Thursday, May 26, 2016

Convincing Another Special Needs Mom My Son Has Autism

When Dominic was first diagnosed with Autism at 2 1/2 years old, I felt like I had tell EVERYONE. If he didn't talk when asked to, I would say, "oh, it's because he has autism." Fast forward to nine years later, the point we are at now. This past Sunday, I was at a wonderful event and I was meeting new people. I was chatting with two young women and I told both of them separately that Dominic had autism in the course of conversation.  Both of them had the same response back, "we thought so, but didn't want to ask." I told them basically they could ask me anything. I know that not all special needs parents are that way, but over these years, that is the parent I have evolved into. Anyways, recently I had a discussion with another special needs mom, though I'm not quite sure that I would call it that. It was more like I was in a courtroom and I was having to defend myself. Let me explain. I had a special needs mom tell me something a long, long time ago that has stuck with me and probably always will. This mom was one of the nicest, sweetest women in the world that has since moved away. Her son has both Down Syndrome and autism. One of the times we chatted, she said, "you have it much harder than me, people take one look at my son and know," "when people look at Dominic they can't tell." The worst things my family and I get from other people aren't comments, but "dirty looks," because they think he is misbehaving. I used to be so ultra sensitive about it, but not anymore. I just smile and move on. Okay, back to the mom I was talking to recently. This particular gal (who has a son with autism) is what I would call an acquaintance. We chit-chatted for a minute or two and then she proceeded to challenge me as to whether Dominic has autism. She kept hammering away at me and then I finally said, "yeah, he talks to himself and has other autistic traits." She eventually backed down, once I said that. Yikes, I have never had to convince another mom of something like that. Wouldn't it be great if diagnosing autism was like when you take a home pregnancy test? One line for no and two lines for yes?? Unfortunately, that is not the way it works. Diagnosis is based on a set of criteria. According to the website, mayoclinic.org:

"Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning." "The term "spectrum" in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity."

Once someone knows that Dominic has autism, the next question usually is, "so, where does he fall on the spectrum?"  I try very hard not to judge other parents (whether their child has special needs or not), because I wouldn't want someone to judge me. Wow, talking to that mom earlier in the week, I immediately felt on the defensive. I didn't get upset, I think mainly because I was so taken aback by her boldness. If anything, I think my reaction was more of shock. I really wish I would have been better equipped to handle her.




Thursday, May 12, 2016

You're Only Human

Recently, when I was heading back home from a meeting, I got lost. It would have been fine, except I had to be home to get Dominic off his school bus. I thought about calling my husband, the bus company or one of my friends to help me, but in my head I kept thinking I could make it home before Dominic. Well, I didn't get home until about ten minutes past the time he gets dropped off. As soon as I got home, I immediately called the bus company and explained my situation. They told me that Dominic was still with the bus driver and she would drop him off shortly. I don't think in all the years Lauren rode the bus, I ever missed getting her off the bus, or if I did, I had my husband or a friend greet her. When Dominic got dropped off that day, after I apologized profusely to the bus driver, I brought him inside the house. I kept telling him, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." I was beyond distraught, I felt like I had let my son down. During my evening conversation that I have with my dad, I was explaining to him what had transpired with the bus and me not being here for Dominic. After talking about it for about ten minutes, my father said, "you're only human." Hmm, I guess he's right. I try so hard to be the best mother and stepmother that I can be, sometimes I don't cut myself enough slack to make mistakes.  I really, really needed to hear those three words, "you're only human," that night. I don't think my dad realized how much he helped me - I was finally able to let go of that mom "guilt,"  I had carted around with me for several hours. Well, I have two important words for my dad, "thank you." 


I'm Proud of You, Dad

Back at least two months ago, my dad asked me a question. He LOVES history and as much as he's tried to get me interested, I'...