Sunday, October 30, 2011


This post isn't about Ben.  It's about me.

Something is happening to me that I don't understand.  Emotionally, I am sinking further and further into some kind of unfamiliar dark and gloomy pit that I can't seem to claw my way out of.  To say I feel sad is an understatement of huge proportions.  I cry.  A lot.  I don't want to get out of bed in the morning.  I get angry quickly and feel horrible about my anger afterward, even if I had the right to feel angry.  I snap at people who don't deserve it and get way more upset about little things than I should.  I get a tight feeling in my chest and I feel absolutely helpless and hopeless sometimes.  And right now, just trying to write about it and explain it, I am crying so much I can barely see the screen.

And I have no idea what to do about it.

A very supportive little FB group I'm in has mentioned that every mom of a kid with Autism suffers from some kind of depression.  That statement completely caught me off guard and I found myself holding my breath as I re-read it.

See, I don't get "depression".  I am Danica, and I am too strong for that kind of "crap".  I deal with things and buckle down and take care of business and move on and solve the problems and figure it out, even if that means cutting people out and off or accepting that sometimes things and certain people just suck and I have to move past them.

At least, that's what I thought I did.

Right now I'm too weepy to do any kind of buckling down or moving past.

This is the point where I need to clarify that I love my son more than anything and feel blessed to have him in my life.  I love his smiles and laughter, his funny ways, his sense of humor, his imagination, his loving little spirit, his determination, and the fact that I am the one he still needs and snuggles with when the going gets tough for him.  He is my most important purpose and priority and he is totally worth the effort, stress, and anxiety that comes along with an Autism diagnosis.  I'm worried about not being a good enough parent, though.  But that's always a worry.

I also feel I need to reassure everyone that you will not see me in the newspaper headlines.  I will not do anything crazy or horrible, and  no one will call you to interview you about whether or not you knew I was off my rocker.  I promise.  I'm not so bad off that I can't see this happening and that I don't know something is up.

I have been steeling myself against the possibility that it may be more than feeling a little blue and that I may need to mention this to my doctor, should I ever get a chance to do that.  I will surely have another sinus infection soon and that may give me the opportunity.  It doesn't sit well with me, though.  Not that I judge others for needing meds or help, but I simply thought I didn't have "that problem."  I'm not supposed to have it.  I don't have time to have it, and I certainly don't want to have it.  I am learning, though, that I am not always so strong as I'd like to be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Worth a Thousand Words

Yesterday, Ben's daycare sent home a photo that made me stop in my tracks, and if I need to express any one particular thing about Autism, this picture summarizes it perfectly.  It shows so much more about how Autism affects my child than I could ever effectively write or say.

Unfortunately, I can't share it with you.  There are other children in the picture whose parents I don't know, and I do not feel comfortable showing their photos here, because I would be a bit ticked if perfect strangers put my kid on their blog.  You know, do unto others and stuff.  And I can't crop them out because they are crucial elements in the picture.  Without them, the difference isn't there.  So, we are all just going to have to make do with whatever words I can scrounge up to describe a picture that most accurately illustrates Autism that I can't show you but need to share with you.  Irony, anyone?  Or is it not ironic, but just confusing?

At any rate, imagine in your mind fourteen five-year-olds dressed in florescent daycare shirts all posed around an inflatable pumpkin at the pumpkin patch.  They have been told that this picture is a souvenir of their field trip for their parents, and everybody stop picking your nose and say cheese.  Thirteen of those children are smiling brightly, showing all their teeth.  One of those children has that "Who farted?" expression.

Then there is Ben.  Ben is in the middle of everything, wearing the same shirt, sitting right in front of the inflatable pumpkin, with kids on either side of him and slightly in front.  He is not looking at the camera.  He is sitting sideways.  He is not looking at anyone but is instead contemplating something he is holding in his hand, perhaps a leaf or piece of hay.

He is with the others but separate from them, all at the same time.  He is in his own world right in the middle of theirs.

This is what Autism does.  This is what Autism looks like, at least from my experience.

Actually, there was a time a few years ago when he wouldn't have even been in the picture.   He wouldn't have been able to tolerate sitting so close to other kids, though he has always been affectionate with us and has sat with us.  This shows improvement, and I am thankful for it, but the difference and the struggle are so evident in this picture that I tear up when I see it.

What I hope you will take away from this little experience of mine is that Ben doesn't want to be alone, but because of this syndrome, he just is.  He is separate, apart, and different, but if someone takes the time to make the effort required to enter his world, he is well worth it.  I promise.

Please reach out to children with Autism and please teach your children to reach out to children with Autism or any kind of difference, instead of just ridiculing or ignoring them.  They are worth it.  I promise.