A quick thought tonight as Logan falls asleep next to me in the big bed … to send love and support to all parents of children diagnosed with autism. This morning I met a friend for coffee, and it’s clear her stepson’s recent diagnosis is taking a toll on her.
Normally a cheery, optimistic person who tended to respond with, “Oh, we have challenges, but he’s fine …,” today her whole body seemed different. Her replies were more terse as she told me about the issues at at school — her stepson is 12 — that have her about at the end of her rope. Compounding the problems seem to be the boy’s father, who doesn’t–or won’t relate–to his (biological) son. So it’s fallen on her to figure out how to help Josh* understand that shut-off switch many of our kids don’t have; while the other kids he follows understand when too much goofing around is too much, Josh cannot gauge this and continues to push, push, push. Daily it’s been landing him in the principal’s office and once even resulted in pending legal charges for destroying property.
“And the thing that’s hard is that the school only has one special ed room,” she sighed. “So when he acts out, he’s put in that room with the nonverbal kids. It doesn’t do a thing for him — it just makes him angrier.”
Coincidentally, a few hours later I ran into a former student. She’d actually dropped out of my class, but I still feel a soft spot for her because I know she has an autistic teenager at home. As if it’s not hard enough to be a working mom, this woman is a working mom to a special needs child (and his autism is fairly severe) while trying to get a college degree and improve her lot in life. But every time she thinks she’s making progress toward her goal, life intervenes. This term it happened to be that her son exposed himself at school and was actually taken to jail and surrounded by people who had no idea he had autism, and likely no idea what that meant, either. I hugged her, praying to God nothing like this ever happens to Logan.
I can’t imagine the turmoil these women face, especially as Logan has better and better days at daycare and school. My heart goes out to them, and to all the brave women fighting for their children. They define the word “hero” to me.
*Not his real name