I've gotten through another winter and an autism awareness month:) Things are looking up! I have warmth and sunshine and happiness returning to my body. I posted over on Pink Owl for Fredericksburg Parent magazine. Please check it out. Because I've committed to another human being that I will write regularly, I think most of my posts will be over there... but I'm going to post them here, too:
I am loving this warmer weather, and all of the pretty colors! My nose and eyes aren't enjoying it so much, but I am. Flowers (especially pink ones) make me happy. Warm weather makes me (and my body, mind, health,and bones) happy, too! The sun and synthesizing vitamin D is, apparently, so important (for moms and kids)! Who knew?
Thank you for the warm response regarding autism awareness! It's such an important topic, in my opinion, and not just because my son has it. I think that everyone is going to have or know a loved one "on the spectrum", if not now, then in the very near future. What is considered "typical" may become outnumbered by what is considered autism. So, in my opinion, the importance of why or how or what makes autism so prevalent is not what we should be focusing on. Of course, preventing it would be great, but, I think accepting people with autism, and learning how to reach and teach children with autism is so much more important. Showcasing the gifts that come with the autism diagnosis is also important. It is so special to think about the things that make my son special, especially on those days when things aren’t, you know, so special.
Here is another thing: Including the parents in the making of education plans, and the planning of supporting interventions and the placing of accommodations, also, is paramount. I have heard so many (too many) stories of parents (mostly mothers) being shut out of classrooms and learning environments for their children in the school system. I did not have this experience, but it is frustrating to hear about because sometimes parents are the translators for their children, and anxiety surrounding language, transition, and safety is so hard to overcome (for everyone - parents and children). I have an eighteen year old, and it's still hard (to overcome all that anxiety)! While early intervention is so important and so, so awesome, working as a team is imperative for everyone's success. I did not always get exactly what I wanted put in place for my child, but having an open mind, and communicating with educators insured that safety was always in place, and any barriers to communication with Tommy were overcome. Everyone desires to be understood, and the entire autism community deserves that opportunity, including parents and classroom teachers, and, of course, the child. I know that educators want to help, primarily. They aren't in it for the money, folks, so mutual respect is definitely important!
I've got to say, from my perspective, I have had a really great relationship with my son's team of people throughout his scholastic career. He started when he was three in the school system, so it's been a long relationship with so many great people. I can't believe, in fact, that it is coming to a close! I'm going to miss the security of Tommy riding a bus, and being escorted to classes and having someone available by phone or email all the time. Really- even on the weekends I would get answers to emails! There was not one teacher who didn’t want the best for Tommy. I’m going to miss his teachers. I'm going to miss his paraprofessionals who kept him pretty organized. I'm going to miss everything being so close and so safe. Especially the so safe part...
I guess it's just that the old adages of "time flies" and "they don't stay little for long" are really hitting home. I can remember the baby that is now six feet tall so, so clearly, like it was yesterday (another old adage). I wish I had another year to get things ready for transition, to help him just a little while longer. I wish I was better prepared. I wish I could prepare him more. The thing that is time, though, would still go by so quickly, and I will always be unprepared. Every parent is. That is the messy beauty of life, though... we need to soak up every moment- the good, the bad, the not-so-pretty, and pass on what we know to each other. That is why I write- to count my blessings, to figure out what I'm learning, and to celebrate what's beautiful, and to try to learn from what isn't. I believe it's so important to share the autism experience, too. We need to share so much, because we are all so different.
My middle daughter and I are often commenting that reality TV at our house could be a big hit. Just the other night I was browning beef, the smoke detector was going off, Katie was screaming and plugging her ears (spectrum, maybe? Definitely sensory issues with that little one...), Pippin was barking and Danielle just walks in like, "really? Where are the cameras?" Tommy is just flapping and growling at us all, as Danielle gets a magazine to wave under our overly sensitive smoke detector. I can't cook well, I'll admit that, but I promise nothing was burning! It was only about three minutes of mayhem, but the fall-out lasted all evening with ears hurting, and nerves unraveling. Maybe that doesn't seem so funny, but laughing instead of crying just feels good sometimes.
And... so does the sun- it feels good - and studies show it can better your mood! The pink flowers are also quite lovely this time of year. So, get out and enjoy! There is time in every season to rush around, but it takes a strong person to be still and enjoy the beauty in every moment during the rush that is spring.