Thursday, May 05, 2011

Another Autism Anniversary

As the end of our school year approaches (NEXT FRIDAY!! WOOOHOOOOO!!!), I am finding myself with a bit more time on my hands as some of the subjects we are completing fall off our schedules. I'm not sure if anyone reads here regularly anymore since I've been so hit and miss with posting.

May 2nd marked the 5th anniversary of Austin's Asperger's diagnosis. I wrote a series of posts back in September when we hit our 5th anniversary of Reece's diagnosis, but I'm not sure I ever got around to talking about this particular year of autism for our family. Austin's ankle surgery took over precedence, and honestly ushered in some of the most challenging months I have ever faced as a parent.

I don't recall if I mentioned before but his surgery coincided with the end of the weaning process from his seizure medication. So he was physically restricted (when his main method of self-regulation involved movement), he was not able to play the drums or baseball (his two favorite activities), and his brain was adjusting to the removal of some powerful medication. It was awful, and he was aware of all of it. I truly believe, looking back, that he sunk into a depression. He talked suicide several times.

You know, I need to stop for a moment - this is such a hard age to try to write a blog about your child. He will be 15 in less than 2 months, and I know he would hate it if he knew I were talking about these sorts of things. But I do try to explain to him that the reason I share these things is to let other people know they aren't alone in their struggles with autism/epilepsy/home schooling. And I want people to know how brave and strong Austin is!! He is downright embarrassed and ashamed about his Aspergers/ASD diagnosis, and that pains me so much. Not that I want him to embrace ASD as his identity, because he is so much more than the sum of his diagnosable behaviors. He is an incredible child of God who has a place in this world if he will be strong enough to work as hard as he will have to work to achieve it. I know in my heart that God took him down that path to show him that he is stronger than he ever thought he was. I hope Austin can see that one day. And I hope he can learn to accept himself for all of his strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. My prayer is that much of this embarrassment is typical teen angsty stuff and that he will come through the other side of it with a new perspective on himself.

I had decided to seek professional help for Austin if I didn't see marked improvement once he was mobile again. Thankfully, that was exactly what happened. Austin had joined a band towards the end of that time, and I credit that with helping him come back to a better state of mental health.

The last few months of this fifth year of autism have been spent dealing with completely non-autism-related stress. My middle child - 12 year old Riley - has been exhibiting some pretty overwhelming behaviors. I've learned in the last 2 months that it possibly could be related to puberty, and I read a wonderful book called Strong Willed Child, or Dreamer? which I mentioned last month. However, things seem to be getting worse instead of better, and I have placed a call to the kids' developmental specialist to see if he can give me some suggestions on who might be able to help us. I can't help but feel a sense of shame and responsibility - she has always been a challenging child, but I spent the first few years of her life dealing with Austin's behaviors. And then I spent the next few years of her life dealing with Reece's behaviors. I guess I didn't spend enough time dealing with HER behaviors, and now they are out of control. I'm looking forward to getting that phone call back from the doctor's office and see what they recommend we do.

As I mentioned earlier, our last day of school is next Friday. Then we will take a month off completely before we begin Sun and Fun. In that month, it is my goal to work on our relationships as a family and between the siblings. I really want to enjoy my kids again - not being teacher and taskmaster, but as being mom.

Because if it's one thing that autism has taught me, is that it's ALL about the relationship!! :)


poohder said...

1st of all, I check your blog often and look forward to your posts. I love to read about your experiences which sometimes parallel mine.

Niffercoo said...

Thanks, Rhonda! :)