|The Spirit of Faith|
When I was preparing for G's Independent Education Plan (IEP), I was surrounded by friends who stepped up to the plate to help me gain strength and confidence. My sweet cousin Coco, a special needs teacher, called me to brainstorm, and she provided answers, research and very welcome hugs. Trusted friend/G-care sitter Chris and long-time family friends Karen and Chris L. listened to tormented calls and offered comfort and stability. I located an advocate, a friend from a local mom's group that I was in, and my friend Ellen took my reports and notes, reviewed it all and gave me tasks to be certain that I was prepared. Armed with a file cabinet full of organized binders and Ellen, we advocated for G. She evened up my side of the table, gave me confidence and security to fight for my son. G got services, he prospered. I'm grateful and impressed by our school professionals too. As always, my BFF's Linda and Laura were available for counsel 24/7.
When I went public via Facebook about G, a delightful college classmate Susan reached out to me to guide me through the initial shock of autism's diagnosis and confusing maze. She brought me down to earth and let me know that I could do this. There IS life beyond diagnosis. I thank her for her many links, resources, phone calls, notes, kindnesses and a great book. Go Warrior Moms!
I was awestruck again when family friends called to invite my kids on a family adventure 3 days before Christmas. I said yes immediately, but my heart and brain started racing at the thought of all I had left to do to prepare for the big holiday. I was completely taken off guard next when the friend next suggested that his family take my 3 kids, including G, so that I could have time to get some things done (had he read my mind?). :) I was stunned into silence. I stammered and told him, "I never get that offer, do you know what you're getting into?" He said that he and his wife had discussed it and decided that as a family, and with my 2 older kids they felt sure they could handle G. I told him I had absolute confidence in that, I'd strongly consider it, thanked him about 30 times and hung up, dialing my husband immediately. Of course we both felt completely secure that this couple could handle G. They have a beautiful family of polite, smart and kind children who take after their active and fun parents. Their son is one of N's best friends, and a rare friend who can "deal" with G effortlessly. Steve is a baseball coach (my son N was lucky to have him as coach for years) and ski patrol during the winter months. Julie's a lunch monitor at school and volunteer extraordinaire. Both are very active in the community, family and friends. I'll never forget one of my first impressions of this awesome family: for each of their children, they host a pool party after school lets out for the summer after their kindergarten year. Wow, can you imagine hosting 25-30 five year olds and their parents? That's beyond brave! So, their offer was really hard to beat.
|Judging from everyone's demeanor, |
G's tantrum had been going on for awhile.
|Sensory Freakout: |
G's panicked, in fight or flight mode.
|Another Not-so-Kodak Moment|
G's not cooperating. Check out N and M's
uncomfortable body language
The unpublished photos, the real deal.
I had a rough time hunting down these photos. I usually don't take photos in the midst of tantrums, or just delete them. Maybe I should save a few to look back on someday.
|Progression of Meltdown|
Take 1: G objects to random annoyance
The kids see it coming, disaster's on the horizon.
Mom tries to pull it off anyway...
|Progression of Meltdown|
Take 2: Change of scenery
G still objects to random annoyance
I still try to make everyone laugh, we can do this!
|Progression of Meltdown|
Take 3: Resistance is futile!
Oh well, I'll just crop him out.
Poor N had to go sing happy songs at his choir concert.
If G were to join the kids on the outdoor adventure with their friends, the whole day would be completely different, even if G was perfectly well-behaved. They'd be on constant alert that he'd make an impulsive move and run for it. They'd be embarrassed if he was clumsy or said the wrong thing. They're too young to have this stressful nervous undercurrent. Let them be free for an afternoon! That, my dear friends Steve and Julie, is more than enough gift for us! So N and M went on a fun adventure, and I was afforded an afternoon with G to bond during a chaotic week with no schedule and lots of social activities. Win/Win. It turns out I made the correct decision. The next morning my daughter said to me, "Mom, G would have run into the street if he would've come yesterday. We were by a road and had to do lots of climbing and walking through the snow. It would've been really hard with him." This from my patient, easy-going child. She thought about G and his difficulties even though he wasn't there. She is tuned into his needs, so much that it follows her around...as it does for me. That's just too much, it breaks my heart and I wish I could make it easier for the kids. The afternoon outing was a great gift of freedom to laugh and play with their friends. Still, my husband and I are floored by this kind, generous offer, we can't stop smiling and feeling great about our friends Steve and Julie. That's the true meaning of Christmas: an act of giving that's completely unsolicited and selfless, expecting nothing in return. Bless you, friends!
|Passing the candy bowl at the end of each meeting.|
N tells his favorite part of the meeting,
and shares ideas for future meetings.
G (in stripes) wanders around
checking out costumes and candy.
|Holiday parties: After their brief meeting, |
SibShop kids make gifts and set up activity stations
for their autistic siblings and oversee the fun.
|Temple Grandin: Funny, gifted, inspiring, autistic.|
I've learned that God sends help in rare forms when you truly need it. The referrals and opportunities appeared when I was desperately in need of a beacon of hope. The selfless acts renewed my spirit and faith in human kindness. Someone understands how difficult my family has it right now. Someone thought about us and took action to help out in some way. How cool is that?
Thanks to each of you who has touched us and lighted our path...Gratefully paying it forward in any way that I find possible, always do.