant or at church who smiles and says “they’re fine, they are a blessing” so that mums like me don’t have the added pressure or weight of judgment to contend with about how we might impact everyone around us. Be that person who packs up our meal for us so we can exit faster. Or that person who comes over to offer their hand to walk the kids to the car with me. Or that person that reaches out to the partner. Guys need other guys too. Be the fellow dad that calls Scott and says “hey let’s hang out at the park together and grab a coffee, bring the kids, they are welcome too.”

And when I talk about doing that for me, or us, I don’t actually mean me (let’s face it I probably won’t be out for leisurely reasons in public with my gorgeous kids anytime soon). I’m talking about any parent with their kids. Just using us as an example.

Let’s build parents up and normalise and ACCEPT neurodiversity. Let’s create quiet spaces for neurodivergent children to access and to feel included (see my point below about even the Children’s hospital of all places). Let’s reach out to each other warts and all and include each other. Let’s send that text that says “how are you going? I’m struggling so much with this parenting gig. You too?” Be real. Let’s show each other the highlight reels but let’s also show these reels of reality (much like I am now).

I want to add a little side note too. For many years we’ve been told the correct terminology is “person with autism” or “person has autism” and I’ve been guilty of using this previously, thinking I was being respectful. I have learned over the years that a person doesn’t have autism, much like having an item with you. It is within them, they are autistic. They are also not with autism, much like being with a friend. They are autistic. It is how they think. It is who they are. How their brain works and reacts to this world. There is so much more to a person than a label, yes, however the terminology that is widely accepted by autism adults is exactly that, autistic.

On another side note, over the past three weeks these kids have attended so many hospital and medical appointments. And we actually reduced/cancelled quite a few for their sake. Even the Children’s hospital isn’t kid friends. There isn’t a space where they can just be allowed to let loose and be kids. Run hop touch things. Whatever. It’s the constant stress on the parents to redirect the children and don’t touch that or this or whatever. These kids, much like many other autistic kids, have been expected to hold it together through so many appointments. So many long drives. So much change which is in itself anxiety stacking. It’s exhausting and then that’s why some of the meltdowns occur when out. It’s all that trigger stacking. I’ve been trying my best to parent using the brain-body parenting approach and it works, but it doesn’t look like the traditional parenting approaches. I’m still learning and refining my skills.

Here’s one of those highlight reel photos

If you haven’t heard about brain-body parenting here’s a little blurb (I didn’t write this):

In Brain-Body Parenting, Dr. Delahooke offers a fresh approach to childrearing that focuses on a child’s unique perceptions of the world through their unique body and brain. Drawing on her extensive clinical experience and the latest neuroscience research, she shifts the focus from solving troublesome behavioral challenges to understanding the factors underlying that behavior. Instead of a “top-down” approach focusing on the brain, she calls for a “bottom-up” approach that considers the essential role of the entire nervous system, which produces children’s feelings and behaviors.

Dr. Delahooke offers parents tools to help their children develop self-regulation skills and encourages parental self-care, which is crucial for parents to have the capacity to provide the essential “co-regulation” children need. When parents shift from trying to secure compliance to supporting connection and balance in the body and mind, they unlock a deeper understanding of their child, encouraging calmer behavior, more harmonious family dynamics, and increased resilience.


Sometimes it’s really exhausting being a mum to a child on the autism spectrum. I hate to admit that, but I think it’s so important to be real. To be authentic in motherhood. I do want to be clear though, being exhausted, drained etc never ever means that I don’t want my children or love them wholeheartedly. It’s quite the opposite. It’s BECAUSE I love them with every part of my being that I am sometimes so exhausted. Parenting any child is challenging.

Love this kid! He was so excited about a jumping castle.

I adore my boy more than there’s words. I’m his biggest fan and also his biggest advocate. I will do anything to build him up. I love this kid more than life itself. He’s everything and more.

But sometimes it all takes a toll on me too. And sometimes things overwhelm me too. Sometimes it’s all too much and I crumble too. But not for long. I can’t afford to because he needs me. The twins need me.

This morning was one of those times. One of those times where the reality of having a child on the spectrum was made blatantly obvious. Where all of the little things added up to be huge. And meltdowns set in.

We had family photos booked in. They do mini sessions around here once a year. Where you pay next to nothing for a quick 20 minute session. Take a few snaps and done.

We don’t really have any family photos because asd. Pretty much. He hates photos. Doesn’t look at the camera. Moves so fast. And then twins. Try getting both looking at the same time. That’s a challenge on its own. And then motherhood. I’m lucky to get a shower, never mind look half human enough for a family photo.

So I’d booked in these photos. Months ago. Even got a discount. Perfect. Found the outfits in their wardrobes. Got the outfits ready last night ahead of time. Hadn’t found one for me but I could find something to hide behind the kids in sometime in the morning.. I even got to have a nice, hot shower this morning and put on some mascara. Winning.

Yesterday Jeremiah had a mini party, more like a play date that went most of the day and then into the evening with a variety of friends over various times (thanks Covid). It was a lot for him. I should have known better. That he wouldn’t be able to cope with anything extra today. But the photos were booked long before his mini party was.

We had surprised him with a jumping castle for him and his friends. This time last year he still couldn’t jump. So now he can and we thought it would be great fun for the kids. (And 2020 has been such a rough year, so we thought we could all use a little happiness) And it was fun. Until it rained and it had to be let down. That was another meltdown for him yesterday between friends arriving.

This morning we got the castle back up and Scott dried it all off. He’d scooped out all the water. Just so Jeremiah could have another jump this morning before it got taken away. The twins, Jeremiah and us were all on together having some fun.

Actually got all of us looking!

Then it was time to come in and wash Jeremiah’s hair for the photos. Another huge trigger. Washing hair is such a massive sensory thing for him and is so hard to do. We always have to prepare him in advance. We’d been preparing him since yesterday so he knew it was coming and had to be done.

Finally we had the whole family ready to go get the photos. The twins were screaming and crying because they were over tired, ready for a sleep and a bottle. So they were in the car, w were going to drive for a bit so they’d sleep before the photos. We’d get there early. Everything would be okay.

And then the people arrived to take down the jumping castle.

Jeremiah lost it. He bawled his eyes. Complete meltdown that the castle was going. Hyperventilating bawling. The entire time they were taking it down. He was watching and bawling. My heart felt shattered. I wished so much I could help my boy. Unfortunately though, this is life. Sometimes we have to say goodbye to things and people/animals we love. And this was one of those times he just had to go through. That heartache for him is something I had to sit with him on.

He was so distraught watching the jumping castle getting packed away.

He cried all the way to the photos. Oh my goodness. It couldn’t have been a harder start for him.

We had to push him to just walk in the front door to be safe from the road full of cars driving past.

He has an insanely great memory and remembered from last year that Santa came out. Only this time he was terrified. Last year he loved Santa. We asked him why and he said that Santa keeps watching them at daycare on the Santa cam. We explained to him that’s just pretend but he couldn’t get past it. The entire session was him covering his ears, his eyes and generally not going anywhere near the couch where the photos happen. And also crying. And this is all without any Santa – we had said we can do it all without Santa. Santa wasn’t even present to be honest. It was literally a beautiful couch set up for a family to sit on. If we wanted Santa we could request it or it could just be us as a family which is why I picked this place. That wasn’t enough for Jeremiah though. He was too scared and beyond his limits. Trigger stacked to the max. New place. New surroundings. Memories. Thoughts. He was in a complete brain meltdown. And there was nothing that we could do to help him or reason with him.

Desperately trying to get the twins to stay on the couch, and Jeremiah too.

The twins then started crying and screaming. It was all too much for everyone. For him. For me. For the twin. And for Scott.

When we got back in the car there was another meltdown because we had said that if he smiled for the photos that we would go to the shop and he could get a toy (this was in the lead up to going for the photos). Well now he wanted the toy. We explained that he didn’t smile for the photos (or cooperate in the slightest really) so that means no toy.

He lost it. And then we are stuck in a place of we need to teach him about consequences. That we don’t get what we want especially if we don’t do what it was that we had agreed to do. But then he did just go through a huge amount of triggers just this morning alone. What do we do? Give in? Stand firm? Reward that he even walked in the place? Parenting a child on the spectrum is so challenging.

We had offered him Maccas before the photos and he had said his tummy was full so we’d get it afterwards. We asked him if he wanted Maccas when we’d finished and he’d calmed enough to talk and he said no. We asked a few times. Explained that we can’t come back and get it. No he didn’t want it. Okay, we are going home. Asked him one last time but he didn’t want Maccas.

We got home and suddenly he wants Maccas. Another complete meltdown.

Emotionally draining. He doesn’t comprehend.

Yes I know kids, all kids, behave like this at times. The difference with children on the spectrum is it’s trigger stacking. All of these little things are little triggers. Stacked up. Into one tall stack of triggers and then it crashes. Comes tumbling down. And we have meltdowns. One that no reasoning or anything will stop. No it’s not naughty behaviour. My son is spiralling. His emotions are too huge to control. And we can’t do anything but allow him to go through this. We can be with him but that’s about it.

Finally he calmed. After a long time. The iPad is one of our lifesavers in times like this. After he calms that helps him to then regulate his emotions. I sat with him. He held my hand. We sat together. And then he looked up at me and saw my silent tears rolling down my cheek.

Finally calm. Holding on to my hand. Eating one of his birthday cupcakes.

He reached up and wiped them away. (He has the most gentle, kind and caring soul.) Asked me why I was sad and I explained that I was so excited to get some family photos of us all together. Smiling together. And that it didn’t happen but that it’s okay and I still love him. I’m just feeling sad.

He said, “we can try again, we can go on Saturday and try again.” I explained that we can’t. That we’ve had our one turn today, we can’t afford to pay twice. We had to pull the money together for this try today.

He said we can try again, quite a few times. Until I think he finally understood that we couldn’t. And then said to me “it’s okay Mum, we can try again another time.”

Yes my love, we will try again, next year.

My brain was exhausted. It still is. I took him for a daytime nap which is very hit and miss right now. He asked me why he had to sleep. I explained that his brain is so extremely clever. That is is always thinking. Always remembering things. And that brains that are as clever as his also need time to rest or they can get sick. So he lay down beside me, crawled his fingertips and then hand and arm up into my long sleeve of my jumper as he always does when he needs comfort, and we rested together. We both slept. Much needed sleep. He slept for almost 3 hours when we woke him. His brain was exhausted.

Tonight when I was putting him to sleep, I asked him, “what is my favourite thing in the whole world?” And he replied “being my mum” – yes my love. Never ever forget it. I tell him everyday just how much I love being his mum. And just how much I love him. I’m the luckiest mum in the whole world to be his mum. To be the twin’s mum. But it’s also okay to feel exhausted. To have nothing left in the tank. To have poured out everything we have. And to feel disappointment when that one thing we hoped would work out didn’t. That’s how my son feels when he’s got triggers thrown at him everyday all day. He’s a little hero. He has so many challenges and he keeps trying so hard.

Those precious moments when he is with me, his mum, and we are drifting off to sleep, I treasure. One day he won’t need me. That’s okay. In fact that’s the aim.

Today was tough. Tomorrow will be better. The best is yet to come.