Monday, April 2, 2012

National Autism Awareness Month

Happy April!!  Everything is in bloom here.  All the apple, peach, and plum trees I have planted made it though our fairly mild winter. They are filled with the promise of summer time fruit.  The 6 new chicks are doing well.  They are at that "pterodactyl stage" where their feathers are coming in and they are all giant feet and legs and wings.  Photos to follow.

Below is Temple Grandin's website.  She has new book out that I am buying myself this month.  She was my beacon on a dark path.  She was my hero when I needed one.  Her story gave me hope when I had none.  She was a functioning adult with Autism and the first one I ever met.  I wanted my son to have the choices and the life he deserved.  I thank her and her mother for not giving up, or giving in. 

Not that long ago April meant IEP season.  For those parents of children with Autism, you know what I mean.  For those who don't..."individual educational plan" required by law for kids identified with special needs.  The stress of being your child's advocate runs high.  I have had IEP's with the superintendent of the district, their lawyers, experts totalling 30 of them, and one of me.  I had been known to put my son's photo in the middle of the IEP conference table and announce: "who ever has seen this face before, please stay.  Those who have not-- excuse yourselves, as you have nothing to offer in this process."   Imagine the faces of school district employees when I said this! I was well loathed by one school district.  They tried to intimidate, humiliate, and run me out of town.  I did not try to win a popularity contest.  This was my child's life we were talking about.

By the time I had gotten so aggressive at IEP's there had been a lot of mistakes and abuse toward my son. Their idea of behavior management was to have my son's 250 pound aide sit on him during outbursts.  Teach him in a supply closet, or under a stairwell.  Finally they couldn't fight me any longer.  They sent him a 1:1 teacher at home.  Life began to be manageable, his outbursts stopped for the most part, and he began to learn. I tease that I acquired "parental autism syndrome" as I wanted to bang my head at IEPs. 

This was in the dark ages of Autism and "Inclusion."  He is now 24.  He is on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, and has a very high IQ.  The DSM had just included the high functioning people with Autism. Aspergers to be added later.  PDD-NOS the giant umbrella so many fell under who got little to no services.  My son's speech and language was so delayed (4) that he got a full blown Autism diagnosis.  His outbursts were many and severe.  Often bruising me, others, and himself.   Last year I blogged about our story.  Please go back and read those posts:

This year I will talk about teen and adult years.  His father, my ex husband used to say he would out grow "it" like a bad hair cut.  My son currently doesn't think he has Autism.  So I guess in some ways he has outgrown it.  :-)  Ha ha not.  My son is independent, engaged, and truly a master of his own life now.  If anyone is to drive in a car with him, they know he's still got the "bad hair cut."  That subject will be another blog.  But happy Autism awareness month.  Leave your puzzle pieces at the door.  

Thanks for reading. Each day is a gift. Open now.