For your homework last week I had you watch/read a few different things. The first was titled "Holland". It was a very sweet way of showing the readers how when you have a baby, you begin to plan and have all these hopes and dreams for that child. But when you find out that child has a disability, those hopes and dreams change. Rather than that trip to Italy that you had planned, you ended up in Holland. Both are beautiful places, but you need to change your frame of mind.
You complete the story feeling good. Every time I read that story I smile and think "I could learn to love Holland if that's where I ended up." but in reality, I would be devastated. I am not entirely sure if I could have such a positive spin on it for many many years.
I want you to think about how so many parents plan for their child before they even have one! I have been planning for Eloise for the 19 months, and she is only a year old! It's a natural thing. I would think some of you may even do a little bit of this already. I remember in high school (I can't remember as far back as Jr. High!) thinking "I hope when I have a kid someday that they will want to play sports" or "I hope my child enjoys singing someday". I remember thinking those thoughts because those were things that I LOVED doing in high school so I wanted my future child to have those same experiences.
So when a parent finds out that their child has a disability, all of those hopes and dreams that started so long ago are very very painful to let go of. Even though many of those children could still do (in one way or another) some of those things, I believe most parents just kind of give up on some of those dreams. Parents go through the grieving process, just as they would if someone in their life died. Check out the 5 Stages of Grief and Loss here.
Knowing that parents go through these stages, "Schmolland" made so much more sense to me! I feel as though it is a much more realistic viewpoint of a parent. Granted, she speaks to her specific country with lots of examples that we have not seen first hand, but she gives us a glimpse into her real country that isn't all tulips and windmills (see what I did there? I'm funny sometimes... Mr. VanLaan totally wouldn't agree though.)
The second packet that you got is called "Autism: Don't Ignore My Son!" by Bill Davis. You first met Bill Davis last week when you saw him in a video with his son, Chris. (He was the guy all tattooed up).
This article was written quite awhile ago, as Chris is only 8 or 9 when it was published and now he is out of high school. But I think this article does a great job of showing you some of the sacrifices that families end up making for their child. Chris is obviously more severe than any of our boys, but seeing how Chris' family responded to his disability and challenges will give you a good idea what so many of our peer's families have to do (or choose to do) as well.
I think it is amazing what lengths they went to in order to better provide for their son. What if they hadn't had the fight in them to make all of those things happen? Can you imagine where Chris would be? He is who he is because of his parents and their drive to provide for him.
The last piece that I want you to read is this article. It's an article that goes step-by-step through the day as a parent of a child with autism.
I think this gives you great information about the amount of planning and scheduling that goes into the home life of a child with autism. You all see our planning here and our lists and schedules. That does not stop once the child goes home!
From my experience with working in the home of a teenager with autism, the parents depended on us aides for the evenings after school and for weekends! Saturday shifts could be very very long if we did not set a schedule and fill it with many different activities. You know how our boys like to be scheduled at school- the same goes for at home. That can make a stressful situation for parents. Especially over holiday breaks and the summer!
Don't forget to check your homework tab. I also added in a "feel good" video to this post. I have a lot of these that I will randomly slip in to my blogs.
This is one of my all-time favorites. It happened just last year, right here in Michigan! Did you know that these boys were a part of a LINKS class at their school? How awesome that something so cool came from LINKS! And it made nation-wide news! I hope you watch this with pride as you are making just as big of a difference in lives as these boys did.
P.S. Here is the "Fix You" video if you would like to see it again.