Thursday, April 26, 2012

Island Native

Have you ever watched the NBC series Parenthood? It's one of my favorites. I fell in love with it the first time I watched it. It was season 2 episode 5. Kristina, mother of the character with Asperger's, tried out a support group for the first time. It aired in October of 2010. This was four months before Boo's diagnosis. At this time, he was receiving special services at preschool for speech and occupational therapy, and we were waiting for the upcoming "free clinic" with the developmental pediatrician who would eventually diagnose him with PDD-NOS. I felt very lost at sea. My friends, online mothering forums, and family members kept telling me there was nothing wrong. Even Boo's preschool teacher told me she saw nothing unusual about him that couldn't be explained away by the fact that he was an only child who had only ever been kept by his mother and grandmother. (I think she was saying he was a spoiled brat, but nicely) Somewhere deep inside me I already knew. But I was trying to push it away, trying to will it not to be so. When we had good days I convinced myself that I was imagining things and that he simply needed to mature. When we had bad days, I felt completely alone and isolated. Adrift. So when another mom in the group spoke up, it was like she read my soul. She said the following:

"I cried in McDonald's today. I've been so stressed out, being at home with Anthony, my six year-old with Aspergers, all the time. I mean, my husband leaves for work at 7 in the morning and sometimes I don't see him again until 9. So it's just me and Anthony. All day. And don't get me wrong, God I love my son to pieces. But it's a little like living on an island all day with these weird rules that don't apply to other people. You know, thinking...thinking all the time. Is this gonna set him off? What's that noise? Should I drive home a different way to avoid the barking dog? Always living witht that...that pressure, always. So much that it feels like you can't breathe sometimes. You know what I mean?"

I bawled. I said to myself, to the tv, to the room...Oh my God, I know that island. I live there too. And now it's been a year and a half since that moment. But it is burned in my brain. And Boo and I both have made great strides since then. He has come a long way, I have learned so much more. We have, for the most part, moved onto the mainland. But there are times, when Boo has some hard days, some setbacks, or presents new challenges that I don't yet have the tools to handle...when I find myself smack in the middle of that island all over again. I've been back on the island for most of the past week. It started with the schedule upheaval following my return to stay-at-home-mommiehood. It continued with all the challenges in the days that followed.  Boo and I are still trying to settle in with each other, becoming accustomed to being together all the time again. And it has been quite a roller coaster ride!

We've had exhilarating highs, and deep lows. There has been a series of meltdowns. Bad ones. The nuclear variety. He has suddenly decided he will no longer tolerate having his hair washed. He has also eaten a banana, eaten popcorn chicken, made new friends, spent more time outside, and had lots of creative imaginative play. Tonight is supposed to be his spring program at school. He has been excited about it for weeks. Suddenly at bedtime last night he decided he doesn't want to go. I haven't gotten to the core of the problem. I hoped he'd forget about it overnight. (yeah, right!) But it was the first thing out of his mouth this morning too. But right now he seems pretty mellow. I'm hoping to work through it and that he will be able to participate with his class. We'll see what the day brings.

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