Everyone’s looking for that perfect life. It’s different for each of us of course, but generally includes a happy family and security. Maybe a house, a dog, 2.4 kids and white picket fence to round it out. Most of us achieve some level of this, at least compared with the rest of the world, so never forget that. We are truly lucky to be living in America in the year 2016, despite what pundits and politicians may tell you.
That said, each of us has our own burdens to bear and do so with varying degrees of grace. Because you have an autistic child, your perfect life is not over. It may be harder to achieve, but that depends on your outlook on things in general. Life has changed, yes, but the quest for happiness is not ended. As Lynne says, what choice do we have, but to deal with it just as we deal with any other unexpected occurrence, such as a health or employment setback.
Unfortunately, some families choose to not fully acknowledge this change. They may dismiss it as merely a delayed learning problem and proceed down this path. Some take it personally as some sort of shortcoming on their part. This delay in seeking the right kind of diagnosis and help can be critical in having your autistic child achieve their highest potential. As each case is different, there is no template on how to teach an autistic person. That is one reason we homeschool. As hard as our public schools may try, it seems near impossible for one teacher to service the needs of 20 or so students spanning the range of learning ability you see with autism.
Peyton for instance, is 16 years old and reads and writes at about a 6th grade level, but has trouble with creative thoughts and speaking. That is to say he can talk just fine but may not be able to follow what others are saying and respond appropriately. Most people who meet him don’t realize he is autistic within the first 5 minutes of conversation. He is very polite, more so than most of his peers. His classes consist mostly of online learning and workbooks at which he can work at his own pace. This may mean watching a video 5 or 10 times. We emphasize learning the material for the long term and not just for the test. He takes copious notes. How would he function in special needs classroom where the students range from low functioning to hi functioning? More important, how can the instructor give each student the level of attention needed by this range of abilities.
Some look for a cause to blame. Could be fluoride, chlorine, vaccines, genetic…on and on. None has definitively been found to be the cause, at least from what I’ve read. Lynne knew Peyton was different from his 3 siblings before he received a vaccination. The human body is very resilient yet very fragile. I leave it to the scientists to find a cause and hopefully a cure, but don’t count on it anytime soon.
So we make the best of it. We stay up on the latest research and teaching techniques. All the online resources available are a wonderful thing. And we try to reach out to other parents through this blog, twitter and Flipboard. Soon we will have a new way for parents and special needs kids to connect via our Awesome NetCademy, so stay tuned for that. This is not something each of us needs to deal with alone, reach out, many others understand your situation and may be able to offer advice.
As an aside, very recently on the Houston News, there was the story of an autistic 5 year old who was found wandering near a busy road. This was the third time. The mother had 4 other children and looked to be at her wits end. She had locks with shackles on many of the doors at the behest of authorities from the other instances. She was being ridiculed by neighbors and in the press, yet was doing all she could to raise these kids. She was a strong person. Yet unless you’ve been in her shoes, she was an easy target. Well, we have been in her shoes so we can relate to the stress she was dealing with.
As the late Jim Croce sang, “Nobody ever had a rainbow baby, until they had the rain”. You can listen to it here on YouTube (hopefully). Just remember, you’re not alone. Reach out if you need to, or pass along to someone who might need it. And keep working on finding happiness for you and your family. After all, what choice do we have?
See also: Why Homeschool Gets a Grade A from Us.