t h a n k y o u 💛 From the bottom of my heart. I feel the need to say thank you. To everyone that has left a comment, or sent a message, since I started writing as thephdmum. To those that have shared their own experiences, offered words of support, advice, or simply shown love and been there. To everyone that has reached out, it has really touched me, and I appreciate every single one of you for doing that, I really do. It saddens me that right now, when things can be pretty tough, we are receiving more support from people that I have never met, in comparison to people that we thought were so close. But, more than anything, it lifts me up. It reminds me that there are good, kind, caring, compassionate people in this world. It gives me the courage, support, and confidence to know that we are doing the right thing… at least, we are doing the best that we can. I hope that I can raise Stanley and Nora to be one of those people. To be someone like you. Someone that reaches out to others when you can see that they are struggling. Thank you ✌🏻

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When reaching out for support with Stanley… to family… to another mum… the last thing you expect to be told is what a shit parent you are. What a shit wife you are. Am I actually losing my mind? This (for a moment) made me question my own sanity. I have been told that Stanley has no issues. The only issues he has is that I don’t say no. He has learned behaviour. He doesn’t have autism. He recognises facial expressions. He acts appropriately. He shows remorse. He interacts with children. He shares his feelings. He stands change. I want to find a problem. I want an excuse for his behaviour. Stanley needs to learn how to behave. It’s very unfair on him. I need to realise how to discipline him. Stanley is fine. I am trying to convince my husband that something is wrong with his son – this isn’t how he was brought up. The fact I am a researcher is the worst. All I have done is read about autism, and seeing it is very different (oops, I forgot that my previous job was in a hospital working with people who were on the spectrum). On top of the issues I cause with Stanley, I don’t support my husband. I have changed him. I make him do everything. But… would you believe it… nobody is judging me. Well, boy am I glad that someone knows my son (and my relationship) much better than I do! And, much better than a Psychologist! I have to be strong for Stanley right now. We don't need this. I can’t surround myself with people who think this about us… about me. How can I be the best mum for Stanley when I am around people that are constantly judging every move that I make… every word that I say? It is not fair on Stanley. I have tried so hard. I really have. All we asked for is respect and compassion. A shoulder to cry on… for someone to listen. I respect any mum in how they parent their children. Who am I to judge? I need to #motherlikenoonesjudging, and I can’t do that around #mothersthatareconstantlyjudging. I will be strong. I will be the best mummy that I can to Stanley and Nora… and if that means trying to get help and support for Stanley… if that means stepping away from family that Stanley cares so much for… then that is what I will do. #motheringlikeaboss #stronggirlsclub

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This photo says a lot about how things are right now. We are both trying to enjoy ourselves, but you can see that we look tired, and a little lost. Tomorrow, I'm at the GP to discuss Stanley and getting a diagnosis. This could be a total waste of time, or the start of a very long process. Either way, I'm trying, and I feel I'm going to need some luck! We have just about ran out of luck right now, things seem to go from bad to worse. As things get tougher with Stanley, we attempted the dreaded conversation with family… and what was the result? We are now left with no childcare for Nora, and 2 days short for Stanley. I am in my last two months of scholarship payments from the PhD, and with no idea of what I will be doing after then. Things were already going to be tough with finishing up the PhD, looking for full time work, and juggling the childcare situation. But now, with pretty much no childcare, we are stuck. We can't look for alternative childcare because in 2 months time, I'll have no income. I now have Nora every day, and Stanley for at least 2, how am I going to find time to continue the job hunt, let alone find anytime to finish this PhD.

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Twice. Twice we have tried to leave the house this morning. Twice we failed. We feel lost and helpless. It's getting harder to leave the house with Stanley, because he just wants to stay at home. The first attempt at leaving he was with Daddy, and he kept delaying and delaying… there was always just one more thing. They eventually gave up the attempt to go out, and came back in the house. Stanley then told us he didn't want to go the shop. Second attempt a couple of hours later, with all four of us, and after much persuasion… we eventually manage to get in the car, one step further. But, from the minute he sat down, to the minute we get home, he just screams that his bottom is hurting, and that he wants to get out. He did this so much that we eventually gave up and came home. We checked, and tried everything in between to make him more comfortable, but nothing worked. When we get back home, he could then tell us that his bottom wasn't really hurting, he just wanted to get out of the car (which is what we suspected). This is because he doesn't want to go out. He doesn't want to go anywhere. He wants to stay at home, because it's easier to cope with. Our whole morning has been an attempt to leave the house, and I feel like we are going to end up getting stuck. What happens when we need to leave the house? Should we have just forced him into the car this morning… kicking, screaming, and crying? When we know that it's going to end in a meltdown, do we just go with it, and let it happen? Or, do we give in… and stay at home… where it is quiet, and he is content? Stanley and Daddy are now out walking the fields, and he couldn't be happier. So peaceful.

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Today has really been an up and down kind of day. I spent the day with this little man, instead of taking him to Granny's (it's my last official week of maternity leave after all!) – so we had a trip to the castle, which was so lovely. Unfortunately though, it ended with a meltdown in the car park, and us not attending the planned picnic with his auntie. As much as we try to prepare him, he doesn't seem to be coping with transitions. It wasn't nice today, it's not nice seeing him so upset and distressed, and I feel so lost in those situations. He's really not had a good week, and I'm not sure if the weather has a role to play in this too. He's not a fan of the heat, and it's all too bright for him most of the time. It's certainly not helping anyway. I know I don't cope too well with this heat, it stresses me out! I have found this week really tough… I have felt stressed, helpless, and so tired… and I know this has meant that I'm not reacting to Stanley as I normally would, and how I should. I haven't been the best I can be with him, and then that only leaves me feeling more guilty and stressed. Tomorrow is a new day though, and it's just me and the little man again. I think we'll end up back at the castle… but we'll see if he's changed his mind in the morning. I'm planning to do whatever he wants to do tomorrow. Let's hope we have a better end to the week! 💛✌🏻🌻

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