First week of school; new school for Bryan, private school focused on kids with neurodiversity. That’s the new term and I think it’s ok. Essentially the focus will be on life skills and academics that prepare him for independence. Independence is the goal, always. At age 16, he will have a job in the community. All teenagers need a job, but for kids with autism to learn how to appropriately interact with people is phenomenal. While it’s only day 3, I have a good feeling about this placement. The demands are tougher, but it’s important to always raise the bar just enough to watch him stretch. His anxiety has leveled off, a great sign if you know Bryan.
This week at work I’m in a training class. We had to introduce ourselves and say a hidden talent that we have. I wanted to give sort of a snarky answer, but I’m a professional, so I said I write a blog about my experiences as a parent of a child with autism. I had two folks in the class, one who I know from a long term project, and one who I had just met that day, come up to me to ask about the blog. Neither one are parents of a child with autism, but both knew families with autism. They were curious and engaging and of course I was happy to talk about the personal benefits of my blog. I have not written too much lately but I was reminded of the value sharing experiences have for other parents, as it has done for me. So this morning one of the facilitators of the program came up to me to tell me he has two kids, one, his older child, has autism and his younger is a typical child. Obviously the same situation I have. We chatted about our experiences and I instantly felt connected to him. It’s like a secret club that most people don’t understand. I told him that I try to read anything I can written by adults or kids with autism. I want to peek into their brains and study their thoughts. I want to know how they process emotions. I want to learn how they perceive their lives, are they happy, what do they aspire to? How do they feel about their parents? I know their voices are not Bryan’s voice, but I can draw analogies that help me to reach Bryan. We also talked about he relationship of our kids as siblings. I could see he had a similar situation to me; his younger child the empathetic sibling always protecting the older one. Their roles are so key to the family functioning and we discussed how much we admire the younger ones who have such pure hearts. We joked about the stress on the family yet wouldn’t change anything. I felt some tears coming on but managed to keep it together. Just going back to that basic feeling of connecting with another person in the same boat brings out raw emotions.
I am reminded that I need to engage more with my autism community and my blog. I need this for my own sanity and my own parenting. It is not enough to think, ok he went to camp, they taught him stuff, and now a new school, he will learn stuff. I don’t need to do what I used to do, prompt him, drill him, etc. I need to just enjoy him, spend time with him, and love him completely.
Special thanks to Michael Corwin for the title inspiration!