Over the last year, life has been quite a rollercoaster for us.
Max stopped sleeping at nighs, despite being on medication to help, and everything started to spiral out of control.
As you can imagine, no sleep for him meant no sleep for the rest of us.
There is a really good reason that sleep deprivation is used as torture!
That post, however, was what got the people involved with us to realise how much help we were in need of. My sweet, worried mum printed out a copy to take with me to a meeting with Max's paediatrician, and my own doctor, who in turn got the right people involved. The people who have since helped me to start to turn our lives back around. Who have helped me establish a bedtime routine (going to bed later, and using visuals so he knows what's happening) that has him sleeping through most nights finally.
So instead of rehashing how difficult life can be when you're raising a child with autism, I thought I'd list The Good Bits.
The bits that make my heart swell and my eyes leak.
The bits that really, REALLY matter.
Like how Max will now happily go into the bathroom and brush his teeth, wash his face, and let me clean his ears. All because his big brother Zack is there, showing him how to do it.
How two weeks ago at nursery, for the first time EVER, Max joined in with a group of other children to sing songs. Holding hands with the other kids (!!!), singing in his own little way, doing all the actions, and grinning from ear to ear. And the nursery were able to capture it on video for me to see!
I remember just before Christmas, coming to pick up my little man while the nursery were about to start learning their dance for their Christmas show. One of his favourite songs was playing - I Like to Move It Move It. He adores that song (Madagascar, you have a lot to answer for!!). I was watching him as the staff were telling me about his morning. He kept nearly moving like he wanted to go over and be a part of it all. But held himself back. It was one of those moments where my heart just broke. He so wanted to join in, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
When I saw him in the video, running up to the camera after finishing ring-a-ring-a-rosy, there was such pride in his smile. I could see how happy he was to have finally felt able to join in. To be a part of a group, enjoying a song, and doing the moves. Being a part of a group that he had never ever previously been able to face. It was like he was saying "Look! I did it! I DID IT!!".
To say I was crying happy tears would be an understatement. I'm almost setting myself off right now as I think of it.
Max who thinks he's funny when he asks me to get him something from the kitchen (using his PECS book), just so I'll get out of my seat so he can steal it. A grin on his face and a glint in his eye, just about bursting in fits of giggles as he knows *exactly* what he's done!
Or when he comes up to give me a kiss or a cuddle and then runs away at the last minute, knowing that it will end in chases and tickles and raspberries being blown on his tum. That glint in his eyes as always, that knowing look ever present.
Like how Max has been the making of me. And the making of Zack.
I am blessed to know Max has a wonderfully compassionate, gentle, sweet and caring older brother who watches what I do with Max so that he can interact in the same way. Zack is seven and a half and has more understanding of patience than any other child his age I've met, and many that are much older!
Seeing the boys finally starting to bond really is a wonderful sight. The relief after wondering if it would ever happen is pretty immense as you can imagine, and the look on Zack's face when Max goes up to give him a cuddle or to initiate some sort of play is just. Well. It's indescribably beautiful!
I have learned what it really *really* means to be patient, loving, and to live without judgement. I have learned to be strong when most people would crumble, and I have realised there does in fact come a point where asking for help is what's needed. Max has taken me to my darkest depths, but he has also taken me to the highest heights. I have started to rebuilt myself from the ground up, and although it can be daunting, it's also helped me grow into myself even more.
Max is our happy, cheeky, rosy cheeked little guy with the most joyful laugh.
Our constant reminder of innocence and what it means.
Yes some bits are hard, but it is *all* worth it to see how much happiness he has in his little soul.
Max is my Everest.
It's a hard path, and there are times when I have stumbled and felt I couldn't get up.
But I did.
Because I had to.
Because my boys are everything to me.
Because they are my children and I am their mother.
I am the reason they are here, and you know what?
I am also the reason they are both so bloody awesome!