Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Am Not Lying About the Autism

My ex phoned me from Boston today to talk to the kids. He started the conversation with a basic "How are you?" and then asked about the kids. It was a neutral conversation and moved along quickly as we talked about the day's activities--pre-school and art classes. But for some reason, when I said I needed to go because my autistic son was just having a melt-down, my ex said he didn't understand. My ex's denial was back, and he hung up on me rather than listening to what I had to say.

My oldest son is on the autistic spectrum (PDD-NOS), and one challenge he faces is self-regulation. This means that he occasionally does not deal well with change and may cry as a result of the stress he experiences. This evening, my ex was contending that it was unusual for these melt-downs to occur. How would he know? I spend most of my day at home whereas he sees his kids less than 8 hours a week. I know my kids well and would not exaggerate about their health, their needs, or potential issues.

My ex has never accepted my oldest son's autism. As a result, he has always had problems understanding the commitment and lifestyle necessary to raising an autistic child. He spends his limited time with my autistic son doing a limited range of activities. I can't change his attitudes and interactions, but I try not to exaggerate about my son's needs, his progress, or his issues. In fact, my wish is for my ex to make the same commitments I have made.

I often spend too much time thinking about how to convince my ex that my autistic son has special needs and that we need to deal with issues now rather than deny that a problem exists. I occasionally read articles on communication strategy. Sometimes I focus about message delivery (e.g., phone or email). For example, I will send a text message after a bad phone conversation to say we need to continue working together. The amount of effort required to communicate is sometimes just plain tiring. I feel like I am training to be a PR person or a counselor.

Although my ex and I differ about my autistic son's needs, I have tried and will continue to try being consistent about my perspective. Every time I talk to my ex, I don't fabricate issues; I speak about the events I observe. I attempt to share what I have learned from counselors and teachers who have shared their wisdom with me. My ex says he wants to treat my autistic son like a typical child and not be so constrained by rules and structure, but maybe one day he will understand. I have only the future success of my children at heart. When I communicate what I see and understand, I do so as an advocate and not as a control freak mom bent on making my sons into "momma's boys."

1 comment:

shannonj said...

Hi Meg-
I saw your post on Helium about Autism. I am a parent with a 12 year old son with autism and had submitted to the same topic....Anyway, just networking, but wanted to invite you to join my new online community for those who love someone with autism. It is evolving and growing and could use some input from techno-savvy parents. Would love to have you join, share and even link to your own site. Find it at
www.foggyrock.com. Cheers-
Shannon Johnson (SJ on Helium)

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