Monday, October 31, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I really, really thought long and hard about this post.

Wanting to sugar coat it, making it seems less negative.

However, I've decided to be honest in this blog. Life with autism can be difficult, and it's important I document things the way they really are.

Whether it's the good, the bad, or the ugly.

Yesterday was a fiasco. A failure. A flop.

Yesterday was the primary program...and Little Guy handled it poorly.

Very poorly.

I thought I'd put the perfect plan into place, a foolproof way to make things easier for Little Guy. Unfortunately, yesterday proved that the best laid plans can go astray.

The primary kids were supposed to sit together in the back of the congregation with their teachers until it was time for them to perform. I knew Little Guy would have a hard time with this, so the plan was to keep him with us until the kids walked up to the front. At that point, we'd quietly have him join his class.

We'd invited Sis to come and watch her little brother; she told us she'd be there with her boyfriend, but they'd be late. Little Guy was expecting this and became increasingly worried as time passed and they failed to show up. Well, they arrived right before the children started walking up to the front, and Little Guy had a HUGE meltdown because he had planned on being able to sit with them before the program began. He was quite agitated, crying and yelling loudly while in the background the other kids were walking reverently to their places, humming to music. I was at the piano, trying to play the song while feeling powerless as Little Guy's drama unfolded for the whole ward to see. Sis finally ended up taking Little Guy out in the hall, where they stayed until he calmed down.

When he was finally ready to join his class, someone was sitting in his place. Little Guy ended up sitting in another spot, away from his teacher who understands his behavior - and next to his best friend, making it difficult for him to sit and listen. He spent most of his time going in and out of the chapel for drinks and made faces at the audience when he should have been singing. It wasn't until the last ten minutes that Little Guy was finally able to settle down and stop being a distraction.

I guess it was a nice program; I don't know because I was torn between trying to play the music and watching Little Guy's struggles, desperately wanting to help him. I do know that my experience was different than that of the other parents, who were watching with obvious pride as their children sang and participated as expected. When it was over, many of the parents had tears in their eyes, including myself. Not because I felt the spirit, but because at that moment, I acutely felt the difference that exists between Little Guy and "typical" children. For that tiny instant, I mourned the loss of experiences I realize we'll never have with our son. I glimpsed the rocky road that lies ahead of us, the hours and days and years of struggle required to help Little Guy adapt and succeed in a world that is often confusing and threatening for him.

And then, I dried my eyes. Put on my big girl panties. Stopped the self pity. After all, it is what it is - and our situation could definitely be much worse. I know my experience as a parent of an autistic child has forever changed me...for the better. I am much stronger than I thought I could ever be, more patient, and have developed greater understanding and compassion for those individuals society looks upon as "different".

Yes, my experience on Sunday was much different than those around me, but I wouldn't trade being the mother of my precious Little Guy for anything:


Colleen said...

Kim Your post made me reflect on being a mother in General. I think no matter what our kids struggle with it is harder on the parents than on the kids. I think you are a wonderful mother and you have some amazing kids and that little boy is a absolutly the cutest.

Shawnee and Tys said...

I'm sorry about the primary program...I know in way it must be hard not having him behave like the 'typical' children.... But you are right - it could be A LOT worse. He is such a sweet, bright, and funny little guy, and we sure love him! :)