I recently took our son Scott to a local autism clinic with the intention of getting some guidance and insight into how to properly prepare him for the vast world out there. We were placed on the waiting list for this place within a month of our December move to Fort Knox, and I was excited when we finally got an appointment. The first thing the psychiatrist asked me was, “Why are you here?”
As they wheeled my bed from my room to Labor & Delivery, we passed a waiting room. I looked over and saw 15 of my friends and church family on their knees holding a prayer vigil for me.
I already felt at peace, but the sight of that flooded me with the most serene calm.
My sister-in-law found out during her pregnancy that the baby she carried had Down’s Syndrome. By the time our niece, Annalise, was born, she and her husband had several weeks to prepare, plan, and equip themselves as they began the journey of parenting their daughter. They had occupational therapists when she was just an infant, a team of doctors, and the combined knowledge of decades of medical research to aid and assist them in their process.
I’ve always wanted to train my kids to entertain themselves away from electronics. I have no objection to electronics. How am I supposed to see the brilliant David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, or Skype with my brother in Australia, or even type this blog post without electronics? But, I also know how to look out the window of a car and enjoy the scenery, or pick up a book, or make eye contact when having a conversation — those are the kinds of things we think of when we say we want kids to not rely on electronics for entertainment.
When it comes time to force an issue or concede an issue, we have to constantly ask ourselves what is causing the issue — is it the stubborn willful tendencies of a 9-year-old, or an autistic brain on overload? On top of that issue, we have to decide what battles are worth fighting and winning, and what battles do we just leave alone — because in the end, what our objective with him is to teach him to cope with the normal (political correctness doesn’t allow us to use terms like “normal”) neuro-typical world out there. There’s going to come a day when he walks out of our home and begins to live away from our shelter and comfort, and he needs to be able to function when that happens.
It seems like this path of autism parenting constantly teaches me the most humbling of lessons. This week’s was a biggie.