Posts tagged ‘fitting in’

Survivor, my style

     When I was in high school, I felt constantly on the outs. If we had been in the game of Survivor, I surely would’ve been voted off the island. Truly, my whole life I’ve never really felt as though I fit in anywhere, which astounds my mother, the goddess of all things social. My different-ness then came not from a diagnosis like C’s, but rather from not being a party girl coupled with wanting to move on to bigger and better things from the what-was-then-but is-not-now cow-town in which I grew up.

     My different-ness now, however, is one in which I revel. I love being Mom to a special needs kid – I feel as though I’m part of a wonderful club of awesome (if slightly zombie-like) parents. Since I have been writing this blog (almost two years now), friends both new and old have come out of the woodwork sharing stories of their own children with challenges and gifts all their own.

     As I look through the faces of friends on Facebook, I think back to those high school days and know that none of us ever thought we would be those catatonic parents trying to help their very special kids gain a foothold in this complicated world. I don’t even remember there being very special kids in high school, although I’m sure they were around. Yet now they seem to be everywhere, touching friends’ lives in profound ways most people can’t even imagine.

     So instead of voting people off the island, I think I’d invite everyone to join me on it. Let’s create a special place where all of our amazing kids can grow and develop at their own pace, run free without aid, and where they always, always, fit in.

December 14, 2009 at 6:36 am 4 comments

Part of something

     C has always felt very much a part of things. While I suspect there have been moments where he’s felt left out, I think most of the time he feels right in the middle of it all, even when he really is not. Yet I’m thrilled to report that this year, he actually does seem very much a part of things. He still struggles; there are days when he tells me he sat alone at lunch because he wanted to, and days when I observe him at recess while he wanders around the playground by himself. But for the first time in C’s entire life, I feel as though he might just make it through okay.

     On the heels of doing some data collection at recess where C had 0, count them: 0, productive interactions with other children, I have also seen him respond and relate to other kids in a way I never have before. I listened to him carry on a true back and forth conversation with two of his classmates at lunch the other day, and tonight I had to nag him to get off the phone with a friend simply because he was talking far too long. He’s had playdates at our house nearly every weekend, with several different kids. Even bigger, he seems to be branching out, somewhat successfully, from the safety of girls to trying to make it in the boys’ world.

     All of this causes me to wonder whether C is growing up or growing out. Out of his diagnosis, that is. I suspect it’s more growing up, and that all it will take to validate his diagnosis once again is a birthday party or school field day (a haven of insanity that brings all of his challenges forward). After all, I’ve been here before; lulled into complacency and the thought that C’s struggles nowhere near compare to other children who share his same diagnosis. True as that may be, I would no more take away his quirky, interesting personality than I would take away his dimples. C just is who he is – and he’s perfect.

On an aside, please, please, please read this post about a child who needs a family and share it with anyone you know who might care.

October 8, 2009 at 8:37 pm 5 comments

More on acceptance, or is it denial?

        I hate birthday parties. They generally are everything C struggles with combined into one event. Eating, waiting (for someone else to open presents), unstructured play, social situations, noise, groups of boys, and mean kids. Navigating the birthday party waters is fraught with potential disasters, most of which occurred today.

     The problem is, C loves everyone. No matter the wrong done to him, everyone is a friend. I love that about him. What I don’t like about it is the future I see for him – being picked on relentlessly. I watched today as a group of boys played a game of tag, and no one was ever “it” except for C. For anyone watching, it looked like he was fully participating in the group; what was really going on was a very subtle form of bullying. He had a blast for awhile, and then he wandered off to play alone.

      The disconnect for me is that I keep thinking because he is so kind-hearted and friendly, kids will want to be his friend despite his idiosyncracies. What I realized is he’s never going to fit into their world. You’d think I was new to his diagnosis, because every time I realize this fact, it hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s not about some desire of mine for him to be popular – I just want him to have friends, so I try to teach him the necessary skills. It’s what he wants. I’m following his lead, and I never want to give up for him or on him. 

     I had an epiphany today, and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. I realized my child has autism. I know this in my head, but for my heart it’s always a surprise when it remembers. For all that carries with it, whatever interesting and wonderful things come out of it, it breaks my heart that what he wants the most is probably the one thing that will never come easily to him.

    

February 25, 2008 at 4:51 am 2 comments


It’s all autism, all the time.

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