Sunday, April 14, 2013

Autism Understanding & Awareness 2013, Day 9 - First Steps continued

So the at-home therapy appointments continued until Thomas was three years old. This was a tough time. At first it was all fun & convenient: yes, our son had some delays, but ...these fantastic women were coming to our home and playing with him, teaching me things to do with him to reinforce what they were doing in-between visits, and while always professional, became quite friendly with me. But as the time went on, and after one of them did say autism to me - in passing, you know, as if I knew that's what was going on - then those visits became more like a 5-time-a-week Mommy Test. I was feeling more and more like a failure. I was failing him. He wasn't making progress. It was my fault.

So I buckled down even harder, trying to work with Thomas. There is a brief scene in the movie "Temple Grandin" - a flashback - where her mother (Eustacia Cutler) is sitting on the stairs with a young Temple, trying to get her to look at flash cards. Temple sits and just looks beyond the cards, unaware of the attempt to connect, completely in her own world. I burst into tears when I saw that scene because that WAS me and Thomas. I got the same reaction, day after day. And that is one of the most helpless and frustrating experiences I've ever had.

On top of that, add on lots and lots of "life" that happened during that timespan. I was buckling under immense pressure. And darn it, this girl does NOT like to admit to herself that she needs help, let alone ASK for it.

But you know what else First Steps provided? A Social Worker for mommy. And what a game-changer and Godsend she was. I had somehow caused this, I sobbed to her. And she said to me the words that allowed me to move forward, and they went something like this:

Suzanne, there are women in this world who get pregnant accidentally, who have no prenatal care, do everything wrong - smoke, drink, whatever - and some of them manage to have "normal" babies. What on EARTH makes you think YOU did this? You, of all people?

And through my tears, I heard her. I actually saw light. I believed her. And I still believe it to this day.

About 99% of the time, anyway.

She's a Facebook friend of mine to this day. Thank you, Friend.

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