When People Started Asking Questions About My Kid’s Behavior

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The joke was on me. After two and a half weeks at home — two of them plagued with cabin fever and epic tantrums — The Kid was all dressed up and ready to go back to school on Monday. I kissed him and The Husband goodbye and watched them back out of the driveway. Then I headed back inside to where Little Brother waited for his morning meal – which I’d be giving him as we both sat on the couch, season five of “Downton Abbey” unspooling in front of us.

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But it wasn’t to be. Within minutes, I received what I vainly hoped was a prank text from The Husband informing me that school resumed tomorrow, not today. The Kid arrived home shortly after, his winter coat making a mockery of both our plans. I resigned to my fate: no upstairs/downstairs drama for me. As The Kid pitched another mind-blowing fit on the floor, I bitterly switched the DVR to “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” MeeSKA mooSKA bitches.

All was not lost, though. We just joined the gym at the local church where The Kid attends preschool, and they have childcare. So at midmorning on a day that could have been a wreck, I decided to cut my losses and hand my kids off to strangers so I could run – if not from my problems, then around a track. I returned to the nursery an hour later to reclaim my baggage, and The Kid’s teacher informed me that the director wanted to speak to me. Fear struck my heart – I felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, which for someone who in school was never actually called to the principal’s office, is a terrifying prospect that doesn’t diminish over time. The older lady said hello, then mentioned The Kid’s speech delay. And that’s when I realized it.

People are starting to ask questions.

Back when I worked for a living, I was one of the question-askers. So I know what it means when someone says, “Is there anything else we need to know?” or “I’m just trying to figure out ways I can help him.” These questions, with their dual nature of good intention and curiosity, seem innocent enough to the asker but fall like a bullet on the heart of a mother, because this is what I hear:

What’s wrong with your kid?

I can barely handle a question with implications like this — my defenses raised and my ire piqued and the fact that I want to scream it from the rooftops that he has been through hell and back and is sitting here smiling and that is what’s right, what’s beautiful. But not everyone in the world has been walking this road with us or reads my blog (unacceptable) and so I give her The Kid’s bio — The Cliffs Notes — and at the end I know she’s still batting words like autism and spectrum around her head because of how he’s not talking yet and he likes to sit in one particular spot on the carpet and gravitates toward the same toys, and I know I will be answering questions for a while. Including my own.

Heading to the car with The Kid and Little Brother, I felt a tidal wave of emotion approaching – the fears that stretch out in perpetuity or at least until he starts talking, the sense that The Kid will be written off by people, placed in a box or assigned a label. The unfairness of it made me angry and sad. And it was convicting, because I used to carry labels everywhere myself and dispense them freely. I climbed into my seat and told my boys I love them, and then I prayed.

The one word that kept poking through as I poured out my messy heart? Advocate. “You are his strongest advocate,” I heard, and it was like a joke because of all the things I was feeling, strong was definitely not one of them. This scenario requires more patience and more strength and more faith than I ever signed up for or claimed to have on my customs declaration when I arrived from Non-Parenthood. What a joke this would all be, what an impossible situation, if what I brought with me were all I have.

Grace is a necessity as much as a gift. It’s everything. It’s what tells me, whispers in my ear and my heart, that maybe I’ve come to the kingdom for such a time as this. That – imagine the thought – this is not a joke or an accident. That everything in my life has led me to the moment I’m in and prepared me for it. That grace will, thank you very much, take it from here, and there, and everywhere, because I’m not required to produce a resumé but just to be who I am. And grace will work with that and fill in the gaps and take my hand and turn this from a dirge into a dance.

I asked my own question at his last checkup, finally mentioned a word I was afraid to speak, and his pediatrician gave me the answer that was not an answer, not a certainty – and yet it echoed and affirmed what my heart had been telling me. That The Kid doesn’t fit into a box; a strict label simply can’t be applied right now because so much has happened to him and so much is yet to be determined. He’s what he is – and right now, as a 3-year-old who doesn’t speak yet knows all his letters and numbers, arranges his blocks instead of stacking them, tries to figure out how his toys work instead of simply playing with him – he’s what the world would call different.

And I can work with that. I, a girl who was no stranger to different herself, whose quirks drove her to a keyboard and to a city and to grace and made them all fit. And though I never checked the box marked “different” for me when I was signing up for this life and parenthood gig, here we are anyway: pitching our tent in an area not on the itinerary, where the GPS doesn’t work, where answers are in short supply. It’s all very inconvenient, for the world and for the girl with the labels, to operate without a handbook. But I also know that different is what keeps me returning to the well of grace more than I ever would have otherwise. And grace is what renames what we thought we knew: Them becomes Us, in spite of becomes because of, different becomes beautiful, and we go from the being in the unknown to being the known.

A relative who doesn’t frequently reveal his emotional hand confided that he loves The Kid even more, after all he’s been through. And as my boy grabs my hand and presses it to his face without a word, I hear what isn’t spoken. I look down at him with the eyes grace gives and know I have never felt more fully or seen anything more beautiful, and I tell him, “I love you too.”

This post originally appeared on Plans in Pencil.

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This Widower Thought He’d Never Hear His Wife’s Voice Again. Then, His Phone Company Stepped In.

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Stan Beaton, of Northern England, lost his wife more than a decade ago, but an answering machine recording she made before she passed allowed him to hear her voice every day, BBC reported. Then, suddenly, the message was gone.

Virgin Media, Beaton’s phone company, accidentally deleted the message but immediately assigned 10 employees to trying to bring it back.

BBC Radio Leeds was present to capture Beaton’s joy and surprise when he got to hear his late wife’s voice again after thinking it was lost forever.

That’s her,” Beaton says in the video below. “Wonderful. Wonderful.”

Watch the entire interaction in the video below: 

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How a Total Stranger Reunited This Woman With Her Forgotten Memories

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Rose Hill, 64, from Hillsboro, Oregon, first started experiencing dementia-like symptoms a year ago, according to CBS News. Hill felt disheartened by her memory loss and the lack of a medical diagnosis to explain it. Recently, however, she got a little surprise visit from the past that helped jog her memory.

While going through some bins at a nearby Goodwill outlet, Sara Redlich discovered a packet of Hill’s love letters from 1973. Redlich tracked Hill down to reunite her with the lost letters that turned out to be a correspondence between Hill and her now ex-husband when he was fighting in the Vietnam War.

I remember! You smell the smells. You hear the sounds. You feel like you are back in time and place,” Hill told CBS. “Any recollection feels like total joy.”

Get the full story in the video below:

 

 

h/t Good News Network

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To the Family That Talked With Us About Our Prenatal Diagnosis

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Dear Karmen,

We’d just received our prenatal diagnosis. We were letting emotion take over logic. We were in a place of uncertainty and fear and worry. You reached out to us, invited us over to your home, and you were kind enough to share the journey you’ve been on with Carson. We walked in and you gave us a hug; you made us laugh and introduced us to your husband and your sweet little peanuts, McKenna and Carson.  Carson was in the middle of a therapy session, and I remember thinking, he needs occupational therapy? He needs physical therapy? He needs speech therapy? I could feel myself getting overwhelmed. At the time, all we knew was that children with Down syndrome had developmental delays. We didn’t know about hypotonia. We didn’t know about the vision, hearing and pulmonary appointments. We were lacking knowledge and awareness.

We went upstairs, and I soon came to realize that you and I are were really alike and that Joel and James had similar personalities. We are the lack-of-filter wives who tell it like it is, and our husbands are a bit more calm and relaxed and use their filters when needed. It was a match made in heaven.

You were honest and real with us. You were calm and relaxed and non-judgmental. You gave us a picture of love and reassurance, not one filled with grim statistics and upset. You told us you would support us along our journey and that you would guide us to a place of comfort and love. You talked about Carson’s appointments and that the journey with your son has been filled with joy, mixed with some bumps in the road. You were honest, and we appreciated it.

Our time at your house was filled with mixed emotions. We felt confident and then scared and wondered if we could be amazing parents to this little being growing inside of me. We felt uneducated and fearful if something went wrong during our pregnancy. We felt happiness that Brinley would have a sibling, but would they love each other? Would they be close? You answered all of our questions. You told us your reality. You told us the journey is beautiful and rewarding. You knew our baby would be loved and that she would change the world.

2015-01-27 14.24.50-1 As we sat on your couch, our worries began to dissipate. We felt support from a family who barely knew us. We felt like we had connected with a family who would hold our hand when we needed it. We felt the sadness start to lift. We felt the need to continue to educate ourselves and to make sure we did everything possible to keep our baby healthy.

Before we left, you gave us a video called “Deedah.” We didn’t watch it right away. We needed to process and think about the journey ahead. When we finally sat down, we watched it together. We smiled, we laughed, we cried. We closed that door of uncertainty and opened the door that was filled with hope and love and celebration.

Thank you for giving us your time that day. Thank you for not judging us and for accepting our fears and worries. Thank you for letting us know there is support. Thank you for hugging us. Thank you for being the voice of reason that we needed. Thank you for allowing us to express our concerns. Thank you for letting us walk out of your house that day feeling that we were not alone.

Love,
Krista

For all of February, The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. No gesture is too small! If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Follow this journey on A Perfect Extra Chromosome.

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Why I Owe ‘Parenthood’ a Big Thank You

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In the history of television, I don’t believe the autism community has ever had as strong a connection to a show as we’ve had with NBC’s “Parenthood.” Last week, we saw the series finale after six magnificent and heartfelt seasons. This show tells the story of the Bravermans, a family that consists of an elderly couple, their four children and their families. One of the more intriguing characters on the show was Max Braverman, a young boy with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

I’ve never watched a show on TV that’s depicted a child’s character with autism before. “Parenthood” offered us the opportunity to show a national audience each week a new look into the world of autism.. Viewers saw what families that have a loved one with autism see everyday. Topics such as acceptance, bullying, unique interests, sensory integration, speech, communication and much more were discussed through Max’s character. Later, we’d even be introduced to a character that may or may not be an adult on the autism spectrum (played by Ray Romano).

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It became clear early on that this show offered a true portrayal into autism, as well as many family-related issues that happen today. Luckily, “Parenthood” can live forever on Netflix, Hulu and all the other streaming websites.

So I wanted to say thank you to NBC for giving this show a chance to shine. This show gave a voice to our autism community on television. As an adult with autism who grew up loving TV and as someone today who tries to make a career in autism-related films, I’m extremely grateful. This show couldn’t have come at a better time to help spread awareness. I truly hope the series “Parenthood” will open the door for the portrayal of more characters with autism in the future. 

This blog originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com

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There Is So Much I Don’t Know

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I ran into a momma the other day that I hadn’t seen in years.

She knew us before.

She had absolutely no idea what our life looks these days, had no idea about my son’s diagnosis or any of the realities associated with it – she had no idea at all.

She told a sweet story about my son, I smiled and thanked her for always being so kind, and it was genuinely good to see her.

But when I left and headed home, back to my son and back to our new normal, I could feel waves of grief starting to wash over me. I pushed them back, determined not to cry in front of my son, determined to get dinner made as planned, determined to shake off the sinking feeling.

I made it to bed time.

As soon as my youngest was in the bath and jabbering to my husband about Minecraft, I rushed into my bedroom and locked the door as the tears started to flow.

I was so, so sad. The truth is, I miss the little boy my friend described. I miss that he used to be so much more capable, not only socially but also physically. I miss not worrying so much about his future. I miss not worrying so much about his present. But mostly, I miss the little boy who sometimes seems to have just slipped away from me.

I went into the bathroom to wash my face, pray and try to get myself together. For the first time in a long time, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stop the sobs welling up from a place in my heart that carries a dull ache mixed with hope in it all the time. I was completely overtaken and undone.

I curled up into a ball on the floor and just let the pain come. I realized, there on the cold floor, that when the sorrow comes now, it is also always mixed with something else – acceptance.  When the hurt is so deep I feel like I can’t breathe, it is also always met with a renewed gratitude – “At least now we know, now we can help, now he can just be the way he is meant to be.”

My son is headed to the hospital this week for testing. I am not sure what we will find. I am not sure if I will be told I am overreacting and too protective (because we know that happens, even when something is really wrong), or if I will be told he has a life-altering condition that will further complicate how he lives and how we function (his doctors have already said we are headed for this, but somehow, it feels slippery – without the actual diagnosis, on paper, I just can’t fully bring myself to go there).

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There is so much I don’t know.

But what I do know is this – one day, long after this appointment has come and gone, I may look back on this time frame and miss it (just like the longing I felt lying on the bathroom floor the other night). Because although the waiting and the wondering is tough, sometimes not knowing is easier. Not knowing means you can keep holding the picture in your head about how you want it to be. Not knowing means you can still imagine all the other possible causes, the easier ones, the ones that won’t potentially cut my child’s life short. You can create an endless stream of medical interventions.

There is so much I don’t know.

But what I do know is this – God has this child, lovingly in the palm of his hand. I have seen it, felt it, witnessed it, and experienced it over and over again. Whatever is next for my son will not change that. If anything, whatever is next will bring more and more glimpses of radical grace and crazy love. I know this – all the way down to my toes, I know this.

There is so much I don’t know.

But what I do know is this – my son is amazing. He is wicked smart and so funny. He is affectionate and caring. Nothing the doctors will say, nothing that is prescribed for treatment, nothing that is written down in the chart will change my son’s ability to make his brother laugh, or make my husband smile, or make my heart burst with affection for him.

And this knowing matters more than any diagnosis. This knowing makes up the fabric of our everyday, and gives me the strength to take the next step, and the next, and the next.

This knowing means I can fill out the endless paperwork tonight and not worry about the amount our insurance will or will not cover.

This knowing means I can go lie down with my son right now and listen, really listen to all things salt water aquarium. It means I will smile and genuinely enjoy the time with him.

This knowing means we will be fine this week – no matter what, we will do this and we will do this well.

This knowing is what makes me his momma.

This post originally appeared on Not the Former Things.

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