I started this blog three years ago.
I was scared.
I felt hopeless.
I needed to unload, be heard, connect, find comfort, hear from others, cry. I cried every way you can, and never seemed to run dry.
My son seemed to struggle every waking minute, and sometimes while he slept, to regulate, cooperate, interact, communicate, find his balance, be.
I wrote to seek, I wrote to salve, I wrote to save.
I had no life.
I did not have a clue.
I worry. But less. I worry like I did 8 years ago, or 10, but not like three years ago, when worry had me by the throat.
I hope. A little. Not brazenly. I have not forgotten the deities who remain out to get me, but we maintain a wary settlement for now.
My son regulates, cooperates, interacts, communicates, and finds his balance sometimes, and I accept the process, and his autism, more and more when he struggles.
I write for pleasure and for work, to help and to heal, sometimes for myself and sometimes for others, when time permits.
Our lives feel full.
I am getting a clue.
Yesterday I took a walk with a dear friend. We live a few streets apart and try to find at least a day or two a week to hit the neighborhood bike path for exercise and friendship. We talk about work and family. I asked about her husband's work. "That reminds me," she said. "He has a co-worker, a woman with a four-year-old who got an autism diagnosis last week" I told her, "Have her call me. I'll do anything I can to help." It is my turn, after all, and I have learned some stuff that might be useful. I never turn down a chance to help another mama the way the mamas of the blogosphere help me. My friend and I walked and moved on to other topics.
Yesterday I took my daughter out to lunch with her classmate S and S's mom. "Is Peaches an only child?" she asked. "No? Where does your son go to school?" I told her about our Rooster, and she asked, "What do you think caused his autism?" I told her my thoughts, my uncertainties, my questioning process, and my one conviction: "I know parents who believe they know what caused their child's autism. And I just try to respect where they are coming from, even though I don't have any answers or might see it differently. It's a hard road, and everyone has to find their way as best they can. Autism is not just one thing. And there is not one right way to think about it."
Three years ago, the blogosphere embraced me, embraced my family -- my Rooster, my Peaches, my husband and me. They listened to the turmoil, gave me space, sent me love, explained the tools and choices available, offered their own stories and feelings, and, best of all, painted a picture of a brighter future. They didn't promise fixes or tell me I could CURE my son if I did THIS or THAT the way they did, but they -- YOU -- told me that, no matter what happened, time could very possibly help us all in some measure. That, usually, odds are good that time does bring some ease. Children grow. Families learn. Sleep comes. Development unfolds. Wisdom takes root. Usually.
And for us, much of this feels true three years later.
We found one good doctor, changed schools, endured two years of ABA, conquered late potty training, evolved our PT and OT programs, survived IEPs, made peace with the mysterious improvements that a GF diet does bring our son despite our inability to explain why. We tried horseback riding and music, quit speech, joined a social skills group and found a MeetUp.
We sleep more, fight less, laugh some, and work hard.
We have some friends.
I asked our Rooster yesterday, "What is autism?" He said, very, very slowly, "Autism is trying." It is ambiguous, but I like it.
As I write this, one child screams and wails in the next room, and the other tries to soothe. Peaches, my NT almost-five-year-old, has flipped out because I spoke to her sternly, and because she is a drama queen prone to flipping out quite often these days. ABA has taught me she is an attention seeker of the highest proportion. Rooster, who clearly seeks to avoid her noise, offers a refrain of, "Feel better, feel better... please stop crying... behave yourself! Stop crying!" But if he only wanted to avoid the noise, he would walk away. He would take his toys to the playroom and be done. He comforts his sister because he loves her, he hates to see her sad. He comforts his sister because he can. Because he has empathy. Because he loves his family. Because, like the rest of us, he seeks peace.
Three years later, I have a different lens, a different perspective in many ways. I don't expect my family to feel like a Little Bill cartoon or an episode of Seventh Heaven. I haven't given up hope that someday we will be maybe a little more Charlie and Lola and a little less Oscar-the-Grouch-meets-The-Simpsons. But forget about TV, three years later I just look at our family as our family, an example of one, a Casa de Rooster and Peaches. I see where we have been, who we are, and the journey we walk together, step by step.
Today, my son read me a book. My daughter asked him to share a sticker from the goody bag he got yesterday at a party for kids on the spectrum. "Okay," he said. "You can have ONE. But only ONE." Today the sun came out in SoCal after days and days of downpour. Today we get to stay home on a Monday. It's a three day weekend. It's a three year anniversary. It's a pretty good day, three years post autism diagnosis, and that is something to celebrate. And so I celebrate with this gift to myself: writing here at Rooster Calls.