Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Autism and Grief
After we got the official diagnosis of "high-functioning autism" for Davey from his evaluations, life suddenly got extremely busy. I had a wedding cake to make for a friend. I was behind on custom orders for The Framed Frog and so was working on them every spare minute I had. Both the Beast and the Drama Queen took turns being up all night with a stomach virus. I had to write scripts for the VBS puppets and then perform them every night with my puppeting friends. My sister had her baby. (long phone calls).
Finally, yesterday, the chaos slowed a little. I actually spent my morning in normal activities, like cleaning my kitchen and doing loads of laundry. Despite the Nerd being home from work sick, I managed to straighten up the living room and make the place look somewhat comfortable. After all, we were having company!
At 1:30, there was a knock at the door, and an energetic man named Scott came in, immediately taking off his shoes and bounding up the stairs in search of Davey. Davey, who almost never acknowledges when we have a visitor, especially strangers, ran up to Scott and began shouting random things like "Hey I have a brother" and "I like hot dogs!" Within five minutes, Davey was seated on Scott's lap being tickled while the Drama Queen filed in and out of the room, showing off each of her Toy Story toys to our guest. You would have thought that Davey and Scott had known each other for years!
Scott is going to be Davey's teacher at the Early Intervention Preschool in the fall. For two and a half hours every Tuesday and Thursday, he is going to be working with Davey on specific objectives that we have set for him. I was grateful to see the connection between Davey and his new teacher, and the two of them spent over half an hour just playing and talking and getting to know each other. Then Scott went over some of the specifics with me, drawing some diagrams out on a sheet of paper and talking. He left with a "See you at school, David!" It was a very hopeful and positive experience.
But last night, as the Nerd dozed off on the couch and I tried to get some things done, I found myself in tears. Frustrated that I would be crying over "nothing", I turned on the TV and tried to focus on my to-do list. Before I knew it, I was sobbing - the kind of crying that doesn't allow you to do anything else but cry. The Nerd woke up and asked me what was wrong. I didn't really know. I finally realized that in all the busyness of the past week or so, I hadn't allowed myself or even had time to think about David's diagnosis. The tears came fast and heavy, and strangely I felt embarrassed, as if no one would really understand why I was crying. I didn't really understand why I was crying. David's diagnosis is the best possible diagnosis we could have gotten. Unlike many other children on the autism spectrum, David has a wonderful vocabulary and is very loving. In fact, there are some days when I wonder if we should have even taken him in to get evaluated - he seems so "normal."
But then he has a "bad day" full of melt-downs when he reverts to speaking in gibberish and cries hysterically at the smallest things. He bites his siblings and does things that have no explanation. Those are the days that are painful reminders of why we chose this journey in the first place.
I guess I didn't really understand it when the special education therapist offered us a grief counselor as a resource. Now I know. There is grief for the obstacles and uphill battles ahead of us, and grief for Davey. He has such a promising future, but he will have to work harder at things than most kids. Making friends will never be easy for him.
The tears are still coming this morning, although not nearly as much as they were last night. I know that God is in control and that He has a special plan for my son; but I also know that it's okay to cry and release all those feelings and fears.
Today is going to be a good day. I just got a big smile and hug from Davey, and the Drama Queen has politely asked me to please stop using the computer so we can play. :)