Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Autism in my life

In honor of Anaya graduating from Speech and Occupational therapy I felt like I should talk a little about my thoughts about how Autism has changed my life. This is only one blog post, honestly I could write a whole book about it. I won't talk a lot about specifics, just the thoughts I have today.

Over the years I have dealt with Autism in the people in my life I have imagined what it would be like if I had filmed us. What would our movie look like. The beginning would be easy, it would be a romantic comedy. If you know me and my husband at all you would agree. We were with other people when we met. I lost a set of grandparents not long after we met.  My husband was challenged to a fight by my ex-boyfriend. I tried to date other people and even planned to go off to college two hours away but my husband was undaunted. He visited me, sang to me, and I fell in love with him. He asked me to marry him in his car in the middle of a monsoon storm. And yes we got our fairy tale wedding at the end.

Fast forward to the time when we have three children and we still, as of yet,  did not really understand that not only did David have a form of Autism but so did two of our daughters. This movie would be a drama, there would be me running children places trying to keep my head above water. There would be tender moments with my children. Scenes of frustration and arguing with my husband (we were not perfect then nor are we now.) There would be scenes with a therapist trying to help us communicate better.  The pivotal point in the movie would be me being scared and frustrated that my youngest daughter was not able to communicate and I could not understand her behaviors. My friend who had an Autistic child would shine a light on what I could not see and help me move on in my process to get my daughter diagnosed. Yes, you would have seen me in flurry of activity. Making phone calls, scheduling appointments, meeting with doctors and therapists.

The diagnosis was a relief and had a waterfall effect. There would be more doctor appointments for David and our other daughter. Yes, Autism was what was causing all the issues that I could not understand. Thus began my journey of understanding. At the beginning of my journey I had a decision to make, I had to decide how I was going to handle things and realize that that would change over time. I would treat all of my daughters like typical children until they showed me they could not handle it. I wanted them to have what other children had. I knew that in some ways they wouldn't have a "normal life" as we were not a "normal" family. I decided that I would love my husband for who he was not what I thought he should be.

Again there would be scenes of my husband and I reading books, learning everything we could about Autism. There would be scenes of me taking my youngest daughter to therapy, trying to keep up my relationship with my other daughters and me crying in hallways when it all became too much. There would be glimmers of hope, like when Anaya learned sign language and began to talk. The first time we were able to get through an entire dinner without Anaya trying to escape. The first time we took all three of our daughters to a movie and were able to stay the whole time.

There would still be sad moments, like when my other daughters would complain that they were stuck at home all the time and could not go places. When my middle daughter would cry and ask me why I did not play with her more. (My heart breaks all over again just typing that sentence.) I was one woman trying to care for three children with many needs while her husband battled his own issues while working and going to school full time. We fought and cried and tried to do all we could to be good parents and good spouses. Sometime we still fall short.

There would be difficult scenes, like my battle with my local public school district. It was heartbreaking to sit in a meeting with the very people I believed could help my daughter on her educational journey and be told they would not do anything further to help her. I had to again make a difficult choice to give my daughters a better life. I chose to take my daughters outside of public education and put them in a charter school. This was a miracle we had prayed for and it gave us what we needed to see our daughters progress.

There are many other scenes that have happened over the last 7 years but my favorite are the days when I realized that my husband and my daughters were going to be okay. Life would be different for them and sometimes difficult. I felt hope knowing that I would be there for them. Our families would be there for us too. Now that Anaya is onto a different stage in her journey people ask me what I will be doing with my self now that I am not taking Anaya to therapy 3 times a week. This where the movie shows that I will continue to do what I do now. I advocate for my daughters, I work with them, and I am still learning how to be their mother and a wife to my  husband. This is where you get the idea that life will go on and it is going to be good and yes you hope for a sequel where all my daughters are grown up and happy. I hope for that too.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Been a long time, lonely, lonely time

So its been awhile since I have written and since my last post much has happened. I am not going to talk about most of it. I lost my dog Shadow in April and since then I have been missing him.

Last week I rescued two tabby kittens, Solomon and Gideon. Taking care of them for two days made me miss my Shadow even more.

I started thinking that, maybe, since I am not ready for another dog yet that I should get a plant.  I could take care of a plant and it's not expensive. I could give it water, nutrients, sunshine, and talk to it like I used to talk to my dog.

I would say, "Hey plant, how are you today?"

The plant would say, "I have a name, you know."

"Really?" I would say. And then the plant would tell me its name is Susan or Bob or George or Paris Hilton or Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I would say, "Well George don't die on me like all my other plants have."

George would ask,"What did you do to the others?!?!"

I would be defensive,"Nothing! Sheesh, I mean I watered them and gave them sunshine. I don't know what happened!"

George would question me, "Did you water them too much or too little?"

"I don't know all of you are different and I just don't know what to do." I would say.

"All of us?" George would say, totally offended. "I am not a tree or shrub, I am a unique plant you know."

I would apologize. "George I am sorry, you are right. You are your own plant."

George would ask me,"What are you going to do to make things better this time?"

"I will research your unique plant type and try to give you the best soil, I will water you and make sure you get the best sunshine." I am hoping George will agree.

"That's good for starters," George says. And then George gives a list of special things he requires:  Maroon 5 playing in the afternoon, I can't talk to him about girlie stuff, he wants only west facing sun, he says to never leave dishes on the counter near him, and not to speak to him before 9am because he is not a morning person.

I say, "Your being outrageous."

George says,"That's the way it is, if you don't like it too bad."

And at this point I put the plant back on the palette at Home Depot and walk away.

Maybe I will get a Beta Fish in a bowl....yeah that's not too much effort right?