I met a woman at the gas station today. I think her name was Susan, but I’m absolutely awful with names. Every time someone introduces herself to me, all I hear is “Hello! My name is BLAH.”
I struck up a conversation with this mad scientist (HAPPY HALLOWEEN!) about autism, as she had the “puzzle ribbon” autism awareness ribbon on the back of her SUV.
She said a few things that really stuck with me.
Her autistic child is 10 now. He’s entered 4th grade, integrated, without a helper! He was non-verbal until around the age of 4 or 5 if I understood correctly. She said “If you’d have asked me 7 years ago where we’d be, there’s no way I would have said we’d come this far.”
Humans are notoriously awful at predicting the future. Even people paid thousands or even millions of dollars to do it… well, they kinda suck at it too. “As accurate as a 10-day weather forecast” is not a complimentary phrase. Somewhere in the same neighborhood as “as genuine as a three dollar bill.” Only a few geniuses predicted the financial collapse in 2008, but they haven’t been correct since!
She did ABA just like we did, along with a lot of other therapies over time, and they worked. And worked well enough to help her son integrate. I guess we’re on the right path.
She also said to make sure to listen when other people tell you how far your child has come. Those people in your family and friendship circles can give you a useful perspective. When you feel like you’re getting nowhere, that’s probably because you’re *living* it. It’s hard to see beyond your own day-to-day frustrations and differences from where your child *should* be. When someone exclaims how far your child has come…. BELIEVE IT!
They aren’t just trying to make you feel better or lend some positivity to your life. After all, if they know YOU it’s impossible to get an autism parent to look on the bright side of anything! We’re the rain clouds on an otherwise sunny day! Every morning is worry, and every evening is grief!
Well no, not really, but it’s easy to focus on how far you’ve left to go, and miss how far you’ve come.