Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Manchester Memorial, Conference Room B

This week I took the plunge and attended an Autism Support Group. I can proudly report that no one tried to push crazy biomedical treatments or convince me I could just make everything better if I took up this therapy or that therapy (this was my fear, due to reports from other parents). The evening also wasn't completely depressing and filled with non-stop complaining. I was rather nervous about being dragged into a pit. The words that actually come to my mind when I think of the evening are constructive and ecclectic.

In regards to constructive: in about 15 minutes, for example, I learned of a great person at Cost Cutters who might be perfect for Ethan's trouble with haircuts; a pediatrician in South Windsor who's very knowledgeable about ASD; tips for going in for Ethan's IEP meeting; and the rumor that right now word on the street is that Windsor's autism program is even better than (gasp!) South Windsor's. I also was able to dole out a bit of (hopefully useful) advice to others.

By ecclectic, I mean the people there, and their kids' stories. There were about 12 of us. The oldest was a woman in her seventies who has a 50-year-old son with autism. The youngest couple had a two-year-old just diagnosed last month. There was a woman who's son had just been diagnosed with PDD/NOS at age 20. I thought one of the men there was actually an adult with autism...turns out he grew up with a learning disability and now has a daughter with severe autism. Three or four people there had daughters with ASD, actually. One person had three out of four kids on the spectrum.

Everyone had a story. Some people talked too much. The woman leading the group seemed more interested in finding someone to replace her next year. It was an ecclectic, imperfect group for sure. Some of us with younger kids I think dominated the conversation at the end, and I felt a little bad. Some people were probably scared away, although I hope not. Maybe they can take over the conversation next time. We all have things to learn from them.

Next time. I will be back. I'll be back, because not only do I appreciate the support and commardarie, but there was something else I was thinking, as I looked around the table.

Everyone there looked tired. Many people seemed weighted down by life, jaded by their experiences. I know I am a new kid on the block, still fresh and without the disappointments many of them have had with the schools, with friends and family, disappointments perhaps with how their child has progressed compared to where they hoped he or she would progress. I know all of this, but one thought that kept coming to me was, "How can I be a light?"

I want to be a light. I want to show them the hope of God's love and promises. I'm not quite sure how. I'm not very brave. But wanting to is the first step.

1 comment:

rhemashope said...

i have no doubt that you are and will be a light to these women. keep going. keep doing what you do, keep being who you are... just as God shines through your words here, He will shine through you there.