Saturday, September 28, 2013


Just found this gem from Anne Lamott. I find this so freeing.

     Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy and equanimity.

          --From Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith

I'm pretty fed up with unanswered questions, especially with Soren's regression, and I'd love to approach a place where understanding the cause or cure of it all is not the goal for me.

Here's hoping your weekend is full of thanks and joy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

An easy transition (pinch me)

I wanted put in writing that things are okay for Soren at school. Actually more than okay--pretty darn good. There is no crying on the drive in to school, no crying as I say goodbye, no crying as I pick him up. No calls in the middle of the day. We can say the "s" word ("school") around him without starting a breakdown with panicked sobs.

Instead, when we speak of seeing Teacher David and Teacher Gabe, Soren grins. He helps me pack his backpack with his lunch and iPad. And as I drive the ten minutes to his school, he smiles the entire time. The teachers tell me he has great days. He even tolerated an all-school assembly for 45 minutes today, which is about 44 minutes longer than he tolerated assemblies last year.

I'm trying to accept this lack of anxiety as the gift it is, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can't think of anything in particular that we've done to ensure Soren's happiness at school, just as we couldn't think of a single way to help him when he was deep in anxiety.

Even if this contentment shifts into something different, I don't want to forget that this September, Soren loved school.
First day of first grade

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Autism infighting

One of the first items on my to-do list after Soren received an autism diagnosis was to find a support group. I knew I needed support and answers and a place to be myself--right away, as I felt I might as well have my breakdowns with others over coffee. And our city has a lot of support groups. I found some local groups, found a parent mentor, and did a lot of reaching out online with other parents and virtual communities. But something never really felt right; none of these places felt like a true home. And I was left (and still am) very lonely as an autism parent.

You'd think it would be easy to find community and gain support and advice as you walk this journey, and especially as you begin it.  After you settle in to the autism parenting "community" (quotes intended), you'll begin to see that it's not so easy. There's so much disagreement about the right way to address autism in your child, and sometimes your biggest doubters and foes will be your fellow autism parents.

You have:

  • ABA therapy and those opposed
  • Floortime therapy and those opposed
  • Pro-vaccine and vaccines-injured-my-child camps
  • Biomedical solutions and those opposed
  • Drug solutions for symptoms and those opposed
  • The gluten-free, casein-free diet adherents and its questioners
  • Those who want a cure or recovery and those who think that's offensive
  • Those who view autism as neurodiversity and those who don't
  • Those who seek to extinguish autism's socially awkward tics and those who don't
  • Those who view autism as a tragedy and those who don't

You'd be surprised by how antagonistic these camps can be. It is infighting. Don't even begin to look at autism parenting blogs; it's incredible how much vitriol you'll find in the comments and how discouraged you'll be, still with no answers and no community.

I feel more alone now in my autism parenting journey than I did when I first started out.

The bottom line is that there is no known cause of autism, and there are no known cures (which by itself is a hot button). There are million different ways to approach treatment and therapies. And because this whole diagnosis is shrouded in murkiness, with no easy answers, parents tend to get defensive about the choices they make. You can't do everything (for time and money reasons), so you choose. And you defend. And you question others, maybe because you're not really sure yourself. It's not like cancer or diabetes or even PTSD, where, with few exceptions, you know your path to cure or treatment and can commune with others on this path.

I don't need to explain how this is just another kick to the dirt for autism parents, who are already bewildered and desperate for answers. But mostly they are desperate for community, for others to walk this path with them.

The upshot for me is that I don't share too much (on this blog or in person) about what our therapy choices are, especially what we've chosen NOT to do and why, and I don't ask others for advice. I've learned that this is a very solitary journey that our family is on, as we try to make a path that feels right and is consistent with our very personal views about parenthood and childhood and autism.

This idea of loneliness in this autism parenting journey is hitting me harder lately. I'm a rule-follower. I'm a consensus-builder. I'm a team player. I'm an empathizer. But I don't feel at home in this parenting community. There's too much comparison and too much defensiveness (myself included, of course) and too much evangelizing. At the root is this incredible self-doubt: Am I doing enough for my child? What if your path is better?

Oh how I wish there was a way to come together knowing that we do have this commonality. But boy it would take some great courage, and maybe we're all just tapped out in that department.

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