Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Road to Acceptance

I have a confesseion.  While I accept that Aiden has autism, and made peace with the word, the label, from day one, accepting what that actually means has been quite another journey.
Turns out the road to acceptance is long and winding.  That has come as a surprise to me.  I knew that accepting your child's diagnosis of an exceptionality mimiced the grief cycle, but I really did not expect it to be a two step dance, one step forward, two steps back.
You see, I was okay with it all, because we love him as he is, it's okay to be different, etc. etc. etc, place your own parenting cliche here.  But the reality is, every time I am made painfully aware of his differences in certain social contexts, like, say...the dreaded birthday party, I find myself back to a place I thought I had left long ago.
Sometimes seeing his through someone else's eyes hurts too.  Like if I see someone kind of looking at him quizzically I might get a blinding, stabbing pain that I wasn't expecting, because I already thought I was accepting.
Or if I'm chatting with somebody about it all, even somebody close, and they make a statement about him, it shocks me when it hurts.  No ill will was intended, it's just that sometimes I'm not prepared for other people to notice his ways of being different, if they notice it, it may mean that everybody notices it.  The sane part of me knows that he is different, plain and simple, and people are going to notice.  That same sane part of me knows that one day I will be able to handle that better, but as for right now, it stings.
You see, at 4, going on 5, we're just leaving that grace period that a tender age allows.  For so long, he was just such a verbally advanced kid, that all people noticed about him was how smart he was.  Quirky behaviours are adorable in young kids, which is oh so helpful.  But that lovely umbrella is starting to be lifted away, and I'm clinging with two firm hands.
I know that my acceptance will continue to grow, just as my love will.  I'll come to better know who he is, and someday I'll to stop wondering about who I thought he was going to be.
Because even though this road is long and winding, we're buckled in, and commited to the drive.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kickin' it Home School

So far, so good.  At least I think so!   We started home school last Thursday, so I'm just 4 days in...perhaps too soon to draw conclusions.  But, I know one thing for sure, it is hard enough to maintain attention with just him and his sister, in a classroom designed not to distract, so I don't think regular school would have been a great choice this year.
This morning we had a field trip to the local CBC building with the home schooling group we're a part of.  It was a big bunch of kids, and the tour was so great.  Aiden was very well behaved, much to my relief.  Due to the field trip, we did school in the p.m....definately harder to keep focused then, but some days it will have to be that way due to scheduled activities.
There are going to be lots of group activities to participate in all year, and it seems like a really great, really BIG group, so I'm happy.
Tomorrow I have my meeting with the school board official in charge of home schooling, and my cooperating school's principal.  So, no longer is home schooling something I am going to do.....I'm doing it! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I wasn't going to do this...

Oh well, it is what it is.  That's what hubby and I always say to each other after some long conversation, "it is what it is." 
Tomorrow Aiden should be heading off to school.   He should have a whole backpack with matching lunch box laid out by the door tonight.  But there's no backpack.  Because the little boy I thought I had 4 and a half years ago, isn't really that boy at all.  And sometimes I miss him.
I am trying to focus on the relief I feel that I don't have to face school this year.  I am trying to focus on the fact that he is still doing Kindergarten.  And the fact that he is so excited about his little classroom, and how he'd much rather stay  at home.
But, he doesn't realize that all the other kids he was babies with are going.  But I do, and, this is the first real difference his disability has afforded him.
And I can't help it, but it's killing me.
And, I wasn't going to write this.  But for those of you who know parents with special kids, these are the "special" moments that we have to face.  Special isn't always fun.  But, it is what it is.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Too Good?

I have a theory.
I was listening today about a radio program that was speaking about how kids today tend to be "over-parented".  And if you give this just 2 second thought, you'd be forced to agree!  Kids today are so heavily scheduled!  Everybody is in lessons of some sort, being shipped from soccer to piano to pre-planned playdates, to you name it!  It seems that they go from one organized activity to another as fast as they can get.  
Not to mention daycares.  In order for a child to be succcessful in daycare, they've got to learn from an early age to tow the line.  To follow the little rules, nap at naptime, eat at snack time, play at playtime...on and on.  No longer do kids play dress up, oh no, these days, they take advantage of the Drama Centre.  Oh puh-lease!!!
The result?  Apparantly, kids are too good.  They're overly compliant.  Imagine that!  I guess it sounds like a dream come true, but what it really means, is that kids no longer get to (or have to) think for themselves, or make their own mistakes.  Not good.
So, what's my theory?  I think that all of this has made it harder on kids who have behavioural issues.  There were kids with Asperger's in the fact, once most people learn about it, they think of someone they grew up with, who just must have had it.  There were surely kids with ADHD in the past too, didn't you have a kid in your class who just couldn't sit still?  But, today, these kids stand out wayyyyy more, because everyone else is so good.  Bad behaviour blended better in the past, because kids were kids, and no one expected them to be perfect.  Childish behaviour was more tolerated.  Dennis might have been a menace, but he didn't warrant a behvavioural management plan!
So we've got loads of "good" compliant kids milling around, making all the "bad apples" stand out just a little more.  Being different stands out more, even though today's children are suppossedly more accepting of differences.
Well, good apples/bad apples, it doesn't matter....because I wouldn't trade my yellow apple for all the world! xoxoxo

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Truth be told....

I will never sit my son down and tell him that he has autism.

I don't have to. Prior to diagnosis we made the decision that we would talk openly, and with acceptance about autism. We drop it in conversation all the time, "Did you know that so-and-so has autism too?", or, "You are great at that. Did you know that lots of kids with Asperger's Syndrome are really great at that?" I'll tell him that I'm thankful for the autism that makes him extra special. I want him to be raised in the knowledge. I don't want to have a big disclosing talk one day, that makes it seem like it was too big and horrible to have spoken about all of these years.

I also accept that my baby is different. It won't be too long before he realizes that he is different too. But, with the knowledge of why he is different, maybe it will help him to understand his differences better, and hopefully to embrace them. At the very least, to be knowledgeable about his syndrome and able to speak up for himself if he has too.

Studies show that knowing you have a diagnosis of Asperger's during those difficult adolescent years greatly affects one's ability to keep their self esteem in tact. And that's my goal. Kids tend to be pretty hard on themselves for not fitting in, they see it as a personal fault, rather than part of their disability.

That being said, I never use Aiden's label as an excuse card. If he's having a really hard sensory day, I'll mention how a lot of children with autism find loud noises awful, etc. But, I never use it as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour. He has to learn to take ownership of that all on his own. Does he have to work harder than other kids? Yes. Is it fair? No. But it is his reality, and I do him no favours by giving him a free pass, because he certainly won't get one anywhere else in that big world we live in.

I also want to take advantage of all autism events, where Aiden can go and see the support that the autism community has for one another. I want him, and all of us, to feel that we are part of something. That it's bigger than just our family, than just our boy.

So, you'll see the magnet on my van, and my hubby and I have some autism bling...because we are proud. We're proud of our boy, and truth be told, we're also proud of how hard we work together to do the best we can for him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting There

Just a quick update, went to my first home school group meeting last night, and it seems like there is a lot of support out there! Will be lots of activities to do with other families, and lots of other people who are doing what I will be doing! It's always great to find footsteps to walk in.
So I am busying myself now, getting our little classroom put together, organizing supplies, and just generally getting set up.
Should be fun!
(Then again, it might be a complete and utter disaster.)
Time will tell!