Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of School

By 6:10am Jared was dressed, breakfast eaten, lunch made, and ready for school.  I had barely woken up.

I think someone is excited for school.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Labels

The other day I was on one of the Autism groups I belong to and someone posted a link for Autism paraphernalia (t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc.) which I went to to look around.  The tag line on the merchandise.....Autism Mom.

I struggle with this.  I have mixed and conflicting feelings about the whole thing.

First, for me as a mother:  I have a son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I love him.  I champion his every need.  I kindly educate the ignorant grown ups and I make them educate the immature children and teach Jared  how he can do that too. I collaborate with the adults who get it.  I make sure I am available to them as often as I can be.  I am a soldier.  I try to be his hero.

However

I am also a mother to three typically developing boys.  I love them.  I champion their every need.  I kindly educate the ignorant grown ups.  I teach my boys  how to effectively deal with the immature children.  I collaborate with the adults who get it.  I make sure I am available to them as often as I can be.  I am a soldier.  I try to be their hero.  

If I label myself an Autism Mom then where does that put my other children?  Where does that put me?  Does that indicate how I perceive myself?  Is that how I identify myself?  Because I am more than a mother to an Autistic child.  I am a mother to four sons.  I am a wife.  I am a woman with personal goals and aspirations.  I make time for myself even when it feels impossible to do so.  I find a way.  I need to.

Second, for Jared:  From an educational funding perspective, Jared needs the label.  Autistic.  Disorders.  Disabled.  This is a game.  It's a business.  We need the money.  We use the label.  For Jared personally:  Jared is more than his Autism.  He is more than his ADHD.  He is more than his anxiety.  He is more than his disabilities.  Jared is talented.  Jared is intelligent.  Jared desires to integrate successfully even when he does not know how to make it happen.  

Jared's icebreaker opening line at the moment is,  "I'm Jared.  I have Autism and ADHD."  I can assure you that conversation doesn't go very far.   

I understand that letting people know what's going on can help them have more empathy and patience, but should it be the ultimate definition of who we are.  Autistic.  Autism Mom.  

I doubt that I am expressing all of this the way I really want.  I certainly don't mean to offend.  It's just a t-shirt or a mug.  Right?  Or is it deeper than that?

Sometimes I think we define ourselves right into a little box and we start to see ourselves and teach others to see us in a one dimensional way.  And that limits us, whether in the eyes of others or our own eyes.  

I am not comfortable with that.  For me or Jared.  I know he has limits.  I just don't see where the line is drawn.  Because of that I continue to believe he will go farther that anyone will expect.  He already has.