Q: Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

A: I live in London, with my husband, two daughters and two step-sons and I think, for a change, I’ll be here for a while. Working as a journalist for an international news agency has meant travelling a lot: I lived for several years in Paris and in Washington DC and flew to cover stories in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. My family need stability for now. But I may get itchy feet again at some point in the future…

Q: What language(s) do you speak?

A: I speak English and French and a bit of German (which I took off my resume in my early twenties because I didn’t want to be posted to Frankfurt. Now of course, looking at the Euro zone crisis story with all its twists and turns, I regret that because I could be in Berlin in the thick of things!)

Q: Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

A: I still work as a journalist, but now I do four days in the office. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t write, and the process of editing and working with such a talented team of correspondents is a real privilege. I am grateful too for the time I get to spend with my children: I start work very early so that I can pick them up from school around 4.30 every day, and on Wednesdays I stay at home so I can be with baby Betty and have breakfast with Grace as well as take and collect her from school and have (slightly) less of a rush around homework and teatime and bathtime … I also use that day to keep up to date with the endless paperwork relating to Grace’s diagnosis and to cajole/intimidate/beg with whatever bureaucrat is next in line when it comes to getting her the help she needs. And that’s usually the day too when I tackle the laundry ..

Q: Why do you blog/write?

A: I started blogging as a way of trying to make sense of what was happening to me and my elder daughter Grace, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and to raise awareness of autism and AS. We were both struggling to cope and I felt that if I had a place to share our experiences and order our thoughts then it might help us. It has done just that. Grace feels glad that I am telling people what it’s like for her to cope every day and I have found a supportive and nurturing environment for myself and other parents in similar circumstances. It has also helped me to raise considerable funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society, for whom I ran a half-marathon in October and am now training for the London 2012 Marathon.

Q: How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

A:  That’s a tough one. Much of my life is similar to many: juggling the needs of a busy family with professional demands; caring and advocating for a child with special needs; chasing a crazy toddler around the house and trying to minimize the damage; parenting step-children; fitting in the time to train for my next fundraising long-distance running event. Maybe what makes me different is that I do all of these things, all at once!

Q: What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

A: Intolerance is the big one for me. Grace was a sunny and affectionate baby but over the years I have watched her grow upset and anxious as she struggles to fit into a world whose rules she finds hard to understand. Every day my beautiful, brave girl hopes to find friendship and joy. Too often she encounters instead bullying and intolerance. I have spent years struggling to get a diagnosis and fighting for support. I have come across great kindness but more often I have been shocked by how little people know and understand – and care about – autism and Asperger Syndrome.

The other big challenge is to make sure that both my girls grow up to be confident and happy in their bodies. There is so much pressure on women to conform to a certain image and to behave in a certain way. It makes me rage at the stupidity and injustice of it. I hope I can meet the challenge of imbuing them both with a clear-eyed vision of their independent beauty and their ability to go out there and take on the world – no matter what they’re wearing.

Q: How did you find World Moms Blog?

A: Via Twitter, where I tweet under the name @SophieRunning – it’s a curious and expansive world on there and I’m having a lot of fun finding out more about the experiences of other mums, and runners, and writers and bloggers!

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Sophie Walker of the United Kingdom. Sophie can be found on her blog, Grace Under Pressure, and on Twitter @SophieRunning.

Photo credit to the author.

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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