I knew the clock was ticking, yet there I stood before the bathroom mirror still wearing my pajamas. So much to do in so little time; a blog to write, a newsletter to edit, two children to raise and a wedding to plan. Oh, and did I mention I’ve also broken my foot through all of this?
As I studied the erratic stack of brown hair upon my head, I was halfway tempted to inspect it; see if perhaps a family of possums had moved in there overnight, but there was really no time for this nonsense. My son’s class was performing a play about George Washington, and if I was to be on time, I needed to leave in 20 minutes!
By George, the clock was ticking, but there’s really no need for anyone to scream. When I say anyone, who I really mean is me…
It was the summer of 2006. As the air conditioner shuddered into action once again, my son played beneath the conference room table. Repeatedly, he spun the wheels of an overturned toy truck and flapped his hands as if he were part of a Wright Brothers’ original prototype. You’re gonna fly, my love! I can promise you that!
Across the table, a psychologist read from a report filled with complicated words. Pages and pages of them, until it finally wore down to this… “After a review of previous assessments, your son’s overall skills in communication, social interest and behavior are consistent with the diagnostic classification of autism.”
Only 20 minutes into this new world called Autism and I’d already become so intertwined by its algorithms I could barely blink my eyes. Just when I thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, I was led into the office of a social worker, whose job, as far as I could tell, was to expedite my entry into a full-blown state of panic. “The earlier the treatment, the better the prognosis,” he nodded. “I often tell parents to read as much as they possibly can. Studies show it’s best to get moving on this right away.”
“What exactly is the recommended course of treatment?”
“The National Research Council on Autism strongly recommends that young children participate in a minimum of 25 hours per week of early intervention service. These hours can include a combination of interventions, including behavioral, social and language activities. Here, let me give you one of our resource guides. A few insurance companies cover these therapies, though it really depends on your particular plan. There’s also a waiver to assist with the costs, but that process can generally take many years to__”
I’d already stopped listening. It was simply too much to take in all at once. If I was going to do this, I needed to get past these emotions, but after a half year of rescheduling appointments and wrangling with schedules, I was now being told that time was of the essence. Objectivity gained or not, it was time for me to move!
As I began my long exploration through the land called Autism, I felt like its puzzle pieces flew at me from every direction. Some newbie parents followed the lead of the more seasoned parents, who regularly shook their anger by waging tug-of-war battles with various facets in their communities. When we weren’t battling against doctors over issues unsupported by research, we were battling against our children’s educators over concerns regarding IEPs. (Editor's note: IEPs are individualized education programs for special needs children).
The opportunists stepped in as well and launched their ad campaigns using overly hopeful words such as "Autism Cure." Want to cure your child’s autism? You should try this treatment! Hurry now, the clock is ticking! Seemed like an utterly crazy place full of mind jabs and head games, but we had to venture in, for deep inside all the noise was the knowledge we needed to help our children get through this. Thick with sick irony, isn’t it? Our children can’t tolerate much noise due to autism, yet here we’re forced to take them through the noise in order to help them through autism! All the while feeling pressured to join in these tug of war battles… If the fight is against autism, shouldn’t we all be standing on the same side of the rope?
As I sit upon this island of unfolded laundry, still sporting my pajamas and unruly hair, I’m reminded once again not to take things so seriously. True, my time spent in this crazy land of Autism has taken its toll. The clock seemingly ticks faster with every minute that passes. There are days I feel like screaming at the very top of my lungs. However, one should never wage unnecessary battles against time, rather regard times in battle as the reason to slow down, take a breath in the moment and seek to find one’s own sense of inner peace once again.
Now it’s your turn. What steps do you take in order to de-stress from the mess of a particularly bad day and restore your inner peace? Please provide your answers using the comments section below. I look forward to reading your responses!
Autism Resource Tip of the Day…
It isn’t always easy to see (or accept) when our children are exhibiting a developmental delay, but even the slightest veers in behavior could indicate a bigger problem. If not addressed, the social gap between these children and their peers will likely widen down the road, causing further behavioral problems as they reach puberty and beyond. It doesn’t have to happen this way, not in this day and age. When it comes to the quality of our children’s education, we have the strongest voice and it’s never too late to raise it. If you are the parent or guardian of a child ages 5-21 who struggles in school due to what might be an undiagnosed developmental disorder, please follow these guidelines in order to gain the resources he or she needs to succeed in their classrooms…
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician about his or her behavioral problems. How are they affecting his performance in school? Ask the pediatrician to sign a letter requesting your child be referred for an independent educational evaluation.
- Educate yourself on your rights as a parent by learning more about IDEA 2004, the federal law which secures special education services for children with disabilities. For more information, visit http://idea.ed.gov