Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Affects on a Parent

30 Kilos... 70 Pounds...

Wow, it's startling when I make it so simple, what affect has Autism had on my life... besides the emotional turmoil, the lack of 'normalcy', the impact on our lifestyle, the types of jobs we are able to choose, and so on, it's also meant 30 kilos.... of extra weight.

It's taken 5 years to put those 30 kilos on, and a heck of a lot of it was comfort eating. Rob and had been active members and leaders of a church group for 15 years, the majority of it in Sydney, after Jonathan was born we wanted to come back home to be with our families, and continued on with the same church group for a while, but after we got a diagnosis (when he was 2), we felt a huge lack of support from many areas in our lives (whether the lack of support was real or imagined or just the effects of the overwhelming emotion we were feeling or a coping mechanism... I don't really know), and we shut down, for 5 years.

In that 5 years we didn't go out very much, it was far too difficult to go to a park unless it had fences all the way around the play area so we didn't have to be on our feet and constantly running after this child who had no comprehension of boundaries and danger. We couldn't talk with people easily as we 'always' had to have one eye on Jono, and the other eye on the other two. At the church we went to, the building was on a main road and we 'almost' had Jono get hit by a car one time as he raced towards the 4 lanes of traffic one time when he slipped away from us. You can read a bit about that time here.

In that 5 years we started playing online computer games, we had a way to connect with some people, we had fun together, and we had an 'escape', we enjoyed the escape a lot, perhaps too much and would often be online all day and then all night... we also stayed up very late and ate junk food... lots of junk food.

In that 5 years cleaning the house went completely out the window, if everyone got fed from clean plates I was happy with that, if they had clean clothes that was ok and if their bed sheets got washed every now and then, that would do. The floors were a constant mess... Jono had no concept of the rubbish bin or tidying up, and I was too overwhelmed to teach him, so he would eat something and then drop scraps on the floor.

In that 5 years I put on 30 kilos.

I have to say that today, looking at all this its a foreign world, we are still working on things from this time, but a lot of it has changed.

Around a year ago the 'fog' started to lift, I got a job with my husbands company painting an office building, 2 stories, every wall, every cubicle, all by myself. I got to choose the colours, I created something lovely out of something disgusting (and I'm being serious, it had been graffiti'd and left in disarray before they took the building over), I could see the changes happening in front of my eyes, and I lost 5 kilos (around 10 pounds). It was the start.

As last year progressed we gave up that online game and started spending more time with real people, I got a job as a graphic designer, during school hours, and joined weight watchers. I was starting to have communities again... and over the rest of the year lost another 5 kilos.

This year so far, is going great and the Affects of Autism are not as overwhelming as what they once were. I've allready lost a few more kilos, and am aiming to lose the other 20 within the next 2 years. We are planning on putting in a pool in the yard, and are getting more focused on health, nutrition and exercise. I'm also changing standards for the house, Today I can even see Jono's floor!

We are getting there, we've been in a pit, a large, stinky, gooey isolating pit, partly due to our own coping mechanisms, but coming out the other side of it I can also see that we have learned, changed and grown...

... all of us.


  1. funny how different we can all be. Usually my problem in NOT eating, not overeating. When I am stressed the first thing that happens is that I don't eat.


  2. I hear that T. I know a few people who don't eat when stressed, but it seems to be less than people who do eat more, or smoke, or drink, or etc... we are bad carers of ours bodies at times.

    I think the hardest thing is seeing where you are at when it happens, and then also seeing that it will be ok, even if it takes a while. I find it's usually not until hindsight kicks in, which has definitely been my case.

    Thanks for the comment. :)

  3. Wow. That is so graphic. Even though I was there as you when through those years, my understanding now is so much greater.
    Please believe the love and support were always there. I guess there was a lack of understanding that everyone has who has not your first hand experience daily . . and huge questions . . what to do that can help . . running after Jono when we were out, helping clean house, washing dishes ? . . and always hugs.
    You are a fantastic person, and optomistic . . yes, really. Your positive outlook always comes through . . even in the worst of times.
    Your analysis in hindsight makes it so much more real.
    Love you

  4. Thanks for the comments Mum, it's been a real eye-opener for myself as well, putting it into these terms. I didn't really know myself what could happen to help and I know a lot of it was grieving, for the child I'll never have, for the way things aren't, and so on. I feel we as a family are stronger because of this, but it wasn't fun at the time. Love you too :)