It’s been just over a week now since we parted ways with our in-home ABA therapists.
I feel like I can breathe again.
I have my family back. I didn’t realize just how toxic the situation had gotten until my husband said the other day, “Do you realize how much calmer you are now? Big C and Little C too. Everyone just seems…happy.”
He’s so right.
My little guys and I are sponges. If one is stressed out, the rest are. Now that the poorly implemented ABA therapy is gone (I have to say poorly implemented because I know there are some amazing ABA therapists out there), I feel normal again, or at least our family’s version of normal.
With a sense of normalcy came an epiphany last week: I need to stop trying to fix my kid.
He doesn’t need fixing. He just needs my help. Shame on you medical community for making me think otherwise.
He needs help learning to cope with his sensory overload. He needs help learning how to express himself more clearly to others to avoid his own feelings of frustration. He needs help learning how to use his words rather than his fists when his emotions overtake him.
I don’t give a shit if he likes to line up his toys and his Cheerios. I don’t give a shit if he likes to suck on turkey lunch meat to calm himself. I don’t give a shit he has to run his hands along the surfaces of a new room. I don’t give a shit he has to smell everything. I don’t give a shit that he echoes back what people say. I don’t give a shit he talks about subjects out of context. I don’t give a shit that he expresses himself through leaping, jumping, and spinning.
I don’t give a shit that he doesn’t meet the doctors’ definition of “normal” or what I’ve come to know as “neuro-typical.”
I think that my son is awesome. I think that my son’s quirks are adorable (most days).
Why do I need to try and eradicate that behavior?
Shame on you medical community, hell, shame on you society as a whole, for making me think I need to.
What I’ve come to realize is that two separate medical communities gave my son an unhealthy dosage of therapy recommendations. The doctors that diagnosed Big C spent all of an hour with him, then doled out pages upon pages of therapy recommendations: 40 hours of intensive ABA therapy, social skills training, parent training, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, genetics testing, all sandwiched between paragraphs of text about our role as parents and what we should be doing.
As a parent new to this world of autism diagnosis, I was terrified. These doctors, these professionals, made me feel like if I didn’t get my son access to all of these therapies immediately, I would be failing him as a parent.
And failing is something I do not do.
Where was the counseling, the medical guidance, through all of this? After a diagnosis and a twenty-plus page report, we were sent on our way with a list of websites and books to check out. That was it.
There was never any discussion of, “This therapy list is simply that. A list. A list of all the possible options you might pursue. It’s a generic list we provide all children diagnosed with autism. Your son is on the mild end of the spectrum, so some of this is a little extreme for him.”
Why wasn’t that said to me? Did anyone ever consider the toll it would take on us as parents? The emotional burden placed on my family because of a therapy overdose? To me, it is the highest form of lethargy. No one took the time to really talk to us. They gave us their diagnosis, derived rather quickly, then sent us packing.
Shame on you, medical community.
But here’s the good news.
I’m over it. I’m putting my trust in my own gut and inclination to research and study a subject until I am an expert in it.
So when the social worker finally calls me back from the first medical community we met with, I can happily tell her to piss off.
I just worry about the other parents, like me, who are going to be unnecessarily overwhelmed by a diagnosis that, let’s face it, is explained piss-poor by the professionals. I’ve learned more from my new community of bloggers than I have from any doctor.
To those parents, remember you know your child best. It may seem like obvious advice, but you start to doubt yourself when a doctor and a diagnosis tell you otherwise.