I’ve been so busy dealing with school and addressing Stephen’s educational needs – I didn’t get a chance to write or post anything last week. Dealing with school is one situation where I feel as though everything I say or do is judged without the administrators who are making the decisions knowing the facts.
I’m a little bummed out to have so little time with family this summer. Summer is the time of year I look forward to. This year we will be cooped up in our little apartment for 6 weeks – just so that Stephen can attend day camp for 3 hours a day 4 days a week. I’m not sure that attending the day camp (provided by the school district as a reparation for services that were not provided) is in Stephen’s best interest.
We’ve decided to give it a chance, and alter our plans as we see fit along the way. What about potty training? We specifically asked for the school to continue with potty training while he’s there. The district ignored our requests on summer school and potty training. Is 3 hours a day at a summer program more valuable than the independence he will gain by being fully potty trained at age 7? I’m wondering how much of the 3 hours a day Stephen will actually participate, and how much of the time he will just be waiting for mom and dad to come get him…
When is it ok for parents of special needs children to ever have a bad moment? Somehow all is documented in your mind, as well as, in other people’s minds. There’s no way that being angry where dishes are shattered, doors are slammed and a long drive away from it all are approved and seen as a way of release and not a permanent way of life. Sobbing uncontrollably. Living in isolation. Dressing in clothes of woefulness. Breathing the air of no hope. Sad songs on instant replay. Your mind becomes a nomad, wandering from confusion to disbelief to what? to why? to how? and never resting long enough to land at one spot. And to add weight to your worry, there’s the sting of onlookers. The ones who portray a life of perfection and make it their mission to be that constant reminder that your life is not perfect. Not only do they frown at…
This April we’re celebrating Autism Awareness Month! Will you Light It Up Blue with me? Will you take part in some random Autism Kindness Acts? Maybe a night off for some autism parents you know? (I know I’m not the only autism momma out there that doesn’t want to ask!) Right now I’m thinking of my nice, warm, cuddly, blue fleece blanket. I’m so tired.
I saw some pretty blue quilts and sheets advertised in the weekend paper. Let’s face it, my autistic 7-year-old doesn’t really want to go shopping with me. My hubby doesn’t either, for that matter. When we go out shopping, you never can predict who will have a meltdown first – my hubby or my son! I’m so grateful to live in a day and age when I can do some shopping on the internet. Nothing beats shopping in my pajamas! 🙂
I’d fast forward to a day when parents of children with autism and special needs no longer need to fight for a “free and appropriate public school education.” A day when there are measures in place to enforce the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, for all children in need of special education. A day when enforcement of federal law is no longer the duty of overwhelmed parents. A day when exhausted parents can sleep soundly without worry because the community is standing together in support. “I have a dream…”
Stephen had a life threatening seizure disorder in infancy, and cortical vision impairment (blindness) at 18 months old. By age 2, my son received his 3rd life changing diagnosis – AUTISM. There were still many life changing diagnoses to come, but this one was the hardest to accept. It came as confirmation that Stephen’s neurological condition was even more likely to cause intellectual and developmental disability. The cards were stacked against him, but we weren’t giving up. How could we give up?
My son’s first day of school was one of the longest days of my life. I was so worried, I had left him in the hands of strangers. He wasn’t walking, talking, or feeding himself. He was still eating baby food from jars and pediasure from baby bottles. I watched the clock until it was finally time to pick him up off the bus. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be the parent of a child with autism or special needs until you’ve walked a mile in our shoes, or carried your baby to and from the school bus on the first day of school!
My son has improved so much over the years. Early intervention services are key for so many children like him. He started walking at just over 3 years old. He still wears leg braces and crawls up the stairs, but he no longer qualifies for physical therapy services. He still struggles with both gross and fine motor skills and mobility due to low muscle tone and neuro developmental delay. He started feeding himself at age 5, and progressed to solid food at age 7. He still wears a diaper out in public, over night, and in his regular education classes. He’s potty training at home and in his special education class room.
He still holds my hand for safety – on the street, on the sidewalk, in parking lots, and on the stairs. He still squeals with delight when we play peek-a-boo. He’s quite entertained with anything he can prompt you to say without speaking a word. He still thinks my silly songs, with words I make up to his favorite, familiar, childhood tunes are worthy of all the adoration that is given to the stars. He’s no more responsible for the noises he makes in church than he was on the day of his baptism.
Don’t get me wrong, we set our expectations high and we encourage him to be on his best (and quietest) behavior. We know that he won’t learn social skills without practice. So forgive me if we don’t wait outside in the car, where neither of us can hear. Instead we teach our son to listen. We sign to him in ASL and remind him when it’s time to listen, time to sing, and time to go. You really don’t need to turn around while the preacher is preaching and ask me if there’s something wrong with my son. I’ll politely tell you he has autism.
Please don’t embarrass my mother with your disapproving looks. She hasn’t had the years of practice that I’ve had, learning to “turn the other cheek.” I won’t tell you what I’m thinking, or respond with an equal measure of disapproval. No need to apologize for asking (but you should be more capable of listening to the preacher and less distracted than the 7-year-old boy behind you.)
I’ve been very busy this past week and I haven’t had much time for the things I enjoy and want to do most. The Reason? Well, it could be Fairy Godmother Syndrome. Is that a real syndrome you ask? It sure is!
'And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.' Roald Dahl