Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Part Three: How we got here...

This blog post is the third part of a three part series, so if you would like to read the first part click here, Autism Speaks, Jenny McCarthy, and others, thank you, now let's create an inclusive movement and the second part is here, Let Me Explain.

Let me apologize for not posting last night... I forgot it was debate night and I obsessed with watching the body language of the candidates that I fell right to sleep. More about the debate later.

As for where I left off, I received Tristan's vaccination records along with his general medical records and after studying them I found that within 24-36 hours after each vaccine Tristan was back in the doctor's office with more abdominal pain and lack of sleep. Explanation for Tristan's autism diagnosis, I don't know, do I think that Tristan was harmed by vaccines, I don't know.

Tristan could have been exposed to all sorts of toxins through everyday life that a link to vaccines is difficult for me to conclude. I can let go of the cause of Tristan's autism, if the prognosis for him will be good.

So, I made a choice to think about the future and not what may had been done to him, but what I can do about it. Unlike our other children, we focus much more on Tristan obtaining skills that will improve his life for the long-term. I don't spend hours thinking about ways to get Dylan and Liam to dress themselves or teach them how to wash themselves; I do for Tristan. We have a team of professionals that helps Tristan prepare for adulthood at the age of six. Heck, we started at three with daily charts and teaching Tristan how to feed himself.

After a moment of deciding where I wanted to go with Tristan's autism, I decide to not look back, but to step forward. O.k., maybe something or someone hurt my kid, but sooner or later kids get damaged and we as parents can move forward or stay put. We placed all our money, time, and energy on moving forward.

It wasn't until last year when I was telling a story about Tristan to a friend and colleague, Nat, who has autism that moving forward took front stage. After a day long retreat to write the final Vermont Autism Plan I pulled Nat aside and told him about how Tristan was already being called "stupid" (read more at Am I Stupid?) and how I thought we would not make it through kindergarten before I would have to home school him. I thought I would get sympathy, but instead, Nat said, "Well, if you take Tristan out of school then how are they (neurotypicals) going to learn to deal with us (autistics)?"

Well, Nat has a good point if I shelter Tristan from the everyday remarks of kindergartens then how is he going to negotiate the workplace. Instead of protecting Tristan from others, I empowered him by teaching him skills to connect with others, and it works!

Some people don't recognize Tristan 's autism when they meet him anymore, but I do. If you spent one minute in Tristan's classroom, you would pick-up on Tristan being different than the other children. I don't think I can just erase the autism, but I do I think we can develop the pieces that need to be worked on.

I created Parenting Autism to look forward and figure out how we can all work, play, and love together. Parenting Autism will continue to work towards an inclusion movement that helps all individauls succeed to their greatest potential.

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