Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I feel so petty, but as my psychiatrist said to me years ago...

... my problems are my problems and I shouldn't try to minimize them by comparing them to other people's problems as I can always find someone with bigger problems than I have.

Days after a bombing in Boston at the finish line of the Boston Marathon where 3 people lost their lives, over 150 were injured and countless people were traumatized by the event; Hours after the senate has decided to shoot down the only promising gun legislation; a few months after the Newtown shootings where too many little children were murdered in their classrooms, I'm feeling sad for my own circumstances.

I've mentioned before that I have a son with autism. I also have a son who has strong ADHD. My older son, is very intelligent, independent minded, likable, considerate and loving. But he is a terrible academic student due to his disorganization. This past marking period was his worst ever - his junior year in high school. I'm looking at his college opportunities shrivel and I worry about his future.

Then today I went to the IEP meeting for my son in 2nd grade. The school is excellent at helping him with his needs, but he struggles. He needs help every day with reading, writing and math. Not with the subject material, but with engaging in the material and doing it. It's getting better, but he still needs 6 hours and 30 minutes a week of support.  Add to that, this child that started reading at age four has now been bumped down a reading level because of his comprehension level and now my real fears begin to appear. I know he has problems with comprehension and not just with books, but with language period. He can mimic anything, but he doesn't decipher it well. Then throw in his difficulties with getting stuck in routines and difficulty with peer interactions.

Everyone likes him as he's sweet and considerate and cute, but how far will that take him? How far will he lag behind? Just as he catches up and goes to above grade in math, he is struggling in language based subjects, which I knew would eventually happen.

Then, after school, we went to a science fair planning meeting. Now, all the kids were antsy as they had been in classes all day, but my child? flapping, pacing, totally disengaged unless made to engage and I could see it was literally painful for him to engage. I watch his like aged peers giggle with each other and chitter-chatter and then see my son pacing in the back of the room, flapping, in his own world and I worry.

There are times I get so hopeful. On Monday we had real, true, back and forth conversation. It was wonderful. I jump with joy every time I see new behaviors that have been delayed, but then I get slammed with reality. His one step forward is still 10 steps behind everyone else. And his autism is very high functioning. And I feel bad for having woe is me moments when as far as the spectrum goes, he's doing so well in mainstream classrooms with just a little support, but where will this lead him?

And I hate that I hate autism. When we were trying to conceive him, I begged my body to not give me an autistic child. I got a lump in my throat every time I met another parent who had an autistic child. So many of my husband's peers had autistic children. After my son was born and I saw he gave good eye contact and engaged with me, I sighed in relief, but even then, very early on, I started to worry as one thing after another seemed a bit delayed.

I struggle with myself in wondering, "did I cause this?" I've posted about it before but was my blood sugars an issue? My blood pressure? My diet? My obesity?  Our combined maternal and paternal ages me (35) and my husband (38)?

And as he grows and my older son grows I wonder, "Are my expectations too high?" Is it right for me to expect my highly intelligent son who suffers from very debilitating ADHD to get into good colleges? TO even go to college straight from HS, versus community college? Do I push him too hard or not enough?

And same with my younger son. Am I expecting him to be to function too well by always having him in mainstreamed activities? Should he even be doing a science fair? Should he go to school or be home schooled? Am I coddling him too much? or not enough? For either of them?

Days like today I feel like my kids have such huge battles in front of them and I don't know if I've done well by them. I know I could have done better and could do better, but even if I did things perfectly, would it be enough? Probably not.

It's just one of those "wow... this parenting gig is hard" days. But now to the gym to try to work some of these frustrations out.

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