Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Art of Casting

The other day we attended Ethan's annual IEP meeting. This was our second and so many things had changed.

I no longer viewed the principal as the "ice princess" but rather as a woman with a strong personality who truly has our kids' best interests at heart.

The faces around the room were much more familiar, and they were all saying good things about my son.

Instead of politely arguing about placement in the ABA classroom, we were talking about Ethan's full integration in the regular pre-K class...his switching from a dedicated one-on-one to sharing an aide...the way he's a "role model" for some of the other kids with autism.

I went home feeling vastly relieved and grateful. Honestly, I was walking on the clouds for a little while. And then I decided to zero in on the one area in which he most struggles and has always struggled, the same area in which nearly every person on the spectrum struggles: social interaction and play.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't sink into a pity party or depression after an overwhelmingly positive review with his teachers and therapists. I wasn't shocked to hear he had NEVER initiated play with a classmate, that he struggles to stick with play activities, that he has to be encouraged and prompted. These things were expected. These things couldn't really take away from everything good about the meeting --

Except they did. Because within eight hours the hamster wheel was spinning in my head. If he's made so much improvement in other areas, if he's at or above age level academically, if his physical therapist is blown away by his progress over the summer, if he's shown so much improvement in his other therapies, then there must be a way to find exactly how to help him interact. To initiate. To overcome the obstacles he has in play.

I got on the internet. I posted on a few forums. I pondered social skills groups vs. gymnastics vs. play groups at home vs. consulting with a Floortime expert who could really tell me what to do. I questioned again whether it was better for Ethan to struggle with typical peers who would be better models or do an autism-specific group where he'd be more comfortable but possibly not get the interaction he needs. I thought and mulled and talked everything over with Dan who, as he usually does, summed it all up in his matter-of-fact kind of way:

"Deb. This is something he's always going to struggle with. That's what autism is."

I half-heard him. I knew he was right but didn't want to let go of my really deep thoughts.

In the morning, I was listening to a Christian speaker talk about the way we try to reason our way through everything. We forget about casting our cares to the One who can hold them all, to the one who holds all of the answers.

"There are times we have to look at a situation is realize, 'It is what it is,'" she said. "You can't always change it, but God gives you the ability to go through it."

On the way to do laundry in the basement, I plopped myself down for a moment on the dusty stairs. I put my head in my hands and felt myself wrestle with the burden of getting everything just right. I wondered why autism had to be such a mystery for so many families. I wondered how any of us could be thankful for having to admit we don't have all the answers.

Then I decided, once more, stop scouring the internet. To maybe just try a class and (gasp!) stop if it wasn't a right fit for Ethan. To let go of the analyzing. Again. To remember I'm not racing against time; that God has all the time in the world.

Twenty minutes later I was at school picking up Ethan.

"You'll never guess what Ethan did today!" announced one of his teachers joyfully. "He initiated play with one of his friends."

He asked a boy if he wanted to play with blocks. For the first.time.ever.

I know things don't always happen this way. I know we don't always get an immediate sign when we make a decision. But today, I felt as if Someone was up there giving me a wink.

I can't say much about the art of casting my care. I certainly don't have this down pat. But what I do know is that it is indeed a lot like fishing with a line. You end up casting again and again and again. And it's only when you leave that hook still in the water, rather than reeling it back to you, that you find what you were looking for.


Anonymous said...

i think it definitely was a wink from heaven.

sometimes it takes more faith to not DO anything except cast and trust that God's got it. He does. "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Truly truly amazing
I loved this story so much
Hope this is the start of many of these miraculous moments

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's pretty neat that happened that same day.

Hang in there, you're doing a great job, mama. :)