Sunday, June 15, 2014

Well Seasoned

There are many wonderful things about being what I call a "seasoned" parent.  One is that I think there is a huge shift in my personal perspective from when I was the young parent of a child with special needs.  Also, Chet was our only child and I think perhaps that factors in as well.    I had not adopted again because his needs consumed so much of our attention that I felt it would be unfair to any other child at that point; the world through his lens of disability was my only view for many years.

I watched friends with neurotypical kids cheer at soccer games.  I watched them plan family gatherings and attend things like fireworks or parades or theme parks.  These things, when we tried them, usually ended in disaster as the event would become so overwhelming to my son that he would behave in ways that were harmful to himself or to me, or disruptive to others.

In some ways, my world shrunk.  Play dates were virtually non existant. He was not invited to parties and did not want to join clubs.  We carved out a new path.  He took swim classes and volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary. We camped and hiked.
 Family gatherings were small and made manageable to him by routine and brevity.  I had tried support groups and found they didn't meet my need.  I found they were filled with weary frustrated people who just wanted to complain.  I didn't want to complain.  I wanted companionship because I am intensely social by nature. I was told often that I should lead a workshop. I didn't want to do that either--at that point I was still trying to make public school life viable for him and I was doing enough advocating and educating there.  My well was nigh onto empty.

But years passed. And either I have shifted, or society has.  I am still a parent of a disabled child who is now a young adult.  Actually, that has changed to being a parent of 2 disabled young adults. But I am also a parent to 3 typical kids.  They have play dates and parties. They love fireworks--like what we went to last night, dance classes and more.

For KC, last nights city fireworks event was a "date" with his girl friend.  She and her family of 5 met us at the venue, a large local park.  We spread our blankets out together and her mom and I began chatting.  We have much in common, from our large families to our sociability.  She told me that she had invited her sister who has an autistic son to join us all.  Her sister was neat, her son was fun, though they had to leave before the fireworks because he was afraid the noise would bother him.  Rob's friend J met us there. He too is developmentally different.  

My point is that we all meshed together and had fun.  We all talked together, blew bubbles, played with light sticks, and played a very whacky game of Hot Potato.  Differences faded.  I suspect society is a bit different now. More is known about spectrum disorders and that helps a lot.  But I suspect a lot of it is that I view things differently as well.  I don't feel that I need to apologize.  I rarely feel embarrassed. This is just the family that we are. And we love each other.

No comments: